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Snoop Dogg, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin and more attend ‘Stellar Gospel Music Awards’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Gospel music’s biggest night was celebrated over the weekend at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. I’m talking about none other than the 2018 Stellar Gospel Music Awards. This year’s show was hosted by Grammy winning performer Kirk Franklin and will air this Good Friday, March 30 at 9 p.m. on TV One.

This year’s award’s ceremony opened with Stellar Awards alum Erica Campbell reuniting with her sister Tina Campbell as the hit gospel duo Mary Mary for the first time in more than six years. The show also included an all-star tribute to the late, great Edwin Hawkins, with his sister Lynette Hawkins accepting the Edwin Hawkins Icon Award in his honor. Also, a stand out moment featured the multi-platinum award-winning Snoop Dogg performing material from his new gospel album, “Bible of Love.”

The night also included performances by Kierra Sheard, Tori Kelly, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Anthony Brown, JJ Hairston, Travis Greene, Jonathan McReynolds, Ricky Dillard, Todd Dulaney, Tasha Page Lockhart, KeKe Wyatt, Canton Jones, Deitrick Haddon, Koryn Hawthorne, Le’Andria Johnson and more. Special presenters included Donnie McClurkin, Merle DandridgeDavid MannAnika Noni Rose and more.

Top winners of the night were JJ Hairston winning six awards; Tasha Cobbs Leonard and Travis Greene each winning four awards; and Anthony Brown winning two awards.

Don Jackson bestowed special honors upon gospel greats who have made significant contributions to the genre. The incomparable Tamela Mann was the 2018 recipient of the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award and the legendary Rev. Milton Biggham received The Ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award.  Stellar Honors Hall of Fame Inductees includes Kurt Carr, Ben Tankard, and Dr. Marabeth Gentry – President of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.

The 2018 Stellar Gospel Music Awards will air on March 30 at 9 p.m. on TV One.

Check out the red carpet & performance photos below:




























Photo Credits: Earl Gibson for Getty Images

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HBO launches ‘Where Do You Exist?’ Podcast (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

HBO debuted its new six-episode podcast on Wednesday (February 14) titled “Where Do You Exist?”  The first episode is available now on Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud. Highlighting central themes from HBO’s new series created by Alan Ball, “Here and Now,” the podcast weaves together a series of live, pre-recorded stories from thought leaders and special guests across the country exploring the complexities of identity, belonging and family.

The “Where Do You Exist?” podcast was recorded live in Portland, Los Angeles and New York City. Each live event invited speakers to share humorous, yet timely, personal stories touching on experiences of trials, triumphs and moments of personal discovery that helped define who they are in the context of today’s world, tapping into Here and Now’s core themes.

“Here and Now” centers on a progressive couple played by Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter, who have one biological daughter and three adopted multicultural children from around the world – an effort to create a new kind of family. Exploring what it’s like to be an “other” in America, the series touches on political, familial, cultural, spiritual and psychological issues of today’s society.

The “Where Do You Exist?” live recordings were hosted by notable comedian Chris Garcia, whose credits span NPR’s This American Life, The WTF Podcast with Marc Maron and Comedy Central’s @Midnight, among others.

In Portland, speakers included Chris Garcia, Luis Ortega, Nong Poonsukwattana, Lucia Martinez Valdivia, Margaret Jacobsen and Solomon Georgio; Los Angeles speakers included Samantha Futerman, Mary Beth LaRue, Ira Madison, Andrew Ti, Priyanka Mattoo and Julissa Calderon; and New York City speakers included Baratunde Thurston (pictured above), Lacey Schwartz, Lisa Pollak, Eudora Peterson and Emil Wilbekin.

Speakers shared anecdotes exploring identity via various topics ranging from the moment they realized their own race, to discovering their adoption status as a young adult, to reconciling sexual identity in the context of faith and familial relationships.

