Category Archives: entertainment

Why I Love/Hate Jay Z’s Decoded Book Cover by Joy Farrington

As a self-published author, you learn early on that one of THE most important marketing tool in your toolbox is your book cover. It has to stand out against the gazillion of other books out there. Authors know that ultimately our book cover will act as our spokesperson when we are not available to promote the book ourselves. Therefore, we work closely with our cover designer to make sure that our book cover will entice consumers to pick our book from the hordes of other titles on the shelves of their favorite store.

Which brings me to Jay Z’s book Decoded. At first glance, the book covers lacks…something. Where’s the bold colors? Where’s the half-naked woman standing next to a man dramatically staring off in the distance? Where’s the single rose petal falling mysteriously from the sky? Where’s the “You gotta get this book!” cover design that I’m used to seeing on the shelves?!

But the more I looked at Decoded, the more I fell in love with the book cover. I love the cover art and simplicity of the design is amazing. It’s less of a book cover and more of an album cover for a greatest hits collection or an amazing painting at an art exhibit (FYI:the cover is an image of Andy Warhol’s “Rorschach”). The gold and cream design with a simple “Jay Z” and “Decoded” stated above the art work is the only items printed on the front of the book. There’s no list of testimonials from a string of A list stars, no copy writing, no…anything.

 And that’s the beauty of it. When you reach a state of complete awesomeness like Jigga, you don’t need plugs, fillers, or any other promotional gimmick on the front of your cover. Your name speaks for itself. So although the book cover may not fly for a typical author, it’s the perfect fit for a book written by a man who doesn’t follow the rules; he creates them.

A Body in Motion by Kam Williams

Born in London on November 6, 1972, Thandie Newton is a consummate actress associated with riveting performances in everything from Beloved to Besieged to Crash. She will soon be seen in the independent film Vanishing on 7th Street where she stars opposite Hayden Christensen and John Leguizamo, and she is currently shooting the psychological thriller The Retreat with Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell.  

Thandie won both a BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards for her work in Crash, the Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 2006. She most recently appeared in 2012, a sci-fi flick which grossed in excess of $750 million at the box office worldwide. 

            Newton impersonated Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in W. which was directed by Oliver Stone. Other films on her impressive resume’ include The Pursuit of Happyness, Run Fat Boy Run, The Truth about Charlie and Mission Impossible 2.  

            Here, she talks about playing Tangie in Tyler Perry’s screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls, an ensemble drama co-starring Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine and Phylicia Rashad.  

Kam Williams: Hi, Thandie, thanks for the time. The last time we spoke was when you were doing Run Fatboy Run.

Thandie Newton: [Sarcastically] Well, For Colored Girls is exactly like that one, isn’t it Kam?  


KW: [Playing along] Sure, the same storyline, and you’re even playing the same character. I want to get right to questions submitted by fans of yours. Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks what were your initial feelings about taking the role of Tangie?

TN: Terror. I was really terrified, because the film was so unlike anything I’d ever done before, because Tangie’s so unlike me, and because of the quiet, sensitive and grateful place I was in my life on a personal level. I knew I’d now have to go out and be this audacious, promiscuous character.


KW: But you killed in the role! You did it!

TN: You know what, my darling? I got into it. I pulled myself away from my place of peace and compassion. [LOL]


KW: Reverend Florine Thompson asks: Which character in For Colored Girls do you most identify with?

TN: Oh, goodness! Gilda, possibly. But, honestly, I identify with a bit of everybody.


KW: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier says: I think you’re a great actress! Is Tangie one of the more complex and challenging characters you’ve played?

TN: Absolutely! And I am so grateful for the opportunity to play her, because there are times when a character is uncomplicated and just about moving the story from A to B which makes me want to quit. As opposed to pieces like this where I get to play a real character. For Colored Girls has recharged my batteries for the next decade. It reminded me of what acting can be, how powerful a tool it can be, and how entertaining and provocative it can be for an audience. These types of roles don’t come along often, but I seem to get them at the right time, and then I decide not to throw in the towel.    


KW: FSU grad Laz Lyles asks: With a text this powerful, what was the self-discovery factor like? Were there any dormant traits that unexpectedly came to the surface?

TN: I found an uncompromising, dominating person that felt good, actually.  

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says: I remember how moved I was after reading For Colored Girls when it was first published. Did the depicted slices of African-American women’s lives resonate with you even though you grew up in Cornwall as the daughter of a woman born in Africa?

