Thursday, August 16, 2018

Music Notes

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
"Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin dies at 76
In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, Aretha Franklin performs at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Franklin died Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 at her home in Detroit. She was 76. (AP Photo/Shea Walsh, file)

Aretha Franklin, the undisputed "Queen of Soul" who sang with matchless style on such classics as "Think," ''I Say a Little Prayer" and her signature song, "Respect," and stood as a cultural icon around the globe, has died at age 76 from pancreatic cancer.

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn tells The Associated Press through a family statement that Franklin died Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit. The statement said "Franklin's official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin's oncologist, Dr. Philip Phillips of Karmanos Cancer Institute" in Detroit.

The family added: "In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds."

The statement continued: "We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

Franklin, who had battled undisclosed health issues in recent years, had in 2017 announced her retirement from touring.

A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin had long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion and training worthy of a preacher's daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.

She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of a half century, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smashes in the late 1960s, from the morning-after bliss of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," to the wised-up "Chain of Fools" to her unstoppable call for "Respect."

Her records sold millions of copies and the music industry couldn't honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Clive Davis, the music mogul who brought her to Arista Records and helped revive her career in  the 1980s, said he was "devastated" by her death.

"She was truly one of a kind.  She was more than the Queen of Soul.  She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world," he said in a statement. "Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend.  Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness."

Fellow singers bowed to her eminence and political and civic leaders treated her as a peer. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a longtime friend, and she sang at the dedication of King's memorial, in 2011. She performed at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and at the funeral for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Clinton gave Franklin the National Medal of Arts. President George W. Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 2005.

Bill and Hillary Clinton issued a statement mourning the loss of their friend and "one of America's greatest treasures."

"For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry. Aretha's first music school was the church and her performances were powered by what she learned there. I'll always be grateful for her kindness and support, including her performances at both my inaugural celebrations, and for the chance to be there for what sadly turned out to be her final performance last November at a benefit supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS."

Franklin's best-known appearance with a president was in January 2009, when she sang "My Country 'tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama's inauguration. She wore a gray felt hat with a huge, Swarovski rhinestone-bordered bow that became an Internet sensation and even had its own website. In 2015, she brought Obama and others to tears with a triumphant performance of "Natural Woman" at a Kennedy Center tribute to the song's co-writer, Carole King.

Franklin endured the exhausting grind of celebrity and personal troubles dating back to childhood. She was married from 1961 to 1969 to her manager, Ted White, and their battles are widely believed to have inspired her performances on several songs, including "(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone," ''Think" and her heartbreaking ballad of despair, "Ain't No Way." The mother of two sons by age 16 (she later had two more), she was often in turmoil as she struggled with her weight, family problems and financial predicaments. Her best known producer, Jerry Wexler, nicknamed her "Our Lady of Mysterious Sorrows."

Franklin married actor Glynn Turman in 1978 in Los Angeles but returned to her hometown of Detroit the following year after her father was shot by burglars and left semi-comatose until his death in 1984. She and Turman divorced that year.

Despite growing up in Detroit, and having Smokey Robinson as a childhood friend, Franklin never recorded for Motown Records; stints with Columbia and Arista were sandwiched around her prime years with Atlantic Records. But it was at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father was pastor, that Franklin learned the gospel fundamentals that would make her a soul institution.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee. The Rev. C.L. Franklin soon moved his family to Buffalo, New York, then to Detroit, where the Franklins settled after the marriage of Aretha's parents collapsed and her mother (and reputed sound-alike) Barbara returned to Buffalo.

C.L. Franklin was among the most prominent Baptist ministers of his time. He recorded dozens of albums of sermons and music and knew such gospel stars as Marion Williams and Clara Ward, who mentored Aretha and her sisters Carolyn and Erma. (Both sisters sang on Aretha's records, and Carolyn also wrote "Ain't No Way" and other songs for Aretha). Music was the family business and performers from Sam Cooke to Lou Rawls were guests at the Franklin house. In the living room, the shy young Aretha awed friends with her playing on the grand piano.

Franklin occasionally performed at New Bethel Baptist throughout her career; her 1987 gospel album "One Lord One Faith One Baptism" was recorded live at the church.

Her most acclaimed gospel recording came in 1972 with the Grammy-winning album "Amazing Grace," which was recorded live at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and featured gospel legend James Cleveland, along with her own father (Mick Jagger was one of the celebrities in the audience). It became one of of the best-selling gospel albums ever.

