Monday, November 19, 2012

We Mourn!

R & B singer Billy Scott passed away.

On my hiatus from blogging on my own blog, Journal de la Reyna and YouTube, I seen a lot of famous celebrities die this year. Today we mourn the loss of Billy Scott. He was one of the golden voices of the 1960s. He is among famous Black celebrities we mourn this week. Of course, I didn't get an opportunity to send my condolences to two known celebrities who passed away this year.

Courtesy of the Huffington Post and Associated Press

Rhythm and blues singer Billy Scott has died in North Carolina at age 70.

Bill Kopald with the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame said Scott died from pancreatic and liver cancer Saturday at his home in Charlotte.

Born Peter Pendleton in Huntington, W. Va., he sang with various groups while in the Army. After he was discharged in 1964, he changed his name and with his wife, Barbara, in 1966 began recording as The Prophets. Their first gold record was 1968's "I Got the Fever." Other hits included "California" and "Seaside Love" as the Georgia Prophets.

The group recorded a number of hits in the 1970s in the beach music genre, a regional variant of R&B. Scott was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 1999.


Yvette Wilson died this year.

Gone but not forgotten. Courtesy of The Dark Side of Fame

In June 2012, actress Yvette Wilson died after losing her battle with stage 4 cervical cancer, according to multiple reports. She was 48.

Wilson was best known for her role as Andell Wilkerson on UPN's "Moesha" and its spinoff "The Parkers," and also appeared in the movies "House Party 2," "House Party 3" and "Friday."

In January, one of Wilson's friends created a website to help raise money for the actress' medical bills.

"Yvette has experienced kidney failure, kidney transplants and cervical cancer, among other things," the site reads. "Her cancer has come back after an extended retreat, and doctors are saying it's very aggressive this time out."

The man who brought Soul Train died this year. Don Cornelius died in February 2012.
Gone but not forgotten.

Don Cornelius pulled $400 from his own pocket to launch the dance show on a local Chicago TV station in 1970. As host and executive producer of "Soul Train," he was soon at the throttle of a nationally syndicated television institution that was the first dance show to cater to the musical tastes of black teenagers and also helped bring black music, dance, fashion and style to mainstream America.

In the process of presenting the soul, funk and R&B of the day, the Afro-haired, dapper Cornelius became a TV icon, his sonorous baritone welcoming viewers to "the hippest trip in America."

Cornelius, 75, was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Wednesday after a family member found him in his home in Encino with a gunshot wound to his head, according to law enforcement sources. The wound appeared to be self-inflicted, but the death was being investigated by police. Friends say he had been in poor health.

On Wednesday, those who knew Cornelius recalled his impact on American culture.

"Don was a visionary and giant in our business," producer and composer Quincy Jones said in a statement. "Before MTV there was 'Soul Train'; that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."

Aretha Franklin said Cornelius "united the young adult community single-handedly and globally."

"With the inception of 'Soul Train,' a young, progressive brother set the pace and worldwide standard for young aspiring African American men and entrepreneurs in TV -- out of Chicago," Franklin, who appeared on the show, said in a statement. "He transcended barriers among young adults. They became one."

"Soul Train," which moved to Los Angeles and entered national syndication in 1971, featured other legendary artists, including James Brown, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5 and Barry White.

With its catchy introduction featuring an animated, psychedelic smoke-spewing locomotive, "Soul Train" became destination TV for teenagers across America in the '70s.

Magic Johnson was one of them. "Every Saturday morning I looked forward to watching 'Soul Train,' as did millions of other people," Johnson, chairman of Soul Train Holdings, said in a statement. " 'Soul Train' taught the world how to dance! Don's contribution to us all is immeasurable."

Beyond the music and the artists featured on "Soul Train," much of its popularity was attributed to the young dancers on the show.

Cornelius' teen dance party featured the talents of some of the best young dancers in the area, and one of the show's most popular features was the "Soul Train" line, with dancers going down the line and showing off their best moves.

Among those who went on to later fame are actress Rosie Perez, singer Jody Watley, rapper MC Hammer and Jeffrey Daniel, who taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk.

In his 1996 book "Funk: The Music, the People and the Rhythm of the One," Rickey Vincent called "Soul Train" the "most undiluted showcase of black sexuality in the country" and "a cultural mecca for the entire decade of the '70s."

That there was a need for such a show was obvious to Cornelius, who had launched his career in radio only a few years before the show's debut.

"It was a period when television was a very white medium, and that didn't make sense to me," he told Billboard magazine in 2005, the year he received the Trustees Award from the Recording Academy for lasting contributions to culture as the creator of "Soul Train."

"I wanted to bring more of our African American entertainment to not only the black [niche] viewers but to the crossover viewers as well," he said.

Robert Santelli, executive producer of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, told The Times on Wednesday that " 'Soul Train' was to soul music what 'American Bandstand' was to early rock 'n' roll, and Don Cornelius was like a black Dick Clark.

"He and his program almost single-handedly made sure that soul music had a presence on TV. For many years, it impacted black culture, black pop culture and black pop music. Few people came close to what he accomplished in those years."

Santelli added that "it also was an entry into black pop music for white kids. You could be living in Des Moines or in Montana and you could connect with what was happening in urban areas. It was an important portal for a lot of white kids who were very interested in black culture."

The show's "overall sense of blackness at this particular time was groundbreaking," Todd Boyd, a USC professor of critical studies, told The Times on Wednesday. Cornelius "effectively capitalized on the changes that took place in America socially and politically and culturally in the 1960s" in the next decade by giving national exposure to acts that previously were seen only in segregated settings.

Etta James died this year in January 2012.

Etta James, the earthy blues and R&B singer whose anguished vocals convinced generations of listeners that she would rather go blind than see her love leave, then communicated her joy upon finding that love at last, died. She was 73.

She died at Parkview Community Hospital in Riverside, said her sons, Donto and Sametto James. The cause was complications from leukemia, according to her personal physician.

James had been in failing health for years. Court records in the singer's probate case show she also suffered from dementia and kidney failure. Her two sons had battled their stepfather for control of her $1-million estate but in December agreed to allow him to remain as conservator.

James spent time in a detox facility for addiction to painkillers and over-the-counter medications, Donto told Reuters in 2010. And she had wrestled with complications since undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2002 to remedy a lifelong struggle with her weight.

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