TN: It’s funny, because I don’t feel like I’m playing an African-American, necessarily. I feel like I’m playing a human being with that specific accent, that’s all. And I feel that way with all the characters I play. My approach might be validated by my background in anthropology which I majored in at Cambridge. I learned there that when it comes to emotions, we all feel pain in the same way, everyone, whether you’re from Istanbul or Beijing. 


KW: Yale grad Tommy Russell asks: Is there a theatrical role you would love to play?

TN: I’m looking forward to playing Cleopatra, in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, but not for another twenty years or so.


KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

TN: I’ll let you know when that question arises. I’m sure it’s out there, but I couldn’t put my finger on it right now.

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

TN: Less and less as time goes by.


KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

TN: Yes.


KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

TN: Ooh, yesterday afternoon with my children in the back of a cab. One of them said something so dry and witty that I laughed until I had tears in my eyes.


KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

TN: It’s called, “What to Look for in Winter,” by Candia McWilliam.


KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: Who are you listening to on your iPod? 

TN: Right now, the group TV on the Radio.


KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

TN: Banana bread.


KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

TN: Nathan Jenden.


KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

TN: My children.


KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

TN: That rape would no longer be used as a weapon of war.


KW: How can your fans help you?

TN: Aww, that’s a sweet question. By being honest… By having opinions… and by being adventurous about what they choose to watch, movie-wise.


KW: The Boris Kodjoe question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

TN: My daughters, definitely.


KW: Have you ever wished you could have your anonymity back?

TN: It’s impossible. I don’t think anyone’s anonymous, anyway.


KW: Do you ever feel the pressure to not change creatively?

TN: No, I don’t. I’ve been fortunate not to have been pigeonholed by virtue of being mixed-race, of being English and black, and by virtue of working all over the world. I’ve enjoyed a great degree of variety in the work that I’ve done. It’s been quite unique.   


KW: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do?

TN: The people I meet, the stories I hear, and the experiences I get to have without actually living them for real.


KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

TN: A cigarette at the end of the day.


KW: Reverend Florine Thompson asks: What spiritual path do you follow?

TN: Buddhism.


KW: Do you ever get lonely while working on the road?

TN: Yeah, but I call my Mum, and she gets on a plane and comes to see me.


KW: the Zane question: Do you have any regrets?

TN: No.


KW: Bernadette asks: Are you still friendly with Nicole Kidman?

TN: Yes, I still see Nicole. Whenever we get together, we have nothing but good things to say to each other. We shared a very beautiful time and memory making a movie called Flirting. We were both very young, and I think there’s a real fondness that we identify with one another just because of how young we were and how much life has changed since then. So, when I see her, I feel like life is slipping back into that innocence, which is really sweet.


KW: Tommy asks: Is it true that you drive a Prius? If so, do you like your new car and do you think everyone should make the shift to a hybrid or electric car?

TN: Yes, I have for about three years now. Yes, I like it, but it takes a commitment to convert to living in ways which are environmentally sound.


KW: Reverend Thompson was wondering, if you had a choice to play the role of a famous person, who might that be.

TN: Nina Simone. I’d love to just know more about her, and a movie would be a great place to see the evolution of her life and to learn from it and to be grateful for what she was able to give the world despite having suffered so much.

KW: A famous person you already played was Condoleezza Rice. How did you prepare for that role?

TN: I went back to my Cambridge roots and did an ethnography on her. I read a lot of books, not only about her, specifically, but also about the Bush administration. And I watched snatches of her on everything from Charlie Rose to Youtube and then I channeled everything that I learned from my research into my performance on screen.  


KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

TN: Finding a diamond in a sausage.


KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?

TN: By remembering what I’m grateful for.


KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?

TN: Myself.


KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

TN: Live in the moment.


KW: The Tavis Smiley question: how do you want to be remembered?

TN: You’ve been kind.


KW: Well, thanks for another great interview, Thandie.

TN: Thank you, Kam, this has been really interesting. Bye.


Janet in Control by Kam Williams

Born in Gary, Indiana on May 16, 1966, Janet Damita Jo Jackson entered show business at the tender age of 7 when she appeared onstage with her already famous elder siblings at the MGM in Las Vegas. This debut, was followed by appearances at 9 on her family’s variety show “The Jacksons” which, in turn, led to starring and recurring roles on such hit sitcoms as “Good Times,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” and “Fame.”

