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Lifetime presents ‘The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel’ (VIDEO)

LIFETIME has released the trailer for the highly anticipated biopic about gospel music icons—The Clark Sisters. The film is produced by Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige and debuts on Easter Sunday 2020. 

The film stars Aunjanue Ellis stars as the sisters’ mother, Mattie Moss Clark and features Christina Bell as Twinkie, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard as Karen, Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda, Raven Goodwin as Denise and Angela Birchett as Jacky. 

The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel recounts the story of the highest-selling female gospel group in history and their trailblazing mother, Mattie Moss Clark. Credited with bringing gospel music to the mainstream, the five Clark sisters overcame humble beginnings in Detroit, enduring abuse, loss, rejection, betrayal and sibling rivalries to achieve international fame as icons of the gospel music industry. 

Watch the trailer below: 

PHOTO CREDIT: LifetimeTV

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First Look at Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin for ‘GENIUS: ARETHA’ [PHOTO]

Check out Harriet star Cynthia Erivo as the late, great “Queen of Soul,” ARETHA FRANKLIN. The Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy Award – winning performer is starring as the music icon in the new National Geographic production GENIUS: ARETHA.


“Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing myself to embody the Queen of Soul, from relistening to her music to discovering her rare interviews and reading some amazing books on her – all to really capture Aretha’s attitude and spirit,” said Erivo. “I’m truly humbled to be working alongside a very talented and musical team. Together, we’ll serve the Queen and create something special.” 


GENIUS: ARETHA also features Courtney B. Vance (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) as C.L. Franklin, David Cross (“Goliath,”,”Arrested Development”) as Jerry Wexler, Malcolm Barrett (“Timeless,” “Preacher”) as Ted White, Patrice Covington (Broadway’s “The Color Purple”) as Erma Franklin, Kimberly Hébert Gregory (“Vice Principals”) as Ruth Bowen, Rebecca Naomi Jones (“The Big Sick”) as Carolyn Franklin and Sanai Victoria (“Black-ish”) as Little Re.

The eight-part limited series will premiere on National Geographic in May 2020 in 172 countries and in 43 languages. 

Stay tuned…

PHOTO CREDIT: National Geographic/Richard DuCree

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Ray Cornelius to co-host AHF’s ‘World AIDS Day Concert’ on 12/5 [PHOTOS]

Happy Wednesday family and welcome back to RayCornelius.com.

Allow me to apologize for disappearing on you guys in November but I was having some serious tech issues with the site. However, we are back up and running and I have a lot of catching up and sharing to do with you.

“Drumroll please…”

It gives me so much pleasure to announce that I will be co-hosting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) “World AIDS Day Concert” tomorrow night (Thursday, December 5) featuring R&B, pop and dance music diva DEBORAH COX, R&B and soul music prince RAHEEM DEVAUGHN and hip hop artist KCAMP. It all goes down at Center Stage Atlanta beginning at 6:30 p.m. and is FREE and open to the public.

This is actually my second time working with AHF and I am completely thrilled that they asked my back. I gave the opening remarks during their 2017 screening of Nathan Hale Williams‘ indie short 90 Days during the BronzeLens Film Festival.

Tomorrow night’s concert is the last of several events AHF presented commemorating World AIDS Day (December 1). Check out photos below from the Los Angeles show which featured POSE star and Tony Award winning actor and singer BILLY PORTER and R&B/Hip Hop icon FAITH EVANS + the Dallas show which featured TEYANA TAYLOR and living legend and music icon DIANA ROSS.

Photo Credits: Walik Goshorn/AHF

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‘Divas Simply Singing’ to honor iconic songwriter Diane Warren (VIDEO)

Sheryl Lee Ralph‘s DIVAS Simply Singing!, the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the United States, hosts its 29th annual fundraiser for The D.I.V.A. Foundation at the Taglyan Cultural Center in Hollywood, California on World AIDS Day, Sunday, December 1st.

