Whitney Chose To Do This….

ImageBefore I begin I’d like to take time to offer my condolences to the Houston and Brown families who’ve suffered both a media and character lynching that was totally uncalled for. Also how the families have been presented as distant and not on speaking terms. Over the last week the media and all its power have made a shamble of the life of singer Bobby Brown in light of the world losing one of its greatest vocalist that was beloved by millions of music fans all over the world. How the media portrayed both Whitney Elizabeth Houston and Bobby Brown is nothing less than tabloid fodder and music fans as well as members of the entertainment have finally stepped up to the plate and had enough.

As you recall, two weeks ago Whitney Elizabeth Houston died in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton where she was staying for this weekend’s Grammy-festivities. Police and medical officials concluded no suspect foul play was involved and she died of the lethal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol. Ms. Houston was found in her room around 4:00pm lying on the floor non-responsive and paramedics were called on the scene. For nearly 20 minutes the paramedics tried to revive her but to no success. She was 48.

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Whitney Elizabeth Houston was on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey to Russell and Cissy Houston. Cissy, Whitney’s mother, is a successful Grammy-Award winning vocalist backing artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Mahalia Jackson. She’s also the aunt of Dionne Warwick. When she was four the family moved to East Orange, New Jersey where the young Houston would sing as child. It was the church where Whitney got her real training and also where she learned how to play the piano. She also went on the road with her mother as she hit the nightclubs and cabarets. 

As a child she knew that she was going to be a entertainer but she left the world a icon at a cost.

Whitney’s teenage years were spent singing background vocals with Chaka Khan, The Neville Brothers, Jermaine Jackson, Lou Rawls, the Michael Zager Band, and Paul Jabara. She also was successful model who was the first African-American to appear on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She also appeared in Young Miss, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan Magazines.

Her rise as a vocalist caught the attention of many noted record producers in the early 1980’s including Martin Bisi, Ben Dover, and Bill Laswell. A call from one of Clive Davis’s A & R guys suggested that he see the young Houston perform in a New York nightclub that her mother was performing in started the meteoric and rise of a new voice that would change popular music forever. Davis signed Whitney in 1983 but didn’t start to work on her project until he had the right producers, songwriters, and press to back the young vocalist. She appeared on the late Teddy Pendergrass’s single “Hold Me” reaching number # 5 on the R & B charts.

On April 29th, 1985 Whitney made her national debut on the Merv Griffin Show who was introduced by her mentor and record executive Clive Davis. Davis would tell the audience about her being so young(she was only 19) and having the complete package. Her self titled debut album “Whitney Houston” was budgeted to cost $200,000 but ended up costing Arista Records close to $400,000. The album took over a year and half to record due to the fact that the material wasn’t suitable for her gospel oriented voice. The record produced the hit singles “You Give Good Love,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “Greatest Love of All,” and “How Will I Know.” In 1986 she was nominated for four Grammy Awards including: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Best Female R & B Vocal Performance, and Best R & B song. Houston won for Best Pop Vocal Performance. The record has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and made Whitney more than a household name.

Throughout her career she’s recorded 11 records selling over $200,000,000 copies worldwide.With appearances Hollywood blockbusters “The Bodyguard,” “Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Preacher’s Wife,” Houston was about to become one of those crossover artists like Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand to reign on the silver screen.

It was her marriage to singer Bobby Brown that changed the path of the talented vocalist. For 15 years their marriage reflected the highs and lows of the media tabloids. She and Bobby did their fair share of drugs and abuse to each other. And it reflected it over the years. Whitney didn’t record or perform for nearly 8 years and when she recorded her last album in 2009 “I Look to You,” music critics and fans were elated. The album was written and produced by the likes of Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Eric Hudson, Diane Warren, David Foster, and R Kelly. The project was overseen by her mentor Clive Davis. The album was Houston’s fourth number #1 album in her career.

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On Saturday the world came to New Hope Baptist Church to pay their last respects to Whitney who died at the age of 48. It was star studded event with musical performances from The Winans family, Alicia Keys, R Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Kirk Whalum, and the New Hope Baptist Church Choir. Other important speakers included director Tyler Perry, actor Kevin Costner, and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Marvin Winans took home with his stirring eulogy on preparation by faith. This was beautiful home-going service for a vocalist that was beloved by fans including myself. 

But on the other side of Whitney’s death the role the media played during these last two weeks were devastating. Members of the media not only further damaged singer Bobby Brown’s reputation, they were extremely disrespectful to the Houston family and helped create a rift between them and the press, something that added to media fuel fire. 

All week leading up to Whitney’s funeral, Bobby, was implicated in many reports that members of the Houston family didn’t want the former ex-husband and father of Bobbie Kristina, not to attend the service. Even the day of the funeral Brown looked like the bad guy. Even up to him leaving his ex-wife and daughter’s funeral on Saturday. In a statement issued by a representative of Brown after Houston’s funeral he states: “My children and I were invited to the funeral of my ex-wife Whitney Houston. We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions.” Brown stresses: “I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move,” he adds.  “Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene. My children are completely distraught over the events. This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur. I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.”

For whatever reason Mr. Brown was denied the right to see his former wife, the last I recalled, Whitney made the decision to marry Bobby Brown. For 15 years Whitney stayed with the singer and her career spiraled downward. That included her drug abuse, the physical and mental abuse by her former husband, as well as the up and down theatrics of her behavior. If memory serves me correctly, Whitney decided to do all this, not Bobby. For almost 17 years it was her that chose the path of Bobby, not Bobby! This is something the press didn’t cover at all. Yet, Bobby Brown was treated like a social Judas and was denied the most basic right, to pay his respects to see his former wife. And again, the press had a field day with this as well.

Before I close, I feel as a journalist and social critic that I should shed some light on a the role of hypocrites from a biblical perspective. In the book of James, chapter 3, verses 10-12 states: “10)Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11)Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12)My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” Simply what this verse stresses is that the media praised the life and homecoming of Sister Houston, yet, the press were major hypocrites in starting a rift between the Houstons and the Browns. Also, the press did a very bad job presenting a one sided view of Bobby Brown when Whitney was much a part of her personal demons that she created. Remember, my job as a journalist to present both sides of the story. And in doing that, it seems that Whitney seems to be the one a fault here. Also the fluid slippery slope view of the press. Bobby and Whitney were young and at another place in time where they married up into the time they divorced. So maturity plays unto their marriage both on a spiritual and physical level. 

Both you and I aren’t perfect in any shape form or fashion. Neither was Bobby or Whitney. Leave Bobby alone and let him live a life of dignity and love despite what his past used to be.

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

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Mourning Whitney Elizabeth Houston

 

It seems like the last couple of weeks the world has lost a lot of icons that have made important strides in the world of the arts. Sister Etta James, Brother Don Cornelius, and now vocalist Whitney Houston. Like Brother Don who helped launched a lot of careers for 35 years; Whitney was an important and very influential vocalist who was a major influence on the next generation of vocalists during the 1990’s ranging from Mariah Carey to Mary J. Blige to Christina Aguilera. During the 1980’s Whitney was one of a few vocalists that helped reinvent pop music through a new medium called Music Television that helped excel artists and groups like her to sell tens of millions of records globally. Her voice was unique and her range was out of the world.

A representative for Ms. Houston told the Associated Press Saturday afternoon she died in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton where she was staying for this weekend’s Grammy-festivities. Police and medical officials don’t suspect foul play was involved and are currently conducting an autopsy. She was 48. Ms. Houston was found in her room around 4:00pm lying on the floor non-responsive and paramedics were called on the scene. For nearly 20 minutes the paramedics tried to revive her but to no success.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was on August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey to Russell and Cissy Houston. Cissy, Whitney’s mother, is a successful Grammy-Award winning vocalist backing artists such as Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and Mahalia Jackson. She’s also the aunt of Dionne Warwick. When she was four the family moved to East Orange, New Jersey where the young Houston would sing as child. It was the church where Whitney got her real training and also where she learned how to play the piano. She also went on the road with her mother as she hit the nightclubs and cabarets.

As a child she knew that she was going to be a entertainer but she left the world a icon at a cost.

Whitney’s teenage years were spent singing background vocals with Chaka Khan, The Neville Brothers, Jermaine Jackson, Lou Rawls, the Michael Zager Band, and Paul Jabara. She also was successful model who was the first African-American to appear on the cover of Seventeen Magazine. She also appeared in Young Miss, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan Magazines.

Her rise as a vocalist caught the attention of many noted record producers in the early 1980’s including Martin Bisi, Ben Dover, and Bill Laswell. A call from one of Clive Davis’s A & R guys suggested that he see the young Houston perform in a New York nightclub that her mother was performing in started the meteoric and rise of a new voice that would change popular music forever. Davis signed Whitney in 1983 but didn’t start to work on her project until he had the right producers, songwriters, and press to back the young vocalist. She appeared on the late Teddy Pendergrass’s single “Hold Me” reaching number # 5 on the R & B charts.

On April 29th, 1985 Whitney made her national debut on the Merv Griffin Show who was introduced by her mentor and record executive Clive Davis. Davis would tell the audience about her being so young(she was only 19) and having the complete package. Her self titled debut album “Whitney Houston” was budgeted to cost $200,000 but ended up costing Arista Records close to $400,000. The album took over a year and half to record due to the fact that the material wasn’t suitable for her gospel oriented voice. The record produced the hit singles “You Give Good Love,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “Greatest Love of All,” and “How Will I Know.” In 1986 she was nominated for four Grammy Awards including: Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Best Female R & B Vocal Performance, and Best R & B song. Houston won for Best Pop Vocal Performance. The record has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and made Whitney more than a household name.

Throughout her career she’s recorded 11 records selling over $200,000,000 copies worldwide.With appearances Hollywood blockbusters “The Bodyguard,” “Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Preacher’s Wife,” Houston was about to become one of those crossover artists like Diana Ross and Barbara Streisand to reign on the silver screen.

It was her marriage to singer Bobby Brown that changed the path of the talented vocalist. For 15 years their marriage reflected the highs and lows of the media tabloids. She and Bobby did their fair share of drugs and abuse to each other. And it reflected it over the years. Whitney didn’t record or perform for nearly 8 years and when she recorded her last album in 2009 “I Look to You,” music critics and fans were elated. The album was written and produced by the likes of Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Eric Hudson, Diane Warren, David Foster, and R Kelly. The project was overseen by her mentor Clive Davis. The album was Houston’s fourth number #1 album in her career.

I vividly remember Whitney as one of the great vocalists of the 1980’s MTV and BET machine during the infancy of the new music television medium. Her songs along with her pop-driven produced records were the frenzy of my teen oriented days of middle and high school. Whitney’s distinctive voice definitely matured as she got older and is now in the great class of departed greats like Etta James, Phoebe Snow, and Phyllis Hyman. The pop diva will be sorely missed by music fans she’s touched over the last 30 years. Rest in peace Ms. Houston.

 

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Brian Pace

The Pace Report

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

 The Voice

Last Train To Soulsville: Remembering Donald Cortez Cornelius

On Wednesday morning of last week, I received some of the most horrific news out of Los Angeles, California. I was saddened to hear about the loss of Brother Donald Cortez Cornelius, the creator and host of the iconic television show “Soul Train.” Mr. Cornelius was found dead in his Sherman Oaks home in California of an apparent suicide attempt due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head early Wednesday morning.

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I had to stop for a long moment because as a 39 year old black journalist and host of The Pace Report, I couldn’t but think about how Brother Cornelius has had an impact on what I do for a living, but how this man put many black performers on the map. Also what he did for black music and our culture. For 35 years “Soul Train” was an institution for many African-Americans from New York to Philly to St. Louis to Oakland; every Saturday morning and afternoon this program was the perfect way to end the week. Brother Don showed black America what was happening in the world of music, fashion, the arts, and politics. His legacy will always be remembered. 

Before I reflect on Mr. Cornelius’s legacy and his death, first one must really understand the vision and power behind “Soul Train” and the founder’s humble beginnings. 

Donald Cortez Cornelius was born on September 27, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. Cornelius grew up in the Bronzeville section of Chicago and graduated from DuSable High School. Upon graduation he joined the Marines and then served 18 months in Korea. When he returned to Chicago the worked as an insurance and car salesman. But he joined Chicago Police Department where he was an officer for three and half years. It was during a routine stop that Officer Cornelius was told that he had a great voice and thought he should go into radio. He then quite his job as a full-time officer to attend broadcasting school where after the graduated worked at the legendary WVON in Chicago. WVON, then owned by Phil and Leonard Chess of the legendary Chess Records record label, stood for Voice of the negro. WVON was the staple of the black community and was one of the most important stations in the country. Cornelius only had $400 dollars in is account and it paid off well. He became a reporter and read news while working there.

