Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Monday, July 30, 2007

    For those who have followed my blog you are probably familiar with the black and Latino ballroom scene, a subculture that celebrates fashion, dance, competition and creativity. In addition, I am in publishing process with my novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the ballroom community.

    Through this celebration each person is associated with a house or family like the House of Khan, House of Blahnik, House of Mizrahi and many more. Each house has a structure of mother and father with the “children” of the house, striving for ballroom fame and status. However, as many have said in my interviews with ballroom figures, the scene is also full of hierarchy and shade—just like the celebrity world!

    After being inspired by Rockacandy’s “If Black Hollywood Were a Sorority”, I had to break down the celebrity world of hip-hop/R&B ballroom scene style!

    HOUSE OF ROC-A-FELLA
    Legendary Father and co-founder Jay-Z: After ousting Damien Dash from the house, Father Jay-Z rules with a diamond fist. He has endless trophies for butch queen realness, butch queen urban street wear and realness with a twist...yes, these are the boys who can bend their wrists!

    Mother Beyonce Knowles: Always done with a vapid Texan smile on her face, she is Mother Roc-A-Fella. Beyonce slays it for body, face, dramatics performance, high fashion labels and head to toe ovahness.

    Princess Rihanna: Rihanna is the “new bitch” and is plotting and scheming to snatch Beyonce’s title of mother. She is currently the fave for dramatics performance, face and labels—with a bit of surge she’ll be ready to walk “body” and master all of Mother Bey’s categories!

    Duchess Foxy Brown: Foxy Brown is a tyrant—if she's not starting a fight at every ball, she's constantly screaming, "I'm a legend!" Nonetheless, she kills it for dramatics or soft performance, high fashion/street wear labels, body, face (well, not that she has face, but they never chop her for face or she might throw a chair!) and every other category she decides to walk depending on her alcohol/weed level.

    Children: Kelly Rowland (still trying to decide what category to walk), Michelle Williams (spectator), Beanie Sigel

    HOUSE OF BAD BOY
    Mother and Founder Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy: Legendary for butch queen vogue femme performance, labels, butch queen up in drags performance, runway, best dressed spectator, school boy realness and commentator!

    Father: NONE! No one can replace the Notorious B.I.G. However, every time the house walks a category -- music, pictures and voodoo appears to conjure up Biggy’s memory.

    Princess Lil’ Kim: Tragic femme queen realness, Mother Diddy doesn’t have the heart to tell her it’s a wrap. She attends every function while the crowd laughs at her as she keeps repeating in her you-in-da-hood-now-baby voice, “These bitches just can’t take me!”

    Duchess Farnsworth Bentley: Eats it in the name for labels, butch queen up in pumps and tall boys runway

    Children: Keisha Cole, Danity Kane and all of the pubescent boys from Making the Band.

    HOUSE OF WEST
    Father and founder Kanye West: Father Jay-Z Roc-A-Fella was truly perturbed when he discovered Diva Kanye was leaving his house to form his own house! However, Diva Kanye has triumphed like no other butch queen since Diddy and eats it for labels, American runway, face (although he keeps getting chopped!) and school boy realness. He decided to name his house after his own name, just like the vain bastard he is!

    Mother Johnny Legendary: Originally Alicia Keys was supposed to be mother, but after Father West caught a glimpse of Johnny’s cakes and noticed Keys shapeless body, Johnny won hands down. Although a new comer, she comes out for labels and runway.

    Duchess Pharrell: Pharrell is a true labels villain earning him the title of Duchess. He is an up and coming legend for runway and of course face.

    Children: Twista (Big boys performance, realness), India-Arie, Jill Scott, Angie Stone (all of these children were snatched from the now debunked House of Neo-Soul)

    LEGENDARY HOUSE OF DEF JAM
    Grandfather and Founder Russell Simmons: Definitely a legendary house due to the work of Grandfather Def Jam. Eats it for labels and realness, but she is a bitter old queen who is known to scream and slice a bitch if one of her children loses.

