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PRESS ROOM: Twenty Marching Bands Selected To Join 2020 Rose Parade®

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — The Pasadena Tournament of Roses® has selected 20 of the marching bands that will participate in the 131st Rose Parade presented by Honda.

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Courtesy Photo

By Sentinel News Service

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses® has selected 20 of the marching bands that will participate in the 131st Rose Parade presented by Honda, themed “The Power of Hope.” The bands will travel to Pasadena from across the United States, from Puerto Rico to Hawaii, and around the world, including Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Japan, and Mexico.

Thousands of performers will enjoy the experience of a lifetime when they march down Colorado Blvd. on January 1, 2020, each with their own unique story. Visit https://tournamentofroses.com/events/about-rose-parade/#participants to discover more about each band.

The bands selected are listed below, alphabetically.

Alhambra Unified School District Marching Band Alhambra, California
Baldwinsville Marching Bees Baldwinsville, New York
Banda El Salvador: Grande Como Su Gente El Salvador
Banda Municipal de Zarcero Alajuela, Costa Rica
Centro Escolar Niños Heroes De Chapultepec Puebla, Mexico
Centenaria Banda Colegial – University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Dobyns-Bennett High School Kingsport, Tennessee
Greendale High School Marching Band Greendale, Wisconsin
Helsingør Pigegarde Hornbaek, Denmark
Japan Honor Green Band Kyoto, Japan
Kamehameha Performing Arts Ensemble Honolulu, Hawaii
Los Angeles Unified School District All District Honor Band Los Angeles, California
The PRIDE of Owasso Owasso, Oklahoma
The Pride of Pearland Marching Band Pearland, Texas
Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band Pasadena, California
Rancho Verde Crimson Regiment Moreno Valley, California
Southern University “Human Jukebox’ Marching Band Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Tournament of Roses Salvation Army Band Pasadena, California
United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band San Diego, California
West Harrison Hurricane Band, The Pride of South Mississippi Gulfport, Mississippi

Bands are selected by volunteer members of the Tournament of Roses based on a variety of criteria including musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value. In addition to marching in the five-and-a-half-mile Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, bands also perform in one of three Bandfest events scheduled for December 29 and 30, 2019 at Pasadena City College. There are two bands that will be added to the line-up when the universities participating in the 106th Rose Bowl Game® presented by Northwestern Mutual are determined in December.

Bands who would like to participate in the 2021 Rose Parade are encouraged to apply through an online application, available now on the Tournament of Roses website; https://tournamentofroses.com/events/apply/.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel

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‘The Last Word’ Album from the O’Jays Has Multiple Meanings

WASHINGTON INFORMER —According to Eddie Levert Sr., co-founder of the legendary O’Jays, that’s the truth. In a recent interview, he talked about how “The Last Word,” the final studio album from the platinum-selling group, serves as a platform to speak out on several issues. The lyrics tackle the current administration, the political climate, police-community relations, the state of our neighborhoods and the future of young folks.

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From left: Walter Williams Sr., Eric Nolan Grant and Eddie Levert Sr. (Courtesy of 21 Century Artists)
From left: Walter Williams Sr., Eric Nolan Grant and Eddie Levert Sr. (Courtesy of 21 Century Artists)

Eddie Levert Talks Next Phase for Popular R&B Group

By Brenda C. Siler

Say it isn’t so! Is this really the last album and the last tour for the top-selling O’Jays?

According to Eddie Levert Sr., co-founder of the legendary O’Jays, that’s the truth. In a recent interview, he talked about how “The Last Word,” the final studio album from the platinum-selling group, serves as a platform to speak out on several issues. The lyrics tackle the current administration, the political climate, police-community relations, the state of our neighborhoods and the future of young folks.

“A lot of these things lead to division,” Levert said during the interview. “Division is gonna lead to war, death and fighting. That’s where we are heading.”

From the album’s track list, you get a sense of messages the legendary R&B group attempts to deliver. “Do You Really Know How I Feel,” “Above The Law,” “I Got You” and “Stand Up” give thought-provoking direction to listeners for deeply exploring what’s going on in our lives. The track “Pressure” looks at the types of pressure individuals deal with daily.

“Pressure comes in different forms and from different places,” Levert said. “There is always that pressure to be a better person. There’s pressure you put on yourself to better understand other people’s side. That’s what we are really talking about.”

