February 2010

… And of course

– Hip-Hop Night tonight! FANGGGGGGGGGG!!! –

– This is an article from www.bellaonline.com

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

by Aurora Mae

Understanding how to push yourself beyond your fears and outside of the comfortable security of your everyday life is as necessary as it is difficult. In all aspects of our lives there are things we fear and feel uncomfortable doing because we don’t like stepping out of our comfort zone. The goal of this article is to aid you in thinking about how to push yourself beyond your own edge. When I say edge, I signify the point at which you metaphorically gasp with fear. Your edge is that moment when fear rises in your chest, your heart pounds and your breathing quickens. When you get to that point, take a deep breath, focus, and plunge ahead, whether it’s that last step off the plane while skydiving, telling someone how you feel, or letting loose on the dance floor.

Following this advice is hard, and sometimes painful. More often, it’s incredibly rewarding. A friend of mine who has asthma, a hip problem, and thought she wasn’t very athletic just ran her first marathon and finished. I surfed on and off for years before getting the guts to catch a ten-foot wave, and my fears of the ocean have diminished since. I lost thirty pounds through hard work, and learned that my body is capable of far more than I thought possible. There are stories like this every day from people who have confronted their fears and perceived limitations, and stepped past their edge.

Identifying your fears, personal limits, and boundaries is the first step towards conquering them. Take a piece of paper and write down everything you have been afraid of doing in your life, everything you have envied other people for doing, and everything you fear or everything that limits you from having the life you want. List the physical things you fear, but more importantly, list the mental and emotional. Be honest. If you cheat, you’ll only hurt yourself. After you make the list, group them into mental, emotional, and physical fears. Then group them from largest to smallest. Start small and work up to the more challenging things. Whether it’s standing up to a person who treats you badly or bungee jumping off a cliff, you push yourself that much further past your ‘edge.’

As you work your way up the list, always be careful. Before you do anything dangerous, get to know your body and how far it can be pushed, and use common sense. If you are at risk for a heart attack, think about another way to push yourself past your edge besides skydiving. If you are afraid of water, start off with a pool or small stream, not the ocean. Remember, the goal is not to traumatize yourself. It is to step past your edge enough that you can embrace new ideas and adventures without the same fears and limitations.

This site is dedicated to helping people live adventurously in all aspects of their daily life. But in order to live adventurously, you have to do more than go through the motions, the programs and the events. You have to progress towards an attitude of ‘I can do this. I may be afraid, but I know I am capable of pushing myself beyond my boundaries’ instead of ‘oh, god, can I do this?’ It is about facing your fear, owning it, and stepping past. Only then will you truly begin to live adventurously.

For more about Aurora Mae, please check out my professional writing services website and blog

– She has one of the most Beautifullist voices EVER! FANGGGGGGGG!! –

Bio(Courtesy of ReginaBelleWorld.com):

It’s not without some measure of fear and trepidation that gospel music puts checks and balances on reverse crossover artists. After all, for every general-market hopeful with pure, Christ-honoring motives, there’s always a controversial artist—good-intentioned, but ultimately far from the integrity, character, and value system required to represent Jesus to the church and to the world.

Four-time GRAMMY®-winning R&B/Pop songstress Regina Belle is a different story. Even as the New Jersey native rode high in the urban charts throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s with such urban classics as“Baby Come to Me,” “Make It Like It Was” and “What Goes Around,” faith, churchgoing, and gospel music remained at the very core of her life in the spotlight. Today, Belle is a pastor’s wife and minister of music at New Shield of Faith Ministries in Atlanta, where her husband, John S. Battle III, is senior pastor.

“I still went to church,” says Belle, whose LOVE FOREVER SHINES, her lifetime-in-the-making gospel debut, is set to make a splash via Ruben Rodriguez’ Pendulum Records with Walker Davis Entertainment and distributed by Fontana. “I carried it with me. I wasn’t necessarily in a church because I traveled from city to city. But God is not something that you can box in a building. You have to take him with you. Even though I didn’t have the understanding that I have now, He was still covering me even at that stage of the game.”

LOVE FOREVER SHINES is a triumphant homage to God’s faithfulness through it all, a testament to how His goodness and mercy followed the vocalist all the days of her life, from the cradle all the way through her decorated music career. Most importantly, the album is a tribute to the singer’s gospel music heritage—14 songs that speak to the bedrock of Belle’s faith, never more evident in the disc’s stunning centerpiece, the stirring traditional first single, “God Is Good.”

A precocious singer since a young age, Belle launched her music career with a bang when, as an 8-year-old, she performed her first church solo—a take-no-prisoners rendition of the gospel standard “Don’t Drive Your Mama Away,” originally by none other than Shirley Caesar, one of Belle’s early influences. Such was Belle’s talent that, by age 12, the budding songbird had her first professional gig, and, come high school, she received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music.

Her stint at the school was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Belle’s future endeavors. There, she was mentored by the tireless Inga Wolfe, a diligent voice teacher who believed in Belle’s unpolished gift so much that she was moved to tutor her in private. Unlike her musically inclined schoolmates, Belle actually had to work hard to bring out the best in her. “When I came into the school, I never really thought I was going to make it,” Belle says.

While she cherishes the lessons learned there, something was amiss: the school’s rigid music-only curriculum left her wanting something more, namely, a better grasp on her identity as a singer. “While that was a great experience, it was something that I really didn’t want for four years of college,” Belle says. “I wanted to have a broader sense of things. I wanted to get a broader idea of who I was…a better understanding of how the world works.”

That desire to expand her horizons drove Belle to Rutgers University, where she majored in history and accounting, two careers she complemented with music courses at what is now the state college’s famed Mason Gross School of the Arts. Once there, she was mentored by professors William Fielder and Kenny Barron, two greats who built on Belle’s raw talent and previous schooling and provided the tools that prepared her for the national stage.

Only 12 credits shy of graduation, Belle got the break of her lifetime when she received a call to audition for the Manhattans, an R&B group that soon asked her to record a duet with them and be their opening act. “At that moment, it was like, goodbye school,” says Belle with a laugh. “What I wanted to do was handed to me on a platter. All I had to do was walk through that door. I had to grow up real quick. That was my real training. The life work started to happen.”

It wasn’t long until Belle scored for herself a solo deal with Columbia Records, a successful partnership that yielded the albums ALL BY MYSELF, STAY WITH ME, PASSION and REACHING BACK.  STAY WITH ME, in particular, catapulted Belle to the No. 1 slot of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally, a feat driven in part by two chart-topping singles, “Baby Come to Me” and “Make It Like It Was”—the latter a soulful ballad originally passed on by the Winans.

The whirlwind of activity, accolades, and media attention eventually got the best of the singer, to the point that her gospel foundation was put on the backburner—no more testifying like Pastor Caesar anymore.

“I don’t think it was time for gospel music,” Belle explains. “I think that when God had me in a place to do gospel, that my life was going to be very different. I don’t believe that the Lord just wanted for me to do a gospel album. He wanted it to be a testimony as to where I am in my life. He wanted to put me in a place where I could share things, intimate things with my audience, to help them get through.”

“I know 10 years ago I wasn’t ready for gospel. I had way too much pride for that. Maybe in confidence I would share with someone that I tripped up on some different things, but I wasn’t going to tell that to anybody in public. But He put me in a place now where I’m not bound by that. I’m not bound by the things that I used to do because I don’t do them anymore.”

In a chapter that Belle isn’t afraid to recount, the singer candidly tells of the time when, behind the scenes, she was dealing with demons of her own—brought about by her pride, her long days on the road, the limelight, and the lack of accountability. “I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I drank socially,” Belle says. “It came to a point when I really started having a little bit too much to drink.”

Soon enough, hitting the bottle began to take a toll on other areas of Belle’s life, eventually leading her to believe that it was she—not God—who was at the helm of her life. “I had a bad attitude—wanting things when I wanted them, not having a good attitude about life in general,” Belle says. “I had money, and my money made me who I was.”

Slowly but surely, God began smoothing Belle’s rough edges, showing her that His power could be made perfect in even her darkest weakness—in her case, her ongoing bout with pride and self-sufficiency. “The Lord had to deal with me in that aspect because He allowed me to know that I needed a little bit more humility in my life, that everyday that I get to be on this planet is because of Him, not me,” she says.

As soon as that realization hit her, brought about by the realization that she needed to model Christ for her own children, Belle says that, little by little, “the whole drinking issue, even socially, began to dwindle to nothing. It was a major turning in my life. I began to see differently. It was a serious awakening.”

She continues: “That’s when I really started to sit down and study the Word. All the sermons that I heard before were really just sermons that I heard—I had never really received the Word. I began to see not only who Christ was, but I also got a better understanding of who I was.”

With her identity in Christ now firmly in place, Belle set out to record LOVE FOREVER SHINES, a disc that showcases her soulful, elegant alto set to the two styles that make up her musical persona: contemporary R&B and gospel music. Leave it to Belle to perform an early ‘90s quiet-storm number like the title track, only to switch gears and deliver a fiery, Sunday morning delight like the hand-clapper “Can’t Nobody.”

In the vein of great gospel storytellers, Belle recounts the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment in the heartfelt “Who Touched Me,” a song that slowly builds from a gently caressed keyboard to an impassioned cry of heart. That song is the perfect segue for one of LOVE FOREVER SHINES’s early climaxes, the sprawling, take-it-to-the-old-school “God Is Good,”a song that is both an acknowledgement of God’s never-ending goodness and a testament to the influence Belle’s grandfather had on the singer growing up.

Ultimately, Regina Belle wants to communicate both sides of the spectrum: that life is not just about the mountaintop experiences, but that it’s also about the valley of the shadow of death, that dark place of despair where, above all, love forever shines.

“There’s nothing on this side of this earth you can commit that you can’t be saved from,” Belle says. “There isn’t anything Jesus didn’t die for. That’s one of the devil’s greatest tricks—to make you feel that God won’t own you. But that’s a lie. God will own you. No matter what we do, he still owns us. If He did it for me, He’ll do it for you.”

– Courtesy of Wikipedia –

Beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion which primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing is connected with hip hop culture although it is not limited to hip hop music.


Vocal imitation of percussion sounds has existed for a very long time. One tradition is thought to have originated in India several thousand years ago: the tradition of bol, and the Chinese developed Kouji, a type of vocal performing arts. These had little or no relation with hip hop, however, and have no direct connection to modern Eastern Hip Hop. Some African traditions use performers’ bodies (clapping, stomping) to make musical sounds to maintain a steady musical pace. They made sounds using their mouths by loudly breathing in and out, which is done in beatboxing today. An American style called eefing first emerged in rural Tennessee near the beginning of the 20th century.

Hip-Hop Origins:

Beatboxing in hip hop originated in 1980s. Its early pioneers include Doug E. FreshBuffy from the Fat BoysWise (Stetsasonic) . Credits of the three include Doug E. Fresh for being the self proclaimed first “human beatbox,” Buffy for helping perfect the art & Wise for taking it to a level that inspired other individuals to want to be a human beatbox. Wise with his human turntable technique inspired a whole new fan base of human beatboxers. The term “beatboxing” is derived from the mimicry of the first generation of drum machines, then known as beatboxes.

Modern Beatboxing:

Beatboxing’s current popularity is due in part to artists such as Vaughan Chadderton, RahzelKenny Muhammad, and Matisyahu, who have promoted the art form across the world. Websites such as Humanbeatbox.com, BeatBox.Be, BeatboxWorld and YouTube also contribute substantially toward raising the profile of beatboxing.

Many a cappella singing groups have one or more members using this technique, especially when performing songs which have a heavy percussive element, in order to closely mimic or duplicate the original sound.

One of the modern singers and musicians who started to add his own sounds to his music was Michael Jackson in songs like Billie JeanTabloid Junkie, and Who Is It. Most of the time, he admitted that he needed a tape recorder to record this sound that came to his mind just to not forget them and around that base built the rest of the tune.

In 2005 the world championship of beatboxing was organised in Leipzig, Germany. The participants came from all over the world, and included Tom Thumb, and Joel Turner (Australia), White Noise (Ireland), RoxorLoops (Belgium), Poizunus(Canada), Faith SFX (UK). After several heats of beatbox battles, the final between RoxorLoops (Belgium) and Joel Turner (Australia) was decided. The five judges had a difficult time picking a winner and called for two extra rounds after which Joel Turner won the world championship.

Recently, a 2009 beatboxing world championship took place where over 52 beatboxers and many female beatboxers competed for the title. The female British winner Bellatrix (UK), the male Swiss winner, ZeDe (SUI), and the band Under Kontrol (FR) are now the holders of the largest beatboxing title.


As with other musical disciplines, some form of musical notation or transcription may sometimes be useful in order to describe beatbox patterns or performances. Sometimes this takes the form of ad hocphonetic approximations, but is occasionally more formal.

Standard Beatbox Notation (SBN) was created by Mark Splinter and Gavin Tyte of Humanbeatbox.com in 2006 as an alternative to International Phonetic Alphabet transcription, which had been used sparingly before then.

– More info on Beatboxing check humanbeatbox.com & Beatboxbattle.com


‘Obama shares ancestral ties with 7 ex-US presidents, including George Bush’

– Courtesy of TimesofIndia.Indiatimes.com

New York: After finding that seven previous US Presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are his distant kin, President Barack Obama has now discovered that the nations newest senator Scott Brown is also his distant cousin.

The New England Historical Geological Society (NEHGS), which has since 1845 traced the ancestry of Americans of English descent, says Obama is a long-lost cousin of Scott Brown.

A Republican, Brown created ripples in US politics Jan 19 by winning the Massachusetts senate seat long held by the late Edward Kennedy of the Democratic Party. His win has upset the President’s health reform agenda as Obama’s Democratic Party has lost the 60-mark filibuster majority in the 100-member Senate.

