blackoutweekend eblast 700
by Michael P Coleman

Blackout Weekend is one of our region’s annual highlights, to be held in Lake Tahoe March 12 -15. Billed as the “ultimate snow adventure,” the event offers young urban professionals the opportunity to enjoy the snow sports they love by day, along with many opportunities to party by night. 

The weekend offers a full schedule of networking mixers, meet ups, parties, and daytime activities that are enjoyed by a broad group of attendees — including non-skiers! 

One of those non-skiers is, somewhat surprisingly, Blackout Weekend’s organizer Cherice Calhoun. Despite the fact that she’s only been on a pair of skis a couple of times, the four day event, which attracted over 500 people last year, is a labor of love.

“Years ago, I was invited to attend a black ski weekend organized by UCLA,” Calhoun recalls, “and I’ll be honest: I didn’t go to that event to ski. I think I’d been on skis just once before in my life. I went to that event because it sounded like a fun getaway. I knew there would be parties and I’d meet some new people.” 

“That event was my inspiration to launch Blackout Weekend,” Calhoun continued. “People are really drawn to it. I have attendees who have met their significant others on the trip. Once at a bar, I spoke to a woman who was waiting for her best friend to arrive, and she told me they met each other at Blackout Weekend years ago.” 

“In fact, about 60% of Blackout Weekend’s attendees are non-skiers,” Calhoun shared. “It’s a winter activities trip, but attendees have wound up forming lasting relationships.” 

Click here to read MPC's full feature.

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

EXCLUSIVE! Kenny G Remembers "Miracles: The Holiday Album" on its 25th Anniversary

by Michael P Coleman

1994 was a great year for holiday music, but it wasn’t all about Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It was also the year Kenny G released his landmark Miracles: The Holiday Album.

The project features 11 stunningly beautiful instrumental arrangements and performances of yuletide favorites, plus a couple of original compositions that stop you in your tracks.

Miracles is perfectly sequenced, starting with sublime versions of “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas,” followed by a sexy rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” I’m sure many September babies are born every year because someone played it under the mistletoe during the prior holiday season!

And the album reverently closes with “Away In A Manager” and “Brahms Lullaby.” Listening to them, you can almost see that nativity scene in Bethlehem, all those years ago.

Kenny G is wrapping up his annual Christmas tour and getting ready for his return to the Blue Note for a New Years Eve residency, December 27 – 31.

Between sold-out concerts, I asked the artist about the making of Miracles, and specifically, whether he considered adding a vocal to it, as he almost always did on his mainstream albums.

“[Arista head] Clive Davis wanted a vocal very badly on it,” Kenny G recalled during our EXCLUSIVE conversation. “I didn’t — I wanted it instrumental. I didn’t want anything to upset the flow of what I had.”

“He and I argued about that for about a month. I told him that if he wanted a vocal, it should be Whitney Houston, and he said ‘Nah, she’s not going to do it’. He came up with some other suggestions, and I didn’t like any of those. So we fought about it.”

Kenny told me that Davis eventually conceded and released Miracles without a vocal. The album went on to be the best-selling Christmas album of all time (Sorry, Mariah) and spawn two sequels, Faith and Wishes.

But even with the project’s overwhelming success, Davis would not admit that Kenny’s instincts had been on the money.

“I went up to Clive years later and said ‘Hey, wan’t I right to not put the vocal on the album,’ “ Kenny G recalled. “And he looked at me and said ‘No, it would have sold even more, a LOT more, if you had listened to me!’ “

In spite of its branding, Miracles: The Holiday Album is primarily a Christmas disc — which always blew my mind given the artist is Jewish! As if to remind fans of that, Kenny wrote and recorded “The Chanukah Song” for the album.

I asked the legend about the song’s genesis.

“I just wrote a song that I felt sounded like those I heard at the synagogue,” Kenny G shared. “It’s not a traditional song that anyone recognizes. But it has that feel, that Chanukah vibe.”

Before Kenny took off, I asked him whether he had a favorite on Miracles.

“Honestly, not really,” Kenny G admitted. “They’re all just beautiful renditions. I just love the way the whole album turned out. I experimented with different saxophones and different melodies for the different songs, just to find the right song with the right key and all of that stuff. Every single one of them is like a gem to me.”

If you’ve somehow missed the album over the last quarter of a century, there’s a holiday miracle waiting for you wherever you consume digital music. But you’ve got time — I wager that Miracles: The Holiday Album will be available on whatever format music fans are listening to 100 years from now.

And don’t forget to grab a couple of the few remaining tickets to one of Kenny’s year-end shows in Napa. If you’ve not caught him and his band live, trust me: they know how to party.

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

Remembering The Sears Holiday Wish Book

by Michael P Coleman

With Halloween behind us, my mind wafts to an annual, magical day in the home in which I grew up. It always came weeks before Santa Claus miraculously came down the chimney that our family’s ranch house didn’t have.

On that day’s dawn, my mother headed out for her weekly shopping trip — usually at metro Detroit’s sparkly new Fairlane Town Center. Sometimes she went alone, other times with my grandmother, “Ma,” and on some days, a subset of her children accompanied her.

But independent of how that Saturday started each year, it ended the same way: with the delivery of the Sears Holiday Wish Book into my and my brother and sisters’ hot little hands.

Today, in a world replete with iPad-clutching toddlers, it’s hard to convey the impact of that inches-thick catalog’s arrival in our home. Today, kids of all ages can and do shop online. With a few quick clicks and an active Amazon Prime account, today’s kids can have many of their hearts’ desires delivered in a nondescript cardboard carton within hours.

But back in the day, when the colorful Sears Holiday Wish Book was tossed on the kitchen table, and the manifestation of our Christmas dreams was weeks away (if you were lucky), it was a whole different thing.

Click here to read MPC’s nostalgic take on the Sears Wish Book, and see some of its actual pages (of toys!) from back in the day!

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

 

by Michael P Coleman

I watched Robyn Crawford’s NBC special a couple of nights ago, as she promoted her new book A Song For You: My Life With Whitney Houston. If you have not heard about the book, Crawford addresses the longtime rumors of her physical, intimate relationship with the late superstar.

SPOILER ALERT: in the book, Crawford allegedly asserts that the relationship was much more than rumored.

Click here to read MPC’s full feature.

Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

Regal / UA Market Square In Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications.

by Michael P Coleman

If you call the main number to the Regal / United Artist Market Square location, you get a recording that claims “the best place to watch a movie just got better.”

If that’s true, it got better across the street at the new Cinemark XD. The Regal / UA Market Square location abruptly closed at the end of the day yesterday.

Click here to read MPC's full report.

Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

EXCLUSIVE! Dionne Warwick Talks Whitney Hologram Tour

During freelance writer Michael P Coleman’s May 2019 interview with Houston’s cousin, the legendary Dionne Warwick, conducted just after plans for the upcoming Whitney Houston Hologram Tour were announced, Warwick shared her initial thoughts on the hologram tour. 

Brace yourself. Warwick’s thoughts are markedly different from Houston estate executor and hologram promoter Pat Houston’s. 

Brace yourself, and click here to read MPC’s full feature.

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

Let’s Return To Segregated Theaters

I’m all for social change, and I’m the first to say that we’ve come a long way in this country, just during my lifetime. But for every inauguration of a black president or same sex wedding that I attend, or for every time I read about a woman CEO, I sometimes think we’ve missed the mark with what we’ve called progress.

One of those examples is the desegregation of public accommodations — specifically, movie theaters and performance houses. I’m making a case to return to segregation there. You heard me correctly: to hell with Brown v Board of Education.

We got it wrong the first time around: black folks shouldn’t be relegated to the balcony. Folks who insist on using their cell phones during shows should be, and black screens that are politely and appropriately ensconced in pockets and purses should be allowed on the main floor, right down front.

For the youngsters…er, millennials reading this, there was a time in this country, not all that long ago, when the majority of kindly white people didn’t want to interact with black folks at all, let alone at the theatre or movie house, so they passed laws that allowed for racially segregated public spaces. These laws weren’t abolished until 1954 with the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling — and it took another decade for folks to get serious about enforcing it.

But if we can put another white supremacist in the Oval Office, we can return to the days of separate accommodations. But this time, let’s let the need to use your cell phone in public be the line of demarcation.

And this time around, in our best effort to truly make America great again, the throw back Jim Crow Era-like signs could read:

IDIOTS WHO USE CELL PHONES DURING THE SHOW MUST SIT IN BALCONY…NO MATTER WHAT COLOR THEY ARE

Let’s banish habitual electronics users to the balcony, where they can interact with each other as they post their illegally-recorded, bootleg videos on Instagram. And let’s charge those offenders premium ticket prices to do it. That’s right: you should have to pay extra to be an asshole in a movie theatre or concert hall.

Click here to read MPC’s full article. 

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Click here to connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman, click here to check out his blog, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

Hurricane Lewis Roars Into Sacramento: A Preview of This Year’s Exceptional Women Of Color Event

by Michael P Coleman

On October 19th, Jenifer Lewis take the stage at the 11th annual Exceptional Women Of Color event, to be held at UC-Davis’ Mondavi Center. Lewis has been a Tinseltown staple for over 30 years, earning the moniker The Mother Of Black Hollywood. 

Brilliantly, that’s also the title of her 2017 best-selling memoir, an honest, detailed book that’s just been released in paperback. The Mother Of Black Hollywood’s overarching message? If Lewis can make it through the formidable challenges she’s faced — SPOILER ALERT! There have been MANY — so can we. 

Lewis’ memoir is a mostly hysterical, at times searing NSFW tome that describes the journey that a little girl from St. Louis took to becoming, as she loves to call herself: 
"Jenifer Muthafucking Lewis.” 

Our early morning conversation was peppered with that kind of “real talk.” Lewis’ book, like the legend herself, is not for the faint of heart…or for the very young. Only the mother of black Hollywood could get away with it! 

“You’ve got to understand, darling, that I’ve been an entertainer for my entire existence,” Lewis, 62, EXCLUSIVELY told me, during a chat that left me feeling quite good about being called “darling.” 

“It’s a huge responsibility to say ‘come see me after your 9 to 5’, which for most people is a job that they don’t love. I, on the other hand, have gotten to do what I loved to do. So when people come see me, they leave entertained. It is what I do!”

“I was the Beyoncé of my time!”

In a rare retreat, and almost as if to provide a salve to the Beyhive, Lewis hilariously amended that last declaration. 

CLICK HERE for information and tickets to see Jenifer Lewis at the 2019 Exceptional Women Of Color event.

Go to michaelpcoleman.Wordpress.com for more of MPC’s EXCLUSIVE interview with Jenifer Lewis.

 Connect with freelance writer and “darling” to Jenifer Lewis, Michael P Coleman (yes, he has told himself that he is the only one she calls “Darling”) at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Instagram and Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP