Category: Entertainment Written by Genea Webb
MINT CONDITION (Photo by Nathan Santos)
PITTSBURGH--Pittsburgh fans will be in for a musical treat when R& B band Mint Condition takes the Benedum Center Stage for a Mother’s Day concert that will truly be fit for queens.
The band will be performing with friend and fellow R& B crooner Charlie Wilson for the Charlie Wilson Live & in Concert Tour on Sunday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $43 and can be purchased by visiting www.trustarts.org or calling 412-456-6666.
The concert is being hosted by the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, which according to its web site, engages in activities that ensure and improve the availability and accessibility of low-income and affordable housing in the North Side communities while improving the lives of families.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the sixth annual Women’s Walk for Peace.
The Women’s Walk for Peace is a two-mile walk held in September that begins at the Pittsburgh Project on N. Charles Street and ends at West Park near the National Aviary.
Members of Mint Condition met as teenagers at Central High School in St. Paul. They were rightly influenced by the blazing music scene of the time period which was saturated by tight funk and R& B groups like The Tyme, The Replacements, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Soul Asylum and Prince.
A show at the First Avenue club in 1989 caught the attention of super duo Jam & Lewis and led to the band being signed to Perspective Records. Their debut album, “Meant to be Mint,” made Mint Condition a household name with their first single “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes).” That hit was followed up by a string of classic love songs like “Forever in Your Eyes,” “U Send Me Swingin,” “Someone To Love,” What Kind of Man Would I Be,” “You Don’t Have to Hurt No More,” and “So Fine.”
Songs that cut to the heart of a female is what has garnered Mint Condition a devout following of fans. Current members of the band are: lead singer Stokely Williams, Keyboardist Lawrence El, bassist Ricky Kinchen, Jef Allen, Larry Waddell and Homer O’Dell.
“We’ve focused on staying true to what we do. Our music gives the people insight into who we are. There is a vulnerability that comes across in the music and people embrace that, whether it’s joy, love or pain,” explained the band members.
After Perspective Records folded, Mint Condition signed with Elektra and continued to deliver mega hits like “If You Love Me” and “Is This Pain Our Pleasure.”
In the early 2000’s, the band took a five-year hiatus from recording and touring. They returned to the music scene in 2005 as a quintet, with keyboardist Keri Lewis absent. Lewis decided to work on his then-marriage to songbird Toni Braxton.
Mint Condition released “Living the Luxury Brown” album on their own Caged Bird label and had a hit with “I’m Ready.” From there they released “Live At The 9:30 Club” and in 2008 “E-Life,” which gave fans the hit “Nothing Left to Say.”
2011 was a quintessential year for the band that keeps on going. Mint Condition was selected as the house band on TV One’s “Way Black When” program and appeared on Prince’s “Welcome 2 America Tour.”
“In many ways Prince continues to be a mentor to us,” said Keyboardist Lawrence EL. “He’s a musical genius yet he is never condescending. He has a way of making you feel he’s your biggest fan—we certainly are his! He’s the best. Watching him perform always sends you back to the shed; you know you still have work to do.”
Mint Condition’s newest effort, “Music @ The Speed of Life” was released on Shanachie Entertainment on Sept.11, 2012. The album showcases the band’s quest to create timeless hits and push their music to the next level. The album’s lead single “Believe in Us” proves that.
“With all the choices that people have out there, we have to keep our music fresh and keep it coming often,” the band said. “We’re headed in the right direction. It’s kind of strange to say this after two decades but we feel it’s our time now. We’ve paid a lot of dues, been schooled in the business and honed our craft. We’ve gone to the puppet show and seen the strings!”