Still, it was a surprise to hear Levert say that their current tour is the last one for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. D.C., has always been a great market for the O’Jays and fans always count on the group to make a stop a year in the District. For them to stop touring is hard to imagine.

“I’m 77 years old,” Levert said, loud and clear with a chuckle. “How many times can I keep bending my back? How many times can I fall my knees? How many times can I run across a stage?”

Levert is grateful for more than 50 years of great recording and performance success with O’Jays. With fellow O’Jays members Walter Williams Sr. and Eric Nolan Grant, audiences still look forward to singing along on the group’s classic hits. But the guys have individual projects they want to pursue.

Levert confessed his love of many genres of music like opera and has incorporated many operatic styles in the way he sings. He wants to try some solo gigs.

“I’ve been loyal to the O’Jays. That’s been my mainstay around which I have based my whole career,” Levert said. “Now I have this desire I need to fulfill. I just have to see.”

When the group comes to the Warner Theatre on Aug. 16, audiences will hear the new music, but the classics will still be on the bill. In fact, on “The Last Word” album, the O’Jays perform a new version of their hit “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today).” Think of it as an “unplugged” rendition of that love song. Listeners will hear that the O’Jays have voices that are just as strong and pure as on their very first recordings in the early 1960s.

“We’ve always wanted to do a concert in a big theater in an ‘unplugged’ style with just a guitar or a piano and sing the big songs like ‘Backstabbers,’” Levert said. “That lets everybody see what we put into these songs and that it is really us singing.”

This final O’Jays album and tour will definitely take fans on a journey. The new music is advocating that, together, we can make a difference.

“I’m not just after the Trump administration, I’m after all of society,” Levert said. “I’m after all of the people that can be doing and should be doing something. Do it because you want to help mankind.”

The O’Jays will perform Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. at the Warner Theatre.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Afro

Celebrities Play Kickball Game For Mental Health Awareness

THE AFRO — Leigh Bodden promised the Black team would win, but Santana Moss wasn’t having any of it. Moss delivered a three-run kickball home run in the bottom of the first inning, which proved to be the difference in the game as the white team won the inaugural Barry’s Game at Bowie Baysox Stadium.

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Leigh Bodden’s LBFoundation.org and Lauryn’s Law teamed up at the Bowie Baysox Stadium for baseball and celebrity kickball games in honor of mental health and suicide awareness. (Courtesy Photo)
Leigh Bodden’s LBFoundation.org and Lauryn’s Law teamed up at the Bowie Baysox Stadium for baseball and celebrity kickball games in honor of mental health and suicide awareness. (Courtesy Photo)
By Mark F. Gray

Leigh Bodden promised the Black team would win, but Santana Moss wasn’t having any of it. Moss delivered a three-run kickball home run in the bottom of the first inning, which proved to be the difference in the game as the white team won the inaugural Barry’s Game at Bowie Baysox Stadium.

“We’re keeping our mouth shut and will let our play do the talking,” Moss said. “We’ll see what happens at the end of the game.”

On a day where there were no losers, Bodden’s LBFoundation.org brought together local celebrities and former pro athletes by galvanizing the community to begin learning more about a silent killer amongst minorities.  However, thanks to Moss’s heroics the white team withstood a late inning comeback attempt to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

Despite the game, mental health awareness and suicide prevention were the focus of the Baltimore Orioles class AA affiliate Bowie Baysox in conjunction with Bodden’s Foundation and Lauryn’s Law. The charity organizations collaborated to play the game in honor of two people who tragically lost their lives due to their undiagnosed mental health issues.

Linda Diaz and Bodden carry the pain of their respective losses daily, as both carry memories of loved ones who took their lives.  Diaz, who shared the day with her granddaughter, started the push for Lauryn’s Law after her daughter took her life after battling the effects of bullying that led to undiagnosed depression.  Her efforts led to a state law requiring in school counseling and intervention for students who are displaying those symptoms.

Bodden’s friend Barry, who also took his life, is to whom the game was dedicated.  Before the first “pitch” it was clear this was more than a celebrity good time. In addition to the passion for the competition there was a palpable sense of commitment to the cause that was conveyed by Bodden himself, as he addressed the fans who stayed and watched with an emotional appreciation to those in attendance.

“There is not a day that doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him,” Bodden said with his voice cracking as he tried to hold back tears. “Hopefully, you’ve been able to speak with the representatives of the organizations that can help you be there for someone who may not realize the help they need and you can be there to support them.”

