Smooth grooves, powerful vocals, heartfelt lyrics and just plain feel-good music best describe KEM’s instantly recognizable sound. His new album, “What Christmas Means” is a 10-track album compilation of original Christmas compositions as well as traditional holiday classics.
“This is definitely not a throw-away Christmas record,” said KEM during his recent Philadelphia visit. “It is well thought out, and everybody that worked on this record, they paid attention to details. We wanted to make something that you all would be listening to help celebrate your holidays for years to come.”
In 2002, the self-taught musician wrote and produced his critically acclaimed debut solo album, “Kemistry,” which spawned the hit single “Love Calls.” The classic track went on to break records for longevity on the Urban A/C chart while the disc achieved gold-plus status and solidified KEM’s position as a leading man in the world of jazz-influenced R&B music.
The success of his gold certified follow-up CD, 2005’s “KEM Album II” — which debuted at an impressive No. 5 on Billboard’s all-important Top 200 Chart — proved KEM’s staying power in the very competitive world of R&B. The once homeless singer has turned his talent into an illustrious career, and earned three certified RIAA, two Grammy nominations, a role in the film, “Sparkle,” and a global touring presence as well.
Music saw singer/songwriter/producer, KEM, through the darkest moments in his life as a child, which is where his love of music began. After high school, his life took a downward turn, and he eventually found himself in and out of drug rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters. Music was his solace during those times, and he played the shelter’s piano every night. He hit rock bottom when after breaking shelter rules, he was relegated to sleeping outside. It was there that he became determined to change his life.
“My faith is my foundation,” explains the R&B balladeer. “When you hear it, it is purposefully placed through all of the music, and I look at what I do as a ministry. I’ve been allowed to overcome, not only overcome, but thrive. So, I think that when we’re in a position to do this, when we have this experience that most people do on some level, that we have a responsibility and privilege to carry the message, if you will, so it’s in the music. And, I don’t make any bones about that on the record, or from the stage. My hope is that you all are not just entertained, but that it helps me with what I’m doing and it edifies your life. That’s really what it is: I’m on a mission that’s bigger than myself.”
The singer wanted to cover several aspects of the season, and even highlights his Detroit hometown music roots on the collection’s last tune. “ ‘Doo Wop Christmas’ is homage to that era,” notes KEM. “It puts you in the mindset of standing up under a street light on 8 Mile Road, five guys harmonizing with themselves in the dark. I have a good friend of mine, Fred Mitchell of The Floaters; he’s on the record, as well as some really good singers that I know in Detroit. So, Doo Wop Christmas is definitely one of my favorite records on the album, and also speaks to the fundamental reason for the season: the birth of Christ.”
On this holiday collection, KEM pays homage to his faith with the release of his first outright gospel tune. “‘Glorify The King’ is really a gospel song,” said Kem. “It is a revision of the song where I took the one time Christmas appears out, and changed that line so that the gospel radio stations could play that record all year round. So, it is definitely a bonafide gospel song; it’s the first time on the secular side of what I do, this is the first time that I worked with a choir on one of my records, the Hallelujah Singers of Detroit.”
KEM’s Christmas album, "What Christmas Means" ’ is currently in stores and can be purchased on iTunes or Amazon.com.
It seemed only fitting that the ultimate silence of one of urban radio’s most powerful and influential voices would draw thousands in tribute to his life. Longtime WDAS AM/FM radio personality Joe “Butterball” Tamburro was laid to rest on Thursday during a standing-room-only Mass of Christian burial at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City Philadelphia.
Tamburro, who died on July 27 at age 70, was eulogized by members of his radio family who spanned the arc of Tamburro’s career.
The first speaker was fellow radio icon state Representative Louise Williams Bishop, who recalled insisting that her former husband, Jimmy Bishop, (the then-WDAS program director in 1964) hire the young man. Bishop not only put Tamburro on the air, he slapped the portly young man with the nickname “Butterball.” Within months, “Butter” was a hit with listeners — and was a popular on-air presence until his death.
