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Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier and Elijah Kelley Give ‘The Wiz’ New Flavor (EUR Exclusive)

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David Alan Grier (Cowardly Lion), Shanice Williams (Dorothy), Ne-Yo (Tin Man), and Elijah Kelley (Scarecrow) in ‘The Wiz Live!’

David Alan Grier (Cowardly Lion), Elijah Kelley (Scarecrow), and Ne-Yo (Tin Man) put their spin on “The Wiz Live!

The trio and other cast and crewmembers were eager to talk about their roles with the Electronic Urban Report/EUR at the Grummun Studios in Bethage, New York.

Guys, can you talk about the new music and dances in this adaptation of The Wiz?

ELIJAH KELLEY: It’s kind of woven through the whole thing. This is not based in the 70s but in 2015. So that’s from the chorography to the technology even to the lingo, but not in a way that it takes away from it. We didn’t make it so modern that you don’t recognize it anymore. We just brought it to today’s generation would be able to watch and adapt and be able to relate.

NE-YO:  It still is classic. When you hear the nae nae, I know it probably sounds crazy to you, but when you see it, it will make sense.

DAVID ALAN GRIER:  We are bringing it to life!

What about the new Ne-Yo song?

EK:  Kenny (Leon) said that there’s never been a song that basically captured the four friends together. Ne-Yo did an incredible job with the lyrics…He literally is a genius to be able to verbalize that in a very specific way. When America hears it and the world hears it, it will become bigger than just a song. This is a moment in time in a legendary production that we are blessed to be a part of.

NY:  I think I was nine-years-old when I first saw ‘The Wiz.’ So for me to have a song that has been incorporated into this iconic and classic story, it’s an honor beyond words. It’s been an amazing ride for me. They’ve taken these words, these melodies and turned them into an event. It’s amazing.

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Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, and Elijah Kelley at Grummun Studios in Bethage, New York.

I imagine it was a lot of fun working on this?

DAG:  It’s really fun to work with these guys. I’m embarrassed to admit, when I first got cast, I started packing my clothes a month in advance. It’s a kid like enthusiasm that I have for this project. I can’t wait to get to work and complain about how hard we are working.

EK:  Learning from David is incredible. Even though he says we come in with humble spirits, he’s been in this game for so long.

NY:  I’m learning from everybody. This is my first time doing anything in theater. So I walked in with no real expectations just because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I was going to interact with other people and didn’t know what I was walking into to be honest with you. I was happy that this guy [Elijah Kelley] was a part of it because we met on the set of ‘Reds Tails’ and we’ve been brothers ever since.

What was it like playing these iconic roles?

DAG:  I didn’t see me. There’s an excitement to that and I hope to convey that in the performance that you see.

EK:  Absolutely. It’s the same way. Kenny, the director, allows us to take liberties early in our character to be able to get into it so once the costume was actually on, it was so natural. It was like training for a suit. You’ve got this tailored suit and once you’ve actually put it on it’s like, ‘Oh, I know how to walk in it now.’ We meshed into the character once we got in it. There’s no separation of the two.

NY:  Kenny’s guidance helps you get into the character. He helps you create this other person. He will really break down the layers of what’s happening and just make it that much easier for you to become as opposed to acting.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]

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Is Pres. Elect Biden Obama’s 3rd Term? & What 44 Said About Black America’s Progress Under His Watch on ‘Breakfast Club’ (VIDEO)

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Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama
Charlamagne Tha God - Barack Obama

Charlamagne Tha God – Barack Obama

*Attorney Antonio Moore discusses the recent Obama Breakfast Club interview during his Book tour.

Moore harshly critiques the interview of Pres. Obama performed by Charlamagne, DJ Envy and Angela Yee.

He also looks closer at President Elect Joe Biden’s cabinet picks and measures them again Barack Obama & Bill Clinton’s prior administrations.

MORE NEWS: Ripped in Their 50s! Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Strip Down for Weigh-in / WATCH

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** FEATURED STORY **

The Virtual United Negro College Fund Tour Heads to NY, DC & NJ on Fri & Sat-Nov. 20 & 21 (EUR EXCLUSIVE!)

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EUR emt-smiling-people-800-800x450

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*African American students interested in going to college can attend the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Fall 2020 virtual Empower Me Tour. Set for this Friday and Saturday (November 20 & 21, 2020), New York, District of Columbia, and New Jersey will be repped. (This year’s tour kicked off earlier this month in Wisconsin and Illinois). To register, go here.

The Empower Me Tour is an extension of the goals of the UNCF. Founded in 1944, the UNCF, a non-profit, has raised more than $5 billion and helped more than 500,000 students attend 37 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The EUR caught up with Stacey Lee, the tour’s director for four years, who discussed the importance of the event.

“The UNCF is the nation’s largest provider of education support to minority students,” said Lee. “The Empowerment Tour has been executed for the past 12 years and last year along we offered over $12 million dollars in scholarships.”

MORE NEWS/RELATED: BMEE Authors: Urgent Steps Are Necessary to Address Implicit Bias in Early Education  

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Stacey Lee, director of the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Lee continued, “I think the great thing is that during these times, even with COVID-19, is that a number of corporations (Wells Fargo/P&/FedEx/Disney/Goldman Sachs) and donors have really been providing opportunity and financial access to our schools and students.”

The tour is packed with information and resources so that students and parents have the right tools to make informed decisions.

“It’s a free event that provides educational support, scholarships, interviews with colleges, empowerment, and information on how to get to and through college. We also provide this information for parents as well. We have a parent section that focuses on financial aid and the things you need to get your students to college.”

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Source: Empower Me Tour

Lee continued, “Sometimes we have students that don’t realize that they can attend college. They can receive scholarships. Some of them don’t even know what an HBCU is. So, it’s inspirational for me to see these students receive this information and the excitement that’s around this tour.”

In addition to college information, panel sessions on issues affecting the community will also take place. Legendary rapper Bun B will be part of a special My Black Is Beautiful panel. The panel will have discussions with girls and boys and the MC will lead the male portion.

“It’s about empowerment,” Bun B told the EUR. “It’s vital for us to lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices. We just talk about now what that role is in this COVID world. And with everything that we are seeing with young Black men on television, we want to keep them motivated and centered. We want to make sure that they are not discouraged in this moment.”

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Legendary rapper Bun B is a panelist at the Empower Me Tour. (Photo credit: UNCF)

Ever since Kamala Harris threw her hat into the presidential race and elected vice president of the United States, a spotlight has shined on the fact that she’s an HBCU grad (Howard University) and member of the African American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. These facts are not lost on the UNCF.

“Kamala has really boosted people’s awareness about HBCUs and (African American sororities) and the type of people that come out of HBCUs. HBCUS have also provided so many people from science, mathematics, and engineering programs (STEM).”

Bun B added, “We have more than enough examples to show you how beneficial an education from an HBCU can be. So, there is no reason to not be a part of an HBCU because the world is just as available to you as it is for anyone else attending any other type of university.”

Register for the virtual Empower Me Tour on November 20 & 21, 2020 here. Spring tour dates will be announced soon. For general information on the United Negro College Fund, go here.

EUR emt-smiling-people-800-800x450

(Photo credit: UNCF)

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New Music Buzz: Jazzy Rita Shelby’s ‘Goodbye 2020’

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Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby
Goodbye 2020 Jazzy Rita Shelby

After all that’s happened this year, it’s time to say Goodbye 2020. New single available by Jazzy Rita Shelby at most digital platforms.

*SB Music presents “Goodbye 2020” a new single for the times we are in.

“Goodbye 2020” is performed by Jazzy Rita Shelby and written by Miss Shelby (ASCAP) and Eddie Lawrence Miller (BMI).

It’s the perfect anthem to end a year that has impacted the globe.

Jazzy Rita Shelby Goodbye 2020 looking up - Copy

Jazzy Rita Shelby is fed up with this year and elated about her new single “Goodbye 2020.” Avail now from SB Music (Written by L. Shelby & E. Miller)

EURweb’s Jazzy Rita is also a prolific lyricist who has teamed up with Eddie Miller for “Goodbye 2020” because it was timely and convenient for the birth of a song such as this.

Eddie Miller is a coveted keyboardist & vocalist who performs regularly with Brian Culbertson and he’s the Rhodes Festival musical director. Jazzy Rita rose to notoriety as host & performer at The Starlight Jazz Serenade, an annual benefit concert in North Hollywood with an A list of stars.  As a teen Miss Shelby was inspired to write songs by the legendary David Porter.

This year has been a year like no other.  “Goodbye 2020” is an ode to the world for the year that we have seen and the hope that lies ahead.  Radio Programmers click here for adds.

MORE NEWS: THE REAL: The Ladies’ Experience With Stereotypes in Hollywood. Plus, Cheryl Hines Is Here!

“Goodbye 2020” is released on the SB Music label and was recorded at Wishing Wells Studio in Canoga Park, CA.  Willie Daniels and Mildred Black perform background vocals along with Jazzy Rita.  The video is produced & directed by Jazzy Rita (LaRita Shelby), filmed & edited by Reggie Simon of Simon Vision Media, with wardrobe styling by Jazzy Rita and Poet Roni Girl’s Army Couture.  “Goodbye 2020” is available on most digital platforms.  Click here to listen on Spotify.

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