Posts Tagged ‘Reba McEntire’

Random Friday Thoughts — July 21 , 2017

It’s the weekend and can you believe it’s already late July.  Where does the time go?

Have a great weekend and I appreciate you checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”. Please feel free to share yours with me.

PRESIDENT CARTER WAS SPEAKING TO ME

As I shared with you earlier this week, I got to meet the man and woman I’ve idolized the longest in my life — President Jimmy Carter and his lovely wife, Rosalynn.

R JC AP

Here’s that blog about me meeting three of my four idols (it’ll open in a new window):

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/meeting-my-biggest-inspiration-in-life/

What I didn’t share with you was a part of his Sunday school sermon that spoke just to me (well, I’m sure others felt he was speaking to them, too).

Four days before meeting President Carter, in my blog “Sugar Coating Life”, I shared with you, “I’m not depressed or despondent, but I’m sad and lonely.  I miss human correspondence and friendship.  However, in life, we never know what’s right around the corner.  Tomorrow, I could meet my new best friend — someone to make me change the way I feel about life, love, and the future.”

President Carter told us that his favorite chapter in the Bible is James.  In James, it talks about if you’re unhappy, it’s your fault.  You are the one that has to change it.

So, with my feelings last week about not loving the direction of my life, it seems like I really needed to be at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, last weekend, for inspiration.

IRONIC?

There was another thought racing through my mind during President Carter’s Sunday school lesson from Ezekiel.

He told us that Ezekiel and Jesus Christ were both “unpopular” in life, but God gave them a second chance.

I couldn’t help but think about President Carter, too.

CarterPres

While I idolize the man (and I’m not alone), he had a very difficult presidency.

He told us that he prayed more in those four years than in his entire life.  At times, he’d say a prayer with his eyes open!

So, like Ezekiel and Jesus, Jimmy Carter got a second chance in life after being president.

In those 36 years, he and Ms. Rosalynn have built houses for Habitat for Humanity, ensured fair elections across the world, brought medication to poor countries and worked to eradicate Guinea worm disease and river blindness, raised awareness to mental health, and the list goes on.

Second chances are great!

“THE SNOWMAN” TRAILER IS HERE!

“The Snowman” trailer is finally here!

It’s one of the most anticipated movies for me behind “Beauty and the Beast”, which I saw in March, and next year’s “Mamma Mia” sequel!

snowman

Two summers ago, I read “The Snowman”, a 2007 crime thriller by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo.  It’s the seventh book in the Detective Harry Hole series.

Nesbo+Snowman

The book was creepy and incredible and a must-read if you like crime novels!

In it, Detective Harry Hole is on the trail of Norway’s first serial killer.  And, is there a connection between the season’s first snow, the appearance of a snowman, and the victims?

My man crush (well, one of them), Michael Fassbender, plays Hole.  The movie is directed by Tomas Alfredson (“Let The Right One In” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”).

It opens on October 20th.

EMMY NOMINATIONS

I’m thrilled “House of Cards”, Robin Wright, Kevin Spacey, and Michael Kelly got some Emmy love with nominations.

Also, my girl crush, Nicole Kidman, was nominated (alongside Reese Witherspoon) for the fantastic “Big Little Lies”, which also got a nod.

However, I most excited that Jessica Lange is nominated for “Feud:  Bette and Joan” (Susan Sarandon was also nominated).

feud

In “Feud”, I was mesmerized by Lange’s transformation into Joan Crawford.  As much as I love Susan Sarandon as an actress, I saw her “Bette Davis” as Susan Sarandon.

What’s surprising is that Lange has never seen the 1981 Faye Dunaway movie, “Mommie Dearest” and she says that she’ll likely never see it.

Let’s hope that Lange picks up the Emmy award on September 17th.

READ MY MIND, IT’S YOUR CALL! OR, FOR MY BROKEN HEART, RUMOR HAS IT…

With her Las Vegas residency, Reba McEntire (with Brooks & Dunn) has a good thing going.  She performs her music a few months out of the year to sold out crowds that come to her.

Sadly, now that ABC passed on her new series from Marc Cherry, I have an idea for Reba.

Back in the  late-1990s, Reba did a non-traditional tour called “The Singer’s Diary”.  It was part theater and part concert.

Lately, many artists like U2 and Bruce Springsteen are touring and performing entire albums and not just the hits and popular songs.