During the hour-plus service, current WDAS FM mid-day host Patty Jackson delivered a biblical passage, which drew a round of applause in recognition of her decades-long friendship with Tamburro, whom she called her “mentor.”
Monsignor Arthur E. Rodgers also received applause when he recalled Tamburro as an Italian-American from South Philadelphia who was an avid admirer of African-American rhythm and blues music culture. Prior to landing at WDAS, the aspiring radio disc jockey played at record hops around town for legendary Philadelphia on-air personality Hy Lit. The lessons he learned there, he would eventually bring to the airwaves for the next 47 years.
As program director for WDAS, Tamburro was uniquely attuned to the station’s faithful listeners for 25 years. He maintained the sound heard on WDAS AM/FM by selecting the music played, choosing the jocks that played the music and going on air himself. It was a winning formula that drew high ratings for the stations, as his distinctive touch and charming personality warmed the hearts of listeners for nearly five decades. Tamburro had often shared that he smiled when he spoke on the air, thus creating a soothing bond that listeners responded to as friendly.
According to a station spokesperson, Tamburro had been battling complications from heart disease and diabetes, and was in his Haverford home at the time of his death last week. In passing, Tamburro is survived by his wife, Cynthia, five adult children and eight grandchildren.
The Evoluer House Executive Director Cheryl Ann Wadlington testified on Monday, March 5 at the request of 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass in regard to City resources that can be used to lessen the strain on the Philadelphia School District during its time of budget woes. Over 600 girls have graduated from Wadlington’s core program — the Evoluer Personal Development Workshop — which has successfully operated since 2001.
“I cannot stress enough, it is time for the city to step up to address issues that are facing youth in Philadelphia,” said Wadlington. “Teen violence is out of control, the STD rates are at epidemic proportions — particularly as it relates to girls of color — and studies show that when you provide access to positive developmental materials, young people will develop better self-esteem which can only enhance their quality of life by eliminating violent behavior, and contribute to better participation in school.
“So when character education, which is what we do, becomes a part of educational offerings the following are improved: student attendance, school climate, and positive attitudes towards themselves and others. Even though there are budget cuts in the education system, and even if you do institute more funding for the educational system, no matter how much you educate a person, if they do not feel good about who they are on the inside they still will not perform at their highest level.”
Wadlington’s testimony coincided with the March release date of her book, “The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect” (The Elevator Group, $15.95), a hands-on guide (co-penned with Sonya Beard) that advises girls of all ages on fashion tips and beauty secrets, playing nice with friends and keeping guys in check, and how to handle themselves in cyberspace and in the real world — all while keeping their cool points. It also addresses more serious issues that affect a girl’s self-esteem and her ability to succeed. This book isn’t full of random “shoulds” to memorize. It explains all the “whys,” so today’s girl can make wise decisions.
Over many years of operating her popular modeling seminars, self-image workshops and urban charm school, Evoluer House in Philadelphia, Wadlington has talked to — and listened to — thousands of girls. She knows their interests and struggles; she understands where they’re coming from and where they’re going. “My whole mission is to empower women,” explains Wadlington. “This book is the first time I am ever revealing my background, because sometimes when you’re on a mission you don’t look back. Then I had a vision of what I wanted to be, and now that I’m older I look back and I am so happy that I am alive, but by the grace of God I am.”
When she was in the sixth grade, Wadlington’s father died and everything changed. The flood of emotions overwhelmed the Southwest Philly youngster, and her family life went into a tailspin. “I started out as a troubled child because of all of that built up anger that I had when I lost my dad, like a lot of people when they lose their dad,” recalled Wadlington. “And in the Black community, they think that a herb or church will cure everything as opposed to therapy, so I had to go along my way the best way I could. I just was angry, and angry at everything I could see so I went to reform school.”
