New music: Toni Braxton & Ne-Yo

We’ve been blessed with new music from two of R&B’s most amazing artists – Toni Braxton and Ne-Yo.

Toni Braxton – Long As I Live

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Toni Braxton “Long As I Live”

Toni Braxton’s new song, Long As I Live, has literally been on repeat since I first heard it a few days ago. In the song, Toni is singing about tripping over the love of her life, also her ex, who has moved on and she’s having to hear about another woman living the life she once lived with him. It’s really one of those songs you play on Friday night while drinking all the wine in the house and then drunk dial your ex. However, I like it because Toni’s vocals are so mellow, yet give so much life – and the beat just flows. The overall vibe of the song is late 90s to mid-2000s and I’m all the way here for it. We need more of this – a revival of R&B music.

Ne-Yo – Good Man

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Ne-Yo “Good Man”

If art is imitating life, Ne-Yo must be a very happily married man. His latest song, Good Man, is basically an ode to his significant other with proclamations of fidelity, assuring her that her that the day he married her he was committed to being a good, honest, faithful man – despite what the haters and naysayers have to say about it. The song samples a bit of D’Angelo’s legendary song, How Does It Feel, and the overall vibe of the song is mid to late 2000s.

 

I get super excited when I hear new music that has a pure R&B sound. Being a genuine music lover, I listen to EVERYTHING, but my first love was R&B and my favorite era was the 90s, so I obviously have an affinity for love songs. Toni Braxton and Ne-Yo are two artists I can always turn to for a good R&B fix.

Girlfriends: The End of an Era

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Girlfriends

The final two episodes of Girlfriends aired 10 years ago after eight seasons. It was an end of an era for the sassy, crazy, sexy, cool comedic series and I, personally, was in my feelings for a hot minute when the show ended.

Each character brought completely different personalities to the table and they were super entertaining to watch.

Jill Marie Jones’ (Toni) departure from the show raised some eyebrows, but the show went on without much of a hitch – even though her character was truly missed. Toni brought an irreplaceable characteristic to the series.

I would love to see a reboot of the show with ALL the original cast members and characters on board but if that never happens, I’ll just keep imagining a remake — and I’ve even come up with my own cast selection:

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Joan Clayton (originally played by Tracee Ellis Ross): Jordin Sparks

  • Jordan Sparks made her film debut in 2012 as Sparkle Anderson in the remake of Sparkle. She has also made appearances on several TV shows.

Lynn Searcy(originally played by Persia White): Jennifer Freeman

  • Jennifer Freeman appeared in You Got Served and Johnson Family Vacation back in 2004. She is probably best known for her role as Claire Kyle on My Wife & Kids, with Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin. She also appeared on Real Husbands of Hollywood with Kevin Hart, and the series, Tales, on BET.

Maya Wilkes(originally played by Golden Brooks): KeKe Palmer

  • KeKe Palmer is best known for her roles in Akeelah and the Bee and Madea’s Family Reunion, and also for her lead role on the TV show True Jackson, VP, which aired on Nickelodeon. She also portrayed singer Chilli in the TLC biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story which aired on VH1 in 2013 and had a lead role in the movie Brotherly Love which hit theaters in 2015.

Antoinette “Toni” Childs(originally played by Jill Marie Jones):Aeja Lee

  • Aeja Lee is currently a cast member on BET’s The Quad. Her character, Tiesha Tyson, is an aspiring news reporter with a lot of sass and a pretty fly wardrobe.

William Dent(originally played by Reggie Hayes): George O. Gore

  • George O. Gore is probably best known for his role as the dim-witted teenager on My Wife and Kids. He also appeared on BET’s Second Generation Wayans in 2013. Back in the 90s, George appeared on the police drama New York Undercover and the crime drama, Juice.

Wishful thinking never hurt anyone.

Where Are They Now: Dominique Dawes

Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes

We’ve been celebrating Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas since their gold medal wins back in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Their successes gave hope and inspiration to young girls around the world, especially the little girls with an extra dose of melanin who watched as brown-skinned women who look like them conquered their goals.

Leading the way for Simone and Gabby were amazingly talented black Olympic gymnast trailblazers like Dominique Dawes, who was the first black person, female or male, to win an Olympic gold medal. Dawes’ Olympic predecessors, Luci Collins – who was the first black female to make an Olympic team back in 1980, and Betty Okino – the first black woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze) in gymnastics, broke boundaries and provided a source of hope for aspiring gymnasts those who felt like Olympic success for black girls was too far-fetched in the sport of gymnastics.

The year was 1996 and the city was Atlanta. For a girl who was once considered by critics to be too bow-legged and “knobby” kneed to achieve major success as a gymnast, everyone was watching as the beautiful, petite, black woman leapt and tossed her way into Olympic history. For many young black girls, the ’96 Olympics was likely the first time there was even the slightest bit of interest in watching the gymnastic portion of the Olympic games. The excitement of having someone who looked like us on the US Olympic gymnastics team kept us glued to the TV to ensure we didn’t miss a second of Dominique’s melanin magic.

After securing the gold medal with the “Magnificent Seven,” which was the first American gymnastic team to take the Olympic gold medalist title, Awesome Dawesome (as she was so affectionately nicknamed) did more competing and winning, and later went on to graduate college. Dominique was tapped to appear in music videos for legendary music icon Prince and rapper Missy Elliot and also took a stab at Broadway. She made history yet again by becoming the first spokeswoman for the Girl Scout’s “Uniquely Me” campaign in the early 2000s and she also became the youngest President of the Women’s Sports Federation during her tenure in the mid 2000s. She was inducted into the 2009 class of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, being the first black woman inductee. Dominique has done activist work for autism, motivational speaking for the youth, and has contributed her fitness expertise to various causes.

She recently spoke out regarding the sexual abuse scandal involving USA Gymnastics national team doctor, Larry Nassar. Over 150 victims spoke of sexual abuse from Dr. Nassar while being treated for sports injuries. Though Dominique was not one of the abused, she made a statement via Facebook on January 20, 2018 expressing empathy and stated that the culture of the gymnastics industry “made it ripe” for predators to prey on young girls because their future success is partly “in the hands of the adults in power.”

Dominique and her husband, who wed in 2013, are raising four little girls – two of which were recently welcomed into the family in January 2018.  Check them out on her Instagram page.

History made, goals achieved, beautiful family. Dominique has shown us that we can do it all.

 

Two Gospel Artists Whose Music Will Bless Your Life.

There are many, many gospel artists whose music soothes my soul on a daily basis – Kirk Franklin, Jekalyn Carr, Michelle Williams, Joshua’s Troop, Le’Andria Johnson, & Deitrick Haddon – just to name a few. However, a couple of artists have resonated with me on a deeper level lately. We go through phases in life during which we are drawn to different music and experiences, according to our mental & spiritual state. At this point in time, listening to Donald Lawrence speak positivity over my life and Marvin Sapp’s smooth vocals encouraging me to persevere & thrive is what my mind & spirit requires.

Donald Lawrence

Two Gospel Artists Whose Music Will Bless Your Life - Drama & Controversy
Donald Lawrence

When your life is REALLY in shambles, you might need to queue some Donald Lawrence to get things back in order (after calling on the good Lord of, course). His music is a ministry in itself – he speaks life back into the lifeless and provides double doses of hope to those suffering a hope deficiency by declaring the power of God and the nature of His promises to those who believe. Even if you’ve been a little down on faith, Donald will nurture your ‘mustard seed’ into full blown abundance.

The self-proclaimed “Song Psychotherapist” and provider of “Transformational Wisdom” got his start as musical director of a gospel group comprised of singers from three cities in North Carolina named the Tri-City Singers (the crew is reportedly back together & recording new music!). Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers went on to record some heavenly music that has, assuredly, changed a few lives – or a few minds, at least. The Stellar Award-winning crew gave us songs like Go Get Your Life Back, You Are An Heir, God’s Favor, Seasons, & Usher Me to draw inspiration and keep focused on the positive. Donald later went solo and blessed us with songs like The Gift, Spiritual, There Is A King in You to remind us of the power within us that was endowed by God to allow each of us to live our best life.

Donald Lawrence is one of my top go-to gospel artists when I need an immediate boost of positive energy. Blasting his music in the morning before starting the day actually improves my mood and helps me to be more impervious to negativity throughout the day – even on MONDAYS.

Marvin Sapp

Marvin Sapp - Drama & Controversy
Marvin Sapp

Some people are absolutely anointed musically with the ability to deliver a message that resonates at the deepest levels and Marvin Sapp definitely falls into that category. During the darkest of times, queueing a Marvin Sapp song will trigger a glimmer of faith and hope, allowing you to find the strength to keep moving forward. He has been through the darkest of times – losing his wife, mother of his three children. His strife, heartache, desolation, and later triumph, allow him to deliver music in a manner that is authentic and honest.

Marvin sang with Fred Hammond in the gospel group Commissioned prior to starting his solo career. His most popular song, Never Would Have Made It, from his second solo album is still an inspirational staple all these years later, as well as Perfect Peace. Some personal favorites of mine are My Testimony, and Live – speaking of perseverance over trials and tribulations through faith. You Are God Alone reminds us that no matter how big our problems seem or the severity of the negativity surrounding us, God is the ultimate source of our wisdom & power – His will for our lives is above all else & no natural entity has the ability to alter God’s favor.

Marvin is not afraid to broaden his musical horizons. He recorded a song with Xscape veteran and RHOA cast member, Kandi Burruss, named Stay Prayed Up – and it’s amazing, although it stirred up a bit of controversy due to Kandi’s “worldly ways” – *severe eyeroll*. Reaching a wider audience with a positive word should never be considered a terrible thing. I, personally, had the song on repeat for a week, at least.

I’m not a perfect Christian, at all. I listen to all types of music. I don’t go to church like I should. My level of patience leaves much to be desired. I’m just a human who believes in God, trying to find inspiration to make it through the perilous times on this journey called life. Donald Lawrence & Marvin Sapp are two musical earth angels who have blessed my life with an inspirational soundtrack to brighten even my darkest of days.

WCW: Michelle Williams

IMG_5674Michelle Williams: Resilient. Compassionate. Transparent. While a guest host on ‘The Talk’ last year, Michelle was very open about her battle with depression & brought the taboo topic to the forefront on national television: “So many people are walking around acting like they’ve got it all together and they’re suffering.”

“I swear, it got so dark and heavy, because sometimes you feel like, I’m the provider, I take care of people, I’m not supposed to be feeling this way.”

Despite her battle with depression, Michelle has persevered through the negativity thrown her way over the years and continues to flourish and WIN! She has a new man, she’s ventured into entrepreneurship, and she continues to inspire others through motivational speaking. She will be a guest speaker this summer at Sarah Jakes Roberts’ conference, Woman Evolve.