Sometimes I feel as if I am in the cosmic atmosphere.  Like I am overlooking all of the prodigious talent!  I am the outsider , yet I am the insider.  Because they all are apart of my universe! We exist in the same stratosphere!  I am able to be HONORED by their beauty of lyrics, thoughts, deeds and get so lifted where I make my throne on Saturn.  I feel comfortable jumping moon to moon.  I need the exercise'; so it is with great honor and a love for the many Artist that I will Honor on this Artist Corner.  Those who have aroused a deep feeling of healing.  I thank you, and hope that as I pay you all homage, you feel as honored as I have by the talent that you bring!

Blessings!
 


Yours truly.
Toy High

There is much to say about this well-rounded actress that is strong, talented woman. However I shall begin with advice I was given from someone in passing that came in my life, “If you stay true to yourself, the rest doesn't matter.” I concur!

Who says that hard work and perseverance doesn't pay off? That if you are true to ones self doors will not open? That if you believe in you and what you do you cannot and will not be a success? Patience and a lot of tolerance is what is required in a business such as the industry that Viola Davis has taken a leap into. Much critique good and bad has been placed on the shoulders of this beautiful actress. Yet, yet she has stood on her own shoulders. If that is possible. Viola Davis has climbed the ladder of success from humbling beginnings starting her career in 1996 in the role as a nurse for the movie The Substance of Fire. Almost twenty years in the business!

I honor a woman of substance on the Honorary Artist Corner for her work that has been consistent. For the art that Viola Davis has stayed true to and not veered from since the day she started her career in Hollywood. Though we all know that Viola Davis has won her first Emmy for her role in How To Get Away With Murder, playing an attorney Annalise Keating. Viola has a long list of TV shows, theater and major motion pictures to her credit as well. Let me remind you of the accolades and awards that she has received in her career. The Black Reel Awards, Best Supporting Actress in 2008. Best Actress and Best Ensemble for The Help in 2011. Critique's Choice Awards she won Best Actress and Best Ensemble Cast for The Help in 2011. For Viola Davis' theater work. Drama Desk Awards she won Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for King Hedley II in 2001 and Fences in 2010. Outstanding Actress in a Play for Intimate Apparel in 2004. The list goes on, so hold on to your readers eyes! NAACP Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Won't Back Down in 2013and The Help in 2012. Also winning four awards in the years of 2008, 2011, 2013 with the National Board of Review Awards. Also The People's Choice Awards for How To Get Away With Murder 2015. Screen Actors Guild Awards she 2011 and 2015, also two Tony Awards in 2001 and 2010. Wait there is more, a Crystal Award in 2012.

What a list! What accomplishments! What drive and stamina! If you just believe in you, yourself, the skies are the limit! Viola Davis has spoken on her childhood, saying that it was “dysfunctional” however she turned that into a beautiful function in her career and many steps she has taken to shake up things in Hollywood that is not built towards the careers of African American women. There has always been talk, chit chatter of how there are not a lot of roles, writers, movies geared for actresses of color. Speeches, after articles after interviews speak on this very issue. Have been for quite some time. An issue that plagues African American women in the industry. We must “look” a certain way to get “certain” roles. The African American women in the industry have not kept their mouths shut in regards to this topic. I believe the more vocal we are, the more Hollywood has to open its doors for talented women more and more. Viola Davis I believe has made strides in this capacity. Also being a trendsetter of sorts.

We welcomed and embraced Viola Davis when she decided to go natural with her hair. Not conform to a look that is more accepted. Viola Davis shines and wins us over with sunshine, something that is called a smile. How she illuminates the big screen, the stage and the small screen. No matter what role she has taken on the big or small screen her inner beauty, outer beauty nor talent cannot be overlooked by anyone! Viola has, and is leading by example. We don't have to be perfect to be examples. Our imperfections make us perfect. Our past can shape us into something extraordinary if we take the negative and “Let our frustration be our motivation.” Does it matter where we came from? To some it really does. But what we all look at is the test, and the testimony that comes later in life. The accomplishments that we have acquired. The many naysayers that said, “She/he won't amount to nothing”

What could be a wall for some, clearly was only just a stepping stone for Viola. Well, maybe not. However Violas Davis gives us that impression. Her humbleness, her efforts, her love for herself and her art is what draws us into her.

I am a strong believer that when set out to do a task, a love, a purpose that we can break stereotypes. That we can indeed break down doors and set the precedence for others that look up to us. That we can break the chains of a life that we came from and break family curses with our tenacity! Again, enter Viola Davis! An enigma, not a stigma!

Please, stand to your feet, give a roaring applause, scream and yell if you can! Welcome the humble, talented, example of a lady who overwhelms us with her acting skills! Please...Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome Viola Davis to the Honorary Artist Corner!

Hawt right now!!! You guessed it!! And you were right! Not! I had to disagree with what I just wrote! Because it is so not true! Taraji P. Henson has been hawt for a long time!! And the many accolades that she has been receiving have been in the making from the very first moment she made her first television appearance on Smart Guy. Yes I said Smart Guy! Though we are all in love with Taraji's infamous character Cookie Lyon on Empire this of course is not Taraji's television debut  However  Empire the most Dynasty Dallas night time soap opera! Let me state for the TV gawds and those who are addicted to this weekly show that comes on Fox every Wednesday at 9/8c time. Do I know the day and time? Of course! And yes, because this artist is hooked lined and sunk deep into the drama.

With all respect to a bold beautiful, eccentric, sexy, strong down to earth intelligent woman that Taraji P. Henson has indeed captivated our hearts and souls. Those eyes, they tell and speak in volumes. As Tyra Banks says all the time, and let me reiterate. The art of“Smizing” And those lovely eyes know just and when to smize as Taraji acts out!

A lot of Taraji's fans recall her memorable performance in Baby Boy. Her dramatic, head snapping, caught up sprung love affair with her co-star Tyreese. A down sister who went through it for her man, her son and her love. Let me be clear, though a lot of Taraji's fans think her big debut on the movie screen was Baby Boy. It was not. A small role in the movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle in 2000 she played a left wing student.

Now that I have been clear in regards to Taraji's first television and first movie role let's get into this beautiful artist who has been steadily working in Hollywood since 1997! A true actress that commands and demands attention. An artist who has chosen all her movie roles year by year bolstering her career. Being raw, real, resilient and respected by her peers. With so many fans that are enamored by her down to earth persona and her regal flair; this makes Taraji a mainstay in this business. Receiving the Entertainer of the Year Award from the NAACP in 20015 she stated, “I am very passionate about what I do. God gave us all gifts.” Also stating in her acceptance speech, “I know a lot people talk about the roles that I pick. But like the great Tu Pac said. If I keep talking about what's going on in this world, I might not make people to change. But I might spark the brain that can make the change.” Love it!!!!! Honest and forthright! Is this not why we are in love and like with this fabulous artist that takes acting to another high. A high now that many actresses will have to walk and climb to attain her skill level. Riding high!

Taraji P. Henson has so much riding and gliding in and around her spirit. She oozes passion, glam, sex appeal, the girl next door, your best friend, home-girl from around the way, mom, sister, confidante....wait a minute here! It seems as if I am just partially describing some of the roles she has played! However they say life imitates art, and an art that Taraji has acclimated to very well.

I am an truly in awe of this woman, grown woman, real woman, go get it woman. A woman who knows what she wants and gives it to you every time she gets it. Taraji has proven herself time and time again. We all know her life, her personal life. Well we feel we do don't we? Why do we feel that way? Because of the life that this brilliant artist brings to each and every character played. Every line recited.

Taraji's parents named her well! Taraji meaning “hope” her middle name being Penda meaning “love”. And I feel the love that she has for her art through all the roles. I have had the pleasure of viewing over the years. Again, have you seen her eyes? The eyes have it.

Let me not forget the many accolades that Taraji Penda Henson has received in her career. 2011 she received three awards! Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story Black Reel Award for Best Actress: TV Movie/Cable NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special BET Award for Best Actress 2008 Austin Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress BET Award for Best Actress NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture BET Award for Best Actress Austin Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress 2005 BET Award for Best Actress Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress Black Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress. As well, Taraji has been nominated for twenty-two awards in many genres one of them an Emmy! I am proud to place this beautiful talent on the Honorary Artist Corner and welcome her smile and inner light to shine bright and of course wishing her much success in a future that I see will offer Taraji many more intricate dichotomy roles on the big and small screen.