Wadlington went on to major in advertising and communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and fashion merchandising at Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Ga. This strong educational foundation in fashion communications and history led her to develop an exceptional style of fashion reporting. While her style established her as a highly sought after consultant throughout the East Coast, she recalls that she had to overcome some major obstacles to achieve her goals. “I’ve been an international fashion editor for years, written tons of books and been a college professor,” says the author.
Today, Wadlington can count decades of working in the international fashion and beauty industries, is an accredited member of the press corps for New York City’s annual “Mercedes Benz Fashion Week” and is a co-author and contributing editor of “SoulStyle: Black Women Redefining the Color of Fashion” (Rizzoli/Universe Publishing).
Wadlington has received countless proclamations for her contributions to youth development from the governors, mayors, premiers and more. Most recently, she’s appeared on the silver screen in “The Tents,” a 2011 documentary chronicling the history and evolution of New York Fashion Week, included Wadlington’s astute observations along with interviews of designers and front row fixtures such as Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, Tommy Hilfiger, Nina Garcia and Suzy Menkes. Currently, Wadlington’s latest book has been selected for several elite list of the 2012 style books to watch.
“I applaud this precious book,” said Princeton professor and cultural critic Cornel West. “Thank God for Cheryl Ann Wadlington!”
“The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect” will be released on March 29 and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com
Hazel Elizabeth Wadlington was born in Merchantville, N.J., to Mathilda Woodards and John W. Woodards Sr. on June 16, 1920. She died on April 24, 2012, at age 92.
Wadlington attended the Merchantville public school system and attended Temple University, majoring in early childhood development. She was wed to Eugene Elmore Wadlington and raised six children: Rashida Raheem, Linda Wadlington (deceased), Kenneth Wadlington, Curtis Wadlington, Cheryl Ann Wadlington and Jean Francis.
Wadlington worked at Veterans Administration and Philadelphia School District; the Philadelphia Naval Yard in the 1940s and as a teacher’s aide at Hickman Temple Daycare and Learning School. Wadlington was a member of Philadelphia Chapter of NAACP and took part in the original March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
Wadlington was a longtime volunteer and donor to veterans’ causes and a member of Sayers Memorial United Methodist Church in West Philadelphia. She received the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Award in the 1960s for selfless service to others. She was instrumental in integrating John Bartram High School in the 1960s, which made national news. Wadlington was a member of the Parent and Teacher’s Association (PTA) at Bryant Elementary School and held meetings at her home. Along with help of the late state Sen. Hardy Williams, who was a lawyer at the time, they took action, which forced the Philadelphia School District to build Add B. Anderson Elementary School so that children who lived below Cedar Avenue would not have to walk far to attend school. Wadlington and other women actually put their baby coaches and lawn chairs in the streets and blocked traffic in protest to force the change they wanted and eventually made happen.
Wadlington served as a coordinator for the March of Dimes and opened up her home to serve as a drop-off headquarters for donations. She opened up the first soup kitchen at Sayers Memorial United Methodist Church in the 1990s against resistance of people who did not want to have a soup kitchen at the church — they fought her and said that no poor people lived in the area. Yet, on the first day the soup kitchen opened they ran out of food, due to the large numbers of people that turned out who were in need of food assistance.
“I am comforted that she lived 92 years on this earth,” said her daughter and fashion journalist Cheryl Ann Wadlington. “And she lived a good life. She was the God-fearing matriarch of substance and style who made me the humanitarian and fearless diva fashionista I am today. I was so blessed to have her as my mom. I celebrate her victorious life.”
In addtion to her children, Wadlington is survivied by her brother, John Woodards Jr., a host of grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins.
The home-going service for Hazel Elizabeth Wadlington will be held May 5 at 11 a.m. at Sayers Memorial United Methodist Church, 600 South 61st St. A viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Interment will be at Merion Cemetery, 59 Rock Hill Road in Bala Cynwd.
This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack that brought the United States into World War II. Altogether, 2,390 Americans lost their lives that Sunday morning in the attack at Pearl Harbor. Twelve ships sank or were beached, and nine were severely damaged. The U.S. lost 164 aircraft. On the Japanese side, 64 died, five ships sank and 29 planes were destroyed.
