Thursday, April 19, 2018
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When it comes to economic empowerment, Al Bell has walked the walk.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the North Little Rock resident led Stax Records, a soul music record label second only to Motown in sales and influence. The Memphis-based label signed and promoted musical titans like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and The Staple Singers. In later decades, after Stax closed, Bell worked with Prince to release the smash single, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” and created a label which produced hits like Tag Team’s “Whoomp! There It Is.” Adapting business lessons gleaned from his godfather, former Arkansas governor Winthrop Rockefeller, Bell has reached pinnacles of success in his 78 years most Americans will never see.

Al Bell the Maverick: Courtesy of Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Yet the goal of a more equitable society has long weighed on Bell’s mind — even more so when he thinks of his relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. King was assassinated 50 years ago on April 4 in Memphis while denouncing America’s involvement in the Vietnam War and advocating for better pay and working conditions for Memphis sanitation workers — part of a “Poor People’s Campaign” for Americans of all colors. In 1967, King had said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Bell knew King for nearly a decade, he told more than 100 people last week in a panel at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. As a teenager in the late 1950s, he was working as a teenage disc jockey in Little Rock. One of his Scipio Jones High English teachers, Virginia Robinson, directed his attention to Rev. King who was then leading civil rights protests focused on uplifting African Americans. Mrs. Robinson urged Bell to join the activist Southern Christian Leadership Conference King had helped found.

So, in 1959, Bell moved to Georgia to attend SCLC leadership workshops and become a student teacher. “I learned more about what Dr. King was about, which at that time was more passive resistance seeking equal rights. But what was at the core of Dr. King’s [ideology] was economic development and economic empowerment.” Those core goals resonated with Bell, the budding entrepreneur.

Watch the Crystal Bridges talk with Al Bell and Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, a professor at Duke University:


The nonviolence stuff, though, was more of a challenge. Especially during the time Bell was on the front lines of a march in Savannah, singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” He recalled an especially virulent white man in the crowd “calling me all the kinds of names you could think of.” Then, as he got within four feet, the man spat on him. “Before I knew it, I was out of my pocket with my switchblade knife, going through all these people after this man,” Bell recalled, chuckling. “Hosea Williams and Ralph Abernathy came after me, but I lost complete control and broke up the march,” Bell said in 2005.

That night, King reemphasized to Bell what passive resistance meant. King said: “Many of us are gonna be killed, they’re gonna hang us, dogs are gonna bite us and we’re gonna have to take all of that,” Bell recalled at a recent Rhodes College panel. “What’s important about it, is that they’re gonna carry it on television… People will realize outside of America that we even exist in America as a people, and they will see how America is treating us. Then, after that’s done, you can go about the business of talking about economic development and economic empowerment — which is what got him killed.”

Dr. Mark Anthony Neal on left and Bell on right at Crystal Bridges

Bell graduated from Philander Smith College in 1961 and moved to Memphis, where he starred as a radio DJ for WLOK. He honed his flair for promotion with sign-offs like this: “This is your 6 feet 4 bundle of joy, 212 pounds of Mrs. Bell’s baby boy, soft as medicated cotton, rich as double-X cream, the women’s pet, the men’s threat, the baby boy Al” — and then he rang a bell — “Bell.”

He joined Stax in 1965 and quickly ascended the ranks, working on the business and production sides. He continued to cultivate regional talents who elevated the label into the world’s foremost exporter of soulful sounds with a raw, gritty edge. Meanwhile, the nation grew more polarized as American casualties in Vietnam skyrocketed. That war’s economic costs had stifled some of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s earlier efforts to alleviate poverty, so Martin Luther King and the SCLC began planning a massive, multi-racial march on Washington D.C. to ignite mass support for an economic bill of rights. “It didn’t cost the nation one penny to integrate lunch counters,” King said in February 1968. “But now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.”

Specifically, the Poor People’s Campaign sought:

[jwplayer mediaid=”19808″][jwplayer mediaid=”19808″]

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Snoop Dogg


Praise the D-O-Double-G! After announcing his gospel album Bible of Love, Snoop Dogg lets loose five new songs from the project.

“Words Are Few” comes with a light-filled video, which was shot inside of a church, where Da Doggfather kneels, prays, and sings about God with B Slade and a choir by his side. “Things ain’t what they seem,” he sings. “Feeling like I’m fooling me / I know God is calling me / I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”

The holy contemplations continue on “Blessing Me Again,” which features Rance Allen’s commanding vocals and Da Doggfather’s gratitude. “I got a whole lot that I can really thank Him for,” he sings. “When I was moving fast, He had to slow my roll / Out or in control, next episode.”

