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World Mourns Passing of Prince

PrinceBy Avis Thomas Lester, Urban News Service

‘Rest in purple,’ millions wish as pop master dies at 57.

As the world mourns the passing of the falsetto-voiced Prince – known for his sexual lyrics, sensual performances and steely determination to control his work  – the music industry is reeling over the loss of a peerless talent.

Prince Rogers Nelson died Thursday at his Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis where he was found unresponsive in an elevator. He was 57.

Local authorities announced Friday that an autopsy had been performed and a cause of death would be forthcoming. Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said there were no signs of trauma at the scene and the case will remain “an open investigation” until autopsy results are returned. Authorities do not believe Prince took his own life.

News of his death stunned fans, inside and outside the music industry.

Prince was “one of a kind, the greatest musician ever,” Washington radio personality Donnie Simpson, a personal friend of the performer.

Stevie Wonder tearfully called him “incredible.”

The praise over the airwaves and on social media was effusive.

“Boys 4 Life…Ain’t nobody bad like Prince!” tweeted Morris Day, head of the Time, a Minneapolis-born funk group whose members worked with Prince and upstaged the star in his own celebrated 1984 movie “Purple Rain.”

“I have no words. The king is gone,” tweeted R&B singer Lalah Hathaway.

“Our GRAMMY family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Prince. Today, we remember and celebrate him as one of the most uniquely gifted artists of all time. Never one to conform, he redefined and forever changed our musical landscape,” posted Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Prince’s death comes a little over two months after the passing of one of his protégés, Vanity, lead singer of the 1980s glam group Vanity 6. Vanity, whose real name was Denise K. Matthews, died Feb. 15 of renal failure; she was also 57. A few hours after her death, Prince remembered Matthews with a special rendition of his popular song “Little Red Corvette” while on tour in Australia, according to news reports.

His passing is the latest among several influential musicians in recent months. Rock legend David Bowie died Jan. 10 after battling cancer. And Earth, Wind & Fire founder and front man Maurice White died on Feb. 4 at age 74 of Parkinson’s disease.

Washington radio personality DJ Flexx said the deaths of Prince, White and Bowie will have a permanent impact on the music industry.  “We are losing innovators. We are losing trendsetters. We are losing leaders,” he said. “We are talking about people who changed the game, were responsible for trends that made people want to be like them. Who are we going to look to now to continue to lead?”

The son of a pianist father and a vocalist mother, Prince showed musical talent early in life. He taught himself to play the piano at age 7 and added guitar and drums to his repertoire by the time he reached high school.

According to statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Prince has sold 20.5 million records.

Grammy-winning producers Terry Lewis and James “Jimmy Jam” Harris, who worked with Prince as musicians in the Time, told Simpson in an interview that Prince was already a talented musician when they met him in middle school in Minneapolis.

“He was gifted, just totally gifted,” Lewis said. “We’ll always be celebrating his life because we’ll be celebrating that music forever.”

Harris said that Prince, Lewis and he took a piano class in middle school that was beneath their skill level. While the teacher was attempting to teach them children’s ditties, they were playing sophisticated music.

“I just remember he could play waves around me, man,” Harris said. “I thought I was good, but I was like, ‘Damn, this dude is ridiculous.’ He was on a whole different level, man.”

Lewis, a bass player, said Prince’s attempts to help his classmates could prove painful.  “He could pick up the bass and give you fits,” he said. “And … he could do that same thing to any person who stepped on the stage because he was a student of music … We used to say, ‘He is music.’ ”

Harris said Prince auditioned for a high-school program playing a complicated guitar solo from Chicago’s “Make Me Smile” album. During a break, Harris heard someone in the music room playing a drum solo so well that he thought it was the teacher.  “I come out and it is Prince on the drums. I didn’t even want to get back behind the drums after that,” he said.

He said Prince’s work ethic was  unparalleled. “Prince would rehearse us for four hours. He’d go rehearse his band for four hours. And then he’d go work in the studio all night. Then, the next morning he’d come to our rehearsal with a cassette in his hand and he’d put the cassette in and all of a sudden “1999” would play. And I don’t mean a demo of ‘1999’ –  I mean ‘1999’. ‘Little Red Corvette’ would play. We’d be like, ‘Damn, when did you do that?’ He would say, ‘Like, last night.’ ”

While many entertainers of his day had faded away, Prince was never far from the spotlight. After a string of hits in the 1980s and 1990s, people around the world welcomed the new millennium partying to his dance anthem “1999”. His 2007 Super Bowl half-time performance, delivered in a driving rain, is considered by many to be the best such performance yet.

He stayed relevant even as he worked to stay out of the spotlight. His penchant for privacy, as well as his colorful outfits and trademark high-heeled boots earned a reputation for being eccentric.