One of the true heroes of the Japanese attack, Doris “Dorie” Miller (1919–1943) was a messman, or assistant cook, on the USS West Virginia. After dragging his wounded captain to safety, Miller, manned the .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun for 15 minutes during the attack and strafed the Japanese planes until he ran out of ammo. Despite having no weapons training, Miller is credited with downing Japanese planes. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the third highest honor awarded by the US Navy at the time, and was the first African American serviceman to receive that honor.
Before 1922, the Navy was authorized to recruit Blacks under the same conditions as members of other races. During the 1923 Tea Pot Dome scandal of the Warren Harding administration, instructions were immediately issued to discontinue recruiting “Negroes” in ratings other than messman.
According to BlackPressUSA, The Pittsburgh Courier obtained the confidential report in 1942 detailing the enlistment of Negroes. It read, in part, that “where qualified Negroes in competition for advancement in ratings attained them, an assignment had to be found where the rated Negroes exercised little or no military command” (as in giving orders to white sailors). It was against that backdrop in 1939 that 19-year-old Miller signed up for a six-year hitch as Messman 3rd class. He was soon promoted to second class, then first class, and finally to ship’s cook, third class.
“You have to understand that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president in 1932, he opened up the Navy again to Blacks, but in one area only; they were called mess attendants, stewards, and cooks,” says Clark Simmons, who was a mess attendant on the U.S.S. Utah during the Pearl Harbor attack. “The Navy was so structured that if you were Black, this was what they had you do in the Navy — you only could be a servant.”
On the morning of December 7, the Naval History & Heritage Command reported that “Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow sailors to places of greater safety. Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.”
Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained to operate: “It wasn’t hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”
Of the 1,541 men on West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded. Although Miller’s courage under fire was initially overlooked, the Black press seized his story and pressured the Navy to recognize him. In 2001, Black Press historian Clint Wilson wrote: “For months, the Navy didn’t disclose Miller’s name. In fact, his heroism wasn’t known publicly until nearly a month after the Pearl Harbor attack and then in a dispatch via Ralph Jordan, a correspondent for INS, the International News Service. It took three months of intense digging by Black reporters for the Pittsburgh Courier and other papers to finally find out the Pearl Harbor hero’s name. Miller became a celebrity when he returned stateside. He was featured on several national radio programs and a number of columnists, Black and white, praised his heroism. Two liberal members of Congress took it a step further. On Monday, March 14, 1942, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., introduced a bill authorizing the President of the United States to present Miller with the Congressional Medal of Honor “in recognition of distinguished and courageous service at the risk of his life and above the call of duty while aboard a United States battleship at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.” A similar measure was introduced in the Senate by James Mead.
Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and Pacific Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, personally presented the Navy Cross to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked: “This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race, and I’m sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.”
The Pittsburgh Courier called for Miller to be allowed to return home for a war bond tour like white heroes. In November 1942, Miller arrived at Maui, and was ordered on a war bond tour while still attached to the heavy cruiser Indianapolis. In December 1942 and January 1943, he gave talks in Oakland, California, in his hometown of Waco, Texas, in Dallas and to the first graduating class of African-American sailors from Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago.
Doris Miller reported for duty at Puget Sound Navy Yard in May1943. His rate was again raised, to Petty Officer, Ship’s Cook Third Class on 1 June, and he reported to the escort carrier Liscome Bay. After training in Hawaii for the Gilbert Islands operation, Liscome Bay participated in the Battle of Tarawa which began on November 20.
On November 24, a single torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-175 struck the escort carrier near the stern. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, sinking the warship within minutes. There were 272 survivors. The rest of the crew was listed as “presumed dead.” On December 7, 1943 — exactly two years post Pearl Harbor — PO Miller’s parents were notified their son “was dead.”