    Father LL Cool J: Outside of Russell, the only father of the house of Def Jam, and has slayed it for butch queen body, butch queen old way, butch queen sex siren and butch queen face. A lil’ rhinoplasty and lipo helps to keep everything in tact!

    Mother Mariah Carey: Mother Mariah eats it for soft and cunt performance—her philosophy is, “It’s not voguing if your back touches the floor!” In reality, if Mother Mariah touched the floor she could never get back up! She only joined the house if she could be mother, which forced former Mother Kimora Lee to resign!

    Children: Ashanti, Ja-Rule, Irv Gotti (we all know Murder Inc. is no more!) and rappers from the ‘90’s (DMX, Redman, Method Man, etc.)

    HOUSE OF ATLANTIC (formerly Tommy Boy-Flava Unit)
    Grandfather and Founder Queen Latifah: Original father of the house, but barely walks, instead she focuses on recruiting fresh fish…if you know what I mean. Latifah is legendary for butch realness and butch performance.

    Mother Missy Elliot: At one time she was the father, but after a quick reinvention she is soft and pink. Eats it for women's performance, big girls face, women's runway and labels.

    Father Timbaland: A behind the scenes house father. Icon for big boys performance, big boys realness and big boys runway

    Princess Ciara: Sadly, she took Tweet's place, but Ciara kills it for dramatic FEMME QUEEN performance and runway.

    Children: A bunch of token white children—Fergie, Justine Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, etc. and rumored lesbians like Tweet, Eve and Alicia Keys.

    LEGENDARY FREE AGENTS:
    Mary J. Blige (formerly Bad Boy) Free Agent: Legendary house hopper, but has decided on being a free agent. She is over the kids that just can't take her because she is a self-proclaimed legend.

    Janet Jackson (formerly Virgin) Free Agent: She once housed children like Paula Abdul and all of the Jacksons. However, her house has fallen a part due to too much surge and not enough trophies. While the crowds cheers for her when she walks—on the sidelines the kids are reading, whispering it is time to hang it up!

    Whitney Houston (formerly Arista) Free Agent: Used to be a favorite but after she insisted upon Bobby Brown joining the house as father, everyone turned against her. You can now find Whitney in the last bathroom stall of every function, getting foolishly high and sucking on Ray-J’s d%!k!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 14 comments

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    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    Yeah, I know my readers pretty well so I'm sure some of you are saying, "Mya? Boring!" However, before you make that assumption check out my interview with the soft-spoken Mya where she talks her gay fanbase, album push backs, 50 Cent (remember that shady comment "I don't know how he would get Lloyd Banks confused with me"?), Sisqo's legendary gay rumors and more.

    Plus, Mya belts out a few notes of her 1998 first single "It's All About Me." I really didn't know Mya could sing like that! You can hear the shock in my voice.

    I have to say before I interviewed Mya people "warned" me that she wasn't the nicest person and a bit boushee. So, I was prepared for the worst and Lawd knows I've interviewed some arrogant celebs, but Mya was incredibly warm and sincere. We talked a bit afterwards, took pictures and she made a point to say bye before I left. Nearly everytime someone tells me a celeb is going to be evil, they never are...except for _ _ _ _ _ _!

    For Mya's fans at MyaHarrison.net, I asked her if checks out the site and she said, "From time to time. They have pictures that I have never seen before!"

    As of now, Mya's fourth album, Liberation, is due in stores September 18th.

    Be on the look out for my future interviews with Mya.


    Mya Interview on ClayCane.net
    Uploaded by claycane

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 9 comments

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    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Soul Food: The most underrated show of all time?
    I just received an advanced copy of Soul Food: Season Two DVD, which hits stores August 7th. Soul Food is a spin off from the ‘90’s black film classic, which starred a pre-surged Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams and Nia Long.
    The Showtime original series is the engrossing story of a conservative (with its progressive moments) black American family in urban Chicago dealing with the tribulations of relationships, life and love, all with the backdrop of community. A powerful cast, likable but flawed characters kept Soul Food on the air for four years from 2000 to 2004.
    Soul Food made history, being the first long-running and successful dramatic series on television to feature a predominantly black American cast. The second season deals with race, politics and relationships in a refreshing, but unique way. You also get guest appearances from the icon Mary Alice, the legendary Debbie Morgan, one of the finest men on the planet Djimion Hinsou and more.

