Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beyonce Essence Fest

(NEW ORLEANS, LA.) -- If you haven't heard, The 19th Annual Essence Music Festival is going to be off the meter.  Here's hoping "Mrs. Carter" doesn't have an encore performance of "blowing out" the lights in the Super Dome for a second time at Essence!  Start making your plans now, it promises to be a "mind blowing" weekend!

Beyonce Essence Fest

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



Alexis Spight and Varion Walton-The 28th Annual Stellar Awards- Photo: "E" Elpwe Ray

(NASHVILLE, TN.)---Her sound, her music and her style are nothing like your grandmother's "Rock of Ages!"  The first thing you notice about Alexis Spight is her spirit.  Of course you're going to notice her "trademark red Mohawk" that's a given, but I've discovered there is something more authentic about this young lady than the color of her hair.

Over the years I've interviewed many recording artists: secular, gospel and contemporary Christian alike.  I found it absolutely refreshing to meet a young woman, barely out of high school who is determined to stay strong in her faith.  She is clearly bringing her strong Christian values to her new found celebrity status.  Throughout the weekend, I can't tell you how many times I heard Alexis Spight say "please and thank you." This is one teenager who gets it; good manners and being polite will take you a long way in this industry.

Though relatively new to the game, 19 year old Spight has become something of an "old pro" when it comes to "red carpet" arrivals and the glare of the cameras. We met recently at The 28th Annual Stellar Awards in Nashville and instantly Alexis' "personality," not her crimson-colored hair drew me into her aura.

Last year the Buffalo, New York native became insanely popular on BET's "Sunday Best," though she didn't win the covenant title.  Just the same, the "runner-up" walked into The Stellar Awards a real winner. Alexis Spight is staying true to her "Pentecostal" roots and she knows 'it takes more than just hitting the right notes to make it in the music business.'

I caught up with her backstage minutes after she participated in an impromptu tribute to Andrae' Crouch during ASCAP'S 4th Annual "Morning Glory Breakfast." Alexis stood stage left, surrounded by other   Gospel icons like Andrae' Crouch, The Williams Brothers and Maurette Clark-Brown.

Spight was the literally "the new kid on the block," but she didn't appear to be intimidated in the least.  In fact she was very humbled and respectful to those who paved the way for her. "My family will  never let me forget I am standing on some giant shoulders, said Spight.

Her much-anticipated debut CD, "L.O.L (LIVING OUT LOUD)" features the new single "STEADY!"  Fans can also look for Alexis' amazing rendition of Kirk Franklin's "Imagine Me."

So here's to the bold, "out of the box" thinking, non-traditional newcomer who is turning Gospel on it's ear. Alexis, your strong faith and humble spirit will always be "the perfect melody" to ensure you'll transcend Gospel for many generations to come.

                        (ASCAP's "Morning Glory Breakfast" honoring The Legendary Andrae Crouch)
                                 On Stage: Alexis Spight, Maurette Clark-Brown, The Williams Brothers and More


Monday, February 11, 2013



It's hard to believe it's been a year.  Time has done little to heal the hole in our hearts. You'll forever be young and you'll forever be remembered as "one of the greatest voices of our time!" Rest in Peace Whitney, the world was a better place because you were here, if only for a little while!



(Vatican City)-- Wow, I thought I was dreaming overnight when this came in as breaking news.  This morning, I discover it's true, Pope Benedict has announced he is resigning February 28th.  The Pope points to his failing health.  He says he no longer feels he is strong enough to be the "top leader"of the Catholic church. 

This is stunning news for Catholics and Non-Catholics alike.  It has happened before, but not in our lifetime.  The last time a Pope resigned or left his post was more than 600 years ago.  I'm not Catholic, but I'm intrigued!  It's going to be interesting to see how colleagues at the networks will cover or "UNCOVER" this one.  One things for sure, this will be the most talked about story of the day.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013



(Los Angeles, CA.)--Tonight the champagne and the music will flow as we celebrate "MUSIC'S BEST"--nominees for the 2013 Grammy Awards!  Congratulations go out tonight to Anthony Hamilton who picked up two Grammy nods this year for "Best R&B Song"-Pray for Me and "Best R&B Album" Back to Love.

Photo: "E" aka Elpwe Ray--Essence Music Fest

Anthony's longtime writing partner and producer Kelvin Wooten is also nominated in the same category for his work on the CD entitled "Back to Love." Hands down Back to Love is some of this dynamic duo's best work. VISION/VOICE/VARION was the first to tell you a large part of the writing, producing, arrangement of this critically acclaimed project came together in North Alabama where Kelvin Wooten calls home.

