Year End Reflections See Call-to-Arms by Artists to Encourage and Inspire in Times of Uncertainty
“Have enough faith to believe…God responds to faith,” said 12-time Grammy winning CeCe Winans-Love in an interview with me for my The Pulse of Entertainment syndicated column at the beginning of 2021. It was the message that rang-out from mostly all the artists interviewed in 2021. It was the message from Cece's new project “Believe For It” that began the year. Just on-the-heels of a year of lock-down because of a new and unknown “virus” in 2020, 2021 had people a little hesitant to come out and socialize. So I saw a large number of releases – singles, albums, EPs, movies, television shows – that were expressing the frustrations of that uncertainty. For The Pulse of Entertainment it was mostly interviews and reviews of projects again this year because of vaccine requirements. Most projects tried to calm the fears and uncertainty of their fans and to encourage them to have faith that all things will work out. An interview with living legend Dionne Warwick (“Alfie”) on her newly formed partnership of an interior design company – a spin off of her own over 30 year old design business, but to include corporate design.
Warwick said design, “It goes hand-in-hand with music.”
Once she explained the similarities I saw too how designing music and designing interior dwellings and businesses are the same.
Aside from CeCe’s “Believe For It,” other projects I had interviews for at the beginning of 2021 - that wanted to inspire and encourage - included Robert “Cool” Bell who talked about Kool and the Gang’s “Pursuit of Happiness” album; Pop singer Joss Stone talked about her “Walk with Me” single; Rock’s The Lonely One’s “Change the Station” album release interview followed; there was RCA Inspiration’s Kelontae Gavin’s “Hold Me Close” interview; Gospel Today Magazine publisher and founder Teresa Hairston released her inspirational book “Unstoppable;” David Spencer of the rapidly rising Gospel duo David & Tiffany Spencer was interviewed about their “We Are One” single;” Pastor Dr. Sheryl Kenan-Randolph (Destiny Church) talked about her memoir Life Happens, Live Anyway; “Sunday Best” winner Joshua Rogers was interviewed about his “Still Gon’ Trust” single, and Hip-Hop new comer Lil’ Hyste about his hot-banger “Pandemic.”
There was an unusually large amount of grant money going out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2021, so I reached out to my Alma-Mata Morgan State University and had the pleasure of interviewing Assistant Dean (at the time) Jackie Jones about the ½ million dollars from NBCUniversal to the Global Journalism and Communications department to establish the NBCU Academy. I interviewed the very funny Pastor Richard Hartley (Haven International Ministries) who partnered with USA Network for his “The Rev” reality show. I had the pleasure of also interviewing the head of The Dove Awards/Gospel Music Association Jackie Patillo. We talked about her plans for the future and the 2021 Dove Awards. Another living legend interviewed was Grammy winning Howard Hewett (“Say Amen”) about the street he grew up on in Ohio being renamed Howard Hewett, Jr. Way. Interviewed actor/director Robert Ri’chard (“Vampire Diaries”) about his role – meant for the late Nipsey Hussel - in the Lifetime, based on a true story, movie California Love.
Mid-way through 2021 I interviewed another living legend actor/producer/director/author Bill Duke (Commando Predator) about his role as a gangster in the Warner Bros. Picture movie No Sudden Move and the launch of his own broadcasting network YouNite. Though not many, I did cover some movie premieres, such as the DreamWorks’ virtual press junket for the release of the animation Spirit Untamed and I interviewed the director for that project Elaine Bogan. I also covered the premiere of a new season of Nickelodeon’s “Young Dylan” with an interview with the star of the show rapper Dylan Gilmer. An interviewed with Nickelodeon’s Alaya High followed, also a rapper, about her show “That Girl Lay Lay.”
A lot of events were pushed online, like these press junkets for movie releases, and so my review of the Imagination Lunchbox International Children’s Film Festival and interview with the film fest’s Founders multi-award winning acting/filming prodigy Anthony Michael Hobbs (PBS/DreamWorks) and his manager Dr. Kerri Moseley-Hobbs (Anthony-Michael.com) was also. The ILICFF online event showed us how much we have learned about “living on-line” because the two of them expertly overcame tech-issues that came up. Another film festival interview followed with Jeff Friday about the 2021 American Black Film Festival, which might be the largest black film festival in the world, and leading film producer/director Will Packer who was honorary judge at ABFF. An interview with four-time Emmy winning media personality Tanya Hart (AURN) followed about her company Flying Free Films partnering to produce the French documentary film Sweet Black, about black filmmaking pioneer Melvin Van Peebles. I also interviewed Grady Hendrix about the 9th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Joseph Kuo Edition which screened a series of restored films of the legendary martial arts movie director Joseph Kuo.
More project releases to encourage and inspired continued with interviews with Pastor Dr. E. Dewey Smith (The House of Hope) about his “Your Presence is a Gift” album on his own label Pebble Street Records; joining the large number of Hip-Hop artists doing the same is Rapper Jor’Dan, his interview was for his “My God” single; an interview with Japanese/African-American Pop singer Aya Ito followed, we talked about her single “Something New” which talks about her excitement to be back out and on tour; Dawkins & Dawkins gave me an interview about their “Never Gets Old: Faith & Favor” album; Mint Condition’s Stokley’s interview was about his solo project “Sankofa” on the newly re-launched Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ Perspective Records featuring Snoop Dogg, H.E.R. and Wale’, and Curtis Harmon, co-founder of the group Pieces of a Dream, talked about the Pieces of a Dream album “Fired Up,” also an indication of how excited they are to be back on tour.
“Call the name of Jesus…There is power over Satan in His name,” another notable quote from 2021 was from Howard Hewett during another interview with him in the late fall of 2021 about the re-release of his single “To Thee I Pray.” As 2021 came to an end, many interviews were about Christmas projects such as “Christmas with the Barrs”. I had the pleasure of interviewing Bishop Frederick and Dr. Erica Barr (I Am Life Church) about their Christmas Album and Baltimore superstars Brandon Camphor & OneWay re-released “Christmas Joy.”
Ph.D, MS, MBA, MPhil
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