Could you imagine Reba performing most of the tracks of her early 1990s albums, “Rumor Has It”, “For My Broken Heart”, “It’s Your Call”, and “Read My Mind” in a more intimate venue?

Reba

Of course, “Rumor Has It” and “Read My Mind” are my favorite Reba albums.

CHRISTMAS & GOD

Okay, if that’s too far-reaching, how about a Christmas and gospel-tinged show to feature tracks from her 1987 and 1999 Christmas albums and her latest “Sing it Now:  Songs of Faith & Hope”?

reba-faith

There’s little hope of hearing new Reba music on country radio, so I was just thinking outside the box for our favorite redhead.

ONE MORE CHRISTMAS NOTE

Christmas is now only five months away and you know I love me some Mariah Carey.

81st Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Pre-Tape

While Mariah is currently on tour with Lionel Richie (I had tickets to the postponed Nashville show, but it was eventually cancelled), I’ve been wanting to go to New York to see her annual Christmas concert.

On Wednesday, Mariah announced that she’s taking the show to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for six nights in December!  I think I need to plan a trip now!

Here’s a couple of version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” for my “Christmas in July” friends. 🙂

It should come as no shock why I posted more than just the original video. 🙂

Two words: Hot Elves!

CHEAPER TO DRINK LIQUOR!

Now that I’m getting settled into Panama City, Florida, I’ve noticed a few peculiar things.

I expected produce to be really cheap here and it isn’t.  Well, limes are inexpensive.

Milk

However, I’m always jealous when my sister tells me that milk is sometimes less than a dollar a gallon back in the Quad Cities, when it’s almost $4 a gallon here.

Heck, it’s cheaper to drink liquor, especially when I find a big clearance sale at Walmart like I did here.  This’ll make the Christmas party fun!

Christmas Cheer

MORE “TALES” COMING!

I’ve been missing 28 Barbary Lane for far too long and it’s time for more Tales.

Netflix is bringing Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series back!

Laura Linney (“Mary Ann Singleton”) and Olympia Dukakis (“Anna Madrigal”) are returning.

If you recall, the series made its American debut on PBS in 1994.  It was followed by “More Tales of the City” in 1998 (Showtime), and “Further Tales of the City” in 2001 (also on Showtime).

If you missed it, you’ve got to search it out.

Here’s what I wrote about it before.  (Just click on the link and it’ll open in a new window!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/armistead-maupin-thank-you-for-motivating-me/

“A UNITED KINGDOM”

This is another of “based on a true story” movies that I’ve been checking out lately.

It stars David Oyelowo (“Selma”, “The Butler”, “The Help”, and “Lincoln”) and Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) as a interracial couple that meets in London during World War II.

He’s in line to become President of a South African tribe when he meets a woman he falls madly in love with and neither of their families approve of the union.

Many of the movies that I’ve loved on DVD this summer failed miserably at the box office, including this one.

Maybe they just play better at home!

GRADE:  A

HUGE BOX OFFICE BOMB THIS WEEKEND

I expect “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” to be a massive box office bomb this weekend — maybe the biggest of 2017.

The sci-fi movie, which opens wide (3,400+ theaters), has a reported $209 million budget!

“Newsweek” reports that it’ll have to make $400 worldwide to break even with all the promotion!

PANAMA CITY DRIVING

Getting around here is interesting.

Drivers in Panama City are crazy.  They’ll be driving along at 40 mph and just slam on the brakes to make a turn.  No slowing down or signal, just stop and turn!

Also, the signal lights here are a nightmare.  I drive to work from north to south on Harrison Avenue and I’m sitting at lights forever.  It seems the lights are set up to keep east-west traffic moving.

In Chicago, you sit in traffic because there’s thousands of cars.  Here, you just sit and wait. 🙂

“BLOOD DRIVE”

This SyFy series has an interesting plot line.  It’s set in the future and cars run on blood!  So, I gave it a try.

After watching a vixen standing outside her car sensually licking on a sucker to entice drivers to stop, she teases a couple of guys that stop and then jumps in her car to have them chase her.

She stops and the one creep attempts to rape her and she stabs him in the privates and feeds him to her car engine.

Blood Drive

This was how the series started and I stopped it at the 4 minute, 57 second mark.  No thanks!