The piano she began learning at age 8 became a jazzy component of much of her work, including arranging as well as songwriting. "If I'm writing and I'm producing and singing, too, you get more of me that way, rather than having four or five different people working on one song," Franklin told The Detroit News in 2003.

Franklin was in her early teens when she began touring with her father, and she released a gospel album in 1956 through J-V-B Records. Four years later, she signed with Columbia Records producer John Hammond, who called Franklin the most exciting singer he had heard since a vocalist he promoted decades earlier, Billie Holiday. Franklin knew Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. and considered joining his label, but decided it was just a local company at the time.

Franklin recorded several albums for Columbia Records over the next six years. She had a handful of minor hits, including "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" and "Runnin' Out of Fools," but never quite caught on as the label tried to fit into her a variety of styles, from jazz and show songs to such pop numbers as "Mockingbird." Franklin jumped to Atlantic Records when her contract ran out, in 1966.

"But the years at Columbia also taught her several important things," critic Russell Gersten later wrote. "She worked hard at controlling and modulating her phrasing, giving her a discipline that most other soul singers lacked. She also developed a versatility with mainstream music that gave her later albums a breadth that was lacking on Motown LPs from the same period.

"Most important, she learned what she didn't like: to do what she was told to do."

At Atlantic, Wexler teamed her with veteran R&B musicians from Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and the result was a tougher, soulful sound, with call-and-response vocals and Franklin's gospel-style piano, which anchored "I Say a Little Prayer," ''Natural Woman" and others.

Of Franklin's dozens of hits, none was linked more firmly to her than the funky, horn-led march "Respect" and its spelled out demand for "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Writing in Rolling Stone magazine in 2004, Wexler said: "It was an appeal for dignity combined with a blatant lubricity. There are songs that are a call to action. There are love songs. There are sex songs. But it's hard to think of another song where all those elements are combined."

Franklin had decided she wanted to "embellish" the R&B song written by Otis Redding, whose version had been a modest hit in 1965, Wexler said.

"When she walked into the studio, it was already worked out in her head," the producer wrote. "Otis came up to my office right before 'Respect' was released, and I played him the tape. He said, 'She done took my song.' He said it benignly and ruefully. He knew the identity of the song was slipping away from him to her."

In a 2004 interview with the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, Franklin was asked whether she sensed in the '60s that she was helping change popular music.

"Somewhat, certainly with 'Respect,' that was a battle cry for freedom and many people of many ethnicities took pride in that word," she answered. "It was meaningful to all of us."

In 1968, Franklin was pictured on the cover of Time magazine and had more than 10 Top 20 hits in 1967 and 1968. At a time of rebellion and division, Franklin's records were a musical union of the church and the secular, man and woman, black and white, North and South, East and West. They were produced and engineered by New Yorkers Wexler and Tom Dowd, arranged by Turkish-born Arif Mardin and backed by an interracial assembly of top session musicians based mostly in Alabama.

Her popularity faded during the 1970s despite such hits as the funky "Rock Steady" and such acclaimed albums as the intimate "Spirit in the Dark." But her career was revived in 1980 with a cameo appearance in the smash movie "The Blues Brothers" and her switch to Arista Records. Franklin collaborated with such pop and soul artists as Luther Vandross, Elton John, Whitney Houston and George Michael, with whom she recorded a No. 1 single, "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)." Her 1985 album "Who's Zoomin' Who" received some of her best reviews and included such hits as the title track and "Freeway of Love."

Critics consistently praised Franklin's singing but sometimes questioned her material; she covered songs by Stephen Sondheim, Bread, the Doobie Brothers. For Aretha, anything she performed was "soul."

From her earliest recording sessions at Columbia, when she asked to sing "Over the Rainbow," she defied category. The 1998 Grammys gave her a chance to demonstrate her range. Franklin performed "Respect," then, with only a few minutes' notice, filled in for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti and drew rave reviews for her rendition of "Nessun Dorma," a stirring aria for tenors from Puccini's "Turandot."

"I'm sure many people were surprised, but I'm not there to prove anything," Franklin told The Associated Press. "Not necessary."

Fame never eclipsed Franklin's charitable works, or her loyalty to Detroit.

Franklin sang the national anthem at Super Bowl in her hometown in 2006, after grousing that Detroit's rich musical legacy was being snubbed when the Rolling Stones were chosen as halftime performers.

