Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Chicken and Dumplings for here and one Smokey Robinson CD to go, please"

Smokey Robinson has become the first African American singer to be featured for sale in Cracker Barrel's exclusive CD line. Now, I know all the news we've heard about Cracker Barrel in the past hasn't always been in "our favor," but let's give Cracker Barrel their props for their efforts to diversify. Somebody had to be first. Who better than the 70 year old Motown legend?

I'm sorry but I do love their food, especially the chicken and dumplings, and anywhere I visit that has a Cracker Barrel, I have to stop in. . .look for them on "I-10." And if you don't happen to run into a Cracker Barrel on your travels, at least order Smokey's CD, titled, "Now and Then" online. The CD features 12 songs. Six are live versions of classics including “Going to a Go-Go,” “I Second That Emotion,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” and “The Tears of a Clown,” recorded in 2010.

Don't hate the player - hate the game! Order the CD. You know you want to! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Honorary "Soul Sister" Teena Marie Dead At 54

Sending out prayers and love to all Teena Marie fans and family. Teena died in her sleep this morning at age 54.

Rest, In Peace.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chatting With Kimberla Lawson Roby

An Interview with Kimberla Lawson Roby

Q: In the two years since we last chatted, you’ve released two novels and one novella. “The Best of Everything,” “A Deep Dark Secret,” and “Be Careful What You Pray For.” You make Danielle Steele look like a “slacker.” When do you find time to sleep and how does it feel to be able to make a living doing something you love, which is writing?

KLR: Well, actually, I wish I could write as many books as Danielle Steel does each year, but even with only writing two books a year, I do find time to sleep and spend quality time with my husband. Then, as far as how it feels being able to earn a living from doing something I love, it’s a total blessing, and I thank God daily for allowing me to have a writing career.

Q: Each of your books, including the “Reverend Curtis Black” series, touches on so many different aspects of our lives as African Americans and African American women, in particular. Your books are so enjoyable and fun to read that I could literally sit down and read them without stopping. The only departure from that “urban chick-lit” niche was “A Deep Dark Secret.” It was an excellent book or “novella,” if you will, but so unlike anything else of yours I’ve read. I’ve never been a victim of sexual abuse, but so many boys and girls, men and women have. It’s something that as African Americans we tend to shove into a compartment of our brains and not talk about. You put it all out there. How difficult was it for you writing on this topic?

KLR: I’m glad you enjoyed it, and to be honest, it wasn’t difficult for me to write at all. At first, I wasn’t sure why it wasn’t, given the subject matter, but I think it’s because I truly believed the story needed to be written. Thank God, I didn’t experience nearly what the character, Jillian, experienced in the book, but I do know what it’s like to have an adult male touch me inappropriately when I was between the ages of six and eleven. I’ve also met so many women who are adult survivors of childhood sexual molestation and had never told another living soul until after reading "A Deep Dark Secret."

Q: “The Best of Everything.” This book was so good. In fact, you had me at the cover! I even had my daughter read it this summer. She’s 18 and I said, “It’s time you got a dose of reality, honey.” And I mean that because so many young girls, of all ethnic backgrounds, are sheltered and spoiled (like Alicia), coddled and can just make some outright bad choices. Young women need to know that there are all types of men out there. Some of whom can be trusted and some who can’t. Do you know anyone like Alicia and what research did you do to develop her character for “The Best of Everything?”

KLR: Unfortunately, I’ve met lots women, young and older who have shopping addictions or women who think they should be able to have anything they want. I also know women who are more interested in finding a man who can give them material things versus finding someone who will treat them well and love them unconditionally, and this is, of course, very sad.

Q: Okay. “Be Careful What You Pray For.” Every time I think I’ve read my favorite book of yours, you crank up the volume. Loved it. Why are we never satisfied and why does the grass always look greener on the other side? Do you think there are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there both in the church and outside of the church?

KLR: I’m so glad you loved "Be Careful What You Pray For." To answer your first question, I’m not sure why many people are never satisfied with what they have or why they are positive life could be so much better for them, if they could switch places with another individual. Maybe it’s because as human beings, we sometimes see what we want to see and want to believe that someone else has it better than we do. As far as wolves in sheep’s clothing, yes, this exists inside and outside of the church.

Q: My favorite pastor – Reverend Curtis Black. Considering what’s going on with the church today – I mean, in the past years, months, weeks, your books are moving from “fiction” to straight up “da truth.” How important do you think the black church is to African Americans overall?

KLR: The black church is extremely important to African-Americans, because most African-American adults began going to church as children and now those adults take their children to church. This is also the reason members of all congregations should make sure they have an upstanding pastor leading the church—someone who will set a good example for everyone. What the church should have is a pastor who is living the kind of life God wants all of us to live. No one is perfect, and we all fall short, but there are simply some things a pastor just shouldn’t do.

