HARPER LEE, AUTHOR OF 'TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD', DIES AGED 89 0 279

Harper Lee, author of the critically and commercially successful book To Kill a Mockingbird which was published in 1960, has died in her home-town of Monroeville, Alabama.

The news was confirmed via a statement released on behalf of her family which said Lee:

“passed away early this morning in her sleep. Her passing was unexpected.”

A flood of tributes to the writer have since poured in via social media with her name becoming the top trend on Twitter in a matter of minutes.

Barack Obama also paid tribute to Lee on Facebook saying:

“Atticus, he was real nice.”

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

When Harper Lee sat down to write To Kill a Mockingbird, she wasn’t seeking awards or fame. She was a country girl who just wanted to tell an honest story about life as she saw it.

But what that one story did, more powerfully than one hundred speeches possibly could, was change the way we saw each other, and then the way we saw ourselves. Through the uncorrupted eyes of a child, she showed us the beautiful complexity of our common humanity, and the importance of striving for justice in our own lives, our communities, and our country.

Ms. Lee changed America for the better. And there is no higher tribute we can offer her than to keep telling this timeless American story – to our students, to our neighbors, and to our children – and to constantly try, in our own lives, to finally see each other.

To Kill a Mockingbird sold more than 30 million copies around the world and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Lee only published the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, last year.

The novelist was born Nelle Harper Lee on 28 April 1926, the youngest of four children, and had always lived a guarded, private life, rarely giving interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

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ILANA ARMIDA TALKS “HIGH NO MORE”, SOCIAL MEDIA & TOUR PLANS 0 70

As an individual with rhythm in her blood – she’s been dancing since she was 3 – it’s perhaps not surprising to find that Ilana Armida is well on her way to establishing herself as a gifted singer-songwriter and performer. With her new single “High No More” out today, Ilana spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about her artistic influences, the one place she’d most like to play and how she’d love to party with Bruno Mars.

TITL: Firstly, what would you say sets you apart from the many other artists out there?

Ilana Armida: I think what makes me unique is that I handle pretty much every aspect of my entertainment career. In this industry a lot of artists are used as pawns. Labels tell them what music to put out and when, how to dress, how to move, etc. In my case – and how I plan on keeping it – I get to create music that genuinely represents who I am and what I am going through. I choose when I release that music through my own entertainment company, I co-produce and work with who I want to work with, I create my own cover art, run my own social media and truly get to be hands on with everything that I do both on the business and creative side of my brand.

TITL: You’re a woman of many talents, as someone who has been dancing since you were three and has been part of the professional dance and musical theater worlds, but what is it about singing and song-writing that ultimately drives you to create the music and sound that you do?

IA: I love performing! Song-writing gives me the opportunity to create music that I can turn into an experience for others. As I am writing I am very much also picturing what the live show and music video will look like. I love how I can put my thoughts and feelings into a song and make others feel things and make them want to dance!

TITL: Do you have any plans to go back to musical theater or are you happy to just be doing your own thing now?

IA: Eventually yes! I am a drama geek at heart and would absolutely love to do something on or off Broadway down the road!

TITL: Which band or artist might you say you sound most similar, or are you most compared to? Who would you most like to see or hear yourself be compared to?

IA: I honestly do not get compared to other artists that often. When it comes to the music I make I have gotten JoJo or even Ariana Grande before which is dope because they have two of the best voices in the world! JoJo is from Massachusetts like me and Ariana is Italian like me so maybe it’s that! I want to be Bruno Mars when I grow up. Haha! He’s my guy!

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing and with that in mind, which song would you say is the greatest ever written and why?

IA: I grew up listening to soul, motown and R&B, so it all started with Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding! They made music that made people feel things so deeply. But right now the most inspiring artist out there is Bruno Mars. He captures that feeling of soul and R&B that I love but creates songs that people of all generations can dance to! “24k Magic” is up there for best song ever written because of the positive effect it had worldwide.

TITL: Is there a story behind your new track “High No More” and what ultimately made you decide it was a fitting single?

IA: “High No More” was written very late at night in a studio full of my friends who were all drained from a long day. We didn’t realize how cool the song was until we listened back the next day. Allen Mattox had the line “You don’t get me high no more” and it allowed me to tap into a place I have unfortunately been in more than once and I am sure a lot of people have experienced when you are in a relationship and your significant other has stopped putting in effort. It is pretty straight forward but there is this sense of longing for the spark to reignite.

TITL: Are there plans for an EP or album in the works?

IA: Not currently. I plan on releasing a bunch of music this year in the form of singles to see what resonates and to show my fans what I am capable of. If an album happens in this process than GREAT!

TITL: What is your tour/performance schedule for the months ahead looking like? Which one venue would you most like to play and why?

IA: We will definitely have some shows around LA in the coming months. Hoping for a tour later in the year! I don’t have one venue in mind but I would love to do the festival circuit! Coachella maybe???

TITL: How do you feel about social media and the power and impact it can and does have on the lives and careers of artists today? Do you believe it’s possible for people to succeed in this industry without being socially connected to their fans?

IA: It is very difficult to stand out when there are thousands of “influencers” dominating the social media world but the beautiful thing about social media is that I can instantly connect to my fans all around the world.  We as artists NEED social media to keep people interested in what we are doing and I think outside of all of the Facetune and ingenuine content these platforms can be super beneficial to connecting with our true supporters.

TITL: Are there any other plans or projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

IA: Just look out for a bunch of new music from me this year!

TITL: Finally then, as someone who is clearly ambitious and driven to achieve all she sets out to, what’s left for you to tick off your personal and professional bucket lists? What would you have to do in order to be able to say to yourself “I’ve done all I dreamed of and more?”

IA: I don’t ask for much, I simply want to work with – or maybe just party with – Bruno and I want to do a world tour…. that’s all.

Check out “High No More” below and for more information on Ilana Armida, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

INTRODUCING POP-ROCK & SOCIAL CAUSE SUPERSTARS GIRL POW-R 0 94

Already championed by the likes of Tiger Beat and Cashbox Magazine, Girl Pow-R are a girl-band with a difference. Aged from 10 to 17, this hugely talented sextet sing, dance, write their own music and more importantly, share a very important message – or several – with the world through their lyrics, many of which are aimed at women and young girls around the world encouraging and reminding them, among other things,that it’s absolutely okay to be themselves. With their debut album due out later this year, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with the girls to discuss musical influences, upcoming performances and their big career ambitions.

TITL: Please introduce yourselves if you would.

Kalista: Hi! I’m Kalista Wilson, I’m a 14 year old singer from Toronto, Ontario! I think as we’re growing more, we’re realizing that life isn’t just about having fun all day and having a good old time. We’ve realized that there are pressures and issues that everyone goes through, but nobody really talks about. I would say “keep doing you”. People are always going to bring you down, but it’s your job to ignore the haters and to love yourself no matter what.

Ava: We are Girl Pow-R! Girl Pow-R is an all-girl pop rock group from ages 10 to 17 who are out to inspire all youth around the world to pursue anything that they are passionate about, and to never give up. Each girl in Girl Pow-R has a social cause such as: mental health awareness, youth homelessness, better education, and children’s hospitals. Girl Pow-R strives to be a role model, not just for girls, but all young people, and we want everyone to know that as long as you believe in yourself and your dreams, anything is possible.

TITL: How did you all come together and what would you say you each bring to the band?

Krisalyn: We came together through rounds of auditions. I would say all of the girls have great personalities and tons of talent that we each bring to the band, because we are all so different and unique!

Bella: We are a group of girls from different backgrounds. I would say many like studio recording. There’s the excitement of new material, and assigning solos, and performing as a team. We work well as a team, so we manage to take on the task at hand with speed and accuracy. Some of the girls are stage-oriented, loving the instant feedback and the gratification that comes from live performing.

TITL: What made you feel that Girl Pow-R was a fitting group name?

Milana: Girl Pow-R is a fitting group name because girls are at times taken advantage of and are not taken seriously.  It’s important for girls to know that they have the power and strength to achieve anything they put their minds towards.

Carina: I feel that Girl Pow-R is a fitting name for our band because we are a strong group of girls who want to empower not only girls, but youth all over the world. We want to inspire others through the lyrics in our songs, and through the messages in our social causes.

TITL: Which bands and artists are you each most inspired and influenced by and how do those influences impact the music you make?

Kalista: Our music is inspired by Taylor Swift, Spice Girls, Little Mix and many other girl bands and solo artists.

A: A band that inspires us that we look up to are the Spice Girls because they are also all about spreading girl power and making girls feel powerful, strong and confident with themselves.

TITL: It could be argued that over the years, the music industry has often largely favoured male groups and artists, however in the last few years, the likes of Little Mix have shown that female groups can and do have the impact and staying power of their male counterparts. How important and significant has seeing the likes of LM succeed on the scale that they have since forming been to you as you look to your own futures and how far you want to go?

Krisalyn: We one day hope to be like Little Mix, but we are still young. We work super hard so that one day we can be like them! Seeing their success makes us believe that anything is possible!

B: Girl Pow-R’s sound is uplifting, confident, captivating. Our job as a group is to inspire our generation to better themselves, become role models in their respective communities, and promote positivity through our music and social causes. And it’s important for girls and women to lead the way in this area. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change: Michael Jackson.

TITL: You were nominated in the Best New Group category at the Niagara Music Awards last year. How did it feel to be nominated and what do you feel your chances are in terms of winning this year?

C: It’s such a pleasure and an honor for us to have been nominated for Best New Group at the Niagara Music Awards. This was such a great opportunity and we were also super thankful that we got to perform two of our original songs during the awards ceremony. This was a great reminder to us that hard work will get you far! Hoping for another chance in 2019!

M: Being nominated for the Niagara Music Awards was such an honour and an amazing feeling as I also live in Niagara Falls, therefore representing my region was important to me.  I believe we were nominated because our song “Krisi” has a great message and many young people, girls and boys, can relate to the song. Also, the members of Girl Pow-R are so talented with singing, dancing and playing instruments, it made the judges and voters interested in our band and the potential we have to offer in the music industry.

TITL: Do you care much about accolades and nominations or are you more generally concerned about what your fans think on a wider, grander scale?

Kalista: I’d rather have a following that listens to all of our songs and watches all of our music videos, awards could then follow.

Krisalyn: Probably both because it’s amazing to be nominated for awards, but it’s also amazing having awesome fans to connect with and who love following our journey!

A: I think we care mostly about our fans, of course, because they are what brought us here, and they are who listen to our music and watch our videos. We want to continue to make music for them to enjoy, as well as to perform and entertain them.

TITL: All of your 2018 releases surpassed 191,000 plays and streams on the likes of YouTube and Spotify. To what extent have sites like that, and social media in general, impacted your career and do you believe you’d have the support and following you do without them?

Krisalyn: I feel like nowadays social media is a big help and it really gets our name out there! I myself pay most attention to my Instagram account, but as a band we are on many different social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Musical.ly, Twitter and YouTube. Anytime a fan messages me, I always respond back as soon as I can, and I appreciate all comments, as I know the other band members do as well. We all try to message and speak with our fans and meet them/take pictures, especially at live shows. We appreciate the support and it means a lot to us

B: In today’s age, social media and music streaming services are very important to help us spread our message. Girl Pow-R is unique in its presentation of popular music, along with a deep sense of responsibility to support social causes in society. The determination that our band members have to spread the word about empowering girls and women to better themselves, and being charitable, is exceptional. By doing so, the boys and men in society see what is important to us and how we can best work together to support each other and have common goals of peace, harmony, equality and humanity.

TITL: You were also named the Canadian Ambassadors for the 2018 Toronto Youth Day – what did and does that mean to you? How important is it that you can use your careers and the platform you have to benefit the wider community/world around you?

C: Youth Day 2018 was so much fun! We had an amazing time performing as Featured Artists and talking about each of our social causes as Canadian Ambassadors. It is very important to us that we can use our careers and songs as a platform with opportunities like Youth Day, to promote positive messages and give young audiences a good role model to look up to.  It is also super awesome that we can empower others while singing and dancing, which is what we do best!

M: Being named Canadian Ambassadors for the 2018 Toronto Youth Day was such a great honor. Singing and performing is something that I love doing, so being able to do all of that and being role models for the youth in our community, and the world, just makes it even better and more gratifying. Music is a universal language and knowing that we are affecting the youth all over the world makes me want to perform and share our music even more!

TITL: Are there any tour/performance plans coming up you can tell me about?

Kalista: We always have a lot on the go and shows to perform. Definitely check out our website for times and locations!

A: We have a huge, Toronto-area competition beginning on the 8th of February where we compete against bands from all over Ontario, in all genres, so stay tuned!

TITL: What do you have planned for the year ahead?

Krisalyn: Our first album is coming out this year! We’ve already released a bunch of songs, but 2019 should be filled with more performances, covers, and more originals!

B: We started our originals with two songs: “Krisi” and “Stronger Than Yesterday”. “Stronger Than Yesterday” has similarities to our first single “Krisi” in that it addresses challenges girls face in everyday life. Through our music we try to give direction and support to empower girls to better themselves. “Krisi” is about rising above bullying, whereas “Stronger Than Yesterday” is a personal journey to find the strength and confidence to overcome challenges, while recognizing it can be an arduous journey, but progress is made by being stronger than yesterday. We’re looking forward to launching our first album early this year with even more originals!

TITL: Finally then, despite being a fairly new band, it’s evident you’re very ambitious and determined to succeed, so with that in mind, where would you like to see yourselves 5 years from now and looking further ahead, whose career would you most like to emulate? At what point would you be able to look at each other and say: “We made it girls”?

M: In five years from now, I would love to see our band being known nationwide in Canada and, if dreams come true, I would love to have the career and impact that the Spice Girls had on young girls in the 90’s. They had the same message as we do today. Girls can achieve anything if we believe in the power to do it. I can’t wait for that feeling of gratification in knowing that we made it in the music business when, we get that blue checkmark on Instagram, when I need to wear sunglasses out in public, and selling out our concerts. Most of all it would be an even greater feeling to receive messages from our fans telling us how our songs changed their lives and gave them the ‘Girl Pow-R’ to succeed.

C: With hard work and dedication, I believe that we can emulate a career like the Spice Girls or Little Mix. Within the next 5 years, I see us touring internationally and spreading our messages through music to those all around the world. When we have touched the lives of young people, and positively impacted kids all over the world, then we can say that we’ve made it. We are not driven by fame or success, but by how we influence youth.

Check out Girl Pow-R’s new single “Never Let Go” below and for more information on the band, visit their website, give their page a like on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram.