Thursday, May 24, 2012


                                 Tim Sampson, Soulsville Foundation
(Memphis, TN.)--It's a school with soul and it's at the "top of the class!" The first ever graduating class of The Soulsville Charter School in Memphis, Tennessee is gaining a lot of national attention this week.  All 51 graduating seniors,  (that's right 100 percent) are college bound!  Graduation Thursday night included a lot of "pomp and circumstance" along with more than 3.6 million dollars in scholarship money.

Varion Walton discovers a huge part of the success was using music as a hook!  The students never had to look any further than their front door for a connection to Memphis' rich musical heritage because Stax Museum is located next door!      


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Courtesy AP
(New York, New York)  It's been a minute since we've seen his "devilish" grin, but ladies in July you'll have an opportunity to relieve the D'Angelo Experience! The Grammy Award winning artist will take center stage during The Essence Music Festival in New Orleans July 6th-8th. It's the crooner's first U.S. appearance in more than a decade.  D'Angelo joins "The Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin,  Mary J. Blige and Charlie Wilson on the main stage.

Essence Music Festival promises to be a special occasion this year for me because it's "smack dab" in the middle of my birthday celebration July 7th. Happy Birthday to Me!  It's a great reunion among friends and fellow journalists and quite the event for family reunions.

I'm especially happy to hear in addition to "Nephew Tommy" host and comedian of The Steve Harvey Show, Hollywood's leading funny man Kevin Hart will also take center stage. Hart has enjoyed quite a spike in his popularity with the blockbuster move "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man!"

"VISION/VOICE/VARION" promises to be your "access backstage pass" to all things Essence this year.  Don't miss the exclusive interviews with the hottest celebrities walking the red carpet, plus all of th inside information on all of the empowerment seminars and conferences at the Visitors and Convention Center in New Orleans.

Essence Music Festival promises something for everyone including an incredible Gospel Celebration Sunday, July 8th.  The "Gospel Explosion" culminates a weekend of incredible performances with the "ultimate praise and worship!" Last year Marvin Sapp, Cee Cee Winans and Fred Hammond are just a few of gospel's legendary performers who make Essence an annual stop on their summer concert tour.

Check out the night -by-night line for Essence 2012.

Friday,July 6: Charlie Wilson, D’Angelo, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole, The Pointer Sisters, Marsha Ambrosious, Q. Parker & Super Jay, Khris Royal, Kindred The Family Soul, Vivian Green, Stephanie Mills, Gary Clark Jr., Rebirth Brass Band, SWV, Goapele

Saturday, July 7:  Mary J. Blige, Kevin Hart, Ledisi, Tank, Eric Roberson, Teedra Moses, The Stylistics, Robert Glasper, Dru Hill, The Original Pinettes Brass Band,Stephanie Mills, Big Sam’s Funky Nation

Sunday, July 8:  Aretha Franklin,Fantasia, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, Melanie Fiona, Carl Thomas, Alex Boyd, Eve, The Stooges Brass Band, Estelle, Luke James, Raheem DeVaughn, Bridget Kelly

Single day tickets go on sale today for the 2012 ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL and are priced from $50 to $300 per person per night.   Meanwhile, weekend packages ranging from $150 to $900 per person continue to offer music fans the best way to enjoy a full three days of entertainment, empowerment,community and special offers.

For information about ticket sales, accommodations and the latest news about the ESSENCE MUSIC FESTIVAL, visit ESSENCE Music Join the Festival community: follow us on Twitter @essencemusic #EssenceFest and become a fan of 2012 ESSENCE Music Festival on Facebook.