FLASHBACK

James Blunt scored a massive #1 worldwide hit in 2005 with “You’re Beautiful”.  The follow-up single, “Goodbye My Lover” was even better, but it didn’t connect with American Top 40 radio.

Both were from the fantastic album, “Back to Bedlam”.

The first single from the follow-up album, “All the Lost Souls”, was released ten years ago this week.

Sadly, “1973” didn’t bring continued success to Blunt in America.

However, the song is still one of my favorites.

It topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Venezuela and reached #2 in Germany and Italy.

Blunt’s new album, “The Afterlove”, came out in March.

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Meeting My Biggest Inspiration in Life

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Dessie Birthday 1989

John Henry

Sadly, their lives were cut short.  I had my mother for 26 years and my grandfather for only 13 years.  But, they still have a strong impact on my life decades later.

In life, we look up to others for guidance or inspiration.  It can be friends and family, politicians, entertainment stars, and so on.

JIMMY & ROSALYNN CARTER

This past weekend, I took advantage of living in Panama City, Florida, to fulfill a life-long dream of meeting the man and woman I’ve idolized the longest in my life.

Plains

Plains, Georgia, is about 180 miles away (3.5 hours).  I got up very early Sunday and drove to Marantha Baptist Church for a Sunday school lesson from President Jimmy Carter.

R JC AP

After his lesson and the Sunday service from Pastor Brandon Patterson, I got to meet the man and woman that I helped put in the White House in the 1976 presidential election.

As an 11-year-old boy, I got to go into the voting booth with my grandmother Helen back in Mayfield, Kentucky.  She let me choose her candidate and, of course, it was Jimmy Carter and his lovely wife, Rosalynn.

CarterPres

My vote four years later didn’t keep them in Washington D.C. and they headed back to Plains.

It’s incredible how much the couple has done in the 36 years since leaving the White House — building homes for Habitat for Humanity, ensuring fair elections across the world, bringing medication to poor countries and eradicating Guinea worm disease and river blindness, raising awareness to mental health, and the list goes on.

President Carter and Mrs. Carter, thank you for inspiring me for more than 40 years and Happy 71st Anniversary again!

I’ve written about President Carter many times, but this is my favorite.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

REBA McENTIRE

While Reba McEntire became a powerhouse superstar in the mid-1980s, I was all about dance and pop music in my 20s during her rise to super stardom.

Reba 45s

However, I discovered her at Sidetracks in Chicago on country night in 1990.  That voice singing “Rumor Has It” blew me away and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

Regardless of what was happening in my life, good or bad, when Reba released a new album, there were songs that I feel she recorded just for me.

Reba Anthony 2005

I’ve now seen Reba in concert thirteen (13) times and I got to meet her in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in 2005.

Starting with the November election and, especially, this year, I’ve gone through many changes and not for the better.

So, of course, Reba comes through for me with her 2017 release, “Sing it Now: Songs of Faith & Hope”.

HILLARY CLINTON

I’ve admired Hillary Clinton since she became the First Lady of the United States in January 1993.

There is no politician that hasn’t been raked over the coals in their career.  And, now with 24-hour news channels and less objectivity in their reporting for higher ratings, it’s easy to vilify people, especially if it’s a strong woman.

If you supported another candidate in the last election, you know what I’m talking about. They were beat up in that divisive, long campaign, too.

Hillary AP

I went to hear Hillary speak on a cold winter’s day in Davenport, Iowa, in January 2016.

When she finished, I politely edged my way through the crowd toward the roped off area in front of the stage.  I lucked out and we talked a little –we exchanged hellos and I wished her success.

You know how much I love Christmas and I was so looking forward to visiting the beautifully decorated Clinton White House this holiday season…

MADONNA

MadonnaCone

My fourth idol is the only one that I haven’t met, and after seeing her in concert four times, that meeting may be elusive.

I’ve been a huge Madonna fan since before her first album came out in the summer of 1983, as her club hit, “Everybody” was racing up the dance charts before Top 40 radio discovered her with “Holiday”.

Madonna 1983 Album

I admire her fight to succeed, her fight for equality, her love of the LGBT community, and for not being afraid to stand her ground on issues that go against the grain.

Sadly, I have two more idols that are no longer with us.

JESSICA SAVITCH

The first is Jessica Savitch, the “Golden Girl” of NBC News.  She inspired me to go into television news.

Jessica-Savitch

I wrote about her in an October 2012 blog on the anniversary of her drowning death.  (The link below will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/remembering-the-woman-that-inspired-me-to-go-into-television/

HARVEY MILK

The other idol that I’ll never meet is Harvey Milk.

His strength and determination gives me the drive to fight for equality — for my LGBT community and for everyone that’s not getting a fair shake in life.

Milk1

Here’s my blog about him. (It, too, will open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/11-3-1977-harvey-milk/

As you can see, my all-time idol and inspiration, President Jimmy Carter and Harvey Milk met.

Harvey Milk meets Jimmy Carter, May 1976

President Carter and Ms. Rosalynn, Reba, Hillary, and Madonna, thank you for the inspiration.

Mom, Granddaddy, Jessica, and Harvey, I hope you’re having a great time up there looking down on us as we try to inspire others.

Anthony

 

 

 

It All Starts With Me

“I’m going to exercise more and I’m going to watch what I eat”.

“I’m going to blah blah blah”.

It sounds like late December and we’re all optimistic as we don our gay apparel.  The old year is winding down and we’re bubbly with anticipation for what lies ahead for the new year.

champagne

Well, it’s April and either I’m late with my new found determination or I’m early for 2018.  Regardless, I’m ready for change and it all starts with me.  I have to make it happen!

As a teenager, and even into my early-and-mid-20s, I was never really comfortable enough to speak out and express my views.   After all, it was the conservative Reagan years and I lived in small town Kentucky.

Anthony1982

Luckily, for me, I found my voice after moving to Chicago in 1994 and I feel that I’ve used that voice to raise awareness for issues that are near and dear to me (the LGBT movement, marriage equality, women’s rights, and more.)

On the downside of that, I realize that the same voice that can prompt a healthy dialogue and change can also be short and abrasive.

That’s something I’m finding myself guilty of more and more lately.  I’ve always considered myself a “realist”.  While I always look for the “silver lining” in life, I find that I don’t sugarcoat things like I used to do.

anger

This comes across as harsh and I’ve been told that my “tone” is hurtful.  It’s gotten me to think, “that’s not me and is this what I’ve become?”

It takes a good friend to stand beside you during these times, but if that person is a true friend, they’ll hold up a mirror so you can see the reflection of yourself.  And, that reflection isn’t always pretty — unlike this beautiful photo of Miss ABBA in 2007.

ABBADecember2007

I’ll be the first to admit my temperament changed for the worst after November 8, 2016, when the unthinkable happened.

Hillary AP

I lost faith in myself and in my fellow man and now, it’s up to me to find it again.

That search may be near or it may be far.  It’s not going to happen today or tomorrow, because it really didn’t start overnight.

Reba Anthony 2005

If you know anything about me, you know that I idolize Reba McEntire and like millions of others, her music touches hearts.

While I knew who Reba was in the mid-1980s, I was in college and listened to Top 40 music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Culture Club, Duran Duran) and dance club music (Erasure, Dead or Alive, Depeche Mode).

While visiting a gay Chicago nightclub on “country night” in the summer of 1990, I heard a song and I was captivated by the voice.  It was Reba and I was hooked.

But, it’s more than the voice.  It’s the heartfelt emotions and the messages she expresses that touches me.

I was optimistic with life in 1990 as “Climb That Mountain High” kicked off the first Reba CD I bought, “Rumor Has It”.

Dessie 1990

After my mother’s sudden death in November 1990, I felt Reba was talking directly to me with her fall 1991 release, the heartbreaking album “For My Broken Heart”.  It featured two tearjerkers — the title track and “If I Had Only Known”.

Earlier this year, Reba treated fans with her first gospel album, “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope”.

reba-faith

I’ve expressed this before and I’ll say it again.  I pray every night and I’ve done so since I was kid.  However, I don’t believe in “organized religion” (if you do, that’s your prerogative and your right and I’m good with it).

I’ll speak in broad strokes here.  For me and for America, we’re at a very trying, unsure time in our lives.  I don’t care if you live in a blue state or a red state or if your candidate won or lost in the last presidential election, you really have to sense that the world is dealing with a lot of issues with few plausible answers.

I know that sounds preachy and it is.  With that being said, it’s only fitting for me that the first song from Reba’s new album really hits home — now more than ever after what I’ve told you today.

Don’t worry, I’m not a “Jesus freak” (Okay, breathe!  I love that term and I only use it for those right wing, conservative people that use God to justify “hate”).

I didn’t like my mother’s church because it focused so heavily on the fire and brimstone message of Revelations.  Yes, that helped taint my view of “organized religion”.

lake_of_fire

But, there are so many songs on Reba’s new album that I loved as a kid in church: “Amazing Grace”, “How Great Thou Art”, “I’ll Fly Away”, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, plus other new religious-themed-country tunes that only Reba can deliver.

These songs won’t take me back to church, but could give me a feeling of peace and tranquility.

If you’re still reading, I hope this touched you as much as it helped me to open up and express myself.  Admitting you need to make a change is the first step in bringing on that change.

Here’s to the rest of my life and a new me and I’m ending this with a happy, upbeat message.

Make sure you watch the video and I hope it brightens your day, too.

Happy New Year (in April)!

Anthony

Reba Invites You To Church – Country Style

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

reba-faith

It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba Anthony 2005

Reba, I’ve been a fan forever.  I’ll follow you down any musical road.

If you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

Random Friday Thoughts — February 17, 2017

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day, especially if you’re part of the 55% of Americans that celebrate the day.

Roses

If you’re in a relationship, I hope you got chocolates, flowers, or whatever makes you happy.  And, if you’re not seeing anyone, I hope you treated yourself to something nice.

Thank you for checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.

“HOUSE OF CARDS”

We just finished binge-watching the first four seasons of “House of Cards”.

I absolutely love Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood and Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood.

Season five debuts on Netflix May 30, 2017.

If you haven’t watched the show and you love politics, you have to start!

Check out this amazing scene from season three.  Claire has to tell the world that an American citizen jailed in Russia for being openly gay and protesting the country’s anti-LGBT laws committed suicide.

To Russia and the rest of the world that still think this way (Americans, #45, and his cabinet members, some of you could use some educating, too), wake up, open your eyes and your heart, and let’s start more of a dialogue!

A NEGRO TRAVEL GUIDE?

It’s sad to think this is reality, but it’s definitely not hard to believe in our country with all the hatred — then and now.

I was reading an “Out” magazine article that mentioned “The Negro Motorist Green Book”.

TNMGB.gif

It was a resource travel guide that started publication in 1933.

Its purpose was to keep black motorists safe and to let them know what places refused to serve non-whites, provide information on “sundown towns”, predominately or all-white towns that practiced segregation, and much more.

After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there must have been enough security (or hope) in the United States that it ceased publication in 1966.

Sadly, with the open hatred of people that aren’t white in the “post-January 20, 2017th world”, it might need to come back.

And, while we’re at it, maybe a rainbow version is needed, too, to keep the LGBT community safe from the haters, too!

PICK HIT FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

Last fall, as Michael Buble was ready to launch his latest album, “Nobody But Me”, he and his wife, model Luisana Lopilato, dropped out of the public eye when his 3-year-old son, Noah, was diagnosed with cancer.

buble-family

Two weeks ago, Buble released this encouraging update:

MB.jpg

Last Friday, the video to “I Believe in You” was released and if you don’t smile or shed a tear after seeing this video, hopefully you got a heart for Valentine’s Day because you need one. 🙂

Oh, if that didn’t encourage you to watch it, Derek Hough of “Dancing With The Stars” fame is absolutely drop dead gorgeous (and shirtless) in the video!!!!!!

REMEMBERING EMMANUELLE RIVA

With so many celebrity deaths already this year, the passing of French actress Emmanuelle Riva was pretty much overlooked in America.  She died of cancer January 27, 2017, in Paris.

In 2012, she became the oldest woman to earn an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for her heartbreaking turn in “Amour”. (She was 85 at the time.)

“Amour” was my #6 movie of 2013.

“REMNANTS”

Whether country music stations play her new songs or not, LeAnn Rimes’ albums usually debut in the Top Ten on the Country Albums charts.

Her last Top Ten album on the Billboard 200, which includes all genres, was 2007’s “Family”.

LeAnn Rimes is back with her latest album, “Remnants” and it’s flawless.

remnants

I definitely love LeAnn’s country music.  My favorites in that genre are “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way”, “Something’s Gotta Give”, “Some People”,”One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”, and “Big Deal”.

I met LeAnn in Salisbury, Maryland, in the fall of 2005.  She was a sweetheart.

AnthonyLeAnn

LeAnn has released many pop-oriented albums in her career and “Twisted Angel” (2002) is still one of my all-time favorites of hers.

Her new album, “Remnants” is the latest pop effort.  It was released last fall in the U.K. and just came out last week here in the U.S.

The highest charting single from the new album is “Long Live Love”.  The Dave Aude remix is currently #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart!

Twelve of the thirteen songs on “Remnants” are absolutely perfect!

My favorites are the soulful “Do It Wrong”, the religious-tinted “I Couldn’t Do That To Me”, “Love Is Love Is Love” (which LeAnn sings about not wanting to start an argument, just a conversation about tyrants, politics, religion, and love), the torch song-sounding “Outrageous Love”, and “The Story”.

Just because radio is missing out this amazing voice and music doesn’t mean you have to!

GRADE:  A

“SING IT NOW: SONGS OF FAITH & HOPE”

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is Reba McEntire’s 29th studio album, but it’s her first Christian album.

Reba faith.jpg

It debuted at #1 on this week’s Billboard County Albums chart and at the top of the Christian Albums chart, too.  On the Billboard 200 Albums chart, which includes all music, it debuted all the way up at #4.

It sold 52,000 copies in its first week!

I’ve always wanted Reba to do a full gospel album after she recorded “Sky Full of Angels” for her 2003 “Room To Breathe” album.

The deluxe version of the new album features 22 songs.

“Back To God” is the first single.

On the gospel classics, Reba’s voice and musicianship are simple and stunning!

There are many songs that, if you didn’t know more about this album, you’d think they were just more Reba country songs.

But, as Reba once joked around the 1995 release of “Starting Over” album, whatever genre of music she sings becomes country when the words come out of her mouth.

The song I love the most on the album is “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.  The album version is four minutes of pure bliss!

My favorite “country” gospel numbers on this album are “I’ll Fly Away”, Hallelujah Amen”, “I Got The Lord on My Side”, “How Sweet Thou Art”, “Sing It Now”, “Oh Happy Day”, and “God And My Girlfriends”.

“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” is almost perfect.  I think when an artist stretches an album out to 22 songs, there are ultimately a couple that wouldn’t have made the cut on a shorter album.  But, I’ll take those songs here just to have more new Reba music.

With the divisive election last November and the circus of the past few weeks, this album does soothe the soul.

I was raised in a Pentecostal church that preached all about fire, brimstone, and damnation and I still find solace in gospel music!

Reba, if you’re listening, how about a bonafide dance album next?  Your voice and EDM could be amazing!

GRADE: A-

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 27, 2017

It’s Friday again and the weekend is almost here.

I appreciate you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.  As always, if we disagree and you want to tell me so, do it diplomatically and concisely.

LGBT RIGHTS & CLIMATE CHANGE, GONE!

Moments after #44 became history and America moved on to #45, searching the White House website yielded no results for “LGBT” and “Climate Change”.

white-house-lgbt

In my heart I know what this means and anyone with a functioning brain knows, as well.

At the time of this tweet, I laughed to myself as a man, an American, and one of those people he thanked!

donald-lgbt

I think now just as I thought then, it’s just another joke and a bad one played on me and my fellow Americans.

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON…

If you’ve never watched the U.S. version of the political drama, “House of Cards”, you’re missing one of the most intelligent television shows ever!

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey are incredible in the lead roles.  Their characters’ determination, iciness, and conviction to get what they want in the political arena is mesmerizing.

The show gives us the backstory of what really goes on in Washington.  Things are not cut and dry.  While it’s a television show, you know that Beau Willimon, the man behind the American version, is serving you a slice of reality.

He also tweeted that slice of reality last Friday morning!

beau

We’re now at 1,454 days now!

Resist!

ONE LAST COMMENT

Facts:  “a thing that is indisputably the case.”

Synonyms of “facts”:  reality, actuality, certainty

kc

So, Kellyanne Conway, “Alternative facts” are LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

REBA HEADS INTO A NEW DIRECTION

Country music icon Reba McEntire is heading into a new musical direction with her latest release on February 3rd.

The deluxe version “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” will feature 22 gospel hymns.

Ever since “Sky Full of Angels” from 2003’s “Room To Breathe” album, I was hoping that Reba would record a gospel album.  And, since country radio airplay for her last album, 2015’s “Love Somebody” was pretty much non-existent, this is the perfect time for a change of genres.