"I didn't think there was enough (Detroit representation) by any means," she said. "And it was my feeling, 'How dare you come to Detroit, a city of legends — musical legends, plural — and not ask one or two of them to participate?' That's not the way it should be."

Franklin did most of her extensive touring by bus after Redding's death in a 1967 plane crash, and a rough flight to Detroit in 1982 left her with a fear of flying that anti-anxiety tapes and classes couldn't help. She told Time in 1998 that the custom bus was a comfortable alternative: "You can pull over, go to Red Lobster. You can't pull over at 35,000 feet."

She only released a few albums over the past two decades, including "A Rose is Still a Rose," which featured songs by Sean "Diddy" Combs, Lauryn Hill and other contemporary artists, and "So Damn Happy," for which Franklin wrote the gratified title ballad. Franklin's autobiography, "Aretha: From These Roots," came out in 1999, when she was in her 50s. But she always made it clear that her story would continue.

"Music is my thing, it's who I am. I'm in it for the long run," she told The Associated Press in 2008. "I'll be around, singing, 'What you want, baby I got it.' Having fun all the way."

  • Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018
Sound Lounge extends reach to Atlanta via Mad Hat Creative
Becca Falborn

Continuing to extend its reach to markets across the country, Sound Lounge has partnered with Atlanta’s Mad Hat Creative to bring Sound Lounge Everywhere™ to the Southeast. The remote collaboration service will allow advertising, broadcast and corporate clients in Atlanta and neighboring states to work with Sound Lounge sound editors, designers and mixers in New York in real-time and share high-quality audio and video. Clients gain access to world-class sound talent, while saving time, travel and production costs.

Having previously launched Sound Lounge Everywhere at sites in Boston and Boulder, Colorado, Sound Lounge spent months looking for an appropriate location in the burgeoning Southeast media market. “We’re very excited to be in Atlanta, which is the hub for advertising and broadcast production in the region,” said Sound Lounge head of production Liana Rosenberg. “In Mad Hat Creative, we found our perfect partner. Their production and postproduction offerings complement our sound services. Plus, they are an artist-owned company, as we are, and share our positive, creative energy.”

A suite dedicated to sound work has been set up at Mad Hat’s offices, equipped with Bowers & Wilkins speakers and other leading-edge gear to ensure accurate playback of music and sound. Proprietary Sound Lounge Everywhere hardware and software facilitate real-time streaming of high-quality video and uncompressed, multi-channel audio between the two locations with virtually no latency. Web cameras and talkback modules support two-way communication.

For Mad Hat Creative, Sound Lounge Everywhere rounds out an offering that includes video production, editorial, visual effects, motion graphics, color correction and post services. “Our status as a turnkey production and postproduction company makes us unique in the market,” said Mad Hat Creative’s managing partner Jonathan Hayes. “Integrating Sound Lounge Everywhere into our model is icing on the cake and fits our ideology of providing a seamless experience from start to finish.”

Eileen Fishman, the company’s VP of operations and finance, expects both parties to benefit. “Our agency, broadcast and corporate clients are very interested in taking advantage of this new service,” she said. Mad Hat Creative’s clients include, among others, broadcasters CNN, Discovery Channel, TBS and A&E Networks and advertisers Costco, The Home Depot, Foot Locker and

To help manage the new service, Sound Lounge has promoted Becca Falborn to sr. producer. Falborn, who joined the studio as a producer in 2017, will coordinate sound sessions between the two sites. She will also assist Rosenberg in overseeing local sound production, and serve as the studio’s social coordinator. A graduate of Manhattan College, Falborn has a background in business affairs, client services and marketing, including posts with the post house Nice Shoes and the marketing agency Hogarth Worldwide.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018
Sony Pictures Post Production Services debuts 3 theater-style studios, 2 upgraded mix stages
Stage 6 at Sony Pictures Post Production Services
CULVER CITY, Calif. -- 

Continuing to add resources for motion picture and television sound, Sony Pictures Post Production Services announced the opening of three theater-style studios inside the Stage 6 facility on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City. All studios feature mid-size theater environments and include digital projectors and projection screens. Theater 1 is equipped for sound design and mixing with two S6 consoles and immersive Atmos capabilities, while Theater 3 is geared toward sound design with a single S6. Theater 2 is set up for remote visual effects and color grading review, allowing filmmakers to monitor ongoing post work at other sites without leaving the lot. Additionally, centralized reception and client services facilities have been established to better serve studio sound clients.

