Donnie Delivers The Daily News (ADDED YOUTUBE CLIPS)

Last night I went with my boo, my friend/former roomie, and another best friend all squeezed into a booth (and I do mean SQUEEZED!) at Joe’s Pub last night to hear what soul singer Donnie had to deliver this evening. His is on a promotional tour for his upcoming CD, The Daily News.

I first heard of Donnie back in Fall 2002 when The Colored Section, his first full legnth CD was released (the album would later be re-released by Motown in 2003, whom Donnie does not seem to be working with any longer). I was in Tower Records in Greenwich Village, when I passed the CD on a shelf. I was initially attracted to the design and colors of the CD, but also was intrigued by this deep brown-skinned bohemian looking cutie on the cover, who looked like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.

And I think I was correct. The Colored Section featured a classic soul music sound, with this singer who sounded like a corss between the other Donnie (Hathaway) and Stevie Wonder. He also sang with an immediacy, an intensity about everything from the state of Black America, to loving nappy hair, to 9-11. It was one of those CDs that I played for everyone I knew, who in turn played it for everyone they knew.

But last night, after nearly three years since Motown re-released his debut (and then–in my opinion– did absolutely nothing to promote it beyond his core audience, who by that time already had the CD), Donnie hit the stage at Joe’s Pub with a force only a scorpio could muster.

He was rocking charcoal grey slacks, a white oxford (untucked), and a red tie, as the 3-piece band (keys, drums, and bass guitar) and 3 background singers launched into the title track from the upcoming disc, The Daily News. His hour +2 encore set included about half new tracks, and you know they’re good when the audience is singing the chorus to songs they are hearing for the first time. New York can also be a pretty tough crowd, but Donnie had the crowd (me included) in the palm of his hands.

Vocally he was top-form. Donnie is a smart vocalist who knows he has a voice with so many textures and layers, and such interesting melodies and thoughtful lyrics that he doesn’t need to over-sing the songs, a concept which many artists in his generation with as much virtuosity (and many with much less), can’t seem to grasp.

But adding to his incredible vocals is his amazing background singers (one of whom, Rahbi, has an album currently on the shelves). I think only since Luther Vandross have I seen a male vocalist with such exquisite background vocalists – all of whom are soloists in their own right, but know how to work together to enhance the lead.

As usual, Donnie talked and sang to the audience about current issues of the day– the latest airline restrictions & the war on terror, men on the DL, AIDS and homophobia, child sexual abuse.

His set way too short, and he didn’t do Clould 9, but Joes’ Pub had booked another show, so he had to stop at two encores, and the audience was clearly pissed. How many times do you get that at a show?

I am really thrilled to hear The Daily News, which drops on September 26. Here Donnie interviews about this record.

ALSO: New Footage from the show on You TUBE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bH4DsSa4ZM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW8Z1eZxQ0s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoFFmotZlv4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT7gQTFWUJk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veSkemoRMcE

Project Runway: Reality Show or Docu-fiction?

There have long been allegations of reality shows using creative editing processes to make people into “characters” that will add the most drama and conflict to the delight of television viewers.

I think my favorite show is Project Runway. Being a flaming queen, I am of course fascinated in the series which features 16 fashion designers competing with weekly design challenges for a chance at an opening at New York’s Fashion Week.

But as a Black person, and something of a cultural critic/public intellectual (YES! Friends, I finally own it.), I am often very troubled by the portrayals of Black folks in these shows, and the way they’re treated by the other folks on the show, the media, and the general viewing public.

With last season’s Project Runway, I was a huge fan of Zulema Griffin. I thought she was really smart, gorgeous, and most of all, I was interested in her perspective, and where she was going to go from week to week. But it was clear from the beginning that she was set up to be the crazy Black “b”. She was eventually ostracized by the other cast members for doing something completely within the rules of the show–no one had done it up to that point. But when she asked for a walk-off between two models, she had every Black butch queen from here to ATL screaming, “WORK!!!”

A friend recently pointed out two things that Zulema herself has begun to point out with the show:

1. She was edited in such a way to in fact make her the Black woman villain on the show.

2. The producers intentionally edited out the fact that she was a an out lesbian. Given that the show has a large queer following, that fact would have potentially made her more sympathetic, and it would have been much harder to control the effect they wanted.

This begs the question: How much of reality TV is really reality? How do we get sucked into making assumptions about people on these shows, when things can (and are, apparently) taken completely out of context?

In two interviews, Zulema exposes all this, and also talks candidly about some things that happened to her that would have added to the juicy drama of the show, but clearly the producers protected other (white) cast members (or one in particular).

Zulema speaks to The Advocate and Papierdoll about the whole ordeal.

The End of Days (after the commercial break).

Someone once said that s truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. I would add that sometimes The Daily Show makes more sense of the news, than the actual press does. This segment is one such a time, where Jon Stewart walks us through the most ridiculous news coverage about the current situation between Hezbollah and Israel, as it is being interpreted by evangelical Christians as a sign of the “end of days,” better known as Armageddon. Not that it’s a story not worth exploring, because it is. But it is the context that the reporters are situating the story. If the story was raising the questions like:

“What does this mean for US Foreign policy?

“Does the religious viewpoint that we are nearing the Apolcolypse impact who supports Israel in it’s policy and military stragy against its neighbors?”

or

“What does that mean for how politicians will talk about this crisis (and what types of solutions they offer) given the upcoming mid-term elections?”

These would perhaps be somewhat meangingful to the discussion, because evangelism definitely influences the American (and moving towards global!) political landscape. But no! The kind of skepticism–or attempts to even so, or looking at several angles/arguments of an issue are completely missing from this news stories. It’s not like we’re talking about global warming, which at this point is irrefutable. We’re talking about the Book of Revelations – a religious text, mind you.

Now, the Daily Show clearly edited the stories significantly, but, I saw two of the ones they feature in their entirety, and the reporters spoke with all earnestness about the Apocalypse as if the sea were presently turning blood-red, and the Four Horseman were waving from the windows with the crowd of tourists outside their TV studios in Midtown, Manhattan.

This, is what our media is, people. Watch the clip.

Condoleezza Rice’s Legacy

Since the Israeli attack on Lebanon, people have been pointing fingers and Secretary Condoleezza Rice. I took the US 23 days of bombing–leaving 550 Lebanese and 70 Israelis dead–to backpeddle on their initial policy, delivered by Secretary Rice, that they wanted to ensure a lasting peace agreement could be reached before calling for a cease-fire. Now how in the hell are you supposed to reach a peace agreement while you’re still lobbing bombs over at each other? Does that make any kind of damn sense to anyone? And yet, I never heard any media ask that question – cuz it seems so basic to me.

But I digress. The point is, the “policy” of the US was clearly a failure when last week, Israel attacked a apartment building killing 60 some-odd civilians, people really began to wonder what Rice, as head diplomat, would be. More on that later cuz I gotta run…

Anyhow, I found this commentary by journalist Deborah Mathis really interesting.