The Oscars with its lack of diversity, aka #OscarsSoWhite and its current crop of nominated films continues to be the talk of Hollywood. African American stars such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee espousing to boycott the 2016 Oscars have caused a stir. Their actions have helped open up a dialogue once again about the lack of diversity in of the Academy’s voting body and in movie making period.
In a forward move to include more women and people of color in the Academy in the future, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced in a recent statement, “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up…These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.” New members will receive 10 year voting privileges with renewals given based upon the activity in movies of that member. The hope of the Academy is to double is diverse membership by 2020.
The Oscars will air live from Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater Sunday, February 28 at 7p.m. ET. Comedian Chris Rock will host the show. He has no plans to boycott but will include the #Oscarsowhite talk in his monologue. This alone should make for a very interesting Academy Awards.
Nate Parker (Behind The Lights, The Great Debaters) made his own diversity happen with his film Birth Of a Nation. The indie slave drama recently won the top 2 awards at the 2016 Sundance Festival. Parker wrote, produced and stars in Birth of A Nation. The film’s predominately African American cast includes Gabrielle Union, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Penelope Ann Miller, Mark Boone Junior, Aunjanue Ellis and Jackie Earle Haley.
Grammy winning artist, songwriter and producer John Legend’s new TV production, Underground will air in March on cable’s WGN America. Underground is a slave era driven drama the follows slaves who escape plantation life and journey to freedom along a historical fictional non-physical railroad. It stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, her brother Jussie Smollett (Empire), Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw, Adina Porter, Mykelti Williamson, Amirah Vann, Johnny Ray Gill, Chris Chalk and Reed Diamond.
Inspirational Music News
The Stellar Gospel Music Awards, Gospel music’s equivalent to the Grammys, will be taped Feb. 20, 2016 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Set to perform on the show are Kirk Franklin, Anthony Brown & Group therAPy, Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago, Tasha Cobbs, Travis Greene and Casey J.
Congratulations to Gospel legend Pastor Shirley Caesar. The Grammy winning artist is being honored with her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the recording category.
Urban Inspirational music female group Virtue’s (Karima Kibble, Ebony Holland, and Heather Martin) Top 30 song “Walk It Out” has been added to Starbucks’ new digital music experience with streaming music service Spotify. Starbucks Mobile App customers can now listen to music playing overhead in Starbucks® stores, save Starbucks-curated songs to a playlist on Spotify and listen to Starbucks music anywhere they go on Spotify. And if you need a workout song, try “Walk It Out,” from Virtue’s forthcoming album FEARLESS(Mixed Bag Entertainment) scheduled for release February 26.
The Gospel Music Workshop of America is gearing up for its 49th Annual Board Meeting. It will take place February 15-17 at the Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. For more information visit www.gmwanational.net