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 13:55
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
Kerry Washington arrives at the world premiere of "Peeples" at the ArcLight Hollywood on May 8, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 08:10
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
The original "American Idol" judge says he won't be returning to the Fox talent competition.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 18:43
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
WINNERS--This May 6, 2013 photo shows, front row from left, second-place winner Pablo Lopez from Los Angeles, overall winner Tambi Gxuluwe from Pittsburgh and third-place winner Branndin Phillips-Laramore from Chicago, winners of the 5th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition. (AP Photo/The O+M Company, Gustavo Monroy)
by Mark Kennedy
NEW YORK (AP) — A 17-year-old from the Pittsburgh area has won the fifth annual August Wilson Monologue Competition, performing a section of the playwright's "King Hedley II" with powerful skill.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:14
Category: Entertainment Written by Roz Edward, National Content Director
Detroit (RTNS)--- On a particularly sun drenched Monday morning in Detroit, the planets aligned and I returned to my high school alma mater to connect with former classmate, acting great and all-around "nice guy" Courtney Vance. The consummate actor traveled to Detroit to address students at Detroit Country Day School regarding his journey to success, his inspiration and his hopes for them. Vance was, however, unaware of the surprise honor they had in store for him, that he would be the recipient of DCDS' first Courtney B.Vance Performing Arts Award.
But what I and everyone else heard in Country Day's elegant state of the art Performing Arts Center was an eloquent and impassioned discourse on the importance of "getting back to basics."
I encountered Vance walking the halls of his high school alma mater, holding his mother's hand, not in the way a child does, but as a man does, gently and confidently leading her along the hallowed halls of what had become professional and personal memory lane. The irony was not lost on anyone who witnessed that poignant moment.
Vance, who has worked with such industry giants as James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, and Whitney Houston, turned and caught sight of me as we approached our favorite English teacher, Mrs. Hannett's classroom. With a booming and familiar laugh he opened his arms; we embraced and reminisced briefly about the years we spent at one of the country's most prestigious academic institutions.
Vance worked through the exhaustion of eight weekly Broadway performances, then traveled to Detroit from New York where I had spoken with him a few days earlier about his role in the Broadway production of the hit play, Lucky Guy.
Having seen Vance perform in so many big and small screen hits, including Hamburger Hill, The Preacher's Wife, etc., I joked that he owed me $1,350. When he asked why, I admitted that I had become such a fan of what had become television gold, "Law and Order," and his role of Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver, that I downloaded countless hours of the show from Netflix and exceeded my Wi-Fi card limit by 135 megabytes. "We really got you, didn't we Roz," he shot back with a smile, and having gotten that off my chest, we immersed ourselves in the interview.
When you consider your entire body of work, which of your performances comes to mind?
It would have to be Fences and Hamburger Hill, because that was my first (hit movie), along with The Preacher's Wife and the show I'm doing now, Lucky Guy. I was blessed to get two wonderful theatrical productions on Broadway, Fences and Six Degrees of Separation, which I ran in for over a year in both of them but to get a third go-round typically just doesn't happen. Imagine working with George C. Wolfe coupled with getting 14 actors together in such a complex play, and doing it without the late playwright Nora Ephron is nothing short of a tour de force.
How do you decide on what roles you want to go after?
I look for role's that challenge me, andI consider whether it is something that I and my family will be proud of? Will my family be proud to watch the work and will it challenge me. In this case [The Lucky Guy] it was the opportunity to work with Nora Ephron and Tom Hanks and George C. Wolfe; if the three of them are involved, I am in it. George is a taskmaster, and we are all exhausted, but exhilarated. He is relentless because his vision is so big.
If you had not become an actor, what would you have done instead?
Probably work at General Motors in some sort of business development capacity. I worked summers there in the World HQ and ... the worldwide head of purchasing for GM, Robert Stone, and his boss took me under their wing. They were about to send me to business school when I found theater. In fact, they offered me a job that summer which I turned down because I was going to participate in an acting workshop. Then I told my parents what I had done. ... Years later that same head of purchasing, and his wife, came all the way from Switzerland and saw me on stage in Fences. ... Later he and I wept backstage because he had essentially saved me that summer ... it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
What are you proudest of in your career?
My body of work. My kids can watch it and feel good about it. ... People just embrace me and my wife [Angela Bassett] for our body and of work, and we haven't compromised who we are. That means that we save our money and we have to wait sometimes. ... I haven't been on Broadway in 20 years, and then this came along at the right time when my children are older, they are seven now, and they are old enough that I can be away from them for a time. ... when they were younger I couldn't commit to six months of being in New York. I am most proud of the way we have crafted our careers and our lives.
Lucky Guy dramatizes the story of tabloid columnist Mike McAlary's meteoric rise, fall and rise again, ending with his coverage of the Abner Louima case for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, shortly before his untimely death on Christmas Day, 1998.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 05:39
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