The evening of song and entertainment spotlights the talents of D.I.V.A. (acronym for Divinely Inspired, Victoriously Aware) individuals from all walks of show business. The foundation stems from Sheryl’s deep concern for the lack of attention given to AIDS in the early years of its discovery and its potential to become a health risk not only for men but women and children. It also benefits Project Angel Food.

DIVAS Simply Singing! is thrilled to honor Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy winning, and 10-time Oscar nominee, legendary songwriter Diane Warren with the DIVAS Legacy Award. A tribute of her hits will be included in an evening filled with spectacular performances by Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee and star of NBC’s This is Us, Chrissy Metz; Grammy, Emmy, two-time Grammy and Tony Award-nominated actor/producer Brandon Victor Dixon, multi-platinum recording artist & Grammy nominee Deborah Cox; singer, songwriter, speaker and actress Rhonda Ross, Shanice (Grammy Nominated Singer & Songwriter), Kathy Sledge (Grammy Nominated Recording Artist & International Entertainer), Terrell Carter (Singer and Actor from FOX’s Empire) many more! All of the concert’s participants’ lives have been touched or affected by HIV/AIDS. 

“After 29 years, I’m encouraged by the advances the pharmaceutical and medical communities have made with HIV medications, prevention, and overall care. We now live in a time where it is possible for a person living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load and not be able to transmit HIV sexually. During this time, we have also been able even to treat and cure Hepatitis C. While we have come a long way in this fight, I’m sad that we still don’t have a cure – there is still a reason to fight for those we love!” says The DIVA Foundation founder Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Over the years, DIVAS Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Teena Marie, Tremaine Hawkins, Natalie Cole, Karen Clark Sheard, Yolanda Adams, LaShun Pace, Dottie Peoples, Jennifer Hudson, and many more have raised their voices in song on the DIVAS stage. CLICK HERE for tickets.

Here is one of my favorite Diane Warren songs from Patti LaBelle titled If You Asked Me To:

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Watch New ‘Bad Boys For Life’ Trailer #2 (VIDEO)

Sony has released a second trailer for Bad Boys For Life starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

According to the film’s IMDB page, Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) is now a police inspector and Mike Lowery (Smith) is in a midlife crisis. They unite again when an Albanian mercenary, whose brother they killed, promises them an important bonus.

The film, which was partially shot in the ATL, also features Vanessa HudgensAlexander LudwigCharles MeltonPaola NunezKate Del CastilloNicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.

 Bad Boys For Life arrives in theaters on January 17, 2020.

Check out the heart-racing trailer below:

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TV One’s ‘Urban One Honors’ to air January 20, 2020

TV One is pleased to announce that its annual URBAN ONE HONORS is set for Thursday, December 5, 2019 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The two-hour telecast will air on January 20, 2020, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. 

URBAN ONE HONORS is presented by TV One and Radio One’s Washington D.C. market’s cluster of radio stations: Majic 102.3 and 92.7; WKYS 93.9, Praise 104.1, WOL 1450, Spirit 1340, and The Team 980 and 95.9. The televised event will herald the accomplishments of individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in entertainment, media, music, fashion, sports, education, and the community. It will also pay tribute to the 40-year history of Radio One, the radio division of the company, and its extraordinary founder, Cathy Hughes

“I give praise and thanks to God from Whom all blessings flow for the opportunity to be of service to my community for these 40 years,” said Hughes. “I always say that Radio One is my second baby next to my son and business partner, Alfred Liggins. I am immensely grateful for the men and women who have worked to help make Radio One a success. It started as a single radio station and is now a media family with two cable television networks and various digital media platforms. I look forward to celebrating this milestone and recognizing others who are doing phenomenal work in their industries.”

The program will feature a star-studded line-up of presenters and honorees as well as special musical performances. It will serve as an annual commemoration of the achievements of black and brown people and broadcast their contributions to our culture and global society. 