At 14, Janet signed her first recording deal. Placing acting on the back burner to focus on her first love, music, she went on to enjoy extraordinary success upon the release of her breakthrough album, Control in 1986. Over the course of her ensuing musical career, she has thus far accumulated five Grammys, multiple MTV Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Soul Train Music Awards, to name a few. As an artist, Janet excites, enlightens, leads, and embraces her fans with insights into life’s meaning while touching their deepest feelings. 

The film Poetic Justice marked this very versatile talent’s first foray into acting in feature films, and that was soon followed by a co-starring role in Nutty Professor II. Janet later received the NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category for her work in Why Did I Get Married. Furthermore, like all of her movies, Why Did I Get Married opened up #1 at the box office.

            Privately, Janet continues to focus on speaking out and giving back, raising money for charities such as the Cities in Schools and America’s Promise. She has also supported the Watts Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club of America, the Starlight Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, A Place Called Home in South Central LA, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, S.O.S. Children’s Villages in South Africa, Cartier’s Love Bracelet Program benefiting OCNA and she sponsored an Airlift of Food and Medical supplies to famine-stricken Rwanda. In addition, Janet established the Rhythm Nation Scholarship with the UNCF and has assisted numerous students striving to meet their educational goals. 

Most recently, Janet honored her brother Michael’s legacy and supported the people of Haiti by joining over 80 artists who collaborated to record “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” the classic 1985 charity anthem re-imagined by Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones to support the earthquake relief efforts. Not surprisingly, Janet has been honored with countless humanitarian awards in response to her dedication to helping others.

Later this year, Janet plans to publish her autobiography, providing an intimate look at her life.  Here, she talks about reprising the role of Pat in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too, one of those rare sequels which is actually better than the original.

Kam Williams: Thanks so much for the time, Janet. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.  

Janet Jackson: It’s my pleasure.  

KW: First of all, please allow me to express my condolences on the loss of your brother, Michael. 

JJ: Thank you.

KW: Watching Why Did I Get Married Too, the first thing I noticed was that it afforded you an opportunity to display a much greater range of emotions. How did you enjoy that? 

JJ: I loved it! I absolutely loved it. I was so thankful that Tyler had written such an amazing piece for me to explore. So, I was really excited about it. When he first gave me the script, he warned me, “When you read this, you’re really going to flip out. I think it’s going to be exciting for you.” And it was.  

KW: It’s very rare that an entire ensemble cast comes back for a sequel. How was it being reunited with everybody again?

JJ: I loved being with them again. It truly is a family. There’s closeness and connection. After filming the original, when we went our separate ways, I felt like I had a new group of friends. We stayed in touch and tried to see each other whenever we were in town or in between projects. So, the minute we heard there was going to be a sequel, all of us were immediately on board, knowing we would be able to get back together again. And then, for half of it to be shot in The Bahamas made going to work feel like being on vacation with your friends. The crew members were sweethearts, too. 

KW:  What a refreshing difference from those nightmare shoots you sometimes hear about that sound like a clash of egos. 

JJ: I credit Tyler. It’s Tyler’s vision. He’s created a true family.

KW: What is it about Tyler that makes him special?

JJ: He’s an amazing man. One of the things that I love most about him is that he has this spirituality abut him, and it’s a really big part of who he is. I adore Tyler, and I love that about him.

KW: All your previous films have opened up in the #1 spot at the box office. Do you feel any pressure to keep up the string?

JJ: I don’t feel any pressure at all. You know what? I honestly wouldn’t even have thought about it, if another journalist hadn’t brought it to my attention. Would it be great if it did? Of course. If it doesn’t open at #1, am I going to be bummed out? No, I’ve been so blessed and I’m just thankful to be a part of the project and grateful to Tyler for giving me another opportunity to explore this character.

KW: What do you think the experience will be like for the audience?

JJ: I think more so than anything people are going to enjoy the film and they’ll also walk away learning a lot from it.

KW: By the way, I love “Nothing,” the film’s theme which you sing on the soundtrack. I hope it lands you another Oscar nomination like the song “Again” did for you wit h Poetic Justice.

JJ: Thank you very much. That would be really nice.

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, and they sent me a lot of questions, so let’s see how many we can get through.

JJ: Okay.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman says, “My favorite album of yours is Control which spoke to me because at the time I was working in Paris and I had such a lack of control over so many things in my life. Have you ever related to a song by someone else which intimately spoke to you at a point in your life?”

