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#UPFRONT feat. casts of ‘Girls Trip,’ ‘Blackberry Daze’ + Anita Wilson + Synergy Awards (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Today’s edition of #UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry was full of Black star power.  I got a chance to talk to the ladies of “Girls Trip,” which opens in theaters nationwide this weekend. Jada Pinkett Smith and Regina Hall dish about their roles while the film’s producer—Will Packer—weighs in on why this particular film is so important. Mayor Kasim Reed also talked about his desire for Atlanta to make this film #1 at the box office.

#UPFRONT also catches up with gospel music sensation Anita Wilson and her new album, Sunday Song. The Billboard chart topping performer also opened up about the importance of voting and getting involved in your local community elections.

#UPFRONT also goes to AAFCA’s Synergy Awards as they honor director, producer and iconic filmmaker Rob Hardy. The creator of BET’s “The Quad” was exciting to be this year’s award recipient and encouraged all of us to continue pursuing our dreams.

We closed out the show with the cast of Horizon Theatre’s new musical, “Blackberry Daze.” Actresses Brittany Inge and Ayana Reed discussed their roles in the show as well as working with the great Tom Jones.

#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 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, Ray Cornelius.

Follow us now on Instagram: @UPFRONTtheSHOW

Click here to check out past shows!

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Jill Scott, Usher, Wyclef Jean & more celebrate Andrew Young’s 85th Birthday [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

The stars aligned on Saturday night for the “Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards & 85th Birthday Tribute.” The Civil Rights pioneer and former Mayor of Atlanta presented the invitation only event at Philips Arena which featured an all-star lineup of today’s biggest and brightest entertainers and performers. The evening was also hosted by “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson.

Ambassador Andrew Young

Andrew Young is best known as one of Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “generals” during the turbulent 1960s. From Selma to St. Augustine to Memphis, Young was there during the Movement’s most pivotal moments. He would later serve as a United States Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977 and was chosen personally by former President Jimmy Carter. Young was also very instrumental in Atlanta becoming the city of choice for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and now runs the Andrew J. Young Jr. Leadership Foundation. The non-profit organization recognizes exceptional individuals whose activism, philanthropy and leadership have transformed lives throughout our global community.

Honorees Bob Bland and Tamika Mallory

This year’s recipients of the Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards included the National Co-Chairs of the Women’s March – Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland; world renowned educator and founder of the Ron Clark Academy Ron Clark; media commentator, activist, thought leader and Dream Corps founder Van Jones; Award winning rapper, producer and philanthropist Akon; “Silver Rights Activist” John Hope Bryant and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Angela Robinson and husband

The evening began with a dazzling red carpet of stars that included “The Haves and The Have Nots” actresses Angela Robinson and Crystal Fox; “The Quad” actor Larry Rhem; legendary Motown performer Hamilton Bohannon; “Saints & Sinners” actress Jasmine Burke; “If Loving You is Wrong” actor Joel Rush; media personality Frank Ski, Civil Rights icons Reverend C.T. Vivian and Xernona Clatyon, veteran actors and philanthropists Afemo and Elisabeth Omilami. Other Atlanta notables included actress and producer Chrystale Wilson, actress and producer Terri J. Vaughn, singer and former reality star Meelah, child actor Lil Dee Dee, accomplished actor and singer T.C. Carson, former Destiny’s Child singer LaTavia Roberson, “Braxton Family Values” stars Evelyn and Trina Braxton and film star and comedian Chris Tucker. 

Brandon J. Dirden as Andrew Young in Broadway’s “MLK”

The award show also featured amazing performances from Estelle, Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy, Cristina Quinones, Angie Stone and a scene from the forthcoming Broadway play, “MLK” featuring Brandon J. Dirden as Andrew Young. There were also breathtaking tributes by “Greenleaf” star Keith David, harpist Tulani, jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet, African rapper Davido and Grammy winning singer and actress Jill Scott. Unfortunately I was not able to stay for Wyclef Jean and Usher‘s performances.

The show was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, Chevron, OPRAH, Cox Enterprises, EBONY and Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority.

See all of the photos below:

Larry Rhem and guest

Hamilton Bohannon

Afemo and Elisabeth Omilami

Joel Rush 

Chrystale Wilson and guest

Lil Dee Dee

Jasmine Burke 

Ambassador Andrew Young talking to media

Frank Ski and guest

LaTavia Roberson 

Wyclef Jean + Cristina Quinones

Mrs. Carolyn Young 

Meelah 

Honoree Ron Clark

T.C. Carson 

Terri J. Vaughn 

Anthony Anderson 

Akon‘s Family

Evelyn and Trina Braxton 

Keith David 

Reverend C.T. Vivian 

Crystal Fox 

Cristina Quinones

Wyclef Jean 

Xernona Clayton 

Chris Tucker 

Performances

Mayor Kasim Reed 

Mrs. Carolyn Young 

Estelle 

Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy

Anthony Brown 

Angie Stone 

Angie Stone performing “Brotha”

