The New Slave
Q&A: Fantasia Talks Fitness, Reality TV & Her New Album
NEW YORK (AP) - Fantasia is feeling the love - and says she hasn't felt this good since winning "American Idol" in 2004.
The singer's fourth album, "Side Effects of You," debuted at No. 1 and No. 2 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop and Top 200 albums charts last week. She said the response is both welcome and complicated, especially after her last few tumultuous years.
"It feels really good," she said softly. "You have to be very careful because there was a time when I went from being up here and everybody loved you and then when (that) ole thing happened, it was like, 'OK, everybody ...' - so it's almost, like, tricky."
Fantasia could be addressing a number of things that have bruised her image. In 2010, police believed they were responding to an attempted suicide after Fantasia overdosed on aspirin and other pills at her home in Charlotte, N.C., but her manager says she wasn't trying to kill herself.
She gave birth to her son, Dallas, in 2011 and was trashed on blogs by people who said she had been in a relationship with a married man. She's battled bad publicity and also endured financial and emotional woes.
But the singer has had her share of positive experiences, too, since becoming an "Idol" champ. She won her first Grammy Award in 2011, has released platinum and gold albums, and starred on Broadway in Oprah Winfrey's "The Color Purple."
The big-voiced singer says she's put the drama behind her and released both her pain and happiness on her new album.
She talked about her music, an upcoming tour with Andrea Bocelli and more in an interview with The Associated Press.
AP: You won "American Idol" at 18 and now you're 28. Do you feel wiser?
Fantasia: I do. I think that me changing some things in my life and not really blaming everybody else anymore, actually sitting back and figuring out what it was that Fantasia was doing wrong, and then actually getting that together. Don't get me wrong, there will be more things to come, I know that. But I think at this point I know how to handle things in a much (more) mature way. In a way, I don't get it much in my mind, my mental, and let it send me into a depression, you know, 'cause there's a lot of things you just cannot change.
AP: What's your goal with this album?
Fantasia: I wanted to just kind of show the world who I am when it comes to being an artist ... just give them me, so I said I wasn't going to do another album until I could do that. I remember it being kind of tough, kind of like a pull because everybody thinks they know what you should do or they want to go with what's hot right now; somebody put out a hot single and everybody thinks you should do songs that sound like that. But I just said, 'No. I know what I want.'
AP: You're looking well. Have you been exercising?
Fantasia: I work out twice a day. If I don't get with (my trainer) twice a day, I'll get with her in the mornings and then I'll go do yoga, Pilates or spinning. I love to do spinning classes. So it's like I have to make that time for me. That's my getaway.
AP: Have you tried Zumba?
Fantasia: I haven't, but my mother keeps trying to get me to go. ... My main focus for when I started working out was ... to be an example for my cousins. I'd go back home and young people are on high blood pressure pills, and I think it's the things we put in our body; it's the food that we eat. We're not watching what we do. I know a lot of people, I sit and I'm like, 'I've never seen you drink water.' ... Water is so important, and I learned that by playing (on) Broadway. I'd always get dehydrated and have to be in the hospital with IVs getting fluids.
AP: You're opening for Andrea Bocelli for five dates this summer. How did that happen?
Fantasia: When my manager came to me about it, I thought he was playing. I thought I was being punked. I was like, 'Whatever.' He's like, 'No, I'm serious!' ... And so I had a teacher to come to the house and work with me because it wasn't easy to learn Italian. But everything that I've done, it wasn't easy. ... And to all those who said, 'I can never do that. I can never do that,' I'm going to do it to prove to them I can do anything I want to do if I put my mind to it. You may say I can't speak English, but I'm going to show you how I'm going to sing this Italian.
Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne Set to Perform at Billboard Music Awards
NEW YORK (AP) - Nicki Minaj and her mentor, Lil Wayne, will join forces for a performance at the
Billboard announced additional performers Thursday. They include Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, Ed Sheeran, David Guetta, Akon, Ne-Yo and Icona Pop.
Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and fun. are finalists in 11 categories. Swift, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, Rihanna and One Direction will compete for the top artist award.
Previously announced performers include Swift, Bieber, Bruno Mars, Miguel, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Pitbull, The Band Perry and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Prince, who will receive the icon award, will also perform.
Tracy Morgan will host the awards, to air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on ABC.
Rick Ross Sued by Talent Agency, 2 Chainz Found Not Guilty & More
Larry Busacca, WireImage
Rick Ross has been sued for $171,000 allegedly failing to pay his longtime talent agency Total Access Talent their commission for
2 Chainz has been found not guilty of drug charges stemming from a February 14 arrest for possession of marijauna and paraphernalia. Feel that [LATimes]
Lil Scrappy was released from jail yesterday, after a temporary incarceration for providing a false urine sample for a drug test. "I'm free thanks too God my Lord an savior Jesus Christ an the the vessel he used to support me @davis&boseman," Scrappy tweeted, shouting out his legal department. [Twitter]
Some pretty wild photos have surfaced from former Nappy Roots rapper R. Prophet's recent arrest at a DUI checkpoint. The police claim they had to use force to restrain him, but Prophet claims "I felt they were doing me like a slave. I thought I was dead." Damn homey. [TMZ]
A$AP Rocky Addresses Hip-Hop Homophobia, Baby Supports Lil Wayne With Trukfit Face Tattoo & More
A$AP Rocky recently discussed "the gay thing" in hip-hop. "It makes me upset that this topic even matters when it comes to hip-hop," he explained. "It makes it seem like everybody in Hip-Hop is small-minded or stupid, and that's not the case. We've got people like Jay-Z. We've got people like Kanye. We've got people like me. We're all prime examples of people who don't think like that." [NYDailyNews]
Dr. Dre has confirmed that Eminem is almost finished with his new album. "Em is finishing up his project," he said in a recent interview, adding that he's also working on new music. "And for me, man, I've just gotten inspired again to go back into the studio, so I'm just really having fun with life and having fun with being creative and trying new and different things with myself, just trying to stay active." Sure. [YouTube]
According to BBC News, Kanye West's new album has a pretty controversial title, I Am God. Jesus. [BBC]
In support of his "son," Lil Wayne, Cash Money CEO Birdman has gotten a "TRUKFIT" logo tattoo on his left cheek. Branding! [RapFix]
Sisters Octavia (TINK) and Alicia Riggins (FEE LEE) formed the group “ALL 4 U” ten yearsago(1999),asatrionamed“AllDayAllNight”withTashaAnderson. They participated in local talent shows thru out the Cleveland area, two years later the trio added a fourth member to the group De’Jah McDonald then became “ALL 4 U.”
In the summers of 2003, 2004, and 2005, the group’s career really took off. Performing at numerous community events, such as The Glenville Festival, The East Cleveland Love Festival, The presidential Picnic for 2004 Presidential Election, Warrensville Heights High School Concert, appearing on Adelphia Cable Show “It’s Cleveland” which is now Time Warner and many, many more.
In the fall of 2005, the group suffered when it lost one its members. The two Riggins Sisters and Tasha were all that was left. But they were determined to keep moving forward. Luckily, their hope was restored when their manager/mother added Lauren (LO-LO) Thomas to the group. They are now known as “DA DOLLHOUZE”
The group has since then opened shows for artist such as; THE OHIO PLAYERS, THE WHISPERS, THE DRAMATICS, FORECAST, THE AVERAGE WHITE BAND, MINT CONDITION, NIKKI MINAJ, TRINA and many other great artist. They also have four demos of original songs, “OMG”; “ALIEN SWAGG”; “CAN I BE YOUR GIRL”; “BIRTHDAY SUIT” & “BLAST OFF”
Berry Gordy Gearing Up For 'Motown: The Musical' Premiere
DETROIT (AP) - For Berry Gordy, conquering Broadway is the next - and by his own admission, last - major milestone of a magical, musical career.
The 83-year-old Motown Records founder is taking his story and that of his legendary label to the Great White Way.