Photo Credits: HBO

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First Look at RuPaul on ‘Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a sneak peek of drag superstar RuPaul on a future edition of  “Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday.” The Emmy-winning host of VH1’s RuPaul’s Drag Race goes beyond the “smoke and mirrors” of the stage and talks candidly about spirituality, the karma in dissing others, lessons learned from his mother and embracing the real you.

“At this moment? I’m everything and nothing at all. I’m black, I’m white, I’m male, female. To me, seeing all the facets of yourself is the next level of our evolution—understanding who we really are.”

Photo Credit:

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Toni Braxton stars in Lifetime’s ‘Faith Under Fire’ airing 1/27 (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out the trailer for Lifetime’s upcoming original movie, Faith Under Fire starring Seven time Grammy® Award winner Toni Braxton.  The “Un-Break My Heart” singer will portray Antoinette Tuff, a struggling single mom from Georgia who heroically averted a tragedy, saving hundreds of lives when she convinced a deranged gunman who stormed an elementary school to surrender.

On August 20, 2013, shortly after arriving to work at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia, Antoinette the school’s bookkeeper, was in the front office when Michael Hill (Trevor Morgan), a young man with a history of mental illness, snuck in, armed with an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. As the school went into lockdown, Antoinette was left alone with Michael, who repeatedly threatened to kill everyone. Showing enormous courage and empathy, along with nerves of steel, Antoinette convinced Michael to surrender by using her own life struggles to connect with him. Antoinette’s faith in God guided her through the toughest moments of her life, ultimately preparing her for that fateful day.

Faith Under Fire also stars ANTM alum and Chicago Med star Yaya DaCosta as 911 operator Kendra McKay and veteran actor Malik Yoba as Sergeant Franklin. Antoinette Tuff’s son Derrick, who was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, is portrayed in the film by Doubt star Shalaby Omar, a young actor with Spina Bifida.

Faith Under Fire is produced by Sony Pictures Television and based on the book Prepared for a Purpose: An Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage and Compassion in Crisis by Tuff and Alex Tresniowski. Executive producers are Braxton along with T.D. Jakes (“Heaven is for Real”), Judith Verno (“Masters of Sex”), Derrick Williams (“Miracles from Heaven”) and Craig Baumgarten (“Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart”).

Emmy nominee Vondie Curtis Hall (“Abducted: The Carlina White Story”) directs from a script written by Laura Harrington and Stephen Kay.

Lifetime’s Faith Under Fire premieres on January 27 at 8 p.m.

Photo Credits: Lifetime

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#UPFRONT featuring DeVon Franklin, Rhavynn Drummer, Goapele and Raheem DeVaughn (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Just in case you missed this past weekend’s #UPFRONT! I got a chance to chat with New York Times bestselling author, renowned spiritual success coach and Hollywood producer DeVon Franklin about his new book, The Hollywood Commandments. He also opened up about his upcoming animated film, “The Star,” which opens in theaters later on this month.

Tyler Perry casting director Rhavynn Drummer was in the studio to discuss the “dos and don’ts” of auditioning for TV, Film and stage and what it really takes to get noticed. She also discussed some of the lessons she learned from legendary casting director Rueben Cannon and much more.

Soul music singers—Goapele and Raheem DeVaughn—were in the studio to chat about their partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and WORLD’s RISE ABOVE HIV Campaign. The two teamed up with the organizations to help save lives and spread the message about awareness, prevention and sexual responsibility.  We also played new music from them along with holiday tunes from Mariah Carey and more.

#UPFRONT Inside Atlanta Entertainment Industry is a 30-minute radio magazine that features one-on-one interviews with all of the major players and behind-the-scenes superstars that make Georgia the new “Entertainment Capital.” It airs every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on Jazz 91.9 WCLK and his hosted by yours truly.


Photo Credits:

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Chance the Rapper talks God, fame & politics with EBONY [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy winner and BET Award nominee Chance the Rapper opens up to EBONY about his new found fame and credits his faith in GOD for his enormous success in the music and entertainment industry. The 24-year-old hip hop star says that trusting his gut and allowing his intuition to take the lead is what has been the most effective considering he is not signed to a major label.

“There are a lot of spaces where you feel like God isn’t around,” Chance states of his brief time in L.A during an interview for EBONY with contributor Adrienne Samuels Gibbs.

“I got some vibes. You have to listen and be aware of your discernment, and if somebody tells you to leave? Then get the f*** out of there. You’ll feel it … . You just have to listen to God.”

The “All We Got” performer also says that he is not interested in holding any pubic offices at any point in his career. “I would never run for any office or government position,” he says plainly after cracking a smile. “I’m not into it. I think politics is a reason why a lot of stuff doesn’t get done. There’s a lot of favors, and a lot of people are held back by their intentions of being re-elected or the things that they owe their party or constituents. I think when you’re in my position as an artist, I can say what I want and talk about the issues that matter.”

Click here to read and see more photos!


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TV, Film and Music stars attend 8th Annual Merge Summit [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out a few photos from the recent Merge Summit that took place August 25-27 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The event was presented by Relevé Entertainment, in conjunction with Walgreens and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The Merge Summit (Founder-Dr. Holly Carter; Co-Founder and Co-Chairwoman-Robi Reed; Chairwoman-Traci Blackwell) is a unique event created to inspire synergy with faith based and entertainment industry leaders to educate, uplift, and encourage attendees to aspire towards their professional and personal goals. The theme of this year’s celebration was “Infinite Possibilities” as a way to allow the Summit to serve as a proper launch pad to propel attendees into their vision.

Sherri Shepherd Hosts the 2016 Merge Summit Awards Gala-in LAThe weekend opened with a formal opening Gala acknowledging the outstanding accomplishments of Senior Vice President of Prudential Financial-Dorinda Walker, ESSENCE Magazine Editor At Large-Mikki Taylor, founder and senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center (LWCC)-Dr. Bill Winston and Emmy Award Nominated Actor-Courtney B. Vance. This evening was hosted by celebrated actress/comedian/TV personality- Sherri Shepherd and featured performances by Jonathan McReynolds and Ezekiel (The Poet).  Nearly 60 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives led more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions covering music, television, film, creative development, branding and new media.

2016MergeSummit-Derek LukeThe Merge Summit’s featured participants included: Hit Fox TV Show Empire Co-Stars, Trai Byers and Grace Byers; Tina Knowles Lawson, Actor-Richard Lawson, Multi-Platinum GRAMMY Award Winning Singer/TV Personality-Michelle Williams; GRAMMY Award Winning Universal Motown Gospel Recording Artist-Tasha Cobbs; Monami Entertainment CEO-Mona Scott Young; Director, Supplier Diversity, Walgreen Co.- Rona Fourte; Blockbuster Producer (X-Men, Wolverine, and Fantastic Four), Ralph Winter; CEO, Liquid Soul-Tirrell Whittley, Co-Chairman of de Passe Jones Entertainment –Suzanne de Passe; EMMY nominated and Peabody Award Winning Motion picture and television producer and owner of Martin Chase Productions –Debra Martin Chase; Vice President Of Talent & Casting for Original Programming at BET Networks-Robi Reed; Head Of Talent and Casting for ABC-Ayo Davis; Walt Disney Studios Executive Vice President, Production, Tendo Nagenda; President of Studio Lambert-Greg Goldman; Film Producer and President/CEO of Franklin Entertainment-DeVon Franklin; President, Producers Guild of America CEO of Revelations Entertainment- Lori McCreary; Senior Director Of Development for BET Networks-Tamara Gregory; Film Producer/CEO, 1019 Entertainment-Ralph Winter; Casting Director/Producer (Empire, The Butler)-Leah Daniels-Butler; Head Of Television for Will Packer Productions-Korin Huggins; Revolt TV’s Head Of Programming-Kelly G; Vice President Of Talent Development & Inclusion-Disney/ABC- Tim McNeal; and GRAMMY Nominated Producer-Harmony Samuels.