Cristina Quinones performing Andra Day‘s “Rise Up” 

Akon’s Family accepting his award

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Honoree Van Jones 

Tulani

Keith David 

Honoree John Hope Bryant 

MISS JILL SCOTT

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Usher, Future, Tyrese Gibson, Young Jeezy and more attend Mayor’s Masked Ball [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Usher, Tyrese Gibson, Future and Young Jeezy were just a few of the A-List celebrities who came out for Saturday night’s UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball Atlanta. The VIP gala was held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and was attended by a who’s who of celebrities, city officials, dignitaries, tastemakers and influencers.

Dr. Michael Lomax presenting the HBCU Presidents

Yours truly, RayCornelius.com was in the mix and captured some pretty amazing shots of everyone in their black tie and ballroom garb. The UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball is held annually by the city’s mayor and is a huge fundraiser for students attending historically black colleges and universities. The Mayor’s Masked Ball was created in 1983 by Billye S. Aaron (Hank Aaron’s wife) and Ambassador Andrew Young with the hopes of providing scholarships for underserved youth with dreams of attending college. The event is one of several “Masked Balls” that are presented by UNCF chapters around the country.

Tyrese Gibson helping out during the fundraising portion of the evening

Last night’s ball raised well over one million dollars due to the high demand of tickets  and a little help from “Fast and Furious” star and musician Tyrese Gibson. He literally took over the fundraising portion of the program and was able to galvanize an additional $1oo,ooo from the audience which included three hefty donations from Usher, Young Jeezy and Future. Other celebrities who contributed to the cause included “R&B Diva” Angie Stone, soul singer Avery*Sunshine,HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod and BMI executive Catherine Brewton.

Avery*Sunshine, Q Parker and Angie Stone

A number of other Atlanta notables were in attendance including Atlanta City Council President Ceasar C. Mitchell, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, RHOA star Phaedra Parks, “Married to Medicine” stars Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Dr. Jackie Walters and Dr. and Genise SheltonQ. Parker from 112, celebrity interior designer Michel Boyd, TV and stage actress Danielle Deadwyler, actor Al Thompson, filmmaker Roger M. Bobb, “Greenleaf” star Lamman Rucker, 11 Alive Atlanta news anchor Shiba Russell, acclaimed author and playwright Pearl Cleage, reality star Stevie Baggs, Jr., gospel singer VaShawn Mitchell, hip hop artist Kore $tacks, Dr. Yamma Brown (James Brown’s daughter), gospel singer and radio personality Darlene McCoy, UPSCALE Magazine’s Satchel Jester, “Saints and Sinners” actress Reece Odum and more.

Sheila E.

This year’s entertainment was provided by the one and only—Sheila E. The award winning entertainer and beloved music icon opened her show with a nod to her late mentor and friend Prince with “Erotic City.” She later jammed the night away with hits of her own including “Love Bazaar” and “Glamorous Life.”

The Mayor’s Masked Ball was hosted by comedian and actor J. Anthony Brown along with UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax and UNCF Regional Development Director Justine Norman Boyd.

See more exciting pictures below and click here to donate:

Al Thompson and Shiba Russell

Pearl Cleage and her daughter Deignan

Avery*Sunshine and Dana Johnson

Danielle Deadwyler, Jakeem Smith and Kore $tacks

Dr. Yamma Brown 

Atlanta radio personality SiMan Baby with his guest

Usher

Stevie Baggs Jr. with his date

Kwanza and Natalie Hall

Reece Odum and her guest

Young Jeezy with Phaedra Parks 

Dr. and Mrs. Shelton

Egypt Sherrod and Avery*Sunshine

Actor Lamman Rucker chatting with Billye S. Aaron 

Angie Stone and Gwendolyn Chisolm aka “Blondie”

Q Parker, Tyrese Gibson, Elle Duncan and her husband

Future with his sister and mother

Satchel Jester with Michel Boyd

Darlene McCoy

J. Anthony Brown and Myra J

Roger M. Bobb and Carolyn Young (Ambassador Andrew Young’s wife)

Dana Johnson, Avery*Sunshine, Ceaser C. Mitchell (Atlanta City Council President), Rev. Raphael G. Warnock (senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church) and his wife Ouleye Ndoye    

Tyrese Gibson

Usher

Tyrese Gibson and Ambassador Andrew Young sharing a laugh

Dr. Michael Lomax ~ UNCF President and CEO

Usher laughing out loud at J. Anthony Brown‘s shenanigans

Mayor Kasim Reed and First Lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed

UNCF Regional Development Director Justine Norman Boyd

handing flowers to Billye S. Aaron

Lamman Rucker with Morehouse College President John Wilson

J. Anthony Brown sharing a laugh with Atlanta business icon Richard Dent 

SHEILA E.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Denzel Washington & the cast of ‘Fences’ host ATL Screening + visit Morehouse College [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Two-time Oscar winning-actor Denzel Washington hosted a very special red carpet premiere of “Fences” on Wednesday night in Atlanta, GA. The advanced screening took place at Atlantic Station and was presented in conjunction with Washington’s favorite non-profit organization, “Boy & Girls Clubs of America.”
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Mykelti Williamson, Jovan Adepo, Stephen McKinley Henderson & Denzel Washington

“Fences” stars Washington as Troy, a 53-year-old head of household who is struggling to make ends meet and provide for his family during the 1950s. The film is based on August Wilson‘s Tony Award-winning play that opened on Broadway 29 years ago.

Joining Washington for Wednesday’s screening was his wife, Pauletta and his male co-stars Mykelti Williamson, who plays Troy’s brother, Gabriel; Stephen McKinley Henderson who stars as Troy’s best friend, Bono; and Jovan Adepo, who stars as Troy’s son, Cory. Unfortunately, Washington’s other co-stars Viola Davis, Russell Hornsby and Saniyya Sydney were not present.
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Other VIPs in attendance included Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and fellow actor and hip hop star Ludacris and his wife Eudoxie. Before the screening, the actors took part in a lively discussion at Atlanta’s historic Morehouse College. The event was hosted by former BET personality and actor Terrence J. The school also presented the cast with beautiful pantings of African-American life.

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Ray Cornelius with WABE 90.1’s Rose Scott at the “Fences” Atlanta Premiere

Make sure you tune into my Saturday radio magazine, “UPFRONT” at 9 a.m. and listen to my interviews with each star. We talk about everything from transitioning the play to the big screen to what audiences can expect from the film and more.

“Fences” opens in theaters nationwide on December 25.

Photo Credits: Getty Images/Paras Griffin and Candace Wheeler

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‘Fast 8’ stars Ludacris & Nathalie Emmanuel featured at ‘CreATL’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

It’s no secret that Atlanta is a hotbed for TV, film and entertainment. Just this week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that Georgia-lensed feature film and television productions generated an economic impact of more than $7 billion during fiscal year 2016. Georgia is also number three in the world for film production according to FilmLA.

IMG_1973Last night, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed along Christopher Hicks of the Mayor’s Office of Film and Entertainment, gathered together to talk about that accomplishment and more as part of a new series titled CreATL. The immersive conversation features the industry’s top creatives, tastemakers and thought-leaders in film, entertainment, technology and culture that is created in Atlanta.

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The series first featured guests included “Fast 8” stars Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel, who are currently shooting the newest installment throughout the city. The private event was held at The Gathering Spot in Midtown-Atlanta and was presented by MARTELL. Bridges and Emmanuel opened up to moderator, Simone Gray about their life on set and the many advantages they have to shooting “Fast 8” here in Atlanta. “I get to wear my pajamas and house shoes to work,” said Ludacris to the most packed auditorium.

A number of celebrities were in attendance for the lively discussion including “Rickey Smiley for Real” star Gary With Tha Tea, “L.A. Hair” diva Gocha Hawkins, music executive Brian Michael Cox, celebrity hairstylist and television actor Miss Lawrence, “Saints & Sinners” actress Jasmine Burke, “Married to Medicine” stars Dr. Heavenly Kimes and Dr. Jackie Walters and many more.

Check out all of the red carpet photos and stay tuned…

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Interscope Records’ Keinon Johnson

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Actor Jamal Woolard with the MARTELL reps

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Brian Michael Cox 

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Judge Terrinee L. Gundy 

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Filmmaker Bobby Huntley and guest

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Gocha Hawkins 

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Dr. Heavenly Kimes

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Former “Big Rich Atlanta” stars Sharlinda Parker and Brie Rowe

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Jasmine Burke 

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Actor  Mike Merrill

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Dr. Jackie Walters 

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Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel

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WEtv’s Cutting It in the ATL star Mushiya Tshikuka

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Miss Lawrence

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Christopher Hicks from the Mayors Office of Film and Entertainment

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Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Nathalie Emmanuel

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Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC attends ‘Georgia Entertainment Gala’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The Georgia Entertainment Gala was held over the weekend on Saturday night and brought out some of the biggest and brightest names in film and television. The annual event took place at Atlanta’s Sydney Marcus Auditorium at the Georgia World Congress Center and was hosted by Pooch Hall of BET’s “The Game” and Valerie Ortiz of VH1’s “Hit the Floor.”