"Motown: The Musical," which begins previews on Monday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, allows Gordy to relive the ups and downs of a career that launched him into the entertainment stratosphere and he's confident will allow him to leave the stage on a high note.
"Most likely it will be my last major endeavor in a creative way," he said in a telephone interview. "Of course everyone disagrees with me when I say that statement. This is probably the epitome of everything I've done - that I've wanted to do."
For those under the impression that Gordy simply signed off on the musical, think again.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer not only sealed up a Broadway slot and agreed to co-produce the show, he also delivered its book and three original songs.
"When I came to Broadway, I had no idea I was going to love it as much as I do," Gordy said. "(People asked), 'How are you going to Broadway-ize Motown?' I said, 'I'm not going to Broadway-ize Motown, I'm going to bring Motown to Broadway.'"
This time, he's starting with experience. Motown's big stars during the label's heyday were, as Gordy puts it, "kids off the street" - singers such as a not-far-out-of-high-school Smokey Robinson, Little Stevie Wonder and a pre-teen Michael Jackson.
But on Broadway, the team includes director Charles Randolph-Wright and actors Brandon Victor Dixon (Gordy) and Valisia LeKae (Diana Ross), all of whom are Broadway fixtures.
"We're starting from a higher level," Gordy said.
Even with a top-notch creative team on and off the stage, the show's success - just as Motown's was at its founding 54 years ago - starts and ends with the music.
And in that realm, the team behind the show is working from a position of strength. Maybe too much strength.
Gordy described it as "very difficult" to select classic Motown tracks for the musical, considering the massive trove from which to choose.
Randolph-Wright joked late last year that the show might be 15 hours long. The first version had 100 tunes in it, "and I wanted every song," he said.
But both men agreed that the way to solve the too-many-songs problem was to focus on numbers that fit the musical's thematic structure, or what Randolph-Wright called "the spine of the story."
Since Gordy had special insight into the songs that comprise the label's vast catalog, he was able to make suggestions as to which ones fit particular story arcs. That was the case with Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," which ends the first act; and "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World is Today)," The Temptations classic that starts the second.
Gordy's role went well beyond song-selector, however.
Gordy, who penned his first hit during the Eisenhower Administration, returned to his songwriting roots, working alongside longtime collaborator Michael Lovesmith to create a trio of original compositions for the musical: "Hey Joe," ''Can I Close the Door on Love?" and "It's What's in the Groove that Counts."
While all are personal songs - the show, after all, is about his life story - Gordy dug deep for "Hey Joe," which commemorates the inspiration he experienced as an 8-year-old when Detroit's own Joe Louis defeated German boxing great Max Schmeling in a 1938 heavyweight title fight.
"I saw my mother crying. I saw my father crying. Everyone was so crazy, just going mad," Gordy said. "So I thought to myself then, 'What could I do in my life ever to make this many people happy?' That's where I got the original passion from."
Two decades later, Gordy had set aside his dream of a boxing career and was writing songs on the side while working at a Ford Motor Co. plant. That's when he secured an $800 loan from his family's savings club and started his own record company, one that he vowed would produce music for all listeners, not "black music for black people" as had been the standard.
Gordy succeeded beyond even his wildest imagination, hiring immensely talented writers, producers, engineers, musicians and singers who blended traditional gospel, jazz, R&B and pop to create a unique sound that had crossover appeal for audiences of all ages and backgrounds and broke down racial barriers at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
"We would always say, 'It's what's in the groove that counts,'" Gordy said, referencing one of the songs he wrote for the musical. "It was about music for all people. Not black and white, Jews and gentiles, the cops and the robbers. It was for everybody."
Randolph-Wright, who was raised in segregated South Carolina, was among the many young American s influenced by Gordy's story and the musical movement he spurred.
"Berry Gordy was one of my idols growing up. At that time, there weren't many men of color in that power position to look up to," Randolph-Wright said during a trip to Hitsville, U.S.A., home to the Motown Museum in Detroit. "And, I always say he gave me and people like me permission to dream - to dream big enough that I would be in Studio A talking to you."
