The OJays opt

TV One, the cable channel, is to be commended and loudly applauded for “Unsung,” the series of hour-long documentaries that focus on Black recording artists who have had a lot of success, yet are deserving of more recognition.

The shows are informative, well-researched, and feature the artists themselves revealing their truths and sharing their opinions regarding their careers. We also hear from others associated with them. Plus, programs are just fun. And get this, if you, like me, do not have cable, you can watch the “Unsung” shows online (visit the TV One website or watch them on YouTube).

Most recently I enjoyed the editions on Millie Jackson, Mary Wells and the O’Jays. Among the other artists who have been profiled are Ray Parker Jr., the Sylvers, Tyrone Davis, Phyllis Hyman, Heatwave, Sheila E., DeBarge, Klymaxx, Freddie Jackson, Vesta Williams, Miki Howard, Whodini, Angela Winbush, David Ruffin, Stacy Lattisaw, Bobby Womack, Tammi Terrell, Donny Hathaway, Klymaxx and Billy Preston. Oh yeah, and Teena Marie, but most people considered her Black anyway!

THE JACKSON FAMILY has every reason to be ashamed of themselves for their shockingly deplorable behavior in recent weeks. The accusing, the counter-accusing, the slapping, the name calling, the media baiting, the lying and, of course, the getting on what are probably the last nerves of 82-year-old Katherine Jackson.

So much for peace in her golden years. I feel sorry for her. No wonder she had to get away from it all by temporarily relocating from the Los Angeles area to Arizona!

We all know how tainted megastar Michael Jackson was, and his family “imploding” right before our eyes fits right in. And it still seems strange that super rich Michael would leave everything to his three kids and his mother and absolutely nothing to his brothers, sisters, father or any other relative or friend.

And if I were a big gambling man, I would bet that those millions have something (maybe a lot) to do with this disgusting madness. Talk about a dysfunctional family!

WE HEAR that contrary to certain rumors, Black radio superstar Donnie Simpson, like the Electrifyin’ Mojo, has no desire to return to radio, or in Simpson’s case, television either.

The very personable Simpson started out in the 1970s as a Soul Teen Reporter on WJLB, representing Denby High School, and soon became a full-time radio personality, known as “the Luv Bug.” His show would start with the Supremes’ hit “Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart,” featuring the opening line, “The love bug done bit me!”

After that he spent 15 years at WRC-FM (which later became WKYS) in Washington, DC, and 17 years at WPGC-FM in the same city. That’s in addition to hosting BET’s popular “Video Soul” show from 1983 to 1997.

But it was time to move on. Donnie told me that it had gotten to the point where some artists from the hip-hop world would approach him in public places, reminding him that they had been on “Video Soul” — and he would have no recollection.

It must be nice to retire wealthy. By the way, the very first article on Donnie Simpson was done in the Michigan Chronicle, in this column. He once said on “Video Soul” that “Steve is a good guy.” Thanks, Donnie! Backatcha!

THERE IS an old song titled “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” Well, as you know, Mariah Carey will be coming aboard “American Idol” as a judge next season. She will be paid a whopping $18 million, making her the highest paid judge in the history of competition music TV shows.

Good for her, but is she really worth that much? Just asking! Simon Cowell, the often acerbic but popular former “American Idol” judge, said there might be a problem with Carey being tough when she needs to be because she is “nice.”

In 2003 Black rock star Lenny Kravitz opened an interior design company, based in New York City. Now he wants to go global with Kravitz Design, including clothes, bedding and furniture. Considering his track record, success seems likely.

Readers have provided some interesting information regarding recent concerts. One reader said Cherrelle was not at her best at Chene Park recently. Apparently there were even boos and the songstress seemed to “influenced.”

Another reader, A.B. Braggs, said Pattti LaBelle’s performance at the DTE Energy Theater was, surprisingly, “lackluster at best.” He said, “Her voice was weak and she showed no energy at all.”

Let’s hope these were one-time-only occasions.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Diana Ross used to work in the basement cafeteria at Hudson’s department store. Her job was to clean off tables.

MEMORIES: “Keep On Truckin’” (Eddie Kendricks), “If I Were Your Woman” (Gladys Knight & the Pips), “The Great Pretender” (the Platters), “Something About You” (the Four Tops),” “One Nation Under a Groove” (Funkadelic), “Trapped By a Thing Called Love” (Denise LaSalle), “It’s You That I Need” (Enchantment). “Young Hearts Run Free” (Candi Staton).

BLESSINGS to Walter Hall, Jill Day-Foley, L.J. Reynolds, Marcus Patton, Brenda Perryman, Keith Alan Owens, Alexis Williams, Terry Cabell, Stephen Singleton and Gwen West.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Alan Cohen: “Thank God for what you have and you will always have what you need.”

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)

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