Tina KnowlesActresses: Meagan Good Franklin, LisaRaye McCoy, Brely Evans, Essence Atkins, Edwina Findley-Dickerson, Salli Richardson Whitfield; Actors: Larenz Tate, Dondré Whitfield, John David Washington, Sinqua Walls, Cornelius Smith; Spiritual Leaders: Dr. Cindy Trimm, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Dr. DeForest Soaries, Shawn Bolz, Pastor Mark Baker; Author Sophia Nelson and many others.

As an added incentive for Platinum Level guests, the Merge Summit included an exclusive screening of “The Birth Of A Nation,” featuring a surprise post-screening Q&A with the film’s lead actor and director, Nate Parker, and TV personality/journalist, Jawn Murray.

“I wanted people to believe that this year’s summit was designed with them in mind to achieve the infinite possibilities that awaited them. From the personal testimonies, the feedback and word of mouth, I think the mission was accomplished. I feel humbled as this was God’s doing and it’s marvelous in my sight,” says Dr. Holly Carter.

See more photos below:


Grace Byers 


Michelle Williams, Tasha Cobbs, Essence Atkins and guest

Suzanne DePasse

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Courtney B. Vance 

Photo Credits: Alisha Marie Simmons of Visionary Instinct

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Meagan Good, LisaRaye McCoy, Courtney B. Vance and more to appear at LA’s ‘Merge Summit’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Some of the biggest names in Black entertainment will come together to talk faith and fame at L.A.’s Merge Summit August 25-27 at The Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

The Merge Summit is a unique event created to inspire synergy with faith based and entertainment industry leaders to educate, uplift and encourage attendees to aspire towards their professional and personal goals.

This year’s festivities include a gala on August 25 that will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of Senior Vice President of Prudential Financial- Dorinda Walker, ESSENCE Magazine Editor At Large-Mikki Taylor, founder and senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center (LWCC)-Dr. Bill Winston and Emmy Award Nominated Actor-Courtney B. Vance. This evening will be hosted by celebrated comedian-Cedric The Entertainer and will feature performances by Jonathan McReynolds and Ezekiel (The Poet).

From August 26-27th, 60 top level entertainment executives will lead interactive discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions in personal branding, music, television, film, creative development, and new media.

Summit participants include Michelle Williams, Tasha Cobbs, Suzanne DePasse, Debra Martin Chase, DeVon Franklin, Leah Daniels-Butler, Meagan Good Franklin, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, LisaRaye McCoy, Brely Evans, Essence Atkins, Edwina Findley-Dickerson, Salli Richardson Whitfield, Cory Hardrict, Dondre Whitfield, John David Washington and Brian White.

“What a better place to bring the Word than amongst the brightest of stars and influencers in the entertainment industry,” said The Merge Summit Co-Founder and Co-Chair Robi Reed. “We need as many beacons of love and hope as we can find to light a path in these days and The Merge Summit is the place where those like minds meet. I’m excited to see us climb to a new plateau this year.”

I had the pleasure of attending the Atlanta Merge Symposium (a smaller scaled down version of the L.A. event) at Bishop William Murphy‘s dReam Center last November and had a blast.

Click here to purchase your tickets!

Photo Credit:

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Lady in Red! Uzo Aduba covers September Issue of ESSENCE

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Take a look at Uzo Aduba on the September cover of ESSENCE. The “Orange is the New Black” star and two-time Emmy winning-actress looks radiant in red as she dishes about her new found success and the struggles she endured on her way to the top.

“This business will try to convince you that you’re not enough,” she says in her cover story. “That you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, talented enough, interesting enough, experienced enough, and I say, ‘Enough. Enough with that!’”

This is not the first time the 35-year-old star has shared her testimony about almost giving up on her acting career. She told TODAY show host, Tamron Hall, in 2015 that she was literally on her way home to bask in her sorrows when she received a phone call from her manager and agent about getting a role on a new Netflix series and well, the rest is history. Check it out below and don’t forget to pick up your copy of her on ESSENCE when it hit newsstands on August 12.

