- Created on 21 May 2013
Sony BMG Music Entertainment has settled a lawsuit filed in 2005 by attorney James J. Walker of Walker and Associates, a Black-owned, Atlanta-based law firm that represents gospel artists. After almost a decade of litigation, the settlement is a major win in the battle for the rights of urban artists, the attorney said.
Walker said the settlement was concluded in early May, the day before the trial was supposed to start. He said the case has been “life-changing.” He said he has gotten feedback from all over the world in the David v. Goliath scenario—a billion-dollar company against a small, Black-owned firm.
“We felt strongly all along that this was a case we had to fight in order to protect artists and their right to choose effective legal representation and other forms of representation, including the best manager, attorney, publicist, accountant in protecting themselves as artists,” said company spokesman Kenny Walker.
Filed in 2005 in federal court in Connecticut, the lawsuit alleged that Verity Records, now called RCA Inspirational, and its president, Max Siegel, along with Verity parent company, Zomba Enterprises, and Provident Distribution “set out to deprive gospel artists of effective representation in their contract negotiations” to hack down their compensation from the use of their copyrights and intellectual property. Walker said company representatives coerced his clients into firing him and defamed his character, robbing him of income. Zomba Enterprises is now owned by Sony.
When contacted by the AFRO, Elizabeth Young, the spokeswoman for Sony Music Entertainment, said the company had no comment.
Walker said the case shines a light on the persistent exploitation of Black artists within the music industry.
“It’s endemic to urban music, in general,” he said. “There’s an undercurrent that ‘These are Black folks; they’re not that smart.’ There’s a racial undertone that no one wants to talk about…. You walk into the labels and everyone’s White and all the artists are Black.”
Industry observers agree that Walker is one of a few lawyers who successfully represent gospel’s leading artists. From 1999-2002, for example, Walker said he secured top-dollar royalty payments for nearly two dozen artists on the popular “WOW” albums. The series, launched in 1998, became a vehicle for lesser-known artists to gain exposure, revolutionizing the music genre.
Sony representatives, according to the lawsuit, employed “trickery and deceit” to convince those gospel artists—including high-profile clients like Grammy winners Hezekiah Walker, Donald Lawrence and Twinkie Clark and legendary songwriters like David Frazier and V. Michael McKay—to terminate Walker. The ploys included threats that they would not be included in future projects if they brought the assertive attorney to the negotiating table, according to the lawsuit.
Some of those artists folded, according to news reports.
“When I filed the lawsuit, five out of 10 people didn’t agree with my decision,” Walker said. “Now that the settlement has been announced, 12 out of 10 are saying, ‘Great job…I wish I would have stayed with you because I’ve been screwed… I need your help.’”
Frazier admitted that he left Walker after he tangled with the music corporation.
“James had gotten me great payments because he was aggressive,” Frazier, who wrote the 2004 gospel hit “I Need You to Survive,” told the Los Angeles Times in 2005. “But my first goal is the ministry of Christ. And as my mama said, ‘If you aren’t heard, you aren’t doing God’s work.’ So I found a new lawyer.”
Walker said when he lost about 20 existing and potential clients, he filed the suit.
While some in the gospel music industry supported Walker’s activism, others disdained the litigation as an affront to the spiritual mission of their music.
“The Bible speaks of Christians not suing one another,” Rev. Robert Lowe of Mount Moriah AME Church in New York and chairman of the Gospel Artists Progressive Movement told the LA Times. “This is Jesus’ music and it is governed by the rules of God. Our artists have not gotten our fair share, but the Bible prefers things are decided at a table rather than in the courtroom.”
In 2005, Walker predicted that despite the censure from gospel industry insiders, he would prevail and, when he did, his critics would come onboard.
“Pastors and Christian folk have this tendency to think you’re not supposed to litigate; you’re supposed to pray, scream the name of Jesus, talk in tongues and hope Jesus works it out. But there comes a time when you have to pray that God gives you the wisdom and resources to work it out [yourself],” Walker said.
- Created on 21 May 2013
Struggling with repeated worries can be a real challenge. The following prayer invites God to calm and guide those who struggle with anxiety. Worry is a continuous pattern of ineffective thought. Worrying is unresolved thought that leaves you unproductive.
"God of power, calm my mind. Let me rest in You. Ease my anxiety,
and let me simply be- quiet and peaceful in your arms. Amen."
Your worry prevents you from acting, because when you are worrying, you miss the opportunities that you would see if you were not so focused on your fear. If you ever watched a dog chasing it's tail, then you can understand how worrying is an endless cycle. Worrying will not bring you a single token of resolve, it's fruitless, worrying takes you out.
- Created on 19 May 2013
Pentecost commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). Whitsunday is so called from the white garments which were worn by those who were baptized during the vigil; Pentecost ("Pfingsten" in German), is the Greek for "the fiftieth" (day after Easter).
