Mint Condition at TBAAL in Dallas this Saturday talks with DSN’s Lorrie Jackson

By Lorrie Irby Jackson – Reporter

After twenty years, six studio albums, multiple hit singles and years of touring around the world, some bands are ready to kick back, count up the royalties and call it a day. But that’s not exactly the case for Mint Condition.

Not only is the St. Paul, MN-based quintet performing a series of summer dates (including their show at Dallas’ TBAAL on Saturday), the band is putting the finishing touches on new material and remains enthusiastic about maintaining their momentum in today’s turbulent music industry. In fact, according to multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter, Stokley Williams, now is the perfect time for them to get their groove back.

(L to R) Rick Kinchen, O'Dell, Jeff Allen, Lawrence El, and Stokely Williams

(L to R) Rick Kinchen, O'Dell, Jeff Allen, Lawrence El, and Stokely Williams

“We have our own unique lane. People are rediscovering soul, and figuring out where to go find it. Everything is cyclical,” Williams says by phone while preparing for the Houston and Dallas dates. “Folks love the real music and then they forget about it due to all of the other distractions out there, so now may be the time for people to discover us again,” he said. “We’re blessed to be doing our passion; we’re getting around the world, meeting people, and spreading it along.”

Their methods are obviously successful and responsible for smash singles such as “U Send Me Swingin’,” “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” What Kind of Man Would I Be,” “Whoa” and “Nothing Left to Say” (an enduring favorite from their 2008 CD eLife). Mint Condition’s ability to combine the musicality and showmanship of soul’s golden era with a contemporary edge is what keeps them in the mix.

And while he can’t pinpoint the direction their latest project is taking them just yet, Mr. Williams hopes it will drop by the end of the year and promises that it won’t be anything less than quality. “here’s always the element of organic music playing and the technology running through it, we’re just deciding on how the framework is going to be on this one,” Williams said. “The biggest parameter is that it just can’t be whack,” he laughs.

Maintaining that creative focus was a difficult task recently, due to the sudden death of one of their all-time iconic idols, Michael Jackson. The band was performing in Dallas with Kem and Charlie Wilson days after his death and everyone in the band seemed to bear the weight of the sad news. “All of us were like, ‘wow, a public family member just died, you know?’ Not unlike a lot of people, I had to pull my car over, like, ‘what…the…hell?’ ” Williams said.

As sad as it was, Mr. Williams chose to process the loss as a teachable moment. “I just saw Sugarfoot (of the Ohio Players), for example, never thought I’d get to meet him. But I sat down and talked with him for awhile and said man, you don’t realize what you’ve done and I just want to say thank you,” Williams said. If I ever get a chance to meet more of my musical heroes, those who made a dent in the way I sound, I tell em’ now. That way I can feel good about it. Tell em’ how you feel right then and there; don’t wait for some kind of tribute to do it,” he said.

It’s this sense of gratitude that will fuel their fire when they perform on July 3 at the Essence Music Festival this summer and join another world-renowned game-changer, Prince, as he tours in Europe. The music industry isn’t as easy to navigate as it was when they first started, but Mr. Williams says the band enjoys being independent artists. Their last two CDs were released under their own imprint, Caged Bird Records, distributed through Image Entertainment. Williams says the only way they can express their gratitude to their loyal following is to keep it hot, keep it fresh and to keep it moving.

“We can’t say ‘thank you’ enough,” he says humbly. “That’s how we love y’all back, getting out there and touching people. That’s what we do to keep the relationship going!”

TBAAL Presents: Lovers Only Tour

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
Naomi Bruton Main Stage

650 S. Griffin Str. Dallas, TX 75202

Sat, May 29, 2010 08:00 PM-11:00 PM

Main Floor Seating
US $52.50 – US $60.50
Mezzanine/Balcony Seating
US $45.50 – US $52.50

Lorrie Jackson headshotLorrie Irby Jackson is a freelance journalist based in Dallas and has covered entertainment professionally for several years, writing many articles for The Dallas Morning News. Her e-mail address is lorrie@dallassouthnews.org

Mario Van Peebles talks to Dallas South News about his movie “Fair Game”

By Lorrie Irby Jackson – Reporter

If you’re under the impression that Barack Obama’s election is proof of a post-racial and equal America, Mario Van Peebles has news for you.

