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BET Experience’s Better Days Behind it? Competition Clouds Event’s Future

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*According to an article in the LA Times by writer Garrick Kennedy, the BET Experience, after being birthed six years ago, is not the all-that experience it once was and it’s future … at least in LA is looking so-so.

Anchored around the downtown hot spot, L.A. Live, the multi-day event – now also referred to as BETX – offers packaged arena shows, late-night performances, seminars, celebrity panels and more around BET’s annual awards show telecast. The festival, which drew 165,000 last year, started Thursday and goes through Sunday.

The network wanted to expand its popular BET Awards and brand a music experience that could give the Essence Music Festival a run for its money — a tall order, considering that that festival draws 500,000 music fans to New Orleans each year. BETX also provided an opportunity to tap into the Southern California market that lacked festivals catering to hip-hop and R&B fans after the shuttering of Rock the Bells and Paid Dues.

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BET partnered with AEG, along with its promoter Goldenvoice, to produce the event. This is the final year of a contract renewal reached in 2015 and it remains unclear what plans are moving forward, particularly as Goldenvoice continues to mount smaller, specialized R&B/hip-hop festivals like Tyler, the Creator’s quirky Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, Smokin’ Grooves and the upcoming Summertime in the LBC.

The article points out that BETX’s appeal lies wholly in providing an immersive companion to the BET Awards, one of the few shows of its caliber in which black entertainers take center stage. Although access to the award show comes with a hefty price tag (packages run between $1,095 and $4,500) fans are able to feel a part of the action by attending the concerts — some acts do double duty by performing at both the award show and the festival — or rub shoulders with black entertainers at the expo without breaking the bank, as individual tickets are sold at affordable price points.

But there’s little buzz around this year’s BET Awards. The line-up for the telecast lacks the kind of star power viewers have come to expect. And that lack of excitement extends to the festival.

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In previous years, room was made for veteran R&B and rap artists paired with the young acts pushing the genre forward. No other festival would place New Edition and the Jacksons atop its bill, offer Snoop Dogg a standing invitation to return every year, allow the Roots to fete yesteryear hip-hop until early morning or serve as a launch for Beyoncé’s world tour.

This year’s bill pales in comparison to past lineups as well as other festivals focused on R&B and hip-hop. It largely skewers toward younger fans, which is understandable, as organizers are clearly looking to reflect the tastes of an audience streaming hip-hop and R&B; artists from the genres have put out albums that have sat at No. 1 for 15 weeks so far this year and dominate streaming charts (the top 50 songs being played on Apple Music now are hip-hop or some form of R&B).

You get the idea. It seems the BETX has run out of juice for whatever reason. Could it have something to do with other events, such as the recent Smokin’ Grooves festival that offered a highly curated, one-of-a-kind experience. We’re talking alternative R&B and hip-hop — Erykah Badu, Miguel, the Roots, Jhené Aiko and H.E.R. as major draws. Or is the BETX missing the creative-ness of the two people who guided its initial success, but are no longer with the entertainment outlet, Debra Lee and Stephen Hill?

And while you ponder that thought, check out the rest of Garrick Kennedy’s expose on the BET Experience at LA Times.

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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.

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

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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.

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(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.

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“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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