Miller’s sacrifices afforded him a reputation far above his rank. In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller received the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal – Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. In 1942, Miller’s actions were dramatized on the CBS radio series “They Live Forever” and his face adorned the U.S. Navy recruiting poster “above and beyond the call of duty.” Gwendolyn Brooks’ 1945 poem “Negro Hero” is narrated from Miller’s point of view.
Although he was not identified by name, he was portrayed by Elven Havard in the 1970 film “Tora! Tora! Tora!” In 1973, the Knox-class frigate USS Miller was named for Miller. Oscar Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. portrayed Miller in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor,” and in 1991, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor.
Nearly five years have passed since the recession began, and Americans are still feeling the sting of the struggling economy. During difficult financial times, one of the questions asked is “How should I manage my money?” In “Money on Purpose: Finding a Faith-Filled Balance” (Judson Press, $15.99), financial adviser and minister Shayna Lear presents a quiz to help you discover your own financial type. She then offers practical and faithful strategies to restore a healthy and faith-filled balance to your financial life. This candid and conversational book is written especially for African Americans, but offers insight and instruction for everyone struggling to be a faithful steward.
Are you a saver, spender, giver, or investor? How does your financial personality, revealed by these four purposes of money, affect your financial future? What are the rewards and risks of each, and what does Scripture have to say about them? “Money on Purpose” presents customized strategies for each financial type.
As executive director for the Christian Coalition for Black Marriage and Family, Dr. Harold L. Arnold Jr. recognizes the need for a faith-centered approach to financial management that speaks to individuals and couples. “In my work with African-American couples, I am constantly faced with the marital stress created by financial conflict between spouses,” explained Arnold. “‘If you want to better understand the practical basics of healthy financial management you won’t be disappointed. But if you deeply crave to sense how God has positioned you with the personality, spiritual gifts and economic opportunity to transform your family and community finances and relationships, then your prayers have been answered.”
Lear has also developed an online Leader’s Guide to facilitate “Money on Purpose” small-group discussions. “There are thousands of books on finances out there (I’ve written a few myself), but this book by Shayna is one of the best I have ever read on the subject!” writes financial adviser Lee Jenkins in the foreward. “‘In Money on Purpose,’ Shayna confirms the fact that how we handle money is first and foremost a spiritual issue. That perspective is desperately needed in today’s economy because so many people have made money their God.”
Columnist leaves Daily News after 38 years in newspapers
For more than four decades, Elmer Smith has built a distinguished career as a reporter. Today marks his last day at the Philadelphia Daily News, where he has been employed for 29 years, starting as a sports writer before being elevated to sports columnist, later to editorial columnist. Smith, 66, says his decision to retire came down to simple math: “Between the Social Security and the pension, I found that I could live.”
Smith’s journalism career began in Philadelphia 38 years ago, when he followed his then-girlfriend to college. Initially, being a reporter was not Smith's life agenda. “I had a West Philly dream for my life,” recalled Smith. “Get out of the service and get one of the federal jobs and maybe move over the Cobbs Creek Parkway, if I got lucky. I had my around-the-way girl, she was from 54th and Arch — and I’m still with her. That was the plan, the 'West Philly Plan.’”
His road to journalism came about as he was following his girl (now, his wife, the former Mary Ann Green, to whom he’s been married for 33 years) to Temple University. It wasn’t until his final year that he settled on journalism as a major. In his last semester, he was hired by the Evening Bulletin in 1973.
“The Bulletin gave the one thing any Black man, or any man, would ask for: a chance — and I was able to capitalize on it,” said Smith.
He started out as the nighttime re-write man, and moved up to City Hall reporter covering the court system, then-district attorney Ed Rendell, along with Mayors Frank Rizzo, Bill Green and Wilson Goode Sr. “It was that period with the first Black City Council President Joe Coleman and the first Black mayor (Goode). That was the era that was a great crucible for my sort of sense of the city, and in a way my worldview. It was an important stop.”
