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JoJo’s JOURNAL- JENNIFER HUDSON, CHER, THE JACKSON 5 AND MORE

July 18, 2008

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Hey folks, what’s up. Just stopping by for a minute to give my take on what’s going on in the entertainment world and beyond. And remember, it’s MY take, everyone has an opinion.
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Luvs, Jennifer Hudson’s new single “Spotlight” is all that I’ve been waiting for from her and more! And she is so beautiful in the video! The song and the style of the video reminds me of Whitney Houston’s work when she was on top of the world. Jennifer is the IT girl fo’ sho! Her voice is incredible and the camera loves her. Girlfriend really snuck us with all her star power! We’re proud of you Ms. Oscar winner!
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Living legend Cher is supposedly getting married to a 36 year old man. At 62 Cher is looking amazing and I’m loving the red hair! Cougars up! LOL!!
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No one – I mean NO ONE – was a bigger Jackson 5 fan than me! Two of the J5’s biggest selling albums will be re-released on September 2 – “Destiny” from 1978 and “Triumph” from the same era. Do ya’ll remember “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground” or “Blame It On The Boogie”?! Well if you don’t you will get to hear both CLASSICS come September 2. Yes, I said classics, damn it!

Why does Michael Jackson remain crazy as hell? Can’t someone help this musical genius? Why the hell does he have to pushed around Las Vegas in an wheelchair? Looney toon!
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Old news. Rumor mill says that Lindsey Lohen is the girlfriend of DJ Samantha Ronson. I don’t care at all. I only write about it because each time I look at that Ronson chick I go – yuck! Doesn’t she look as though she’s at death’s door? She appears to weigh about 65 pounds, dark circles around her eyes like a raccoon and has that overall sick look. Do any of these people eat food?!
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Sad to say but Natalie Cole has Hepatitis C. More than likely she contracted the disease from her past drug use. Be careful younger set because the shit you do in your youth will come back to haunt you when you’re older. I speak from experience. 
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You’re not going to believe this but I like Jessica Simpson’s new country single “Come On Over” and the video is nice! Seriously. Take a listen. Of course, you an find it online.
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Kevin Federline has been given sole custody of his two sons with Britney Spears. Britney definitely isn’t ready to be an attentive mom full-time, but Kevin is not an “A” plus parent either. Poor kids. I said it from the beginning – Brit was too young and immature to get married and have kids. Although that never stopped anyone else.
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Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck got into it on “The View” regarding the use of the word nigger. Man oh man – I enjoyed that battle immensely! I sho’ do love a good fight! Whoopi looked like she was going to jump across that table and kick Elisabeth’s ass! See what you done started Jessie Jackson! This is what I have to say about Elisabeth Hasselbeck – she is a whiny, naïve, annoying, not-living-in-the-real-America, moron. Also, to White America – you and I (a black woman) live in two different Americas! Why don’t you get that?!

QUESTION TO ESPOT READERS: Do you feel blacks and whites live in two different “Americas”? I would love to hear from you on this very sensitive and hot topic.
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So, what do you all think about the cover of the New Yorker magazine depicting Barack Obama as a turban wearing terrorist and his wife Michelle wearing a huge afro, military fatigue pants, with an AK47 slung over her shoulder, giving a fist-bump. Of course, the editor of the New Yorker is calling it “satire”. LOL! Believe me – especially you younger readers – there are not many people who are going to see this as satire. Many, many people will take this seriously and actually think that Mr. Obama is a terrorist. I find it tasteless and very inappropriate; I find NOTHING funny about it all. But when I first saw it I chuckled and said “that’s America!” Racism, bigotry and hatred is alive and well in this “beautiful” country of ours. 

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ARTIST OF THE MONTH
PHYLLIS HYMAN
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My pick for Artist of the Month brings a tear to my eye just thinking about her – the incomparable Phyllis Hyman. Phyllis Hyman was born on July 6 in 1949 (or 1950) in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to an Italian-American mother and African-American father, but grew up in Pittsburgh. She was the eldest of seven brothers and sisters. It’s said that an elementary school teacher noticed and nurtured her vocal talents but she and her family were poor so Phyllis first aimed at a career as a legal secretary and attended Robert Morris Business College. The timeless beauty was known for her smoky, silky-voice who not only sang true rhythm and blues, but also incorporated other music genres into her work including traditional and contemporary jazz, funk, disco, house, big band, urban contemporary, hip hop and torch song ballads.

Phyllis Hyman is one of my personal favorites of all time and I loved her a lot. She was one of the premiere female vocalists of her time and is fondly remembered for songs such as “You Know How To Love Me” (my favorite!), “Can’t We Fall In Love Again”, her rendition of “Betcha By Golly, Wow”, “Old Friend”, “Living All Alone” and “Don’t Wanna Change The World”. Her trademarks included chandelier earrings, dress hats, performing live in bare feet and a white bugle-beaded dress.

Her Beginnings
Dreaming of a career in the entertainment industry Phyllis left Pittsburgh in her early twenties and moved to New York City in the early 1970’s to work on her music career. Almost immediately she began to find work as a vocalist. Tall and stunningly beautiful, Phyllis was a singer, model and actress who hit the music scene in 1971 with a group called New Direction. By 1974 she had formed her own band, Phyllis Hyman and the PH Factor. Then in 1975 Phyllis was “discovered” by music industry veteran Sid Maurer, and former Epic Records promotion man Fred Frank, and signed to their Roadshow Records / Desert Moon label.

During that time Phyllis had become a fixture of New York’s stylish Upper West Side, making regular appearances at Rust Brown’s and Mikell’s. Influential people in the black music industry hung out at these clubs, and in 1976 Phyllis attracted the attention of percussionist and producer Norman Connors, who gave her a shot at wider exposure as a featured performer on his album “You Are My Starship”. Ya’ll remember that one? Great album. The album included Phyllis’ hit remake of the Stylistics’ ballad “Betcha By Golly Wow,” which climbed the R&B charts and helped Phyllis make the acquaintance of the song’s co-composer, Linda Creed. One of the greatest song writers of our time. On the strength of “Betcha By Golly Wow”, Phyllis was signed to the Arista label in 1977 and released the album Phyllis Hyman. Arista specialized in sophisticated black music with a hint of jazz, which was the lifeblood of the emerging “quiet storm” format that had gotten its start at the radio station at Howard University. Arista demonstrated its faith in its new artist by having star Barry Manilow produce one of Phyllis’ early releases, resulting in the R&B top-fifteen hit “Somewhere in My Lifetime.” Then she also scored a hit with the disco-inflected “You Know How to Love Me.” If you listen to that song today it still sounds new.

Through the years Phyllis worked with a lot of great musicians such as, Pharoah Sanders, the Fatback Band, Michael Henderson, Grover Washington, Jr., Chuck Mangione, The Whispers, The Four Tops. She also did movie soundtracks and television commercials and appeared in the films School Daze and The Kill Reflex. She wowed us in the Broadway musical “Sophisticated Ladies” which was a tribute to the great Duke Ellington. That earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. I went to see that play and was I awed by her stage presence! Statuesque, beautiful, stunning!

Phyllis married her manager Larry Alexander in the late 1970s, but both the personal and professional associations ended in divorce. For the rest of the her life she seemed to be in search for a romantic partner who would not cause her emotional trouble. She told Jet magazine in 1981 that she hoped for a relationship: “I don’t really want to say need because to me–an aggressive, liberated woman–need sounds too pathetic. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe need and want sometimes go together. Maybe I do need and want a man.” A lot of the songs Phyllis sang were dark – she seemed so sad, always brokenhearted.
Phyllis Hyman was beloved by many famous musicians and she was one of Bill Cosby’s favorite singers. Socially conscious rap group, A Tribe Called Quest, spoke of Phyllis Hyman in their song, “Baby Phife’s Return”, by saying, ‘Let me take this time to say R.I.P. to Phyllis Hyman/Who never got the props that she damn well deserved…’
Hyman’s last album, I Refuse To Be Lonely, was a journey into her personal life. She struggled with bipolar disorder, depression, alcoholism, weight gain and financial problems. Phyllis was also emotionally exhausted from lending her talents to AIDS benefits concerts and support groups. Adding to her sorrow, in 1993 her mother, grandmother and a close friend all died within the span of a month. That would send any of us into a tailspin.

Tragically, Phyllis Hyman committed suicide June 30, 1995 in her New York City apartment with vodka and an overdose of Temazepam. She was found hours before she was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theatre by her close beau Terrance Porter . A suicide note read, “I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you.” It is thought that the last part of the message was for her family and fans. Phyllis Hyman was buried on what would have been her 46th birthday.
To this day I wonder how a person so beautiful inside and out, so incredibly talented, who just wanted to be loved, could be so lonely. Sad 

Of course, there is so much more to learn about Phyllis Hyman – I only touched the surface. In September 2007, an authorized biography was released on the late singer’s life. The book entitled Strength of a Woman: the Phyllis Hyman Story, is written by Jason A. Michael in cooperation with the Estate of Phyllis Hyman. Perhaps that’s a good place to start your education on this great singer. And luckily for us there is lots of music that Phyllis left behind – go out and get one of her CD’s, I’m sure you’ll love what you hear.

Here’s to you Phyllis – I love and miss you.
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You know how to love me (Sure you do)
You know to make it right (So nice)
You know how to love me (There’s no denying)
Sweet as the morning light
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Smooches!
Live life ya’ll!
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Shelia permalink*
    July 21, 2008 1:22 pm

    I love JHud’s new song. It’s also on my myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/sheliagoss (but listen this week because I’m always changing my song choice…but anyway Spotlight is the song for the week.)

    Reference Cher, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander or is that the other way around. Anyway, if men can do it, so can a woman 🙂 Go Cher.

    Okay, my birthday is in September, so can someone please get me the Jacksons CD and while I’m putting in birthday requests, Prince has a book comingou t in September too…hee hee

    Prayers go out for Natalie Cole.

  2. Emmaline permalink
    March 31, 2009 7:10 pm

    Heey! The babes are here! This is my favorite site to visit. I make sure I am alone in case I get too hot. Post your favorite link here.

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