Mix Stage 6 and Mix Stage 7 within the sound facility have been upgraded, each featuring two Avid Pro Tools S6 mixing consoles, six Pro Tools digital audio workstations, Christie digital cinema projectors, 24 X 13 projection screens and a variety of support gear. The stages will be used to mix features and high-end television projects. The new resources add capacity and versatility to the studio’s sound operations.

Tom McCarthy, EVP, Post Production Facilities, said, “The two theaters we have added are unique sound rooms, offering the acoustical depth of a theater in an intimate environment that promotes creativity. They reflect the evolution of motion picture sound where the traditional boundaries between editorial and mixing have blurred.”

Sony Pictures Post Production Services now has 11 traditional mix stages, the largest being the Cary Grant Theater, which seats 344. It also has mix stages dedicated to IMAX and home entertainment formats. The department features four sound design suites, 60 sound editorial rooms, three ADR recording studios and three Foley stages. Its Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage is among the largest in the world with the capacity to accommodate a full orchestra and choir.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018
Composer/sound designer/mixer Rob Ballingall joins Sonic Union
Rob Ballingall

Audio studio Sonic Union has brought on board composer/experiential sound designer/mixer Rob Ballingall. Working out of both its Bryant Park and Union Square locations, Ballingall offers his talents in music and audio post, with an emphasis on the creation of compelling audio wizardry for emerging technology projects including experiential and VR.

Ballingall recently created an audio-forward, experiential in-theater commercial for Mercedes-Benz Canada, utilizing Dolby Atmos, D-Box and 4DX technologies. In addition, for National Geographic’s One Strange Rock VR experience directed by Darren Aronofsky, Ballingall crafted audio for custom VR headsets designed in the style of astronaut helmets, which contained a pinhole projector to display visuals on the inside of the helmet’s visor. 

Formerly at Nylon Studios, Ballingall also composed music on large brand campaigns for clients including Ford, Kellogg’s and Walmart, and provided sound design/engineering on projects for Ad Council and Resistance Radio for Amazon Studios and The Man in the High Castle, which collectively won multiple Cannes Lion, CLIO and One Show awards, as well as garnering two Emmy nominations.

Born in London, Ballingall immigrated to the US eight years ago to seek a foothold in the music industry as a mixer, assisting numerous Grammy Award-winning engineers at the legendary Magic Shop recording studio in New York City. Having studied music composition and engineering from high school to college in England, he soon found his niche offering compositional and arranging counterpoints to sound design, mix and audio post for the commercial world. 

  • Friday, Aug. 10, 2018
Dan Yessian inducted into Adcraft Hall Of Fame
Dan Yessian

Dan Yessian, award-winning musician, composer and founder of the music, sound design and soundscapes production company Yessian which started in Farmington Hills, Mich., was inducted into the Adcraft Hall of Fame last month at The Madison Building in Detroit. Yessian was recognized for his remarkable career, spanning almost 50 years, and his contributions to the advertising industry locally and across the globe.

“Dan is an amazing ambassador for the advertising community in Detroit,” said Michelle Rossow, executive director of Adcraft, the oldest advertising association in the U.S. “He is like our city—hardworking, humble and creative at his core.  In addition to building a company with an impressive local client roster, Yessian also gives the Detroit advertising industry a global footprint.”

Founded in 1971, the company has clients which include some of world’s best-known brands in advertising, film, television, gaming and theme parks such as Ford, RAM, Toyota, Disney, Budweiser, Macy’s, United Airlines, Walmart, Coca Cola, IKEA, Mont Blanc, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Volvo and Porsche. Yessian himself composed numerous iconic local and national advertising campaign jingles, including “Dittrich Furs by the Dittrich Family,” “Dodge Boys Have More Fun,” and Whirlpool’s “We’re making your life a little easier.”

Yessian and his two sons, Brian and Michael, who became his partners in the mid-1990s, have grown the company into a worldwide collective of producers, composers, music supervisors and research creatives and recording artists. Yessian the company, with satellite offices in New York, Los Angeles and Hamburg, Germany, also has a music licensing and research division of indie bands and well-known artists called Dragon Lick.

  • Friday, Aug. 10, 2018
COPILOT scores iTunes hit with marketing soundtrack
A scene from "Fallout" trailer scored by COPILOT Music + Sound for Bethesda Game Studios.

