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July 25, 2008


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.



 Amy Winehouse’s husband Blake Felder has been sentenced to 21 months in jail for beating up a bar owner and then offering the man $400,000 to cover it up.  Damn!  I wish Blake would have kicked my ass!  I would gladly take the $400G’s!  What’s a few scrapes and bruises?!

 With all these “celebrities” and other fools going to jail lately, some young kids may think it’s “cool”.  Kids, I speak from experience, there is NOTHING cool about going to jail!  Know that it is not a nice place.  As a matter of fact, jail or prison is a hard nightmare.  I only wish prison on the worst of society.  Don’t follow in the footsteps of all these morons! 


Omarosa, you know the black chick that was on Donald Trump’s show, was recently on Wendy Williams’ new talk show and they got at it!  Wendy gives it and she is able to take it but I got the feeling that Wendy wanted to punch Omarosa in the face!  Now that would have been a ratings boost! As far as I’m concerned, Omarosa was dead wrong the way she immediately went on the attack. They were cracking on each other like two kids in da’ hood!  I tell ya, that Omarosa is holding on to her 15 minutes of fame!  LOL!!  Go online and look at the video from the show.  Stupid and embarrassing but priceless!     


Have you seen the photos of Britney Spears holding a cigarette in her hand while one of her boys is nearby?  Then the little boy picks up the pack of cigs from a table, Britney walks over and takes it from him.  Anything crazy so far?  Right!  Nothing unusual about that scene.  Then why all the uproar?! She was outdoors and in the photo that I saw, the cig wasn’t even lit yet!  Little kids are always getting into stuff  they are not supposed to – there is NOTHING unusual about a toddler picking up a pack of cigs or anything for that matter.  I am so annoyed by the constant media coverage of Britney and her everyday life!  Why are so many Americans in her personal business?  A bunch of wusses! 


I am happy to share the news that Kelly Rowland, formerly of Destiny’s Child, has a new show coming out called “Around The World” in which she is the host.  It is a young, hipper version of one of my favorite shows from the past “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.  Remember that one hosted by Robin Leech?  Apparently, the show looks like a winner and several stations are clamoring to air it.  Good for you Ms. Kelly!


Did ya know that R&B singers CoCo of SWV, Nicci Gilbert of Brownstown and Shanice is on a “Lady Soul Greatest Hits” tour in Japan?  That’s fantastic!  How come a lot of people don’t know about this?  Go to or YouTube to find footage.  All three sound great and look great.  Oh, is CoCo pregnant?



I recently came across an interesting story about a 112 year old African-American man from Alabama who is capturing attention from the art world.  His name is Frank Calloway and he draws colorful images of a bygone era.  Can you imagine the things he’s seen in 112 years?  And get this, Mr. Calloway has lived in mental health centers since 1952 having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  He has no known living relatives, and there’s no evidence to suggest he was ever married or had any children. 

You can find a short video online and hear Mr. Calloway talking as he’s working.  I swear to you his voice sounds like that of a slave!  Awwww..come on!  You know how I am!  It does!  Well, at least what slave voices sound like in movies!  You guys are so darn sensitive.  J

Mr. Calloway’s artwork is being exhibited this October in Baltimore, Maryland at American Visionary Art Museum.  I’m no expert in “real” art but I plan to check it out simply because Mr. Calloway is 112 years old and still alive and creating. 


Here is something worth watching.  Kanye West has partnered with MTV for a special entitled “Choose or Lose & Kanye West Present: Homecoming,” airing on July 28 at 10 p.m.  The special honors veterans returning home from the war zone in Iraq, highlighting the lives of three Iraq veterans.  Kanye will surprise each soldier with an unannounced visit to their homes and talk about their lives and struggles during and after the war.  The best part of this is that each veteran will receive money to pay off debt, help with finding a job or support with their school bills as a gift from MTV and the Dr. Donda West Foundation, named in honor of the rapper’s late mother. It has always been a shame on America that when soldiers return home from war, they are never treated with the respect they deserve; and they don’t get the help that they need.  Regardless of whether you agree with the war or not, we should ALL support our troops.  They are putting their lives on the line to protect all of us.  I’ve already watched a portion of the show and I cried the entire time.  It will change the way you view life; I promise you.  Way to go Kanye and MTV!


 From time to time would you all do me a favor and go to and click into any news story.  Then read some of the comments at the bottom of the story.  What you will find is a remarkable amount of racism, bigotry and complete hatred for African-Americans from the readers.  It doesn’t even matter what the subject matter is, these anonymous racists seem to always manage to say something disgusting about black people.  I would love to hear from any of you that checks it out and let me know what you think. 

 I always like to keep JoJo’s Journal readers informed on what’s really going on in our country.





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 L


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.


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



Live life ya’ll!









5 Comments leave one →
  1. Shelia permalink*
    July 28, 2008 9:58 am

    JoJo thanks for letting me know about Mr. Calloway’s artwork. I think that’s a good thing Kanye is doing.

  2. Elder Michael permalink
    August 19, 2008 1:31 pm

    I was surfing the net for a pic of issac hayes for our newspaper when I ran into your site. Good info about Mr Calloway. I would like to use some of your iinfo for our newspaper. You are now in my Fav listing. Blessings

    contact info:


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