Hello, hello, hello. Once again, the weekend arrives as
everybody tries to protect themselves from the swine flu, takes in President
Obamas first 100 days in office and enjoys the arrival of the summer movie
Thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of
Gospel music singer the Rev. Timothy Wright and Golden Girls star Bea Arthur, who both died last week. As always,
shout out to the sounding boards for making headlines everyday in the story of
So without further ado, I give to you the Last Word for the
week ending May 1, 2009.
1. Maxwell Makes Official Return With New Album and Tour
After months of teasing and a brief tour last year, Maxwell
This crooner is gearing up to release his highly anticipated
fourth album, BLACKsummer'snight, on
July 7. The video for the projects first single, Pretty Wings premiered
Wednesday (April 28) on BETs 106 & Park along with the radio debut of the song.
In addition to providing vocals, Maxwell expanded his
presence on BLACKsummer'snight by
producing the entire nine-track album himself as well as co-producing the
project with Hod David and featuring a live, ten-piece band. So what exactly
has Maxwell been doing between his last album and his new release?
"In the past few years I've been making music for
myself, looking at the landscape and fighting for copyright - I've been living
my life," the singer told a crowd at Sony Musics New York offices.
"I felt a disenchantment and preferential treatment in the industry. There
was humility, bravado and entitlement missing. So I sat back because I didn't
want to throw what I had into thin air.
But, then I came to the realization that this is a gift no
matter what," Maxwell continued. "You need to cure and bring a
connection through sound. I hope in some small way I can leave some kind of
You can judge for yourself if he makes the mark when he hits
the road for a tour this summer and a headlining gig at the Essence Music Fest
on July 4 in support of BLACKsummersnight.
The tour, Maxwells first in six years, is set to kick off June 20 in
will be the first in a trilogy of releases Maxwell plans to unveil on fans. The
remaining albums, blackSUMMERS'night
and blacksummers'NIGHT, are
slated to arrive in stores in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
2. Jamie Foxx Lends Voice to the Homeless; Recruits
Daughter for Miley Cyrus Apology
He may have finished playing music prodigy Nathaniel Ayers
in The Soloist but Jamie Foxx is taking
the films message beyond the big screen by teaming up with Nineline, a crisis
helpline run by Covenant House, a nationwide agency that works with homeless
EURWeb.com reports that the entertainer has lent his voice
to a recorded message for the helpline as part of Participant Medias social
action campaign for The Soloist. Foxxs
involvement in the effort should go a long ways toward helping those in need of
guidance, according to Covenant House president Kevin Ryan.
"Now kids in crisis will not only hear a reassuring
voice but a well-known, positive role model, he said. Im convinced that
hearing Jamie's voice will be the difference for kids who might otherwise get
scared and hang up before we can help. This is a tremendous gift to our
Foxxs goodwill comes amid he actor/singers recent taunting
of Miley Cyrus on his radio show. Although he publicly apologized for his
remarks days later on The Tonight Show,
the entertainer is working to prevent any more negativity coming out of the
situation with the help of his daughter. The 14-year-old is doing her part by
writing a letter to Miley, apologizing for her fathers comments.
Foxx, who admitted that the remarks were
"insensitive," sees the letter as the beginning of the end of the
drama surrounding his comments.
I don't want to defend my position as a comedian to be
further insensitive to Miley on (US late night show) Jay Leno. We apologized to
Miley and reached out to her... and so we'll move on, the entertainer told
WENN. "My daughter has written a letter to her. We're going to get that to
her and like I said, I don't want to defend it... you can't defend it."
And there you have it. Nuff said.
3. John Legend Goes Green For Summer Tour
John Legend will champion the environment as well as good
music when he hits the road this summer on a major tour of North America.
According to Billboard,
the crooner plans on going green for the outing by joined forces with the
nonprofit environmental organization REVERB. The pair will work tour venues and
local caterers to ensure and facilitate the use of green products and
practices, along with neutralizing CO2 emissions from venue energy use, hotels,
flights and touring vehicles.
In addition, fans can purchase eco-friendly merchandise that
will be available. A John Legend on-line ride-sharing service will also be
available to encourage and assist with carpooling to shows as well as the
singers greening website that offers include tips and calls to action for
fans with prize incentives.
News of the eco-friendly tour comes after Legend topped
Billboards Green 10 list for his work on behalf of various environmental
causes in March.
4. Terrence Howard Sheds More Light on Iron Man 2 Drama
Breaking up may be hard to do, but Terrence Howard isnt
going out quietly in regards to Marvel Studios decision to replace him with
Don Cheadle for the upcoming Iron Man
sequel. Rather than letting it go, the actor is reopening the situation, as he
believes Marvel made a very, very bad choice in letting him go.