But it was his brief stint as a broadcaster at WVON where he had a revolutionary concept of creating a show that showcased the black performers of the day in the homes of local Chicagoans. Don introduced the idea of a dance show with live performances as part of the back drop of what would become “Soul Train” to WCIU-TV owner Howard Shapiro. George O’Hare, former advertising manager for Sears in Chicago, would become one of the first advertisers of the show. Within the first two weeks of the show, it was an immediate local hit. But, one of Don’s primary motives to hosting and producing a program like this was he would have complete ownership of the show, a first for African-Americans during the early 1970’s. Also, Don wanted to present blacks in a more positive light and give them press at a time when shows American Bandstand and Shindig didn’t give much media attention to African-Americans. On August 17, 1970 “Soul Train” debuted in Chicago.

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The impact was immediate in Chicago because it focused on the best black talent in Chicago but some of the best names that came through the Windy City also appeared on the show. Acts and performers like B.B. King, The O’Jays, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, and Garland Green. Also, the teenagers were also part of the show’s success. They made an impact on the wearing the latest fashions, introducing the latest steps, as well as keep local Chicagoans on top of the latest of the latest in the black community. Brother Don was the eyes and ears of what was going on while in the background maintaing ownership of what would become one of the most important black shows in the history of television.

Brother Don took the show and the vision to the next level. He moved to Los Angeles, California and took the show with him. He struck a deal that would syndicate the show in seven cities which would allow him to expand over the next couple of years. On October 7th, 1971 the debut of the national show had a larger and more elaborate show with soul group Gladys Knight and the Pips as the first group who performed on the show. The show after the first season went from 7 seven markets to 50 by 1972. One of the show’s staple and signature part was the famous Soul Train Line. This was a time when they played a real popular song of the day and a man and woman would dance down the line together. In those 4 to 5 minutes, the dancers would present some of the hottest dancers and wear some of the hippest clothing at the time.

During the rise of this show, blacks rushed to watch Soul Train because this was the ONLY show that gave a major platform for African-American businesses like Johnson Products that visually took their hairline products to the black community. Other major advertisers began catering to the black viewing audience via Soul Train during the 1970’s into the 80’s. Companies like McDonalds, Ford Motor Company, and Coca-Cola. Soul Train also promoted black artists and groups that wouldn’t make the other major mainstream shows like The Tonight Show, American Bandstand, and Good Morning America or The Today Show. Groups like Funkadelic, Mandrill, Earth, Wind and Fire, The New Birth, and other Funk laden groups got wide exposure as well as helped them crossover to the mainstream. Soul Train allowed political activists like the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to express their views on the plight and problems of the African-American community.

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Don Cornelius was a visionary that allowed blacks to be viewed as being ourselves every week in a positive and respectable light. As I stated earlier, I couldn’t do the what I’m doing without the vision and perseverance of taking control of one’s destiny as well as giving something in return without any expectations. Over the last couple of days, artists from young and old, ranging from Aretha Franklin to Jill Scott, held Don’s vision and what he’s done for a lot of recording artists can never be replaced. From the Soul Train lines that many African-Americans perform at weddings to family reunions, the show’s presence has steeped in the psyche of black culture. Shows like Yo MTV Raps and Video Soul became staples in black culture due to Don’s love for the music and relentlessly wanted blacks to be seen a positive light. My role as a journalist and interviewer is now more evident as the world is producing more mindless music and the lack of quality of news has fallen by the waste-side. Brother Don brought a level of coolness, sophistication, and sense of pride to be black. Thank you from the depths of my heart and to the many you’ve influenced and gave over the last 35 years. Thanks Brother Don…….

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com

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Insane Takes From The G.O.P

“I think out society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. I think they’re all insane. But I am liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what is insane about it. Don’t you agree?”

                                                          John Lennon-Activist & Singer

 

I think I’d open this week’s weekly column with the late John Lennon’s quote about the insanity that’s taken place over the last week with the latest developments with the “grand ole party,” the Republicans. In the last two weeks the G.O.P’s movement and actions have shaped into a cross between a bad Fellini film and a crack party turned haywire. But the most beautiful thing about the G.O.P’s actions have shown much of America their REAL true colors. The backstabbing between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul due their lack of support waning in South Carolina, now looks like Florida, have members of the “grand ole party” now endorsing former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich. Now that the voice and clear vision of the G.O.P has been given their new voice of choice, Mr. Gingrich, the means of the old school right wing has resurfaced due the current state of the past platform of President Ronald Reagan.