Kelvin Wooten  Photo: Special Assignment Operations, Inc.

Join me in wishing "two of the coolest cats" in the industry well tonight at "The Grammy Awards," LIVE TONIGHT on CBS at 9pm EST. Don't forget to check out "Huntsville's Influence on Hollywood" and the national music scene with my story on Kelvin and Anthony Hamilton on my official website: www.varionwalton.com


Friday, February 8, 2013



Ashley Riggitano-"Dying to Live The Life"

(New York, New York) --This story disturbs me on so many levels and it echoes a real problem in this country; "everything that glitters ain't gold!"  This doe-eyed beauty had the face of an angel, but behind these dark, mahogany eyes lays an even darker secret.   Ashley Riggitano was a tortured soul.

This week all over the country, pain and heartache give way to this young woman taken too soon. Ashley Riggitano only lived 22 short years. Unfortunately, it isn't her LIFE, but HER DEATH that's worthy of national headlines.  This week, on her 22nd birthday Ashley decided she didn't want to celebrate the milestone of coming into her "womanhood" with her friends; apparently she hated most of them and found them fake.  Ashley was also not  interested in a birthday cake, noisemakers or sharing a toast with her family.  Instead, her birthday was the day she decided to end it all and become yet another statistic.  

With one "unthinkable" move this budding New York driven fashionista decided to end "the competition" and the endlessly "need to please" by jumping to her death.  Authorities found her body after she laid down her designer handbag on the sidewalk, scaled The George Washington Bridge and plunged hundreds of feet into the Hudson River to her death.

I cannot imagine the pain and desperation in her final moments. Ashley Riggitano was torched, but cleverly got in one final  jab when she took the time out to write a suicide note detailing who should and should not attend her funeral.  Apparently suicide was her permanent solution to end her pain with her "so called frenemies;" girlfriends she identified as "fake" and "never being there."  The New York Post details Ashley "beefing" with her estranged business partner and other friends on Facebook earlier in the day.

AMERICA WAKE UP!   This is a "teachable moment!"   We have to embrace our girls and let them know life isn't about "15 minutes of fame."  We cannot all be Carrie Bradshaw or Kim Kardashian.  We've lost the essence of our morals.  We've become a nation obsessed with "who are you wearing and how much did it cost?"  Why? Things don't make the woman, the essence of your soul and character make you unique. You'll never find happiness in the bottom of a bottle or someone else's name written on your bottom!  Seriously!  Too many of us are literally "dying to live the dream."  We'll spend hundreds of dollars on our hair when we don't have a home to call our own.  WAKE UP, OUR PRIORITIES ARE TRULY SKEWED!

Ashley Rigatoni's history of depression and attempted suicide in the past have also been well documented this week. This tragic suicide leaves me sad asking were the warning signs there?  Did anybody take a minute to notice, "Something simply wasn't right?"   We must wake up as a nation and realize bullying in any form is never acceptable. The airwaves are saturated with "women behaving badly." The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Miami and Beverly Hills are a "sad and tragic" sign of our times. We've become totally comfortable watching women rip each other apart.

Ashley's death echoes a problem VISION/VOICE/VARION INVESTIGATES: ALL NEW THIS SEASON. Don't miss my exclusive story with a mother who watched helplessly as her 15 year old daughter was repeatedly kicked in the head by an angry mob of teenage girls. Her daughter's crime; she dared to smile at one of the boyfriends of one of her former friends. What if this unbelievable incident had ended with a death of a young girl too?  Switch now for a preview: http://www.varionwalton.com

Bullying is real and it comes in all forms and affects all ages.  My exclusive story comes with shocking, images of a "fight to the finished" where a young woman so hell bent on striking out--she literally fights her way out of her own clothes.  Why?  WAKE UP! IT'S NOT CUTE! What happened to Ashley wasn't cute either. Hopefully no one would dare show footage of this young woman plunging to her death, but her demise is a reminder--"words mean something and they can leave an impression; good or bad." Some people are strong enough to ignore "mean girls," but others like Ashley are too damaged and too frail to know "that joy comes in the morning." Your love for God will see you through anything and in any season. If only I could have embraced this young woman and personally told her "you are beautiful and the people torching you don't have a thimble full to do with you are or who you are destined to become.

Though it's too late for Ashley Riggitano, it's not too late for the other fashionistas still looking to take New York City by storm. Always remember Ashley's story and hopefully her short life will include a legacy that will be full of teachable moments. Her demise reminds us of the lingering pain of hateful words. Her death also serves as a sobering reminder, “we have got to do better as a nation.”