A half-century after he began his ascent to the pinnacle of the music world, Gordy is looking to produce one last showstopper.
"I did the Broadway musical mainly for, I think, the people around the world that believed in me when they had no real reason to other than the music that they heard and loved," he said.
But, tongue firmly in cheek, the octogenarian left open the door ever so slightly for another show-biz venture.
Rihanna Cancels Boston Concert Due To Laryngitis
Rihanna has been ordered to "Stay" home!
The 25-year-old pop princess has laryngitis and will not be able to perform at a concert scheduled for Sunday night in Boston, Live Nation announced on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, following her sold-out concert on Friday, Rihanna has contracted laryngitis and per doctor's instruction is unable to perform this evening," the concert promoter said in a statement.
"BOSTON this is the hardest thing for me to deal with! I feel like we've been waiting on this day forever, and I'm hurt that I let you down," she wrote.
"I hate disappointing people that never ever let me down!! I'm so embarrassed about this! Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!" she added.
The "Diamonds" singer -- who kicked off the tour March 8 in Buffalo, New York -- is expected to return to the stage in Baltimore March 12.
ROLL CALL: Rihanna Flaunts G-String & New Prada Boots
Your Daily Dispatch of Celebrity Shenanigans
In Today's "Daaaaannnnggggg!": Rihanna is bringing the sexy in a big way on Instagram, where she's flaunting her backside (in a G-string) and rocking thigh-boots. "Gotcha b**** tip toeing on my marble flo'!!! Sick a** custom Prada boots! Miuccia you RULE!!! Thank you," she wrote in the caption of the racy shot. See Rihanna's (almost too-hot-for-Roll Call) photo!
PLAY IT NOW: It’s Beyonce’s World, But Is She Overexposed? Chris Brown & Rihanna Together Again! Plugged In Panel Weighs In
More Stars & Their Backsides: Our favorite "Twilight Saga" star, Anna Kendrick, is also showing off her tush on Instagram. "I'm bringin' sexy back #PUNS #NailedIt #FistPump," the actress wrote in the caption of a photo of herself in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Check out Anna in a backless black bathing suit!
Boy Bander Fail!: What's a boy band member to do when he forgets the words to a song? One Direction's Louis Tomlinson had a lyric snafu while performing a cover of Wheatus' 2000 hit, "Teenage Dirtbag." "Okay, I just forgot the lyrics. I'm not even going to pretend I know them," he told the crowd, and then raised his first into the air and chanted, "Yeah!" Watch what happens when the One Direction member lyrically lose his direction!
VIEW THE PHOTOS: Rihanna’s Stunning Red Carpet Looks
And In Today's "Noooooooooo!": America's favorite teen bride Courtney Stodden is many things - but Hollywood icon is not one of them! But, the 18-year-old appears to think otherwise, judging by her latest claims. "I look back to the pin-up days -- Jayne Mansfield, Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, and those beautiful iconic women. And I feel like I am [iconic]. I feel like I'm different, I married young. Those women were old souls, and I feel like I can connect with them. We are both old souls and we're having fun, and being glamorous and flirty," she told RumorFix. Roll Call might have used the words "old" and "soul" when dishing on Courtney, but never paired together in that way.
Bobby Rogers, co-founder of Motown group the Miracles, dies at 73
DETROIT (Reuters) - Singer Bobby Rogers, a founding member of the hit-making Motown group the Miracles along with Smokey Robinson, died on Sunday in suburban Detroit after a lengthy illness, family members and associates said. He was 73.
Rogers was a tenor in the original Motown line-up of the group that also included Robinson as the lead singer, bass vocalist Warren "Pete" Moore, baritone Ronnie White and the quintet's lone female vocalist, Claudette Rogers.
Claudette Rogers, who became Claudette Robinson after marrying the group's star in 1963 and left the group a year later, was Bobby Rogers' first cousin. She and Smokey Robinson later divorced.
