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‘National Treasure’ Anthony Hamilton Interviewed at NNPA Virtual Conference

The Los Angeles Times proclaimed him a national treasure, and singer, songwriter, producer and actor Anthony Hamilton’s star has shone as bright as any during a career that already has resulted in more than 50 million album sales.

Hamilton, the first R&B artist to sell an album at Cracker Barrel, joined BlackPressUSA’s #FIYAH! LIVE for a special interview, during the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) 2020 virtual conference.

It marks the first virtual conference in the 80-year history of the NNPA and the 193-year history of the Black Press of America.

Hamilton joined a star-studded lineup of live interviews and pre-recorded performances, including Stephanie Mills, Deniece Williams, Carlos Santana, Cindy Blackman Santana, Salt-N-Pepa, Ziggy Marley and Supremes legend Nancy Wilson.

Sports, race, politics, and culture expert Jemele Hill also appeared during the conference.

Acclaimed as a singer, Hamilton has also cut his teeth in Hollywood on the big screen.

He appeared in the Denzel Washington-led American Gangster and lent his voice to “Freedom” from the Academy-Award nominated Django Unchained.

Hamilton began singing at the age of six. A self-professed introvert, he was raised with his brother and sister by a single mother.

He found comfort in a foam-covered speaker while dreaming of stardom. “I was a child who had a very wide imagination and I would become the song. I used to listen to ‘Ben’ by Michael Jackson a lot, and I would dream like I’m going to become a famous singer one day,” Hamilton wrote on his website.

“I said that over and over again for years, and I always believed it.”

Hamilton’s decorated catalog includes his 2003 debut, Comin’ From Where I’m From, and 2005’s Ain’t Nobody Worryin’.

He has earned several Grammy nominations, and won his first award in 2009 for best traditional R&B vocal performance for his duet with Al Green on, “You’ve Got the Love I Need.”

He has also lent his vocals to a variety of talent, including Nas, Rick Ross, Carlos Santana, Jill Scott, Tupac, and Green, to name a few.

His album What I’m Feelin,’ released in 2016, received a Grammy nomination for the title song.

Recently, Hamilton released “Back Together” featuring the late Rick James, whose voice appears via a sample that producer 9th Wonder pulled from his vault.

“Growing up, listening to ‘Super Freak’ and ‘Fire and Desire’ made it impossible not to want to sing. This was when I knew, Rick James would be an all-time favorite,” Hamilton told the website, “Rated R&B.”

“9th Wonder flipped the sample right in front of me. I wrote the song in a way to make it feel like Rick was singing along with me. ‘Back Together’ pays homage to one of the greats. To me, it’s also about love and getting back together with someone you knew was special. In this time of COVID-19, it took on a new meaning too. It means getting back to our lives. Be close to those who are special to you. We all want to be close to anybody right now.”

Oprah & Ava: ‘Own Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th

LOS ANGELES – Continuing conversations surrounding issues impacting Black lives, “OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton,” which originally aired Friday, August 28 at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET/PT on OWN, will stream for free on the Watch OWN app and the OWN Facebook and Youtube pages.

The special features Oprah Winfrey as she speaks separately with both acclaimed director Ava DuVernay and Rev. Al Sharpton regarding the historical context of August 28th and the significance of the upcoming election, along with a special presentation of DuVernay’s short film “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People.”

During the special, Winfrey speaks with DuVernay about the work she is doing in support of social justice, how she uses history to inform her activism, and how imperative it is for everyone to vote in the upcoming election. Winfrey later discusses with Rev. Al Sharpton the connection of the ‘Get Off Our Necks’ Commitment March which took place on the same day as the historic March on Washington 57 years ago. Rev. Sharpton shares ways that everyone can show their support in this moment, reiterating his intention for the march is not about numbers but long-term impact.

The interviews bookend DuVernay’s scripted short-film entitled “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Regina King, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, André Holland, Michael Ealy and Glynn Turman.

DuVernay uses a robust combination of both documentary and narrative techniques to transport viewers through six stunning historical moments that all actually occurred on the same day – August 28th – in various years. Written, produced and directed by DuVernay, “August 28” traverses a century of black progress, protest, passion and perseverance of African American people.

The project gives historical perspective within the creative framework of one date that has had a profound effect on America including: the passing of The Slavery Abolition Act on August 28, 1833, the lynching of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, the first radio airplay from Motown Records on August 28, 1961 with The Marvelettes “Please Mr Postman,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech during the massive March on Washington on August 28, 1963, Hurricane Katrina making its tragic landfall on August 28, 2005 and then-Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination for the presidency on August 28, 2008.

The film was lensed by cinematographer Malik Sayeed and edited by Oscar nominee Spencer Averick. Ten-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello composed the score. Paul Garnes produced, with co-producers Tilane Jones and Tammy Garnes.

This special is part of OWN’s overall OWN YOUR VOTE initiative, a bipartisan registration and get-out-the-vote campaign partnering with national and local grassroots and voting rights organizations to provide tools and resources that will empower Black women to vote this November. Black women powerfully influence election outcomes, and OWN YOUR VOTE supports this group of voters to show up to the polls and help friends, family, and their community to do the same. Winfrey recently shared that OWN will grant November 3rd as a company holiday to ensure all employees have the time to vote and volunteer. “I challenge other companies to do the same because this might be the most important election of our lives,” Winfrey said in her social post.

“OWN Spotlight: Culture Connection & August 28th, Ava DuVernay & Rev. Sharpton” is produced by OWN. The executive producers are Oprah Winfrey and Tara Montgomery.

IN MEMORIAM: Chadwick Boseman

The world is reeling from the loss of iconic actor Chadwick Boseman, who died Friday, August 28, after losing a private battle to colon cancer. Boseman died at home surrounded by his family.

A statement released by his family said Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2016 and the disease progressed to stage 4. Boseman endured countless surgeries and treatments as he continued to make films from Marshall (directed by Reginald Hudlin), Da 5 Bloods (directed by Spike Lee) and August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (directed by George C. Wolfe and produced by Denzel Washington).

Washington and Boseman were first introduced when Washington paid for Boseman and several other Howard University students to continue their theater studies by taking a theater course in Oxford.

The Howard University-educated thespian was the star of Marvel’s Black Panther franchise, bringing to life one of the most important and revered superheroes in American film history.

Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther was the first superhero movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar and one of the highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in over $1billion.

Black Panther became more than a movie, morphing into a celebration of Black culture, art, history, achievement and intellect in addition to highlighting the Black cultural presence and influence in comic book culture.

Boseman was no stranger to playing iconic characters, bursting onto the big screen in 2013’s 42 as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Boseman went on to star as Soul legend James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall in 2017. Boseman brought a quiet dignity and powerful presence to these characters, with performances reflective of the weight they hold in world culture.

Prior to breaking into film, Boseman lived in New York, teaching at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture while cutting his teeth on small roles on shows like Law & Order, Third Watch, ER and Lie to Me, eventually landing recurring roles on Lincoln Heights and Persons Unknown.

It was Boseman’s turn as Jackie Robinson that cemented his film star status and his performance as T’Challa in Marvel’s Black Panther, that catapulted him to superstardom. Black Panther grew beyond the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon. Boseman, who hails from Anderson South Carolina, gave moviegoers a king who was stoic, powerful and captivating as he led warriors with love, intellect and strategy as they fought to maintain control of their powerful, technologically superior nation, ripe for poaching by outsiders.

Much like the Gullah culture of his home state, Boseman was able to effortlessly blend African and American culture to help create a fantastical world on screen that was inspirational and recognizable. Boseman led an all-star cast including Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Sterling Brown, Winston Duke and Academy award-winning actors Lupita Nyong’o and Forrest Whitaker, holding his own and fortifying his status as a Hollywood superstar.

Boseman, who also appeared as T’Challa/Black Panther in Avengers Infinity War and Avengers: End Game, starred in and produced the films 21 Bridges, Marshall and Message from the King, which he served as Executive Producer. At the time of his death, Boseman was in pre-production as producer on Yasuke, a film about the world’s first Black Samurai in which Boseman was slated to star.

In addition to acting and producing, Boseman was also an activist and philanthropist supporting social justice initiatives like Michelle Obama’s #WhenWeAllVote and celebrating fellow Bison Kamala Harris’ history making selection as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee for the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, which was his last Twitter post before his death.

In 2018, the wonderkind performer delivered a powerful commencement speech at Howard University encouraging students to rise above traumatic experiences and applauding their campus activism. Boseman, who was mentored by fellow Howard University alum Phylicia Rashad and helped financially by Denzel Washington as a student donated $100,000 to #Change4Change, which supports HBCUs in November 2019.

The private public figure spent time visiting children suffering from cancer at St. Jude’s Research Center. In April 2020, the actor donated $4.2 million worth of PPE equipment to hospitals serving Black communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The youngest of four, Boseman is survived by his parents Leroy and Carolyn Boseman, siblings Kevin, Dionne and Derrick and wife Taylor Simone Ledward. Boseman was 43.

Excerpt:
Boseman was no stranger to playing iconic characters, bursting onto the big screen in 2013’s 42 as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Boseman went on to star as Soul legend James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall in 2017. Boseman brought a quiet dignity and powerful presence to these characters, with performances reflective of the weight they hold in world culture.

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