- Created on 07 February 2013
Ten-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan will introduce two of her signature products in the Grammy Gift Lounge Thursday through Saturday in conjunction with the 55th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony on February 10 Los Angeles.
Grammy performers and presenters will get gifts of Chaka's gourmet chocolates, Chakalates, and her Khana Sutra candles. The international music icon and entrepreneur will be in the lounge during Grammy Week to meet and gift talent.
Chakalates and Khana Sutra candles are available to the general public online at www.chakakhan.com. Khan's chocolate line is a reflection of the legendary singer, who knows her chocolate. And befitting a chocolate that bears Chaka's name, it's a "sweet thing."
Through this relaunch of her chocolate line, which was previously sold exclusively in Neiman Marcus stores around the country, she invites people from around the globe to "eat something good."
Chakalates are gourmet delights from Khan’s recipe of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, with velvety bass notes. It's a quiet storm of flavors and textures, garnered from the four corners of the world.
The health-conscious diva, who recently combatted diabetes and high blood pressure by losing 75 pounds and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, lets us know that these 12 sumptuous candies are not as guilty a pleasure as one might expect. Dark chocolate, she notes, is good for our hearts and brains, help lower blood pressure, and, can help control blood sugar. But her chocolates are still candy, so indulge in these sweets in moderation, she advises. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the chocolates will benefit the Chaka Khan Foundation, which supports women and children in crisis.
Whether Chaka is in a different country, an unfamiliar hotel, or a new venue, candles are what make every new and unique place "home." The first thing she does when entering her hotel or dressing room is light a candle to "purify" the space. With this in mind, Khana Sutra by Chaka Khan was born.
Khana Sutura candles are formulated with natural soy wax and the highest quality lead-free wicks for long lasting and lean burning candles. The nature-inspired fragrance of pine is made with essential oils and natural ingredients, concentrated to quickly scent a space without overpowering.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Khan's career in music and entertainment. The yearlong celebration will include the release of a series of new albums, titled the iKhan Project. The first installment will be released on March 19 and will coincide with her 60th birthday celebration. The iKhan Project: Commemorative Limited Edition will feature her new single, "It's Not Over" and some favorite classics. The anniversary celebration will include a U.S. and international tour and several other surprises.
Throughout her legendary career, Chaka has released 22 albums and her recorded music has produced over 2,000 catalogue song placements.
- Created on 06 February 2013
LOS ANGELES — Chris Brown is set to return to court Wednesday to face a prosecutor who is asking a judge to revoke the singer's probation because investigators could not find credible evidence he completed his community labor sentence for the 2009 beating of Rihanna.
A motion filed Tuesday raises for the first time in Brown's felony assault case several incidents that prosecutors say demonstrate Brown has ongoing anger management issues.
They cited a Jan. 27 fight between Brown and fellow R&B star Frank Ocean, and a 2011 outburst in which Brown threw a chair through a window after he was asked about the Rihanna attack on "Good Morning America."
The filing represents a dramatic shift in the case against Brown, who was repeatedly praised by the judge overseeing his case for his completion of domestic violence courses and his community service work in his home state of Virginia. That changed in September, when prosecutors raised concerns about Brown's community service after he logged 701 hours in seven months — an amount that had previously taken him more than two years to achieve.
Los Angeles investigators traveled to Richmond, Va., to investigate Brown's service, which was only described in broad strokes by Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood, who was overseeing the singer's community labor.
"This inquiry provided no credible, competent or verifiable evidence that defendant Brown performed his community labor as presented to this court," Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray wrote.
Brown's attorney Mark Geragos blasted the court filing, saying the prosecutor ignored interviews "where sworn peace officers stated unequivocally that Mr. Brown was supervised and did all of the community service."
"I plan on asking for sanctions from the DA's office for filing in frivolous, scurrilous and frankly defamatory motion," he said Tuesday.
It will be up to a new judge to evaluate the prosecutor's allegations during Wednesday's hearing; Brown's case has been transferred to Judge James Brandlin after a recent shuffling of judicial assignments.
After pleading guilty to the Rihanna attack, Brown was given permission to serve 180 days of community labor in his home state of Virginia, but only as long as he performed manual labor such as graffiti removal and roadside cleanup.
Given problems with documentation and statements from some witnesses who contradict Brown's claims of work, prosecutors asked Brandlin to order Brown to repeat his service in Los Angeles.
Brown spent one-third of the hours he logged in Virginia working night shifts at a day care center in rural Virginia where his mother once served as director and where the singer spent time as a child.
A detective who checked on Brown's work nine times at the Tappahannock Children's Center found the singer, his mother and a bodyguard at the center on each visit.