COPILOT Music + Sound, New York, was tapped by Bethesda Game Studios, maker of the popular multiplayer “Fallout” video game series, to create a soundtrack for the trailer for its most recent version of the game. They produced a contemporary take on the John Denver classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which debuted for the E3 Conference, then went on sale, unexpectedly, last month on iTunes. By the next day, it was the number one song on the music site—quite remarkable for a track made for a marketing campaign.

The demand was sparked by the E3 exposure for the trailer which yielded nearly 30 million views on YouTube. An appetite was built for the full song, which helped propel the iTunes fervor. All of Bethesda’s proceeds from the iTunes sales were donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Since the “Fallout” series also had a long association with 1940s vocal group The Ink Spots, Bethesda reached out to COPILOT to see if that could be meshed with Denver’s “Country Roads” style. COPILOT experimented with a variety of arrangements, from faithful replicas of early vocal quartet styles to traditional folk and country instrumentation. But the biggest challenge was finding the right voices. “We auditioned a lot of amazing singers from the jazz, country and pop worlds,” said Ravi Krishnaswami, creative director at COPILOT, “but we were searching for a sound that would be a natural fit in all of these styles.” That’s when he and Jason Menkes, COPILOT’s executive producer, remembered their experience hearing a singing group called Spank, which they’d encountered for the first time singing a cappella doo-wop numbers on a street corner in SoHo. They auditioned and got the gig.

“It’s a win-win for everyone involved,” said Menkes.  “We’re thrilled with the song’s success and the support for Habitat for Humanity. And since this cover version was created specifically for Bethesda, all this attention and celebration circles back to ‘Fallout’ and further promotes the game’s release.”

  • Monday, Aug. 6, 2018
Marc Mannino to represent Temp Love's music catalog
Marc Mannino
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- 

Temp Love, a full-service music production company that offers clients original scores, sound design, and nearly 3,000 tracks of easy-to-clear production music from its rapidly growing library, has signed longtime music industry pro Marc Mannino to serve as representative of its music catalog.

Before his association with Temp Love--which is headed by co-owners John McDermott and Christian Hanlon--Mannino had most recently been the East Coast director of music licensing for Elias Arts. There, he developed strategic relationships with Netflix, Showtime, Grey Advertising, Ogilvy and McCann, among other clients. 

Prior to his role with Elias Arts, Mannino had been the director of music synchronization for IMAGEM Publishing USA, also based in New York. There, he drove significant revenue growth across three diverse catalogs: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Boosey & Hawkes, and IMAGEM Music Pop, including the acquisition of the Elvis Presley catalog. Mannino is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hanlon said of Mannino, “He’s the type of guy that understands the value of music across all media, and has a laser focus on forging innovative and lasting relationships between multiple content creators.”

Mannino said of Temp Love’s McDermott and Hanlon, “In only five years, these guys have already developed and produced a robust and fresh roster of production music in an ever-expanding and highly competitive marketplace. Plus, they have proven expertise in bringing together diverse work strategies. All of which is sure to lead to solid end results.”

Temp Love’s narrative placements within the entertainment industry have included tracks heard within the HBO series “Girls,” A24’s “Obvious Child,” the upcoming FX/Anonymous Content series “Quarter Life Poetry,” and the Academy Award-nominated documentary film “Facing Fear.” Other Temp Love entertainment clients have also included CBS TV and Syfy.

Temp Love regularly works with such ad agency clients as AKQA, Oglivy, Pereira O’Dell, and Weiden + Kennedy. The company’s direct corporate clients have included Google, LinkedIn, Nestlé, Twitter, Old Navy and Reddit. Additionally, Temp Love has also provided music to promotional campaigns for such other top brands as Target, Nationwide, Titleist, Hidden Valley, and NVIDIA.

  • Thursday, Jul. 26, 2018
Ariella Abrams named creative manager at Score a Score
Ariella Abrams

Score a Score, a music company with operations in Los Angeles and Boston, has added Ariella Abrams as creative manager working out of its L.A. office.

Previously serving as director, client relations at Sencit Music in L.A., Abrams brings a unique trailer-focused perspective to the current Score a Score. She’ll work in tandem with the other creative team members producing custom music, pitching music from Score a Score’s catalog, developing artists on the company roster, and helping to grow Score a Score’s ever expanding footprint in the market.

