By Michael P Coleman

Superstar Whitney Houston left us in 2012 at the age of 48.  Often, when we lose someone who was so gifted at such a young age, we’re tempted to ask the question “Why?”

After last Thursday’s show at the Gallo Center in Modesto, I may have the answer:  we had to say farewell to Houston so we could meet the truly phenomenal Belinda Davids. 

Click here to read MPC’s full review.

Information on Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman is at michaelpcoleman.com, or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

 

Aretha Franklin

By Michael P Coleman

This column marks the first time I’ve ever written two pieces about someone who’s passed away.  I published a “Remembering Aretha” piece last week, just after her death.  The way this one hit me, I’m going to be a basket case if I outlive Diana Ross! 

As we read about Franklin leaving this world without a will or trust, and about plans for a star-studded memorial service next week in Detroit, I had to share two Aretha-related experiences from the last week.  I think the Queen Of Soul herself would love them, and I hope you will, too.  

Last week, on the day Franklin died, I drove around town in a bit of a haze while listening to a variety of her music.  Overall, I was trying to move through a tremendous, almost overwhelming sense of sadness.  I found myself stopped at a red light, literally teary-eyed, as Franklin’s “Freeway Of Love” blasted from, no, not a pink Cadillac, but my silver Mustang convertible. 

When I realized how loud my music was, I glanced over to the lane next to me to see whether I was disturbing anyone.  The large, black Ford F-150 in the adjacent lane was being driven by a guy who looked like a ZZ Top wannabe, and his female companion was equally Duck Dynasty-esque.  Two pairs of dark sunglasses separated their eyes from mine as they glared down at me.  Just as I reached to turn my music down, I noticed the pair was swaying back and forth in time to my music, and singing “Freeway Of Love” along with Aretha and me. 

The driver then smiled and gave me the thumbs-up, instead of the finger I had feared he’d give me.  At that red traffic light on Folsom Avenue in Sacramento, Aretha Franklin bridged racial, cultural, and generational divides, much as she did throughout her six decade career.  

The next morning, I ordered Siri to play Aretha again, but unlike the day before that I’d spent with Franklin’s secular music, I decided to start the day with the apex of her gospel career — and quite possibly the best gospel album ever recorded — 1972’s Amazing Grace.  Instead of shuffling the tracks, I decided to listen to the album from beginning to end.  The project’s first track?  “Mary, Don’t You Weep.”  The rest of that lyric?  “And tell Martha not to moan.” 

Franklin may as well have sung “Tell MICHAEL not to moan.”  Even after she’d transitioned to the next realm, soul’s undisputed Queen and the Southern California Community Choir assured me that everything would be ok,  By the end of that album’s first track, I was smiling — for the first time in over 24 hours. 

This morning, over one week after Franklin’s death, I finally managed to listen to some music that wasn’t hers.  I started with Mac Miller’s new album, then moved on to Janet Jackson, then a little Whitney Houston, which reminded me of her duet with Franklin, “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be.”  It’s one of those songs that would have been completely forgettable in the hands of a lesser artist.  As a matter of fact, Houston’s ad libs near the end of the track are painfully unlistenable.

But Franklin shines on it, and before long, I found myself back on that “Freeway Of Love,” playing Aretha and singing and dancing around the house as I got ready for work.  But unlike the somewhat sad day last week, I dropped the top, baby, and cruised on into that better-than-ever street.  

RIP Aretha Franklin, thank you, and long live soul’s most gracious Queen.  

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman and Coleman Communications at michaelpcoleman.com, or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

 

By Michael P Coleman

dianaross blog250When entertainment legend Diana Ross hit #1 on the Billboard dance chart with a remix of her classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” early this year, she hadn’t had a #1 hit in over two decades when her 1995 hit “Take Me Higher” topped the same chart. 

This week, the 74-year-old Ross hits the top of the Dance Club chart again, with a mash up of her classics “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out.” 

Two #1 hits in the same year.  It’s a first in the legend’s 57-year career.  What are the odds of that happening?  Probably around the same as the odds of a skinny girl from Detroit becoming an international icon. 

The new hit will be available for download on the "NOW! Dance Anthems" compilation this Friday, August 3. 

I said it in January when “Mountain” hit number one, and I’ll say it again: 

Cher, eat your heart out!    Diana Ross is THE BOSS! 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

By Michael P Coleman

In 1988, Whitney Houston released “Where Do Broken Hearts Go,” one of a series of stirring  ballads for which she would be remembered.  As her seventh consecutive single to reach the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” set a record for Houston that stands today. 