In a statement, the Boston-based New England Historic Genealogical Society says it has “uncovered family lines that link President BarackObama with Scott Brown, the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts.”

The society says Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown’s mother, Judith Ann Rugg, both are descendants of Richard Singletary of Haverhill, Massachusetts, who died in 1687 at the age of 102.

” President Obama descends from Richard’s eldest son, Jonathan Singletary, who later changed his surname to Dunham. Scott Brown descends from Jonathan’s brother, Nathaniel Singletary. This kinship makes Obama and Brown 10th cousins,” the society statement says.

Like his illustrious descendants (Obama and Brown), Singletary too held public office during his time, serving as town selectman in both Salisbury and Haverhill, Massachusetts, in the 1650s, the statement says.

In 2008, the society made the startling discovery that Obama is related to seven former presidents, including George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman, and James Madison, as well as actor Brad Pitt.

Reacting to his family links to Obama, Brown has been quoted in the media as saying that he is happy about his family ties “such distinguished company.”

The society has also discovered that Brown too is related to six other presidents, including George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Rutherford Hayes.

With their common ancestry, will Brown make common cause with cousin Obama on health reforms? Unlikely, say political experts.

– Courtesy of Nationalblackagendaonline.com

– Photography by Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen –

Courtesy of Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A 42-year-old Ottawa woman returned home from her grandmother’s funeral to be handcuffed, strip-searched and accused of drug-smuggling by Canadian customs agents at the Ottawa airport Tuesday night.

Charmaine Archer, a nurse’s assistant at a long-term care facility was on a flight from Philadelphia, the last leg of her trip home from Jamaica. She and her four-year-old son were pulled aside for inspection by border services agents at the airport as they left the plane around 11 p.m.

“I noticed I was the only one in that area,” she said.

Agents told Archer, who is a Canadian citizen, she was flagged because she paid for part of her ticket with a credit card, because she booked last minute and because she only stayed for four days.

Agents took what she described as gauze swabs and ran them over her wallet, the lining of her suitcase and even her toothbrush. This took over an hour, Archer said.

Her toothbrush, agents said, tested positive for heroin and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

“I said, ‘You’re a liar.’ I don’t do drugs, I don’t know anybody that does drugs, and I wasn’t around drugs when I was in Jamaica … I come from an upstanding family and nobody touched that toothbrush but me.”

Agents told her she would have to submit to a strip search.

“I said to her, ‘No way that’s going to happen! My husband don’t know what’s inside my rectum and neither will you.”

She was threatened with arrest and told her child would be sent to Children’s Aid, Archer said. The boy was eventually allowed to join his father, who was waiting to pick him and Archer up in the airport.

Archer was handcuffed and she eventually agreed to be searched.

“I got undressed. There were three women in the room — quite humiliating, quite degrading. I’m a big person, very conscious of my body … you can imagine how I felt.

“They made me stand up and hold my arm up and they made me lift up my breast. Then she told me to turn around and bend all the way over with my feet wide apart. And then she told me to use my hand and open my rectum.

“They told me to put one foot forward then squat and cough … they told me to lift up my belly and they told me open my feet apart and to pry my legs apart and they looked underneath my crotch.”

When it was over, “they asked if I wanted to take a minute to sit down,” since she was shaking and crying. They offered to help repack her bag and two male officers put her bags on a trolley to bring them down to her waiting husband. It was 2 a.m., and they had found no drugs.

“They never apologized, never said anything,” she said. “They thought they had a big fish.”

“This is by no means isolated,” said Ewart Walters, editor of the Spectrum, a monthly newspaper aimed at Ottawa’s black community. “There have been enough incidents over the years of people being picked on.”

He pointed to Leon Stewart, who was held for three hours at the airport in March, 2000. Like Archer, he was strip searched, only Stewart was asked to produce a bowel movement to satisfy customs agents he wasn’t concealing drugs.

“There is an overwhelming number of black people coming from Jamaica who get stopped and asked questions.” Walters said.

Kerwin Dougan, Archer’s travel agent with Voyages G Travel in Gatineau, agreed the destination may play a role in determining which people are detained for searches, including Jamaica in a list of countries he says has a reputation for drugs.

Many of his clients and friends have come through the Ottawa airport “not happy about how they’ve been treated,” he said.

Before returning to Canada Dougan suggests wiping out suitcase linings, thoroughly washing hands and clothing, and being aware of who’s around you in the airport.

Even fame is no antidote. In 2001 R&B singer Wilson Pickett was strip-searched upon his arrival in Ottawa. Archer has retained legal counsel.

“I want to know what my rights were.” she said. “I hope no one will ever have to feel the form of degradation that I felt. And that lack of power.”

Nobody at the Canadian Border Services Agency could be reached for comment.


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