"My cousin, Robert 'Bobby' Rogers, who was like a brother to me, lost his battle and succumbed," she said in a statement issued through the Detroit-based Motown Alumni Association.
"He had a sparkling personality that was loved by everyone," she told the Detroit Free Press newspaper. "People always commented on the tall one with the glasses."
Smokey Robinson, born hours apart from Rogers in the same Detroit hospital on February 19, 1940, saluted his former compatriot in his own statement, saying: "Another soldier in my life has fallen."
"Bobby Rogers was my brother and a really good friend," he said. "I am really going to miss him. I loved him very much."
Billy Wilson, president of the Motown Alumni Association, said Rogers died at his home in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.
The Miracles grew out of an earlier quintet of high school performers called the Five Chimes that formed in the mid-1950s and changed its name to the Matadors after several roster changes capped by Claudette Rogers' admission to the group.
Introduced to Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., the group changed its name to the Miracles and became one of the first acts signed to his Tamla Records imprint and went on to record Motown's first million-selling hit single, "Shop Around."
The group, which later changed its name again to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, ultimately released 30 singles that charted in the Top 40, including such Motown classics as "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," "Going to a Go-Go," "I Second That Emotion," "Tears of a Clown" and "Tracks of My Tears."
One of Rogers' most notable vocal contributions with the group was his two-part harmony with Robinson on "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," which was later covered by the Beatles. Rogers' voice also is heard in the background of the Marvin Gaye track "What's Going On," uttering the phrase: "It's just a groovy party, man, I can dig it."
He shared song writing credits with Robinson on a number of songs recorded by the Miracles, such as "Going to a Go-Go," and other groups, including the Temptations hit "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "First I Look at the Purse" by the Contours.
Rogers was inducted with other members of the Miracles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, about 25 years after the controversial solo induction of Robinson.
Miracles vocalist Ronnie White died in 1995.
Skydive for Wacka Flocka to Retweets, Kanye to Design Lil Wayne's Album Cover
Waka Flocka Flame goes hard in the social media paint with an invitation to fans. s,The Brick Squad rapper said if he was retweeted 30,000 time he'd go skydiving and film it. [AllHipHop] Lil Wayne reveals that his collaboration with Kanye has more to do with visual art than music -- 'Ye will be designing the cover art for Wayne's new record. [Rapfix] The Game discusses the interplay between his lifestyle of "thugging" and his family, along with his own take on the controversial cover art for his fifth studio album Jesus Piece. [RussParr] 50 Cent collaborates with Eminem and Adam Levine on his new single "My Life." With the Maroon 5 Frontman on the hook, the two rap veterans are free to lay down their own verses, including some jabs at former G-Unit rappers Game and Young Buck, courtesy of 50. [Rap-Up] Beyonce and Jay-Z were courtside at the Nets game this weekend. The Carter family can happily give thanks though, as the Nets defeated the Clippers. [Rapfix] Philly-based rapper Freeway releases the video for "Sweet Temptations" which features Nikki Jean. Watch the haunting clip below, or stream his whole brand new
Kendrick Lamar Surprised Lady Gaga Released Her Version, Raekwon Doubts Wu-Tang Reunion
Kendrick Lamar recently said that he's surprised Lady Gaga released her version of "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe," but he's not mad. [HipHopDX]
A new mixtape from B.O.B. called Fuck Em We Ball dropped today. The mixtape features T.I., Juicy J, Iggy Azalea and more. [Rap-Up]
Talib Kweli's thoughts on the election, polygamy and monogamy? He's Pro-Obama, but it's not looking good for the ladies. [Rickey Smiley Morning Show]
Brandy jokes that her boyfriend is in the crowd so her back-up dancer needs to "pull those shorts down a bit". [Magic 95.9]
Raekwon throws shade on Wu-Tang Clan reunion rumors. The Chef says the rest of the group aren't taking the necessary steps to make it a reality. [HipHopDX]
Bobbi Kristina and Nick Gordon's relationship is doomed, according to their relatives.
[Rickey Smiley Morning Show]