That’s one of several factoids presented in the riveting, revelatory new documentary Whitney

whitney untoldstoryInterspersing archival footage, home videos, and new interviews with Houston’s family, friends, and colleagues, Whitney paints a revealing portrait of a troubled ingenue whose most formidable demon, according to her infamous 2003 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, was herself. 

You’ve probably already heard about the documentary’s biggest reveal: that a pre-teen Houston was allegedly abused sexually by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick, the late sister of the legendary Dionne Warwick.  Even so, the film offers several more, not the least of which is the tale of a drug-addicted Houston abandoning her infant daughter Bobbi Kristina, leaving her with a family friend for eight years. 

As joyous as it is to see Houston in her heyday, as a fresh faced teenager delivering a bravura performance of “Home” from The Wiz on The Mike Douglas Show, or belting out the definitive version of The Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl, it’s disheartening — no, it’s downright painful — to see a battered, beleaguered Houston gasp, choke, and yell her way through another of her signature anthems, Greatest Love Of All, during her final tour in 2011.   Having come from a show business family, Houston was undoubtedly living by the time-worn show business axiom “the show must go on.”  As footage of Houston’s final tour suggests, sometimes the show needs to end. 

While Houston’s last film, Sparkle, gave us a glimmer of what might have been the show business comeback of the century, the legend was tragically found dead in a bathtub at a Hollywood hotel at the age of 48 just before the film’s premiere.  Houston’s decline is meticulously documented in Whitney, and the movie’s final third is agonizing to watch.  But overall, Whitney does a good job of trying to burnish the star’s legacy. 

Where do broken hearts go?  30 years later, we finally have the answer:  to see this excellent new film.

Miss you, Nippy. 

Whitney is in theaters nationwide. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

HUB ORIGINAL: Mentors Needed For African American Youth In Foster Care

Recently, as all of my kids are now young adults, I started looking into opportunities to stay connected to youth.  I discovered AgingUP,  a great, new non-profit that’s working to serve kids in the foster care system in Sacramento County. 

A few alarming statistics paint a picture that’s hard for anyone who cares about children to ignore.  Within two years of “aging out” of foster care: 

-Nearly 1/3 of youth will become homeless

-More than 1/2 of them will be unemployed

-1 in 5 will be incarcerated

The disproportionate number of kids in foster care are African American and male. 

For the full article, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/10913-mentors-needed-for-african-american-male-youth-in-foster-care on SacCulturalHub.com.

THE HUB invites you to take a look at two original features, in observance of Father’s Day this year.

Click here to read our salute to Sacramento’s first black pediatrician, Dr. Vernon L. Walton.

Then, click here to read the feature that was inspired by our chat with Dr. Walton’s daughter, freelancer writer Michael P Coleman’s reflections on his own father, and the lessons Mike learned from him that can be applied to all of our lives. 

Happy Father's Day.

By Michael P Coleman

Dr. WaltonAs we celebrate Father’s Day and honor fathers (and father figures) everywhere this month, THE HUB is proud to honor and remember Dr. Vernon L. Walton, father of four and Sacramento’s first African American pediatrician. 

Dr. Walton, or “Sonny” as he was known by family and friends, was born in 1930 in Wynne, Arkansas.  He spent time in Illinois and Oklahoma, where he attended Langston University.  He then returned to Illinois where he enrolled in medical school.  While he was completing his residency in Chicago, he met his wife, Velma, who was a nursing student at the same hospital.  They married and in 1960 they moved to California.  

After serving two years active duty as a Navy doctor in San Diego, Dr. Walton moved his family to Sacramento and started his medical practice in Del Paso Heights.  His eldest daughter, Stephanie, remembers that time well. 

“Initially he was doing family practice,” Stephanie recalls.  “Back in that day, pediatrics was more of a new specialty. Kids were seen by family practice doctors.  He fell in love with taking care of kids, and went back and did his specialty training in pediatrics.” 

Long before “Take Your Child To Work Day” was a thought in anyone’s mind, Dr. Walton exposed his children to his chosen profession.

“I remember as a small child hopping in the car with him and going on house calls,” Stephanie recalls.  “Sometimes I’d wait in the car, or sometimes on the step of the house.  I remember going from house to house to house back in the day.  When I was old enough, I worked in the office a little bit, and got a feeling for what was going on there.” 

Stephanie got more than just a “feeling” during those years.  She ultimately followed her father’s career path.  Today, she’s better known as Dr. Stephanie Walton, and like her dad did, she practices pediatric medicine in Sacramento.   And all three of her siblings — Vernon L. Jr., Rosemarie, and Kathleen M. — chose careers in public service.  