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
"Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God."
May the spirit empower, enlighten, enfold and engage you.
- Created on 20 May 2013
Excitement buzzed through the air last month when CeCe Winans signed as the first artist on the new Motown Gospel label.
This gospel diva won us over years ago when she burst onto the scene as a part of the dynamic singing duo Bebe and CeCe Winans.
She not only enchanted our ears with her pure, clear, songbird voice, but she captivated our hearts with an inner joy and outer beauty that radiated with every smile and through every song.
CeCe clearly embodies the life she sings about – spirit-filled, joyful, loving the Lord and loving her family. She is the eighth of ten children and the mother of two, she seemed like the perfect mom to ask about her motherhood journey.
Fortunately for us, this very busy gospel icon had time for a quick Q & A to share some of her thoughts and reflections. It was thrilling to ask this amazing woman of God what she had to say:
Elev8: What is the single biggest thing that changed in your life when you became a mother?
CeCe: My whole world changed when I became responsible for lives! I had to adjust everything in my life around my husband and now my children! And I loved every minute of it!!
Elev8: What surprised you the most when you became a mom?
CeCe: The new capacity to love and the ultimate joy it brings!
Elev8: What have been the greatest joys and challenges of being a working mother?
CeCe: It's always a joy to do what you love to do and what you're good at. But it's always challenging to leave home and sacrifice time with your family. Family is first and everything else comes after that.
Elev8:What advice would you give to young mothers that want to raise their children as Godly moms?
CeCe: Being a Godly Mom is the greatest gift you could ever give your kids!!! Your lifestyle speaks volumes!
E8: So, you're saying that it isn't just what we tell our kids that matters. It's how we live our lives that really makes the difference. Time out for just repeating the old mantra, "do as I say, not as I do." If we want our children to be spirit-filled in today's crazy world, we have to be their examples because our children are watching us either way. So, with that in mind, what was the most important thing for you to teach your children?
CeCe: To love God with all their hearts, souls and minds. Because when you love God, you love people. When you love God everything else will work out fine in life
Clearly that philosophy has worked out "more than fine" in CeCe's life. She is a shining example of how living your faith can permeate every area of your life and make every part even more beautiful.
- Created on 13 May 2013
They used to be your favorite soul singers. Now they’re yet another group of reality show stars, reuniting for a tour of fabulous vocalists and for Season 2 of “R&B Divas” a show that chronicles the personal and professional struggles of singers Angie Stone, Faith Evans, Monifah Carter, Syleena Johnson, Keke Wyatt, Brownstone’s Nicci Gilbert and Xcsape’s LaTocha Scott. This season, the ladies are trying to keep it together enough to make the tour happen but are challenged by family issues and their own diva-like behavior.
Wyatt’s husband, Michael Ford, becomes an unofficial diva with his own web series, “The World According to Michael.” Despite the issue the other ladies had with Wyatt’s husband being around 24-7 (this is Wyatt’s second husband, some may remember her infamous Christmas Day stabbing of the first), Ford will be back on “R&B Divas” as well.
“That’s my bay-bay!” Wyatt told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “They [the divas] were just hating.”
Wyatt says that yes, she and her husband are together 24-7, and that’s fine by both of them.
“When he’s getting on my nerves, I might go get my nails done,” Wyatt said. Wyatt has said that she chose her husband because she knew he wouldn’t be abusive like her first one was. She told Essence.com she did her research before she married the second time and said “The people who raised him just wouldn’t allow him to be anything but respectful towards women. [Laughs] I can tell you now, if he did anything crazy I could call his family and they’d come set him straight.”
Despite the scrutiny a reality show brings to a relationship and the fact that many of them don’t survive it, Wyatt says her relationship is grounded in faith, which keeps it strong.
“When you put God at the head of your life, you can’t go wrong. My scripture told me this morning to trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. So therefore, honey, we are good because we are leaning on Him, and when you’re leaning on him, can’t nobody do nothing. My husband is the head, I’m the tail, and we good.”
As for drama on the show this season, Wyatt says to no one’s surprise, to expect plenty. The ladies are preparing to go on tour together, but naturally, there are obstacles in their way, both external and external.
“Angie Stone’s on there,” Wyatt said in a voice that sounds like the two will bump heads, though Wyatt wouldn’t elaborate. “I’m not at liberty to run this trap, although I want to,” she said. “I’ll tell you this, it’s going to be more me, and a whole lot of me and that’s all I care about,” she said.
And the fact that Wyatt calls her “old,” a description Stone probably won’t care for, means it’s likely to be on and poppin’ for the Divas. So far, the drama we’ve seen in the preview is between Nicci Gilbert and Syleena Johnson, though the often difficult Nicci was once said to be on her way out of the show.