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Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle Square Off in Verzuz Battle / Who Won? – Read Review & Watch (Again)!

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*There was a lot of hype leading up to the September 13 Verzuz Battle between veteran R&B legends Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle. (Watch it go down via the YouTube player above.)

There was competition before the competition, with both legends, who are also known for their cooking abilities, whipping up something in the kitchen and showing it off on Instagram.

By the time the ladies appeared together at the Fillmore in Philadelphia, the fans were revved and ready, waiting to hear their favorite songs, by their favorite legends.

The evening began with Gladys and Patti reminiscing, like the two old friends that they are. They talked about their early years, growing up together, having children at the same time, their shared love of cooking, which they learned to do on the road, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren (Gladys) as well as their losses; Gladys’ son and Patti’s sister. They urged people to vote, and although they said they were not going to get into politics, a little crept in anyway. It was obvious these two women have nothing but love and admiration for each other.

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Gladys Knight & Patti LaBelle / screenshot


I think many will agree that, to a certain extent, legends have earned the right to a little latitude in their speaking, which explains why most of the audience didn’t gasp (via the comment field) when Patti said, “that heffa sang me under the table” referring to Jennifer Hudson or when she said, “gay people keep us pumped” or when they told Monica and Brandy to, “stop it!”

The battle began, with Patti going first and then the two legends going back and forth. From Patti’s catalogue, we were treated to, “If You Ask Me To,” “Stir It Up,” “When You’ve Been Blessed,” “Love, Need and Want You,” “Right Kinda Lover,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Somebody Loves You,” “New Attitude,” “On My Own,” and “Lady Marmalade,” among other hits. Gladys countered with, “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” “Make Yours a Happy Home,” “On and On,” “License to Kill,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Neither One of Us”, “Friendship Train” and “Love Overboard,” among others. Patti dedicated, “You Are My Friend” to Gladys, one of the best songs of the evening. The absolute highlight of the songfest was when another legend, Dionne Warwick, joined them to sing, “That’s What Friends Are For” and “Superwoman.”

These two women, who are now deep into their 70s, can still sing! Gladys’ tone was incredible, and Patti was hitting those high notes as good as ever. They both had their moves together, with Gladys and her bop and Patti with her signature arms flap when she sang, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” We will not mention when she did her trademark kicking off the shoes, she kicked herself in the leg. The only singing drawback, if it could be considered one, is they were singing with the songs and sometimes they did not know the words and other times they were singing over or under the song. Patti mentioned she could not remember the words and stressed that they needed to be put on the teleprompter. Gladys then admitted she too cannot recall the words to some of her songs. I don’t think anyone cared; we were all too busy enjoying the love, camaraderie and authenticity of these two beautiful legends.

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Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwicke & Patti LaBelle screenshot

All the listeners were in awe and the flurry of comments were extremely complimentary, mentioning the joy the evening was bringing.

The verzuz battles typically bring out its share of celebrities lending their support to the featured artists, and this battle was no exception. Some of the people who checked in included Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Brandy, Monica, Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Diddy, Tyrese, Viola Davis, Queen Latifah, Niecy Nash, Gabrielle Union, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. Patti Labelle told Michelle Obama she is, “married to the best man in the world.”

By the end of the night, Patti had changed shoes three times and said, “They can have these,” as she left her shoes on the stage when she was leaving.

Who won the battle? Gladys Knight’s tone and clear, clean vocals impressed me enough that I am giving her the nod. That is not to say Patti Labelle did a bad job; Gladys Knight was just vocally better and more prepared. The fans, however, were the biggest winners, because we were treated to two hours of some of the best music ever made, by two of R&B’s iconic treasures…make that three treasures. We are so lucky to still have them.

Yep, there really were no losers in this battle.

marilyn smith

Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith is a Los Angeles based writer/reviewer. Contact her via [email protected].

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Making People Laugh About the Hardships of Teaching Keeps Eddie B. Going (EUR Exclusive!)

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Eddie B.

