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#UPFRONT featuring Music Icon PEABO BRYSON (AUDIO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

This weekend’s edition of UPFRONT features music legend PEABO BRYSON!

The two-time Grammy Award winner singer stopped by the studios recently to chat about his new album, Stand For Love. The project’s lead single, “Love Like Yours and Mine” has held the No. 3 position on Billboard’s “R&B Adult Song” Chart for two weeks now and was produced by the iconic Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Mr. Bryson also opens up about working with them, legendary songwriter Michael Masser, the state of R&B music and his new baby boy.

This is an UPFRONT exclusive you won’t hear anywhere else.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Janelle Monáe stars in Jordan Peele’s ‘Noir Town’ for W Magazine [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Janelle Monáe and Jordan Peele are having way too much fun in this amazing spread for W Magazine. The Get Out director and Oscar nominee has teamed up with the Grammy nominated starlet for a retelling of Alfred Hitchcock classics through fashion titled Noir Town.

The project features Monáe as a private investigator and photographer searching for clues to a murder only to find out that she may very well be the suspect. The closer she gets to discovering the killer, the more she sees a darker side of herself. Each image features the Hidden Figures actress in Vertigo inspired looks from Michael Kors, Valentino, Burberry, Gorgio Armani, Dsquared2 and more.

“I didn’t want the Hitchcock heroine,” explained Peele. “I wanted the Hitchcock hero. That way, we can reclaim this movie that we never got to see. The fear of gender and race robs us of beautiful pieces of film.”

The shoot comes on the heels of Monáe announcing a new album as well as the release of her new single, “Dirty Computer.” The untitled project will be debut this spring and will be accompanied by a narrative film. CONGRATS JANELLE!

Check out more images below:

Photo Credits: Collier Schorr for W Magazine

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RC Exclusive - Music

LISTEN UP ~ TONI BRAXTON – ‘LONG AS I LIVE’ (AUDIO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out new music from the one and only—TONI BRAXTON! The song is titled “Long as I Live” and is in the same vein of her other classic tunes like “You Mean the World to Me,” “Yesterday,” and “How Many Ways.”  Braxton released the track on this past Friday (February 8) with the following caption:

“HAPPY FRIDAY!! 💃🏽 I have some new 🎶 for you! ♥ My new song “Long As I Live” is out! Get it here and get in your feelings 😉 LINK IN BIO 💋 #LongAsILive”

“Long As I Live” comes from her forthcoming album Sex and Cigarettes which comes out on March 23. Tell us what you think!

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Empire’s Jussie Smollett releases new single ‘Freedom’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out the debut single from Jussie Smollett. The song is titled “Freedom” and was released on this past Friday (January 5).  According to the “Empire” star, this is just a taste of what fans can expect from his upcoming solo project SumOfMyMusic. The highly anticipated album debuts on March 2.

In addition to premiering the song, Smollett also released some pretty cool black and white images of himself shot by acclaimed photographer—Tarrice Love.

Check them out below and tell us what you think about the new single.

Photo Credits: Tarrice Love + Keoni Marcelo

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RC Exclusive - Music

Gregory Porter releases ‘L.O.V.E’ from ‘Nat King Cole & Me’ (AUDIO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy winning singer Gregory Porter has released his version of the Nat King Cole classic tune “L.O.V.E.”  The song comes from Porter’s upcoming tribute album, Nat King Cole & Me, which features songs made famous by the 50’s jazz crooner.

“He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool,” Porter enthuses. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” said Porter to JazzCorner.com

Nat King Cole & Me debuts on October 27!

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RC Exclusive - Music

Jazz Vocalist Gregory Porter to release ‘Nat King Cole & Me’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter is paying tribute to his music idol—Nat King Cole—in a new project titled, Nat King Cole & Me. The album will be released this October 27 and features such classic Cole tunes as “Mona Lisa,” “Nature Boy” and “L-O-V-E.”

According to JAZZCORNER.COM, Porter enlisted help for the recording from 6-time Grammy winning arranger Vince Mendoza along with pianist Christian Sands, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Ulysses Owens + special guest trumpeter Terence Blanchard.

“He was one of a kind. He left such great music – such beautiful things to listen to that you can’t help but be influenced by that extraordinary timbre, style, and ultimate cool,” Porter enthuses. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole,” Porter says.

Check out Porter’s rendition of “Smile” below along with the CD’s track list:

1. Mona Lisa (Ray Evans/Jay Livingston)
2. Smile (Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons)
3. Nature Boy (Eden Ahbez)
4. L-O-V-E (Milt Gabler/Bert Kaempfert)
5. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Farres Osvaldo)
6. Miss Otis Regrets (Cole Porter)
7. Pick Yourself Up (Jerome Kern/ Dorothy Fields)
8. When Love Was King (Gregory Porter)
9. The Lonely One (Lenny Hambro/ Roberto Heller)
10. Ballerina (Carl Sigman/ Bob Russell)
11. I Wonder Who My Daddy Is (Gladys Shelley)
12. But Beautiful** (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen)
13. Sweet Lorraine** (Cliff Burwell/Mitchell Parish)
14. For All We Know** (J. Fred Coots/Sam M. Lewis)
15. The Christmas Song (Mel Tormé/Robert Wells)

**only available on deluxe edition

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com and Metro.co.uk

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RC Exclusive - Music

TAKE A LOOK: LEDISI ‘HIGH’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Soul music diva—LEDISI—has released a new video for her single, “HIGH.” The video premiered exclusively on CENTRIC and BET.com and comes from her forthcoming album which will be released on September 22. The video also reveals her new do and was directed by Noble Jones.

Look for the singer to appear at this week’s #MERGE Symposium Tour – Houston where she’ll talk about being “Bold, Beautiful and On Purpose” with gospel music icon Yolanda Adams and Beauty maven Miki Taylor.

Take a look below and tell us what you think!

Photo Credit: TheMusicSite.com

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RC Exclusive - Music Rejoice

BeBe Winans to release ‘Born For This’ Album + West Coast Premiere of Musical (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Six-time Grammy winning Gospel music icon BeBe Winans is gearing up to release his first solo project in five years. The album is titled, Born For This and is inspired by his highly successful musical, “Born For This: The BeBe Winans Story.” The musical is making its West Coast Premiere today (July 11) through August 6th. 

As previously reported, “Born For This” boasts an esteemed creative team triumvirate, with a book written by Winans, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright (Motown: The Musical, “Greenleaf”), with music supervision by Donald Lawrence. It is an emotional journey that chronicles Winans’ early years as the youngest son born to a family whose name is synonymous with Gospel music, and depicts his rise to superstardom and his internal conflicts between faith and fame.  Broadway World declares, “This spectacular musical is impossible not to enjoy.” The captivating production begins in the Winans family’s humble home in Detroit, MI, and follows Winans as he travels the unexpected and unparalleled road toward his destiny.

 The musical documents the inception of BeBe and CeCe Winans, played with eerie accuracy by Winans’ nephew and niece, Juan Winans and Deborah Joy Winans (“Greenleaf”), respectively, their unconventional beginnings as cast members of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s televangelistic phenomenon, “Praise the Lord,” their chance meeting and subsequent friendship with Whitney Houston, and their relationship with their older brothers, the legendary Gospel quartet, The Winans.

Born For This, the album will feature guest appearances by Tramaine Hawkins, Tobbi & Tommi, Debra Winans-Lowe, Margaret Bell, Pastor Marvin Winans, and Mom Winans, as well as newcomer Kiandra Richardson, who stuns in her portrayal of Houston in the live production.

Click here to see photos from the Atlanta Premiere of the show and watch a clip below:

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RC Exclusive - Music

TANK announces ’14-City Savage Tour’ with stops in NYC, ATL & More!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy nominated R&B star and budding actor TANK is hitting the road this September for the “14 City SAVAGE Tour,” in support of his new album. The tour kicks off on September 5 at the City Winery in Nashville and will include stops in New York, Boston, Memphis, Tampa and Atlanta.

SAVAGE is Tank’s eighth studio album and features appearances by Candice Boyd, J. Valentine, Ludacris, and labelmate Trey Songz as well as production from Da Internz, Harmony Samuels, and Cardiak. It is slated to be released this fall.

The album’s lead single, “When We” is described as “a sensual how to that will lead listeners to a night of high-powered unadulterated passion” and is also the #1 Most added on the UAC charts.

In addition to performing new music on the tour, Tank will also be singing his classic tunes like “Please Don’t Go,” “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” “You Don’t Know,” and “Maybe I Deserve.”  Tickets for the “14-City SAVAGE Tour” can be purchased via Tank’s website starting this Friday, July 14.

See all the tour dates below:

Date             City                          Venue

9/1/17           Miramar, FL*            Miramar Regional Park – Support for Maze

9/2/17           Tampa, FL*              USF – SUN DOME – Support for Maze

9/3/17           Atlanta, GA*             Wolf Creek Amp. – Support for Anthony Hamilton

9/5/17           Nashville, TN           City Winery                   

9/6/17           Raleigh, NC             Lincoln Theatre                

9/9/17           New York, NY          BB Kings                              

9/10/17         Boston, MA             House of Blues               

9/12/17         Buffalo, NY              Waiting Room              

9/13/17         Cleveland, OH         House of Blues             

9/17/17         Mobile, AL               Soul Kitchen                  

9/19/17         Augusta, GA            Sky City                            

9/21/17         Birmingham, AL       Work Play   

9/22/17         Jackson, MS.           The Hideaway                    

9/23/17         Little Rock, AR         Metroplex                     

9/24/17         Memphis, TN           New Daisy Theatre     

9/26/17         Cincinnati, OH         Bogart’s                          

9/27/17         Pittsburgh, PA          Rex Theater

Photo Credits: StrongArmMedia + RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Music

V-103 hosts Mary J. Blige Listening Party for ‘Strength of a Woman’

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The reigning “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige teamed up with Atlanta’s Big Station, V-103 Wednesday night for a sneak peek of her new CD, Strength of a Woman + her new film, “The Making of Strength of a Woman.”  The album drops this Friday, April 28 and the film debuts on Tuesday, May 2 at 11 p.m. EST on VH1.

The invitation only event took place at the SCADshow in Midtown and was hosted by Big Tigger. The evening began with the documentary which delves into the creative process of the new album. If you’re a real Blige fan, then you’ll know that she is going through a very painful divorce right now from her husband, Kendu Isaacs and much of the project is about her picking up the pieces and moving forward. Fans will see her laugh and cry in the studio as well motivate the songwriters, artists and engineers that helped her shape this new sound. It is narrated by Sean “Diddy” Combs and features a number of guest appearances by many of her collaborators and close friends like Missy Elliott, Jazmine Sullivan, DJ Khaled and Teddy Riley. For Blige, working with these award winning musicians and artists was as much of an honor for her as it was for them.

“It really meant so much to me because I really wanted to work with them. Like, I really wanted to work with Jazmine. I really wanted to write with her. I really love Khaled. He’s so positive and is such a role model. Kayne has always been a positive role model. Many of us are in the public and sometimes you wanna knock somebody out or curse somebody out and he does what we think about doing. (LOL) But seriously, I have always wanted to work with him because he’s a genius and he’s so real and expressive. Missy is my friend. She’s been my friend since the beginning of all of this,” said Blige to host Big Tigger.

Strength of a Woman also includes a track produced by ATL’s own Ne-Yo. In the film, Blige asked him about whether a certain female artist worked in his studio and warned him about not letting her know that he was working on this new album. Apparently this “mystery” artist is the alleged “side chick” of her husband and the one who is responsible for their divorce. Blige refers to her as “My Becky with the good hair,” a term used and made popular by Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Believe me when I tell you the audience “went up” over Blige’s comment and caused everyone to wonder who she is.

In addition to discussing the new album, Blige also talked to Big Tigger about some of the lessons she has learned over her 25 year career and the one thing that has changed the most for her professionally and privately.

“My self-esteem,” said Blige to a thunderous applause.  “Me being able to sit here and keep my head up and not worry about whether I am stumbling and mumbling and all of that. I just accept it and try not fix it…I am not trying to be perfect but trying to be the best me that I can be. I’ve never felt like this before.”

SIDE NOTE: For fans who are desiring that “old Mary” sound (you know what I’m talking about), I believe you will be satisfied with her new album. It features a number of songs that I believe are reminiscent (no pun intended) to the music featured on her classic My Life album. The title track, “Strength of a Woman,” is a clear stand out to me not only because it was produced by Teddy Riley and Benjamin Wright Jr. but it also features Blige with a live orchestra. That’s a rare sound that you just don’t hear that often on the radio anymore and it reminds me of a golden age of music.

See more photos + a sneak peek of the film below:

Strength of a Woman will be available this Friday, April 28!

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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RC Exclusive - Music

Broadway star Billy Porter drops new CD featuring Ledisi, India.Arie & more (VIDEO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Tony winning actor Billy Porter has put his spin on some classic Broadway tunes on the new album, Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rogers.  It debuted yesterday (Friday, April 14) and has already reached the No. 2 spot on the iTunes R&B charts according to Playbill.com.

The 12-song project includes “new, soulful” takes on familiar show tunes featuring Porter and such artists as Tony and Grammy Award winner Cynthia Erivo, who sings on the sultry, My Funny Valentine.”  Ledisi with Zaire Park covers the Ella Fitzgerald favorite,”Bewitched” and India.Arie teams up with Porter on “Carefully Taught.” The album also features “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. on “My Romance” and YouTube sensation Todrick Hall with Porter on “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair.”

The project also includes songs with Grammy nominated vocalist Deborah Cox (The Bodyguard: The Musical); Tony and Grammy Award winner Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton & The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), Tony Award-winner Patina Miller (Pippin), Grammy Award winners Pentatonix, Tony Award nominees Brandon Victor Dixon (Motown the Musical & Shuffle Along), Joshua Henry (Violet) and Christopher Jackson (Hamilton).

Check out the making of the album below which features Porter and friends:

Photo Credits: BillyPorter.com

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RC Exclusive - Music

Patti LaBelle salutes Jazz Idols with new album, ‘Bel Hommage’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Music legend Patti LaBelle is making good on a promise she made a few years back to her die hard fans and is finally releasing a jazz album this May.

Bel Hommage, is a 13-track CD that includes such jazz standards as “Moody’s Mood for Love” featuring Kem, Billie Holiday‘s classic “Don’t Explain,” Nina Simone‘s “Go To Hell” and one of my personal favorites “Here’s To Life,” which was made famous by one of Ms. Patti’s music idols—Shirley Horn.

LaBelle says, “I’ve been saying for years that I was going to record a jazz album, but I hadn’t taken that leap of faith to try something different. Now I’m so happy that I did because I really love all of these songs and I pray that everyone else will too!”

In addition to Bel Hommage, Miss Patti is releasing her sixth book and fourth cookbook, Desserts LaBelle, on April 25th and has a line of successful food products, Patti’s Good Life, which is carried at Walmart stores. You can also catch her on the hit Cooking Channel show, “Patti LaBelle’s Place.”

Check out the full track list below + click here to get your copy:

The Jazz In You
Wild is the Wind
Moanin’
Till I Get It Right
Moody’s Mood For Love (featuring Kem)
Softly As I Leave You
Peel Me A Grape
Don’t Explain
I Can Cook Too
Folks on the Hill
Go To Hell
Song For Old Lovers
Here’s to Life

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RC Exclusive - Music

New Music Monday: Solange ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ & ‘Cranes in the Sky’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Solange has released two music videos to accompany songs from her new album, A Seat at the Table, which she released digitally on Friday (Sept. 30).

According to her website, the “musical presentation” has been brewing in her mind over the past four years and highlights both the troubling conversations that come along with being a Black woman in the midst of cultural and socio-political shifts in America. It also observes the truth and triumphs that come along with being a part of an ever-resilient, multifaceted, chosen people. A Seat features cameos from Lil’ Wayne, Master P, Kelly Rowland, Kelela, Dev Hynes, Tweet, Q-Tip and was executive produced by Solange and Raphael Saadiq.

Check out the female empowerment tune “Don’t Touch My Hair” featuring Sampha and “Cranes in the Sky” which addresses running away from life’s issues. Both videos were produced by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson.

Click here to listen to A Seat at the Table!

Photo Credit: SaintHeron.com

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RC Exclusive - Music

Mindless Behavior announce ‘No Parents Allowed’ Tour

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

R&B trio Mindless Behavior announced their “#NoParentsAllowed” tour this week which is presented by Ones To Watch. The 23-city tour is also sponsored by Alcatel in support of their latest studio album, #OfficialMBMusic, released this summer on Conjunction Entertainment/ADA.

The group kicked off the summer with the release of their single “#iWantDat” featuring West Coast rappers Problem and Bad Lucc. To-date, the song has garnered over three million views on Vevo. The upcoming tour will mark the first tour for its newest members E.J. and Mike River and is the most anticipated since its 2012 tour that was chronicled in the breakout concert movie “Mindless Behavior: All Around the World” with Awesomeness TV.

unnamed-2-2Pre-sale tickets went on sale this past Tuesday, September 27 and general ticket sales begin tomorrow Friday, September 30.

The #OfficialMBMusic album marks the return of the swagged-up and soulful R&B trio who have elevated and expanded on their patented sound. It’s a sound that turned millions into fans when the group officially arrived in 2011 with their major label debut, #1 Girl. In addition to bowing at #7 on the Billboard Top 200, the debut record yielded hits such as “Mrs. Right” feat. Diggy Simmons and “#1 Girl,” which would collectively surpass 5.5 million ringtones and 845,000 single sales. 2013’s All Around the World, was a joint release including an album and concert film that became one of the most prominent box office releases by a YouTube channel. The buzz helped the sophomore album top Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and land at #6 on the Top 200.

Alcatel and their all-new IDOL 4, along with Cricket Wireless are the exclusive mobile handset, VR accessories partner, and wireless provider of Ones to Watch; leveraging this platform as an opportunity for fans across the country to discover Alcatel and IDOL 4 with VR Experience. As part of their partnership, brand ambassadors for Alcatel will be on-site at select tour stops to provide an opportunity for fans to have a hands-on viewing experience with the IDOL 4 and Alcatel Virtual Reality goggles.

Check out the tour dates listed below:

Nov 9 – Greensboro/Cone Denim Entertainment Center
Nov 10 – Charlotte/The Fillmore
Nov 11 – Raleigh/The Ritz
Nov 12 – Atlanta/Tabernacle
Nov 15 – Orlando/House of Blues
Nov 17 – New Orleans/House of Blues
Nov 18 – Houston/House of Blues
Nov 19 – Dallas/House of Blues
Nov 20 – San Antonio/Aztec Theater
Nov 23 – Los Angeles/Hollywood Palladium
Nov 25 – Oakland/Paramount Theatre
Nov 29 – Denver/Summit Music Hall
Dec 1 – St Paul/Myth
Dec 2 – Chicago/House of Blues
Dec 3 – Madison/Orpheum Theatre
Dec 4 – Indianapolis/Deluxe
Dec 7 – Cleveland/House of Blues
Dec 9 – Toronto/Sound Academy
Dec 10 – Detroit/The Fillmore
Dec 12 – Boston/House of Blues
Dec 13 – NYC/Irving Plaza
Dec 16 – Silver Spring/The Fillmore
Dec 17 – Philadelphia/Tower Theater

Click here to purchase tickets!