Q: Have you considered having Curtis Black establish branches of his ministry to include churches on the West Coast (i.e. Oakland or San Francisco)?

KLR: That’s too funny! Well, I guess you never know…especially since he’s known worldwide! He also now has his own Facebook page, too!

Q: Lastly, tell me what we can expect from your upcoming release “Love, Honor and Betray,”* without giving away anything because I can’t wait to read it!

KLR: Love, Honor, and Betray centers on Curtis, Charlotte, and Curtis’s little illegitimate two-year old daughter, Curtina, who must now move in with them permanently (her mother has just passed away). Unfortunately, however, Charlotte can’t stand the sight of her stepdaughter and wants her out, and this causes major problems along with much heartache and pain in the Black household.

Kimberla Lawson Roby is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Be Careful What You Pray For, A Deep Dark Secret, The Best of Everything, One in a Million, Sin No More, Love & Lies, Changing Faces, The Best-Kept Secret, Too Much of a Good Thing, A Taste of Reality, It's a Thin Line, Casting the First Stone, Here and Now, and her self-published debut title, Behind Closed Doors. Her novels have also frequented many other bestseller lists, including those in The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Essence Magazine, Upscale Magazine, Emerge Magazine, Barnes and Noble,, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Morning News, and The Austin Chronicle to name a few. In addition, Ms. Roby received the Blackboard Fiction Book of the Year Award in 2001 for CASTING THE FIRST STONE. She is also the 2006, 2007 and 2009 recipient of the Author of the Year—Female award presented by the African-American Literary Award Show in New York, the recipient of the 1998 First-Time Author Award from Chicago’s Black History Month Book Fair and Conference, her fifth novel, A TASTE OF REALITY, was a 2004 finalist for the Atlanta Choice Awards sponsored by the Atlanta Daily World, and TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING received a 2004 Patron Choice Award from the Central Mississippi Regional Library System. She lives in Illinois with her husband, Will.

Bio courtesy of Hachette Book Group

For a complete bibliography of Ms. Lawson Roby's work, visit her website:

*Look for "Love, Honor and Betray" in bookstores everywhere on January 10, 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

African American Holidays Cards - Do You Still Send Them?

It's December 19th and I haven't mailed one Christmas card. It seems that every year, I get fewer and fewer cards. Maybe it's because I've gotten out of the habit of sending them every year. Now, I send them every 2 years or so. He who hath a friend must first show himself friendly, right?

But, I realized that part of the reason I no longer write out holiday cards the day after Thanksgiving is due in part to the fact that I've gotten older and more cynical, but more importantly, I'm not excited about the selection of Black cards from which to choose.

I know that email has done away with the old-fashioned form of letter writing but nothing can replace the annual greeting from friends and family, right?

However, I used to get such a thrill out of finding the most unique Black Christmas cards. The cards that were made by African American artists and sold in African American stores. You know - "for us, by us."

In fact, my relatives would comment on how they couldn't wait to get my holiday cards every year to see what cute and unusual one they would receive. It just seems that once Black cards went "mainstream" and Hallmark and everybody in China was producing them, they lost their originality and thus the thrill was gone. At least for me.

So, as I ponder whether to send a cute little puppy or a traditional wreath or a Christmas tree this year, I pose the question, are African American holiday cards still relevant.

And, on that note - are we still celebrating Kwanzaa?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Old School Meets New School - Neyo "Libra Scale"

The perfect stocking stuffer for everyone on your list. I love Neyo. He is definitely "smooth R&B" but his contemporary sound makes him a favorite of all ages. It's clear that Michael Jackson was a huge influence on his music and style.

Check out his new CD, "Libra Scale" on Def Jam.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gene Washington Named One of "50 Greatest Vikings of All Time"

Eugene Washington (born November 23, 1944 in La Porte, Texas) is a former American football wide receiver in the National Football League. He played for the Minnesota Vikings (1967-1972) and the Denver Broncos (1973-1974). He wore #84 for Minnesota and Denver.*

For tickets and information on the "50 Greatest Vikings Event," go to:

*(From Wikipedia)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Prayer Time - Aretha Franklin Reportedly Battling Pancreatic Cancer

By now, you've all heard that the "Queen of Soul" underwent surgery last week for an "undisclosed procedure."

Now news sources close to the family are reporting that Ms. Franklin is being treated for pancreatic cancer.

We know that God is truly the ultimate healer and always has the final word.

Please lift her up in prayer. She has truly graced us with her gifts.

God Bless.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"GUMBO FOR THE SOUL" Call for Submissions


"Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor"
Call for Submissions Deadline Extended to March 2, 2011

The fourth title in the "Gumbo for the Soul" anthology series is "Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor," a compilation of literary offerings in which contributing writers celebrate Men of Honor impacting their respective lives with purpose. The book will salute fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, friends, mentors, uncles, brothers, nephews, husbands and boos, too! Both--best-selling authors and celebrated keynote speakers--George C. Fraser and Julia Hare, Ph.D. will contribute to the book.

