A Message for Chris Brown [VIDEO]

I sure hope Chris Brown sees this video from Jay Smooth.  I don’t want him to just hear about it from his management or a fan or a friend.  You see, I think Chris Brown is very talented, as a matter of fact, he’s multi-talented. I also think he’s headed down the wrong path or will not reach the pinnacle of his potential success without better career guidance. Now, if he is being better advice but just not following it, then that’s another story.

Chris Brown BETA2011 
Chris Brown shows off BET Awards

Brown was given the all-clear, we forgive you welcome at the 2011 BET Awards Show with his multiple award wins, especially that Fan Favorite award during one of the weirdest presentations I’ve ever witnessed.

What was most disappointing and telling about Chris Brown was his attire to the BET Awards. Now, don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t the only one to have committed a flagrant fashion foul but if he is to be truly forgiven for physically assaulting Rihanna, his career move should be less bad boy roughneck and more smooth operator.  Instead, rather than being perceived as fashion forward, trandsetting or classy, he just came across as disrespectful like many of the other performers.  I’m just  saying.

Well said, Jay Smooth!




Join the Vogue Africa Movement

Check out this re-post from K. Melanie Unfurled. The photos are awesome! Oh, yeah, K. Mel is a friend, follow her blog! Enjoy, Vanessa!

Vogue Africa Movement


My loyal readers will remember my post two or so years ago about Vogue Italia's "All Black" issue. Well we're taking it a step further. Home to the Motherland.

Vogue Africa.

All I can say is that it's about time! I can just image how beautiful the editorials would be. Take a look at the mock covers below. I’m salivating as I type..

Mock covers commissioned by Paris based makeup artist and photographer Mario Epanya.

Epanya comments, “ women in Western magazines didn’t correspond to African beauty. Women in Western magazines frequently had light skin, fine features, and long hair. Today I think black women want to re-appropriate their image and don’t want others to dictate what is beautiful and what isn’t. Beauty is diverse and today we aspire to more diversity of choice. So when I got the idea to create the covers, I said, why not?”

As you may or may not know, the international Vogue catalog includes Vogue Nippon, Vogue India, Vogue Australia, but no Vogue AFRICA.

How do we get the movement started? I WANT VOGUE AFRICA! Who’s with me??

Join the Movement!
Follow Mario Epanya on TWITTER and join the Vogue Africa FACEBOOK group.

Is the Ebony Fashion Fair Calling It Quits?

The unbelievable but probably not unexpected news of the Johnson Publishing company Ebony Fashion Fair going on "hiatus" for the rest of its 2009 was quite shocking to me and a few of my friends. After 51 years, the historic traveling fashion show may be ending. Reason: the economy.

I've enjoyed the shows for thirty years. It was a mainstay during my college years at Florida A&M and is a fundraising event for my sorority at home.

Supposedly, the show will be re-worked, restructured and back for the 2010 season. Many civic organizations depend on proceeds from Ebony Fashion Fair to fund their philanthropic initiatives. The loss of the Fashion Fair is much more than just the loss of a fashion show.

Let's hope the Johnson Publishing Company folks will devise a business model that will be a win-win for all.

Esquire Magazine's Best Dressed Real Man 2008: Kenyatte Nelson

Kenyatte Nelson on far left

Esquire Magazine announced the winner of its 2008 Best Dressed Real Man contest on yesterday's Today Show. Contestants submitted photos in their finest fashions and a fashion mission statement.

Fellow Florida A&M University alum, Kenyatte Nelson, was named the winner. His prize package, worth $40,000, included: an IWC watch; a round-trip flight on a Bombardier Lear Jet; a VIP trip to Switzerland; a trip to NYC for the September issue Style shoot; and a $10,000 Esquire wardrobe.

Excerpted  from

Kenyatte Nelson, 31, brand manager, Cincinnati

Models himself after: His dad. "He said that if you're a book and your clothes are the cover, you should dress like a New York Times best seller." 

Corduroy blazer by Kenneth Cole; shirt by Calvin Klein; bow tie by Roundtree & Yorke; pocket square by Saks Fifth Avenue; jeans by H&M; hat by Batsakes Hat Shop. Sweater and boots are vintage.

Mission statement:
"My fashion philosophy is similar to my philosophy on life: Man at his best, in fashion or fatherhood, exercises unyielding passion and understands that incremental effort can yield exponential results. If life is truly every man's work of art, I choose not to paint it with broad strokes, but instead explore the details and create a masterpiece. I am Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man because I dress how I strive to live: beautifully."