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same, and in his searing, insightful documentary, Fair Game, which is re-airing on cable network TV One Sunday, Apr. 4, examines the unique and insidious issues that have persistently affected the African-American Diaspora through discussions with a diverse array of professionals, Black scholars, and other prominent entertainers (ranging from Drs. Alvin Poussaint and Cornel West to Chris Rock and Ice Cube).

While the film drops harrowing statistics plaguing the black community—the education and achievement gaps, the disproportionate incarceration rates and the diminishes presence of fatherhood— it also speaks to hope and healing for those willing to make an effort to help themselves and others.

In a recent chat, the 53-year-old actor and director, who just finished work on the upcoming film, “Black, White and Blues,” explained how the past affects the present, where the new generation can point their skills to keep jobs in the new millennium and how watching shows like ABC’s “Lost” can create a better nation.

Lorrie Irby Jackson: I enjoyed and learned a lot from your powerful documentary, Mr. Peebles—some of those same facts about prisons, colleges and drug abuse are the same ones that I give to my own teenager.

Mario Van Peebles: Glad you liked it, thank you. “Fair Game” is more for the adults, but there is a version that we did for the youth called “Bring Your ‘A Game’.” That’s the one your son should watch.

LIJ: Anyone can recite the same facts over and over, but your film provides a cultural context to those numbers, such as the looming father hunger’ that affects too many of our kids.

Mario-van-Peebles-1-181x300MVP: Exactly. I think that we have to be careful not to blur the line between personal responsibility and social responsibility. I have to do my best to parent, nurture and do my best to provide for my kids, which is the personal responsibility side of it. But we also need policies in place to ensure that these men can have decent homes, secure jobs and the proper education as well, hence the social responsibility.

And what’s deep too is black fathers, a few generations ago, weren’t allowed to be the husband or the father; the wife and children were the property of the slave master. It is a generational issue that we must address, and most of all, we just need to have only the kids that we can afford and love.

LIJ: Barack Obama’s election was a historical event, but it’s only been 40-odd years since the Civil Rights Bill was passed and you can’t tell some folks that America still has a long way to go as far as race relations. Why do many still deny this fact?

MVP: White America is built on the backs of slavery. They’ve generationaly profited off it for centuries now, and even though we have an African-American president, there’s still no equality from the top to bottom. Think about it, we represent 13% of the US population, and less than ½ of 1% of America’s wealth. Less than one half of one percent.

So if America has a cold, we got pneumonia (laughs). You’ll see the roots of that in the grandfather clauses that were put in place to keep us from acquiring that wealth, banning our ancestors from education, land ownership; we still have to deal with it. And one person (President Obama) isn’t able to correct all those ‘isms’ in our society, but each one of us can bring a light and then collectively, we can bring the dawn.

LIJ: Well-said. I also appreciate the work that you are doing with green technology and what The First Lady is doing by trying to reduce the number of ‘food deserts’ in our poorer communities. Those actions go a long way in keeping present and new generations both healthy and employed.

MVP: Absolutely: I got the honor of hanging out with Van Jones (green technology pioneer and former green jobs advisor for the White House in 2009), and what he was talking about was switching over from fossil fuels to solar and wind energy. After all, the sun and wind ain’t going away, but oil and coal are.

They can’t outsource building solar panels for homes to China, they have to do that here, so that gives brothers a prime opportunity to get trained in this emerging field and stay working. The question is, however, can we get some brothers to pick up the caulk gun instead of the handgun? That’s the choice that they’re going to have to make.

As for what Mrs. Obama is doing, yes, we need to end food apartheid, killing ourselves with our knife and fork. Indigenous people knew to live in harmony with nature did, and society has to relearn how to do that.

