Music News Roundup – 23 September 2014

Reggie Myers

When I went to write the Music News Roundup last week, things on the music news landscape were a little dry. However, this week saw a few interesting stories which you can get a quick rundown on below.

Ruby Dee honored by family and friends

According to the Associated Press, the late Ruby Dee was memorialized and celebrated at Riverside Church in New York this past Saturday. The legendary actress and activist died in June at the age of 91.

The beloved actress had an illustrious career that earned her numerous awards including an Emmy, a Grammy, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and an NAACP Image Award among many others. Dee has had many groundbreaking roles including being the first black woman to play a leading role in the American Shakespeare Festival and being a rare leading character in two daytime soap operas. Dee went on to star or play major roles in several films including A Raisin in the Sun, The Jackie Robinson Story, Buck and the Preacher, and Do the Right Thing.

In addition to being an actress, Ruby Dee was also a well known activist. She was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement, participating in efforts led by the Congress of Racial Equality, Southern Christian Leadership Council, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, and her sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. She and her husband Ossie Davis, were personal friends of Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. In fact, they spoke at both Dr. King’s and Malcolm X’s funerals.

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The AP article noted that the ceremony was ‘sad and funny as family members and colleagues celebrated Dee as both a mother and an activist against apartheid in South Africa’.

Program participants included many famous actors and actresses as well as musicians.  Poetry selections from Ruby Dee were recited by acting greats such as Tyne Daly, Kim Fields, S. Epatha Merkerson, Phylicia Rashad, Pauletta Washington, and Lynn Whitfield. Musical tributers were performed by Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, and Peter Yarrow.

Former New York City mayor David Dinkins read a letter from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama where they talked about seeing Ruby Dee in Do the Right Thing on their first date.  Legendary poet Sonia Sanchez performed a piece that mixed poetry and music.

Legendary actor Harry Belafonte sent in a video eulogy and Sidney Poitier sent in a letter to be read at the celebration.

One of the lines in Poitier’s letter said Dee was ‘an artist, the likes of which I have never seen before. As a matter of fact, because of Ruby Dee, I always tried to stretch myself beyond my capacities and reach for my own untapped expressions of the work’. And I think you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who would not say she had the same effect on them.

Ruby Dee was an icon who put her all into her work and showed the world what African Americans were capable of. She will surely be missed as many actors and actresses will keep working  in the hope of following in her footsteps.

August Alsina collapses onstage in New York City

This past Monday, singer August Alsina was rushed to the hospital after fainting and falling offstage during a tour performance in New York City to promote his album. It was speculated that the fainting was due to exhaustion, and TMZ reported that the singer suffered from seizures after he fainted.

On Friday, Alsina posted a picture of himself in the hospital on his Instagram. The photo, which shows him lying in bed with a bandage on his head and oxygen mask on his face while his bodyguard is talking to him with the following caption:

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This is a bit graphic but i wanted to share this w/ every follower of mine. iWoke up out of a 3 day coma… &This guy @banggang_moneyteam right here never once left my side. What I’m tryna say is cherish the ones in life who cherish you & take good care of yourself. Your life can be gone in a split second’. I’m recovering well and thankyou for all of your prayers & concerns. -Yung

While many are saying August Alsina fainted because of exhaustion, no definite cause has been determined and shared with the public yet. Hopefully, whatever it is can be dealt with because he has a lot of fans who are worried about him.

Clay Aiken has some harsh words for nude leak victims

American Idol runner up and Congressional candidate Clay Aiken recently spoke to The Washington Post where he shared some choice words about the recent celebrity hacking incident which put the nudes of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Jill Scott on the internet for the world to see.

The openly gay candidate and singer gave these quotes to The Washington Post‘s Ben Terris while he was interviewing the singer for a profile story. The singer said, ‘Anybody who takes inappropriate pictures of themselves deserves what they get.’

He went to say that it’s a shame that the internet does not really have the laws in place to keep people from pirating these photos and that whoever did it should be hogtied, but if he wants to check something out, he’ll just look in the mirror.

I guess it’s good he does not condone the actions of the hacker, but victim blaming the celebrities is still quite problematic to me. We’ve come to a very morbid place in society if you think it’s acceptable to tell someone that they have to refrain from taking private pictures of themselves, and if they don’t, then they deserve what they get. While celebrities are public figures, this does not disqualify them from being human beings and human beings have the right to take private pictures of themselves without fear of them being leaked and subsequently ridiculed more than the actual perpetrator. I’m not sure why this seems to be such a difficult concept to grasp for a lot of people, but I really need everyone, including Clay Aiken, to get it together and do it quickly.

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t.A.T.u. singer would not accept her gay son

Don’t worry if you raised an eyebrow when you read the header for this story, because you’re far from alone. Yulka Volkova, one half of t.A.T.u., recently did an interview on a Russian TV station where she shared some disturbing views on how she would react if she had a gay child.

t.A.T.u. is a Russian singing duo who rose to fame in 2002-2003 for their single ‘All the Things She Said’ which features a lesbian kiss between the two in the music video.

When asked about whether she would accept a gay child, Volkova answered the question with saying she wouldn’t have a problem with it if her daughter wasn’t a lesbian but that same sentiment would not apply to a gay son. She feels like it’s a bad freedom for men, and men’s freedom is being able to sleep with what she refers to as ‘frivolous girls’.

She then went on to say, ‘And a man has no right to be a fag. Two girls together – not the same thing as the two men together. It seems to me that lesbians look aesthetically much nicer than two men holding their hands or kissing.’

She makes a horrible attempt to backtrack on her statement by saying that she is not against gay people and she has gay friends, but she maintains that she wants her son to be a ‘real man’. She then goes on to say that being gay is still better than being a murderer or a drug addict (like that really helps anything).

So, yeah… that happened. The woman, who rose to fame pretending to be a lesbian, is now trying to dole out moral judgments in regards to homosexuality in men vs. women. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment, shall we?  *insert deep sigh and facepalm here*

Well, that’s it for this edition of the Music News Roundup. What stories involving musicians caught your eyes and ears this week? Feel free to let me know.

About Reggie Myers

Reggie Myers is a writer and communications professional living in Philadelphia, Pa., where he graduated from Temple University. Music, television, film, books, video games, politics, and human sexuality are just a few of the many things that make him tick. When he's not working behind a computer screen, you can find him looking for new adventures, practicing photography, scheming ways to get to the front row of a concert, or scouring the corners of the internet for new music to put his friends on to. @reggieakil