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Brandy, Deborah Cox and more appear at ‘Divas Simply Singing’

Check out photos from the Sheryl Lee Ralph‘s recent DIVAS Simply Singing! It took place at the Taglyan Cultural Center in Hollywood, CA and is the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the United States.

Created and produced by the Tony Award-nominated actress and benefitting Project Angel Food, 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.

Continuing to serve as a loving tribute for those diagnosed with and affected by HIV/AIDs, the goal of DIVAS Simply Singing! is to erase stigma, raise awareness and promote HIV/AIDS prevention through arts and education. The D.I.V.A. Foundation uniquely uses the transformational power of the arts as a vehicle to raise funds, awareness, erase the stigma still connected to HIV/AIDS, mental wellness, and educate people about STDs, including HIV, Hepatitis C, and other life-threatening diseases. 

DIVAS 2019 honored Grammy, Golden Globe, Emmy winning, and 10-time Oscar nominee, legendary songwriter Diane Warren with the DIVAS Legacy Award at the 29th Annual DIVAS Simply Singing. A tribute of her many hits was featured in the evening filled with spectacular performances, including Sheryl Lee Ralph singing “Because You Loved Me”; Emmy, two-time Grammy and Tony Award-nominated actor/producer Brandon Victor Dixon sang the iconic “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” and “Stand Up For Something” from the film Marshall.

Drag performer Shangela opened the evening with a rendition of “Rhythm of the Night,” with additional performances by 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).

The show also included appearances by Brandy, LisaRaye McCoy, William Allen Young, Flame Monroe, Erica Ash, Deborah Joy Winans, Frankie Grande, Parnell Damone Marcano and many more! 

Photo Credits: Faye Sadou & James Anthony Photography

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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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Mariah Carey, DJ Khaled, Ne-Yo, and more perform at AHF’s ‘World AIDS Day Concert’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry came together recently for the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest AIDS organization. The event took place on the eve of World AIDS Day (December 1) at L.A.’s famed Shrine Auditorium and featured a spellbinding performance by Grammy-winning singer Mariah Carey.

Ne-Yo

The show opened with a dance performance by AHF Partner Debbie Allen and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.  AHF Partner and award-winning music producer DJ Khaled performed a set that included a surprise guest performance by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Ne-YoVonzell Solomon, “American Idol” Season 4 finalist, gave a stirring live performance.  Emmy winning host of “Extra” Mario Lopez and Daytime Emmy-winning actress/transgender activist, Laverne Cox, served as hosts for the evening.  

Lavern Cox + Mario Lopez 

During the event, AHF presented The Chris Brownlie Community Champion Award, named in honor of gay political activist and AHF co-founder Chris Brownlie, to Impulse Group United, its international advocacy and empowerment group dedicated to promoting healthier sexual lifestyles among young gay men in 20 cities around the world.  19-year-old singer/songwriter Verlla Vee, grand prize winner of AHF’s National Jingle song contest, performed her winning original song about HIV/AIDS during the concert’s pre-show.

The free concert in Los Angeles is part of a series of events across the world to continue to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. The activities will include free concerts in Haiti, Mexico City and the United States as well as free awareness and testing events throughout the U.S., Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Vonzell Solomon

“It’s not an everyday occurrence to have a group of the world’s most talented stars put on a free concert to draw attention to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.  We were so honored to have Mariah, DJ Khaled, Ne-Yo and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy join us in Los Angeles to celebrate World AIDS Day and the 30th anniversary of AIDS Healthcare Foundation,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein.  “As we look back on how far we’ve come over the last 30 years, modern medicine has made enormous leaps and bounds so that now, if you are in treatment and undetectable, you cannot spread HIV/AIDS.  AHF is more determined than ever to hold the U.S. and the international community accountable to keep their promise to end the global AIDS epidemic so that people around the world know to be tested, learn their status and have access to resources to the medications and resources needed to keep people living with HIV in treatment and healthy.”

December 1 is World AIDS Day

According to UNAIDS, over 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world. Each year 2 million people become infected with the virus and 1 million people die of AIDS-related causes.  While millions of people today are accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy, millions more still desperately need it. The end of the epidemic is only possible, if governments and world leaders Keep the Promise on AIDS.”

See more images below of performances and celebrity attendees:

DJ Khaled

Harmony Samuels + Ryon Nicole Brown + MAJOR.

AHF President Michael Weinstein

Ne-Yo

Timon Kyle Durrett

Mariah Carey

Photo Credits: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AHF

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Ray Cornelius hosts ATL Screening of #90Days [PHOTO + VIDEO]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

I had the unique pleasure of hosting the Atlanta screening of the acclaimed short film, “90 Days” this past Sunday afternoon. The viewing took place at Atlanta’s historic Plaza Theatre and was part of the BronzeLens Film Festival’s Cinema and Social Justice Sunday.

A riveting story of love, integrity and compassion, “90 Days” explores a beautiful couple’s relationship and their life altering decision after ninety days of dating. “90 Days” is also a groundbreaking cinematic piece of art that confronts the human experience of overcoming one of life’s greatest perceived challenges.

The film’s leading man, Nic Few and one of his co-stars—Rodney Chester—were in attendance and took part in a post film discussion with the film’s writer Nathan Hale Williams and Tracy Jones, Midwest Regional Director & National Director of Advocacy Campaigns for AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). They each talked candidly about making the film and its powerful message of love and acceptance.The discussion was led by W. Imara Canady, AHF Regional Director of Communications and Community Engagement.

BronzeLens Film Festival’s Executive Producer, Kathleen Bertrand was also in attendance and thanked Canady along with AHF and the BLACK Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition (BLACC) for bringing the film to the festival.

“90 Days” also features Teyonah Parris, Pauletta Washington, Emmett Short, Collin Lee Ellis and V. Bozeman. It is also executive produced by “Empire” star Jussie Smollett.

Check out the trailer below:

https://vimeo.com/193563311

Photo Credits: Donna Permell/Prime Phocus, LLC

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Ray Cornelius to host ATL Screening of “90 DAYS” during #BLFF17 (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Please join me this Sunday, August 27 for the Atlanta screening of the powerful drama “90 Days.” The viewing will take place at the historic Plaza Theatre and is part of this weekend’s BronzeLens Film Fesitval’s “Cinema & Social Justice Sunday” Series.

A riveting story of love, integrity and compassion, “90 Days” explores a beautiful couple’s relationship and their life altering decision after ninety days of dating.  Fueled with gripping performances by an extraordinary cast of actors led by Teyonah Parris and Nic Few, “90 Days”  is a groundbreaking cinematic piece of art that confronts the human experience of overcoming one of life’s greatest perceived challenges.

“​90 Days” is written by Nathan Hale Williams and directed by Williams and Jennia Fredrique Aponte and is based on a true story.  It also stars stage and film actress Pauletta Washington, “Noah’s ARC” star Rodney Chester, Emmett Short, Collin Lee Ellis and “Empire” actress and singer V. Bozeman.

“90 Days” is executive produced by Jussie Smollett.

Check out the trailer below:

https://vimeo.com/193563311

The “90 Days” Atlanta Screening is presented by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and theBLACK Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition (BLACC).

Click here to RSVP and listen to #UPFRONT for more details!

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Common & Patti LaBelle to headline ‘World AIDS Day’ Concert in L.A.

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Grammy winning performers Common and Patti LaBelle are teaming up once again with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) for another free concert to commemorate World AIDS Day. The two music icons performed together last year in Atlanta, GA at the fabulous Fox Theatre as part of the “Vote to End HIV.” This year’s show will take place on Wednesday, November 30 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA.

Critically acclaimed actress and choreographer, Rosie Perez will serve as the host for the evening that will begin with a large “Keep the Promise March” on Hollywood Boulevard. Legendary entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte will also be honored for his charitable efforts and advocacy around the world.

“Our hope is that our upcoming World AIDS Day Keep the Promise concert and march serve as a potent reminder that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not yet won and that these events serve as a clarion call to action. The irony is that we are the victims of our own success: As the AIDS situation improves, with better treatments and more people being able to access them, the urgency of winning the war against AIDS here in the U.S. and around the globe has diminished. As a result, HIV/AIDS is increasingly pitted against other important issues as far as funding as well as for the attention of policy makers. It is critical that we continue to speak out through events like KTP in order to remind governments, public health officials and other stakeholders to keep the promise on AIDS and other key public health issues,” says AHF’s President, Michael Weinstein.

The L.A. show is just one of three concerts that have been strategically placed around the globe to continue spreading awareness about HIV and AIDS. Other cities include Cambodia and Mexico City. There will also be testing events throughout Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Asia.

“Keep the Promise” is free and open to the public. However, registration is encouraged.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius

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Poetic Justice! 6-Questions with ‘Sister in Law’ star Jolanda Jones (VIDEO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Tonight is the season finale of WEtv’s newest docu-series “Sisters in Law” and I can honestly say that I can’t wait to see how it all goes down. These five African-American female lawyers were fabulous and unapologetically fierce this premiere season. Each one provided television viewers with a number of “oh no she didn’t” moments as well as some unique and sometimes daunting looks at law and order in Houston, Texas.

I had a chance to binge watch the series last weekend in preparation for my interview this week with breakout star Jolanda Jones and was completely hooked.  Their cases and clients were compelling enough that I kept watching episode after juicy episode. I also enjoyed watching the ladies’ competitive spirit in and out of the courtroom and Jones played a big part in that. Not only does she naturally stand out (have you seen those legs?) but I could really appreciate her activistic nature and “come hell or high water” approach to justice for all of her clients.  Check out my one-on-one interview below with Miss Jolanda Jones:

This is your second time appearing on an unscripted series. What made you decide to do it again? 