Photo Credit:

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Soul Singer Donnie Performs ‘The Colored Section’ at ATL’s Vinyl [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

There are singers and then there are “sangers.” You know who I’m talking about. The entertainers whose voices make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or give you goosebumps every time their on the mic. The one’s that have you yelling out, “Ooh, that’s my shit!” in the middle of the song. It’s the kind of singing that causes you to throw your head back and raise your hands in the air even though you’re not at anybody’s church service. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me last night when I went to see soul music sanger Donnie perform his critically acclaimed album, The Colored Section.

IMG_1051The performance took place at Atlanta’s Vinyl at Center Stage and was packed with die-hard Donnie fans. For some reason, I thought the show was in celebration of the album’s 10th anniversary but realized instead that it’s been 14 years since its original release. However, the subject matter that he addresses in each song are still relevant issues today like homophobia, racism, sexism, classism and colorism.  “I’m not a nigger I’m a negro, When I become a nigger I’ll let you know” from the song ‘Beautiful Me‘ are words that are just as meaningful in 2016 as they were in 2002.”

Who knew the lyrics from ‘Wildlife‘ would still be a haunting reality of today with all of the recent police shootings of African-American men?  “And you call me a savage, uncivilized when it’s you who made lynching your way of life And you dont want me to be mad Well I’ll say too bad I’m a product of my environment So who the hell we call wildlife Look at us They only kill when they have to We kill for sport.”

IMG_0989But then there are songs from the album like ‘Our New National Anthem‘ that speak of hope and racial reconciliation.  “Your hand, my hand, we can make it to the promised land I know we can show what it is to be truly American Your race my race, come together and have a taste of the new day for the remix Eventually the race dilemma we’ll fix and…”

Last night’s performance was also a very personal one for the singer, who admitted to the audience that he suffered from years of self hate and almost “snorted and smoked himself to death.” He also testified about coming to grips with his sexuality and how he forgave the pastor of his childhood church for years of bullying him from the pulpit. (Click here to listen)

IMG_1046But it was his moving performance of the album’s closing song, ‘The Colored Section‘ that brought everyone to tears.  “We are the original people The alpha and omega of it all but We get the short end of the stick all of the time Welcome to the colored section See what it is to be me Sign your name on the black list and know this It’s American history…”  At the end of the original song he mentions the names of civil rights pioneers, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X but then added to last night’s rendition the names of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and Alton Sterling, referred to them as modern day martyrs.

Check out more amazing photos from last night’s show below.  The evening also featured up-in-coming R&B/Pop singer JK Howells and Janelle Monae‘s new group—All Cows Eat Grass. The show was also presented by my friends The MuddyWater Group.




















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Photo Credits:

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#All4U Janet Jackson covers Emirates Woman Magazine [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Pop music icon Janet Jackson covers the June edition of Emirates Woman. Inside, the magazine talks about Jackson’s new life in the Middle East with her billionaire husband, Wissam Al Mana, their plans for a family, her new Unbreakable Diamond Collection and of course, her music.

“I think music is really the power for her; it’s why she can perform in front of people,” says Jimmy [Jam] of the ingénue turned actress turned music mainstay. “She enjoys the energy and the feedback that the audience gives – she feels that instant recognition of a song, people singing along with her. It’s a friendly environment and she feels she’s amongst a group of friends so it makes it easy for her to get out there and perform because she feels comfortable on the stage.”