NATIONWIDE: Just one month after the launch of the well-received anthology "Gumbo for the Soul: Women of Honor," Gumbo for the Soul Publications (GFTS) founder Beverly Black Johnson announced that George C. Fraser (Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc.) and Dr. Julia Hare (National Executive Director of The Black Think Tank) have joined the GFTS family with the fourth upcoming title "Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor." Fraser will pen the book's foreword and Dr. Hare will contribute literary works featuring exceptional men that she has chosen to honor. To allow for this anthology to be the most comprehensive, Johnson and co-compiler Bruce George (co-founder of Def Poetry Jam) have extended the deadline for submissions of poetry, prose, essays and short stories to March 2, 2011. The book, which is planned to be released in time for Father's Day, is dedicated in loving memory of Johnson's father, Homer J. Black (April 22, 1931 to July 22, 2009).

"Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor" reflects the stories woven into our legacy, carried by time and preserved with love. Contributing writers will share inspirational stories, quotes and poetry reflecting on the past and present times where their respective men of honor made a difference in their lives. Proceeds from the book will benefit Project Fatherhood, a non-profit organization that addresses the problem of absentee fathers.

Founded in 1996 by Dr. Hershel Swinger, Project Fatherhood re-engages low-income fathers, particularly in urban settings, in the care and upbringing of their children. Through therapy, support, parenting education and other services fathers learn to be more loving, responsible parents and active participants in their children's lives Project Fatherhood reports over 40% of America's households are families without fathers. Gumbo for the Soul Publications and Project Fatherhood invite you to help change the statistics and make a difference by supporting and contributing to this publication. All writers are invited to contribute works to the inspirational and self-healing anthology.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Deadline March 2, 2011
for Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor
(Anticipated release June 2011)

Submit to:

Gumbo for the Soul: Men of Honor
Book cover "Fatherhood"
Illustrated by Synthia SAINT JAMES

Sponsor ad space is available inside the publication
For more detailed information and submission guidelines, visit:

Previously published GUMBO FOR THE SOUL Anthologies
Gumbo for the Soul: Women of Honor Special Pink Edition
(Oct. 2010, ISBN: 978-0979047916, $11.95 U.S.)
BOOK COVER: "Sisters of Courage" by Synthia SAINT JAMES
PROCEEDS Benefit: Sisters Network, Inc. San Francisco Chapter

Gumbo for the Soul: Here's Our Child-Where's the Village?
(Nov. 2008, ISBN: 978-1440101267, $11.95 U.S.)
BOOK COVER: "Grandmother Spirit" by Synthia SAINT JAMES
FOREWORD By: Tee C. Royal, founder of RAWSISTAZ Literary Group
PROCEEDS Benefit: African Cradle, Inc., an inter-country child adoption agency

Gumbo for the Soul: the Recipe for Literacy in the Black Community
(April 2007, ISBN: 978-0595429073, $24.95)
BOOK COVER: "With Honors" by Synthia SAINT JAMES
FOREWORD By: Heather Covington, author of Literary Divas: The Top 100+ Most
Admired African American Women in Literature and NAACP Image Award Nominee
PROCEEDS Benefit: Gumbo for the Soul Scholarship Awareness Program

GEORGE C. FRASER, Chairman and CEO of FraserNet, Inc., is a best-selling author and highly demanded motivational and keynote speaker. He founded FraserNet, Inc. 20 years ago with the vision to lead a global networking movement that brings together diverse human resources to increase opportunities for people of African descent. Fraser is considered by many to be a new voice for African Americans and one of the foremost authorities on economic development, networking and building effective relationships.

BRUCE GEORGE, a talented poet, author, educator, entrepreneur, activist, and Peabody and Tony Award winner is co-founder of Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on HBO. He signed on with Gumbo for the Soul Publications as Director of Business Development in 2007. George was the visionary for "Women of Honor" and is co-compiler, along with Beverly Black Johnson, of "Men of Honor."

JULIA HARE, PH.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, best-selling author and National Executive Director of The Black Think Tank. The gifted speaker is in demand both nationally and internationally. She is a product of Tulsa's "Black Wall Street" where she has been inducted into the Booker T. Washington Hall of Fame. In its May 2008 issue, Ebony magazine named Dr. Hare among its "Ebony Power 150: the Most Influential Blacks in America."

Listen to blog talk radio interview with the "Gumbo for the Soul" family as they discuss the recently-released "Gumbo for the Soul: Women of Honor." TODAY, DECEMBER AT 4pm PST

"From the Heart & Soul" Radio Show with Lady Serenity; featuring "Gumbo for the Soul" anthology contributor and breast cancer survivor Crystal Brown-Tatum along with Beverly Black Johnson, founder of Gumbo for the Soul Publications.

Toni Beckham
209-832-8020 / 408-499-3664

Beverly Black Johnson