I thought it was an opportunity for Black women, who all for the most part started without nothing and all worked really hard, to be seen as professional business women.  In a business where we fight for the disenfranchised, we thought it was another option for young people and Black women and I thought that was really important.  Also, we’re not on TV because we have a viral video and we’re not on TV because we’re someone’s baby mama. We’re also not on TV because we married some rich guy or girl for that matter.  We’re on TV because people think that the work that we do with our brains is important enough to be on television.

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You and Rhonda Wills seem to have a love/hate relationship going on throughout the season. Explain your friendship?

Your friends are your friends. Either you accept them for who they are or they’re not your friends. Yes I know that Rhonda is going to interrupt people but that’s just what she does. I know that Rhonda is going to scream and yell and be dramatic. Quite frankly, Rhonda makes me laugh. She makes me laugh because she judges everything and everybody and that’s like the total antithesis of me.  Everything she has to have is really, really expensive and everything I have is absolutely cheap because I just don’t want to be poor when I get older. I can deal with Rhonda.

You were very open about your romantic relationship with your best friend, Charisse and your activism within the LGBT community. Were you an advocate before coming out? 

I have been advocating for the LGBT community every since I was a law student back in 1994 at the University of Houston. I also interned at the NAACP Legal Clinic and worked with the Ryan White Foundation. I drafted wills for people with full-blown AIDS. So I have been an activist for a long time. It’s funny because I raised my son to love everyone including LGBT people long before I came out. So when I realized I was LGBT, it didn’t traumatize him.

The timing of the show coincides with the Sandra Bland case and you all held a town hall meeting on the show to discuss it. Was that suggested by you or the producers?

At the end of the day, I have been doing this since forever. Like I literally have been giving civilian rights trainings since 1999. I am the only lawyer on the show who is an activist. I think others are now starting to be activists but I have given trainings all over; at churches and Texas College of Law in Spanish for immigrants because they get targeted as well.  The Sandra Bland thing was not staged. Waller County is right up the street where she was killed and it was really a bad look for them. So they were trying to explain why they did what they did and explain what the status of the investigation is and we already had a townhall set and they had already asked me to be on the panel.

Do you feel that ‘Sisters in Law’ has helped or hurt your career? 

I don’t think the show has hurt me. I think people have courtside seats to our personal lives which they otherwise wouldn’t have. One of the really interesting things I’ve seen and actually had to learn myself in real-life was that we all have disagreements. We all have disagreements with our sisters and brothers or with our moms and sometimes our friends. And for people to say, “awww we can’t believe you are arguing or whatever” is not fair. At the end of the day (in the real world), people will argue with each other and you either get over it or you don’t. So I think it’s unfair for people to expect us to live in a pretend world. Some of us like some people more than others.

You and the other criminal defense lawyers were teased a lot throughout the season for helping get guilty people off. Do you think that’s a fair assessment? 

The Constitution says (and this is educational) that the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person did what they said they did, when they said they did it, where they said they did it and how they said they did it. So if the state can’t prove that then it’s not my fault that my client goes free. Don’t put that off on me if a guilty person goes free. I’m like, “government do your job.” They have all the resources so they should be able to prove their cases. And I don’t feel bad about that. Yes, I represent some people who have done some bad things or stupid things but I also represent people who were wrongfully charged and profiled. At the end of the day, I am going to make sure the government does what the Constitution said it’s supposed to do and if they can’t do it then shame on them.

Catch Jolanda Jones on “Sisters in Law” TONIGHT at 10 p.m. EST on WEtv!

Photo Credits: WEtv.com

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OWN’s Lisa Ling tackles Black America & HIV

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

There’s a secret epidemic in Black America. HIV is striking the black population more than others with rates reaching epidemic proportions. In fact, Black Americans are currently nearly eight times more likely than White Americans to be HIV positive.

OWN’s popular docu-series Our America with Lisa Ling  will explore how the social and economic pressures have helped drive the spread of the disease, and introduces five courageous men and women who have decided to come out of the shadows for the very first time to help pave the way for greater acceptance of the disease.

  • A single woman looking for love
  • A young gay man who fears an early death
  • A survivor who has lived his entire life with HIV
  • A woman who believes her husband has infected her
  • A former drug abuser who may have infected countless women

Our America with Lisa Ling – Black America’s Secret Epidemic  airs on Thursday, June 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Click here to see a preview

Photo Credit: OWN.com

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First Look at ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ with Magic Johnson + VIDEO

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

December 1 is World AIDS Day and what better way for Oprah Winfrey to commemorate those we’ve lost and those who are still in the battle than to have a one-on-one conversation with long-time HIV survivor and activist Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Winfrey sits down with retired NBA star at his Los Angeles home to discuss his legendary career with the Los Angeles Lakers, his HIV diagnosis and current health status plus his post career as a media and entertainment mogul. Johnson’s wife of 22 years, Cookie Johnson, will also joins the conversation to discuss their marriage and support for their openly gay son E. J.

Take a look below and tell us what you think:

[youtube id=”hvW13zvLQWs” width=”600″ height=”350″]

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Photo Credit: Oprah.com