Tyra Banks Dresses as Michelle Obama

OK, this wasn't intended to be a Michelle Obama double play blog post but fashion icon and business woman Tyra Banks dresses as Michelle Obama in a fashion spread for Harper's Bazaar magazine. It's an interesting twist and shows just how much the Obamas have impacted international culture.

While we fully expect Mrs. Obama to be the next First Lady; if she's not, she's proven that she definitely has style and flair.

Before Madonna and Grace Jones there was...Josephine Baker


Josephine Baker sashayed onto a Paris stage during the 1920s with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames "Black Venus," "Black Pearl" and "Creole Goddess." Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals. She maintained energetic performances and a celebrity status for 50 years until her death in 1975. Unfortunately, racism prevented her talents from being wholly accepted in the United States until 1973.

Humble beginnings

She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 3, 1906 to washerwoman Carrie McDonald and vaudeville drummer Eddie Carson. Eddie abandoned them shortly afterward, and Carrie married a kind but perpetually unemployed man named Arthur Martin. Their family eventually grew to include a son and two more daughters.

Josephine grew up cleaning houses and babysitting for wealthy white families who reminded her "be sure not to kiss the baby." She got a job waitressing at The Old Chauffeur's Club when she was 13 years old. While waiting tables she met and had a brief marriage to Willie Wells. While it was unusual for a woman during her era, Josephine never depended on a man for financial support. Therefore, she never hesitated to leave when a relationship soured. She was married and divorced three more times, to American Willie Baker in 1921 (whose last name she chose to keep), Frenchman Jean Lion in 1937 (from whom she attained French citizenship) and French orchestra leader Jo Bouillon in 1947 (who helped to raise her 12 adopted children).

Josephine toured the United States with The Jones Family Band and The Dixie Steppers in 1919, performing various comical skits. When the troupes split, she tried to advance as a chorus girl for The Dixie Steppers in Sissle and Blake's production Shuffle Along. She was rejected because she was "too skinny and too dark." Undeterred, she learned the chorus line's routines while working as a dresser. Thus, Josephine was the obvious replacement when a dancer left. Onstage she rolled her eyes and purposely acted clumsy. The audience loved her comedic touch, and Josephine was a box office draw for the rest of the show's run.

Parisian sensation

She enjoyed moderate success at The Plantation Club in New York after Shuffle Along. However, when Josephine traveled to Paris for a new venture, La Revue Nègre, it proved to be a turning point in her career. Amongst a compilation of acts, Josephine and dance partner Joe Alex captivated the audience with the Danse Sauvage. Everything about the routine was new and exotic, and Josephine, boldly dressed in nothing but a feather skirt, worked the audience into frenzy with her uninhibited movements. She was an overnight sensation.

Josephine's immense popularity afforded her a comfortable salary, which she spent mostly on clothes, jewelry and pets. She loved animals, and at one time she owned a leopard (Chiquita), a chimpanzee (Ethel), a pig (Albert), a snake (Kiki), a goat, a parrot, parakeets, fish, three cats and seven dogs.

Her career thrived in the integrated Paris society; when La Revue Nègre closed, Josephine starred in La Folie du Jour at the Follies-Bergère Theater. Her jaw-dropping performance, including a costume of 16 bananas strung into a skirt, cemented her celebrity status. Josephine rivaled Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world, and by 1927 she earned more than any entertainer in Europe. She starred in two movies in the early 1930s, Zou-Zou and Princess Tam-Tam, and moved her family from St. Louis to Les Milandes, her estate in Castelnaud-Fayrac, France.

A 1936 return to the United States to star in the Ziegfield Follies proved disastrous, despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in Europe. American audiences rejected the idea of a black woman with so much sophistication and power, newspaper reviews were equally cruel (The New York Times called her a "Negro wench"), and Josephine returned to Europe heartbroken.

Righting wrongs

Josephine served France during World War II in several ways. She performed for the troops, and was an honorable correspondent for the French Resistance (undercover work included smuggling secret messages written on her music sheets) and a sub-lieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She was later awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication.

Josephine visited the United States during the 50s and 60s with renewed vigor to fight racism. When New York's popular Stork Club refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts.

It was also during this time that she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as "The Rainbow Tribe." Josephine wanted her to prove that "children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers." She often took the children with her cross-country, and when they were at Les Milandes tours were arranged so visitors could walk the grounds and see how natural and happy the children in "The Rainbow Tribe" were.