“African Americans have had a tremendous impact on society and culture, a fact that we’re excited to celebrate with the telecast of the annual Urban One Honors on TV One,” said Rice. “As we honor the 40th-anniversary milestone of Radio One, Ms. Hughes’ outstanding contributions as a media pioneer, and the impact of the honorees, we’re proud to continue the network’s mission to represent the richness of the black experience.” 

The inaugural URBAN ONE HONORS was held on December 9, 2018, at the Anthem in Washington, DC, and was hosted by REACH Media Syndicated Radio Host DL Hughley. The 2018 class of honorees included: Jermaine Dupri, April Ryan, DJ Khaled, Rotimi, Marvin Sapp, Brandy, June Ambrose, Doc Walker, Shaun King, Benny Pough, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jade Novah, Dr. Nadia Lopez, Tracy Martin, and Sybrina Fulton.

Stay tuned…

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Sneak Peek of ‘Oprah at Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo’ (VIDEO)

OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network has released a sneak peek of their upcoming OWN Spotlight: Oprah at Home with Lupita Nyong’o and Cynthia Erivo. It airs this Saturday, October 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

Winfrey and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o discuss colorism in Hollywood and if it still exists. Nyong’o’s newest project is her children’s book “Sulwe,” which features a 5-year-old girl who has the darkest skin color in her family. On shelves starting October 15, the picture book inspires children to love their uniqueness and to discover that beauty comes from within. Nyong’o also opens up about thriving in an industry she feels was not made for her, speaks about her critically acclaimed starring role in Jordan Peele‘s “Us,” and shares her experience winning “Best Supporting Actress” for her performance in “12 Years a Slave” at the Academy Awards in 2014. 

Then, Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo joins Oprah to talk about her starring role in the upcoming film, “Harriet.” Erivo discusses her preparation to play Harriet – on a physical and spiritual level – as well as the controversy surrounding her casting in the role. 

In addition, Lupita Nyong’o’s interview will be available on ‘Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations‘ podcast beginning Wednesday, October 30 and Cynthia Erivo’s interview available on Wednesday, November 6. 

Watch a sneak peek below + more photos:

PHOTO CREDITS: OWN

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‘Queen & Slim’ star Jodie-Turner Smith covers ESSENCE

All hail the Queen!

Jodie Turner-Smith is getting her shine on as the face of the November cover of ESSENCE magazine. The British-born model and actress with Jamaican roots is captured as never before by noted photographer JD Barnes. This is all in anticipation of her new film—Queen & Slim—which opens in theaters November 27.

As previously reported, the film follows Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) a couple on their first date when a police officer pulls them over and things take an unexpected turn. The film is directed by Melina Matsoukas with a screenplay by Lena Waithe.

Take a look at the full cover below:

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AAFCA honors the ‘Movies of Motown’ with TCM (VIDEO)

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) continues its partnership with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with a special celebration of the films of Motown. Last year the two teamed up to present The Black Experience on Film, putting diversity and inclusion in cinema at the forefront with a month of programming on TCM curated and hosted by AAFCA members. This year, the two have rejoined forces for AAFCA Presents: Motown Productions on October 22, featuring AAFCA member Christopher Witherspoon, who joins TCM host Alicia Malone to screen and discuss the classic Motown films THE LAST DRAGON, LADY SINGS THE BLUES and MAHOGANY.  

“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Turner Classic Movies showcasing the cinematic universe of Motown,” said AAFCA President/CEO Gil Robertson. “Motown chairman Berry Gordy is a visionary known for creating the soundtrack to American life, but his cinematic contributions are largely unsung, and they shouldn’t be. Fueled by Gordy’s creative genius and bold vision, Motown Productions offered the world a chance to see images of Black life that had never been seen before: a Black Kung Fu master, a Black female model and designer and a timeless biopic of the legendary Billie Holiday that earned Diana Ross an Oscar® nomination. It’s just incredible.” 

“TCM’s mission is to showcase films with context and curation, and we are so pleased the experts at AAFCA are joining us again this year to highlight the importance and originality of Motown Productions, the extension of Gordon’s Motown Records music label,” said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming & production, TCM. “We are proud that this partnership will continue to bring both important programming and a critical perspective to our audiences.”