    Once I popped Soul Food in my DVD player, I was immediately invested in the lives of the Joseph family. From the icy but stable Terry, played wonderfully by Nicole Ari Parker (complete insanity she never won -- or was nominated -- for an Emmy/Golden Globe), to the family-oriented but still independent thinker Maxine, played by Vanessa L. Williams, to the sassy but compassionate Bird played by Malinda Williams.

    Perfect actresses that did equally as powerful performances as Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City or Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano. However, the three women of Soul Food got nowhere near the recognition of Parker and Falco, even with equally good performances, maybe in some ways better (and believe me, I am a huge Sex & the City fan). Soul Food could quite possibly be one of the most underrated television series of all time.

    What shocked me most is out of Soul Food’s four year historic run the series only received one Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Main Title Theme Music” in 2001—and lost. Of course Soul Food never received one Golden Globe nomination. How could this be? The show was on a major network—and before you say it is an HBO versus Showtime situation, Oz, a predominately black mini-series, only had two Emmy nominations (never won!) and no Golden Globe nominations in its six year run. Again, how could this be with unprecedented critical acclaim, not having the controversy of excessive violence like The Sopranos, or unrealistic sexual adventures like Sex & the City? I’m not even going to begin on how many nominations/wins the Sopranos and Sex & the City received. Thankfully, the show did receive seven Image Awards, but only Vanessa L. Williams would win an Image Award for acting.

    To make matters worse the second season of Soul Food is just being released—four years after the first season DVD was released. According to the press release from Paramount, “The series is one of the most-requested franchises from Paramount Home Entertainment, with thousands of fans having signed a petition to get another helping of Soul Food.” If this is the case then what exactly is the madness?

    Bottom line—this show was not honored or even given a timely DVD release, regardless of the great writing, stellar cast, or high ratings because it’s a black show. It is deeply saddening how this powerful series is not being well-preserved. While there are reruns on BET, they tend to be as bland and overly edited as the Sex & the City reruns on TBS.

    I will have a review coming out on the Soul Food: Second Season DVD shortly, but after viewing the second season—barely being able to stop watching it, I urge you to buy this DVD on August 7th. I don’t believe in supporting black projects, simply because they are black, but when it’s excellent and being ignored—it is “paramount” to support.

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:40 AM :: 11 comments

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    Friday, July 20, 2007

    Being a hardcore John Waters fan I was skeptical about the movie-musical version of Hairspray, which is a Waters masterpiece from 1988. John waters is an icon and of course I couldn't tolerate John Travolta filling the shoes of Edna Turnblad, which was previously filled by legendary drag queen Divine. In addition, I was afraid the movie would lose its edge under the direction of Adam Shankman. Sure, there were some pluses with Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer (she was adopting African babies before it was popular!) in the cast, but any remakes of John Waters is a recipe for disaster.


    I was completely wrong...Hairspray is the feel-good movie of the summer, great cast, beautiful voices, good plot and an unforgettable performance by Nikki Blonsky, who plays the lead role Tracy Turnblad.

    Hairspray is the story of a hair, race and music in a 1960's segregated Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad stars as the pleasantly plump dance diva whose only desire is to dance on the squeaky clean Corny Collins Show. However, after she makes the show and becomes a dance fav, she is distu
    rbed by the segregation of the more talented, soulful black dancers, who only get one dance day a month. Tracy declares she wants, "Everyday to be Negro Day!"

    Tracy is inspired by her father, played by Christopher Walken, and told to give up on her dreams by her mother, the buxom Edna Turnblad, played by John Travolta. While I adore Divine's 1988 performance, Travolta definitely made Edna his own. Being that the movie is a musical, which the first one wasn’t; Edna is reinvented into a dancing, singing mama unsure about her daughter’s "revolutionary" ways.



    Travolta delivers and not for one minute did I believe there was a man under the dress. I know their has been some controversy about Travolta being homophobic and even mention to boycott the film, but like John Waters said, “If [Travolta] was homophobic dancing in that fat suit with as many gay people as are working on this film, he would have had a heart attack and been dead. First of all, he is playing a loving mother, not [the late gay politician] Harvey Milk.” Tell it like it is, Johnny!

    Queen Latifah plays Motormouth Maybelle, which was originally played by the legendary Ruth Brown. Latifah doesn’t have the vibrancy of Ruth Brown, who came from the era that Hairspray is about, but Latifah does manage to bring a sensitivity to Maybelle, which is incredibly touching especially during an integration march where Latifah let's out a power ballad for freedom.

    Michelle Pfeiffer is perfect as the icy Velma Von Tussle, originally played by Debbie Harrt, an in your face racist who uses words like "natives" and "savages”. We also get a powerful performance from new-comer Elijah Kelley as Seaweed, the young man who in
    troduces Tracy Turnblad to the "Negro" side of town and inspires her rebellion. Kelley is the soul voice of the cast, belting out aggressive tunes, proving he has a career well beyond Hairspray. Thank God they didn't cast Chris Brown, Mario or some other teen R&B singer!

    Hands down, the Effie White/Jennifer Hudson of 2007 is Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad. She outshines everyone in the cast, reinventing the role that was popularized by Ricki Lake. To my surprise, this was her first movie role and it will not be her last. I think a Golden Globe nomination is inevitable and she might even be able to knock down the "big girl" curse that plagues Hollywood.

    As I mentioned, I am not a fan of musicals, but this is quite possibly the best musical in the past ten years. It completely knocks out Moulin Rogue, Chicago and Dreamgirls with one spray of extra-strength Aquanet.

    Overall, Hairspray is a family movie, but with a bit of camp and politics. It's not filled with singing dialogue; the musical sequences move the story forward and prove the transition from Broadway to movie is impossible. While I try to offer a balanced critiqued in all of my reviews I can't think of any criticism for this movie — I love how this version is more political and overtly deals with race. However, I am a purist so I enjoy the 1988 original more, but the musical is nearly a different version in script, delivery and tone. The 2007 version of Hairspray offers an original appeal, leaving audiences completely satisfied. If you haven’t seen SICKO (no on should be allowed to see another movie till they see SICKO), be sure to check out Hairspray.

    4.5/5 stars!

    Hairspray is in theatres nationwide today.

    Here is a clip of my favorite song from the movie "Big, Blonde & Beautiful" performed by Queen Latifah.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 5 comments

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    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Check out my stories over at AfterElton!






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    Posted by Clay :: 10:23 AM :: 0 comments
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    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Check out the link below for my story on the ballroom scene, Paris is Still Burning, for the Advocate.com. There are also some amazing images by photographer Michael Temchine from Ayana Khan's F.A.C.E. The Facts: I Am Legend Ball.

    Special thanks to:


    Harold Balenciaga

    Milan Chanel

    Glen LaCroix


    Regina E. Fitch

    Michael Dumas

    Antar Prodigy

    and the beautiful Ayana Khan (picture above)


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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 5 comments

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    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Worst Hollywood Movies on Black History
    Sometimes Hollywood should leave the lives of black people alone. While there has been some successes like City of God, The Color Purple and of course Roots. Many times when Hollywood gets a hold of a good plot line, that was usually already an amazing documentary or book, the madness begins. Here are four of some of the worst interpretations of Hollywood on the history of black people.

    In The Time of the Butterflies
    In The Time of the Butterflies is a 2001 film about the legendary Mirabel sisters who were murdered by the Trujillo regime in a 1950’s Dominican Republic. The movie was adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same title by author Julia Alvarez, who once said she was “deeply wounded” by the film.

    I could go on forever about the flaws of this film, but lets focus on the major issue — there were little to no Dominicans in the film! The lead character is Minerva Mirabal, played by Selma Hayek, who is Mexican. While I think Selma is fab and things, I find it highly disrespectful when a film about Latin culture comes out and the powers that be do not respect the ethnicity of the story. While race and ethnicity are different — could you imagine if Donny Osmond played Kunta Kinte in Roots instead of Lavar Burton? Black folks would go mad!

    In The Time of the Butterflies caused an outrage in the Dominican community. Even outside of the lack of Dominicans, the plot line was shaky, morphing some of the most important women in the history of the Dominican Republic, into three pretty Dominican girls who "happened" to make a change. The Mirabel sisters were much more strategic and politically motivated then what the drab movie portrayed.

    In The Time of the Butterflies is the equivalent to black life being written by white writers in film, television or music — highly offensive. So big “BOO!” to Selma and everyone involved with this film.

    HOLLYWOOD RWANDA

    This movie was less about Rwanda and more about Hollywood. 2004’s Hotel Rwanda follows the story of Paul Rusesabagina, who used his hotel as safe haven during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda (allegedly, Rusesabagina was not the saint that he was portrayed in the film — supposedly, he charged people to stay at the hotel and was receiving inside money). The first sign that the film would be a disgrace is its “PG-13” rating. How can you have a film about one of the most horrific genocides on the planet and it’s PG-13? Oh, I see, they wanted to appeal to the family crowd.

    What the film managed to do was make the Africans look like barbaric savages who were killing people for no clear reason. The history of the Hutu and Tutsi was completely glossed over during a random conversation at a bar. I cannot imagine an uneducated person on Rwanda walking away from the film and truly understanding why this civil war took place. I’ve seen more passionate segments of Rwanda on Oprah and Frontline!

    I commend Don Cheadle for being a driving force in making this film and I was ecstatic Rwanda received more attention for the genocide that was ignored around the world. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but wonder if the director, Terry George, being a white Brit, was part of the lack of passion and impact. If you want to see an excellent film on Rwanda, watch Sometimes in April with that kat-daddy Idris Elba. Hotel Rwanda was all Hollywood.

    PANTHER

    Panther was the fictionalized account of the 1960’s Black Panther party, directed by Mario Van Peebles and written by his legendary father Melvin Pebbles. This film proves just because black folks are behind a story about the history of black people does not mean it will be a great film. The movie was an embarrassingly simplistic and watered-down version of the Black Panthers that seemed to use the title of the “Black Panthers” to sell a poorly done movie. Film critic, Emanuel Levy said, “Van Peebles does harm to the subject he intends to honor. Panther suffers from the same narrative and stylistic problems that had plagued Van Peebles' earlier movies. The Panthers have been so maligned in the last two decades that a movie about them called for a serious, responsible treatment, of which Van Peebles was obviously incapable.”

    In addition, we had to endure the extreme over acting skills of Bookem Woodbine. Through every emotion he seemed to be so concerned about his masculinity that even his tears had to be violent and rough. Has anyone ever noticed a plethora of black male actors don’t really let the emotion flow, as if they fear their masculinity will be questioned even though they are playing a role? Overall, the film proves even black directors and creators can go Hollywood.

    Queen: The Story of an American family

    Alex Haley’s Queen detailed the life of Haley’s grandmother, who was the illegitimate daughter of her slave master — a tragic story that highlighted the plight of black women and sexuality on plantations. The 1993 mini-series version of Queen was also the story of people saying Halle Berry cannot act.

    The first flaw with Queen was the creators attempted to recreate 1977’s Roots. Roots was classic, changed the world and no one had ever seen a film like it on television or the silver screen. 17 years-later it was a bit challenging to recreate the passion of Roots, considering Haley died before he could finish the book version of Queen and obviously after his death he had did not have input in the making of the film. I truly believe if Haley were alive, Queen would’ve been a much different story.

    I would not say that Halle Berry was ever a bad actress, the 2002 Oscar-winner has obviously grown, however, playing the lead role of Queen in 1993 was a space and time she was a little too green for. Many parts of the film were well-done, but Berry’s performance, which was supposed to carry the film, was bashed by critics. At times she was comical when screaming in a high-pitched, fast-talking voice (I’m assuming she interpreted that as Southern), “I’se nig’ra! I’se nig’ra!” Her heavy make-up to make her skin look lighter was reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s light-bright damn near white make-up in the "Escapade" video.

    In the film version, the character of Queen turned into the stereotypical “tragic mulatto”, which was much different in the book. No one knows if this tragic mulatto representation was Berry’s or the director’s portrayal...however, we all know Halle is a bit melodramatic — look how a strong African like Storm in the movie version of X-Men, turned into a hair-swinging, emotional mess. Nonetheless, tragic mulattoes have been marketable all the way back to the 1930s with the film Imitation of Life.

    In the end, Queen would receive eight Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe nomination — no nominations for Halle Berry or any of the lead actors…the mini-series won one Emmy for, “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling”. Well, the mane was bumpin’!

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 7 comments

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    Tuesday, July 10, 2007


    Check out some of my posts over at AfterElton.com in the past week.





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    Posted by Clay :: 1:17 AM :: 0 comments
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    Monday, July 09, 2007

    Nine days ago marked the twelve years ago that Phyllis Hyman passed away. Three days ago, on July 6th, was Phyllis Hyman’s birthday, she would’ve been 58 years-old.

    I fell in love with Phyllis Hyman the summer of 1995. Of course it was gay men who forced me to listen to her. They sat me down and played classics like “Meet Me on the Moon” and “Living in Confusion” — immediately I was mesmerized. Hyman had a certain ache in her voice that tapped right into that part of your soul you didn’t visit too often. I remember an old friend explaining the voice of Phyllis, “This is what you call soul, Clay. Her voice is heavy, but she understands it. She knows where she can go with it, she takes her time with each note. This is a soul singer.”

    At that time the Mary J. Blige My Life album was a huge success so everyone in my generation thought Mary was the peak of soul — fools we were. My Life is an excellent ‘90’s R&B album, but it isn’t soul. I actually remember seeing Phyllis Hyman on BET's Video Soul, blasting Mary J. Blige and some of the other R&B singers of the era. Phyllis had no problem speaking her mind as she went on a diatribe how none of these girls really knew how to sing.

    But I digress...these gay men made it a point for me to sit down, shut-up and listen to Phyllis Hyman, Nina Simone, Ruth Brown and so many others. It was a rites of passage of sorts. You have to know your soul music. You have to be able to know how to feel others in order to survive…it makes you a better judge of character, gives you compassion, makes you more progressive and “if you can’t feel Phyllis Hyman then you just have no soul.” I am eternally grateful to have been introduced to the music of Phyllis Hyman, which has completely affected the way I appreciate vocals.

    Phyllis Hyman’s troubles started early in life. Born in Philadelpha in 1949 and raised in Pittsburgh, Hyman allegedly suffered sexual abuse (this hasn't been confirmed). In addition, her mother was manic depressive. She would retreat in music.

    Hyman’s attitude and determination was definitely the driving force that made her a star. By all accounts Hyman was a no holds barred type of lady. At a striking six feet, Hyman would always rock high heels and later in life her signature were the tall, bejeweled hats. One time in a backstage interview a journalist quizzed if her name was fake, saying it was a “strange” name for a performer. Miss Phyllis shot back, "But you remember it though, don't you, honey?"

    By 1977, Hyman released her self-titled debut album. She also reached Broadway in the 1981 musical Sophisticated Ladies, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which would earn her a Tony Award nomination and a Theatre World Award. During this time span Hyman achieved her first top ten hit with "Can't We Fall In Love Again", a duet with Michael Henderson.

    Hyman dedicated a large part of her life to fighting AIDS before it was popular. She joined in several benefit shows and according to http://www.divasthesite.com/, "visted hospices in and around New York. Many patients requested Phyllis' presence, which left the singer feeling inadequate and perplexed as to their reasons for wanting to see her as opposed to a family member or friends."


    Hyman gained great success throughout her career, but, she, like many black female soul singers of the ‘80’s would suffer from the viciousness of the music industry. Artists like Stephanie Mills, Jennifer Holliday, Regina Belle and defintely Phyllis would all be phazed out of the music industry by the mid-1990s…funny how all of these artists are know for “diva” attitudes and being hard to work with, especially Phyllis. I wonder if anyone is taking into considertaion the bloodiness of the music industry? This “diva” attitude was probably their attempt to take control of their career.