Lorrie Irby Jackson: When is TV One going to re-air the special you had about turning your entire home and family eco-friendly, Mario’s Green House?

Mario Van Peebles: (Laughter) Filming that was a lot of fun. You’ll have to call TV One and ask them when they’re airing it again though, I can’t tell you.

LIJ: How do you feel President Obama’s doing so far, and what do you think of the dissent he’s been experiencing lately?

MVP: I still wake up every morning proud that he is our President. I’m still in awe of that achievement. As for the opposition, certain people who have misinformation are just willing to vote against their own best interest, everything is socialized. They complain about health care? What about the roads, the hospitals, the fire departments? Practically everything is socialized.

Obama in Oval OfficeI watched a film not too long ago called “Outfoxed” (a 2004 documentary), and in the movie, they did a test surveying which networks got the political facts correct. If the audience watched the BBC network, they got a lot of facts right, and if they watched CNN, they got a lot of facts right, but they regularly watched FOX News—-or what I call FOX fake News—they learned the least amount of facts. They only push the Republican agenda, so if that’s the network you watch, you’ll have a skewed view of the world. That test audience believed, for example, that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. It was unbelievable.

The next thing they have to do (in the Obama Administration) is economic reform. We’re still living with the laws that brought us to the crisis. So their protests are astonishing. I was working with a cat the other day, a polish guy, and he told me, ‘Eighteen years ago, I just knew there would be a black president. When I looked at my kid’s posters, I saw Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson and Prince, and they grew up believing that Bill Cosby was the world’s funniest father and that ‘Miami Vice’ was the coolest show. So, since they didn’t have the racial biases that the previous generation had, I knew it would be only a matter of time before we had a black president.’”

LIJ: Before we wrap it up, inquiring minds want to know….what was it like for you to direct a recent episode of “Lost”?

MVP: (cracks up) I did “Lost” because it makes you think, and stimulating programs can create thinking voters, which, ultimately, leads to a stronger democracy. I was proud to be a part of it, it’s an awesome show.

Lorrie Jackson headshotLorrie Irby Jackson is a freelance journalist based in Dallas and has covered entertainment professionally for several years, writing many articles for The Dallas Morning News. Her e-mail address is lorrie@dallassouthnews.org

Mary J. BIige “I Am” single released ahead of next album

I heard Mary J. Blige’s latest song on the way in to the office this morning and of course I was hooked instantly.  I knew that Angel would have the goods on her site and she’s got the single “I Am” up for your listening pleasure.

Listen to “I Am” now at Concrete Loop

Mary J’s “Stronger” keeps getting pushed back, but it’s now slated to hit stores on December 22nd.

Video: Ludacris talks about fixing communities and responsible leadership

Is Ludacris the leader we’ve been looking for?

Chris Bridges a.k.a Ludacris is offering a refreshing image for an art form that has seemed to lose its way over the last decade.  This past weekend he made the circuit, promoting his foundation and asking for a new look at philanthropic leadership.  This 4 1/2 minute video is worth the time.

Good Look Luda.

HR 848: Is it really that bad?

A few months back a friend of mine sent me a text to ask if I was listening to the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.  He said they were talking about some bill making its way through Congress that might cause black radio to go out of business.  I tuned in to some of their discussion, but ended up going to my computer to really do some research on HR 848 also known as the Performance Rights Act of 2009, which was the topic of discussion.

Check the initial Dallas South post on HR 848 from May 13, 2009

So to the best that I could tell, it seemed like the Rep. John Conyers sponsored legislation is intended to help artists obtain royalties for music played over terrestrial radio.  I noticed that my local Congresswoman (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson) was a co-sponsor of the bill so I immediately called her office to get their take.  They were doing their own research so I didn’t get anything from them that morning.  Congresswoman Johnson later withdrew her support of the bill.

Click here to view House Performance Rights Act – HR 848.

I didn’t see what was so bad with Conyers efforts and why it was such a threat to black radio, but soon Radio One executive Cathy Hughes was all over the air waves telling me why she thinks it is.