The records said Brown waxed floors or performed "general cleaning" at the center.
A professional floor cleaner contracted to work at the daycare center told investigators he had been cleaning the floors during the months Brown reported working at the facility.
"Claims that the defendant cleaned, stripped and waxed floors at that location have been credibly contradicted," prosecutors said in the filing.
Brown's mother, Joyce Hawkins, no longer had a formal role at day care center but had her own set of keys and coordinated her son's work at the facility, prosecutors said.
Murray stated in her filing that Norwood's report on Brown's service was "at best sloppy documentation and at worst fraudulent reporting."
Richmond police spokesman Gene Lepley declined to discuss the allegations.
"We believe it would inappropriate to comment on a matter that's before the court," Lepley said.
According to the motion, officials with Virginia's probation office told investigators that Brown's arrangement to be supervised by Norwood was "extremely unusual" and had not been approved by the agency. No one from Virginia's probation department oversaw Brown's hours, prosecutors said.
The motion noted that the only records the department has to indicate Brown was supervised were officers' overtime sheets. Five of 21 days that officers logged overtime for Brown were spent providing security for the singer's concerts.
The allegations are the latest pre-Grammy controversy for Brown, who was arrested shortly after the 2009 ceremony for his attack on Rihanna. He has since returned to the awards show by performing and winning an award in 2011 for his album "F.A.M.E."
Brown and Ocean are competing against one other for the Best Urban Contemporary Album category at Sunday's Grammys.
- Created on 18 January 2013
(AP) — Rihanna's collection for British brand River Island is slated for its debut next month during London Fashion Week.
Fashion week organizers listed the pop star on its official calendar of fall previews as they sent out registration materials on Thursday to the editors, stylists and retailers who cover designer collections.
The 24-year-old's first collection of clothing and accessories will be shown Feb. 16. Items will be available in River Island stores in Great Britain, and in the United States and Japan at Opening Ceremony starting on March 5.
Rihanna said in a statement that an appearance at fashion week is "a dream come true."
She already has another fashion commitment this year: She signed on to executive produce and star in the Style network reality series "Styled to Rock."
- Created on 29 January 2013
There’s a lot to LUV about Chicago homeboy Common in the title film that opened Jan. 18.
Critics have said “at its best Luv shows the kind of heart and intelligence that is always welcome - and often missing - in American movies.” (New York Times)
The title is a play on several aspects of the film about an 11-year-old boy who gets a crash course in what it means to be a man when he spends a day with the uncle he idolizes.
With his mother in rehab and his father out of the picture, young Woody Watson (Michael Rainey Jr.) lives with his grandmother (Lonette McKee) in suburban Baltimore and longs for his family to be reunited. His charismatic Uncle Vincent (Common) has recently returned home after eight years in prison, determined to straighten out his life by opening a high-end crab shack that will establish him as a solid citizen with a legitimate future.
One day, instead of dropping Woody off at school, Vincent decides to give the boy a tutorial on how a man gets things done. After a trip to a tailor to get Woody a custom-fitted suit, the pair heads to the bank to sign off on the loan Vincent needs to fulfill his dreams. But when his meeting with a bank officer puts the brakes on his plans, Vincent has no one to turn to for help but his former associates, including Baltimore crime boss Mr. Fish (Dennis Haysbert) and his brother Arthur (Danny Glover).
In an interview with reporters, Common said in real life he never had the strife in his life like his Uncle Vincent character in the movie but he knows plenty of others - including people he associated with on the South Side of Chicago - who did.
“The script is not close to what I lived, but I've been around the streets of Chicago and from my experiences with the people I've been around those are true-life emotions, thoughts, stories, characters - those people are real,” said the rapper and actor who's played alongside Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (American Gangster)
“When we screened the movie in Chicago it was people there who were like ‘man, that’s my life on that screen,’” he said.
In LUV, a poignant and gritty coming-of-age story featuring standout performances by Common, Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Charles S. Dutton and newcomer Michael Rainey Jr.
Uncle Vincent’s gritty actions are an about-face to the conscious-driven messages pens and spits out in the lyrics of his hip hop music.
But the irony is an art form, he said, and even a attempt at humanity.
“As an actor, I wanted to take on characters. I didn’t really want it to be like all based around what Common thinks or Common’s mentality, he said. “Sometimes I just want to play characters and show the humanity in them. Just because somebody was a former criminal or somebody who has been in jail or been doing street things doesn’t mean they’re a bad person.”
Common praises his young co-star in the film, saying Rainey Jr. brings the “purest” performance he can to the project.
“When you got somebody who’s that talented you just allow them to be great and your bring your greatness to it. And those two stars come together and bring out something even brighter,” said Common.
