Author Archives: Christopher Simon

Victoria Monet is ready to celebrate her Blackness at the 2020 Soul Train Awards

BET/Soul Train2020 has been an exciting year for singer-songwriter Victoria Monet. After releasing her Jaguar EP earlier this year, she landed three nominations at the 2020 Soul Train Awards, including one for Best New Artist. 

This marks her first artist nomination for Monet’s “70s-inspired” music, which she says makes the Soul Train Awards feel like a good fit. 

“There’s a parallel between this and in my music, it means a lot for me to be even considered within the space,” she tells ABC Audio. “I’m excited to see so many performances. I’m excited just to just be entertained by this culture. So I really can’t wait.”

Ahead of Sunday night’s show, Monet says she’s ready to celebrate her Blackness in front of everyone.

“I’m excited for this, I’m excited for people to see and celebrate Black music, [to] give people their flowers while they’re here, and create a positive environment for people when it’s been such a negative year,” she said.

Monet hopes this year’s virtual event will offer viewers a “form of escapism” and show the world the beauty and Blackness in music and entertainment. 

“I feel like everywhere else in the world, we are told through actions or through words that Black is not beautiful, Black is subpar, Black is this, Black is that,” she continues. “I feel like a sure place that you can find that we are superior and amazing is music and entertainment. It’s important for us to celebrate each other in front of everyone else because I think this is a place that we would come to to see that.” (AUDIO IS ABC 1-ON-1)

Tune into the 2020 Soul Train Awards, hosted by Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell, Sunday, November 29 at 8 p.m. EST on BET, BET Her, VH1, and MTV2.

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn explains why her ‘Lovers Rock’ character “brought me back to my roots, to my culture, to who I am”

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFINewcomer Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn is bringing plenty of ’80s nostalgia and reggae music with her feature debut Lovers Rock from Steve McQueen‘s anthology film series Small Axe.

St. Aubyn tells ABC Audio that working with the Oscar winner for her first major project was a nerve-wracking but welcoming experience.

“Working with someone like Steve, who was so open, so trusting, it allowed me to learn to trust myself, to know that I am worthy of being in the room with him because he made me feel worthy of being in the room with him,” she says. “He’s so open with his artists, with his actors.”

In the film, St. Aubyn plays Martha, a young woman who attends a reggae house party and falls for a young gentleman who becomes her dance partner. The actress says she didn’t have to look far to find inspiration for her authentic character. 

“For Martha, it was a lot of speaking to my mom,” she reveals. “Because I believe it’s my mom’s truth as well as it’s going to relate to so many in that aspect.”

“My mom came here from Jamaica when she was nine,” she explains. “So it’s very close to home for me.”

While the familial connection was an incentive for St. Aubyn to take on the coveted role, the actress also notes that it was sort of a relief to do something different after spending “so much time doing Shakespeare and Chekhov and things like that.”

“So what a beautiful transition,” she adds. “I mean, this brought me back to my roots, to my culture, to who I am.” 

Lovers Rock is available on Friday on Amazon Prime.

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Deborah Cox shares how she spent her Canadian Thanksgiving

Ivan GuajardoDeborah Cox may have already celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada last month, but she says she used the opportunity to show off her newly-learned cooking skills. 

She tells ABC Audio, “There’s an art to all of this, which is also very therapeutic…to just put the right amount of seasonings. There’s something very therapeutic about cooking and very artsy as well, and I love it.”

The Canadian singer mentioned she’s been “exploring the culinary world” over the last few months, and indulging in different dishes, catered towards her family’s Caribbean background. But she says cooking definitely comes with “a learning curve.”

“I don’t cook a lot but I’ve been cooking a lot lately about two to three meals a day, which is unheard of,” Cox jokes. “But I’ve been getting very experimental with a lot of things. So it’s been kind of fun.” 

Cooking is one of the many skills Cox picked up during the last few months of the pandemic, along with her growing green thumb. 

“The gardening thing has been really fun. I’ve learned so much about myself and how impatient I am,” says Cox, who recently started growing fresh produce and vegetables in her home garden.

Overall, she says she’s grateful for this pandemic “pause,” which has allowed her to reconnect and spend more time with her family. 