Josephine continued to travel to the United States, and during her visits she developed a close friendship with American artist Robert Brady. Now divorced from her fourth husband Jo Bouillon, she was looking for companionship on a more platonic level. Brady felt the same, and on a trip to Acapulco, Mexico in September 1973 they went to an empty church and exchanged marriage vows. Though no clergy was present, and they were never legally joined, it was an important personal bond that she and Brady maintained the rest of her life. Josephine told very few people about the pseudo marriage, fearing the press would ridicule it.

Sad farewells

Josephine agreed to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall that same year. Due to previous experience, she was nervous about how the audience and critics would receive her. This time, however, cultural and racial growth was evident. Josephine received a standing ovation before the concert even began. The enthusiastic welcome was so touching that she wept onstage.

On April 8, 1975 Josephine premiered at the Bobino Theater in Paris. Celebrities such as Princess Grace of Monaco and Sophia Loren were in attendance to see 68-year-old Josephine perform a medley of routines from her 50 year career. The reviews were among her best ever. Days later, however, Josephine slipped into a coma. She died from a cerebral hemorrhage at 5 a.m. on April 12.

More than 20,000 people crowded the streets of Paris to watch the funeral procession on its way to the Church of the Madeleine. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried in France with military honors. Her gravesite is in the Cimetiére de Monaco, Monaco.

Josephine Baker has continued to intrigue and inspire people throughout the world. In 1991, HBO released The Josephine Baker Story. The movie won two Emmys, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries (Lynn Whitfield) and Outstanding Art Direction. The movie also picked up one of three Golden Globe nominations.

Source: The Official Josephine Baker Website

Services set for Dr. Donda West, educator, author, businesswoman and mother of Super Star Kanye West

Services set for Kanye West's mother

Published on: 11/17/07

The funeral for the mother of rapper Kanye West will be held Tuesday in Oklahoma City, according to a report on

The website said it was told by a spokesman for the Howard-Harris Funeral Home in Oklahoma City that the service for Donda West, who went to high school in Oklahoma City, would be held at the funeral home. The report said Donda West's parents and brother live in Oklahoma City.

West, 58, died a week ago at Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center in Marina del Rey, Calif., after she stopped breathing. She had undergone cosmetic surgery in Los Angeles and had gone home.

An autopsy was conducted, but an official cause of death won't be made for at least 1 1/2 months, pending further tests, the coroner's office has said.

From the National Hall of Records

Donda West, mother of Kanye West and former chairwoman of Chicago State University's English department, has died. She was 58.

The mother of hip-hop mogul Kanye West died following a "cosmetic procedure" in Los Angeles this weekend, her publicist told CNN Monday. Donda West was known for the strong bond she shared with her son, by whose side she was often seen at parties and award shows.

Kanye West, 30, often spoke of his close relationship with his mother, who raised him as a single mother since Kanye was 3. She was the inspiration for the song, ''Hey Mama,'' on Kanye West's 2005 album ''Late Registration,'' in which he sings: ''Hey Mama, I wanna scream so loud for you, cuz I'm so proud of you ... I appreciate what you allowed for me. I just want you to be proud of me.''

Donda West frequently defended her son against critics who accused him of penning misogynistic lyrics and other purported transgressions. ''I support my baby,'' she said in a Chicago Sun-Times interview. ''He is telling how he feels and he is speaking the truth as he sees it.''

In May, she published the book ''Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Star,'' in which she paid homage to her famous son.

Donda West served as chief executive of West Brands LLC, the parent company of her son's business enterprises, and as chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, an educational nonprofit that works to decrease dropout rates and improve literacy.

Kanye West told the Associated Press in August that he and his mother worked together to devise the foundation's first program, ''Loop Dreams,'' which helps public school students get involved in music. ''Me and my mother were discussing ways to give back and came up with the concept,'' he said.

Donda West worked in higher education for 31 years, before leaving academia in 2004 to help manage her son's career, according to a biography on the Kanye West Foundation's Web site. She began working at Chicago State University in 1980 and eventually chaired the school's English department, according to the site. She started her teaching career in the early 1970s as an instructor at Brown College in Atlanta.

Please sign the Guest Book and leave your memories, condolences or prayers.

Rest in Peace
Dr. Donda West

Dr. Donda West was initiated into Alpha Eta Chapter at Virginia Union University.

Alpha Eta Chapter website