If you tuned into The Voice UK this evening you would’ve witnessed the appearance of US songstress Kym Mazelle, who auditioned for the show but sadly missed out on a place for the next round because the judges failed to select her. Kym was a musical titan in the late 80s/early 90s, releasing her own material as well as lending her soul charged vocals to hits by Soul II Soul and The Blow Monkeys. What was interesting about Kym’s appearance on tonight’s show was the awkward exchange between her and Will.iam. He was obviously unaware of who she was which was surprising given their similar experiences as African American musicians forging careers in the UK.
Category Archives: Features
I’m typing this while lying in bed surrounded by a box of tissues, Halls cough sweets and a bottle of Olbas Oil. I feel beyond crappy. I’ve had a stinking cold for over a week and it still shows no sign of letting up. This all-too-familiar ‘February Funk’ strikes me every year. While it’s been a long time since I’ve been knocked for six by a common cold, it’s often around this time that I start to feel emotionally low, uninspired and a little bit teary. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Late January and early February are months which are often seen as the most depressing times of the year. But are we gonna let the winter blues kick our asses? Nooooh! Let’s join forces and fight the enemy known as S.A.D by partaking in a few activities to guide us back to our happy clappy selves *does Kenya Moore Gone With The Wind, fabulous twirl*
1. Visit The Shard!
Excuse the London-centric orientation of this first suggestion, but Londoners, have you taken a moment to digest all of the fabulous attractions that have popped up in our city over the last few years? Seriously, it’s unreal! I can recall Rich and I going to the 02 cinema last year and upon exiting the car, we witnessed some state of the art looking cable cars flying across the sky. “What the hell?” I exclaimed. I was really taken aback, and felt that we had been transplanted onto the set of an epic James Cameron film. In reality it wasn’t that dramatic, we were actually looking at the Emirates cable cars which runs between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks and takes you on a pretty unique ride across the city. And of course, London’s most exciting attraction right now is the recently opened The Shard. The uniquely shaped glass building is now officially the tallest building in Western Europe, and is now available for visitors to travel to the top of the building and take in the most spectacular views of London town. Once you get up there do ensure you stand with legs apart, arms in the air and scream “I’m on top of the world!” Tony Montana style. Tickets are priced at £24.99.
2. Dance. Dance. Dance. DANCE!
I think a huge part of the reason we feel so meh during this part of the year is most of us live sedentary lifestyles during the winter months – October to March – and by the time we get to February we’re pretty much comatose. Last September I joined my local gym with the intention of losing weight as I’ve gone up two dress sizes since I stopped playing netball in 2010. While I’ve yet to shift the desired 20 pounds, I’ve discovered a new passion that has got me on the path to optimum fitness – Zumba! I know I’m late to this particular party, but better late than never, right? My class is taught be an amazing tutor named Anna. She’s Afro Latina and brings the heat week after week with a high energy soundtrack of Salsa tunes, and some booty shaking, foot stomping routines to make Beyonce’s sultry striptease shtick seem like it’s choreographed by a group of nuns. So if you’re a member of a gym and the treadmill isn’t doing it for you, do change things up a bit by checking out what classes are available to you. And if you’re not? Blast a few tunes from your Ipod at home and back it up like you used to do at the club. The idea is to find your bliss through the joy of movement.
3. Git Money!
It’s often said that us Brits have a complicated relationship with money. We’re always bemoaning the lack of it, but we often tell ourselves that the pursuit of it is in some way crass or not the done thing. One of the best nights out I had last year was a random visit to a casino in Westfields Shopping centre at a leaving do for my mate and former staff writer, Yemisi. We had such a riot. I had never really gambled this way before but found myself with a stack of tokens in my hand, both Yems and I being schooled by an old veteran on how to ace it in Blackjack. While I didn’t strike it lucky as I hoped (I think I won a total of £6 in the end, lol), it did remove a bit of the stigma I harboured about actively seeking cold, hard cash. For a bit of online bingo fun visit a site like www.cheekybingo.com but do ensure you set yourself a budget (mine is £10-15) and don’t veer away from it.
