BISHOP APOLOGISES FOR ARIANA GRANDE GROPE AT ARETHA FRANKLIN FUNERAL 0 281

The bishop who led Aretha Franklin’s funeral has apologised to Ariana Grande for how he touched her while onstage.

Bishop Charles H Ellis III also expressed regret over a joke he made about her name.

A video of the moment the bishop wrapped his arm around Grande after she performed Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman has been shared widely online.

In the video his hand appears to touch the side of her breast.

Many viewers expressed outrage over the clip, and within hours the hashtag #RespectAriana was trending worldwide with 90,000 tweets.

Here is just a sample of the fury from people on twitter;

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LINDSAY ELL TALKS TOURING, NEW MUSIC & SONGWRITING INSPIRATION 0 87

Having earned herself a considerable following as a result of her number 1 album The Project connecting with fans on both sides of the Atlantic, and following a brief visit to the UK earlier this month as tour support for country superstar Chris Young, it’s fair to say things are looking fairly rosy for Lindsay Ell, but that’s not to say she’s resting on her laurels. Instead, currently working on her next LP, Lindsay is looking forward to a bright and ambitious future, and she spoke to ThisIsTheLatest to chat musical influences, future performance plans and where she most finds inspiration for her songs.

TITL: Given that you were discovered at the age of 13, is it safe to say that music has been always been your passion or have there been times when you’ve felt even slightly swayed to follow a different path? 

Lindsay Ell: Music has always been such a passion of mine ever since I was a little girl. I started playing shows at such a young age, that by the time I was 10, I fell in love with performing in front of an audience. I knew that my heart felt at home playing on stage, and nothing came close to giving me that same feeling!

TITL: Which bands and artists are you most influenced by and how do they impact the music you make? 

LE: I listen to so many different kinds of music. When I was growing up I listened to everything in between Shania Twain and Garth Brooks to Tommy Emmanuel. Of course, I will always be inspired by John Mayer, and Keith Urban. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Lany, Lauv and Janelle Monae. 

TITL: Tell me a little about your recent collaboration with Brantley Gilbert “What Happens In A Small Town”. How did the two of you come together to work on the track? 

LE: I was so grateful that when Brantley and his record label head, Scott Borchetta, sat down to brainstorm who they wanted to be a part of this duet, they thought of me. I am honored to be a part of this song, and feel that although Brantley and I aren’t the first two names you’d think of to put together in a duet, that is what makes it so special. My favorite collaborations are ones of two artists you wouldn’t immediately think of performing something together. That is what makes it unique. That is what makes it special. 

TITL: In terms of your lyrics and general song-writing from who or from where do you find most of your inspiration?

LE: Carole King, Lori McKenna and Brandi Carlile are some of my favorite songwriters but I personally get inspired by so many different things. Through traveling a lot, all over the world, I find myself constantly being inspired by different cultures and people watching.

TITL: You’re currently working on a new album, the follow up to your US number 1 LP The Project. Is there anything you can tell me about it or are you keeping things hush hush for now? 

LE: I’ve been writing a lot towards the next record. A lot has happened in my personal life and my career in the past two years, so I think fans are going to be able to see that on this next album. Song-writing in a lot of ways becomes my therapy. 

As someone who has performed on both sides of the Atlantic, have you noticed any similarities or differences between audiences here and back home? 

Getting to play music for fans across the world is so incredible. Fans definitely differ a little bit from country to country.  The think that I have always loved about UK audiences is fans want to listen to the song-writing and the music. As a guitar player, and someone who loops sometimes in live sets, it is amazing to play for an audience that appreciates musicality to that degree.

TITL: For anyone who hasn’t seen you before, what can they expect from a performance of yours?

LE: Hopefully anyone coming to watch our show can walk away with feeling like they got to see some real music. I try to put on a dynamic set, with lots of epic guitar solo moments, and intimate acoustic songs. I like to take the audience through a journey while I’m up there. If I can make them laugh, cry, and want to dance in the same set I’ve done my job. 

TITL: If you could put together your dream show with four bands or artists, living or dead, who would you choose and where would you play? 

LE: That’s always a hard question…. I would have to say Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. If you’d ask me that question again I probably would have a different answer every time, because it’s so hard for me to narrow down my list of artists I look up to. But we’ll start there.

TITL: Finally then, what does the rest of the year have in store for you? 

LE: We will be touring a lot over the next year. We’re just at the start of music festival season…and Brantley Gilbert and I will be touring together later this fall. Having just finished up a tour here in the UK, I’m already planning on the next time I can get to come back again. I’m hoping on a few shows this fall, and then coming back early in the new year!

Check out “What Happens In A Small Town” below and for more information on Lindsay Ell, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

DOREEN TAYLOR TELLS ALL ABOUT HER OFF-BROADWAY SHOW “SINCERELY, OSCAR” & LOOKS TOWARDS A VERY BRIGHT FUTURE 0 203

Doreen Taylor is no stranger to dreaming big. With two music and performance related degrees under her belt, an array of theatre production credits to her name and a successful career as a solo artist, she’s ambitious and not afraid of people knowing it. After her production “Sincerely, Oscar”, which she created and produced herself, had a successful run in Philadelphia last year, the show has now moved to New York and is currently undertaking a 14 week run at Theatre Row, Off-Broadway. In between shows, Doreen kindly took the time to chat to ThisIsTheLatest about the creative process behind the show, her memories of opening night and where Sincerely, Oscar might go in the future.

TITL: First of all, for those unfamiliar with you and your background, can you just give a little insight into your music and performing career? 

Doreen Taylor: I’ve been performing for many years now, and having earned myself degrees in both opera and voice performance, I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of some fantastic theatre productions including Robert Ward’s The Crucible, in which I played Abigail Williams, and Christine in Phantom Of The Opera. In terms of my music, I released my first album Magic back in 2012 while my latest album Happily Ever After has received great reviews and is to hopefully become an Off-Broadway musical in the next couple of years.

TITL: You’ve been pretty busy lately with your off Broadway show, Sincerely, Oscar, after a successful run in Philadelphia last year. How does it feel to know you’re working on the same streets and around the same venues as some of the biggest and most popular musicals and shows in the world? 

DT: It is pretty surreal. One of the very first musicals I starred in when I was just a kid was “42nd Street” and now here I am all these years later starring in my very first show I have written in an iconic theater on 42nd STREET! It is pretty amazing how life can just come around full circle and give affirmations that I have been on the right path all along. I guess the most amazing part is that the shows that we are honoring by the great Oscar Hammerstein all opened on Broadway within one mile of where we are performing “Sincerely, Oscar” now. That is a pretty humbling feeling!

TITL: You created and produced the show yourself – what is it about this particular show that made you want to bring it to life in the way that you have?

DT: It’s weird… I was busy working on my mainstream Adult Contemporary music career writing, producing and performing my own music and this opportunity came out of nowhere at a music video premiere that I was hosting. I was lucky enough to meet the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein and his lovely family at this event and we instantly hit it off. I felt a strong calling to use my talents to bring recognition to Oscar and help honor this iconic Broadway legend. I created the previous iteration of the show and debuted it in Philadelphia and we did so well that I wanted to bring it to the heart of Broadway. I worked for over a year and a half developing “Sincerely, Oscar” and am so proud at the finished product. It is truly like my child and I feel as though I have nurtured and loved it every step of the way.

TITL: Did you have any prior creative/production experience prior to this or was this project something you felt so passionately about you just had to give it a first time try? 

DT: I always have had a hand in producing my solo mainstream concerts that we have toured around the US, and even some of my music videos, but this is the first time I have written and produced something of this colossal size and importance on the theatrical stage. I feel so lucky that I have been given such a great opportunity right out of the gate!

TITL: Can you talk me through the creative process for the show? Where did your first ideas come from and how did you expand them over time to the point you realised you could make your thoughts and ideas a reality? 

DT: I think the most incredible achievement in the creative process of this show was the way we created the role of “Oscar Hammerstein” himself. Early on, I got it stuck in my mind that I wanted to do something unique and totally “out of the box” for his character. I had just visited Las Vegas and caught a Michael Jackson tribute show at Mandalay Bay where they had created Michael as a hologram and he interacted with the other performers. It blew me away and never quite left me. I wanted to be the very first to bring this technology to the NY stage and I never really let go of that idea – even when others said I was crazy! And now, here we are, being the very first production ON or OFF Broadway that has used this 3d holographic technology in a theatrical production. It is really quite stunning and impressive and I am so honored to be the one to pave the way for this new technology. Sure, there has been some blow back from purist critics who don’t believe in bringing this kind of technology to the theatrical stage- but I have news from them—like it or not, it’s coming and “Sincerely, Oscar” is living proof of it. You can’t stop progress.

TITL: Were there ever any days or times that you questioned or doubted what you were doing, or were you 100% committed to?

DT: Every. Single. Day. It would be weird if I didn’t occasionally doubt my creative choices- especially when you have to deal with ridiculous opinions from people who are afraid of the technology or of the advancement. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have changed anything and I am so proud at what has been created. I sometimes sit back while I am performing in the show and absorb the incredible audience response and feel a huge sense of pride that I am here and I am able to live out this incredible dream!

TITL: How did you bring the production’s cast/crew together? Were/are they friends of yours or did you put out a casting call? When did you know you’d found the right people for each part of the show? 

DT: A little of column A, a little of column B. In the case of my gifted director, Dugg McDonough, we had worked together years ago in several productions at Temple University as well as Des Moines Metro Opera Company. I immediately thought of him when I was creating this show and asked him to return to collaborate on this project. As for the rest of the cast and crew, most were hired from referrals and casting. One of the hardest parts of creating any new production is finding the right people to work on it. I can honestly say that in all my years of performing professionally, I have never worked on a show where I truly like and respect every person that is there. This is the first time I can say that. We have become like a family and we all look out and protect each other. It is a really wonderful thing.

TITL: What can you recall of the infamous opening night? Were you nervous or just buzzing and raring to go? 

DT: It went by SO fast! I can say that I am a little nervous before every show I do. That never really goes away and I am actually glad that those butterflies are there. I never get complacent or “phone in” a performance. Every show is like opening night to me. The party was a blast and we really had one amazing night celebrating this great success together!

TITL: Given that Broadway is typically considered to be more of a man’s world, how proud does it make you feel to know you’re proving yourself to be just as good as your male counterparts when it comes to putting on a successful production? 

DT: To be honest, I still feel there is a lack of support and respect for women creators/producers in this industry. While it is admittedly a lot better, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. I am really honored to be a strong woman voice out there creating good, commercial theater in an otherwise male dominated industry. It is so sad that in this #metoo era we don’t embrace more female voices attempting to create on the theatrical stage but I think there are more of us out there that will brave the storm and keep pushing the boundaries, regardless if we are always embraced or not while we do it! However, that being said- women need to start supporting women colleagues in theater more. Sad to say that some of the harshest critical voices out there are from other women. That has always baffled me. Trying to blow out the candle of another does not make theirs burn any brighter.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone out there who has an idea that they’d love to see brought to life on a stage such as one on or off Broadway? What traits might you say they need in order to keep pursuing that idea/dream until it becomes reality?

DT: I would say that dreams can come true and I am living proof of that. However, set your sights with reasonable goals. Start small. Test the waters. People don’t usually wake up one morning and decide to have a show open on Broadway next week. It takes a long time of work, dedication, financial support and most of all- thick skin, to navigate this industry. There will be enormous sacrifices that will need to be made and there will be a lot more tears than laughs at times. But after all that is said and done, there is no greater joy than to see your creation brought to life by fabulously talented people each and every day and I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity.

TITL: Finally then, now that Sincerely, Oscar is proving to be a hit, have you thought about any other productions you might like to work on, or is all your time and energy focused on this for the time being? 

DT: Right now I am focusing on this limited engagement run at Theatre Row in NYC, but I would be lying if I said I am not looking to the future for what is next. I believe we have even bigger and better things in store for “Sincerely, Oscar” coming in the near future. Maybe it will be a national tour, maybe an international tour, or maybe a residency in Vegas? There has been a lot of buzz as to where this should go next… and right now the sky is the limit! I am just excited to see where this remarkable journey will go!

For more information on Sincerely, Oscar visit the official website. You can also keep up to date with Doreen via doreentaylormusic.com, or by following her on Twitter and liking her page on Facebook. Her latest album Happily Ever After is available now. Header photo credit: James Jackson.