When the Bulletin ceased publication in 1983, Smith switched gears and became a sports writer with the Philadelphia Daily News. It was in his “Sports People” column that Smith started focusing on the stories of boxers. During his career, Smith has won numerous writing and civic awards including the coveted Nat Fleisher Award for lifetime achievement from the Boxing Writers Association of America, three first-place column writing awards from the Keystone Press Association, and an American Red Cross public service award for columns he filed from locations in Haiti and Somalia about the relief efforts in those hard-hit areas.
“We both share a passion for the drama of people's stories,” explained Daily News Editor Larry Platt, who was also in the trenches as a fellow sports reporter with Smith. “Elmer is a story teller and sports just happens to be the place where often the most dramatic stories reside.”
Most recently, Smith was named first-place winner in the columnist category for the prestigious National Headliners Award and was recognized in 1996 among the first-ever recipient of the WDAS radio “Claim Your Culture” award and $1,00 cash prize. He is a multiple winner of the local chapter of Sigma Delta Chi Journalism organization’s journalist of the year award and is a distinguished alum of the Temple University school of Journalism. In addition to being a founding member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ), Smith is involved with several youth outreach programs including sessions with his adopted class at the Reynolds Elementary School in North Philadelphia, as a reader for pre-school and kindergarten students in Philadelphia public schools and in mentoring efforts in the industry and with the Philadelphia Futures Sponsor a Scholar.
Today, the proud grandfather of two is happy to announce that his oldest granddaughter, Ashley, 21, a recent graduate of the University of Florida, has followed him into the news business and works at CBS3. According to his editor, Smith has spent his final days in the newsroom mentoring younger reporters about the privilege of being a journalist.
“I think Elmer is really an important voice in Philadelphia, a legend, in fact,” said Platt. “I’ve known him and liked him and read him for years, but what I’ve been struck by in working with him for the last eight months is that I don’t think there is more of a gentleman in journalism that I’ve ever met.”
Never before has gospel music and Black History come together as evocatively as it does in “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” (Zonderkidz, $16.99). From the dream team behind the Coretta Scott King award-winner “I See The Rhythm,” illustrator Michele Wood and writer Toyomi Igus blend the rhythm of gospel with the remarkable history of African Americans to deliver a powerful message to young readers across the globe.
Igus is the author and editor of several books for children, including “Two Mrs. Gibsons” and the award-winning books “Going Back Home” and “I See the Rhythm.” A former editor and publications director for UCLA’s Center for African American studies, Igus has been honored for her work in promoting literacy among children.
“Gospel evolved from the early African-American spiritual, but no one can say exactly when and where the spiritual got it’s start. Did enslaved Africans copy and change the European Christian and folk music? How many African slaves were exposed to Christianity before they were brought to the Americas? Did those slaves bring their own African releigious songs to the New World and modify them? Did slaves create their own unique songs? Historians are still asking these questions. What we do know is that theAfrican-American spiritual was born out of the brutality of slavery and evolved into what we know today as ‘gospel music.’ It is a response to the centuries of injustice and discriminations endured by enslaved Africans.”
With vibrant illustrations inspired by the beautiful retelling of monumental moments in Black History, “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” teaches young readers about the history of America as inspired by the energy of gospel music. From the beginning of slavery in the 1500s to Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, to the civil rights movement and the inauguration of America’s first African-American president in 2008, “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” brilliantly recaptures milestones in history while introducing young readers to key leaders who came before them.
“In this book, Michele and I want to take you on a trip through time to learn more about African Aemrican history and gospel music. We want you to see through Michele’s pictures and my words how the lives of African Americans—and our spirit—infuenced the music and how the music influenced our lives. How gospel music expressed our pain and sorrows, uplifted our souls and gave us the strength to endure and survive.”
Children and adults will be captivated by the inspirational emotional and compelling blend of poetry, art, and music in “I See the Rhythm of Gospel,” as well as the bonus music CD included in this book.
Like the Old Testament heroine who inspired her name, Ruth Yuell faced a life of disadvantages. As a Negro born in St. Louis in 1939, Yuell entered a world dominated by segregation and racism. As a young woman who fought for her people through non-violence, she encountered brutality from powerful whites and ridicule from militant Blacks. She also weathered terrible storms of scandal and betrayal. Like her biblical namesake, Yuell overcame her hardships through hard work, determination, piety and courage.