“I’m thankful for the pause and finding other ways to stay interested,’ she adds. “I’m finding other ways to stay connected and finding other ways to do things with my family.” 

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Body-ody-ody: Megan Thee Stallion greenlights the “Body” dance challenge

Huxley WorldGood News, folks! Megan Thee Stallion‘s new single “Body” is the hottest new dance challenge taking over social media. 

After the hugely successful “WAP” collaboration with Cardi B, Megan brought us another track to dance too. 

The “Body” song and video celebrates body positivity and embraces all women’s body types — “crazy, curvy, wavy,” even “big [chest], lil waist.”

“The category is body/Look at the way it’s sitting,” Megan raps. “That ratio so out of control, that waist, that, them [chest]/If I were me and I woulda seen myself/I would have bought me a drink, took me home.”

The dance was choreographed by Megan’s creative director Jaquel Knight and looks a lot easier than the “WAP.” But nevertheless, fans are enjoying learning the new dance and using the #BodyOdyChallenge hashtag.

“Body” follows Megan’s previously released singles, including “Don’t Stop” featuring Young Thug as well as her Grammy nominated remix of “Savage” with Beyoncé from her debut album, Good News. The 17-track effort features collaborations with her frequent collaborator DaBaby, SZA, City Girls, Lil Durk, Popcaan, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and production from Lil Ju Made It and Juicy J.

(Video contains uncensored profanity.)

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Obama gives Drake his “stamp of approval” to play him in a biopic

ABCFormer President Barack Obama has given Drake his blessing to play him in a perspective biopic.

In an interview with Complex, Obama called Drake “talented” enough to “do anything he wants,” including playing him in a film.

“I mean, that is a talented brother. If the time comes, and he’s ready…Drake has, more importantly, my household’s stamp of approval,” Obama said, adding, “I suspect Malia and Sasha would be just fine with it.”

Obama’s co-sign comes after Drake has previously said that he “hopes somebody makes a movie about Obama’s life soon” so he “could play him.”

“That’s the goal. I watch all the addresses. Any time I see him on TV, I don’t change the channel,” Drake told Paper in 2010. “I definitely pay attention and listen to the inflections of his voice. If you ask anyone who knows me, I’m pretty good at impressions.”

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fantasia announces her first pregnancy with husband Kendall Taylor: “I can’t wait to see who he or she acts like”

David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

American Idol alumni Fantasia Barrino is expecting her first child with her husband Kendall Taylor.

On Wednesday, the “When I See You” singer shared the exciting news on Instagram.  

“God, I want to thank you! You gave us a seed even when the doctor said that one of my tubes were closed, you said different,” Fantasia wrote. “@Salute1st I love you king and I can’t wait to see who he or she acts like.”

This will be Fantasia’s third child but her first with her husband of five years. Fantasia and Taylor revealed they experienced fertility issues during an Instagram Live for their show, Taylor Talks, Tuesday night. 

“Only God can do it,” says Taylor in the video captured by The Shade Room. 

Playing in the background was Fantasia’s 2004 single, “Baby Mama,” which was written as a nod to her now-18-year-old daughter, Zion.

Fantasia said she “tried to hide it for as long” as she could but her baby bump seems to be growing a lot faster than it did during her pregnancy with her soon-to-be nine year old son, Dallas.

Taylor said several meetings with doctors about in-vitro fertilization and other pregnancy options, they decided to let the universe work its natural magic. 

“I promise just keep waiting on God,” added Fantasia. 

Congratulations to the happy couple on their new bundle of joy!

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Lifetime announces premiere dates for Salt-N-Pepa, Wendy Williams and Whitney Houston documentaries

Photo by Florian SchneiderLifetime has set the dates for three new documentaries centered on some of the most notable women in pop culture history: Salt-N-Pepa, Wendy Williams and Whitney Houston.

The network has announced they will premiere Salt-N-Pepa, a three-hour original film focused on the lives of the female hip-hop duo, on Saturday, January 23 at 8:00 pm ET. The biopic will be followed by the documentary Salt-N-Pepa Interview Special, hosted by The Real‘s Loni Love, at 11 p.m., which will include an exclusive interview with Salt-N-Pepa.