4. Escape to the land of make believe
Ahh, books, marvelous books, what would I do without you, eh? While others achieve escapism through film and TV, I always find the most effective way to get my mind to switch off is by burying myself into the pages of a book. The next few months mark the release of hot reads by some superb authors. US writer, activist and former hip hop artist, Sister Souljah releases the follow-up to her widely acclaimed novel The Coldest Winter Ever, with A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story. If you’ve yet to read The Coldest Winter you need to get on it. Set in NYC, it tells the story of Winter, a spoiled, beautiful, morally bankrupt fly girl who is the daughter of a notorious drug king pin. When things go belly up for Daddy, Winter’s privileged lifestyle is snatched away in an instant and she is forced to go it alone. The book is undoubtedly ‘street lit’, but is written in such a riveting, intelligent and profound way that you find yourself caught up in the heart-pounding shenanigans of Winter and her crew. I can’t wait to get my teeth into the follow up, which is centred on the life of Winter’s sister, Porsche.
Other books to look out for in the upcoming months are:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – An expansive tale about two friends whose relationship is put to the test when one uproots from Nigeria to America. Out in April.
I Would Die For You: Why Prince Became an Icon by Toure – Frequent readers of this blog will know I’m a HUGE Prince fan. I’m not sure what famed cultural critic and writer, Toure will bring to the table as Prince is notoriously private, but I’ll be reading.
Last month I was lucky enough to attend the British Hairdressing Awards which took place at the Grosvenor Rooms in Mayfair, London. The event is like the Oscars of the hair industry, featuring hairstylists and salons across the country battling it out within several categories to see who is the swiftest with a pair of scissors. I love going to these events. Everyone really makes an effort, dressing up to the nines in glamorous finery.
This year the awards were hosted by comedian David Walliams. While I wouldn’t say I’m the greatest fan of Walliams, he proved to be quite a competent host, balancing professionalism with well timed jokes and banter.
Like her or loathe her, you can’t deny that Tyra Banks has been pretty instrumental in changing our perception of the modern day model. Before Ms Banks unleashed her ANTM franchise across the globe, many of us perceived models as nothing more than vapid clothes horses whose generous supply of good looks was levelled out by lack of intelligence, and a personality deficit. But as dramatic and OTT Tyra has proven to be over the years, she’s also one smart cookie. America’s Next Top Model is the most popular fashion themed reality show, which is currently shown in over 120 countries and has been adapted nationally in numerous countries including Romania, Russia, Peru and France.
2013 is shaping up to be quite an exciting year on both the little and big screen. From films with pretty sizeable budgets starring Hollywood heavy hitters, to smaller indie productions using ever inventive ways to get their cinematic visions across to the masses – things certainly look promising for Black British creatives in the film and television industry, with everyone from actors and screenwriters to producers and directors getting their much-needed time to shine. Here is a round up of six super screen moments to look forward to in the new year.
Based on the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race illegitimate child of a British slave captor, Belle is a period drama based on her life directed by BAFTA Award winning director Amma Asante. Scheduled for release in 2013, the film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson and Emily Watson. With very little information available about Dido Elizabeth Belle this promises to be a captivating watch.
5. GONE TOO FAR!
Bola Adbaje’s Laurence Olivier award-winning play ‘Gone Too Far’ gets the cinematic treatment which marks the feature film directional debut of Destiny Ekaragha. Shot in London over four weeks in October, Gone Too Far stars Malachi Kirby and O.C Ukeje who play two estranged brothers (one who grew up on an estate in London, the other Nigeria) who meet up for the first time and spend the course of a day ending up in all kinds of compromising situations while getting to know each other beyond their cultural differences. Backed by the BFI, there is no official release date as yet and very few details available online. But with Bola and Destiny at the helm, I fully expect this to be a top class production.
4. HALF OF A YELLOW SUN
I was a little flummoxed when I learned that Thandie Newton had been cast as the lead character in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel Half of A Yellow Sun. I read the book a few years ago so can’t recall clearly whether the lead character of Olanna was given a detailed physical description or not. But I definitely envisioned a darker skinned actresses playing the lead role and as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one – a petition was created by a group of Igbo Nigerian women who rightfully raised questions about the film industry’s tendency to white wash Black narratives, and how the practice inadvertently contributes to the growing demand for skin bleaching products in Nigeria. But anyhow, I digress. After seeing this movie still I’m more than a little excited about seeing how Chimamanda’s epic novel based on the Biafran war which took place in Nigeria between 1967-1970, will translate on the big screen. There is no official release date yet, but I’ll be sure to post more info when I receive it.
3. THE ICE CREAM GIRLS
As mentioned in a previous post, Dorothy Koomson’s novel The Ice Cream Girls is being turned into a ITV drama miniseries which will air in spring 2013. The book is based on two teenage girls who are accused of murder and although they both maintain that they are innocent, their lives are forever altered and they go their separate ways until they meet over fifteen years later and are forced to confront their harrowing past. Lorraine Burroughs of Fast Girls fame plays Serena, one of the accused girls. Based on the book – which is thrilling, thought provoking, nerve wrecking and heartbreaking – I’m expecting a quality drama, so please do it justice, ITV.
2. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography The Long Walk To Freedom is coming to the big screen in 2013. Idris Elba will be playing the great man himself, while Naomie Harris will appear as his wife, the controversial and polarising, Winnie Mandela. Now this should be interesting. While I have much respect for Idris as an actor/movie star, whether he is able to pull off such an iconic and important role with the required gravitas remains to be seen. That said, I’m rooting for him and if he does manage to nail it and the film pulls in decent numbers at the box office, I’m pretty certain that this will propel him into the acting elite.
1. LUTHER – SEASON 3
2013 looks likely to be the year of the Elba. Alongside ‘Long Walk To Freedom‘ Idris is also set to reprise his role as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the BBC cult drama Luther. The bad news? There are only three episodes scheduled for season 3 (why only three measly episodes BBC, WHY?). But nonetheless expect your Twitter feed to explode as once again we embark on a white knuckle ride through the life and times of this flawed, sexy, conflicted detective as he attempts to balance his catastrophic personal life with solving the violent crimes occurring on the gritty streets of London. With the runaway success of the first two seasons and rumours of Luther being turned into a film we are pretty sure that Luther won’t be hanging up his tatty tweed jackets anytime soon.
So a few weeks ago I was acting all nonchalant and indifferent about the fact that The Bodyguard was being made into a musical. Although I planned to see it, I made it clear that I wasn’t a huge fan of the film to begin with, and my only intention was to satisfy a pang of nostalgia I’ve been feeling since Whitney passed away. And yet, last Friday I found myself feverishly anticipating the show as I headed to the Adelphi Theatre in sub zero temperatures.
The performance started just after 7.30 and it literally started with a bang. Broadway veteran, Heather Headley, plays the role of Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and wasted no time in letting the audience know that she meant business setting the proceedings with a rousing rendition of soft rock belter Queen of The Night. As the mostly middle aged/middle class audience clapped along in unison, Headley confidently strutted across the stage in a fitted pair of satin trousers and embellished bustier. From that moment I knew I was in for a great time.
You don’t need to tell me how important it is for young black girls to have dolls that are a reflection of their own image, I already know this first hand. As a child who grew up in the seventies/early eighties, black dolls were somewhat of a rarity as you can imagine. But this didn’t prevent my tenacious family from seeking them out. When I was around 7 I was gifted with a gorgeous black dolly which I named Suzie. Her complexion was a dark chocolate brown, and she had huge Bambi eyes with fluttering eyelashes. I absolutely adored her. She was never too far away from me, snuggling up next to me in bed, as well as accompanying me on car journeys and visits to relatives.