The crowd who attended the baseball game was able to attend the kickball game afterward for the price of the game ticket.  During the game itself, various mental health organizations were stationed throughout the concourse distributing information and sharing basic knowledge about the warning signs of what could lead to suicidal behavior.

“It’s so important to have an opportunity to share this kind of information with the public,” Diaz said.  “When someone like Leigh adds his name too and genuinely cares because he knows the pain that friends and families go through, it only helps create greater awareness in the community.”

Approximately 1,000 fans stayed after the Baysox Eastern League 10-4 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs for the kickball game. During the long afternoon, they also had an opportunity to receive information from a series of mental health organizations who lined the concourse with a message of intervention and therapy. The celebrities who attended also recognize the role they play in pushing the message.

“It’s something that we can now have open conversations when we’re on the air,” said Sunni [in the City] from WPGC-FM. “Artists like Wale use their twitter accounts to talk about his therapist all the time. It’s a disease that’s out of the closet right now and people are beginning to realize they don’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about mental health issues anymore.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Tiffany Irving’s Soaps Make Bathing Beautiful

OAKLAND POST — Tiffany Irving is returning to the Black-Eyed Pea Festival with her ‘luxurious’ handmade, soaps, body butters and other, as she says, ‘bath enjoyment products.’ Irving, who has been making skin care products for three years, says she draws inspiration “by many… people in life, people not necessarily part of the body care industry.

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Tiffany's Soap Kitchen (Photo by: tiffanyssoapkitchen.bigcartel.com)
Tiffany's Soap Kitchen (Photo by: tiffanyssoapkitchen.bigcartel.com)

By The Oakland Post

Tiffany Irving is returning to the Black-Eyed Pea Festival with her ‘luxurious’ handmade, soaps, body butters and other, as she says, ‘bath enjoyment products.’

Tiffany Irving (Courtesy Photo)

Tiffany Irving (Courtesy Photo)

Irving, who has been making skin care products for three years, says she draws inspiration “by many… people in life, people not necessarily part of the body care industry.

“I am inspired, in this context, by the person that loves to bathe. My goal is to create products that make the person look forward to their next bath or shower,” she said.

Irving makes vegan products with organic butters and essential oils, eschewing palm oil and synthetics.

She got started because she fell in love with natural skin care products and decided she would learn to make them herself.

Among them are soaps that look like slices of dessert but are scented with lemongrass and gardenia or infused with turmeric. One body butter has a ‘lemon meringue pie’ scent, while sugar scrubs are scented with lemongrass or lemon and peppermint.

Two of Irving’s products – “Wake Your Butta Up” and “Calm Your Butta Down” — may be mass produced.

Irving sells her products at the Freedom Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 p.m at 3615 Market St. in Oakland or at Tiffanyssoapkitchen.bigcartel.com.

The Black-Eyed Pea Festival is a celebration of African-American food music and art.

It will take place on Sat. Sept. 14, 11:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m at Oakland Technical High School, 4351 Broadway in Oakland.

This article originally appeared in the Oakland Post

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The 5th Annual Black Alumni Ball is back in the Nation’s Capital Striving to Advance, Unify and Uplift in the name of Black Excellence

WASHINGTON INFORMER — In its fifth year, the Black Alumni Ball is gearing up to be an impactful evening of celebration with nearly 2,000 Black Alumni on August 10, 2019. The ball will be held from 8 PM-2 AM at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. It will be hosted by The Massive Host, King Flexxa, with the soundtrack being provided by Nate Hopp and Jerome Baker III and LIVE entertainment will be delivered by Johnny Graham & the Groove. In addition, the VIP reception will be sponsored by Hennessy.

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Black Alumni Ball (Photo by: washingtoninformer.com)

By Cherrelle Swain

Washington, DC – August 9, 2019 – In its fifth year, the Black Alumni Ball is gearing up to be an impactful evening of celebration with nearly 2,000 Black Alumni on August 10, 2019. The ball will be held from 8 PM-2 AM at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. It will be hosted by The Massive Host, King Flexxa, with the soundtrack being provided by Nate Hopp and Jerome Baker III and LIVE entertainment will be delivered by Johnny Graham & the Groove. In addition, the VIP reception will be sponsored by Hennessy.