The Gala provides a platform that showcases talented individuals within the state of Georgia in the areas of television, film, and music.  “I applaud Autumn E. Bailey-Ford for her devotion to promoting excellence in the entertainment and film industries,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

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Pooch Hall with Valerie Ortiz and her sister

This year’s Georgia Highlight Award winners included “Survivor’s Remorse” star Ronreaco Lee, Founder & CEO of Legendary Events Tony Conway, Jazz vocalist and Executive Producer of BronzeLens Film Festival Kathleen Bertrand, and Executive Director for the Georgia Game Developer Association Andrew Greenberg.

Other winners included Christine Pullara Newton for Outstanding Achievement Award, The Center for Puppetry Arts for Outstanding Contribution to the Georgia Entertainment Industry, Catherine Dyer for Georgia’s Best Actor Award, Maxie McClintock for the Georgia Rising Star Award, Brantly Jackson Watts for People to Watch in Georgia Entertainment Industry and Elizabeth Hunter for the Youth Artist Award.

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X Factor’s Paul Akister and guests

Attendees included RHOA star and singer Demetria McKinney,American Idol” Season 3 contestant Latoya London, 112’s Q Parker and wife Sharlinda Parker, actress Charmin Lee, “American Crime Story” actress Cocoa Brown, and Paul Akister of “X Factor”  UK Series, who closed out the show with the Ray Charles classic tune “Georgia On My Mind.”

Proceeds from the evening went to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter and Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. “My life’s mission is to empower those who are sparking change with their own personal gift and talents, said Visionary & Founder Autumn Bailey. “I firmly believe that this is what the Georgia Entertainment Gala is doing.”

Check out more red carpet photos below:

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“American Crime Story” actress Cocoa Brown

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Nominee Natarsha Kinder-Garcia and husband

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Broadway star Stepp Stewart 

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Performer Demetria McKinney

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“The Have and the Have Nots” actress Porsha Ferguson

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Singer Cristina Quinones with Mayor Kasim Reed 

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Atlanta Media Personality Ramona DeBreaux and family

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Performer Latoya London

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Juan and Gee Sessions of The Gentleman’s Foundation

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Yama Brown and Nephew

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Honoree Kathleen Bertrand 

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Actress Charmin Lee

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Q and Sharlinda Parker

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Actress Reece Odum

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Nominee Jaylon and Johnnie Gordon 

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Presenter Erikka Smith 

DSC_0028Renowned vocal coach Jan Smith and guest

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Tika Sumpter, Sherri Shepherd & Will Packer attend ATL Premiere of ‘Ride Along 2’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Tika Sumpter, Sherri Shepherd and Will Packer hosted a special Atlanta screening of their new film “Ride Along 2.” The private viewing took place Wednesday night at the Regal Atlantic Station Theaters and was packed with Atlanta celebrities and media.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, Heather Hayslett, and Will Packer attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Mayor Kasim Reed with Will and Heather Packer

Special invited guests included Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza and Natalie Hall, RHOA stars Porsha Williams, Shamea MortonMama Joyce and Aunt Bertha. Other faces spotted on the carpet included Love and Hip Hop Atlanta’s Stevie J, Demetria McKinney, Roger M. Bobb, Egypt Sherrod, Monyetta Shaw, Rodney Perry, Rickey Smiley, HeadKrack, Rock City, Gary With Tha Tea and V-103’s Wanda Smith.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Gary "With Da Tea", Porsha Williams, and Rickey Smiley attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Gary With Tha Tea, Porsha Williams and Rickey Smiley

“Ride Along 2” reunites Kevin Hart and Ice Cube as soon-to-be-brothers-in-law-who come together to bring down a Miami drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with products. The film is a follow up to their 2014 monster box office hit “Ride Along” and is directed by Tim Story and produced by Packer, Cube, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner.  Rounding out the cast is Tyrese Gibson, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt, Glen Powell and Nadine Velazquez.

Check out the new featurette and red carpet pics below:

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: TV personality Shamea Morton attends "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Shamea Morton

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Gary 'With Da Tea', Monyetta Shaw, and Rickey Smiley attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Gary With Tha Tea, Monyetta Shaw and Rickey Smiley

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Joyce Burruss and Aunt Bertha attend "Ride Along 2" Advance Screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Mama Joyce and Aunt Bertha

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Egypt Sherrod and DJ Fadelf attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Egypt Sherrod and DJ Fadelf

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: Demetria McKinney and Roger Bobb attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Demetria McKinney and Roger M. Bobb

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13: (L-R) Actress Tika Sumpter, producer Will Packer and actress Sherri Shepherd attend "Ride Along 2" advance screening at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station on January 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures)

Tika Sumpter, Will Packer and Sherri Shepherd

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin for Getty for Universal Pictures

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Usher’s New Look Foundation hosts ‘United to Ignite Luncheon’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Pop superstar, actor, and philanthropist, Usher Raymond hosted a special “United to Ignite” luncheon this week for his New Look Foundation. The non-profit organization celebrated its 16th Anniversary at the beautiful, St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta and was emceed by Usher’s good friend Ludacris and one of his emerging youth leaders, Tony M. Betton Jr.

The luncheon featured live musical and dance performances as well as a silent auction and awards ceremony.  It was also an opportunity for New Look corporate supporters, sponsors and community influencers to come together and fellowship with the student leaders, whose efforts have transformed the lives of underserved young people around the globe.

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“This organization has made an impact on thousands of youth worldwide,” said Usher Raymond IV. “Through mentorship and continued support, New Look empowers students to pursue their dreams. Today is about celebrating the accomplishments of our award winners who work tirelessly to improve their community, find their spark and make a difference. Without them, Usher’s New Look would not be the strong organization it is today.”

Each year, New Look honors individuals, organizations and corporations that are creatively empowering youth as leaders and change agents around the world. This year’s honorees included Ludacris and his Ludacris Foundation; Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor of Georgia; Michele Lai, founder of Kids 4 Kids; and Elizabeth Williams, cofounder of Books IV Bonding.  Also present at the luncheon was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Ludacris’ wife, Eudoxie and Usher’s fiance, Grace Miguel. 

Usher On Stage 2

The 2015 United to Ignite Luncheon is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and sponsors include Arby’s, WNBA Atlanta Dream, Bank of America, BET Networks, FedEx, General Electric, Georgia Power Company, The Home Depot, MGM Resorts International, PayPal, Sony Records, Southwest Airlines, Travelers and many more.

Check out more photos below:

Usher Photo

 Auction Item

Tony M. Betton Jr.

 Tony M. Bentton, Jr. 

Luda on stage

 Emcee and honoree Ludacris 

Slide at the show

 Statistics

Students performing

 Choir and Dance Team

Luda and Wife

 Ludacris and wife, Eudoxie

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 Photo Credits: RayCornelius

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Chris Tucker launches The Chris Tucker Foundation [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Comedian, actor, and humanitarian, Chris Tucker officially launched The Chris Tucker Foundation to much fanfare Saturday night in Atlanta, GA. The black-tie gala took place at the Astor Ballroom of the St. Regis Hotel, which was transformed into the famed Cotton Club of the Harlem Renaissance including a live band, dancers, and showgirls.

The Chris Tucker Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to making a positive impact in youth and family’s locally, nationally, and internationally through implementing innovative initiatives and funding life-changing programs. Tucker’s vision is to make a positive global impact on youth by galvanizing community leaders and engaging a collective community to address critical needs affecting future generations. While he has long been known for his humanitarian efforts around the world and in his hometown of Atlanta, Tucker is now positioning the foundation to make a bigger impact through his new partnership with The U.S. Dream Academy.

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 Chris Tucker during exclusive interview

“I was traveling and taking a lot of great trips around the world early in my career and it just broadened my perspective of how good we have it in America, says Tucker during an exclusive interview prior to the event.  “I took for granted the simple things like clean water. But I always knew I wanted to start a foundation to do more about these issues globally and here in the U.S.”

The evening began with opening remarks from Tucker and The U.S. Dream Academy Founder, Wintley Phipps, who applauded the actor for his years of philanthropy. Additional remarks were given by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, The Carver Boys & Girls Club, and members of the NFL Y.E.T Boys & Girls Club. Musical tributes were given by Phipps; trumpeter, Melvin Miller; and members of the Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA). There were also special video presentations by some of Tucker’s celebrity mentors including music legend Quincy Jones.

Chris Tucker with the Brown Sisters and Karla Redding

 Tucker with Karla Redding-Andrews and Deanna Brown and Dr. Yamma Brown

A number of Tucker’s celebrity friends were also in attendance including Judge Glenda Hatchett, actresses Keshia Knight-Pulliam and Terri J. Vaughn; James Brown’s daughters, Dr. Yamma and Deanna Brown; and Otis Redding’s daughter, Karla Redding-Andrews. Atlanta notables Mrs. Valerie Jackson; Atlanta City Council President, Ceasar Mitchell; Atlanta City Councilman, Kwanza Hall;  former Atlanta Mayor, Bill Campbell; media personality, Frank Ski; Fulton County Chairman, John Eaves; and Ambassador Andrew Young’s wife, Mrs. Carolyn Young were also spotted.

The evening closed out with a champagne dessert reception on the St. Regis Grand Terrace.