JJ: Definitely! There are two things that really move me: music and acting. And I’m not talking about my music or watching myself as an actor, but listening to other people’s music and watching other actors. There are so many different songs that have moved me. It all depends upon the mood that I’m in at that moment. Plus, I was raised with a ton of brothers and sisters where, obviously, the music running in and out of the house was very eclectic. So, I had a lot under my belt by the time I grew up. It all depends upon the mood that I’m in, the space that I’m in and what I’m feeling at that moment. But definitely!

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks which do you enjoy doing more, acting or singing?

JJ: I enjoy them both a great deal. I have a passion for both. Maybe acting just a little bit more because it’s more of a challenge for me, while music comes so easily. 

KW: Marcia Evans asks, have you ever considered doing an album of duets?  JJ: No, I have not, but that’s a very good idea. Maybe someday that’ll actually happen.

KW: Documentary filmmaker Hisani Dubose asks if you plan to produce movies.

JJ: I would love to. A dream of mine is to produce films, as well as to produce content for television.

KW: Hisani also wants to know what movie you’ll be making next.

JJ: For Colored Girls, an adaptation of the play, which I’m sure she’s familiar with. We’ll start shooting that not to long from now.

KW: Laz Lyles wants to know, what’s the biggest way you’ve grown as an actress since Poetic Justice, and whether you find that with each role you discover something new about yourself?

JJ: I always knew that I could go deep. How deep? I don’t know. But it always seems that with each character I take on, I’m challenged to go deeper than the last time, and then again deeper than the last time. This is the deepest I’ve ever been asked to dive. And to see how deep I actually went for this, and that I wasn’t afraid to go there in order to give Tyler exactly what he envisioned for the character, which was pretty deep, that’s what I discovered about myself.

KW: Larry Greenberg says, he loved your video for “Miss You Much” which was directed by Dominic Sena. He’s wondering, if there’s any chance of you doing something new with him?

JJ: I haven’t spoken with Dominic in a while, but I would love to. I actually wanted him to work on another video of mine, but he was shooting a movie at the time. Once in a blue moon, we wind up speaking to one another. I think Dominic is incredibly talented and, hopefully, we will work together again. 

KW: Reverend Florine Thompson asks what gives the greatest meaning to your life?

JJ: It would have to be God.

KW: Varise Cooper asks, what are you doing to make a long-lasting, positive impact on the world?

JJ: I work with a lot of different charities, and by that I don’t mean merely by giving money, but by really getting involved hands-on. I’ve always said that one of the reasons why I was put on this Earth was to help people. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed both here in America and if I have the opportunity when I’m traveling out of the country. For example, I like to visit orphanages to spend time with the children. That’s very important to me.   

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? JJ: That’s the question right there! [Laughs] That’s a good question.

KW: Well, on that note, let me thank you again for the interview, Janet.

JJ: Thank you very much.

The Brooklyn Museum Presents JAY-Z In Conversation With Charlie Rose


“Fiercely candid, uncompromising, provocative, inspiring—DECODED is the long awaited first book by the multi-platinum, 10-time Grammy Award winning artist,entrepreneur, and icon JAY-Z. JAY-Z will share his passion for his art and work and discus what it was like growing up as a hustler and feeling judged simply because of where he was from. He will also address issues that informed him and his songwriting:
– How did visual art and poetry influence his craft?
– How did he get involved in politics when he never really trusted the system?
– How did he stay honest to himself in the world of big business and how did he shed stereotypes when he’d been labeled one all his life?
– How did he develop his business philosophy and what are his lessons for success and vision for the future?

“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry if you look at them closely enough. The second was that I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a
very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”-JAY-Z, from DECODED.DECODED is a narrative journey through the lyrics and life
of one of the most prolific artists of our time. JAY-Z describes the meanings behind some of his most provocative songs and provides a highly personal narrative of the culture that so powerfully shaped his life and art. “I saw the circle before I saw the kid in the middle. I was nine years old, the summer of 1978, and Marcy was my world.”

For JAY-Z, lyrics aren’t just about songs, they’re about life, and in DECODED he brings his own story to life,
writing about his journey from Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy Projects to becoming a world-class artist, cultural icon, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

“I went straight-stopped selling drugs-but I also didn’t accept the false choice between poverty and breaking the law.”

Make sure you don’t miss this event:

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, Brooklyn Museum TICKETS GO ON SALE Wednesday, November, 10th at 12 Noon! Tickets can be purchased at or at the Visitor Services Center at the Brooklyn Museum.
$50 General Admission (including Seniors & Students with valid ID)
$45 Members – Become a member

  • The event will be filmed for later broadcast on “Charlie Rose.” Portions of the audience may
    be recorded.
  • There is a two-ticket purchase limit per patron, through, for this program.
  • Each ticket purchased through for this program includes a copy of DECODED by JAY-Z that will be
    provided to the patron upon admission to the program the evening of the
  • Print outs of tickets will not be accepted. All patrons are to check in at will-call at the
    Visitor Services Center at the Brooklyn Museum for tickets.
  • Ticketholders must provide ID that matches the name on the ticket at will-call to be admitted
    the evening of the event.
  • There will be no standby line for this event.

CHARLIE ROSE is executive editor and
anchor of CHARLIE ROSE, the nightly one-hour interview program that engages in one-on-one in-depth conversation and round table discussions about important issues and ideas of our time. CHARLIE ROSE appears nightly on PBS and also in prime time on Bloomberg Television in the United States and 100 countries around the world. He is also a contributing correspondent to the CBS News program 60 Minutes. Charlie Rose and his guests define the global conversation. Since 1991, Charlie Rose has done more in-depth hours with Nobel Laureates and extraordinary men and women of science, politics, art, business, sports, technology, literature and entertainment than any other program in the world.


Movie Review: For Colored Girls by Kam Williams


Ms. Shange subsequently wrote the screenplay for a made-for-TV version of her opus which aired on PBS’ American Playhouse in 1982. And she also appeared in the movie version opposite Alfre Woodard, Sophie Okenedo and Lynn Whitfield.

The unenviable challenge of adapting her much-beloved production to the big screen has now fallen to Tyler Perry, a man who proves himself up to the challenge. He ostensibly began by abbreviating the original’s cumbersome, grammatically-challenged name, which only makes sense, since it had been coined back during a more loquacious era when wordy was fashionable not only in terms of movie titles (Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) but in advertising slogans (“Vicks’ Nyquil: The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching,stuffy head fever so you can rest medicine”) as well.

Next, the inventive Perry fleshed out the lead roles, while adding a number of support characters to the ensemble and updating some themes (ala AIDS and the down-low) as concessions to 21st Century cultural sensibilities. More importantly, however, he has preserved the source material’s relentlessly-harrowing tone.

Loyal Tyler Perry fans will appreciate how his enhanced plotline emulates that of his ever-popular morality plays, except for those trademark touches of humor. The stellar cast assembled to execute his vision includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, Macy Gray, Anika Noni Rose and Whoopi Goldberg.

The story is set in a seedy, Harlem tenement inhabited by several of the protagonists. Each, we learn, is already deeply enmeshed in some sort of family dysfunction, from promiscuous bartender Tangie (Newton) who brings home a different stud every night, to her pregnant, teenage sister (Tessa Thompson) in urgent need of an abortion, to their clueless mother (Goldberg), a hoarder caught in the clutches a religious cult. Just across the hall, lives the apartment building’s relatively-composed manager (Rashad) whose self-assured manner might be a mask.

On the floor below, we find Crystal (Elise) being battered by the unemployed, alcoholic boyfriend (Michael Ealy) she refuses to marry yet can’t summon up the gumption to dump. Then there’s Juanita (Devine), a free clinic nurse who counsels others about relationships, but remains in denial about the abysmal state of her own. Naïve dance instructor Yasmine (Rose) comes to regret accepting a date from a flirtatious stranger (Khalil Kain) she meets on the street. 

More upscale, but no less troubled are Kelly (Washington), a social worker worried about how her police officer husband (Hill Harper) will react to the news that she can’t conceive. Last but not least, there’s Jo (Jackson), a famous fashion magazine editor, whose closet-gay beau (Omari Hardwick) has been using her for a beard.

Eventually, all of the assorted melodramas serendipitously merge and resolve themselves satisfactorily right on cue for a typically-preachy, Perry denouement during which our heroines take turns expressing their resolve to rise above their overwhelming personal challenges. A fresh interpretation of For Colored Girls which puts to rest the question of whether that black feminist classic was too dated to be adapted to the screen.

All that was missing was a pistol-packing granny in drag, chirrun!

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated for sexuality, profanity and disturbing violence including rape.
Running time: 120 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate Films

To see a trailer for For Colored Girls, visit:

Conversations with Ed Gordon will feature BestSelling Author and Comedian, Steve Harvey on 9/26@ 10pm ET

Steve Harvey may just be the hardest working man in show business. His rise from stand-up comic, to a New York Times best-selling author, game show host, and radio personality is nothing short of ground-breaking. The interviews were taped at Harvey’s Texas ranch and his home in Georgia. Host and executive producer, Ed Gordon among other things talks with Harvey about his best-selling relationship book, the success of his syndicated radio show and also sits with the comedian and his wife, Marjorie, who Harvey says literally “saved his life.”

This 30-minute profile will peel back the layers during this emotional interview to find out how Harvey almost quit show business, deals with internet “haters” and how he dealt with an unresolved feud with fellow comedian Bernie Mac after Mac’s surprising death. During CONVERSATIONS WITH ED GORDON, Harvey is overcome with emotion as he talks about the tremendously successful year (“God’s favor”) he’s experienced and what his wife’s love means to him. Here’s a sneak peek from Sunday’s premiere:

Why he works so hard to stay successful:
“I don’t want people to see me fall. I mean, I got enough people cheering for me to fall now… The Internet has created some amazing place for evil to exist, you dig? I don’t want to not be to my kids what they see now, ‘cause I don’t want them to feel differently about me.”

The surprising success of his best-selling book:
“That was just a favor (from God.) I ain’t no author, man…my writing skills are not of New York Times best-seller quality, trust and believe it ain’t. My vocabulary ain’t. But, He (God) put some thoughts in my head and gave me enough sense to hire this girl (writer) to put my thoughts on paper. And I just did a book. I had no notion, no possible clue that it would do what it did.”

His state of mind before his (current) wife entered his life:
“She literarily saved my life. (Before she came back into my life) My life was really a mess. I was a mess man. I was not in the right frame of mind, I was in a horrible mental state, I wasn’t happy, I was in a real dark space. People see my laughing and telling joke but they had no idea after the show was over, I had no joy in my life, in my heart.”



Maya Angelou Throws Garden Party for 82nd Birthday

Reported By The Associated Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Poet Maya Angelou celebrated a belated 82nd birthday Thursday with a few celebrity friends and a few choice words about political divisiveness in the United States.

Singers Naomi Judd and Martina McBride sang “Happy Birthday to You” to Angelou, who sat at a table in her newly refurbished backyard garden, while hip-hop artist and actor Common improvised a song to honor her.

“I have an attitude of gratitude. Nobody promised me this day,” Angelou said in an interview with The Associated Press, explaining how she keeps writing.

Despite her generally upbeat attitude, Angelou said she finds the state of national politics to be tragic.

“I mean, this is our country,” said Angelou, whose birthday was April 4. “This is a country of Republicans, of Democrats and of independents. And we are going to work together to make it better. Or we will not. And we will make it worse. And that’s dumb.”

She declined say whether she blamed racism because President Obama is black or whom she blames for the problems: “I can’t deal with it. Some of it is blithering ignorance. We look stupid in the world’s eyes. … It polarizes us more, and I’m not that. I don’t do that.”

Most of the day focused on the friends and family who gathered to honor Angelou, who wore a pink pantsuit, a printed top and a mauve hat, along with fuzzy socks that helped her walk. A tent with yellow and white drapes covered the tables where about 100 guests ate while Common and McBride told the crowd what Angelou meant to them.

Common said he first discovered Angelou’s poetry in the fifth grade on the South Side of Chicago, when her poem “Still I Rise” touched his soul.

“It was always something that I could reference to at times when I was feeling down or doubting myself,” he told AP. “I just thought of that phrase, ‘Still I Rise.’ And it still resonates with me.”

While others waxed poetic about Angelou and her affect on them, Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated director of “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Lee Sapphire,” kept his words simple.

“She inspires me to tell the truth,” he said. “Her voice can’t be any more powerful. And she inspires me to do better work, to dig deeper in my soul and do better work.”

Angelou’s next effort, to be published later this year, is a cook book titled “Great Food All Day Long.”

The recipes are based on the idea of eating small amounts of food during the day, a way of eating that she said helped her lose 40 pounds over the last two years.

The party was sponsored by Lowe’s, the North Carolina-based home improvement store chain, and Harpo Radio, where Angelou has a radio show.