In 2018, the Black Alumni Ball team debuted the Inaugural class of their Influencer program with 15 dynamic individuals who are shining examples of being a game-changer, an individual who is shifting the culture and being an example of excellence. In 2019, the class will grow with the addition of 17 individuals being inducted.

They are as follows: Christian Brown (Howard University Alumna, Owner of Rise Enterprises LLC), Christian Howard (Clark Atlanta University Alumna, Psychotherapist Consultant), Jessica T. Ornsby, Esq (Georgetown University Law Center, Founder of A+O Law Group), Marcus Goodwin (The University of Pennsylvania Alumnus, Founder of The CEO Program), Charles Gussom (University of District of Columbia Alumnus, Community Development Manager, Martha’s Table), Byron Westbrook (Salisbury University Alumnus, Former NFL Player, Head Coach, and Podcaster), Lilybelle Davis (University of Maryland/Columbia Law School Alumna, Corporate Law Attorney), Carrington D. Barbour (Palomar College Alumnus, CEO, JustCarrington), Deanna Collins (Morgan State University Alumna, Founder, The Pretty Girls Guide), Shanae McFadden (Delaware State University Alumna, Blogger, Owner of Sensational Statements, and Podcaster), Dr. Amber Robins (Xavier University of Louisiana Alumna, Board Certified Family Medicine Doctor), Sydney Mikel Pearsall (Delaware State University Alumna, Owner, Part & Parcel, and Podcaster), Chauntay Mickens (University of Connecticut Alumna, Co-Founder and President of Lunchbag Social), Shelly Bell (North Carolina A&T State University Alumna, Founder, Black Girl Ventures), Rontel Batie (Florida A&M Alumnus, Lobbyist), Anwaa Kong (Morgan State University Alumnus, Founder, MVEMENT App & Serial Entrepreneur) and Matt Aaron (Howard University Alumnus, Founder, Aaron Financial)

Collectively, the Black Alumni Ball team states, “We can’t believe we are in our 5th year of the Ball. We are so grateful to have the unwavering support within the Black Alumni community, and we are looking forward to continuing to celebrate Black Excellence! It is our goal to create a dialogue on the importance of uplighting one another and wanting to unify as a unit to help one another advance in the future.

The Black Alumni Ball is an annual event whose mission is to bring black alumni from all universities throughout the nation, including both PWI’s (Predominantly White Institutions) and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), for a night of sophistication, style, and fun. In addition to a magical evening, a portion of all proceeds will be provided to a Non-Profit Organization in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area from the Black Alumni Ball Scholarship Fund.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Debra Lee Named to AT&T Board of Directors

WASHINGTON INFORMER — Former BET Networks Chair and CEO Debra Lee has been named to the AT&T board of directors. Lee, who worked for more than 30 years at BET Networks, was previously named to both Billboard’s Power 100 list and The Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Women in Entertainment. She was appointed in 2011 to the White House Management Advisory Board by President Barack Obama and currently serves on the boards of Marriott and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

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Debra Lee (Photo by: Wikimedia Commons | Fortune Live Media)

By WI Web Staff

Former BET Networks Chair and CEO Debra Lee has been named to the AT&T board of directors.

Lee, who worked for more than 30 years at BET Networks, was previously named to both Billboard’s Power 100 list and The Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Women in Entertainment. She was appointed in 2011 to the White House Management Advisory Board by President Barack Obama and currently serves on the boards of Marriott and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

“Debra’s outstanding leadership, deep expertise and strong track record in the entertainment and media industry will be terrific additions to our board of directors,” said AT&T Chair and CEO Randall Stephenson. “Her unique perspective as a media industry leader and operations executive, and her lifetime commitment to community service give her valuable insights I look forward to having on our board.”

Lee worked at BET, beginning as its first in-house counsel in 1986 and eventually ascending to chair and CEO, a role she held from 2006 to her retirement last year.

Under her leadership, the network launched such hit series as “Being Mary Jane,” “Black Girls Rock!” and “The New Edition Story,” and as well as the BET Awards and BET Honors ceremonies.

This post originally appeared in The Washington Informer.

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Rouge Park will host Quicken Loans’ inaugural ‘Detroit Out Loud’ festival

MICHIGAN CHRONICLE — When is the last time a festival within Detroit city limits occurred outside of downtown and midtown? The Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Quicken Loans, is bringing its ‘Detroit Out Loud’ free one-day festival to Rouge Park on the city’s west side July 20. The inaugural festival will celebrate Detroit, its neighborhoods, and its communities, in an environment that is family-friendly.

