johnny mathis christmas 2020
Johnny Mathis Brings His Beloved Christmas Show To Modesto November 21

By Michael P Coleman

Santa Claus is getting a helping hand from “The Voice Of Romance” this holiday season.

The legendary Johnny Mathis is comin’ to town! He’ll be performing at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto.

Christmas in July, indeed!

If you’ve not attended one of Mathis’ masterful Christmas concerts, there is no better way to usher in the holidays. The crooner is as boyishly charming performing songs like “Silver Bells,” “White Christmas,” and “The Christmas Song” as he must have been back in 1958, when he released the first of his six cherished Yuletide albums.

Read freelance writer MPC's full column.

michael coleman newMichael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or  follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

 

kennyg review 700As live music fans look forward to an end to COVID-19, Kenny G headlines a can’t-miss concert schedule.

By Michael P Coleman

Jazz legend Kenny G has a killer album cut on his 1992 multi-platinum Breathless album entitled “A Year Ago.”

A year ago, who could have imagined that we’d still be weathering COVID-19.

With the CDC’s recently issued green light on travel for the full vaccinated, and with several vaccines being rolled out this spring, fans of live music can finally see a light at the end of a tunnel that has been a lot longer than any of us could have imagined…a year ago.

While fans of great live music wait for indoor venues to fully reopen, Blue Note Napa is shifting their stage outside with a series of fantastic shows.

Click here and read all about Blue Note Napa’s summer season!

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Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or  follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

 

 

“I believe this album is going to minister joy to those who hear it.”

By Michael P Coleman

CeCe Album Cover 250Lucky gospel music fans were blessed by CeCe Winans’ first live-streamed event last month. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended — live, virtual, gospel or otherwise.

As if to placate those who weren’t able to catch the show, Winans is releasing Believe For It on March 12. Continuing the legend’s string of “firsts,” it’s the first live album of Winans’ heralded, five decade-spanning career.

I’ll confess to having been worried for Winans leading up to Believe For It’s release. The legend had done such a phenomenal job during her first live streamed event that I was anxious about whether she could match, let alone top, that performance on the new album.

As Winans would encourage us to do, I turned to scripture: “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” -Proverbs 12:25

A good album makes me glad, too. And after listening to Winans’ outstanding new Believe For It, I’m overjoyed.

But then, can one have too much joy?

Upon my initial listen to Believe For It’s first song, the uptempo “Fire,” I had to fight to keep seated. It’s a rouser that sneaks up on you, and will remind you of just what is shut up in your bones.

As Winans shouted when I asked her about the album’s barn-burning opener, “Come ON, Holy Ghost!”

“I did what I always do,” Winans shared during our EXCLUSIVE chat, as I inquired about her song selection process for Believe For It. “I focus and believe that God is taking me in a certain area, whether it’s worship or contemporary. I believe that when a song ministers to my heart, it’s going to minister to other people.”

“I recorded a lot of songs that I hear every Sunday. I wanted to encourage us to worship,” Winans continued. “My prayer is that churches will embrace these songs if they don’t already know them. I wanted to create something that people could sing along with, and that choirs could sing. They’re songs that I totally enjoy.”

CeCe Winans is, quite simply, one of the world’s greatest gospel singers. The multiple Grammy, Dove, and Stellar Award winner is this generation’s Mahalia Jackson, pairing her unquestioned, multi octave vocal gifts with her unwavering faith. That combination is nothing short of spellbinding, and that’s never been more on display than on the new Believe For It.

Other album highlights include the stunning new single, “Never Lost,” the gorgeous ballads “King Of Glory” and “Just To Be Close To You,” live versions of Winans classics “Jesus You’re Beautiful” and “Alabaster Box,” and the title track, which has just snagged the #1 spot on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Song Sales chart.

Clearly, a lot of people are ready to “believe.”

This writer also loves “I Have A Savior,” which includes a bona fide altar call. If that doesn’t give you an idea of what this album is all about, nothing will!

With Believe For It, Winans has delivered more than just an album. Like last month’s concert, the new project is an experience.

“It’s more on the worshipful side, but we’ve got ‘gospel’ going on all in between,” Winans said of the new Believe For It. “It’s live, so we’re going in and praising God, and we’re having fun in His presence.”

“I can’t live without His Presence,” Winans preached. “The Word says ‘In His presence, there’s fullness of joy.’ And we need joy right now. We have lost loved ones. Hearts are broken. We need joy, and I believe this album is going to minister joy to those who hear it.”

You can get your piece of that joy on March 12 via Amazon, retail and all major digital outlets.

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Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or  follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

Peace In The Midst Of The Storm, For Our Homeless Neighbors

By Michael P Coleman

Several of us in northern California had a truncated night’s sleep a couple of nights ago, as we weathered a brutal winter storm that brought tree-toppling wind gusts to Sacramento. A friend of mine heard me call it a “storm” and insists that I’m losing touch with my Midwestern roots, but that’s a story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share that I, too was restless and unable to sleep that night, as many of my colleagues reported that they had been. But it wasn’t the wind or the rain that kept me up: it was thoughts of my homeless neighbors. Where did they seek refuge during this week’s storm?

I’d walked up upon an encampment the evening before the storm hit, as I stole a few minutes of cardio between Zoom appointments. A group of neighbors were huddled under the Watt Avenue overpass, near I-50 in Sacramento. They’d started a fire, and I’d called 9-1-1. I was sure that an ordinance was being broken, and I was thinking at the time that it was more of a bonfire than a source of warmth in preparation for a pending storm.

I still think that it was the best thing to do, as a big fire under a busy overpass during the evening rush hour near roadside vegetation that has been unseasonably dry doesn’t seem to be a great idea.

As I type that, I’m thinking that I’m trying to convince myself of that. Maybe there’s something else that I could have done.

Read MPC’s full column, and get his take on this week’s sparring match between Sacramento’s Mayor Steinberg and Sacramento County officials over the lack of warming centers for our homeless neighbors. 

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento based freelance writer who has his eye on the Pulitzer Prize.  Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or  follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

EXCLUSIVE! A Christmas Visit with Mom Winans

The 84 year old gospel music matriarch talks about her faith, raising her musical children, her famous family’s holiday pandemic plans, and the pending arrival of her 13th great-grandchild!

By Michael P Coleman

Fans of the Winans family can only imagine how they typically spend the holidays. Can you imagine the music in that house?

With such a strong faith base, one can envision the 10 siblings gathered around a piano, singing contemporary gospel classics like “The Question Is” or “Lost Without You,” or traditional hymns like they learned growing up in Detroit. In my mind’s eye, their mother, Delores “Mom” Winans, is at the fore, keeping it all on pitch and in key!

As this writer has wondered for years about the “behind the scenes” of a Winans family holiday gathering, I decided to call the matriarch herself and ask her about how her family is spending the holidays this year.

“They want to come get me and bring me down to Nashville for Christmas,” Mom Winans, 84 EXCLUSIVELY told me of her children’s holiday hopes, by phone from her home in Detroit. “But with COVID numbers being what they are, I may just stick around here. We certainly don’t want to do anything to bring it on.”

“Even though we’re trusting in the Lord and He said that He would watch over us, we still have to do our part and not act like [the virus] is not out there, [and] not tempt the Lord. We probably better stick close to home and do something virtually.”

With such a large family, that type of gathering will be an adjustment for the musical clan.

“They usually all get together and see who can out cook each other,” Winans laughed. “I’m out of it now. I told them they can cook everything, but they still like me to make the potato pies, the lemon pies…so I’ll do that. But I’ll let them make the rest of the food! Maybe we’ll have a contest and see who has the best looking food!”

Winans’ description of her family’s holiday cooking matches those of many families during the holidays. But with her brood, there’s a distinct difference. While they’re all cooking, they’re probably employing some of the greatest voices the world has ever known.

That’s right: all 10 of Mom Winans’ children are musical, having made their mark in gospel, R & B, pop, and jazz. 1981 brought us the landmark album Introducing The Winans, and we’ve been blessed by the clan ever since. Subsequent generations are following in their footsteps, with Winans’ granddaughter Deborah Joy Winans having just wrapped up a successful stint as Charity Greenleaf on OWN.

At one point, even Mom Winans and her husband, David “Pop” Winans, enjoyed successful recording careers!

“My husband and I got married at a very young age,” Winans remembered. “I was 17 and still in high school, and he was 19. For awhile, I thought I was going to be a nurse, but after finding out what that was all about, I decided that that wasn’t for me!”

“I did get into the business world a little, but I never really had dreams of a career. I really thought that I wanted to be a housewife and a mother — but I thought that maybe I would have two children — not 10!”

Winans laughed heartily with that revelation, much as she probably laughed upon hearing of the pending arrival of each of her 10 children, including The Winans (twins Marvin and Carvin, Michael, and Ronald), BeBe & CeCe, Angie & Debbie, and Daniel Winans. They were all fairly young when she and her husband realized that their kids had special gifts.

Read freelance writer MPC's full feature, and hear more, exclusively from Mom Winans!

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 Michael P Coleman is a freelance writer who, as a kid, talked to strangers and got punished. Today, he talks to strangers and gets published.  Follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

I Spent The Afternoon With Richard Donner: An Exclusive Interview With Superman: The Movie’s Director

By Michael P Coleman

If you’re experiencing déjà vu as you await the release of The Snyder Cut of Justice League, there’s a good reason for it. Movie fans, and specifically Superman fans, have been here before.

The theatrical release of the 2017 superhero film followed news of director Zach Snyder stepping down and Josh Whedon stepping in to finish the project. Movie fans experienced the same thing two generations ago, when director Richard Donner was unceremoniously replaced before he could complete the sequel to the wildly successful 1978 opus Superman: The Movie. Donner, along with a superb cast that included Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, along with Margot Kidder and relative newcomer Christopher Reeve in the title role, had made us all believe a man could fly.

In doing so, Donner & company blew the mind of the 13-year-old version of this writer. It is not hyperbole to say that in making me believe that Superman could change the course of mighty rivers, Donner’s film changed the course of my life. I have never looked at a motion picture the same way since. Donner also directed hits like The OmenGoonies, and the Lethal Weapon Series, but for this writer, Superman: The Movie is his masterpiece.

I’m far from alone in my love of the film. Forty years after Superman: The Movie’s debut, Fathom Events held anniversary screenings in select theaters nationwide. The film was screened at three separate events during Black Friday weekend in Sacramento two years ago. All three events sold out.

You can’t imagine the effort it took to calm my heart as I began an exclusive interview with Donner, now 90, by phone from his office in southern California. I’ve been waiting for decades to write the headline to this piece. (Die hard fans of the film will get that reference!)

I started out telling Donner what should be obvious to you by now: Superman is my all-time favorite film.

“You know what, Mike,” Donner warmly said. “You’ve got great taste!” The director’s quick reply was emblematic of our conversation: it was friendly and inviting, and a dream come true.

I asked Donner when he knew that he had made a film that was going to have a profound impact with millions around the world, and still revered decades later.

“I certainly didn’t know it when we were making it,” Donner said. “I was just trying to make the best movie I could make. I think it was during the first showing I attended — not the opening, but a regular screening in a theater, in New York. I watched the audience experience that movie and I was very moved, very excited.”

Donner’s on set mantra was “verisimilitude.” He told me that of his accomplishments with the movie, achieving that is the one of which he’s most proud, over 40 years later.

“Before I came on board, the script was kind of a parody of a parody,” Donner remembered. “It had been really well written by three or four really good writers, but they had been directed by a couple of Hungarians [producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind] who saw it as a comic book rather than a piece of history. Their script didn’t have any respect for what the character stood for, since I was a little kid.”

Tom Mankiewicz and I had known each other for years, and we’d always talked about working together, so I presented him with the problem,” Donner continued. “I asked him to bring a sense of reality, or verisimilitude, to the story. I wanted to be able to prove that a man could fly. Tom rewrote the entire script.”

“Years before, there had been a French film called Jules and Jim, a great film. Two guys fall in love with the same woman. That’s what Superman was: two guys in love with the same woman. It happened to be that the two guys were the same guy, but not in the woman’s eyes. I asked Tom ‘How do we make that into a love story?’ He just fell right into it.”

Read MPC’s full feature.

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 Michael P Coleman is a freelance writer who, as a kid, talked to strangers and got punished. Today, he talks to strangers and gets published.  Follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

CeCe Winans Sets Record Straight About Her “Support” of Donald Trump

“I refuse to choose sides. I live for an audience of one.”

By Michael P Coleman

Gospel legend CeCe Winans found herself in a fiery furnace over the weekend, when news of her having allegedly participated in President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign circulated on several mainstream and social media sites.

I have had a couple of occasions to speak with Winans, and I’ve not known her to shy away from a question — or a controversy. For the most part, she didn’t disappoint Tuesday afternoon, as she sat down with Dr. A.R. Bernard to clear the air and answer queries from fans and critics.

During the 30 minute Instagram Live conversation, Winans distanced herself from Trump’s camp, while stopping just short of telling fans who she’d be voting for this fall. She became quite animated when addressing direct questions about her personal political affiliations.

“I refuse to choose sides,” Winans earnestly said. “I live for an audience of one. It’s not religion for me. It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m a believer who happens to be black, who happens to be a woman. I stand for truth, only truth, and nothing else.”

“I’ve been honored to be able to go in and sing the gospel and to stand before a lot of incredible dignitaries,” Winans continued, remembering performances for both President Bushes and for Bill and Hillary Clinton during her 35+ year career.

“I was able to meet President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when I sang at the Kennedy Center. I sang for the Pope, quite a few years ago.”

“Jesus loves everybody, and He’s needed everywhere.”

That last nugget was characteristically spoken like a,…well, like a gospel legend! But let’s get down to brass tacks, as Grandma Coleman used to say. Dr. Bernard asked Winans the question we all wanted to ask her.

Read MPC's full feature, and hear exactly what CeCe Winans has to say about Donald Trump!

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

 Michael P Coleman is a freelance writer who, as a kid, talked to strangers and got punished. Today, he talks to strangers and gets published.  Follow his blog, his IG and his Twitter

Review — The Social Dilemma (Netflix)

“There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”

By Michael P Coleman

The very aptly named Netflix docu-drama The Social Dilemma poses several provocative questions about the use of social media and the usage of social media users.

I deliberately framed that statement in that way — it doesn’t mean what you may think it means.

Yes, if you spend any time at all on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap Chat, Tik Tok, or any of a myriad of popular social media services, you use social media.

But according to Jeff Orlowski, the director of the riveting film, you’re also being used.

Watch the trailer to The Social Dilemma.

The Social Dilemma features provocative contributions from many of the architects of a variety of social media sites. Collectively, those tech pioneers describe an industry that exists for a solitary reason: the monetization of its users’s online behaviors. According to the film, every click, every “like,” and every  that’s shared on social media is recorded, analyzed, and used.

How’s it feel to know that?

Many of The Social Dilemma’s takeaways were startling. 

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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