Commentary from Black Agenda Radio on Hughes action towards U.S. Representatives

Last month at the NABJ convention, I had a chance to sit down with a group of people in the entertainment industry who are part of  musicFirst.  musicFirst is a coalition who supports the legislation that would help artists get royalties from radio stations.  According to their website, the group “is committed to making sure everyone, from up-and-coming artists to our favorites from years-ago, is guaranteed Fair Play for Air Play.”

Crystal Watters, Paul Porter, Sean Glover

musicFirst was hosting a sangria/mojito mixer for NABJ members to try to tell them their side of the HR 848 debate.  While the drinks were flowing and the chocolate dessert shots were delicious, I don’t think the musicFirst was able to capture the attention of the journalists who had been in sessions and workshops all day and were really just trying to unwind.


Fortunately Crystal Watters, Paul Porter, and Sean Glover met with me pre-sangria to give me their thoughts on the hoopla surrounding HR 848.  Watters looked familiar and told me that she had a couple of dance hits from the ’90s that I would know, but for some reason she didn’t give me the titles.

I now know that she was the artist who vocalized Gypsy Woman (La Da Dee La Da Da) and  100% Pure Love.  Currently she has a site called Club Heads Radio where she feature the work of the worlds top D.J.’s


“It’s my property, it’s my voice on a song,” Watters said early in our conversation, “everybody gets paid but the artist.” Watters, who still tours Europe often, says most countries compensate artists for air play with notable exceptions being the U.S., N. Korea, China, and Iran.  “This shouldn’t be a black issue,” she said.

Paul Porter is a former program director for BET and founder of IndustryEars.  IndustryEars bills itself as a think tank or “consortium of entertainment and broadcast industry professionals with more than 60 years of experience dedicated to revealing truth and promoting justice in media.”

Porter diligently observes the music industry, and has been outspoken against Hughes and her tactics of fighting HR 848.  “She’s berating Conyers (on the air) and there’s no response from the press.  If Sean Hannity did it it would be a problem,” Porter told me.

Porter recently wrote an open letter to Ms. Hughes:

Dear Ms Hughes:

As the Founder of Radio One, the nation’s largest African American broadcaster, I have admired your unprecedented accomplishments for close to thirty years. While starting my career in Washington DC, I watched and listened to you for years during your humble beginnings at WOL-AM. In the late 80’s, I will always be grateful for you hiring me to program WMMJ, your first FM outlet.

Our accomplishments during my tenure at WMMJ continue to be the highlight of my career. Rising with a weak signal in a competitive DC market, Majic 102.3 was the third in the country to adopt the Urban AC format. Taking WMMJ from a zero market share to the number 4 AC spot, in a mere nine months, was the catalyst for what now makes you the dominant force in urban radio.

In recent months we have witnessed a media uprising of coverage that I believe is a direct effect of America’s first Black President.. Broadcast media is the country’s trend setter and Black radio continues to be Black America’s only mainstream voice. Although CNN airs Black in America in the midst of summer, and the complexion of pundits has darken during the rise of Obama, cable television and network TV still has no person of color hosting a prime time show.

What happens behind the cameras and microphones has been getting worse. Minority ownership is down, while the executive barrier in management still mirrors the post civil rights era. Debra Lee, Black Entertainment Television’s CEO, is a prime example of a face that accepts socially unacceptable imagery that permeates most corporate machines. BET continues to blind us with shows like “Franke & Neffe”, the modern day equivalent to the slapstick “Amos and Andy”. Historically, Black America has always been short changed in our images, perceptions and representations. We can’t expect change, unless people of color program it, demand it and change the Madison Avenue view on Non Urban Dictate. Educating listeners of what goes on behind the scenes will help not hurt. TV One has been a huge step in the right direction and for that I applaud you.

Few are in the position to empower, organize and inform millions of people that are thirsting for content, information and representation. Black radio needs voices now more than ever. Rush Limbaugh, is a prime example of a business plan that not only is financially rewarding but changes direction in American culture.

Porter goes on:

Ms Hughes, you have that power. For the past few months, your voice has been heard on over fifty of your stations, in a series of two to three minute announcements, 10 to 12 times daily. Those who have not heard the announcements (www.RealityRadioonline.com) might guess the subject might be health care, the economy, education or maybe a response to the racist attacks by Tea Baggers, Birthers, Glenn Beck or Fox News on President Obama.

Instead you aimed your microphone in opposition to HR 848, The Performance Rights Act. You have berated members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for months, without even a minute of an honest debate. The truth is Ms Hughes, you have pushed that button because you knew you could. Mainstream media rarely covers any issue except black on black violent crime. If Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly railed on distinguished CBC members like John Conyers, Sheila Jackson-Lee or Hank Johnson, Black radio and press would be outraged. Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden would be defending the CBC members you have furiously attacked. But for now their voices are silenced only because their allegiance to you. Power often brings a free pass.

Fear tactics seem to be today’s replacement for news and information. Unfortunately, the listeners you are licensed to serve continue to get your commentary with only entertainment news. While in DC, you made your mark as the “Queen of information”, branding “Information is Power” on your flagship station WOL-AM.  News content is none existent in a world where a Black adult is 25 times more likely to hear a syndicated music host like Tom Joyner or Michael Baisden. Syndication on Black radio has increased at an alarming 343%, while white music syndication has decreased in the past ten years. The “less is more” philosophy basically adds up to controlling the messengers.

Your voice for the first time has become an example of Black media telling Black America a series of distortions. The Truth is the HR 848 would not kill Black radio, 80% of Black owned radio stations would pay a mere $5,000 or less royalty fee. What you have failed to mention in “Reality Radio” is a tax goes to the government. The “PRA” would help thousands of musicians and singers to be paid a royalty, just like the songwriters have been paid for decades.  HR 848 is simply a civil rights issue. HR 848 is not about Jay Z or Beyonce the few millionaires, it’s about Ron Smith, the guitarist from Frankie Beverly and Maze who continues to keep your listeners entertained in the hybrid of music only formats that Radio One and most broadcasters deliver everyday.

Only the US, China, North Korea and Iran don’t pay radio royalties to performers and musicians. I do understand protecting your bottom line, but doing the right thing and stating facts is not an option.

Click here to read the Paul Porter’s message in its entirety.

Watters, Porter, Grandmaster Dee (Whodini) and Glover

I’ve heard the commercials, I’ve read HR 848, scanned articles in other publications, and to date no one has told me what’s so bad about this bill, and no one has told me how it will kill black radio.  The beating that Ms. Hughes is unleashing on Conyers  and others on Radio One is as bad as her lashing of candidate Barack Obama last year.

There has to be a better way for her to get her point across.  Satellite radio and Internet streaming-services pay artist royalties but terrestrial radio does not.  Something doesn’t quite add up.  I guess that’s what these artists are saying.

We need your help Dallas South Family

DSN Bridge Logo

(Thanks in advance for your help Fam…Shawn P.)

Dallas South News has launched a campaign to gain 100 new members before the end of the day on Friday. As most of you know, our mission is to utilize technology, social media, and journalistic principles to empower and inform underserved communities.  We are a nonprofit news organization that relies in part on contributions from our readers to help us cover important stories as they pertain to Southern Dallas.

Carla Lacy interviews Carlton Cooper with Jerome Sheffield on the Camera

Carla Lacy interviews Carlton Cooper with Jerome Sheffield on the Camera

This week we look to add 100 names to our current list of supporters.  We ask that anyone reading this post visit our Donation Page and join our cause by making a secure online contribution. While details of our membership plan are being worked out, those who sign up prior to Friday will receive free admission (first come first serve) to our initial “Meet the Editor” event next month (Guest to be announced soon).

You may also mail a check payable to Dallas South News to our newsroom at 1409 S. Lamar Ave., Suite 609 Dallas, TX  75215.  No amount is too small (or too large).

DSN Intern Michael L. Counter, Jr.

DSN Intern Michael L. Counter, Jr. covering DART Green Line Opening Celebration

Volunteer Photographer Byron Watters

Volunteer Photographer Byron Watters at Cotton Bowl

News is more popular than ever, and we believe the nonprofit model is an idea whose time has come.  As mainstream media outlets pick and choose which communities to devote their resources to, many Southern Dallas neighborhoods will be left behind and their voices will be silenced.

Please join us in our effort to build communities through the sharing and documentation of narratives.  Sign up today and help us reach our goal.   Thanks in advance for your consideration.

BET.com Executive Editor Andreas Hale Calls it Quits!

This is a message that was sent to friends from Andreas Hale, former Executive Editor of Music of BET.com.  I am posting this message with his permission.  Hat tip to Paul Porter of www.IndustryEars.com.

To friends, colleagues and those that should know,

As of today (September 8, 2009) I am no longer the Executive Editor of Music at BET.com.

Upon entering the position at BET I said that I needed one year to see what really went on inside the belly of the beast. I needed 365 days to sleep with the enemy and infiltrate the system. One year to see if they REALLY wanted change at BET.

As someone who has been critical of BET for many years, it surprised many that I would leave my post at HipHopDX last year to take a position at BET. But it was an opportunity I absolutely had to take. I could no longer be critical of this company without accepting the opportunity to change it when given. Although I was hired to bring about change, I was systematically shut down. I wasn’t hired to make noise, I was hired to be silenced.

The truth of the matter is that everything that you thought was wrong with BET is true.

Over the past year I’ve seen a lot to reinforce my position that BET is too far gone in the negative to turn into a positive. We have all always thought the worst, but to actually see it in action is another thing in its entirety. The unprofessionalism, the tom foolery, the favors, the misappropriation of resources, the bad ideas that reinforce negative stereotypes, the emasculation of men, the meetings that break down in full fledged cursing battles, the unpaid overtime, the tears from employees scared for their underpaid and overworked positions and ultimately the unwillingness to change are all harsh realities that I’ve witnessed firsthand.

That is not to say that there aren’t some good people who have sat in the offices of BET. Unfortunately, the good people are not in positions of power to instill any change. Instead, they work their fingers to the bone just to keep their jobs in this harsh economic climate. The other good people ran out of the door as soon as an another employment opportunity presented itself. To say BET was a revolving door would be an understatement.

I came in with a plan to provide balance and to deliver good music to the masses and help make BET relevant again – at least in the dot com world. Those attempts were shut down by out of touch executives who run a dot com but could barely turn on a computer. By those who judge their metrics by page views over absolute unique visitors (that‘s ad sales talk). By those who simply don’t understand the internet.

They brought me in because of my track record but never once took a look at my body of work. If they did, they would have known that I was the pen behind editorials such as “BET’s Coon Picnic” or were aware of the many times I have been critical of their award shows and programming. All they knew is that I played a major role in making a once unknown website into a online media outlet that surpassed theirs and they wanted a piece of the action. Too bad they never researched who I really was.

During my tenure I worked long hours and sometimes succeeded at bringing in decent content to try to reflect the change I wanted to achieve. But it wasn’t without opposition. While some interviews and content initiatives were able to make it through, many others were either shut down or met with ridicule.  I offered ideas to incorporate the blog world and to spotlight new talent before MTV did. Those ideas were met with comments such as “This isn’t HipHopDX” or “You don’t know what you are talking about.”

BET is not about the quality of your work. Rather, BET is about the relationships you have with powerful people within the company. BET is not about challenging. Instead, BET is about accepting and saying “yes.” If you have known or followed me over the years, you would know that these are things that simply are not in my character and ultimately resulted in my removal.

For the artists and labels that I have worked with for years, I tried. I did whatever I could to achieve that balance many of us wanted to see happen.  To the writers who wanted to writer for BET, I made an attempt but was never given a budget to work with.

Upon my arrival, I was told I would be given a staff. Not true. I had a staff of one to carry out daily operations on a website. I fought tooth and nail to accomplish the minimum (an embeddable player and a site people could navigate) and was constantly brushed off. It was a position that was set up for failure. But I endured as long as I could.

Alas, I have been removed from my position after infiltrating the system and the timing was perfect. I wasn’t let go because the site’s numbers were down. Not because I didn’t work hard. Simply because of a personality clash with an individual whose proverbial ass I didn’t kiss enough. Again, not about the work you do but about the relationships you keep and the sides you take.

I’d like to thank BET for covering the cost of my relocation to bring me to the great city of New York/New Jersey. I’d also like to thank them for putting me in close quarters with people who think like me and will hopefully work with in the near future. I’d also like to thank them for providing me enough controversial content that I observed firsthand and will make for many tales to be told.

I said it and I meant in: One year to either make changes or move on. I left HipHopDX on September 16th 2008. Today is September 8, 2009. Eight days short of a year. Most thought I wouldn’t even last that long. But in that year I’ve had my greatest fears about Black Entertainment Television affirmed.

There is so much wrong with BET that I’d rather not break it down in a single email.

It is pretty good fodder for a book don’t you think?

As of today, Andreas Hale is a free agent.

AEG Schools BET: “How to be an Entertainment Company” 101

BY GENMA HOLMES

After watching the coverage of Michael Jackson, I noticed many similarities and differences between the AEG and BET televised events. Both are companies that are in the business of staging concerts, television productions and are part of larger conglomerates.

BET targets African-American between the ages 18-34 as their marketing base. AEG developed and operates the $150 million official U.S. Olympic Training Facility.

AEG, which was heavily invested in the Michael Jackson upcoming tour, is part of AEG Live. The AEG brand includes managing sport arenas around the world, merchandising, and corporate sponsorship and marketing. BET is part of Viacom which includes VH1, MTV, Nickelodeon, CMT and Comedy Central to name a few.

Anyone in the entertainment industry would recognize the power of three short letters, BET or AEG, which employ thousands. That would include camera operators, sound engineers, set designers, travel agents and key board operators. Both entities have contact to talented artists worldwide and can sermon them at a moment’s notice.

AEG’s commitment to excellence was evident in the production of MJ’s home going ceremony. From the details of the printed program to the orchestrated performances of the stars, their desire to ensure MJ’s messages of empowerment, hope, humanitarian endeavors, and his musical genius were reflected in every facet of the production.

As I have said previously, how a show starts usually determines how it will end. With the opening song “Going to see the King”, you knew the program would have a spiritual connotation despite the fact an entertainment company was in charge. The attention to details was impeccable. His coordinated brothers were his pall bearers who wore his signature glove. It reminded us that MJ started his musical journey with his brothers.

They honored MJ’s independence from the group, by wearing his coveted trademark with loving pride. That symbolic touch was the start of a service that remained elegant from beginning to the end.


BET repeated excuse that it only had a few days to prepare a ‘tribute’ revealed their commitment to mediocrity and throwing things together at the last minute. Their justification for the lack of quality and care gave life to the word “ghetto”.

The artistry of the talent on the stages gave you a glimpse of how the two brands view themselves. AEG understood that the eyes of the world were on them and how it managed this program was an investment in how they will be perceived by everyone. BET was the first to honor MJ’s legacy but did not understand the significance of the world’s penetrating glare.

The program was marketed as a tribute to MJ but they were not able to turn off their usual misogynistic, sexist, and degrading antics of its own people to realize the social responsibility that was expected of them by fans from around the world to honor MJ’s legacy. BET also misjudged its community and the power of the internet, via blogs and Twitter, to do what others have not been able to accomplish for years, shame them for their programming.

There are many actors and actresses in black community but only a few have won Oscars. Both AEG and BET had African-American Oscar Winners, Jamie Fox and Jennifer Hudson, on their stages. Jamie and Jennifer are musical prodigies but Jennifer used her voice to echo MJ’s talent and Jamie used his voice to mock MJ.

Funny stories were shared by many close to MJ at AEG’s event; their stories were heartfelt and respectful. Absence was the buffoonery that Jamie exhibited at BET.

AEG included various artists from Motown, which was part of MJ’s history as well as a strong influence in the black community. BET had access to Motown executives and artists also. They have honored Diana Ross, Barry Gordy, and Quincy Jones in recent years.

I remember Miss Ross admonishing the audience to respect each other with their lyrics and dances. Both companies had athletes on stage. AEG athletes, Kobe and Magic, shared firsthand stories about MJ that made everyone laugh.

BET’s Athlete of the Year, LeBron James, was booed by the audience. No public apology was issued to LeBron James or his legions of fans watching. AEG used their arsenal of contacts for the greater good and used MJ’s music to unite the world.

In contrast, BET does not understand the value of maintaining healthy community and artistic relationships from different genres, musical eras, and backgrounds.



Each song that was performed at the memorial highlighted MJ’s legacy. His songs were the heart of the service. The songs that were not his songs, like Smile, were song because they were meaningful to him and touched MJ in a special way.

The song “Every Girl” included in BET’s show and sung by baby maker, Lil Wayne, seems an odd choice whether you are a fan of MJ or not. It’s hard to believe Lil Wayne cared about a tribute to MJ.

But on the other hand, Usher’s performance was loving and unforgettable. Not only did he move the audience emotionally with his presentation, but you knew his tearful tribute was from the heart.

In fact, when I listened to BET’s replay, the tribute was riddled with profanity, plugs for new releases, concerts appearances, and various BET “products”, i.e. reality shows, that will do more harm than good to its demographics.


There was no stage or casket sponsorship with AEG. But BET’s sponsors were mentioned every few minutes. Jennifer Hudson, who wore a modest white dress, did not leave us questioning her attire. Whereas Beyonce’s white outfit, left many bewildered.

Both women had others on stage with them, but the additional people on the stage with Jennifer were the chorus who gave you a visual that MJ’s songs reflected his admiration of diversity and international inclusion. Beyonce’s extras on stage were part of her costume change that emphasize her “showmanship” not MJ’s words that tells us, “In the promise of another tomorrow, I’ll never let you part for you’re always in my heart”.

AEG even muzzled Joe Jackson and did not prominently showcase him or his coonery. BET gave him a world stage that left us all wondering why in God’s name would anyone give him a mic or MJ’s children.



AEG gave an emphasis to Michael Jackson’s childlike heart in many respects and ended their memorable tribute with children singing his words, with smiles and joyful hearts that radiated from the stage.

The last words spoken regarding the greatest entertainer in the world was an unexpected announcement from his daughter that her “Daddy was the greatest father in the world”. It left critics speechless and moved the rest of the world to tears.


On the other hand, BET’s children who were on stage left me speechless and in tears but for reasons that has been addressed by thousands of angry emails and tweets to Debra Lee.

In the end, AEG showed us it was not about Michael Jackson, but the mark he left on the world. They managed to show that in spite of the years of suspicion, two trials and media debauchery, he made contributions that cannot be argued or denied.

His monetary gifts of 300 million to global agencies have touched thousands of lives but his songs will live “forever, and forever, and forever”. BET showed us that it was all about them, and they shot themselves in the foot.

They drew attention to everything that is wrong with BET’s brand and why it hurts the black community on a wide-reaching stage. The stereotypes of the African- American community, that many fight every day, were front and center.

AEG will make millions from the reproduction of ceremony and the memorabilia copyrights. They invested in MJ’s ceremony and made their name a household brand.

Their stock will increase and they will become known as the entertainment company for quality production events. BET made a few thousands and proved why they are becoming irrelevant in the entertainment community. They will be forever and forever and forever remembered for their failed attempt to honor an African-American musical intellectual that transcended race, religion, and politics.

They did not take the time to view the long term value of honoring MJ right the first time, even on a smaller scale. The lessons AEG showed us by their actions should be a life lesson for everyone not only BET; the value of your brand is reflective of the standards you set.
Photo Credit: MTV, NBC, www.realtalkNY.net

Genma Stringer Holmes is an actress, model, and speaker turned entrepreneur who owns an environmental pest control company.  She blogs at Genma Speaks.