Check out more photos below:

Chris Tucker with Carolyn Young

 Tucker with Mrs. Carolyn Young

The Jacksons

 Former Atlanta First Lady Valerie Jackson and family

Harlem Renaissance Dancers

 Harlem Renaissance inspired dancers

Chris walking his parents in

 Chris and his parents making a grand entrance

Mayor Reed gving Chris his props

 Mayor Kasim Reed acknowledging Chris for his year’s of philanthropy to the entire Atlanta community

Wintley Phipps

 The U.S. Dream Academy founder and Grammy-nominated singer Wintley Phipps saluting Chris

Quincy Jones

 Special video presentation featuring Quincy Jones

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 Remarks from a Member of Carver Boys and Girls Club

YEA singers

 Musical tribute from members of YEA

Tuckers and Chris' son

 Chris Tucker’s parents and son

Mayor and First Lady Reed with Susan Ross Chelsye Burrows and guest

 Mayor Kasim and Sarah Reed with Susan Ross, Chelsye Burrows and guest  

Judge Hatchett and friends

 Judge Glenda Hatchett and guest with the evening commentator Angela Robinson

Chris with K.Knight Pulliam

Chris with Keshia Knight-Pullman

Imara sharing a laugh with Chris

 Chris cutting up with event producer Imara Canady

Chris Tucker with the Halls

 Chris with City Councilman Kwanza Hall and his wife Natalie Hall

Chris with Mali Hunter and Terri J. Vaughn

 Chris with Tree Sound Studios’ Mali Hunter and actress Terri J. Vaughn

Egypt with Chris Tucker

 Chris with HGTV’s Egypt Sherrod

Chris with Bill Campbell and Frank Ski

 Chris with former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and WHUR’s Frank Ski

Team Tucker

Chris with Foundation Event team

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Eva Marcille, Sheree Whitfield & more attend Mayor’s Cup VIP Reception [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed hosted his 18th Annual Mayor’s Cup Reception last night at PIRCH – Kitchen & Bath in Buckhead. The invitation only event was presented in conjunction with Atlanta’s Workforce Development Agency’s Mayor’s Youth Scholarship Program, which provides Atlanta students with funds to attend any college or university.

Mayor Reid with Perch GM

 Mayor Reed with PIRCH GM

The reception featured a select number of gourmet eats, complimentary cocktails, decadent desserts and a DJ. There was also a silent auction and photography booth. Mayor Reed, who recently celebrated his birthday, was serenaded and presented a cake from his friend and Executive Director of AWDA, Michael T. Sterling.

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 Former RHOA star Sheree Whitfield

Atlanta notables spotted in crowd included Atlanta’s First Lady, Sarah Elizabeth ReedLaRonda Sutton(Director of Atlanta’s Office of Entertainment), Kwanza Hall (City Councilman), Alex Davis (Bloomingdales) and I’na Saulsbery (The Starfire Group). Celebrity guests included ANTM winner and actress, Eva Marcille and former Real Housewife of Atlanta star, Sheree Whitfield.

Check out more photos below:

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The stunning – Eva Marcille 

Kwanza Hall

 Kwanza Hall with I’na Saulsbery

LaRonda Sutton

 LaRonda Sutton and friend

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 PIRCH – Kitchen & Bath

Mayor and First Lady

 Mayor Kasim Reed and First Lady Sarah Elizabeth Reed 

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ADWA’s Michael T. Sterling

Happy Birthday Mayor

Singer serenading Mayor Reed

BE magazine

 My crew from BE Magazine

Auction items

 Silent Auction Items

RC with Alex and I'na

RC with Alex Davis and I’na Saulsbery

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Music

Atlanta Jazz Festival to feat. Pharoah Sanders, Nina Simone Tribute & More [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of attending the Atlanta Jazz Festival (AJF) Press Conference on Thursday morning at the City Hall Atrium. Mayor Kasim Reed and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Camille Russell-Love, announced this year’s star-studded list of artists who will grace the stage on Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-24).

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 John Ryan, Mayor Kasim Reed and Camille Russell-Love

 The Atlanta Jazz festival is regarded as one of the country’s largest free jazz festivals and showcases an array of jazz legends as well as up-and-coming jazz greats. In addition to announcing this year’s line up, Mayor Reed and Russell-Love also unveiled this year’s official artwork and poster, “Jazzman” which was created by artist John Ryan. Atlanta’s own Joe Gransden and his Big Band provided entertainment for the attendees.

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 Trumpeters Joe Gransden and Melvin Jones

Festival performers include Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Pharoah Sanders and Four Women: A Tribute to Nina Simone featuring Kathleen Bertrand, Julie Dexter, Rhonda Thomas and Terry Harper. Other festival activities include an official kick-off party, Late Night Jazz Sessions, Neighborhood Jazz Series and 31 Days of Jazz Events throughout the month of May.

Take a look at more press photos below:

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Atlanta Jazz Festival Performers

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AJF Performers Joe Gransden, Kathleen Bertrand with Camille Russell-Love 

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 Atlanta  Cultural Ambassador Keith Knows 

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 Jazz Enthusiast, Richard Dent and Jazz 91.9 WCLK Personality Jay Edwards 

Click here for the full Atlanta Jazz Festival Schedule!

Photo Credits: Ray Cornelius

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RC Exclusive - Ent

T.I. & Tiny host Preview Party for ‘Scales 925 Restaurant’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Grammy winning-rapper, actor and reality star, T.I. hosted a preview party Friday evening for his new Atlanta restaurant, Scales 925. The hip-hop mogul and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris welcomed a number of the city’s elected officials, tastemakers and influencers for a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant which features upscale southern cuisine with stunning design and amazing downtown views.

T.I. and Tiny

According to T.I.’s publicist, Nikki Barjon, the preview party was a candid look into the rapper’s unorthodox way of creating. “We often get request for behind-the-scenes footage just because he has such a creative mind. Tonight was all about walking Atlanta through that  process and vision while giving fans a view of how he orchestrates things. We thought it would be a nice touch and it seems to be going over well.”

Staircase

Scales 925 is totally inspired by architecture from The Harlem Renaissance and features 1930’s décor including tufted seats, herringbone floors, lacquers and vintage wallpaper. Other features include a wine cellar and dramatic spiral staircase leading to the second and third floors. Adorning the walls of the establishment are original pieces of art work from T.I.’s personal collection.

Dinner

While there, I also had the opportunity to sample items from the menu including Shrimp and Grits, Hoppin John featuring Black Eye Peas, Rice and Turkey, Chicken Skewers, BBQ Shrimp and Raspberry Tea. T.I. also enlisted the award winning culinary skills of Chef Ashely, who is known for serving salmon over 3000 ways.

First Family

Following the preview was an official ribbon cutting with T.I. and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed who encouraged attendees to support the restaurant by telling their family and friends.

“Atlanta is a city of dreams and dreamers who actually do it and T.I.’s story represents that as well as any other. I wanted to be here to stand shoulder to shoulder with him and his wife,” said Mayor Reed. “This is going to be one of the best restaurants in Atlanta and what we have to do is make it thrive. We make it thrive by telling, texting, calling, and tweeting all of our friends on April 1. Bless this restaurant and let’s make sure that it breaks records.  Let’s go!”

Scales 925 is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 30 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd adjacent to the W Hotel Downtown.

Check out more photos below from the preview:

Trap Art

 Art on work on the walls comes from T.I. personal collection

Kwanza Hall, Khobi Hall, LaRonda Sutton and Natalie Hall

 Khobi Hall and LaRonda Sutton with Kwanza and Natalie Hall

Guests

 Atlanta tastemakers and influencers were invited to the preview party

T.I. and MamaT.I.

T.I. with his mother affectionately known as “Mama T.I.

T.I. with Chef Ashley

 T.I. with Chef Ashley

Prepping Salmon

 Behind-the-Scenes look at Scales 925 Kitchen

T.I. with his staff

 T.I. with Scales 925 management staff

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RC and Nikki Barjon toasting to the opening of Scales 925  #CHEERS

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Ent

David Oyelowo attends ATL’s 47th Annual MLK Jr. Commemorative Svc. [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

“Selma” actor and activist, David Oyelowo was one of many special guests invited to speak during Monday’s 47th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service in Atlanta, GA. The British-born actor made a rare appearance, just hours after marching with his co-stars Oprah Winfrey and Common and director, Ava DuVernay across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL on Sunday evening.

David Oyelowo

Actor and activist, David Oyelowo talking about playing MLK in the movie Selma

 A tearful and emotional Oyelowo shared his very personal experience playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and confessed that God had already revealed to him in prayer seven years ago that he would play the civil rights leader in a movie. He also described what it was like “stepping into the shoes of King” and why this was more than an acting gig but a transformative experience. His Nigerian father was also present and flew all the way from the UK to be a part of today’s ceremony.

John Lewis

 John Lewis greeting the honorable Mathilde Mukantabana

Joining Oyelowo was the real  Selma marcher and organizer, the Honorable Congressman John Lewis, whose speech was a letter to Dr. King, detailing the progress of African-Americans. Lewis referred to his former mentor as his “hero” and stated that  Dr. King had “redeemed more than a people but a nation.”

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 Elder Bernice King giving remarks at the beginning of the program

King’s youngest daughter, Elder Dr. Bernice King, gave a rousing speech during the opening remarks, touching on the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. However, it was Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd’s keynote address that brought the packed Horizon Sanctuary to its feet with a call-to-action message of hope and encouragement. The former Delta Sigma Theta Sorority President, urged members of the audience not to remain silent about the social ills that plaque our communities and described the U.S. as a nation “surrounded by yellow crime scene tape.” The very bold statement left many in the audience, speechless!

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 Students reciting the address from King’s speech at ‘The Conclusion of the Selma March’

The televised ceremony also included remarks from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as well as religious leaders of all faiths including the Muslim and Jewish communities.  Students from various Atlanta metro schools recited Dr. King’s historic speech from “The Conclusion of the Selma March” and  Grammy winning-singer, Sandi Patty delivered a hair-raising performance of the gospel classic “How Great Thou Art.” The program closed with the Bell Ringing Ceremony as part of King’s Legacy of Courage and the singing of the movement anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”

Take a look at more photos below:

Photo One

 Aerial view of the stage

Flag Salute

New Hope Pathfinders Club Flag Bearers presented the Flags of the Nations

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Elder Dr. Bernice King

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 Dr. Christine King Farris presided over the entire ceremony

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 Greetings from the Honorable John Lewis, 5th Congressional District, Georgia

Kasim Reed

Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed

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 Students reciting Dr. King’s address at the ‘Conclusion of the Selma March’

Crowd Shot

Ebenezer Baptist Church – Horizon Sanctuary was filled to capacity

Dancers

 Amazing Grace Dance Company performing to Micah Stampley’s “Another Place”

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Grammy winning-vocalist Sandi Patty performing ‘How Great Thou Art”

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Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd’s speech was timely and on point

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Student speakers posing for a picture

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 Elder Dr. Bernice King with ‘Selma’ actor David Oyelowo and Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd

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 David Oyelowo taking pictures with fans after the ceremony

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Iconic statue in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church – Horizon Sanctuary

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Mahatma Gandhi was honored today as well

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 Final resting places of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King

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A #Selfie with ‘Selma’ actor David Oyelowo

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

Categories
RC Exclusive - Ent

Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Chris Tucker attend Mayor’s Masked Ball + Chaka Khan honored {PHOTOS + VIDEO}

Written by | Ray Cornelius

The city of Atlanta’s 31st Annual Mayor’s Masked Ball was held recently at the fabulous Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The fundraising gala benefited 37 UNCF member colleges and universities including Clark-Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and recognized the immeasurable contributions of civil rights pioneers, Dr. C.T. Vivian and Dr. Joseph Lowery.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed with UNCF’s Dr. Michael Lomax

The event was hosted by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and First Lady Sarah Elizabeth Reed along with President and CEO of UNCF Michael Lomax. Co-Chairs included General Manager of Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Erica Qualls-Battey; Publisher of Atlanta Business Chronicle, Ed Baker; and Thomas Dortch of TWD.

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Chris Tucker with Fox 5 Atlanta’s Cynne Simpson

A bevy of ATL celebrities were in attendance including rappers Ludacris, Young Jeezy and Big Boi; actors Chris Tucker, Jasmine Burke, Brad James, and Palmer Williams. Reality stars DJ Traci Steele, Phaedra Parks, Dwight Eubanks were also spotted along with media personality Fonzworth Bentley and filmmaker Will “Power” Packer.  There was also a Parade of Masks led by the Bahamas Masqueraders and Junkanoo Carnival 2015 and live music from CAU’s world-renowned Jazz Orchestra.

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Rappers Young and Ludacris with DTP CEO Chaka Zulu

Closing out the evening was 10-time Grammy-winning vocalist Chaka Khan, who performed a medley of her biggest hits including “Through the Fire,” “I Feel for You,” “I’m Every Woman” and “Everlasting Love.” She was also awarded the city’s highest honor(The Phoenix Award) for her indelible imprint on the music industry and her numerous philanthropic efforts.

Check out more photos below:

Jasmine Burke and Mother Patrice

Actress Jasmine Burke with her mother/Author Patrice Cunningham + guest

Michael Lomax and CT Vivian

Dr. Michael Lomax with honoree Dr. C.T. Vivian

 Pearl Cleage Dwight and Phaedra

Author Pearl Cleage and daughter Deignan /RHOA’s Dwight Eubanks and Phaedra Parks

Yung Jeezy and date

Young Jeezy + guest

Brad James Hank Aaron

Actor Brad James and singer Ahki/Baseball legend Hank Aaron

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Will Packer, Mayor Reed, Young Jeezy, Ludacris and Jonathan Slocumb “Hands Up”

Alexis Cierra Mya

Former “American Idol” contestant Alexis Cierra + guest/Beauty Maven Maya Sly

Traci Steele Kathleen Bertrand

DJ Traci Steele/Jazz vocalist & BLFF’s Kathleen Bertrand + guest

Big Boi

 Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and wife Sherlita Patton at Gala Dinner

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Chaka Khan performing “I Feel for You”

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Chaka Khan is a 10-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter

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The power of social media

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Chaka Khan receiving the Phoenix Award from Mayor Kasim Reed & First Lady Sarah Elizabeth Reed

Check out Chaka Khan singing “Through the Fire” below:

[youtube id=”SnjGh-x4p9I” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com