Mars ruled and first sign of the zodiac chart, Aries is the firestarter that brings new things with the coming of spring and the daunting spirit of the Greek warrior God that rules the season. Those who are cosmically endowed with its influence are noted for a capriciousness that breeds originality, a fierce demeanor and a commitment only to the certainty of the moment. Nicki Richards is one of those powerhouse vocalists in the realm of the Aries pantheon that includes Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Ross, Jill Scott, Stephanie Mills and Luther Vandross. Rational thinkers and religious believers who consider astrology to be a heathenish superstition might be open to the concept put forth in Malcolm Gladwell’s survey in Outliers that observes the same month birthdays of the majority of junior hockey players in Canada. Richard’s March 24th birthday puts her in that special group of leading singers but the difference is that she earned her status as one of the most venerated supporting singers of the past 20 years. Since the late ‘80’s Richards has worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Tina Turner and she just finished a run on Madonna’s Sweet And Sticky tour, which will resume in the summer months. She is a classic R&B singer, actress, songwriter and she even did work as one of Frankie Knuckle’s house music divas.
NEW YORK GOES TO WORK PREMIERES MONDAY, MAY 4TH AT 10PM ET/PT
Tiffany “New York” Pollard, resident reality queen, is back on VH1 in a new series, “New York Goes to Work.” Each week, Tiffany will gear up to tackle America’s work force while you choose from a list of three possible job opportunities for her to try. Based on weekly viewer voting, “New York” will try a new job each week, with the possibility of cashing out $10,000 if she excels. Will she be a Cal Trans sewer worker, a mortuary beautician, or a fast food employee? It will be up to you!
Photo Credit: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images/ New York by Piotr Sikora
“GOTTI’S WAY” SEASON TWO PREMIERES MONDAY, MAY 4TH AT 10:30PM ET/PT
Photo Credit: VH1
Get ready for another drama filled season of VH1’s “Gotti’s Way.” In season 2 viewers will watch as Irv stresses out over the condition of the Hip Hop industry, while trying to salvage what’s left of Murder Inc. Estranged wife Deb decides to take time out for herself, leading toward a more independent lifestyle. This season is all about “breaking the cycle”—the family is shifting their focus on all ends of the spectrum, privately and professionally. Still, this is definitely not the Cosby’s or Run’s House…and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fairfax, VA (April 9, 2009) — Time Life will release the critically-acclaimed documentary THRILLA IN MANILA on DVD on June 2nd, a powerful film that reveals a previously unknown side to the final fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in the Philippines through the eyes of the oft-overlooked Frazier. Variety describes the film as “unavoidably fascinating,” while Salon.com declares it “riveting,” the Boston Herald called it “a knockout” and GQ.com says “this film is worth its weight in gold.” The DVD comes with 30 minutes of bonus material not seen in the original film, including archival interviews with Frazier, Larry Holmes, and Frazier’s own son.
Steven Lopez’s art merges sci-fi, graffiti and music into scenes brimming with beaming hues that quickly make favor with the eye. His subject can be a curvy P-Funkateer in the middle of an Egyptian Eden or seminal Black women singers in vivid tones with red and brown oversized pouts. Lopez’s dynamic depictions of India.Arie, Aretha Franklin, Erykah Badu , Chaka Khan, Minnie Riperton, Jill Scott and Tina Turner articulates the boldness of their voices in color strokes guided by each woman’s divine lyricism. The print of Badu became the prize piece for her B.L.I.N.D. charity and one hundred of them signed by her will go on sale April fifteenth. Lopez originally made the portrait as a fan tribute to her and posted a picture of it to her Myspace comments section. Badu saw the painting and immediately made her appreciation of the work known by having her marketing director contact Lopez. The boon of having his work connected to America’s most successful bohemian R&B singer comes after years of creative commitment. Lopez was drawn to art as a toddler and that nascent interest took him to Oregon where he studied his craft on a university and street level. He collaborated with the Youth Mural Collective to create a wall side panorama in downtown Eugene doing work that empowered the kids and built his confidence.
There were several other murals credited to him around town as well as his adventures with tagging under the name frustr8 which gave him recognition among the city’s graffiti artists. The relationship between music and his art is honest synergy carried out in front of a camera or a live audience. Lopez has made videos of himself painting the faces of his After Midnight Soul subjects with their music playing as a way for people to gain an immediate connection to the work in a world of content-hungry devices and ADD afflicted people. He also brings this process to the people live at various clubs and events in his native Los Angeles. He was kind enough to answer my questions about the origins of his quickly becoming popular series of Black women singers and how art became his gig of choice.
How did you become an artist?
There was always the artist element in me. I would draw regularly but it was never nurtured by family. It wasn’t until I left my parent’s house that I started to really put effort into finding my technique and style. The biggest challenge I had was getting over my fear of never being good enough. I overcame that fear by volunteering with at-risk-youth and after school programs. The focus wasn’t about me and that started shaping my identity as an artist.
It was the biggest building block in my life. The colors that I would see on the streets are reflected in my work. I love hot colors. When I would see burners, (large-scale detailed graffiti) my eyes would literally have orgasms. I wanted to have an aggressive bold look in my work. The exaggeration of my paintings are in direct relation to the b-boy image that I saw as a teen.
How did you hook-up with Erykah Badu for these prints?
I’ve been working with time lapse video for a couple of weeks and I wanted to capture some of my favorite singers in that context. I painted the portrait of Erykah with a the background track of Amerykahn Promise. When I was finished with it I posted it on to her site. I just wanted to share with it. Days later I get a message from her marketing director, Paul Levatino. He mentioned that Erykah wanted to reach out to me and see what I was about. We kicked around ideas to work together and we came up with the print program.