Recent Articles

A Madea Christmas mixes mirth and message in modern holiday parable


Mabel “Madea” Simmons is the moralizing, motor-mouthed senior citizen created and first introduced on stage by the incomparable Tyler Perry. The compulsive granny is a self-righteous vigilante who can’t help but intervene on the spot whenever she sees an innocent victim being bullied by a sadistic villain. At the point of departure in A Madea Christmas, the eighth screen adventure in the popular film series, we find her working as Mrs. Santa Claus in a downtown Atlanta department store. The seasonal job affords the politically incorrect impersonator an opportunity to shock kids and their ears-covering parents with a profusion of her trademark off-color asides and English-mangling malapropisms.

Soon after she’s unceremoniously relieved of her duties, Madea decides to drive with her niece, Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), to tiny Bucktussle, Alabama to spend the holidays with the latter’s daughter, Lacey (Tika Sumpter), the local schoolmarm. What neither of them knows is that Lacey recently eloped with a likable local yokel but failed to inform her mom about the marriage because Conner (Eric Lively) is White. Continue Reading →

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Beyond the Lights

Movie Review

By Raymond Jackson

Contributing Writer

It has been a while since I’ve seen and heard a Hollywood production with excellent and spectacular appeal. Beyond the Lights is bound to appeal to the young and the old, Black and White. It’s very versatile in its delivery. It is written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the same writer and director of Love & Basketball. She landed a winner in the starring role, Noni, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Continue Reading →

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Kiana Marie: Hometown songstress has big-time talent


Brilliantly gifted vocalist Kiana Marie (www.kianamarie.biz) is fast-tracked for success and comes by it honestly. You could say she was born and bred to the craft, as her family has been part of Twin Cities music for generations. Sitting at a South Minneapolis coffee shop, she acknowledges, “The support and teachings that have come from my family are my foundation. Music and performance [have] always been … part of my household. Continue Reading →

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Monk Trumpet Competition brings out the stars







Marquis Hill beat 13 trumpeters to win the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition last Sunday, November 9, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The 27-year-old Hill, of the south side of Chicago, Illinois, secured a $25,000 music scholarship. The competition began in 1987 and remains the most prestigious honor for a young jazz musician. Also, Bill Clinton, lifelong devotee of jazz

and the 42nd President of the United States, accepted the Institute’s Maria Fisher Founder’s Award. According to a press release, “Presented by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (the world’s preeminent jazz education organization), the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a major scholarship and a guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group for the winner.” The accomplished group of trumpeters Quincy Jones, Jimmy Owens, Arturo Sandoval, Ambrose Akinmusire, Randy Brecker and Roy Hargrove served as this year’s judges. Continue Reading →

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Keith a singing movie star?

He’d caught a catnap on the flight from the Twin Cities. Middle of the afternoon, filming in Chicago at Rosa’s Lounge, Keith sat at the bar wondering just how much longer it’d take. He’d never quite got used to the hurry-up-and-wait of making a movie. Even the tech crew, who were all accustomed to this kind of thing, clearly were bored to their bones. He finished thumbing through the local edition of the New York Times, absently humming Bobby Womack’s “Facts of Life.” Sipped at his drink. Continue Reading →

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Dear White People: Satire takes sophisticated look at Ivy League race relations

The academics are tough enough at Winchester University, a mythical Ivy League institution. It’s too bad that Black students there also have to worry about making themselves comfortable socially. That’s precisely the predicament we find a quartet of African American undergrads facing at the point of departure of Dear White People, a sophisticated social satire marking the directorial and scriptwriting debut of Justin Simien. Earlier this year, the thought-provoking dramedy won the Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival. The picture’s protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Continue Reading →

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Freddie Bell back on morning local radio

Longtime broadcaster joins comedian and singer for his return to KMOJ
A legend returns: Freddie Bell, a favorite for years with Twin Cities listeners, is back in the Twin Cities at KMOJ-FM’s The Morning Show. AM drive time with the quintessential easygoing, ever-friendly voice is once again an engagingly personable experience. Many of us a recall a return to the air some time back under less-than-desirable circumstance. His program was pulled from the KMOJ airwaves, fans raised a royal phone-calling, letter-writing ruckus that got him right back behind the microphone and in the cars and homes of a loyal audience. How many radio professionals can you count on one finger, with room left over, who’ve had that sort of impact? Continue Reading →

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Walter Chancellor, Jr.: Music man works to keep jazz alive in Twin Cities

Saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, educator, arranger, and music producer Walter Chancellor, Jr. has been prominent in Twin Cities jazz and R&B the past two decades. After constant touring early on, he moved to Minneapolis from Des Moines, Iowa, lessening the need to travel quite as much in order to play. Shortly after the move, he performed and recorded with Prince, appearing on two songs for the three-disc album Emancipation (released 1996). He also has worked with a long list of premiere artists, including Chaka Khan, Larry Graham and the Pointer Sisters. Since the late 1980s, Chancellor has been instructing students in audio and video postproduction for Minneapolis’ renowned Institute of Production and Recording. Continue Reading →

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