*Eddie B. hit the mark when his “Teachers Only Comedy Tour” in 2017 played to sold-out audiences. His later show “I’m Already Professionally Developed Tour” was also a huge success.

With funny and telling commentary about what teachers really think has made Eddie B. a hit with educators and comedy fans around the world. While the former teacher is excited about his success, he takes it all in stride.

“People ask me why am I so humble and I don’t know how to answer that,” Eddie B. told the EUR in a recent phone interview. “The only answer I came up with one time is that the more thankful you are you have no choice but to display humbleness. You have to be thankful for what you have. So being humble and thankful go hand in hand.”

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With COVID-19 rendering comedy-tours practically non-existent, the Houston native keeps the jokes coming and his routines fresh by crashing virtual conferences held by, of course, teachers.

“I’m doing a lot of Zooms,” Eddie B. said. “I’m doing everybody’s meetings and convocations. I’ve been busy, busy, busy. Thank God.”

The consummate “class clown,” he was always the funny one in the room and began making serious moves as a comedian while attending Texas A&M University (Kingsville).

Although he was earning a local name for himself, Eddie B. was not making the kind of money he had hoped. Continuing the comedy club circuit after graduation and taking odd jobs, he began teaching because it was steady pay. He remained a teacher for 13 years while still doing comedy.

“A lot of teachers say, ‘I’ve been wanting to teach my whole life. I was born this way.’ No, you weren’t.” the single father laughed. “I’m a tell you right now 70% of all teachers didn’t want to teach. I guarantee you that. Teaching is a profession you get stuck in. The only reason you get stuck is because of the kids. You know the money’s not keeping us. It’s our relationships with the kids and other teachers too – the camaraderie of it all.”

Eddie B. retired from teaching for a short while during his tenure but soon had to return to pay the bills.

“I’m hearing Steve Harvey and ‘em say, ‘You gotta jump. Take the leap,’ That’s cute,” he added. “But what the hell do you do when you take the jump and you get pulled back? I jumped as high as I could and got snatched back down, which led me to believe that it’s got more to do with timing then jumping.”

Down but not out, Eddie B., who showed off his craft on YouTube, said a voice inside his head told him, “’Hey, why don’t you do a video about (teaching)?’ So, I shot it before the kids got in my (school) room and put it out by lunch time. But I was like I don’t even have teaching in my comedy.”

“A couple of days later on my Instagram I got about 100,000 views,” he continued. “I thought something was wrong. I thought it was a glitch. It was just teachers bouncing it off and that was the magic of it. It kept growing and growing. Millions of views and the video was only sixty seconds. It was called ‘What Teachers Really Want to Say’ and I was like man if they like this I’ve got 13 years of this.”

Now that he was getting traction, he had to figure out a way to keep the momentum going with the newer audience.

“What they (the teachers who liked his videos) didn’t know was that I’m a comedian,” Eddie B. said. “They just thought I’m a funny teacher. I had to take what I knew about teaching and put it in a (comedy) set now.”

But could he do that without alienating those who had supported his regular comedy for so long?

“My comedy wasn’t always clean. I used to curse with every other word. I’m from the neighborhood and a large percent of my audience is Caucasian (white women teachers). They don’t want to hear that language. But I’ve been on tour for almost 4 years now and I’ve toned it down. I had to grow with it and learn on the job. It was like teaching.”

For more on Eddie B., and to find out where he may be next virtually and otherwise, go to his official website here.

You can also buy his book, “I’m Already Professionally Developed: Straight from the Teacher’s Desk,” released last year.

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Eddie B. (Courtesy of Eddie B.)

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‘The Rock’ is a Hero to a ‘Secret Second Born Royal’ / EUR Exclusive!

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Peyton Elizabeth Lee and Noah Lomax talking exclusively to EUR.

*Peyton Elizabeth Lee stars as Sam in “Secret Society of Second Born Royals.” She is a teenage royal rebel second in line to the throne of Illyria.

Sam and fellow royals with special powers attend a top-secret training camp learn how to harness their powers to save the world. Noah Lomax (Mike) is Sam’s best friend and bandmate in the Disney+ original movie “Secret Society of Second Born Royals.”