Check out Ms. Ross’ mesmerizing Lady Sings the Blues performance of “Good Morning Heartache” below:

PHOTO CREDIT: TCM.COM

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#UPFRONT featuring Patrick L. Riley, Troy Powell and Ronald Williams (AUDIO)

This weekend’s edition of UPFRONT is all about #BlackBoyJoy. It features my conversations with Troy Powell, artistic director of Ailey II, Ronald Williams from The Collective Culture and media sensation Patrick L. Riley

Ronald Williams is here to chat about the upcoming stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best selling book Between the World and Me The event takes place this Tuesday, October 22 at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall and features a who’s who list of talent including Lynn Whitfield, T.I., Killer Mike, Ledisi, Omar J. Dorsey, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Pauletta Washington and more. Between the World and Me is Coates’ attempt to answer life’s questions in a letter to his adolescent son. The event is being presented by The Apollo Theater, The Collective Culture + NBAF (National Black Arts Festival).

Artistic Director of Ailey II—Troy Powell—is here to chat about their upcoming Atlanta engagement at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State. The evening will feature new works from Bradley Shelver, Andrea Miller and former Ailey dancer Kirven Douthit-Boyd. Yours truly will be hosting a conversation with Troy following the performance. 

Closing out UPFRONT is my conversation with producer, media star and WCLK alumnus Patrick L. Riley. He stopped by to chat about his new book, That’s What Friends Are For: On the Women Who Inspired Me. It chronicles his relationships with some of the biggest DIVAS in music, TV, film and stage including Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P. Henson, Vanessa Williams and Wendy Williams

Listen to my full unedited conversation below and CLICK HERE for the entire UPFRONT show:

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Mary J. Blige, Marlon Wayans, Titus Burgess and more added to ‘Respect’

More big names have been added to the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect starring Oscar winning actress and music icon Jennifer Hudson.

Tony Award winning actress and Broadway diva Audra McDonald (she was actually in the running to play Aretha) will be playing Aretha’s mother along with ATL’s own Saycon Sengbloh as Aretha’s eldest sister Erma, Hailey Kilgore as her sister Carolyn and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as her father—Rev. C.L. Franklin.

Grammy Award winning singer and Oscar nominated actress Mary J. Blige will be playing jazz and blues singer Dinah Washington while Heather Headley will portray Gospel music legend Clara Ward.

Other additions include Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland and Skye Dakato Turner as the young Aretha.

Respect is being directed by Liesl Tommy and is being filmed here in Atlanta, GA. The movie is expected to arrive in theaters on August 14, 2020.

Thank You PLAYBILL!

PHOTO CREDIT: RAYCORNELIUS.COM

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UPFRONT’s BTS Coverage of ‘The Reel Divas’ Photo Shoot (VIDEO)

Check out my behind-the-scenes UPFRONT coverage of #TheReelDivas photo shoot that was featured on DEADLINE.COM this week. The glossy image has generated a lot of buzz on social media and includes 20 of Georgia’s most prominent black women filmmakers, producers, directors, content creators and actresses.

The event was conceived by writer, producer and filmmaker Cas Sigers-Beedles (BET’s Angrily Ever After and TV One’s When Love Kills) and was inspired by the star-studded photo shoots in Vanity Fair’s annual “Hollywood Issue.” She along with producer extraordinaire Ty Johnston-Chavis (Atlanta Pitch Summit) reached out to women like actress and director Jasmine Guy (A Different World, Grey Anatomy), director and filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper (Versailles ’73) and producer Dianne Ashford (Ambitions).

The event took place on a Sunday morning in September at Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center and was photographed by Donna Permell.

Other #ReelDivas members include: Terri J. Vaughn (Actress + Director + Producer), Rhonda Baraka (Writer +Director), Denise Hendricks (Producer), Gieva Stinchcomb (Producer), Star Smith (Line Producer), Wanda Shelly (Executive Producer), Autumn Bailey Ford (Producer), Angi Bones (Executive Producer + Director), Samantha Ramirez-Herrera (Content Creator), Tammy Garnes (Producer + Actress), Wendy Eley Jackson (Writer + Producer), Angela Barnes Gomes (Writer + Director), Tamra Simmons (Executive Producer), Shante Paige (Producer), Lisa “Captain” Cunningham (Writer + Producer + Director).

PHOTO CREDITS: Donna Permell + RayCornelius.com

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Wanda Sykes to host ‘2020 Bounce Trumpet Awards’ (VIDEO)

The 2020 Bounce Trumpet Awards is headed to Tinseltown and will be hosted by EMMY® Award-winning comedian, actress and writer Wanda Sykes.

For the first time in its history, the Bounce Trumpet Awards will be held in Hollywood, taking place at the Dolby Theatre. It will tape Dec. 4, 2019 and will world premiere nationwide on Bounce on Sun. Feb. 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET for Black History Month. Bounce, the fastest-growing African-American network on television, exclusively owns, produces and telecasts the event. Visit www.trumpetawards.com for more information.

“Relocating the Bounce Trumpet Awards to Hollywood gives us an opportunity to build upon the show’s enormous entertainment value by tapping into Hollywood’s talent resources,” said Bounce’s Executive Vice President of Original Programming David Hudson. “Wanda Sykes is the perfect person to helm this year’s Trumpets. Not only is she hilarious and brilliant, she has broken many barriers in her career from being the first African-American woman to host the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to conceiving and starring in her own prime-time sitcom. She truly personifies the spirit of the Trumpet Awards – an inspirational celebration of Black excellence.”

Sykes has been called “one of the funniest stand-up comics” by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly‘s 25 Funniest People in America. Her smart-witted stand-up has sent her career in many different directions. She can be seen in her first Netflix comedy special Wanda Sykes: Not Normal, which was nominated for two Primetime EMMY® Awards. She also was seen in the EMMY®-winning reboot of Norman Lear’s The Jeffersons. She is currently in production for two shows she is producing and writing through her Push It Productions banner.  

Hudson will serve as Executive Producer of the 2020 Bounce Trumpet Awards, along with Rikki Hughes, CEO of Magic Lemonade Productions. Hughes is an EMMY® and GRAMMY®-winning producer of award shows, comedy specials and independent features. Her credits include four comedy specials with Dave Chappelle for Netflix, HBO’s upcoming comedy special All Def Comedy, The BET 25th Anniversary Special, The BET Comedy Awards and more.

The Bounce Trumpet Awards were conceived to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of African Americans and those who have succeeded against great odds and inspired success in others. Founded in 1992 by American Civil Rights leader Xernona Clayton, The Trumpet Awards were acquired by Bounce in 2016.

Check out my coverage from this year below:

PHOTO CREDIT: Bounce TV

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High Museum of Art Presents ‘Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series’

Atlanta’s famed High Museum of Art presents Something Over Something Else: Romare Bearden’s Profile Series on display now through February 2020.

The exhibition’s title is based on a 1977 New Yorker article written by Calvin Tompkins about Bearden’s illustrious career. The biographical essay and the experience of being interviewed, inspired Bearden to create his own word-and-picture elaborations on the decades of his life spanning from the 1910s to 1940s.

“I really think the art of painting is the art of putting something over something else.” ⁠—Romare Bearden

According to the High, this is the first reassembling of Bearden’s Profile exhibitions and are in the original order along with the text as Bearden first intended.

In addition to the exhibition, the High will also be hosting a series of community events about Mr. Bearden’s life and influence including an intimate conversation on Friday, October 25. It features Spelman College President Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell and Ailey II Artistic Director Troy Powell as they discuss the decades-long friendship between Mr. Bearden and dance legend Alvin Ailey.

Click here for more information and see you there!

PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF HIGH MUSEUM OF ART