Ladies and gentlemen please welcome our sister, sister-friend, next door neighbor, confidante to the Honorary Artist Corner by overwhelming her with applause and big smiles! She more than deserves it! The next time we stand to our feet to applaud her with smiles will be at the Emmy's and Academy Awards! 


I'd Rather Go Blind” and not know this overwhelmingly talented artist that gave it to you rather you wanted it or not! Please bring to the center stage, Etta James! AKA Miss Peaches. I think so many adjectives when I think of this artist. Bluesy, earthy, soulish, gospel, R&B, rock and roll and jazz! How many artist can say that they have covered this many genres of music? Not many!

Etta James moves you and draws you into her lyrics and her voice. Her performances were lively, and her strong personality came through letting you know she meant business! You have to love that about her. Etta James had begun her career at the tender age of twelve, moving to San Francisco and forming a doo-wop group called the “Creolettes” because they were all of light complexion. Etta was fourteen when she had assisted in forming this group and was mentored by “Johnny Otis” who saw her talent. Singing in clubs that she was too young and should have not been in. However the persistence and belief she had in herself and her singing abilities propelled her to do all she could do to be noticed!

Etta James had a distinctive voice and a cry that made you feeel as if she was personally talking to you! And she was! Her pain, her life, her past and her present. There was no running away from that. Her ministry was strong, and her followers listened to her sermons with open hearts and open ears. Her crossover song “At Last” propelled her musical career to heights unexpected by Etta, Leonard Chess and Chess Records. Now the world all over knew who Etta James was! Imagine a world that had to take the “race” out of ”race music”. The industry and music world felt the lyrics, the production and the song. All the music industry could do was fall to their knees and pay Etta James homage.

Listen to Etta James as she wails, riffs and gives you her edgy rawness in “All I could do Is Cry”soul stirring! Ohhh you have to check out the remake of “Somethings got A Hold of Me” How she begins the song and gives it a gospel and R&B twist. Etta James, Miss Peaches brought that from the bowls of her stomach. Wait that is not all! “Got My Mojo Working” gives you blues and a little country! So could Etta James have embarked in country music as well? Yes, because she has performed and opened with many well known country singing artist! Etta James not once placed herself in a box! And this is why I love her body of work and Ms. James as an artist had many established artist in country, blues, soul, R&B and jazz performers desiring to work with her! Rather that was concert performances, guest appearances, TV shows. Etta James was there to show her talent and light! Sleighing the audience and her counterparts with her deep contralto received raved reviews when Etta performed.

Rolling Stone ranked Etta James number twenty-two on their list of the one hundred greatest singers of all time! As well as number sixty-two of performing artist. The winner of six Grammy's and seventeen Blues Music Awards! She has been nominated eleven times for awards! What does that tell you? Etta's discography speaks for itself! Etta James was inducted with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2008. In 2003 inducted and given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999 Miss Peaches was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame for “At Last” After all of the decades that past Etta James was given her just due acknowledgments.What a life! What a career! What accolades! So it is then with great pleasure that I feature the late great Etta James in the Honorary Artist Corner for the many accomplishments she has given to the world of music. The many barriers that she broke through in her personal life and her musical career. I honor a woman that has paved the way and set examples in her music.

Ladies and gentlemen please give a standing bluesy soulful yell and applause to a winner and talent Miss Etta James and welcome her to the Honorary Artist Corner!!

 I really do and do not know where to start when it comes to this fabulous artist that is so deserving of being on the Honorary Artist Corner! First let me state that she is a singer that has left a beautiful impression on so many of her listeners. Ms. Anita Baker is a star, not because she is a star, but because of the inner beauty that glows through her music, her being and her radiant smile!


I will never forget when I first heard her first solo album, I think this is where I begin to tell my age. Uh jeesh! I was in high school and when“Angel” was first payed over the radio airwaves. So many, too many grooving to her “Songstress”album, back then we had albums and cassette tapes! I believe I may come off a little selfish here, and I may also come off as being a bit crass and rude. Yes! What a beautiful year, 1983! But no apologies will be given, Anita Baker made this album for me! Well that is how I felt, and still feel to this day! Twenty-two years later! Yes, I indeed just told my age.


I loved when she sang with the group “Chapter 8” However, her spirit and star rose above the success of this group! And I was glad, ohhhh so happy that she had decided to branch off on her own! And I am sure that many of her loyal fans will concur that we have been abundantly blessed with album after album that spoke to our hearts and souls ever since “Songstress” hit the record stores! When R&B was still a valued commodity. Her alto tenor voice brought tears to my eyes, cleansed, radiated and infiltrated our musical souls! There is not one person that I knew that did not have that vinyl album in their home and the cassette in their car!


So now that I have gotten some of that out of the way, let me go on and make this extremely personal. So many people have said, “I love her!” I am sure that they do. But my love for her is so deep, rich and true. Her poetic voice and delivery were supreme not on just one song, but every song that she recorded on each and everyone of her albums! She cried, she sighed, she was melancholy, happy to be and know love. And the pangs and distraught of someone yearning to be loved and needed. Her, she gave me chills hope and a new perception of life through her music. Anita Baker was as some now say my truly first #WCW! I admired her beauty, they way she bent her notes, how her body was symmetry when she sang and closed her eyes. Her upper body being stiff and rocking from side to side eyes closed and reaching out with her hands. I could watch her videos over and over as chills rose up and down my arms. At one point and time I was Anita Baker! Anita Baker, classy, sophisticated, beautiful woman. She brought sexy to a new height and level! First class...nothing ever beneath her character and standards. Setting the bar. Now let me say, I love her Anita Baker for that!


If you are a fan of her, the brilliant work. Anita Baker gave me what I needed! Okay, what we needed! I told you this was personal! Ahhhh! I love her, I love what she brought to the music industry! I love the beautiful catalog of music Ms. Baker gave the world. That were classics already when they were groomed in the studios by Anita, producers and the engineers! And here it was in the beginning of her career! Soul, jazz, R&B, quiet storm feel good music. That soothed all that heard her voice.


I love her because sincerity rang in her voice. I love her because she has and is the epitome and example of a true artist and woman. I love her! Anita Baker because she is filled with joy and life! I love her because she moves me, she has what is truly needed in the music industry that has been lost in my opinion so long ago. I love her because of the God light that resigns and illuminates from her. Anita Baker has an impeccable music collection that supersedes many solo artist that are in the industry today.


What is so ultimately fabulous about this unique voice and talent that gives us “Good Love” there are no “Fairytales” Just pureness that cannot be duplicated by anyone! How can you duplicate or replicate her? I give her praises that she, Anita Baker deserves because she has done “Whatever It Takes” to leave her fans and the music world in awe!


For whatever reason there is one song by Earth Wind and Fire that rings in my head when thinking of Anita Baker. “Get away” Take me by the hand let's leave this troubled land!” Her music takes you out on a wonderful journey and whatever may have angst you is no longer there. Now that is what an artist is supposed to do!


Ladies and gentlemen, please join me with not only a raucous applause and standing ovation. But let us give honor and just due to a beautiful Queen who still gives us the best that she has. And welcome her to the Honorary Artist Corner!

Ain’t life grand? Is it not wonderful? Beautiful and indeed a joy fulfilled blessing to be able to receive and give? To shine and let shine?  Well enter a beautiful songstress Avery Sunshine who lives up to the sun of the shine and the shine of the sun!  A smile that is opulent and comes from a beautiful warm genuine place! I speak of the Sunshine, I speak of Avery!

I was introduced to this artist while being a passenger next to the driver who enjoys the same music that I enjoy.  Raw, talent, unique, substance and stand out appeal! I asked, in my Squeak voice from “The Color Purple” “Who dis woman?” Avery Sunshine!  She is hot huh? I nodded and bobbed my head at the same time!  When making it back home I quickly settled down and started to pull up info on this woman Avery Sunshine.  First I went to You Tube and I typed in the song that I was privy to listening to in the car.  “Ugly Part of Me” When I viewed the video I saw this essence looking woman!  All natural woman who can rock a serious low-cut fade! Looking elegant sophisticated in a eccentric way.  I have to give this Nubian goddess props!

