Insight News

Feb 28th

FairVote MN offers background, analysis -- and its second online Best Picture poll

FairVote MN offers background, analysis -- and its second online Best Picture pollRanked Choice Voting reprises its starring role in the Oscars ceremony as the Academy of Motion Pictures again uses this smarter, fairer, more broadly representative system to determine the Best Picture.

For the second consecutive year, the Oscars will use instant runoff or “preferential” voting – what we in Minnesota call Ranked Choice Voting – to determine this year’s Best Picture award. The Academy returned to preferential voting last year after decades of using a plurality voting system.

From materialism to meditation

From materialism to meditationRussell Wendell Simmons was born in Queens, New York on October 4, 1957, the middle of three sons to bless the marriage of Daniel and Evelyn Simmons, a public school administrator and NYC parks administrator, respectively. Russell and Rick Rubin co-founded Def Jam Records, the legendary hip-hop label, in 1984.

Russell parlayed his success in music into several fashion lines, most notably, Phat Farm and Baby Phat. Meanwhile, as Chairman and CEO of his umbrella organization, Rush Communications, he also ran an ad agency, produced movies and TV shows, and published a magazine.

Forbes Magazine recently named Simmons one of "Hollywood's Most Influential Celebrities." And USA Today dubbed him one of the "Top 25 Most Influential People of the Past 25 Years," calling him a "hip-hop pioneer" for his groundbreaking vision that has influenced music, fashion, jewelry, finance, television and film, as well as the face of modern philanthropy.

Interview: Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart

Interview: Natalie “The Floacist” StewartYears ago back in 1997, the poetic prose of musician Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart, was known as one half of the music duo Floetry; the other side of the coin belonged to her long time friend Marsha Ambrosius.

After garnering worldwide exposure with singles like “Say Yes”, “Getting Late”, and “Lay Down”, from their two hit albums, not unlike evolution, or embarking upon the inevitable fork within any hero’s journey; the duo’s music began to take on new and different forms, so a choice had to be made to either compromise their sound, or separate their legacies.

The latter became the choice that sparked a remarkable freedom for Stewart, who had begun to feel a muffling cloud hanging over her personal contribution to the future of the Floetry sound.

Dr. West’s prognosis for the country

Dr. West’s prognosis for the country
Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative public intellectual dedicated to democracy. Currently the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

Since then, he has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris. He has written 19 books and edited 13 other. He is best known for his classic “Race Matters,” as well as “Democracy Matters,” and his recent memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

He appears frequently on the “Bill Maher Show,” “Colbert Report,” CNN and C-Span as well as on Tavis Smiley’s PBS-TV Show. And since last fall, he can be heard regularly on “The Smiley and West” radio program.

Kandi Burruss: On top of the world

Kandi Burruss: On top of the worldSinger/Songwriter Kandi Burruss is on top of the world right now. She’s got a role on the Bravo reality series The Real Housewives of Atlanta, a satellite radio show entitled Kandi Koated Nights, and at the end of last year she released her second solo album after ten years, a masterpiece known as, “Kandi Koated,” which is already proving to be one of music’s greatest offerings.

Super woman? Indeed. Through a myriad of pivotal endeavors, and a brave approach to manifesting her own destiny throughout the years, this luminary may have stumbled upon a few obstacles along the road to super stardom, but quick thinking, and assurance in each step are the reasons why she is known worldwide as one of our most influential musical entertainers.

Hip hop mogul Simmons charts path to success

Hip hop mogul Simmons charts path to success According to entrepreneur and author Russell Simmons, a journey through actualization arrived on the day that Hip Hop became the musical backdrop for his existence.

After meeting rapper Kurtis Blow, Simmons’ life would never be the same. It is through his efforts in promoting a musical style that he felt would reshape the world, that Blow was signed to a record contract, and Hip Hop music was given a platform to expand unto its greatness.

In addition to being a pioneer in the Hip Hop movement, Simmons has found success in a myriad of avenues. He’s the co-founder of Def Jam records, the creator of Phat Farm Clothing, and the founder of Rush Communications, one of the largest African American-owned media firms in the United States.

Profile: Kristopher Thompson-Bolden

Profile: Kristopher Thompson-BoldenArriving at the Orpheum Theater on December 16, “Billy Elliot” has swept hearts across the state of Minnesota. The production unleashes a heart-warming tale about an 11-year-old boy growing up in a small town in northern England during a coal minors’ strike in the early 1980s.

On his way to oblige his spurring masculinity at a weekly boxing class held in the towns community center, Elliot stumbles upon his purpose when left to deliver the building’s keys to the evening ballet instructor. These are keys, he quickly realizes, are a metaphor for the necessity of unlocking his potential as a ballet dancer.

Billy’s desire to be a ballet dancer is met with disapproval and criticism by his family, who live in this hyper-masculine town of coal minors and old-fashioned souls. In this town, a boy who dances might as well throw himself into a well or don a dress in the summertime. Yet Billy is not just feeding a curiosity or rebelling against his father’s disapproval of the art, he’s merely stepping into his own portrait, and here, pirouettes serve as brushstrokes across a limitless canvas.
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