The album is curated by S-N-Double-O-P, but he isn’t featured on every track. Instead, he presents new material from a variety of performers, including Faith Evans and 3rd Generation (Bereal Family), who appear on “Saved.” Elsewhere, The Clark Sisters harmonize on “Blessed & Highly Favored,” and Tye Tribbett takes ’em to church on “You.”

Fans can expect plenty more from the 32-song project, which was inspired by a conversation Snoop had with Faith Evans. “Me, Faith Evans, we talked about it heavily,” he said at the time. “She feel like she wanna get down with me. All of the people that I know, from Charlie Wilson to Jeffrey Osborne, whoever I want to get down with. I’m gonna make it all the way right. It’s gonna feel good.”

Snoop Dogg Presents Bible of Love is due March 16.

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Malaco Music Group is sad to announce that the Queen of the Blues, Denise LaSalle has passed away. The renowned soul singer passed away late Monday night, January 8, 2018, following complications from a recent surgery.

The exact cause of death is still unknown but more will be reported as new details are released.

Denise LaSalle possessed an amazing energy and led a lengthy career that spanned several decades. She was a lively firecracker and had a joyful spirit with very few inhibitions of being her real self. On stage she was a dynamic performer that captivated the audience with her electrifying and sensual lyrics.

Some may consider her as a pioneer for female performers holding their ground in a male-dominated genre. She came into the Blues and took control, she was unafraid to tackle any topics and she was even less afraid to tackle the issues that many women dealt with from the men in their lives. Her songs hit home for many and helped to build a connection with her fanbase.

She became a part of the Malaco Records family in the early 1980’s. She signed on as both a singer and a songwriter. In addition to her singing, she was also very skilled with penning songs for other artists and herself including her #1 Single “Trapped By A Thing Called Love”.

Her first two albums for Malaco, Lady in the Street (1983) and Right Place, Right Time (1984), were both major successes and saw her hot streak continue in the industry. She also reached #6 on the UK singles chart with her cover of “My Toot Toot”, originally performed by Rockin’ Sidney.

She has performed at Blues festivals on stages on stages across the world. In 2011, She was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame and in 2015, she was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall Of Fame. She was also nominated for a Blues Music Award twice.

The music world is sad to lose the presence and spirit of this great talent. Please join us in remembering her legacy.

Funerals arrangements have not yet been determined but we will provide the details as soon as they become available.



Apple Music:


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Allure Sunday's Hosted By K. Michelle

Source: Prince Williams / Getty

K. Michelle last year announced that she would be getting rid of her butt implants. On Instagram the singer dropped a video of her twerking Betsy accompanied by Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” playing in the background. According to BET, this video montage is showing some of her best moments, but she is ready for her surgery.

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She wrote on the post, “Good Betsy! It’s been 2much of you stealing my shine😛It’s time to allow my new booty to be set free. I had so much fun Betsy! You were the apple of the eye of several nfl, nba, and rappers. They loved that ass! But I am proud to say you were not thotful you were lady like! I will miss you and how my jeans fit. But I won’t miss hopping into my jeans every morning. I won’t miss my weight being so up and down that when I’m smaller you have me looking like a chicken drum stick. My ASS is already pregnant how could i ever handle carrying twins also with all that weight my legs would give out. I’ll miss you Betsy but you also caused me inflammation through out my body. No amount of beauty is worth your health! So everything has to be returned to its natural state! Jan I’ll really be Kimberly again.”

In a recent interview on “The Real,” K. Michelle spoke out about how the booty has hurt her health. She is ready for it to be smaller and live her life. We wish K. Michelle a great recovery and can’t wait to see her during the year.

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Janet Jackson is finally back on tour, and fans — including Tyler Perry — are reaping the benefits of some serious post breakup hotness.

Janet resumed her State of the World tour Thursday night in Lafayette, Louisiana — but you’d never guess she’d given birth earlier this year. JJ wore some tight tops and flaunted her bod way more than she did before postponing her tour last year.

Of course, a lot’s changed since then. Besides having baby Eissa, she’s divorcing Wissam Al Mana.

His loss is the fans’ gain. Her longtime friend Tyler was in the audience … dancing and singing along.

Welcome back, Miss Jackson!  Yeah, ’cause we’re nasty.

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Stokley Williams ran down Mint Condition’s successful discography during an interview with VladTV, and he revealed that the first album was actually the demo that a lot of labels turned down. He went on to explain that “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” was one of their biggest hits, but all the labels kept telling them that they didn’t have one hit on the demo.

Moving along, Stokley spoke about touring with Janet Jackson and Toni Braxton, along with putting out their hit song “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” which stirred up a lot of conversation about infidelity. To hear more of what Stokley had to say, including how their fourth album didn’t do as well as the group wanted, hit the above clip.

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