Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Black Model Museum [#003]: The Beauty Dynasty

From The Cocoa Lounge
Generations of Beauty: Black Models
Three generations of fashion industry giants.

In one historic snapshot, circa 2001, Vanity Fair Photographer Annie Leibovitz captured over 30 years of black beauty from all around the globe. To us, it was one of the most relevant images published in the magazine in years.

(Models pictured. Front Row (l to r) : Gail O'neal, Karen Alexander, Shakara Ledard, Clara Benjamin Naomi Campbell, Iman, Second Row: (l to r) Kadra, Kara Young, Cynthia Bailey, Tyra Banks, Liya Kebede, Beverly Johnson Third Row: (standing) (l to r:) Oluchi, Katoucha, Adia, Noemie Lenoir

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Isn't She 'Lovely?' Brand New Amel Larrieux

From The Cocoa Lounge
Singer, Amel Larrieux
(Amel Larrieux releases Lovely Standards.)

In certain circles, the name Amel Larrieux is either followed or preceded by three words: "I love her." Her voice is pure air. She's Neo-Soul music's resident chameleon; which has been her greatest legacy as well as a slight detriment. Refusing to fit into one particular box may have cost her mainstream success over the years, but is exactly why hardcore fans like us keep coming back for more.

Her newest project, released just this week, Lovely Standards, represents her grand entrance into the jazz arena. Larrieux takes a gentle approach to popular and rare standards; with a light and breathy vocal that soars. With a take on Nina Simone's Wild Is The Wind, that would impress the High Priestess of Soul herself, Amel Larrieux takes on a songbook of giants note-for-note, and simply whispers them to sleep.

Here's one of our favorite Amel Larrieux throwbacks: The video, Get Up!

For more Amel Larrieux: Her Official Site, Groove Theory Biography, Maatkara Animated Web Series

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fresh Face [#013]: Regine Nehy and Serena Reeder

From The Cocoa Lounge

Fresh Face #013:  Regine Nehy and Serena Reeder

Regine Nehy and Serena Reeder both made splashes earlier this year in the Sundance-premiered Weapons, a tale about drugs and violence in small-town youth. The film, starring Nick Cannon and Little Miss Sunshine's Paul Dano, swept starletts Nehy and Reeder into the limelight and on the fast-track to Hollywood success.

Fresh Face #013: Regine Nehy Grey's Anatomy fans may remember Philly native, Reghine Nehy, from a dramatic guest starring role as a pregnant teen; or as the only female swimmer on the Marcus Foster swim team in Pride, the drama based on a true story.

Fresh Face #013: Serena Reeder Julliard graduate, Serena Reeder's breakthrough role was as 50 cent's murdered, drug-addicted mother in Get Rich or Die Tryin. She will later star opposite Hollywood greats, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, in the highly-anticipated film, The Bucket List.

Get to know these Fresh Faces, because you'll be seeing a lot more of them soon.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday Soul: The Clark Sisters '82

From The Cocoa Lounge

Performing Is My Living in Vain in the Bay Area circa 1982, here are the amazing Clark Sisters in their youth. 25 years later, their voices are still Pure Gold.

WARNING: This is Gospel Music. Clicking on this link will take you directly to church! Hallelujah!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mara Brock Akil gets the Green Light

Television series  creator, Mara Brock Akil
(Mara Brock Akil)

At a time when television shows are lucky to last a season, Mara Brock Akil has struck gold not once but twice. Both her CW network series, Girlfriends and its spinoff, The Game, were given the greenlight for another year, with Girlfriends approaching a history-making 8th season.

"Girlfriends" stars Golden Brooks, Tracy Ross and Portia White
(Golden Brooks, Tracee Ellis Ross and Persia White, of Girlfriends)

Tia Mowry in CW's "The Game"
(Tia Mowry, star of The Game)

With her series Girlfriends, Akil became one of the youngest female African American television creators and remains as one of only a handful currently working in television today. Mara continues to make TV history and doesn't look remotely close to stopping anytime soon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gotta Love Those Jacksons!

Though scandal has plagued the Jackson clan over the last few years, it's clips like this (from their 1970s variety show) that explain what made this family amazing.

Who but the Jackson dynasty, which included a young Michael and pint-sized Janet, could get down with the legendary Nicholas Brothers and make tap dancing look like childs play? Is it just us, our is Michael Jackson, hands-down, one of the greatest dancers to ever exist...? Watch the entire Jackson family (minus Joe and his wife, Katherine) hoof it up with the fiery Nicholas brothers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hitting High Notes: Rhianna and Ciara

From The Cocoa Lounge

Rhianna and CiaraRhianna and CiaraRhianna and Ciara

The next R&B supergroup? Nope. It's just singers Rhianna and Ciara backstage at MTV's TRL.

There are many older women in the industry who could learn a lesson from these two young ladies: Just because you're competitors, doesn't mean you can't be civil.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Trapped in The Folds: The Problem with Today's Magazine Covers

Vogue May 2007 Cover
(Model, Chanel Iman, on the Cover fold of Vogue)

American Vogue's recent "The Worlds Next Top Models" cover got us thinking about a problem that has been plaguing the publishing industry since someone got the grand idea of extending a magazine's cover: The Fold.

"The Fold" has always suggested that the person(s) who occupied that space were either (a) not quite famous enough to carry a cover (b) not quite cute enough for the much-coveted front page or (c) just too "ethnic."

Vanity Fair March 2005 Cover
(Actresses Rosario Dawson, Ziyi Zhang and Kerry Washington in the Fold of Vanity Fair)

Whatever the case, literally marginalizing (particularly) black people to the folds is a practice that is not only archaic but slighting. It's gotten to the point where anytime we see a magazine with a fold, we can assume that at least one person of color is included on it. Either an individual makes the cover or they don't, and relegating us to the 'well, you almost made it' space is no real consolation.

Emmy Magazine March/April 2007 Heroes Cover
(All 3 Heroes cast members of African descent, Noah Gray-Cabey, Leonard Roberts and Tawny Cypress find themselves in the fold)

So to Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Emmy and others who come from the 'push 'em to the right' school of publication, we'd like to let you know that we're watching and we're definitely aware...