Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Stage is Almost Set for BayFest 2011

(Mobile, AL.) August 25th--For 16 years BayFest has promised "something for everyone" and this year is no exception!  Thursday BayFest officials announced some "big named acts" and some "big time changes".  Singer, Songwriter and Producer B.o.B, Rap Artist Wiz Khalifa, Wet Willie and Mobile native Will Kimbrough are joining this year's line-up.  Previously announced acts include; R&B Singers Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton,  Country Sensation Toby Keith, Duran, Duran, 3 Doors Down.  A full schedule can be seen at
                                                      Shana Jordan, Exec. Dir of BayFest
Pop Artist -B.o.B

Last year's festival attracted some 200-thousand music lovers, pumping more than 6 million dollars into Mobile's local economy. Festival. While visitors from all over the world are welcomed to the annual event, organizers are dedicated to keeping everyone safe.  Bayfest Executive Director Shana Jordan says fans can still bring their lawn chairs, but this year the chairs will be limited to a designated area. Safety is a major especially after the horrible stage collapse incident in Indiana. "Over the years we've been really fortunate we didn't have any major incidents at BayFest.  Patrons will still be welcome to bring chairs, they will not be able to set them up in streets that might be needed for emergency vehicles," said Jordan.
The other big change includes what organizers are calling "crowd control".  It was announced Thursday no single day passes will be sold. Right now weekend passes are being capped at 50-thousand. Free admission for children 12 and under if they are accompanied by an adult.
Jill Scott

Will Kimbrough
BayFest 2011 will be held October 7th-9th. Tickets went on sale Thursday at Circle K stores and area Regions Bank.  You can also purchase weekend passes and view a full schedule of all of the musical acts and stages by visiting:

Ledisi Opens Up About Breaking The Music "Image" Mold

(New Orleans, LA.) August 25th--She was born in "the big easy" and a one point sung with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra.  However, Ledisi always knew there was something else!  In an exclusive interview, the Grammy award winning, "Pieces of Me" singer opens up to Varion about how difficult it was to break the mold of the music industry. She also talks about her New Orleans influenced jazz vocals, plus serves gives some advice from the heart for other New Orleans artist still trying to break it into the big time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's "Now or Never" with R&B Singer Tank

(New Orleans, LA.)--Ladies, it's a real "Emergency!" R&B Singer Tank says its "Now or Never" when it comes to getting a sample of his new single, "I Can't Make You Love Me." In an exclusive backstage interview with Varion Walton, the soulful crooner talks about remaking the song the Legendary Bonnie Raitt recorded more than a decade ago.  He also shares what it's been like introducing the hot new single to a new generation of music lovers.

Check out Tank's "I Can't Make You Love Me"
Click Here:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NABJ 2011-"Philadelphia Memories"

(Philadelphia, PA.) August 4th--NABJ certainly left its mark on "The City of Brotherly Love!" More than 3 thousand journalists descended on Philadelphia pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.  Here's to the "faces and places" of The National Association of Black Journalists Convention 2011!!!
Philadelphia Skyline
CNN's Commentator Roland Martin & Alabama Power Keisa Sharpe

Jennifer, Varion, Rod and Valorie

Jennifer Thomas and Valorie Carter-Lawson

Valorie Carter and Valorie Coleman Morris 
Keisa Sharpe and WVTM's Bettina Boateng


Anita Blanton-Anchor/Reporter KOCO-TV5 Oklahoma City

WFLA's Rod Carter and WSFA's Valorie Carter

The Gang Late Night at The Ritz

NABJ 2011-PHILLY "Break Through Journalists"

(Philadelphia, PA.) August 4th-Tamron Hall, Lester Holt, Don Lemon, T.J. Holmes, Soledad O'Brien, just to name a few. This year's National Association of Black Journalist Convention had no less than 100 break through journalists who shared ideas, beliefs and their perspective of an industry struggling to survive our slowing economy.
Varion Walton and "Washington Week" Moderator Gwen Ifill

Legendary CBS Correspondent Randall Pinkston and Varion Walton

Political Moderator Gwen Ifill was one of the most gracious people I've ever met.  She not only stopped to answer my questions, but she took photographs with each and every person who asked.  Its that kind of intergrity that's allowed he and CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston to enjoy more than 20 years in the business.  Here's to Randall and Gwen and the many others who paved the way and came before me.


Philadelphia, PA.)--August 3, 2011--Often times in life you come across people who leave an impression on you. I'm happy to say in my nearly 20 years of being in the broadcast industry--(yes, I started at 14 years old. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! LOL)  I've come across some folks who have truly left a "hand print" on my heart.  Here are a few familiar faces, folks in the industry I had a sweet reunion with in "the City of Brotherly Love!" Here's to friends you can count and "friends you can count on!'
Varion and Anissa Center-Formerly of FOX 10 -Mobile, AL.
Varion and Clement Townsend, Sports Anchor-WPMI Mobile, AL.
Varion and Frenita Buddy Former Morning -Show Producer for WAFF-TV Huntsville, AL.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"THE HELP"- Must See Movie of the Summer!

(Mobile, AL.) August 14th--The movie "The Help" is bringing people together in movie theaters all around the country. Word of mouth reports have filled seats and sold out theaters since Wednesday. My mother and her girlfriends saw it opening night,  I decided to see what all the buzz was about Sunday. By the time I arrived after the previews the theater was packed.  From the opening scene to the closing credits, everyone was hanging on every word. Often times the laughs turning into sniffles as the story line served as a vivid reminder of the drama and real-life danger of the civil rights era in Jackson, Mississippi.
Montgomery Native Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis
Audiences in Mobile were especially thrilled by surprise "shout-out" about "The Port City", but that's not the only Alabama Connection.  The movie "The Help" is entertaining and contains a memorable cast. Viola Davis is strong,  however,  the scene stealer is Octavia Spencer who played the role of Minny Jackson. The Montgomery native's depiction of the "sassy-mouth" maid is
not only unforgettable, this is truly Octavia Spencer's breakout role.

A lot of the buzz this weekend has not been positive. Some historians have a problem with how the maids were depicted during the civil right's era. The film, based on the novel by Mississippi native Katherine Stockett, is told through the perspective of a woman who could be described as a surrogate mother, a care-giver, a cook, a seamstress, the maid.

I walked away from this movie not disturbed by what some have called the resurrection of "the mammy role," but embracing and even understanding "another voice" from those turbulent times. The applause at the end of the movie told me this audience of black and white, young and old, male and female also found this movie to be inspirational, sensitive and empowering! "The Help" is a vivid reminder of how courage can sometimes come "in a whisper".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"America's Physician" Dr. Regina Benjamin

(Tunica, Mississippi) August 12th-- Dr. Regina Benjamin was one of many dignitaries on hand for The National Black Caucus Conference in Tunica, Mississippi. In addition to making her "rounds" with some of the country's most influential elected officials, Dr. Benjamin was truly gracious and warm when she greeted me at The Gold Strike Casino Resort. It was wonderful catching up with this Alabama native and getting a brief update on her initiative supporting new mothers breast feeding in the workplace. Our nation's capitol has done little to alter her "down home" Southern charm so many folks around the Gulf Coast have grown to love.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and Varion Walton
Of course this conference isn't all about the "debt ceiling vote" and Obama Health Care, Dr. Benjamin got an opportunity to enjoy the incredible line up of entertainment.  Friday night she got her "old school" groove on with singer Charlie Wilson.  The "timeless" entertainer performed to a standing room only crowd of more than 400.  Here's hoping "Uncle Charlie" and "America's Physician" will team up soon  to raise awareness to a subject close to both of them, the prevention of prostate cancer. Saturday night's line up includes Boys to Men.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"NABJ 2011"-The City of Brotherly Love

(Philadelphia, PA.) August 2nd--It's official, National Association of Black Journalist Convention 2011 is officially underway!  It's been really cool running into some of my former colleagues in the industry.  When I boarded the plane to Atlanta, there were several people sporting their shirts from previous NABJ conventions.  The coolest "blast from the past" was when I boarded the plane from Atlanta to Philly and I heard someone call my name.  Rod Carter, Morning Anchor for WFLA in Tampa and I worked at competing stations in Birmingham, Alabama many years ago.  If fact, he and I didn't realize it's been 10 years since we've since each other.  It's those kind of reunions I'm looking forward to this week.  I'm also looking forward to 75 workshops and seminars including "Blogging and Beyond".

CNN's Roland Martin During Essence Music Festival 
Of course, CNN's Roland Martin is already here and making everyone feel welcome as the unofficial "Ambassador" of the Convention. Plus, it will be cool to see Michael Baisden and George Willborn again.  Here's to a great convention and great reunions!

Keep it here for the latest with this year's convention, celebrity sightings and possibly any signs of Will Smith making it back home!!!  To The City of Brotherly Love!!!!
WFLA-TV's Rod Carter and Varion Walton

Monday, August 1, 2011


(Jacksonville, FL.) August 1, 2010--Guess what, I was right!! Just last month during The Essence Music Festival the Super Dome was "buzzing" with a burning question. Is she or isn't she; well she is!!!  According to "BlackAmericaWeb.Com", The American Idol winner squashed all the speculation about her "bun in the oven" during a charity event in Jacksonville, FL.   

Photo by: "E" of El-pwe's Photography
She also confessed that she worried about what people would think of her, but acknowledged that her child was a gift from God and she didn't have to answer "to any of ya'll."  Just a month earlier when she took this photo with me in New Orleans, she, no her celebrity stylist would confirm nor deny.  The blue dress Fantasia wore on stage Friday night during The Essence Festival did a great job concealing, but it was pretty obvious she was definitely expecting.  So now you know!!

In addition to The Essence Music Festival, Fantasia is reportedly wrapping up her new movie where she portrays the life of gospel music legend Mahalia Jackson.