Both discussed their roles in an exclusive interview with EUR.

What’s the difference between the “Secret Society of Second Born Royals’ academies, especial Professor Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Children.

PEYTON ELIZABETH LEE: Sam goes to a very prestigious elitist school, and it’s a place where she’s never really felt like she belonged. And it’s because there are all these uptight princesses and princes that she doesn’t really connect with or relate to. And so she really struggles with finding herself, and finding people that she can connect with and trust in such a school.

NOAH LOMAX: My character Mike is actually more realistic I think. He doesn’t attend the prestigious school that Sam goes to. So he’s just on his own doing his own thing with the public school, but still playing an important part in keeping the world safe.

How would you use your powers to help ease some of the chaos in the world today?

PEL: That a good question. Sam has super senses, so maybe she could listen in to hear people saying racist, rude, and mean things. Then go to those people and teach them a lesson.

NL: For, me unfortunately, Mike doesn’t have any superpowers. But I think he can use the power of being such a loyal friend, and being there for someone no matter what. I think that could really come into play and help out in today’s society.

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Noah Lomax (Mike) and Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Sam) in a scene from “Secret Society of Second Born Royals’ (Disney+/Brendan Adam-Zwelling)

What goes into being a best friend friend?

PEL: I think Mike in ‘Secret Society’ is a great example of a best friend. He’s always there for her. He doesn’t judge her. He knows who she is and he doesn’t get caught up in all the background noise that is being royalty and all of her responsibilities. And he’s always there for her as a human rather than as a princess. So I think that’s a really great quality that all friends should have is that loyalty, and that understanding.

What are some things you want viewers to walk away with?

NL: Self-empowerment and being proud of who you are,  what you were born with, and not being ashamed of it.

PEL: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think the great themes of this movie are self-acceptance, empowerment, and being excited and proud of who you are with all your quirks and differences. It’s a really great reflection of what we should be doing in this world.

Do you have any superheroes onscreen or off?

PEL: I would definitely say my parents. They’ve just always been there for me. They’ve been my rock. They’ve pushed me to pursue my dreams and I really don’t know where I would be without them.

NL: For me I’d probably have to say my dad, and mom and then maybe Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I love The Rock.

Veteran, syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on mainstream media and the Black diaspora. Facebook.com/TheFilmStrip    Twitter: @thefilmstrip Instagram.com/thefilmstriptm

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James McBride’s Book (‘The Good Lord Bird’) Adapted Into A Showtime Series / WATCH

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*Award-winning author James McBride’s novel “The Good Lord Bird” has been adapted into a limited series on Showtime.

The series and book are based on actual events that took place during slavery and focus on the abolitionists’ movement. It tells the story of abolitionist John Brown, a white man, who literally fought for the freedom of slaves. John Brown who is played by Ethan Hawke (“Training Day”) would try to free slaves from their masters by any means necessary, which often meant killing them. His efforts led him to take over the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. An event in history that many are unaware of. The history that we are taught would have you to believe abolitionists only assisted with the underground railroad. That isn’t the case, most got their hands dirty and put their own lives on the line.  

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We sat down with James McBride to ask him what inspired him to write this book.

“I was in a historical society and I saw a diary by a Jewish merchant. He had a line, John Brown attacks Harper’s Ferry, and there was a two-page narrative about what he read about the events,” says McBride.  

 After reading that entry in that diary, McBride became fascinated with John Brown’s story. The book and the series depict a raw and honest version of the events that led up to the attack on Harpers Ferry. Now that there are more African Americans involved in film and TV we are starting to see a different narrative than what has been taught or not taught over the years.

Because of the lack of education, most people think the civil war was the only “war” that occurred during slavery. But, there were many slave revolts that were sometimes initiated by abolitionists like John Brown.

The Showtime series “The Good Love Bird” is a good start to learn about these untold stories. It is written as a satire which makes for a good balance of educating and entertaining.  

“The Good Lord Bird” airs on Showtime Sunday, October 4

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