Renowned Poet and Author Maya Angelou Dies at 86

Maya AngelouMaya Angelou, the renowned poet, author and civil rights activist with the unmistakably regal voice, has died. The author of the celebrated autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was 86 years old.

Her death comes less than a week after Angelou announced she would not attend the 2014 MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, citing “health reasons.” Last month, she also canceled an event in Fayetteville, Arkansas, because she was recovering from an “unexpected ailment” that left her hospitalized.

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, under the name Marguerite Annie Johnson, and was raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and San Francisco, after her parents sent her off to live with her grandmother in California when she was fresh with a white store clerk in Arkansas.

Between Angelou’s fiction, non-fiction, and published verse, she amassed more than 30 bestselling titles

Angelou was also a trailblazer in film. She wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film “Georgia,” and the script, the first-ever by an African-American woman to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

In more recent years, it was her interactions with presidents that made headlines. In 1993, she wowed the world when her reading of her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” was broadcast live globally from former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She stayed so close with the Clintons that in 2008, she supported Hillary Clinton’s candidacy over Barack Obama’s.

She also counted Nelson Mandela and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as friends, and served as a mentor to Oprah Winfrey when Winfrey was starting out as a local TV reporter. When she was in her 20s, Angelou met Billie Holiday, who told her: “You’re going to be famous. But it won’t be for singing.

In North Carolina, Angelou lived in an 18-room house and taught American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Born Again: BET Bringing Back “Celebration of Gospel”

Tamela-Mann1 (1)The people have spoken and their voices were apparently heard!AlwaysAList.com is happy to report that BET has had a change of heart as it pertains to their annual special “Celebration of Gospel.

After being bombarded with calls to its main phone line and emails to its website, in addition to high-ranking executives at the company being called by many of Gospel’s top tier artists, BET will not move forward with canceling “Celebration of Gospel” even after previously deciding to end the franchise.

On May 1, AlwaysAList.com reported that BET had opted to cancel the yearly special despite its stellar ratings and it being the number one gospel/religious telecast on TV for 14 consecutive years.

Apparently, BET’s previous decision to cancel “COG” was strictly based on the show “not being profitable,” as it was explained by one BET executive who spoke to us anonymously.

“It was simple, the sales team said they couldn’t sell the show because it was a gospel show and without those big sponsorships, the show cost money to produce but didn’t make money for the network,” the source elaborated. “But BET never imagined ending this show would cause the outcry that it received from the viewing public and have decided to see if they can make things work.”

AlwaysAList.com was told several months before the airing of the 2014 “COG” in early April that the special was being cancelled. Things were solidified at BET’s upfront presentation to advertisers in New York when the show was omitted as one of the network’s returning “Mega-Specials.”Candice-Glover

In a follow-up document serviced to the media following the upfronts, the show was nixed from the production lineup as well.

Apparently, BET was overwhelmed by the backlash for cancelling its top-rated salute to gospel.  Privately the network started telling several artists that the show was omitted from the upfront presentation because “it was moved to a new month.” However, the award show special “Black Girls Rock” has also been moved to a new month but was still highlighted for advertisers and the media at the upfronts.

While a concrete date has not been solidified for “COG,” a new production schedule issued to employees late last week has the show slated to tape in September/October 2015.

BET originally taped “COG” each December and aired it in February for Black History Month. In 2012, the show started taping in March so that it could air in April closer to Easter.

With “COG” now scheduled to tentatively tape in late fall next year, it would likely air around Thanksgiving

Erica-Campbell

First Look: Flex & Shanice Premieres on OWN

flex_shanice

When 90s pop singer Shanice & actor Flex Alexander hit troubled times, they took drastic measures and moved their extended family into a rental house. Now the fun and drama run high in a very full house, especially due to Flex’s opinionated mother-in-law.

Tune in to the premiere of Flex and Shanice on Saturday, May 31st @ 10/9c.

 

“Mary Mary” Season Finale THURSDAY Night WE tv 9:00pm ET/CT

unnamedNew York, NY — Erica Campbell has been nominated for a BET Award in the Best Gospel Artist category, it was announced today.   This is her first nomination as a solo artist and is being recognized for her solo debut HELP.   Campbell, has won three previous BET Awards, as part of Mary Mary.

HELP was released on MyBlock Inc / eOne earlier this year and was an immediate hit.  The CD, heralded as one of the best gospel albums this year, debuted at Number 1 on the Top Gospel Chart and Number 6 on the Top 200 Chart.   HELP was the number one gospel album for 4 weeks in a row, and has maintained the number one slot for 6 weeks total.   The title track, “Help,” is number 6 on the Gospel BDS chart and continues to connect with audiences across the country.

Erica can be seen this summer headlining the McDonald’s Inspiration Gospel Tour.  The multi-city tour will make stops in 11 markets, including: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Jackson, Los Angeles, Memphis, Newark, Oakland, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh.

The New York Times recently said “her [Erica’s] performance, as a whole was something rare – poised, emphatic, nongrandiose, self-contained, empathetic, extravagant.”

In its third season on WE tv, Erica’s hit show, “Mary Mary,” has garnered the best ratings to date. The season finale airs tomorrow May 15th at 9pm ET/CT on WE tv.