Over the last three years the American people have seen how both members of the G.O.P in the House and Senate have stalled the President’s bills and seen the progress of how this country hasn’t moved forward. In another move to further separate and add more racist rhetoric to the fire, Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal wrote some interesting comments in a e-mail that he sent calling for the death of President Barack Obama. O’Neal wrote a prayer “Pray for Obama, Psalm 109:8.” The e-mail was used as a means for House Speaker O’Neal for the death of the President. O’Neal even used the Old Testament scriptures from Psalm in the bible as a means to communicate his message. Psalm 109:8 states: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” But the speaker wishes as he states in the e-mail: “at last-I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for out president! Look it up-it is word for word! Let us bow down our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!”  In the book of Psalm 109 verses 9-10 reads: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg; let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.” Again, these kind of statements and using God’s word show ones blatant disrespect for the President and his family. It also shows the lack of him and his party for not stepping up and not giving the Speaker a punishment for his actions.

Later during the week, President Obama headed to Phoenix, Arizona for a series of fundraisers for his reelection campaign. As he exited from Air Force One he was greeted by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The two had exchanged words and the famous picture that surfaced between the two of the Governor raised a lot of controversy due to her pointing her finger at the President. Many in the press and those by the water cooler thought it was a sign of disrespect for her to do that to the President. Over the last couple of years, the two haven’t met eye to eye on the Justice Department’s legal ramifications of her laws on immigration. In fact, the Obama Administration has called Governor Brewer’s immigration law “misguided.” The insanity of how the State of Arizona has strict guidelines in racial profiling especially random police checks to see if suspects are illegally here in the U.S. Arizona lawmakers along with Mrs. Brewer believe the 2010 Bill that they signed would curtail and prevent non-citizens from getting jobs. Also, Governor Brewer released a book in November of 2011 titled “Scorpions for Breakfast” in which she adamantly talks about how President Obama’s views on immigration and his healthcare plan. Both President Obama and Governor Brewer brushed off the incident as nothing of relevance, but any parent who raises a child knows from an early age, never to point your finger at anyone while their speaking. Apparently the Governor lost all respect and manners while addressing a person of the highest office in the country.

Finally, after a long hard battle former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has beaten both G.O.P candidates in Florida. While Mitt was singing and Newt was praising Reagan, Rick Santourm was “voted off the island!” Santourm only got 13% of Florida’s primary voters and his voice along with Texas Congressman Ron Paul were lost in the Romney’s rise to top. Romney won 52 percent to Newt only holding 28 percent, a far cry from his South Carolina primary win a little over a week ago. Much of Romney’s success in Florida has to deal with the fact he and campaign supporters outspent Newt more that 5 to 1. Also, Romney gained a lot of support from Florida’s older voters and a rise in Hispanic voters that also went to the polls. Many of the Hispanic community were turned off by Newt’s old school conservative views on immigration and tax legislation he proposed to for lower class working force. 

In a recent Wall Street Journal poll, they asked voters “who would they vote for if the election were today?” In a surprising vote, Mitt Romney leads over President Obama 46% to 45%, just one point. So, what this means is, the President still as a shot, but, most of America is still up in the air on lots of current issues that the current administration hasn’t dealt with. Also, something else to think about. In a USA Today poll, readers were asked, “are they satisfied with your current members of Congress and Senate?” A resounding 56% of the readers are disappointed with their current representatives and want change in Washington.

Congress has been on this lynching mode for President Obama to fail for the last three years. The evidence is in their voting record as well as the negative rhetoric that many members of the G.O.P have stated over time. John Lennon’s assessment is correct in that Washington has now become what he states as a place where “society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. I think they’re all insane!” Lennon is very accurate and America does deserve better. The President seems to have a good view of how this country can move forward, but with the G.O.P wanting to move backwards to Reagan’s place in American politics moving forward in 2012 and beyond, to me that’s utterly insane!

 

 

The Revolution Will Be Televised

Brian Pace

The Pace Report   

www.thepacereport.com

thepacereport@yahoo.com