Check out images below + a behind-the-scenes video of her fierce photo shoot:


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Photo Credits:

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Emayatzy Corinealdi talks ‘Roots,’ acting & more with Omari Hardwick for ‘Interview Magazine’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

“Roots” starlet Emayatzy Corinealdi chops it up with her former “Middle of Nowhere” co-star Omari Hardwick in an exclusive for INTERVIEW. Corinealdi will be starring in the iconic role of ‘Belle’ that was so famously played by the late Madge Sinclair. She also opens up about why this “Roots” remake is so important to the current generation, how she deals with the pressures of being an African-American women in Hollywood and the moment she knew that acting was her calling.  Check out more photos and excerpts from the conversation below:img-emayatzy-corinealdi_181943976258

On the pressures of being both an actress and ‘being’ Emayatzy…

“It’s not something I feel pressured to be; I don’t feel like I need to be a strong black woman to make sure I’m a good example. It’s something that just is, will be.”


On why the Roots remake is so timely…

“I think now it’s such a perfect time given the climate that we’re in. We still have a lot more room to go. The fact that we have a Black Lives Matter movement along with Roots coming out again, there’s room for a conversation to be had as a result. That’s when I said, “I would be humbled to be a part of this for what it can be and the whole generation that it can speak to.”


On the Roots reaching a new generation…

“That’s why I love that in doing this one, it isn’t, “We’re doing this one so that it can be better than the original because that one missed the mark in some way.” No. This is an opportunity to speak to another generation and that’s what’s important.”


On when she knew acting was her passion…

“As far as the moment that I felt when god was tapping me on my shoulder, I do remember the moment where I realized, “Oh wow, this is what I want to do.” It came when I was 18. I had been acting and everything before then—I had been doing summer theater and was involved in everything I could be in except for drama in high school because I was an athlete. I was like, “Oh I’m not going to be in the drama department. That’s so silly.”img-emayatzy-corinealdi_181656437861

On the conversation she had with her parents and God about acting… 

“It was, “I really think I want to be an actress…can I do that? How do you do that?” “I don’t know, but I think you should do it.” “Well that’s what I’m going to do.” It was literally like that. That is how the decision came, and the path was made from there.”

“Roots” airs tomorrow beginning at 9 p.m. EST on History Channel

Click here to read the entire interview!

Photo Credits: Brian Higbee

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‘Married to Medicine’ star Lisa Nicole Cloud to host ‘Teach Me To Grow With You’ Conference

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

My good friend Lisa Nicole Cloud kicks-off her “Teach Me To Grow with You” Two-Day Conference tomorrow May 28-29 at Atlanta’s Twelve Hotel Atlantic Station.

Teach Me To Grow with You is a relationship based conference that is available to both singles and couples who are looking to experience healthier, happier and more meaningful relationships in their life. Attendees can expect to receive practical advice, tools and strategies that they can use to grow their relationships personally, professionally, spiritually and financially. This key focus of Teach Me To Grow with You is to help singles prepare for their future mates, as well as seriously courting, engaged and married couples repair, refocus and renew their relationships.

unnamed-13According to Lisa, this is a conference designed to help couples in the very areas where they may experience the most challenges.

‘We’ve brought in some of the nation’s foremost experts in the areas of marriage, love, communication, finances and personal development. I believe these are the areas where some marriages and relationships have the most problems,” said Nicole during our phone interview this week. “My goal in developing this conference is to teach couples how to grow together and stay together.”

In addition to that, Lisa also shared with RC the five key ingredients that every couple must have in order to survive.

Take a look below and tell us what you think!

  1. The couple must have God at the center of their relationship
  2. The couple must have the same vision and goals
  3. The couple must grow together and focus on personal development
  4. The couple must have effective communicate
  5. The couple must keep it hot in the bedroom

Click here to see a full conference schedule and stay tuned!

Photo Credits:


Power’s Omari Hardwick talks about How Denzel Washington saved him from homelessness (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a video clip below from a recent interview The Real’s Loni Love did with “Power” star Omari Hardwick. The actor shares an emotional testimony of how Oscar winning-actor Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta, helped him out when he was struggling to make ends meet in Hollywood. Hardwick confesses for the time on camera how the Washington’s gave him shelter and helped to stop a repossession of his car.  The unlikely relationship came out of Hardwick’s mentorship of the couple’s athlete-turned-actor son John David Washington.

Photo Credit: