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Maya Angelou Passes Away

Maya Angelou Passes Away

Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou was found dead in her Winston-Salem, N.C., home Wednesday morning. She was 86.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Jones confirmed Angelou’s death to Fox News. Police reportedly were at her home investigating. A press conference is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. ET.

maya 3Angelou, who rose from poverty as child raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Ark., to become a cultural icon, gained widespread acclaim for her first book, her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” making her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller.

In 1998, she directed the film “Down in the Delta” about a drug-wrecked woman who returns to the home of her ancestors in the Mississippi Delta. She was the poet chosen to read at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. She wrote and read an original composition, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which became a million-seller.

Major League Baseball announced last week that Angelou would not attend its 2014 Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, due to health concerns. Angelou also canceled an event in April in Fayetteville, Ark., because of an “unexpected ailment” that sent her to the hospital.

“Dr. Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest, where she served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies since 1982,” Wake Forest University said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Angelou’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis on April 4, 1928, Angelou was raised in Stamps, Ark., and San Francisco, moving back and forth between her parents and grandmother. She was reportedly sent to California after sassing a white store clerk in Arkansas and, at other times, did not speak at all. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at age 7 and did not speak for years afterward, instead learning by reading and listening.

“I loved the poetry that was sung in the black church: ‘Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,'” Angelou told The Associated Press. “It just seemed to me the most wonderful way of talking. And ‘Deep River.’ Ooh! Even now it can catch me. And then I started reading, really reading, at about 7 1/2, because a woman in my town took me to the library, a black school library. … And I read every book, even if I didn’t understand it.”

By age 9, Angelou was writing poetry and became a single mother by 17. In her early 20s, she danced at a strip club, ran a brothel and married Enistasious Tosh Angelos (her first of three husbands) before divorcing. By her mid-20s, she performed alongside another future star — Phyllis Diller — at the Purple Onion in San Francisco. She also spent a few days with Billie Holiday, who was astute enough to tell her: “You’re going to be famous. But it won’t be for singing.”maya

Angelou later renamed herself for the stage, choosing her childhood nickname before touring in “Porgy and Bess” and Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” and dancing alongside Alvin Ailey. She also worked for years in Egypt and Ghana, where she met Malcolm X and remained close to him until his assassination in 1965. Three years later, Angelou helped the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., organize a march in Memphis, Tenn., where the civil rights leader was killed on Angelou’s 40th birthday.

Angelou was little known outside of the theatrical community until “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which was published in 1969. The memoir was occasionally attacked as “manipulative” melodrama and her passages on rape and teen pregnancy have made it a mainstay on the American Library Association’s list of works that draw complaints from parents and educators.

maya angelo 1“‘I thought that it was a mild book. There’s no profanity,” Angelou told the AP. “It speaks about surviving, and it really doesn’t make ogres of many people. I was shocked to find there were people who really wanted it banned, and I still believe people who are against the book have never read the book.”

Angelou would later appear on several television programs, including the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries “Roots.” She was also nominated for a Tony Award in 1973, won three Grammys her spoken-word albums and received an honorary National Book Award in 2013 for her contributions.

FoxNews.com’s Joshua Rhett Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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George Duke 1946-2013

George Duke 1946-2013

With great sadness and heavy hearts we report that Jazz, Funk legend George Duke has passed away.   At this time,  the details of his death remain undisclosed.   Word of his passing was discovered via social media in a message to Ron Brewington. He was informed of George’s passing from former Supremes member Scherrie Payne in the note below

I just received the devastating and sad news that the great musician, George Duke, passed away this evening at St. John’s hospital in L.A. It was just one year earlier, July 18th, that his beloved wife and my friend, Corine, went to be with the Lord. Please keep his sons, Rasheed and John, in your prayers.

Funeral services will be private.

Blessings,

Scherrie

Our sincerest condolences go out to the Family and friends ofk the late great George Duke. His musical legacy will live on for generations to come

From His latest CD that was released July 16, 2013

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Miss Melodie Passes Away

Miss Melodie Passes Away

ms Melodie

On Yesterday, the Hip-Hop world was rocked by the death of the 1st Lady of BDP(Boogie Down Productions), Ramona Parker, best known as Ms.Melodie. Ms Melodie had success with her first single in 1988 called “Hype According to Ms. Melodie” she released one album, Diva in 1989. Ms Melodie made an appearance on the 1989 single “Self Destruction” Ms Melodie was the ex-wife of Rapper KRS-One, the two of them along with Scott La Rock, D-Nice & the rest of the BDP crew helped to lay the foundation of hip-hop. melodie

The BDP crew and their contribution will always be an indelible part of hip-hip history. Rest In Paradise Ms Melodie. The Neo Soul Cafe Family offers its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this Hip-Hop Pioneer and Legend.

Check out the Diva alongside her bretheren handling the business…

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Etta James passes at age 73

etta_james

Legendary singer Etta James lost her battle with leukemia today at the age of 73. Etta’s health began to decline last year when she was was diagnosed with leukemia and a blood infection. She also reportedly suffered from dementia and kidney failure.
Born Jamesetta Hawkins, Etta began singing in church at age 5. During her teens she was the lead singer for a doo wop group Peaches, and recorded her first #1 song, “The Wallflower (Dance with Me Henry).” Shortly after this she attracted the attention of Little Richard who invited James to go on tour with him. This led to Etta’s legendary career as a soul singer. Ms James had a number of R&B hits however the most notable of all was “At Last” Rest In Peace Ms James…

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Singer Vesta Williams Dies

The Neo Soul Cafe has just learned and is saddened to report that R & B singer Vesta Williams has passed away.  She was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room on yesterday, September 22, 2011. Details surrounding her death are sketchy.   Radio personality Tom Joyner, confirmed her death with close friends of the singer, R & B singer Tony Terry and Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.  The R&B community as well as numerous friends have been tweeting about it since last night and are sending out their condolences.  Ms. Williams was most known for her hit “Congratulations” and “Sweet Sweet Love.” Vesta Williams was 48 years old at the time of her passing.

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