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River Rouge Park (Photo by: michiganchronicle.com)

When is the last time a festival within Detroit city limits occurred outside of downtown and midtown?

The Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Quicken Loans, is bringing its ‘Detroit Out Loud’ free one-day festival to Rouge Park on the city’s west side July 20. The inaugural festival will celebrate Detroit, its neighborhoods, and its communities, in an environment that is family-friendly.

“We really wanted to do something that showed our love for Detroit, its neighborhoods, and its residents,” said Jasmin DeForrest, Director of Community Sponsorships for the Quicken Loans Community Fund. “We have been working on this for a year and we wanted to do something in the neighborhood that honors Detroit, its energy, and the sense of pride it has.”

“We did an extensive search, looking at parks on the east and west side, and Rouge Park seemed to have the best footprint for us. There are so many great areas that can be activated there and the City of Detroit and the communities surrounding Rouge Park made it a win-win situation for us.”

Detroit Out Loud will have activities for all ages, including pony rides from Buffalo Soldiers Detroit, archery by Elite Archery Academy, and camping at the Sierra Club’s Detroit Outdoors at Rouge Park – the city’s largest park and its only active campground. Food trucks will also be available with Detroit-centric cuisine and additional food and drink options will be available for purchase throughout the site, including the Lobster Food Truck, Jackson’s Five Star Motown Bistro, Good Cakes and Bakes, Lush Yummies Pie Company, and Milk and Froth.

Other activities and activations include a 90’s airbrush photo station, arts and crafts, hula hoops, giant games, StockX sneaker origami station, and a free yoga class led by Citizen Yoga.

KC and DJ Dinero of 105.1 The Bounce will perform at the festival, as well as numerous other local and nationally-acclaimed performers, including SWV, Flint Eastwood, and Larry Lee and the Back in the Day Band.

For those that like to dance, a number of Detroit dance styles will be showcased, including traditional dances in Mexican culture with Ballet Folklorico De Detroit, Hustle lessons with Reveal Detroit, and the city’s signature dance, JIT, with Nick Speed and Hardcore Detroit. There will also be an African Dance and Drum Performance by P.A.T.H African Drum and Dance Collective.

“JIT is our dance, that’s what we do, and we put that on the map,” said DeForrest, who is from Detroit’s west side. “I’m really excited about that portion of the festival and I think Detroiters will be as well.”

Detroit Out Loud will also be the site of the sixth and final mural in the Quicken Loans Community Fund’s third annual Small Business Murals Project. This partnership with 1xRun connects local artists and small business owners who collaborate to create six murals annually throughout Detroit. More than just paintings, the murals created through the Small Business Murals Project both beautify the city and attract attention for the city’s small business community. Internationally renowned artist and Detroit native Sheefy McFly was commissioned to paint the final mural.

“It’s a dope event and I like the curators,” said Sheefy McFly, who has painted murals all over the City of Detroit. “I’m planning on doing a Detroit-themed mural similar to my “Detroit Never Left” mural, highlighting the things that we love in Detroit.”

Neighbor to Neighbor is a program organized by Quicken Loans to fight tax foreclosure through the city, and educates local homeowners in danger of losing their home to tax foreclosure by providing resources, knowledge, and workshops about property tax exemptions. A booth will be on-site to educate Detroit residents about the program.

Rouge Park is Detroit’s largest maintained green space at 1,181 acres and is larger than Belle Isle, Hart Plaza, Campus Martius, Grand Circus and Capitol Park combined. In the 1920s, the City of Detroit paid $1.3 million to purchase land from six farmers at the western edge of the city. Rouge Park now has more than a dozen amenities that are completely unique to Detroit, yet many of the facilities in Rouge Park are underutilized and are in need of funding. At the end of Detroit Out Loud, the Quicken Loans Community Fund will make an investment to Rouge Park to assist in making it enjoyable for the community in serves.

“We are grateful to the Quicken Loans Community Fund for bringing this celebration of Detroit to Rouge Park,” said Sally Petrella, President of Friends of Rouge Park, an organization of stakeholders who advocate for, and promote, programming and future development of the park. “Detroit Out Loud will showcase Rouge Park to the rest of the city, and attendees will see why Detroit’s largest park is also one of its greatest and most historic.”

This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle.

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