Reflections: When careers falter

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    Deborah Cox opt

    The other day I heard a hit song from 1995 by rap star Coolio — “Gangsta’s Paradise” was a positive message song despite the ominous title — and it dawned on me again the speed at which artists can drop below the radar, or to put it another way, “go from hot to not.”

    With Coolio’s biggest year as an impetus and the ’90s as a starting point, where are Shabba Ranks, Deborah Cox, Shaggy, Xscape, God’s Property, Busta Rhymes, Carl Thomas, Donell Jones, Ginuwine, Tweet, BLACKStreet, Hi-Five, Shanice, Color Me Badd, Next, Soul For Real, Adina Howard and Zhané, among many others? (Montell Jordan gave up R&B for gospel music, and Sisqó ended up returning to Dru Hill when his solo career stalled.)

    Most of these artists are still active, and some are seen by the general public now and then, but as the old saying goes, “things ain’t what they used to be.”


    Stephanie Mills opt

    STEPHANIE MILLS recently made some comments about Brian McKnight that are sure to have angered the now controversial star. She is disappointed that he and some other artists (like Erykah Badu) have resorted to what she calls “shock value” to stay in the public eye more and have people talking.

    The reference was to Knight’s crude sex song and Badu walking down street naked in a video.

    “I just don’t think you have to go that far to get attention,” said Mills. “Sometimes older artists are so starved for attention that they’ll just about do anything.”

    You can be sure that Mills — who, let’s face it, was on target — will not be invited to any of Brian McKnight’s get-togethers. Not that she would want to anyway, for general reasons and for fear of what kind of party it could turn out to be.


    Jennifer Hudson opt

    “Smash” is the name of the TV series that returns as a midseason replacement. It is musical drama, as is the top-rated “Glee.” Jennifer Hudson, who always has something new going on, has signed on to do several episodes. Her character is Veronica Moore, a Tony Award-winning Broadway star.

    Interestingly, “Smash” also features another “American Idol” alumnae, Katharine McPhee from season five.

    IN CASE you were wondering why the Jackson chose Detroit as one of the first three cities in their Unity Tour, it is because they consider Detroit their “second home.” It is where the Jackson 5 was launched.

    (At one point they were living at Gordy Manor, located on Boston Blvd. at Hamilton. It was supposed to be sort of a hideout, but many girls in the area discovered they were there.)

    The Jacksons opt

    Of the Jacksons show at the Fox Theatre, one reviewer wrote, “The Jacksons in concert without Michael is a dubious proposition, regardless of the configuration. And it’s to the surviving brothers’ credit that their Unity Tour doesn’t attempt to sidestep that.” (Jermaine does most of the leads, and Michael is seen on a screen and spoken of often. Plus his spirit is there.)

    But it would be hard to ignore the fact that a number of shows on the schedule were cancelled. The assumption would be slow ticket sales, but Tito said, “Those shows that were cancelled just didn’t fit our plans.”

    The Jacksons plan to make a new album, their first without Michael since 1989. (But Michael did harmonize on one cut on “2300 Jackson Street.”) of the Black Eyes Peas might be producing it.

    SPEAKING OF tours, Maxwell had to cancel his surprisingly short concert tour (only six dates) due to doctor’s orders. He had vocal swelling and hemorrhaging. He too has an album on the way and will reschedule the shows when it is released.

    A sign of time times: Since that nightclub braw, the popularity of Drake and Chris Brown on the Internet has increased.

    Tony Parker was at that New York club and got hit with a flying bottle and now has a damaged eye, which he said he almost lost. The furious basketball superstar was justified suing the club owner for not having adequate security.

    Entertainers are “coming out” with ever-increasing regularity. Jess Eagle, managing editor of Entertainment Weekly magazine, wrote, “Coming out can still expose you to bigotry, but these stars are wise enough to know that while honesty carries a price, it still costs less than keeping secrets.”

    BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Jean Terrell, who replaced Diana Ross in the Supremes, still sings but her preference is now jazz and standards in clubs and other more intimate venues.

    MEMORIES: “Hot Fun in the Summertime” (Sly & the Family Stone), “Tired of Being Alone” (Al Green), “Looking for a New Love” (Jody Watley), “I Wanna Get Next to You” (Rose Royce), “Square Biz” (Teena Marie), “The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage” (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles), “Save the Best For Last” (Vanessa Williams).

    BLESSINGS to Joe Spencer, Kimberly Horne, Cecilia Stevenson, Bud McQueen, Bruce Knight, Carlton Pearson, Karen Dumas, Cliff Russell, Millie Scott and Henry Tyler.

    WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Bill Cosby: “Decide that you want something more than you are afraid of it.”

    Let the music play!

    (Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 49202.)


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