    Hyman would suffer with a drug and alcohol problem, weight gain, being a causality of the music industry and bipolar disorder. In addition, her mother died in 1993 — Hyman’s heart was heavy.

    I vividly remember driving through North Philadelphia with two of my best friends. I was in the back seat when we heard on the radio that Phyllis Hyman committed suicide on June 30th, right before a show at the Apollo. “Meet Me on the Moon” played. I had just been introduced to her weeks ago. My friends were in shock and it was the talk of Philadelphia for days. She would posthumously release the eerie “I Refuse To Be Lonely” with the title track sounding like a premonition as she sang, “I can't hold you / Like I want to / Can't hold you to the promises you make / You won't be here tonight / Or any other night… baby I refuse to be lonely.”

    Now, twelve-years later, it seems people have forgotten the legendary Phyllis Hyman. It doesn’t even feel like her legacy lives because, as I mentioned in previous posts, the black female voice is missing from popular music — even within the black community. Nonetheless, Phyllis Hyman was an incredible force. So, this one is to you Sophisticated Lady!

    I know this isn’t a Beyonce post so if you sped read through most of the post — make sure you at least check out the clip below of my favorite Phyllis Hyman performance of all time, "Old Friend".






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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 32 comments

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    Thursday, July 05, 2007

    What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?
    Leave it to Clay Cane to complain about American holidays. I did it for Memorial Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving—everyone should feel lucky I left Easter out! The Fourth of July is one of those ridiculous “celebrations” that likes to shout for unity of Americans, when it is was originally bestowed on the white, rich and male. In a nutshell, the Fourth of July is celebrating America’s split from Britain’s rule and the start of the American Revolution

    Exactly 155 years ago today, July 5th, 1852, the iconic Frederick Douglass gave a speech in his hometown of Rochester, New York titled "What To The American Slave Is Your 4th Of July?" Time Magazine praised the speech, “Douglass's Fourth of July address is abolition's rhetorical masterpiece. In style and substance, no 19th century American ever offered a more poignant critique of America's racial condition.” Sadly, little to no people have heard of one of the most important and powerful speeches in American history. In my opinion, "What To The American Slave Is Your 4th Of July?" is more poignant than Dr. Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Let me set the stage — Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was a white woman, released Uncle Tom's Cabin in March of 1852. Well, the book detailed the bloody conditions of slavery and many white folks were in an unruly shock. That good white-guilt was flooding the minds of many Americans and Abraham Lincoln once credited the book as starting the Civil War.

    By July of 1852 a 34 year-old Frederick Douglass, also a former slave, had just about enough of the foolishness of the 4th of July. Can you imagine rich whites rejoicing over patriotism and throwing firecrackers in the air knowing that over 80% of black Americans are still slaves? Douglass decided to deliver in an unapologetic blast of truth, venom and fact. Here was the first punch:

    “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” He continues, “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

    This nearly brings a tear to my left-eye. Especially considering the legendary quote from the Virginia Gazette in July 1777, “Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen.” What type of hypocritical, socially irresponsible hogwash is that? Obviously I could never feel the rage that Frederick Douglass felt, who was only a freeman for fourteen years when he made the speech.

    Here is another excerpt:

    “I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

    Can you imagine the risk Douglass took as a former slave to make this speech for every white person in America to read? Emancipation was still 13 years away and the Civil War wasn’t even close to being started. Many argue if it wasn’t for this speech Emancipation could’ve happened thirty years later versus thirteen.



    This is not to say you shouldn’t eat on the 4th of July or spend time with friends and family, but realize the history of this American holiday, which is so un-American it rots like a bloated corpse after Hurricane Katrina. Frederick Douglass changed the world. I will leave you with this:

    “Your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”

    To read the full speech click here.

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:01 AM :: 6 comments

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    Tuesday, July 03, 2007


    Check out my interview with Kelly Rowland for Men's Fitness.

    Kelly Rowland's new album, Ms. Kelly, is in stores today!

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 10:55 AM :: 2 comments

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