“Paths of Promise” (Phoenix Publishing) tells the story of Ruth Yuell — a woman of honor and conviction who made remarkable sacrifices for her family, her community and her faith by looking forward toward a brighter future for all Americans. Within a novel covering the turbulent span of history from Jim Crow through the Civil Rights Movement, author Donna J. Grisanti traces one Black woman’s struggle for equality and justice, for validation and respect and for love.
Yuell’s story opens and concludes in Chicago, 1967 — in an emergency room. During a peaceful demonstration for fair housing right, Yuell gets swept up and injured in a crowd's reaction to overzealous police officers. While waiting for medical attention, she seizes on a visit from a successful white journalist — who happens to be one of her closet friends from college — as an opportunity to share her life story. “I want to tell everybody what you can go through and get through, and still stay true to yourself and what you believe,” Yuell declares to her old friend Norma.
Yuell’s dream of having it all — a fulfilling career as a nurse, the perfect marriage and the respect of her community and the white establishment — seemed within reach. Until Christmas break of 1958, when a horrific crime ripped her world apart and abruptly turned her from victim into a villainous capable of murder. Through flashbacks, “Paths of Promise” tells the story of a fictional woman with a firm, proud place in history. Thorough her courage and unshakable character, Ruth Yuell proves her father’s belief: “One person can make change happen.”
In the eyes of most of America, and certainly most of white America, Redd Foxx was an “overnight sensation,” materializing on television in 1972 at age 49 as the bow-legged, chest-clutching junk man Fred Sanford on the hit NBC sit-com, “Sanford and Son.”
But, as biographer Michael Seth Starr recounts in “Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story” (Applause Books, $27.99), Foxx arrived on the set of “Sanford and Son” as a street-smart, natural-born comic, who, through sheer talent, guile and unbridled self confidence, overcame a life of poverty in the slums of St. Louis to make his mark on three entertainment genres: stand-up comedy, recorded nightclub comedy, and, finally, television.(Dec. 9, 1922 – Oct. 11, 1991),
With the 1956 release of “Laff of the Party,” Foxx was crowned “King of the Party Records,” and while his frank, trailblazing style opened the door for generations of African-American comedians, including Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, it did little for his own career. Shielded from mainstream (that is white) audiences both by the color of his skin and his refusal to tone down his ribald act, Foxx eventually clawed his way up the show business ladder, breaking through in Las Vagas and New York and appearing in a few films before the first episode of “Sanford and Son” changed his life completely. Foxx took the country by storm in January 1972 as crotchety Watts junk dealer Fred Sanford (Foxx’s actual name was John Elroy Sanford) and was propelled to become one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. Fred’s histrionic “heart attacks” (“It’s the big one, Elizabeth! I’m comin’ to join ya, honey!”) and catchphrases (“You big dummy!”) turned Fred Sanford into a cultural icon and Redd Foxx into a millionaire.
The show took Foxx to the pinnacle of television success, but it also proved to be his downfall. In 1977, Foxx left “Sanford and Son,” after six highly successful seasons (and the show was canceled solely due to his departure) to star in a short-lived variety show, but by 1980 he was back playing Fred G. Sanford in a brief revival/spin-off, “Sanford.” The veteran comedian would come to define his post-“Sanford and Son” years with a blur of women, cocaine, endless lawsuits, financial chaos and a losing battle with the IRS. Foxx appeared to be making a comeback with the 1991 series “The Royal Family,” in which he co-starred with his long-time friend, Della Reese, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. Foxx, who was 68 years old when he died, reportedly owed more than $3.6 million in taxes.
Based on Starr’s interviews with dozens of Foxx’s friends, confidantes and colleagues, this biography provides unique insight into this venerable performer — a man television producer Norman Lear describes as “inherently, innately funny in every part of his being.”