I listened to her recordings and could place myself in the midst of her lyrics.  They ministered to my being and it fed my soul.  I had been here too many times in my life!  Had I?  Would I stop, look and listen and pay close attention? It was then that I had decided to go ahead and get a bigger taste or sample if you will of her music.  It was “Blessings” that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Avery Sunshine’s voice has that certain vibrato and titillating warmth that ran chills up and down my arms.  “I Got Sunshine” is the perfect music for one to roll down the boulevard with the top down on a breezy beautiful sunshine day.  The weather is perfect just like the lyrics, just like the voice, just like the production. “All In My Head” had me thinking and rethinking, why would Avery Sunshine do this to me?  I was hooked lined and now a huge fan of this incredible woman who sang better, and I do mean better than Eddie Kane Jr.  Umm, did that go over your head?  Maybe…. Just marinate on that and you will figure out what movie I speak of.  Okay, enough let me stop my jesting.

Avery Sunshine has an aura about her that not a lot of artist have.  And I mean that!  Her soul is genuine; you can feel the love that she has for God, her art, herself and the fans she has garnered.  When Avery ask “Are you shining?” or when she says, “Keep Shining” and encourages and employs all that read or listen to her words.  She means it!  I love that energy coming from an artist. When you do what you love, and love what you do.  When you are grateful with the talent that has been bestowed upon you; when you give with your gift, when you bring light to your gift and when you love with your gift doors open!

Avery Sunshine is an artist that gives the gift of her art and her art keeps on giving.  I was built up and lifted by the diversity of this artist.  Sunshine has that gospel, funky, soul stirring jazzy neo vibe that I enjoy so much.  A talent that warms the soul and the heart.

A writer, singer, arranger, musician playing the keyboard and piano! One writer that is an obvious fan titled his piece “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” A visionary of the arts, a love for the arts and a love for culture in music.  It shines, it blings, it relishes and unfolds in the light.  You cannot help but bathe in the delicacy of Avery Sunshine’s voice and feel every note and rise in her voice.  Well truth be told when this songstress was made known to me, (in my Mister voice character from the movie The Color Purple) Avery got talent!  She got spunk!  She can stand up and be noticed!” I am sure now I am positive now that you will enjoy Avery sun shine on the block!

Ladies and gentlemen please do me the honors and stand to your feet and let some Sunshine in and welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner Avery Sunshine!  I know you can feel the warmth!

If you would like more information on this artist please be sure to Google her!

 

I am soooo excited to place this incredible man on my Honorary Artist Corner! Listen, well no for you you would have to read it! She smiles as she is so excited. I can recall the moment that I had first seen the video “Stop By” on BET Network.  I was fervishly excited and exuberated when observing this video.  I loved the fact that it was in black and white!  And the premise of this video being shot with Rashaan Patterson inside a display window where mannequins are placed to advertise new fashions and trends.  How unique and uncommon.  And today that video in my opinion is still classic and refreshing!

Now the issue I had was, when was the album coming out?! I clung to life anxious again because I was eager to support this beautiful voice that had so much soul and too many octaves that one gets lost in the variation of climatic tones!  I like that! Now personally I loathe the term “fall in love” because when you fall you miss the things around you.  However I fell hard for Rashaan Patterson and I will not deny that at all!!!!

I instantly fell in love with his charismatic energy!  Also what I loved so much was his bohemian, chic eccentric look!  The whole package that Rashaan Patterson had brought to the table was just what I needed as a person and not as of yet an artist myself; Rashaan Patterson stood outside of the box for me. His eclectic voice, style and brand of music.  He is what I had always wanted to be, my own self and nothing mended or molded by anyone or any machine. 

Rashaan has been in this industry for years!  It is truly amazing to see not only the physical changes, but also to hear the vocal changes his  voice has made in his career.  From “Star Search” to the show “Kids Incorporated” up until the present.  Rashaan Patterson can rock and roll with the best of them! And I appreciate the real, the earnest, the raw, the special he brings when he sings, sangs and sung a song putting some paint where it ain’t! 

So I have this pot on the fire, let’s call it a caldron.  And in it I throw in some bluesy-jazz, neo-soul, soul, R&B, jazz, contemporary-soul and gospel inflictions!  And this would be what Rashaan Patterson brings to the wild world of music.  For me there is no one label that describes Rashaan’s genre of music or his voice.  And then one needs to throw in his magical range; alto, bass, soprano, tenor and contralto!  One is never not ever disappointed when sitting back and enjoying the sweet soothing sounds that permeate the room with the melodious voice of Rashaan Patterson! Check out “My sweetheart” and the depth of “Spend The Night With Me” “Come over” All from his first CD self-entitled “Rashaan Patterson” Rashaan is blessed and gifted to wow an audience!

I must say that I have not ever been disappointed by any project that Rashaan Patterson has put out. Rashaan Patterson has that innate ability to reach out vocally where you feel every syllable, vowel, adverb and lyric he sings.  He has the ability to give you chills and have you swoon at the same time.  Music is supposed to move you, and Rashaan’s music not only moves but it uplifts and speaks to the soul. You will not be disappointed by “Forever Yours” “Stop Breaking My Heart” Ohhhhhh!  How I can go on and on about this beautiful artist! A man who sings from the heart to my heart! And so it is with great honor that he is placed on my Honorary Artist Corner.

Ladies and Gentlemen! The purist of music lovers that enjoy and let the artist take you on a journey…Please welcome to the stage, standing ovation as we will be overwhelmed by his showmnanship and talent!  Mr. Rashaan Patterson!

 Toy High

"Ya'll ready to settle down  and get with this? You know  settle into this feeling? Cause you know it's a lot of love here" And this is how I met HER Jill Scott! Who is Jill Scott?  As the bass dropped to my hardwood floors, as her voice coated my walls, as her lyrics were deep and she had me enthralled!  Who is Jill Scott?  A woman who was an anonymity to us all for awhile!  A great marketing scheme, Her CD sold simply buy word of mouth, just as the brother who had not only introduced me to Jill Scott!  But also gave me the CD!  Which l feel truths and no lies, this CD was stolen and replaced multiple times from my collection! This is how entranced these listeners and thirsty realist  were ready for some real music, lyrics, beat, hotness! Jilltro! I met Jill Scott in 2000 and I have not been a fan, nor a groupie I  am a lover of her talent . 

Jill Scott oozes so many things to me, in her voice I feel comforted.  And in her lyrics I am always aroused!  Aroused in thinking, and pulled gently without force a willingness to give her my attention as she sings from her groins.  The depth comes from the belly of many ancestors before us.  A poet she truly is and  coming into this business full fledged as she did.

Jill Is a force to be wrecked with and as she continues to be HER and do HER she experiences a longevity in this business and a popularity that no one can take from her because she is simply "Just Jill" Staying true to her art and not being daunted by all the fads that plague our music today.  To be a mainstay in this industry is a hard thing to do.  However I feel that Jill's charismatic love for the arts and her humbleness along with the inner beauty that generates through her words, voice and her beautiful smile go along way!

Jill allows us as well as herself that humaness we all crave in our lives.  And to hear her hurts, tears, sorrows, joys and blessings through her music and beautiful song gives her listeners and fans a true connection where we can all relate.  Jill sets the bar high for herself and encourages us in and every way she can through lyrics.  Too many times I have listened and have felt the energetic healing and love in every word and every verse. I myself cannot imagine Jill doing anything else!  Though Miss Jill Scott has now added acting to her resume,and she sores, wallows and rest in it.  Have you seen those eyes?  Have you seen that smile?  They speak volumes in her videos and the roles she has had on television. What more can Jill do?  Oh my I am forgetting her book of poetry aren't I?  Because first and foremost Jill is a poet, how could one come up with such beautiful lyrics?

I indeed look forward to the enigmatic endeavors Jill will soon bring to her fans and the world.  Jill is truly the essence of a strong woman who emulates beauty and is a role model too many of us with her sexy swag and realness that makes her fans feel as if she is there best friend, sister, cousin or the girl next door that so many men have crushed on for years!

It is with great pride in my heart that I honor a woman who is not only beautiful on the outside, but I feel her beauty on the inside.  Ladies and Gentlemen I ask that you give a standing ovation and welcome Miss Jill Scott to the Honorary Artist Corner!

Much success in all of your many adventures in life and whatever you set your hands to do will prosper!

Toy High

Eccentric, earthy, artistic, cultivating, poetic, stimulating, stylish, bohemian, chic and beautiful. These are just a few words to describe the artist Ms. Erykah Badu in all of her splendor! I personally can have her music on rotation all day and all night and never get tired! Realness and raw talent is what this artist is. Erykah's style and candor along with setting her own trend in fashion is what drew me and so many fans to her. Any person who can write a song that is groovy like “Annie Don't Wear No Panties” and the beautiful tribute touching song “Telephone” has my heart! Erykah Badu moves me, and so it is with great pleasure that she deserves to be on the Honorary Artist Corner and hold it down as a true Queen should.


