Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent RC Exclusive - Music Recap

#UPFRONT featuring a Tribute to Aretha Franklin and more (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius

This past weekend’s UPFRONT show was fit for a Queen! It featured a salute to the late Aretha Franklin, who died last week at the age of 76. Singers Avery*Sunshine, Keisha Jackson, Trina Broussard and WCLK 91.9’s RivaBlue talked about the impact of Franklin’s music and her enduring legacy.

I also have one-on-one interviews with Mile 22 star and Atlanta-based actor Keith Arthur Bolden and Mahisha Dellinger, the star of OWN’s new series Mind Your Business with Mahisha.

The show also features classics from the “Queen of Soul” including her hit songs “RESPECT,” “Natural Woman” and the theme song to the iconic TV series –  A Different World.

UPFRONT airs every Saturday at 9 a.m. on Atlanta’s own Jazz 91.9 WCLK and WCLK.com

Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent RC Exclusive - Music Recap

City of Atlanta honors Spike Lee during 30th Anniversary Screening of ‘School Daze’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Award winning filmmaker Spike Lee hosted a very special 30th anniversary screening of his classic film School Daze Monday (February 19) night in Atlanta, GA and it was lit!!!!

The evening took place at the historic Fox Theatre and was attended by throngs of black Greek-letter fraternity and sorority members, HBCU students and alumni and fans of Lee’s cinematic work.

I had the pleasure and privilege of welcoming the nearly sold out crowd and introducing the 60th Mayor of Atlanta – Keisha Lance Bottoms. She presented Lee with the prestigious Phoenix Award, the highest honor an individual can received from the Mayor.

Lee was recognized for his contributions to Atlanta’s bustling film and entertainment industry and for shooting School Daze at the Atlanta University Center in 1988. It was movie projects like his that has helped Georgia become the #1 film location in the world.

I have to admit, watching the movie with thousands of other people was absolutely thrilling. We knew all the lines, the jokes, the dance moves, the steps and the songs including the Tisha Campbell led “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight” to EU‘s rump shaking classic “Da Butt.”

Noted singer Keisha Jackson and her One Voice Music Group even surprised attendees with a pop-up performance of the film’s opening number, “I’m Building Me a Home.”

Check out their video + see more photos below:

Photo Credits: Mark Angel Photography

Categories
RC Exclusive - Music Recap

#UPFRONT hosts “20 Feet From Stardom” Post Film Chat [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had a blast hosting a post film discussion of the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” on this past Wednesday evening. The screening took place at Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts and featured a lively conversation between me and three amazing Atlanta-based vocalists—Keisha Jackson, Rhonda Thomas and Debra Killings.

Ray Cornelius with Keisha Jackson, Rhonda Thomas and Debra Killings 

“20 Feet From Stardom” is a 2013 film that puts a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.  The featured performers include Táta Vega, Judith Hill, Darlene Love, Merry ClaytonClaudia Lennear and The Waters. It also features Lisa Fischer, who’ll be appearing at the Rialto Center later on this month.

Ray Cornelius with Keisha Jackson 

During the conversation, the ladies opened up about their amazing careers as background singers and solo artists. Jackson is the daughter of R&B, Soul and Blues diva, Millie Jackson and has sung on recording with Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Toni Braxton. She has also sung on stage with Outkast and Erykah Badu. Thomas is a singer-songwriter who performed 11 years with the late Isaac Hayes. She has also appeared at NYC’s Apollo Theater and has shared the stage with Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack and Roy Ayers. Killings is also an accomplished singer-songwriter and bassist, who has performed alongside such legendary artists as Madonna, TLC, Carlos Santana and LL Cool J.

Rhonda Thomas 

Throughout the conversation, the ladies shared a variety of funny stories about their interactions with these big named artists as well as the lessons they learned from them. They also dished about the “business” of show business and paying your dues as an emerging artist. We also took a few questions from the audience that was full of film lovers and music enthusiasts.

Thank you Rialto Center and ladies for the opportunity to talk with you and share those precious memories. Click here to purchase your tickets to see Lisa Fischer on Saturday, October 28 at 8 p.m.

Photo Credits: Mark Angel and Dr. Yamma Brown

Categories
RC Exclusive - Music

’20 Feet from Stardom’ Post Film Chat with Keisha Jackson, Rhonda Thomas + Debra Killings

Written by | Ray Cornelius

This Wednesday, October 11 is the night! I am so excited that my radio show #UPFRONT will be hosting a post screening discussion of the Oscar-winning film, “20 Feet from Stardom.” The event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State.

“20 Feet from Stardom” puts a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.  The featured performers include Táta Vega, Judith Hill, Darlene Love, Merry ClaytonClaudia Lennear and The Waters.

The film also includes Grammy-winning vocalist—Lisa Fischer—who will be performing on Saturday, October 28 as part of the Rialto’s 2017-18 season. Fischer is best known for her hit record, “How Can I Ease the Pain” and provided background sounds for Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Sting and The Rolling Stones.

Joining me the for the discussion are Atlanta based singer-songwriters— Keisha Jackson, Debra Killings and Rhonda Thomas!

This event is FREE and open to the public.  See you there!

Photo Credits: Rialto Center + Amer Shadows

Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent

#UPFRONT to host a ’20 Feet from Stardom’ Post Film Chat (VIDEO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius

I am super excited to announce that #UPFRONT will be teaming up with the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State for a post screening discussion of the Oscar-winning film, “20 Feet from Stardom.” The event will take place at the Rialto on Wednesday, October 11 at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

“20 Feet from Stardom” puts a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.  The featured performers include Táta Vega, Judith Hill, Darlene Love, Merry ClaytonClaudia Lennear and The Waters.

It also includes Grammy winning vocalist—Lisa Fischer—who will be performing on Saturday, October 28 as part of the Rialto’s 2017-18 season. Fischer is best known for her hit record, “How Can I Ease the Pain” and provided background sounds for Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Sting and The Rolling Stones.

Joining me the for the discussion are Keisha Jackson, Debra Killings and Rhonda Thomas! See you there.

Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent

#UPFRONT to feature HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod + ‘Official Soul Sisters’

Written by | Ray Cornelius

June is Black Music Month and #UPFRONT will be celebrating all month long with exclusive interviews and stories from today’s hitmakers. Saturday’s show will kick-off the festivities with the daughters of three iconic music stars that blazed trails within the industry—-James Brown, Millie Jackson and Isaac Hayes.

Dr. Yamma Brown, Keisha Jackson and Heather Hayes stopped by the studios recently to chat about their famous parents and the lessons they’ve learned from them. The ladies also open up about their favorite songs from their parents, their most memorable moments and the enduring legacies of these larger-than-life figures.

#UPFRONT will also feature HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod. The former radio personality turned TV star dishes about the success of her show, “Flipping Virgins” and why Atlanta is such a hotbed for real estate. She also opens up about the inspiration behind her book, “Keep Calm . . . It’s Just Real Estate…” as well as her most memorable radio interview and much more. RivaBlue is also bringing you the latest in TV and film auditions and entertainment news.

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

Click here to check out past shows!

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent

Big Boi Celebrates Holidays with Big Kidz Foundation Gala [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Atlanta music icon, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton hosted his Big Kidz Foundation Holiday Gala Thursday night at the legendary Stankonia Studios in West Midtown. The invitation only event featured assorted desserts and cocktails, a silent auction and loads of live entertainment including Miss  C.C. LaFlor, former “America Idol” contestant Alexis Cierra, BET 2012 Music Matters Artist Clinton Babers II, and R&B vocalist Keisha Jackson with her Holiday Chorus. V-103 radio personality Stacii Jae Johnson served as the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.

Chef Jason Ellis

The annual fundraising event is just one of the many ways the 501 (c) (3) organization garners financial support. Big Kidz Foundation caters to 5,000 youth throughout the entire Atlanta metropolitan area and focuses on the performing arts.

Big and Jennifer

“One thing about the Big Kidz Foundation is that we just don’t give back during Thanksgiving and Christmas, we give back all year round,” says Big Boi. “We have programs that help children with public speaking, dance, music and painting.  So, tonight is not just about the food and drinks but its about the kids. We are so looking forward to going into a New Year  and just want everyone to have a good time. That is why I hosted tonight’s gala here at Stankonia, where all the funky things come from.  It’s such a historic monument and I feel blessed to have everyone come to the place I call home.”

Check out more photos below:

Dr. Heavenly

Silent Auction item from “Married to Medicine’s” Dr. Heavenly

Desserts

 Assorted Holiday Delights

Angel Envy

 Holiday Spirits were provided by Angels Envy – Kentucky Burbon Whiskey

Stacii Jae Johnson

Radio personality Stacii Jae Johnson served as Mistress of Ceremonies

Alexis Ciara Miss CC Laflor

 Singers Alexis Cierra and Miss  C.C. LaFlor brought the house down with their soulful vocals

Clifton Babers

 BET Music Matters artist Clinton Babers II performed original songs and the music of D’ Angelo

Rodney Perry

Comedian Rodney Perry acting up in front of the Big Kidz Foundation bannner

Jennifer and Monique

Big Kidz Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Lester with volunteer Monique Johnson

Stacii Jae with Kwanza Hall

Stacii Jai Johnson with Atlanta City Council’s Kwanza Hall

Keisha Jackson

Keisha Jackson jammin with her Holiday Choir

Desmond John

South African Rapper Desmond John

Divnity Roxx Renee and Chef Jason

Recording artist Divinity Roxx/Blaque Book Entertainment’s Renee M. Palmer with Celebrity Chef Jason Ellis 

Photo Credits: RayCornelius

Categories
RC Exclusive - Music

Keisha Jackson hosts Vocal Workshop w/Traci Hale, Debra Killings & Paula Champion

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Singer extraordinaire Keisha Jackson hosted her annual Vocal Workshop on Saturday at Outkast’s famed Stankonia Studios in Atlanta, GA. Over 40 aspiring singers and songwriters from across the country packed the hall for an intimate afternoon of seminars, vocal training and Q&A sessions with some of the hottest names in music. Jackson is one of the industry’s most sought after background vocalists and is the daughter of R&B Soul music legend, Millie Jackson. An accomplished performer in her own right, Jackson has worked with such musical luminaries as Toni Braxton, Bobby Brown, Angie Stone, Erykah Badu, The Dungeon Family, Outkast and the late Whitney Houston. For Jackson, her workshop is a passion project that she hopes will equip and inspire the next generation of superstars.