The first single is “Back to God”.

Reba, how about a dance-oriented album next since you hit #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart in 1996 with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”?

JIMMY CARTER

In September, when visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library And Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, I left this message.

msg-jc-r

I’d love to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas and leave a similar message!

Hope

I hope I have those feelings again for a future president!

HAVEN’T TALKED GAGA IN FOREVER

If you regularly read my blog, you know I love Lady Gaga.  I’ve see her in concert several times and her shows are amazing!

Gaga Las Vegas

However, I wasn’t fond of the musical direction she took on “Joanne”, her latest album, and it’s the first Gaga album I didn’t buy. 😦  (I wasn’t alone.  Sales and radio airplay have paled in comparison with her previous releases!)

She’ll be playing the Super Bowl halftime show next weekend.  While I’m not a football fan, I’ll be watching her performance.

Sources close to Gaga told “Entertainment Tonight” last week that Gaga was informed that she couldn’t mention the 2016 presidential election or the current president.

The NFL says otherwise, “This is unsourced nonsense from people trying to stir up controversy where there is none. The Super Bowl is a time when people really come together. Lady Gaga is focused on putting together an amazing show for fans and we love working with her on it; we aren’t going to be distracted by this.”

Ironically, that nameless “source” is quoting another “unsourced” person.  Seriously, grow a pair, face up, and speak up or shut up.

Unless Gaga has gone soft, you know she’ll say and do whatever she wants.

Did Beyonce make a statement last year with “Formation”?  You’re damn right, she did.

Did her career suffer?  One word:  “Lemonade”!

“FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS”

This comedy, based on a true story, was my #3 favorite movie of 2016.

It’s about a wealthy woman, Florence Foster Jenkins, who was determined to become a successful singer although she was horrible.

Meryl Streep, who some idiot called “overrated”, was amazing as Jenkins.

On Tuesday, she earned her 20th Oscar nomination in the “Best Actress” category.

GRADE:  A

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”

Also, on Tuesday, I was ecstatic Viggo Mortensen was nominated in the “Best Actor” category for my #2 movie of 2016.

Here’s what I had to say about the movie in December.

“I highly recommend “Captain Fantastic”, which just hit DVD.

This little-seen movie in theaters is about a family living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest away from the trappings of modern life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben Cash, the father of six children, who has to decide how to keep his family together after the death of his wife.

It’s a shame that this movie only made $9 million in theaters.  It’s incredible and now you have a chance to see it at home.

Spoiler Alert:  Seeing Mortensen’s penis should NOT be reason enough for a warning at the beginning of the movie with “Brief Graphic Nudity”.  As his character says, “it’s just a penis!”

Wouldn’t “Brief Nudity” suffice?

By the way, on Thursday, Mortensen was nominated for a “Critics’ Choice Award” for “Best Actor in a Comedy”.  While I’m happy for the nomination, I have to ask, “comedy”???  There are funny scenes in the movie, but this leans more toward a drama to me.

Another great performance in the movie was from George McKay, who played Mortensen’s son, Bodevan.

GRADE:  A

PICK HIT

Calum Scott is best known for appearing on “Britian’s Got Talent” in 2015.

One of the songs he performed on the reality series was “Dancing On My Own”, a remake of Robyn’s 2010 hit.

Scott’s version has already topped the chart in Scotland and reached #2 in Australia and the U.K.

It’s recently just debuted on the American’s Top 40 radio airplay charts.

Scott’s debut album is expected this year.

ORIGINAL VERSION BY ROBYN

Swedish singer Robyn dominate the worldwide charts with this incredible song in 2010.

In America, it was a bigger hit on the Dance Club songs chart.

It reached #3 on both the U.S. and the U.K. dance charts.  But, it hit #1 in Sweden and #2 in Denmark.

“THE SHALLOWS”

It’s winter now, so you don’t have to worry about going into the water and thinking about sharks.

The last two Blake Lively (the beautiful wife of the gorgeous Ryan Reynolds) movies I saw were also on my favorites’ list in the respective years.

She was great in “Savages” (my #7 movie of 2013) and she was incredible in “The Age of Adaline” (my #7 movie of 2015).

I see a trend there.  Will “The Shallows” be my #7 movie of 2017?  Probably not.

However, it was a very enjoyable and realistic movie.