They didn't keep their word. They didn't honor my contract.
They produced a great bounty with the first one but they put it all in the
storehouse and you were not allowed in, Howard told Parade magazine as we alluded that Marvel shorted his Iron
Man co-star Gwyneth Paltrow and almost
everyone else with the exception of Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.
And while it would be easy for him to let the cat out of the
bag as far as details on the highly anticipated sequel after seeing the script,
Terrence will not go there.
I believe in karma. When someone does something wrong, you
don't have to get them back. Everything right will return the favor for you,
said the Oscar nominee, who admitted to looking forward to seeing the film and
Cheadles performance as Col. James Rhodes, the role he played in the first Iron
I want to see Don Cheadle become me. No, I want him to do
better than me. That's what I really want to see, he said. Don Cheadle was
the reason I got Crash, so I have a lot
of love for him."
Its good that hes supporting Cheadle, but you have to
wonder if Terrence is secretly hoping IM2 doesnt do as well as the first film.
I guess well find out next year when IM2
Usher Does Double Duty with the UN and Boys and Girls Clubs
Although its been a minute since weve head something new
from Usher, the singer hasnt completely disappeared. Hes just been working
outside the music world with new alliances with the United Nations Foundation.
According to reports, the Foundation and Usher have come together
to launch the Nothing But Nets campaign, a global, grassroots effort that
encourages underprivileged youths to become more pro-active in making a
difference in global issues. Among the issues highlighted by the campaign is
the disease Malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa that is spread by
For Usher, the venture comes at a crucial time as it sends
an important message: youth, regardless of their backgrounds, can make a
difference in this world by taking action through service to save lives. Anyone
can make a difference. All it takes is $10 to send a net and save a life."
With Nothing But Nets, the UN and Usher are out to raise
funds to help prevent African kids from getting Malaria by supplying more
mosquito nets to civilians. For more information about Nothing But Nets or to
send a net, visit www.NothingButNets.net.
In addition to the UN, Usher is working with the Boys &
Girls Clubs of America to shine a light on the benefits of the organization
through its Be Great campaign. People.com reports that a childhood photo of the
singer is featured on a new billboard for the effort, with the tagline "Be
'Be Great' starts when you're an infant," Usher
explained. "It's what every parent wants of their child. It's what my mom
wanted of me, and what I want for my kids.
"It's those around us who motivate us to be iconic.
Places like the Boys & Girls Club helped me be that icon I am today. 'Be
Iconic' is not just about status, it's about what you choose to care about.
What you give your time, attention and focus to."
In Other Words
* Beyoncé fans that plan on attending the vocalists
upcoming I Am... World tour will be able to help the hungry in addition to
enjoying the Grammy winners performance. Media sources report that Beyoncé is
teaming up with a General Mills created national hunger relief campaign to
co-sponsor Show Your Helping Hand food drives during the course of the outing,
which kicks off June 21 in the US.
The initiative will assist the food rescue organization,
Feeding America, in delivering meals to food banks around the country.
* Dancehall artist Sean Paul is coming back to the music
scene with the arrival of Imperial Blaze,
his first album in three years. Pauls new song, So Fine debuts today (May 1)
on radio outlets. Imperial Blaze
is slated to hit stores August 18.
* Toni Braxton has filed a new lawsuit against Lloyd's of
London amid claims the insurance company is not covering a 2006 concert she
cancelled in light of problems with her heart. In the suit, Braxton claims she
sought coverage from Lloyds after buying "non-appearance" and
"cancellation" insurance. The insurance is noted for protecting
entertainers in case their concerts have to be cancelled.
According to Braxton, Lloyd's refuses to pay for the losses
at her Flamingo Hotel concert, which never took place. The company cites the
fact that the songbirds heart problems was an undisclosed, pre-existing
condition. Braxton, who disagrees with Lloyds, is suing the company for
* With a popular movie and a role on the hit show The
Office to his credit, life after The
Wire is pretty good for Idris Elba. So
good, in fact that the actor is doing his part to take a stand against knife
crime in his native London by joining forces with The Prince's Trust charity.
Elbas involvement comes amid what he sees as an upsurge in
knife crime in the last five years. With The Wire being popular overseas, the actor hopes to utilize
his affiliation with the hit show to connect with youth. "The underlying
issues of The Wire are not a
million miles from what British kids are dealing with today. The show is
recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life where kids hang around on
corners with nothing to do. They are hand-picked by gangsters that offer them
quick money for dirty jobs - this is very similar to the gang and drug culture
emerging in some of the U.K.'s biggest cities."
* Ashanti is expanding her acting resume with a stint in the
stage revival of The Wiz. The singer
will be featured as Dorothy in the musical, which will run from June 12 through
July 5 at New York City Center as part of its "Encores! Summer Stars"