Directed by Sheldon Candis from a script by Candis and Justin Wilson, LUV features extraordinary performances by Common (American Gangster, Hell on Wheels), Michael Rainey Jr. (Un altro mondo), Charles S. Dutton (The Obama Effect, Fame), Dennis Haysbert (Far from Heaven, 24), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, 2012), Meagan Good (Stomp the Yard, Californication), Lonette McKee (Malcolm X, Honey), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire).
- Created on 17 January 2013
(AP) — With a new single about to drop, a solo album in the works and a starring role in a national tour of a Broadway musical, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that Michelle Williams once had difficulty just getting out of bed.
The singer-actress — one third of Destiny's Child alongside Beyonce and Kelly Rowland — said that in the past few months she has emerged from years of suffering from moderate depression. Her dark cloud lifted thanks to exercise, therapy and positive thinking.
"I've dealt with depression," the 32-year-old said during a break in rehearsals for a new touring production of "Fela!" that kicks off later this month. "I had to choose to get out of bed and do whatever I needed to do to be happy."
Williams says she suffered her first bout of depression at 15 or 16 and has managed to avoid medication. She is speaking out for the first time about her battle to encourage others to seek help.
"We're taught, 'Just go to church and pray about it. The Lord is going to heal you.' Well, in the meantime, I believe God-gifted people, physicians, doctors, therapists — that's your healing. Take advantage of it," she said. "Go see a professional so that they can assess you. It's OK if you're going through something. Depression is not OK, but it is OK to go get help."
Williams on this day is bursting with energy, smiling and laughing, her body even leaner than normal as she dives into the frenetic biography of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who died in 1997.
In the rehearsal room, Williams bounces in her chair with the other cast members as the show's hybrid of jazz and pop songs swells. Though she's a Grammy Award winner, she easily hugs her fellow performers and wears sweat pants and a tank top. Where's the diva? "Who has time for that?" she said. "That's just dumb. I come from Rockford, Ill. — there's no divas there."
Williams will be playing the role of Sandra Isadore, who was Fela's African-American lover. Maija Garcia, the tour director and choreographer, said the presence of a Destiny's Child member in the cast "empowers the musical."
"Sandra is our key for an American audience to look at Fela and understand a bit more where Fela may have been coming from," Garcia said. "And an American audience can very much identify with Michelle Williams because she's of our time. She really becomes a vehicle for people to learn about Fela and for people to understand why Fela is relevant in the United States."
The show, which made it to Broadway in 2009, is set for a 16-city tour starting at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29. By the time summer rolls around, it will have visited Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle and Nashville, Tenn.
Williams is looking forward to cheese steaks — extra provolone, please — and fabulous food on the road. "I know it doesn't look like I eat — I'm just blessed with a high metabolism right now," she said. "I'm having a time trying to gain weight."
The Jan. 29 date is important to Williams for another reason. That's when Destiny's Child releases "Love Songs," a collection of previously released songs as well as a new track co-written by Williams, "Nuclear," the group's first new recording since 2004.
The new song was recorded before Christmas in Los Angeles when all three members were recording their own solo projects. While Williams said the trio isn't ready to make a new full-length CD right now, the old magic that created songs including "Say My Name" and "Bootylicious" is still there.
"Stacking those harmonies on top (of) each other gave me goose bumps," she said of recording the new song. "We were like, 'We still sound good together.' Duh! The bond will never die. We're always going to be close. We're always going to work together."
"It's amazing that people are still fascinated by the connection. It's been about eight years since we released original material and people still ask me, 'Do you all talk?' We could take a picture together today and then tomorrow, people would say, 'Do you all still talk?'"
But Williams was coy about whether she and Rowland will join Beyonce at the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3. "Who knows?" she said with a smile. "We make sure not to go too long without doing something."
Williams has her own CD — her fourth — that she's putting the final touches on, an album of original Christian pop influenced by her own struggles, which includes being bullied. She laughs that she hopes listeners will be inspired, even if that sounds cliched.
"Sometimes you're going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed or some situation might have you down in the dumps, but you have to choose to be happy," she said. "I'm choosing life. And I'm hoping this album makes people want to choose life."
In the meantime, there's her fifth stage show to concentrate on. Williams adds the character of Sandra Isadore to a list that includes the title role of "Aida" on Broadway and Roxie Hart in "Chicago" on Broadway and in London.
"People might look at my resume and be confused. I'm not just one thing," she said. But switching genres and projects — she one day wants to record jazz and bluegrass albums — comes naturally.
"People I look up to did it all the time — Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye," she said. "Sometimes I'm like, 'Man, I really should be more like my other peers and really stick to one thing,' but I love what I do."