 Jackson offering advice

Keisha Jackson helps group with “Tone…Pitch…Blend”

“Ultimately my goal for today is to spread knowledge about the music industry. I get asked a lot of times, ‘How can I do what you do?’ There are so many talented people out there that don’t know where to begin. Most of the time, we [artists] only use people in our cliques but what about the girl working at Waffle House, who can sing her face off but doesn’t know where to start?  She’s the one that will be on time and show up because she’s hungry and ambitious. Too many times it’s the “friend of a friend” that we hire who doesn’t show up on time and feels some sort of entitlement. I would really like to break that cliquish chain and bring back real singing, starting from the background and working my way on up,” said Jackson.

Debra Killings

Debra Killings talking about transitioning from a background singer to a solo artist

The rising entrepreneur said she is looking for an arsenal of singers that she can hire out to industry professionals. She is also prepping to take her workshop on the road in 2015 with stops in other major cities like Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami and New York.

Saturday’s workshop also featured celebrity panelists including noted singer and songwriter, Traci Hale, who has worked with Keith Sweat, Aaliyah, Brandy, Mya and Rihanna. Former LaFace background singer and bass guitarist, Debra Killings reminisced about her days of recording with TLC while Sunday Best  Season 6 Contestant, Paula Champion encouraged the group and performed her version of the Marvin Gaye classic, “What’s Going On.”  Jackson followed up by telling each attendee to remain humble, grind and keep integrity first.

“The casting couch doesn’t really exist in the industry anymore but people will have you to believe it in order to get from you what they want. You still won’t get hired and you’re not going to get the referrals. Integrity is really important and will last longer than what’s between your legs,” said Jackson.

Paula Champion singing

Paula Champion blessed the audience with her rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic, “What’s Going On”

Jackson said she is also concerned that too many young artists want overnight success but are afraid to put in the work. The mother of two feels that it’s paramount to always be ready to perform and know the lyrics to songs when auditioning.  She is currently promoting her new single, “Give You My All” and just finished touring with Outkast as part of their 20th Anniversary Celebration. While she admits that every city had something special about it, there was nothing like performing at home in the A-T-L.

“My favorite part in the show is ‘throw yo hands in the air and wave em like just don’t care. If you like fish and grits and you like pimp shit, everybody say ‘Oh Yeah.’’ (LOL) That was the most amazing thing to me because there would be a sea of hands going back and forth. To see 80,000 to 100,000 people do that every night was the most powerful moment of every performance!”

Check out more photos below from the workshop:

DJ Swiff

Music was provided by DJ Swiff

Workshop attendees

Attendees listening to speakers

Ahh not quite ready yet

Keisha Jackson’s Vocal Workshop was presented by One Voice Entertainment and YURBUDS

Paula Champion posing

Paula Champion stopped to pose for the camera #yassss

Traci Hale taking a photo

Traci Hale taking a selfie

Workshop participants

Singers traveled far and wide to participate in the workshop

The Boys

Male trio singing a song by D’Angelo

The Walls

Trio singing song from the gospel group, The Walls

Braxton Family Values

Quartet singing Braxton Family Values’ theme-song

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

Categories
Rejoice

Happy One Year Anniversary to RayCornelius.com

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Hallelujah WE MADE IT!

One year ago, I stepped out on faith and started RayCornelius.com. Since that time I have had the ride of my life.

Exclusive celebrity interviews, red carpet premieres, parties and of course the stories…Whitney Houston, Rihanna, Blue Ivy, American Idol, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Chris Brown and the list goes on and on…

Most importantly, I would like to thank all the celebrities in my life who have been there from the beginning and have contributed so much of their time and talents to the site:

THANK YOU JESUS

Cyrena Rose: THANK YOU for being my friend. I thank God for your continued support and most of all our friendship. The best is truly yet to come. Love Ya!

Robert Brown: THANK YOU for believing in my vision and for creating an awesome site. You are simply the best! THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU

Tamara Renee: THANK YOU for jumping right in and contributing to the site. Your continued prayers and support are invaluable.

Pamela Crutcher: THANK YOU for being my extra set of eyes. I appreciate your support and gestures of love.

Done by Sight Photography and Linx Media: THANK YOU for making RC look so amazing.  You guys are always dependable and sharing your work means the world to me.

To Keisha Jackson, Karyn White, Robert Battle (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre), Anthony Williams, Jasmine Guy, Avery *Sunshine and Kandi Burruss, THANK YOU for sharing your stories with me even when there was no website. You trusted me and believe in me and for that I am forever grateful.

To all the RC fans and supporters: I would not be where I am without your support. THANK YOU!

RC