You know there is a line in the Color Purple where Danny Glover addresses Whoopi Goldberg stating, “Shug got talent. She can sing. She got spunk and can talk to anybody. She can stand up and be noticed.” Well this is indeed what Erykah Badu is to me. All in a grand way of course and not an insult. When Erykah walks up to the mic you are indeed for a treat! Incense unfurls, her tea is next to her and Erykah is ready to give you the funk that has been generating in her soul!


We all were in awe when this light eyed beauty graced us with her Afrocentric style in the video “On & On” and we grooved as the bass clicked clacked and Badu gave us the rawness and depth of her voice. She was likened to Billie Holiday, which I can understand why because of the uniqueness of her voice. But I felt that Erykah Badu is in a class of her own and there really was no comparing her to anyone who has been on the music scene because she brought her own unique flavor. She gave us the new term that many artist have now been categorized under; “Neo-Soul” And ohhh how we love it! Which I personally feel was an honor to describe her music for there was no one else that was making music as she was.


We all have watched as Erykah Badu has shown us what a fabulous artist she is; and gave us all we wanted and was in so dire straights of needing. An eclectic sound and rhyming lyrics. Erykah's natural vibe and flare has so many bobbing their heads and this wonderful talent set the bar! It was cool, no it was indeed a pleasure, an eargasm if you will to feel the lyrics, the production and depth of such a wonderful artist!


I so look forward waiting anxiously for this brilliant artist to razzle and dazzle her fans in true baduizm and show and teach us as she always does our history, enlighten us about our culture. And continue to fascinate us with the lyrics she so feels in her inner spirit.


If ever there was an artist that I feel and have mad admiration for; Erykah Badu would be that soul. The healing and beauty of her lyrics that rocks our inner core. The way she preaches and teaches, the way Ms Erykah rules the world in her own world in a roost of men. I can go on and on about this wonderful artist and give you song after song after song.  However if you are a true baduist there would really be no need!


Sanctuary please stand to your feet and clap and snap your fingers as Ms. Badu is honored on the Honorary Artist Corner!


Toy High

I recall my very first love in my life who looked exactly like this picture you see of Marvin Gaye! The only difference was he had wavy hair. He was a true Marvin Gaye fan and could sing very well; a crooner such as Marvin Gaye. And when he would sing Marvin Gaye songs to me and I fell deeper in love with him. Now I liken him to Marvin Gaye and he sounded like him, too much like him! A great impersonation. But he was not the man we all know and love.  And truly there is no comparison nor competition. I of course knew of Marvin Gaye before my first love sang his ballads to me. However this made me fall deeper in a love trance with Marvin Gaye even more! I was now addicted to his music and went out at the age of seventeen and purchased his greatest hits cassette. And Marvin was on constant rotation! I listened to his recordings as much as possible.


Marvin Gaye is and was in a class of his own! A man who exudes and oozes a raw and rare talent; and of course for his female fans he doused us with his sex appeal! A tortured soul who had a heart of gold and in his lyrics Marvin Gaye's heart bleed with the social and political climate of his day. He was against war, hatred, social prejudices and made no qualms in letting the world know about his personal woes when it came to love and the government. And this is what made us fall in love with his music even more. He spoke for us with depth and rawness!


The soothe, the calm, excitement, energy, vibe, angst, cry, groove that Marvin gave you in his music! A genius that was way before his time when he had fought his way to produce, sing and write the lyrics that were true and dear to his soul and heart. If we go back to the forefront and beginning of his career the slick refined crooner with his charismatic smile and deep dark eyes sincerity was felt that had so many female fans swooning over Marvin. Marvin was uncomfortable with the attention for awhile in his life. Quite the shy young fellow at one point and time. However when those soulish gospel tones escaped his lips many were wooed and seduced into a sing songy trance of harmony that he so eloquently displayed.


Marvin Gaye has a style all of his own that could never be duplicated by no man if even one tried. Though there have been many remakes of his songs. For me there are no comparisons and so far no one has done justice to the music he has made. Now this is not to say that some of the remakes I have not enjoyed. But Marvin? Never duplicated, never ever could anyone master his tonality or his genius.


As Marvin Gaye progressed in his career we all seen the music change and sore to different heights and had gained a whole different respect for him. No matter if Marvin Gaye was before your time or after, his music is timeless and when played gets listeners excited and on their feet! Clapping, dancing, snapping fingers and hips moving. Marvin had a true gift and used his gift in a grand way that is classic and what many call “grown folk music” I call it comfort music.


So it is with great pleasure, over the top pleasure that I am more than honored to honor a great soul who will always be missed and loved by the many purist at heart to place him on the Honorary Artist Corner!


Ladies and Gentlemen stand to your feet! Yell and scream and show your love for the incredible Marvin Gaye!


Toy High





There are many adjectives that can describe this brilliant and wonderful Queen. And so just to start off I will give a few; class, sophistication ageless beauty, activist, role model, loving mother and in my opinion a comedienne! Why? Because she was extremely witty when on stage in her live performances on stage. Let us not forget her many appearances on television! And if you ever caught her one woman show that she headlined with 333 performances!


Lena Horne has had a wonderful career spanning from dancing as a teen in the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and then on to Hollywood to not just get her feet wet on the big screen, but to master it with garnering more exposure on the big screen being greatly received and loved because the lady quite honestly received more roles in Hollywood. And thus showing the world that not only was she a beautiful glam goddess she could sing! A triple threat! Singing, acting and dance!


Lean Horne held many things true to her heart and being a political activist was something that held true. She was involved in the civil rights movement, performed for the USO troops, she worked with John F. Kennedy days before he was assassinated. And Eleanor Roosevelt to pass an anti-lynch law. She worked closely with the NAACP and the SNCC. I wipe the sweat from my brow and the countless efforts she has put in for a plethora of great causes in her life.


I thumb through pictures, look at movies, many guest appearances on TV shows and her Broadway show and I sit in awe as she has a candid ability to draw you into her world.


I was eleven years old when Sydney Lumet her godson worked on the remake of “The Wiz” I recall Lena saying that she was honored when Mr. Lumet asked her to be apart of the production; Playing “Glenda” the good witch. As she was suspended in air all eyes were on her as she spoke to Dorothy and told her “Home is in your heart” And she belted out “Believe In Yourself” I had chills roll all over my body! The softness in her eyes, the love that she felt as she sang the song. As my eyes burned and welled up with tears and they fell from my eyes I knew then more than ever that this lady possessed a power that many actors and singers did not have. Lena Horne was doing what she was suppose to do make you feel each and every word she sang. And in my heart I felt that as she sang that song; Lion, Tinman, Scarecrow and Dorothy felt her too because they also cried! How moving and powerful! I failed to mention that every time I see The Wiz that solo still makes me tear up!


Lena Horne for me is and will always be a beautiful graceful talent that showed so many that dreams do come true and though there may have been many adversities she had to face in her 92 years of life. For me it seemed as if they were easy and she mastered them all with ease. Tony awards, Grammy's, and many many accolades for her accomplishments and the many gifts she gave to the world from her heart. Miss Lena Horne will be remembered in my heart and mind for her glamor and timeless beauty and how she was always a class act! How she has touched my heart and been a living example to so many young and old.


It is with great honor that I am pleased to host a wonderful and rare giving talent on the Honorary Artist Corner! Ladies and Gentlemen stand to your feet as we welcome Miss Lena Horne and continue to give her the beautiful flowers she so deserves! Indeed a class act!


Toy High

I can honestly say that I did not grow up in a household where music was played on rotation. My mother was saved and sanctified! However, and yes there is a however there were only three artist that my mom actually played their vinyl recordings! Did I say Vinyl? Yes indeed and one artist she played over and over and over was the incomparable Donny Hathaway! My mom wore the needle and the Donny Hathaway's recordings out! And I can clearly recall that vinyl sound! Am I livid about it? Far from it! Because had it not been for my mother playing his music I would have not found out about this beautifully human and soulful with a gospel-ish voice he owned that moved the masses! I believe my mother loved Donny Hathaway for the same reasons I came to love his music. It was pure, heartfelt, genuine and extremely moving!


It should not be hard for anyone not to love the voice and the true musicianship of Donny Hathaway. I can close my eyes and see this man with his electrifying smile sitting behind his piano playing it with such eloquence and singing, "For All We know" and "A Song For You" these two songs no matter what frame of mind I am in, tears me up. Not that they are sad, but the feeling behind the song and the sentiment. I wondered what Donny was feeling when he sang this song. A world entrenched with so many emotions comes through each and every line and verse.


Donny Hatahaway is one of those timeless songsters whose music will never ever go "out of style" his recordings sound as if they were just recorded because they fit quite comfortably in our society today. Here is a man who puts the R and the B in rhythm and blues. Donny Hathaway is the epitome and centre of an art form in my opinion that has lost it's way with so many artist in my day. Not to say that there are not any wonderful R&B singers, I am just being selfish at this moment because I can. How can you not understand the lyrics of "Little Ghetto Boy"? And the beautiful classic "I'll Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"? Another song that speaks to the heart and soul.


What made Donny in my eyes and ears was that his voice was clear and resonated and you could understand every word he sang from his lips. His voice simply beautiful! Never raucous or offending, just beautiful.


So I ask you for a moment to close your eyes rather you are young or old. I employ you to take a musical journey of flow and non-resistance and listen with a pure and open heart. We may not have a record player such as my mother did when I was a little girl. But listen and feel the production of his music. Watch an old video of him playing, his facial expressions wearing his apple hat and blowing seducing notes that will make your heart and soul feel free!


Let me be clear, and I mean very clear that Donny Hatahaway indeed an iconic legend and purist that the world was so blessed to have had the privilege of hearing and getting to know through his musical talents. He possessed a humble flare and let me not forget the many duets he sang with the beautiful Roberta Flack! Their voices chimed and hugged each other like lovebirds chirping in trees!


Ladies and Gentlemen on the center stage, spotlight, sitting behind his piano tickling the ivory please let us still give Mr. Donny Hathaway his flowers and welcome him on the Honorary Artist Corner! Standing ovation and applause please!


Toy High

I am excited and feel this wonderful feeling deep on the inside of my heart. However before I let my excitement take over I will say as most of you I was introduced to this princess just as many of you were. This beauty gave us her first single “Heaven” When I as many saw the video and those long locks flowing as she danced around. The beat was infectious and her voice had this vibrato and alto that I was grooving with. Lalah Hathaway? For awhile I did not put two and two together. And then it dawned on me and I had begun to ask others, “Is this Donny's daughter?” Some could answer and some could not. However what I enjoyed the most was that Lalah Hathaway did not deny nor did she come into the industry riding the coat tail of her talented dad. Why not? So many others in the industry would like you to know who they are related to. I will state this for the record and I can be quoted, Lalah Hathaway did not have to tell the world who her father was. She had the talent to jump into the recording industry on her own!


Myself and so many others were razzled and dazzeld by her earthy seductive voice. 1990 as a good year in my opinion for myself because this talented soul brought to the world of R&B what we were missing. This of course is my opinion only, but the world of R&B was plummeted with what I like to refer to as “Club music” or “dance tracks” which was great! But Lalah brought to me what I so yearned for and that was beautiful lyrical ballads that touched your inner core. The way she bend her notes and the smoothness of her voice put me at ease!


As I listened to her first release (which I still play to this day) “I'm Coming Back” had a special effect on me because at that time I had a very good friend of mine move far away. And this was a song that was dedicated to me and also brought me to tears. “I gotta Move on” was a fantastic track that gives one courage to do what is necessary. And trust I was there in my life! Though yes there were some upbeat tracks on her first self-titled album and trust me I loved them all. However I knew where Lalah Hathaway's heart was, and for me that was soul stirring music.


Lalah Hathaway is multi-talentd and not only brings her voice to us. She arranges, produces, writes and plays the piano; a woman who is about her music and how dear and true it is to her to produce and sing music that matters. I have been honored to see her live so many times and Lalah is a woman or shall I say a grown woman that is open to make music in many genres. Lalah has sang with some seasoned artist of our day. Delighting us in the jazz arena neo-soul arena and of course R&B.


When Lalah stepped away from the recording industry I was torn because as myself many of my counterparts had wondered where she had gone off to and why had she left us hanging like a dangling participle. But when she came back it was like giving us all water were had so thirsted for! And she quenched my thirst for the purity she knows how to bring in her unique style that cannot be duplicated by any woman in the industry today!


I can indeed say this about this songstress since she has come back after her hiatus it has truly been non-stop and for me there is not one song that this woman can put on a CD that I do not like. Lalah's music has meaning and is part of a movement with each project she encounters. And her bold intuitiveness knows who and what she should be singing and writing. Lalah is an entity all of her own. And though I can give a huge list of the many recording stars she has worked with, again it would be endless and I didn't want to honor this shining star with a list of her beautiful counterparts. I wanted to be about her! Because at the beginning and ending of the day. Lalah's vocals, songwriting and production is what has brought her the success that she has today and the many artist that are eager to work side by side with her.


Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to be serenaded by our songstress. Light the candles, pour a glass of wine if you choose. Turn the volume up and let us all be moved by a powerful and talented woman on the Honorary Artist Corner! And let us be endowed with her jazzical-neo-R&B-soul stirring sounds of Ms. Lalah Hathaway!


Toy High



It was in the year of 1984 that music lovers were hit with the a new sound that aroused our inner ears and soul with a distinctive voice. Sade! I recall how so many talked of her beauty and the album and how so so many of us went and “coped that” Sade brought us a Caribbean soulish jazzy vibe unlike any artist today. She truly has set herself apart from the mainstream and created music that was rare and highly appreciated!


When I heard “Smooth Operator” and felt the mellow vibe creep into my ears and surrounded me with her earthy vibrato I was hooked lined and sunk literally! “Your Love Is King” was another hit that had lit a spark inside of me and had me swaying from side to side. Who was this lady? Where did she come from? And now living in the era of music videos we were all able to see this slim beauty with her doe eyes, freckles, full lips that made us draw into her even more. “Hang On To Your Love” again another hot soothing cha cha hit that came from Sade's “Diamond Life” Album. I cannot again reinforce how so many men and women drove in their cars playing her music. And umm the many dinner dates that played this low in the background. Ahhh what lovely memories!


The wonderful thing about Sade in my opinion is that she made music that was not necessarily music that was popular in the 80's. She came out and set a bar for herself and set herself apart from the masses. While there was soft rock and popular music and rap music was beginning to flood the airwaves. Sade came out and hit the musical scene with her own brand. But what type of brand was it? How could we categorize her music? Was it jazz? R&B? Soul? Popular? Soft rock? I still would not know personally where to place her music though I feel it is in a category of it's own. However I can see why some would consider her to be placed in the jazz genre.


Sade took a long hiatus from the music world ten years in fact and had a lot of her loyal fans yearning for her music. And when she did come back she was welcomed with open arms! We were glad that she still had the love for music in her heart and also her ageless beauty stunned us all as well.


We may not know a lot about Sade, that is her personal life. However we do know that she is British and Nigerian and that since her teens she has been singing and perfected her craft to bring her marvelous talent to the forefront.


Ladies and Gentlemen it is with great pleasure that we honor an artist with a smooth silky voice to the Honorary Artist Corner. So kick off your shoes and have a seat. And let us be serenaded by the talented and lovely Sade!


Toy High

When I started reading on my own and not told to because I should. I read so many fictional books. However one day in the book store many years ago I went to the “African-American literature” isle and came across an author by the name of J California Cooper. I picked up a book and decided to give her a try. And once I did there was an insatiable quench to read more of her work. She reminded me of another writer Langston Hughes. Being infamous for her short stories J California Cooper has a down home soul wisdom and enlightening messages in all of her short stories and books. Something that I had come to love and inspired me to do just the same. I will state this, I had no idea that my path to writing would be so influenced by this talented writer and woman. J California Cooper's stories had me in tears and has left and gave me food for thought.


I am elated to place her on my Honorary Artist Corner because through her books and words she has inspired me beyond the words that I can relay to you at this time. A living example through her books. And through her words I am also encouraged and uplifted. The tragedy, triumph, smiles hope and love that she so eloquently places on pages is done with a beautiful love that not too many writers have.


J California Cooper has a rare talent that places you in each and everyone of her characters heart. You know them personally. You have experienced what they have and when they hurt you hurt as well. The yearning that each character has to be loved and give love in their own way. I love how J California Cooper preaches to us all in her words that nothing is ever easy in this life and that if it is real love, well you have to fight for it and go through the fire. That in the end no matter how bad things get there is always a silver light at the end of the tunnel. I love that about J California Cooper.


Sex and violence are so easy to write about but what comes around goes around and what seeds you sew you reap. And that is the way she preaches and gives you hope. And that there is always more than one way to skin a cat. That wisdom and knowledge is infinite! Open ears open heart; this is what you feel and what you get!


There are a lot of writers and authors work that I have read over the years. But I will tell you this, if I am to read any work of a fictional character it will be her work. For her pen, typewriter or computer flows in a divine that is truly spiritual and honorable. The depth of her soul that she pours out makes me wonder over and over what has she seen or have gone through to write so wonderfully? And as long as there as breath in my body and hers to write I will continue to read and reread her work.


So to Miss J California Cooper my mentor and example of what a talented brilliant writer is suppose to be. And a huge thank you to her for the incredible work that she has left as her legacy for so many to feel and vision and feed off of her words. To my mentor who has inspired and giving me the tools of being a great writer in my own write. To a fabulous writer who is an icon to me and encourages me like a song in her books and short stories.


Ladies and Gentlemen it is with great honor and pleasure love and light that I ask you all to take a seat as Miss J California Cooper stands behind her podium and tells us a beautiful story of people far away and near. After the round of applause and thanks let us be quiet and give her our attention. Welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner Miss Cooper! You are indeed appreciated for your bed of work!


Toy High

If you have ever been to college they have what I like to refer as an assessment questionnaire. In this assessment you are asked a plethora of questions and some of them are repetitive and rephrased. In this assessment your answers are tallied up and it will tell you where and what would be the field of study best suited for you. In taking this test it told me what I already knew about myself. And that I am an outgoing people person. That I was also visual, creative and a hands on person. This I knew already. However being that I am visual and my eyes “taste” I am infused and senses are heightened when I see beauty. In saying all of this I would like to bring a true visionary to the Honorary Artist Corner Gordon Parks!


Gordon Parks has what I call a true eye for art and vision. Though most may know Gordon Parks for his work as a contributor writer and photographer for Life Magazine. Gordon Parks was most known for his submission of work in the “American Gothic” Washington D.C. Also the Photographs of Ella Watson and her family. Were and still are moving and touching photographs.


Gordon Parks had a keen eye for catching life at a stands still and giving each viewer of his work the ability to perceive what they may from each photograph. That is the beauty of photographs and a brilliant photographer! We all see something that others may and may not see. But the depth of Gordon Parks work is life at it's finest no matter what that may be. Sad, joyful, happy and even tragic. One is always moved by Gordon's body of work.


What I love about Gordon Parks is that during his move into photography it was not known for a black man to be in this field. But despite the racist attitudes of the day it did not stop him from creating wonderful photographs

. That despite what bigots thought of him or felt his talent could not be denied. Gordon Parks eventually became a photographer for Vogue magazine! Talk about moving in the right direction for a talented black man! I love it! And also let me jump in and say later he was the co-founder of Essence magazine! Not only was he a photographer, Gordon Parks wrote how to books in regards to photography and autobiographical books!


Gordon Parks was to me a true genius and also a living example of what one can do and dabble in when it comes to the arts. And the wonderful and exhilarating life of Gordon Parks has been an inspiration to me and to so many others because Gordon did not box himself in! Being an artist just didn't stop at taking fabulous photographs. Being an artist opened him up in horning in on his writing skills. Being an artist also opened the door to films! I am sure we all know and have heard of the blaxsploitation movie “Shaft” and let's not forget “The Learning Tree”! These of course are not the only films he has directed or was a consultant on. Gordon Parks had no limitations in life and in being an artist. Gordon Parks was the first major black director in Hollywood!


Gordon Parks bio and resume reads as an encyclopedia! Did any of you know that he was a pianist? That he use to play piano in a brothel and composed a song “No Love” which was later put on national broadcast in the 1930's by Larry Funk? Gordon Parks credentials are plentiful.


Gordon Parks was also active in the Civil Rights Movement. He contributed photographic master pieces during this era of Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the march to Washington.


I am so thrilled and elated to have Mr. Gordon Parks on the Honorary Artist Corner because I feel even more secure and uplifted in the many adventures I enjoy as an artist. I am inspired to utilize all of my talents. Gordon Parks should be an example not to me but to us all. That we can do whatever we set our hands to do no matter how large or small the task is. Let me not also fail to mention the many life achievement awards that he has received and been honored with! A man of valor and character! I salute Gordon Parks as we all should for his great body of work.


Please Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner Mr. Gordon Parks! Please reframe from taking pictures at this time as we salute a beautiful soul and wonderful talent and let us just enjoy what he has brought to us all!


Toy High

If ever there was a true Hollywood African-American couple that has with stood the many adversities that Hollywood can throw at you and the many pitfalls that may come and go. And also being “black” in Hollywood I would say that this couple it the epitome of class and true love. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis!


For those of us who do not know who this couple is and what they have contributed to the entertainment world I say Google them and take a look at their long list of accomplishments and contributions. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis have enjoyed so much in their lives. Not just as a married couple but having their own personal career growths.


Ossie Davis has not only a list and long resume of acting credits to his rapport. But lets add director to that! Ossie Davis has directed five movies, and his stage plays are innumerable as well. Let us also add writing to his credits and spoken word and he is known for being a civil rights activist being very close to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King He and Ruby Dee joined in on that infamous march to Washington D.C. It is like what has this man not done in television and film. Lending his voice out to the many documentary's, movies and a noted emcee.


Ruby Dee also having an outstanding career in her own right as well as being and activist. This beautiful woman not only has a plethora of movie roles but a long span of stage plays, television roles bibliography and she has been nominated for many awards and honored with many awards. The list is so long I would have to write a book for both of them.


If ever there was unity love and depth these two showed us not only when they were together. But as they stood for causes that were meaningful. Fighting for the rights of African-Americans. At a time where many actors during their day and time could not find work and make and honest living at it. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were working actors and fine actors at that. I look to Ruby and Ossie as an example of what I would want my marriage to be. Strong and dedicated to the cause and the institution of holding each other up in time of need.


Some may have not know of the long career span that these two have had in their career. And may have been reintroduced to Ossie and Ruby when Spike so brilliantly cast the two in “Do The Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever” I guess it was a resurrection of sorts. The roles they took in their careers were meaningful and had valor and you respected them.


When Watching the vintage classics that Ruby acted in I am simply amazed at her skills. You believed in her and the character. And when tears were induced by the role she was playing Ruby sucked you right in and you masticated every verb and noun. So as with Ossie who came off as a strong virile man that had that energy; and was the Denzel in his day as Ruby being the Halle Berry in her day. And that is just an example because they both carry torches of their own and there is no comparing their talent to anyone of today.


It is with great honor that I host two beautiful people who have been in the mix of Black history socialism, activism and made their mark not only in the world of acting but in the hearts of so many!


Ladies and gentlemen please welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner Ossie and Ruby Dee Davis! Please stand to your feet and give them an honorary Artist applause! Because these two well deserve it for the wonderful bed of work and great contributions to African-Americans making us all so very proud!


Toy High

Oh my! Oh my! I am always excited to write about any and all talented artist! I really am! However this young handsome and very talented man came along when I was thirsty and hungry and gave me a sense of fulfillment through his words, his lyrics; I ate them, was more than satisfied and I got full. The way he smiled when he sang a song. The positive energy he gave me and filled my heart and warmed my body. He praised women as they should be praised and not once have I heard one song from Raheem Devaughn that degraded a woman in any way whatsoever! And that is one reason just one as to why I fell in love with this talented mans music!


Raheem Devaughn came on the scene in 2005 with his “Love Experience” album and from beginning to end I was hooked, lined and synced. Yes Raheem Devaughn and myself had a wonderful musical relationship. When he sang “Woman” And how he opened the song up speaking on a plethora of women from mothers to sisters to your spouse, girlfriend or aunt. You know that woman who is special to you! Mad love for that! Raheem I am so sure stole not only my heart and cradled it safely in his hands and lyrics. There were many female fans worldwide that felt the same as I.


When Raheem Devaughn came out he gave me that eccentric neo-soul vibe and look. His eyes being innocent and sweet. The way he bent each note grabbed, held on and felt it from the center of his diaphragm. As each note that he let float in the air just seemed to lay on your ears gently.  Truly delectibale and luscious For me Raheem Devaughn came into the music industry at the right time to represent what has been missing from a serious soul artist. Many male artist that were making soul music had fallen off or had just disappeared leaving their fans in angst and wanting “real music” I can appreciate this talented singer and songwriter for filling that void for many of us.


I recall by pure accident coming across a video that was posted of Raheem Devaughn Unplugged singing live on VH1 “Guess Who Loves You more” And “Until” he had an acoustic guitar, congas, two male back up singers and an artist painting in the background. Wearing his hair natural, sneakers, jeans and a light green polo shirt. Yes I recall the whole scene, chills caressing my arms. Head bobbing, eyes closed.... “This is soul music” Is what Raheem Devaughn said and I quote.  And it was indeed just that! I was even more impressed with the songwriters “You” and fell deep in “Believe” I do and I don't like to compare artist to other artist because I feel all artist are their own entity and should not be placed in a box. However it is a true compliment and testament when an artist is compared to a legend or icon. And for me in my opinion I would say if Raheem Devaughn keeps going the way he is and has. He himself will be a legend and icon! So my comparison? Raheem Devaughn gives me those same feelings and vibes when I listen to Marvin Gaye! There! I said it!


I was excited for Raheem Devaughn when he won “Best Male Artist of The Year” in 2008. Raheem Devaughn also won Album of the year in 2008, Love Behind the Melody. Raheem has been nominated for many awards. What is there not to love about this talented songster? So with honoring this Artist during Black History Month I applaud the beautiful music that he has have given to us all from his heart!


I will continue to look forward to more soul love experience heart feeling music from this incredible talent as long as there is breath in this body of mine. And will continue to watch his art grow and his brand build.


Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner Raheem Devaughn! Throw your lighters up and stand up and give him applause please as he walks to the mic and serenades us with “real” soul music!


Toy High


This talented woman has seen many adversities in her life and at the same time has accomplished so much in her life and has seen so many things. First let me begin by saying that Zora Neale Hurston is a wonderful artist and a talented writer that has made her mark in the literary world.


So let me now begin by giving you just a brief synopsis of her resume. Some may and may not know that Zora Neale Hurston is a college graduate. Attending Howard University joining the sorority Zeta Phi Beta. She was offered scholarships from Barnard and Columbia University. Later getting her BA degree in anthropology. Now this in my opinion is a huge deal due in part that not many African-Americans let alone women attended such universities.


Zora Neale Hurtson  traveled extensively in the Caribbean and the American South and immersed herself in local cultural practices to conduct her anthropological research. Her work in the South, sponsored from 1928 to 1932 by a wealthy philanthropist, produced Mules and Men in 1935, often regarded as a folklore classic, as well as the base material for novels like Jonah's Gourd Vine published in 1934.


When Hurston arrived in New York City in 1925, the Harlem Renaissance was at its peak, and she soon became one of the writers at its center. Shortly before she entered Barnard, Hurston's short story “Spunk” was selected for The New Negro, a landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays focusing on African and African-American art and literature. In 1926, a group of young black writers including Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, calling themselves the Niggerati, produced a literary magazine called Fire!! that featured many of the young artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance.


Zora Neale Hurston was also heavily into politics and gave a lending hand to many causes in support of African-Americans of her day. A woman on the move, a woman with purpose and a talented being and soul. Zora Neale Hurston is more noted for her literary book, “Their Eyes are Watching God” Which was made into a TV movie. However her work is so much more extensive than that. And her life reads like a wonderful story played out in the masses. Her travels and those whom she has been involved her with during her career speaks volumes!


I am so honored to have honor a woman that has also been an example of a beautiful writer that has introduced and mentored my short story telling and writing. A woman that has so much depth and lyrical poise in her poems. A Folklorist anthropologist and all in all a shining star!


Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner a beautiful artist that has shone and still does and we remember her great spirit. Snaps, claps, standing ovation! Zora Neale Hurston!


Toy High

Where does one begin to pay homage to a man that has put paint, color, life and recognition to the world of music? And also made pop popular before it received the recognition it does in our day and time? How many African-American men brought forth talented African-American musicians, writers producers, singers to the forefront? How many have brought class and visibility to the world like Barry Gordy has in his day? I can answer that for you..none. Some have tried to give African-Americans what I call a “shot” and I use that loosely; giving singers in the 50's a chance to shine. But none have had the success that Barry Gordy has had.


Barry Gordy is another living example of courage, tenacity, faith and the I can do it attitude that has opened the doors for so many to attain the same goal. Let me just give a few names that you all will be familiar with that has had a huge impact with placing artist in the forefront and have run and some are still running a successful company and brand. Babyface, L.A. Reid, Puffy Combs and many many more!


The beauty and success that Barry Gordy had with his label and brand was that he brought us class and sophistication to the world. He let other ethnicity's know that we as a people were productive, attractive, and intelligent. And the many not so nice things that were thought of “our people” were not all true. When you look at such acts such as The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye and many more. If you were of that era you wanted to be just like them. They were mentors! Examples! The glamor class and style of these artist was a compliment to our race at that time. Barry Gordy took time to teach all of them how to dress and conduct themselves having them enrolled in charm school. He taught them how to dress and made a huge investment in his artist. There was no company that had a true “artist development” as Barry had. Some tried to copy but never duplicated!


Barry Gordy hired African-Americans to run his business from the janitors (when the company had grown) to the receptionist. Everyone that worked for the company was the glue and the oil that kept the Motown machine running perfectly.


Barry Gordy set the way and example of how a “black man” could open, set up and run a lucrative business. And for that I have a huge respect for what he has accomplished in his life. Not only was Barry Gordy a record executive he also produced films and shows for television. His vision grew and his brand grew.


Barry is indeed a true pioneer and discovered a sleuth of talent and gave a lot of artist a chance of a lifetime and a lifestyle they may have never thought they could have attained. And though Barry Gordy had some white artist signed to his label. None of them made a mark in the recording industry as did his African-American artist.


My hat off to a man who had a dream and started a business with only $800 and even when things got bleak and he felt his self drowning or may have lost hope. This man had never given up! Through it all he built a major corporation, Motown that will forever even after he is gone be a legacy, well is already a legacy and will continue to be a legacy and apart of history and not just “Black history.”


Barry has also been honored with a plethora of awards and accolades for the starting of Motown, the many hits he has written and produced.


Ladies and Gentlemen the icon himself! Let us welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner a super entrepreneur, a man of courage, a man who had a dream and made his dream come true not only for himself but others. Barry Gordy! Please let us stand to your feet and give him a long applause of adulation and thank him for the beautiful talent and wonderful music he has given us! Barry Gordy!


Toy High

I feel when paying homage to this literary queen I need to put on my sister girl voice to get into the role. And the reason for that is because Terry McMillan wrote books that were very relate able to the African-American woman and her plight and struggles. The many things that we all had in common. How we viewed men, being a parent and the many ups and downs we experienced as an African-American woman.


I can recall reading her first book “Mama” that came out in 1987. My youngest daughter was two years old and my oldest daughter was four years old. I had already placed myself in what I consider “the adult world” in my early twenties and I was and had been experiencing the downfalls and angst of a woman at an early age. When I purchased the book “Mama” I was able to relate to each and every character that Terry McMillan had so elegantly described. I felt their angst and had experienced some of their trials and tribulations. Did she know me or some of the members in my family? I felt she did! Terry has a unique ability to tap into her soul and give you a rawness that has you on the edge. And her “coming out novel” spoke volumes! I was impressed and ran to pick up my book that I felt I Terry McMillan experience in her life, seen or lived to write so poignantly.


For me Terry McMillan’s was a labor of love and intensity. It was when she wrote the book “Waiting To Exhale” (1995) that I again was in awe of this woman. She was now placed on a shelf, not the shelf that you can't reach. But a shelf of respect and admiration. Though I was not into writing at the time as I am now. I must say that through her life and words, feelings and discipline she is also a mentor of mine. Not that there were any African-American female writers on the scene creating beautiful work. It was just that Terry had for me took it to a whole other level. Her books were not based on just one or two characters. No that would be too easy! She had a plethora of characters and she took her time painting a perfect picture of who they were and their persona. Now maybe I am jumping the gun a bit here. But for me when she had done this a lot of authors soon followed suit.


And now, now we have a Terry McMillan on the “New York Times best seller list” as she should be! And soon after you have a book that has reached the masses as it has. She is now asked to turn her book into a movie! The big screen! How many African-American literary artist that are females do you know have had their work made into a movie for the big screen? Don't worry I will wait. I am not saying that there have not been any African-American female writers whose books were not made into a movie. Just not the big screen! And the beautiful and wonderful thing about this movie it headlined with big and well known actors! “Waiting To Exhale” (1995) was a movie that blew us all away!


Terry has paved the way and opened the doors for me and I am sure a lot of other writers. Soon after Terry McMillan had another big break! “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” (1998) hit the big screen and had great success and also gained her more fans! Now comes a third novel that was a made for TV movie “Disappearing Acts” All these wonderful headlining stars that appeared in all three of the movies! Now this is major star power and pull! Just imagine being asked to make not one, not two, but three of your books into movies! And again I ask you what literary artist of African-American ethnicity and being a woman has had this success? Again I will wait...


I have respect and artist love for this brilliant talented raw literary artist! And if any one woman deserves to be celebrated for her accomplishments during Black History Month it is indeed Terry McMillan!


So ladies and gentlemen please welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner a true bold, beautiful and talented writer that has come and put some paint where it ain't! A sister that we can learn from and be inspired by! Stand to your feet and give a warm applause to Terry McMillan!


Toy High

We know that James Brown was the godfather of soul. So that would make Russell Simmons the godfather of rap! Let me explain. Just like Barry Gordy who was the founder of Motown being the first African-American man to start a major record company. So one could say that Barry Gordy was the godfather of his day. However it may be that Russell Simmons wasn't the founder of rap/hip-hop but the first African-American man to produce a successful rap groups and his own label. That label being “Def Jam” Of course his partner and co-founder was Rick Rubin when he started up managing and producing successful rap acts.


For me, not playing Rick Rubin down at all. However if it were not for Russell Simmons being introduced to Rick Rubin “Def Jam” would have not been what it is and has been and is today! I have respect or should I say, mad respect for the hustle and the determination that Russell Simmons has! He has showed many of us the way in the world of hip-hop that you too can not only be a star. But let me show you how you can run a corporation and be a business man. And again being the godfather of rap in my heart. Russell Simmons developed and led the way for so many artist in the “rap game” today to take charge of their careers. Not just be an artist but own your own record label, publishing but be open to the many avenues and venues by being a "star" or celebrity. Use it to your advantage!  Do great and wonderful things.

Russell Simmons started “Phat Farm” a multimillion dollar clothing line and then with the help of his then wife “Kimora Lee Simmons” assisting him with “Baby Phat” a household name in the urban community. Russell Simmons just didn't want his brand to be apart of the urban community but be respected in all genres of business. As he should! He later came out with the clothing line Argyleculture and American Classics.


Russell Simmons didn't stop at just clothing! He took his genius to television and showed the world all over by showcasing wonderful comics with his hot show “Def Comedy Jam” Oh how a sleuth of us loved this show and would be in tears and our sides aching from laughter. Later Russell Simmons brought us “Def Poetry” and there showcased were fabulous poets, celebrities, rap stars and singers who appeared on “Def Poetry” I must say that way before Russell Simmons came out with his hot TV shows he brought us the cult classic “Krush Groove” A classic hip-hop film that was his biography of sorts.


Russell Simmons has been an inspiration to so many people leading by example. He now has helped many who have had issues opening up their own checking account. The “Rush Card” where one can have their paycheck or any government check deposited directly to the “Rush Card.” Others have done it and others have caught on and rode the bandwagon on such a fabulous idea. Now I am not saying that “Uncle Rush” was the first to do it! However Russell Simmons has had the most success at this business venture.


Russell Simmons has also wrote and published books and mentored many with giving them great informative knowledge in starting and growing their own business. Being direct and blunt barring no punches. Russell Simmons is also an activist for many causes and social services. Farm Sanctuary, an organization working to end cruelty to farm animals. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals awarded him with the 2001 PETA Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Person of the Year Award. In May 2009, Russell Simmons was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Slavery Memorial at the United Nations to honor the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


I look up to this man because through him and his positive outlook on life he gives one hope to dream and achieve! Ladies and Gentlemen let us stand to our feet as we bring not only a humanitarian and activist to the Honorary Artist Corner the godfather of not only rap. A true business man and entrepreneur! A man who lives by each word, action and deed. Let us stand to our feet and give Russell Simmons a standing ovation for his accomplishments! And listen as he speaks and lays us with some wisdom and knowledge!


Toy High

There are many women in this world that are beautiful and are public figures of African-American persuasion. However there is none in my opinion that holds a candle to the incomparable Diana Ross! In my mind she is the first lady that set the standards for glamor, beauty, style, grace, fashion icon, elegance, and poise! If anyone in this world does not now of her history nor the accomplishments she has had. Then they are and have been truly hidden up under a rock! Oh how I admire and I am so excited to speak on this wonderful woman!


There is much to say of this queen and so getting close to to the ending of Black History month I would like to pay homage to this woman.


This is my impression, so I see Diana Ross as a little girl in her day, standing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush in hand singing to her favorite female artist and giving great face! Her daydreaming that she is on stage singing her heart out to many. Though I may not be far from the truth because as a teen Diana Ross had later joined a group that called themselves the “Primettes” a doo wop group that was a sister group to the “Primes” So it was in this group that her dreams had slowly started to come together. Diana Ross was a multifaceted young lady. Because in the early days of her career with the “Primettes” she served as the group's main hair stylist, make-up artist, seamstress and costume designer. Already she was setting standards for the way she wanted people to not only see her, but her counterparts as well.


Being too young Barry Gordy of Motown did not want to be responsible for the young girls. But never stopping her determination Diana Ross did what she had to do along with the rest of her group by doing whatever it was to stay in what I call good graces. Providing back up vocals and lending a hand in the company of Motown where it was needed.


When I looked back on all of Miss Ross's appearances with the “Supremes” I could see that she was the break out star amongst them all. I am of course not down playing Mary Wells, Cindy Birdsong nor Florence Ballard. However Diana Ross had what some would refer to as that “it” factor! And she definitely had it. Her huge beautiful doe eyes, that electric smile that out shone the rest. The way she conveyed a song and the way she felt the lyrics. She stood out!


When I go back and look at Diana Ross's career I am just simply floored by her poise and glamor! For me it is as if whatever she set her hands to do she did well. Was it far from the truth then when she played an inspiring clothing designer in “Mahogany” that she didn't lure us all into her world? She was a natural in this movie. So many have come from the singing world and many have attempted to act. However Miss Ross gave you the impression that she had been doing this for years! The many wild and glamorous creative yet over the top fashions. Some in which Diana Ross created. Is it far from what couture is today? For me no! Her ideas were retro fabulous in my opinion. And seeing her in “Mahogany” was a great way to see her sensitive side and her love for fashion and her slim figure that clothes were made for. This iconic movie I can watch over and over and not once get tired! Did I fail to mention that there were parts in the movie in which I cried? And still if I see those scenes in the movie I am still brought to tears. The pure irony of it! Ahh she smiles as she writes that line.


In her first movie “Lady Sings The Blues” I saw her eyes, and I was drawn into the character. I was drawn into her talent and how she played an icon “Billie Holiday” Okay, wait a minute...her first role..and she plays a blues singer? Not only does she sing the songs of Billie Holiday...She reenacts her life as a heroin addict! Are you serious? I was impressed, blown away and so into her that just simply relaying all these adjectives are not enough. When Diana was high I felt it, when she got ill from not having the heroin I felt it. When she was placed in the stray jacket and put in the padded cell. For me and a lot of us we gave her an Oscar! She deserved it! Why hasn't this woman won a Grammy in being nominated over twelve times? Does she need them? Well I don't know if she feels she does but I do. But does that define who and what she has accomplished? By no means!


Diana Ross gave hope to so many African-American girls! The numbers are countless! When young girls who are now young ladies and women were given hope in a day where there was no hope. Where African-American women were not considered beautiful or glamorous. Oh how this is not true! But an example she has been and is a beautiful image that Diana Ross upheld and still does today. Now I do want to make a semi joke here. But of course in good taste. Diana Ross had so much flair and was such a glam goddess that many drag queens wanted to be her as well! Ru Paul Dressing like her and applying make-up and lip synching to her music! She was his icon and again for many.


We don't in this day and time have too many African-American women that when performing change into beautiful costumes! For me Diana Ross set the standard for so many in this area. Make-up flawless, gowns flawless, smile flawless and talented of all flawless!


Over one hundred million records sold! A career that has spanned well over forty years! A loving mother and now grandmother. A woman who has inspired so many! A woman who is an icon and legend! Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome to the Honorary Artist Corner the beautiful wonderful Miss Diana Ross! Let us all stand to our feet and give this talent a round of applause in all of her accomplishments and what she has brought to so many of us in the world! Diana Ross!!!!!!


Toy High

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