After 40 years of practicing pediatrics in Sacramento, Dr. Walton retired in 2010.  He remained active in the community and his church until the family and our community lost him after a short illness earlier this year.  He is survived by his four children and his wife of 60 years. 

The Walton family, and everyone else who knew him, will always remember him fondly. 

“He was fun, always busy doing something.  I don’t think he every slept,” Dr. Stephanie Walton wistfully remembers.  “He was very active in the church, and he loved taking care of kids and watching them grow up.  He was a mentor to quite a few young people.”

“I’ll tell you what he would tell every kid that he ever met,” Dr. Stephanie continues.  “If you work hard, you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”   

In honor of Dr. Walton, the family has established a scholarship fund to support African American students who pursue careers in the sciences.  Contributions can be made to St. Hope Academy, ℅ the Vernon L. Walton Scholarship Fund, PO Box 5447, Sacramento, California 95817. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

As we celebrate Father’s Day and honor fathers (and father figures) everywhere this month, THE HUB is proud to honor and remember Dr. Vernon L. Walton, father of four and Sacramento’s first African American pediatrician. 

Dr. Walton, or “Sonny” as he was known by family and friends, was born in 1930 in Wynne, Arkansas.  He spent time in Illinois and Oklahoma, where he attended Langston University.  He then returned to Illinois where he enrolled in medical school.  While he was completing his residency in Chicago, he met his wife, Velma, who was a nursing student at the same hospital.  They married and in 1960 they moved to California.  

After serving two years active duty as a Navy doctor in San Diego, Dr. Walton moved his family to Sacramento and started his medical practice in Del Paso Heights.  His eldest daughter, Stephanie, remembers that time well. 

“Initially he was doing family practice,” Stephanie recalls.  “Back in that day, pediatrics was more of a new specialty. Kids were seen by family practice doctors.  He fell in love with taking care of kids, and went back and did his specialty training in pediatrics.” 

Long before “Take Your Child To Work Day” was a thought in anyone’s mind, Dr. Walton exposed his children to his chosen profession.

“I remember as a small child hopping in the car with him and going on house calls,” Stephanie recalls.  “Sometimes I’d wait in the car, or sometimes on the step of the house.  I remember going from house to house to house back in the day.  When I was old enough, I worked in the office a little bit, and got a feeling for what was going on there.” 

Stephanie got more than just a “feeling” during those years.  She ultimately followed her father’s career path.  Today, she’s better known as Dr. Stephanie Walton, and like her dad did, she practices pediatric medicine in Sacramento.   And all three of her siblings — Vernon L. Jr., Rosemarie, and Kathleen M. — chose careers in public service.  

After 40 years of practicing pediatrics in Sacramento, Dr. Walton retired in 2010.  He remained active in the community and his church until the family and our community lost him after a short illness earlier this year.  He is survived by his four children and his wife of 60 years. 

The Walton family, and everyone else who knew him, will always remember him fondly. 

“He was fun, always busy doing something.  I don’t think he every slept,” Dr. Stephanie Walton wistfully remembers.  “He was very active in the church, and he loved taking care of kids and watching them grow up.  He was a mentor to quite a few young people.”

“I’ll tell you what he would tell every kid that he ever met,” Dr. Stephanie continues.  “If you work hard, you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”   

In honor of Dr. Walton, the family has established a scholarship fund to support African American students who pursue careers in the sciences.  Contributions can be made to St. Hope Academy, ℅ the Vernon L. Walton Scholarship Fund, PO Box 5447, Sacramento, California 95817. 

 Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

By Michael P Coleman

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  - John 8:32

After 30 years, the legendary vocal ensemble Take 6 has never recorded a more truthful album.  And ironically, for a group that began firmly entrenched in the gospel tradition, their new album only includes one overtly religious song. 

That said, the very aptly entitled Iconic is comprised of 10 songs that are immediately recognizable.  According to founding member Claude McKnight, that was very much by design. 

“Because we have a national and international audience and following, we tried to branch out even farther and say ‘What 10 songs could we go almost anywhere in the world and sing, and people would immediately know them,” McKnight shared during our EXCLUSIVE interview. 

With the wealth of popular songs from which to choose, fans may wonder how the group settled on the 10 included on the new album.  McKnight said that the group’s song selection process was, and has always been, extremely democratic. 

“We vote on everything,” McKnight shared.  “We sat down in a room together and each guy went through in their own mind and hearts literally dozens of songs that could have worked with this album.  We voted on them, and all of the songs that received at least four votes ended up getting another look.  Then, we whittled it down from there.” 

For the full story, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/10875-legendary-vocal-ensemble-take-6-releases-brilliant-new-album-of-iconic-songs.

 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.