I got a little scared 72 minutes into the 87-minute movie because the plausibility took a little hit.  You realized that while what happened could take place, the stars would really have to align perfectly.  But, hey, it’s Hollywood.  Just go with it.

“Jaws” this isn’t, but it’s worth an hour-and-a-half of your time.

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Merry Xmas (Christmas) To All

I guess you can say the holiday season is here — trick-or-treating is behind us and the electoral college picked its next president of the United States since the candidate with a two million vote lead didn’t win!

Tomorrow, we’ll be sitting down and enjoying Thanksgiving feasts with our families and friends.

Our Turkey 2012

People are decorating their homes, writing out Christmas cards, and making holiday gift lists and checking them twice.

Meanwhile, radio stations are transitioning from their tired playlists to treat us with holiday standards while sprinkling in a few new offerings of Christmas musical cheer.

This year, I added “Glow” by Brett Eldredge and Kacey Musgraves’ “A Very Kacey Christmas”  — both country selections — to my Christmas musical library.

I’d recommend both of them, but avoid the new Straight No Chaser Christmas offering.  Pick up their first album, 2008’s “Holiday Spirits” or “Under The Influence:  Holiday Edition” instead.

Yet, I know I’ll resort to listening to The Carpenters’ “Christmas Portrait” (1978) , Michael Buble “Christmas” (2011), Mariah Carey “Merry Christmas” (1994), and Reba McEntire’s “Merry Christmas to You” (1987) and “The Secret of Giving:  A Christmas Collection” (1999) over and over again.

I love Christmas music so much that I could listen to it year around.

Christmas is just so magical.  I’m mesmerized by the twinkling of the lights and I love holidays parties. I can’t get enough of the appetizers and the baked goodies — the cookies, fudge and divinity, and even the fruitcake!

funny_fruitcake

Each year, my Christmas cards are mailed the day before Thanksgiving to begin the trek across the country.

Xmas.jpg

I’m smiling now because I’m sure someone has already commented on Facebook where the link to this blog was first posted because I put Xmas in the title line.

I know that many people get their tinsel all twisted (that’s a Christmas way of saying “get their panties in a wad”) when they see “Merry Xmas”!

christ-in-chrismas

They say that writing Xmas takes Christ out of “Christmas”.  After all, he’s the reason for the season!

The whole Christ, Christmas, and Xmas debate got me to thinking.

People get so up in arms about leaving “Christ” in “Christmas”, yet many of those same people claiming to be Christians and living for the Lord can be so hateful and judgmental.

All of a sudden it hit me.  Maybe these same people should take a moment to put Christ back into Christian”! At that point, I decided to write about it and I really thought I was on to something.

As Indiana’s governor, we had Vice President-elect Mike Pence doing all he could do to be discriminatory to LGBT people in his state until businesses started moving out (or threatening to) and it cost Indiana money.

Pence

He’s one of those people — “Christians”.  Note there that “Christians” is in quotation marks. They are the ones that use religion to hate or discriminate — “Christians”.

Then there are those that love and live for the Lord that also love their fellow man for who they are.  They are the true Christians!

As someone who doesn’t believe in “organized religion”, but prays to God and believes in a higher power, I’m all about loving the Lord and trying to live the best life I can.

However, when you “religious freedom” to hate, I don’t think my Lord would like that very much.

pence-gay-marriage

So, when I started putting this together, I did a quick Google image search to add a fun and colorful graphic to the story.

It was then that I found that my whole thought process of putting “Christ” back in “Christian” to off set “Christ” in “Christmas” wasn’t such an original idea!

Christ in Christian.jpg

Here’s the bottom line for me. I never write Xmas in a Christmas card, nor do I type it online (except in today’s blog to drive home a point!).

It has nothing to do with keeping “Christ” in Christmas.

In the same line of thinking, when you go to talk about “Christ” this Christmas, live up to what he was preaching.  Love your fellow man (or woman) whether they live the same way of life as you.

It’s something that I try to do every day and not just at Xmas.  (Ha, I was just seeing if you were still reading.)  I fail and then I just try harder the next time.

Christmas will always be Christmas to me and not Xmas.

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!  Happy Christmas! Season’s Greetings! Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Krampusnacht!  Happy Yule!  Happy Chalica!

Whatever you celebrate, have a great December and an even better 2017!

christmascocktails

Anthony