The company has also just launched a rebranded website. CEO Jordan Passman explained, “After a substantial investment in the company website over the course of ​7 years, I came to the realization​ that our branding was off - we’d outgrown and pivoted away from the original concept of the website (a digital marketplace to connect content creators and composers), and centered our business around a human touch - people want to work with people,​ and human-to-human interaction has grown the business exponentially in ways that technology could never replicate​. So we ditched our long-time robot mascots, and cartoony imagery, and rebranded the company to look sleeker, cleaner, simpler and warmer.”  

Score a Score’s recent work includes ad campaigns for Microsoft, Intel, Apple, MasterCard, Covergirl, PODS, Taco Bell and Zillow, and trailers for films such as Overlord, Disenchanted, The Girl In the Spider’s Web, Venom, Incredibles 2, Ready Player One, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Score a Score’s also very busy on the music supervision side, with credits including the series Best Shot (produced by LeBron James, which premiered this month), Fastest Car, Rhett & Link’s Buddy System and Chef’s Table, Season 1. 

  • Tuesday, Jul. 24, 2018
Philadelphia State of Mind: Jay-Z's festival is staying put
In this May 14, 2012 file photo, entertainer Jay-Z smiles after a news conference at Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Jay-Z's Made in America music festival will stay in the heart of the Philadelphia. Mayor Jim Kenney and Roc Nation's chief operating officer said Monday, July 23, 2018, the festival would remain on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as they work out operational issues. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

Who's gonna run this town tonight? Jay-Z is.

The rap mogul's Made in America music festival will stay in the heart of Philadelphia after Mayor Jim Kenney reversed course on his decision to move the event.

Kenney and Roc Nation's chief operating officer said Monday the festival would remain on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as they work out operational issues.

"We think it's a very important event for the city," Kenney told reporters at City Hall. "We think it's important for our profile, for our tourism and we want to make it work."

Earlier, he said in a statement that the event belonged in Philadelphia — "the birthplace of our country" — and he was "optimistic that we can turn an unfortunate misunderstanding into a positive outcome and even stronger event."

The city had said last week the annual festival would need to move to a new location starting in 2019, citing how long it takes to set up and knock down the two-day festival.

"It was overload with the folks out there, because we had the NFL draft, we have the Fourth of July thing, we have Made in America and there are events out there — there's runs out there all the time —and those people just get a little fatigued. But we'll figure out how to address those problems," Kenney said.

Jay-Z, whose hits include "Run This Town," had accused the mayor of showing "zero appreciation" for what the festival had done for Philadelphia.

Made in America draws up to 50,000 people annually to the parkway, a heavily visited expanse of museums, monuments, fountains and the famed "Rocky" steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Amid the controversy, Milwaukee officials extended an invitation to Jay-Z to bring the festival there.

Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill and Post Malone are set to perform this year in Philadelphia.

"We are happy to announce the Made in America festival will continue at the heart of the Philadelphia, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for many years to come," Desiree Perez, chief operating officer of Roc Nation, said in a joint statement with the mayor.

  • Friday, Jul. 20, 2018
Rapper Common goes back to school to help teachers
In this Feb. 5, 2018 file photo, Common arrives at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

Rapper Common has won three Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award but a recent visit to a New York City school was "humbling" — mainly because many of the students were too young to know his music.

The award-winner showed up at P.S. 111 in midtown Manhattan on Thursday as an ambassador for the Adopt-A-Classroom initiative. He made the surprise appearance with his mother, Dr. Mahalia Hines, to present the school with a $10,000 check.

While Common has a diverse fan base, it probably doesn't include many fourth and fifth graders. He joked about their reaction when he was introduced.

"The kids they were looking like, 'Who is this dude? We don't know him.' But I'm still just here to connect with children, and connect with the people and our teachers. So, I felt that it was more fun. It is humbling, but it is fun to try and get them to pay attention," Common said.

According to Adopt-A-Classroom, 96 percent of teachers nationwide bear the cost each year to equip their classrooms with the basic materials students need to learn. The organization estimates that teachers spend more than $700 out of their own pocket each year. The program provides funds for teachers to purchase school supplies.

After addressing the students in the school's gymnasium, Common went upstairs to visit a classroom. He shared his love of writing, and even recited the lyrics to his acclaimed hit, "Black America Again."

"When I saw the kids I really was just trying to let them know we were here because we care and that we value them and that they have the world at their hands," he said.

For the second year in a row, Adopt-A-Classroom has partnered with Burlington Stores. Shoppers can make donations to the organization at store checkout through Aug. 18.

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Carlos Cuaron