“He wore high heels and makeup and I still thought he was the sexiest man alive,” said Dorina Roberts, who was listening to Prince songs on her iPhone at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument in Washington, on Friday. “I loved his music and I loved him.”

Prince was also an activist. He traveled to Baltimore in May, 2015, in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, who died after allegedly suffering an injury while in police custody, and the unrest that resulted. His “Rally 4 Peace” concert sold out. He sang a song he wrote called “Baltimore.” He donated the proceeds to charitable causes in the city.

Robert Scott Adams, student services director at the Omega Studios in Rockville, Maryland, where Prince once worked, said he first heard Prince’s music in 1979 while working as a student deejay at Clark Atlanta University and at rock station WKLF 96.

“I heard the first single from his first album, Prince, called ‘Soft and Wet,’ ” Adams said. “That was back in the day when you would read the album cover. First, I noticed that he had produced it himself and that was a really big deal to produce your own music back then. Then, I saw that he played all of the instruments on the album. It said he played 27 instruments and he was only, like, 17 years old. That was the start, pretty much from then on, I’m a fan.”

Adams, who said he frequently encountered musicians as a deejay, said he found himself speechless when he met Prince while working for a record company in 1983.

“I feel a presence behind me and I turn around and it is Prince and I freeze and I turn into a child,” Adams said, laughing. “I mumble something like, ‘Wow, you’re Prince!’ He said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I wanted to ask him my questions, but I froze. He waited some more, then he just walked away.”

As he signed off from his Washington radio show Thursday, Donnie Simpson said he believes there may be more of Prince’s music to come.

“It’s hard to believe [his] life is over, but I thank God that he left us with so much music, man. You know how much stuff he released. Just imagine how much is in his vault, thousands of songs, man, guaranteed.”

Visit the Urban News Service for more stories like this one.


The Inland Valley News Hosts 19th Annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala and Scholarship Dinner

Honorees of the 2016 COE Gala and Inland Valley News Inc. Board Members during the Press Conference Luncheon held at Mt. San Antonia Gardens. Photo by Naomi K. Bonman

Honorees of the 2016 COE Gala and Inland Valley News Inc. Board Members during the Press Conference Luncheon held at Mt. San Antonia Gardens. Photo by Naomi K. Bonman

UPLAND, CA- The days are counting down until the most illustrious event in the Inland Valley and Inland Empire. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend this event, buy your tickets today!  The Inland Valley News Inc. is thrilled to present its 19th Annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala and Scholarship Dinner, “Investing in the Next Generation of World Changers,” to be held on Friday, April 29, at Doubletree by Hilton located at 222 North Vineyard Avenue in Ontario.

The Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala and Scholarship Dinner is a community outreach program of the Inland Valley News, sponsored together with its affiliated not for- profit, public benefit 501(c)(3) corporation, Shining Glory Publications. The event is one of the few true celebrations of the achievements and contributions of people who help make this community the jewel of Southern California. Last year, hundreds of registered guests, including leaders in business, education, housing, transportation, health care, government, church and media as well as other key decision-makers participated in this annual celebration.

The Publisher’s Awards Recipients are: Tamara Weston, (Macy’s) –Publishers’ Choice; Eric Dickerson, (NFL Hall of Famer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist) –Lifetime Achievement Award; Dr. Lester J. Jones, (Western University) –Educational Innovation Award; Dr. Martha Melendez, (Arrowhead Regional Medical Center) –Excellence in Community Health Leadership Award; Laura Mancha, (San Bernardino County Board of Education) –Excellence in Educational Leadership; Dr. Felice Loverso, (Casa Colina) – Excellence in Corporate Leadership; Gilbert A. Holmes, JD. (University of La Verne) –Excellence in Jurisprudence Award; Richard E. Yochum (Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center) –Excellence in Hospital Administration Award.  The Community Awards Recipients are: Kenneth Gray, Excellence for being a Champion of Change; Linda Wright-Lee, Excellence in Community Activism; Antoine & Heather Dunham, Excellence in Youth Empowerment; A. Majadi, Excellence in Youth Advocacy; and Larry Ortega; Excellence in Technology Activism.

Congratulations to all our honorees and recipients of the 2016 Celebration of Excellence.

The proceeds from this event will provide scholarships and internships through the IVN Scholars program. The IVN Scholars Program was designed to provide Shining Glory Scholarship recipients who are pursuing education or careers in mass communications, the arts, as well as those who are pursuing careers in the STEM-related industries with more than just money for college.

“The goal was and still is to extend our reach as we work to prepare the next generation of global leaders who will work to make the world better. Students within the program are paired with highly trained mentors who support them throughout their entire undergraduate career. Additionally, participants receive ongoing comprehensive leadership development training, service learning opportunities and internships within their respective areas of interest. The intent is to use these different facets as a means to fostering the 21st century competencies and leadership capacities necessary for them to become powerful, thoughtful and engaged world changers. We at the IVN Scholars Program are excited to induct our second class of future world changers who will join our program this Fall” said, Ta Mia Morrow, Executive Director.

For more information tickets, sponsorships regarding the Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala and Scholarship Gala, please do not hesitate to contact the IVN office at (909) 985-0072 or visit www.coegala.org or www.inlandvalleynews.com.

The Inland Empire Walking Diva, Yolanda Holder, is at it Again, Breaking Unthinkable Goals

Yolanda Holder

Yolanda Holder

By Cecilia Harris

Yolanda Holder is a twice Guinness World Book record holder, a mother of two grown children, a wife, a power walker, and a goal achiever.  Seven years ago, when she turned 50, she wanted to challenge herself to do something different in her life.  Her kids were in college.  So she decided to walk – power walk – 50 marathons in 50 weeks.  She did not succeed.

Instead, in October 2008 when she finished her 50th marathon (Silicon Valley Marathon) she realized that she still had more time left in the year.  So she completed 65 marathons in 52 weeks.  This was her start that has no end.  In 2009, she went on to complete another 77 marathons/ultras.  She would complete an ultra marathon (50K) on a Saturday and then complete a marathon on a Sunday.  It wasn’t until November 2009 that she realized that she was different—so different that Runner’s World has yet to do a story on her—because she is NOT a runner.  Yolanda has never been a runner.  When you are runner, you can slow down and walk.  But when you are a walker, how do you slow down?  You are already walking!  It is not easy to be a power walker.  But no one said life was easy.

After contacting Guinness to find out if there were any other women who had completed more marathons in a year, she completed 106 in 2010.  Her first World Record.  But runners were still not giving her respect. 

In 2011, she cut down on her events and only completed 50-60 marathons.  She was still referred to as “just a walker.”  And in her mind she was not an athlete.

But 2012, she was determined to set the record straight – a second Guinness World Record!  She not only completed 120 events, but she power walked three 100-milers, two 50-milers, 40 50Ks, and 75 marathons in one year.  Bam – in your face runners!  Yolanda was now a world champion walker; and an athlete.

2013 brought a total of 300 lifetime marathons before having major surgery in November 2014.  And on February 14, 2015, she hit the mark for 500 lifetime marathons/ultras. 

It was in Alaska at her first 6-day event.  She power walked 403 miles, placing 3rd for women and 10th overall out of 100 runners.  Only about 15 Americans competed.  The multiple-day ultra is more popular around the world than in the United States.  But that may be changing. 

Yolanda has since completed two other 6-day events (getting on the podium in all three) and will be competing in her first 10-day event “Sri Chinmony 10 Day Race April 19 – 29, 2016, Queens New York.  Yolanda will be breaking Sutushi Lang (USA)  19 year record (510 miles) and will be the second American Woman to run or walk a 10 Day Race.

Yolanda believes the human body is amazing.  “If you treat it well – run, walk, ride a bike – the body will achieve what the mind believes.  Physical, mental, anything – it can be done.  Positive thinking and believing – believing got me through it,” proclaims Yolanda.

After losing her father in 2003 and then her mother in 2013, Yolanda needed to honor her parents and take a stand against Type 2 diabetes.  With her sponsor, Nissan, she walked from Corona to Oakland – 525 miles – to raise funds and awareness for the devastation that diabetes has and is causing in the African American community.  She believes that you don’t have to be a runner. You don’t have to go to the gym 7 days a week.  But you have to be responsible to yourself and move.  A little today, a little more tomorrow, a little to save your life so that your kids don’t have to keep picking up the phone to call you only to remember that you are gone – too soon.

Today, there are lots of people who have done a 5K or a 10K.  The numbers of participants in half marathons has exploded.  And it is not elite athletes that are building these numbers.  It is the middle-aged woman who decided that she didn’t want to sit on the couch anymore.  It is the young girl who has joined her girlfriends to walk for a cause.  And soon, the ultra – the 100 miler – is going to be the new 26.2.  Because you don’t have to win, you just have to complete.  And if you want to win, that’s okay too.

Today, Yolanda has completed 527 lifetime marathons/ultras.  She is competitive, but she still will make time for a selfie or two out on the course.  He father would always tell her, “I can never help my family,” and she lives this as well being one of eleven siblings, three with diabetes.  She inspires who she can.  This is her lifestyle.  She believes the average person can do anything.   Know your goal.  Stick to your plan.  Believe.  Achieve.