Up next will be Wendy Williams: The Movie, which is the first biopic centered on the outspoken television host. It will premiere on Saturday, January 30 at 8 pm ET and be followed by the documentary The Wendy Williams Story…What a Mess!, featuring a candid interview with Wendy beginning at 10 pm.

Last, Lifetime will premiere their new documentary, Whitney & Bobbi, that documents the life and untimely deaths of pop legend Whitney Houston and her daughter, Bobbi Kristina. That film will air on Saturday, February 6 at 10 pm ET.

By Candice Williams
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Nicki Minaj and fans on social media call out the Recording Academy for Grammy snubs

Chris McKay/Getty ImagesThe Recording Academy is often criticized for undervaluing the influence of some artists and their impact on the music industry — and Tuesday’s announcement of the 2021 Grammy nominees was no different.  

The announcement brought up a past Grammy issue for Nicki Minaj, who lost Best New Artist to folk group Bon Iver in 2012. 

“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had seven songs simultaneously charting on Billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation,” she tweeted. “They gave it to the white man Bon Iver. #PinkFriday.”

Minaj wasn’t nominated this year in any category and has yet to win a Grammy, though she’s logged 10 career nominations, including Best Rap Album for her 2010 debut, Pink Friday.

Some fans also took issue with the fact that neither Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch were nominated for Best Rap Album.  “Bruh who does these Grammy Nominations ain’t no way Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch should be left off Rap Album of the Year,” tweeted one.

Lil Baby was the first artist to go double platinum in 2020 after releasing a deluxe edition of his album, My Turn. With no deluxe version, Roddy’s debut album, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, hit double platinum status earlier this month.  

Fans also expressed their disappointment about rapper Wale being snubbed for a nomination, despite releasing two albums in the last year, and his single “On Chill” going double platinum.

One fan wrote: “The Grammys are ridiculous. @Wale had a bomb album NO FREAKING WAY the Grammy people actually care for music. He dropped Wow that’s crazy and The Imperfect Storm PLUS features! AND NO NOMINATION???”

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Today marks six months since George Floyd’s death

KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty ImagesWednesday marks six months since George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Floyd died May 25 at age 46 during his arrest for allegedly attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby grocery store.  Floyd was handcuffed and lay face-down on the street, during which time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes  even as Floyd protested repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe.  

Chauvin and three other officers involved were fired the day after Floyd’s death.  Chauvin was arrested May 29 and ultimately charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.  The three other former officers who were at the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Floyd’s death sparked global outrage and protests across the world.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mariah Carey reflects on singing “When You Believe” with Whitney Houston

ABC/Image Group LAMariah Carey is dispelling the rumors once and for all concerning her supposed rivalry with the late Whitney Houston.

Speaking to supermodel Naomi Campbell Tuesday on No Filter, the “Fantasy” singer touched upon the time she and Houston lent their voices to The Prince of Egypt soundtrack.  Their duet, “When You Believe,” went on to win the 1999 Academy Award for Best Song.

22 years after hitting the recording studio together, Carey happily discussed just how well she got on with the “Greatest Love of All” singer.

“She and I had the best time,” she attested. “People didn’t expect us to get along.”

The 50-year-old singer says those who thought the two personalities would clash “didn’t know me.”

Continued Mariah, “Anyone who knew us both was like, ‘Oh they’re gonna totally get along,'” which is exactly what happened.

“I really appreciate her giving her spirit and her giving of herself with me because she didn’t have to be like that,” The multi-Grammy Award winner shared. “She was there before me and I totally get who she was and what she meant to this world.”

Carey went onto reveal the last time she and Houston saw each other, which was at a party thrown by Prince Azim of Brunei.

In the singer’s memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, which came out in September, Carey claims that “everybody wanted to pit us against each other in some ‘battle of the divas.'”

Calling the tactic a “tired but pervasive pathology in music and Hollywood that makes women compete for sales like emotional UFC fighters,” the singer clarified that the two “developed a real fondness for each other.”

“I’ll always cherish the memory of that time and of all that she left behind,” she added, calling their time together “pure fun.”

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.