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Pharrell Partners With Georgia Tech and Amazon for New Music Coding Initiative

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Pharrell Williams has teamed up with Amazon and Georgia Tech to launch a new music-making competition for today’s youth.

What We Know:

  • On Tuesday, Pharrell’s education equity nonprofit, YELLOW, announced on Twitter their new project with Amazon and Georgia Tech called “Your Voice is Power.” This initiative aims at teaching underserved communities with students in middle and high school an equal opportunity lesson in coding, racial injustice, and creativity.

  • “Your Voice is Power” will be open to about 100,000 students across the U.S. and Canada. The program will feature five lesson plans and teaching modules that will teach students coding while introducing them to professionals who use music and computer science to fight for racial justice and spark conversations among students and teachers about racial injustices.
  • The project will also have a competition where students will be tasked with addressing racial equity while remixing Pharrell’s new song “Entrepreneur” using computer coding and incorporating their own voice into the song via Georgia Tech’s learn-to-code-through-music platform, EarSketch.
  • The first round of the competition will start on January 19th and run through March 12th. Student-made remixes will be judged by a panel of Amazon engineers, Amazon Music team members, and music industry professionals. Winners will be picked based on the quality of music, the complexity of their code, and their thoughts and calls to action on racial justice. Prizes for students range from $5,000 scholarships, grant money for a business, or different monetary amazon gift cards.
  • Pharrell explained his choice to collaborate with these corporate giants saying, “This collaboration between YELLOW, Amazon, and Georgia Tech is a celebration of Black creators and change-makers. YELLOW, at its core, believes that education is a pathway to success. Teaching kids future-ready skills like coding, especially those kids for whom opportunities like this have not been equally distributed, is how we prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

We are excited to see what the next generation of artists and creators are able to achieve!

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Janet Jackson Two-Night Documentary Event Set at Lifetime and A&E

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Pop Icon Janet Jackson’s documentary JANET will air next year on Lifetime and A&E to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her first album.

What We Know:

  • Janet Jackson is celebrating the 40th-anniversary of her self-titled debut album released in 1982 when she was 16. The documentary will be a two-hour, two-night premiere event airing in early 2022. This documentary will give an intimate look into the star’s life while featuring behind-the-scenes footage and home videos.
  • The long-awaited two-part project has been in the works for three years and will cover some of the most challenging moments the singer has faced in her life.
  • One of Janet’s most challenging moments includes grieving the loss of her father, Joseph Jackson, who died of pancreatic cancer. In addition to that, some other challenging moments include her famous 2004 super bowl performance with Justin Timberlake, her older brother Michael Jackson’s tragic passing, and becoming a mom later on in life.
  • Ben Hirsh directed JANET, while Janet and Randy Jackson served as executive producers on the forthcoming project, according to People.com.

This documentary provides an opportunity for Janet to look back at her own life and reflect on her fight to the top.

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Eddie Murphy Returning to Stand-Up Post-Pandemic

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Eddie Murphy is planning his comeback to stand-up comedy.

What We Know:

  • In an interview for Kevin Hart’s SiriusXM radio show Comedy Gold Minds, Murphy revealed he had planned to return to stand-up much sooner, but the pandemic put things on pause. The 59-year-old Coming 2 America actor confirmed that he will return to stand-up comedy in the near future once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

“My plan was to do Dolemite, Saturday Night Live, Coming 2 America, and then do stand up. And then the pandemic hit, and it shut the whole s–t down. Then I was going – the whole time last year I would have been out working on my act trying to get my s–t right, and then the whole thing shut down. Hey, when the pandemic is over and it’s safe for everybody to go out and do it, then the plan is to do it,” Murphy told Hart.

  • Murphy started doing late-night stand-up shows in the 1970s but is most known for his career on Saturday Night Live. Once his SNL career garnered national attention, Murphy went on to star in a number of comedy and family-related films like Another 48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop, Mulan, and Dr. Dolittle.
  • In July of 2019, TMZ reported that Murphy was negotiating with Netflix on a deal for an undisclosed number of stand-up specials. At the time of the report, the number being thrown around was $70 million, which would’ve exceeded the reported $60 million that Dave Chappelle received for three specials, and the $40 million deal that Chris Rock inked for two. It is unclear if the deal was ever made.

Although there is no set date for Murphy’s return, it would be the comedian’s first stand-up show in almost four decades.

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Storm Reid Creates Gen-Z Cooking Show

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Storm Reid is using the pandemic to make a cooking show from her kitchen.

What We Know:

  • Like many Americans, teen actress Storm Reid has leaned into cooking at home during the pandemic. Aside from acting alongside icons like Oprah Winfrey in A Wrinkle in Time, Reid’s always had a passion for cooking and deeper conversations.
  • “I’m a foodie,” she explained. “And my favorite pastime is eating, and it’s the thing that I enjoy the most. I’m from the South, so I’ve just been surrounded by good food all my life. So I’ve been able to watch my mom in the kitchen and be able to pick up new recipes. Then I think I’m the baker of the family. So if you need a pie, you need a cake, you need some cookies, you come to me.”
  • Now, the 17-year-old Euphoria actress is producing her own Facebook Watch series called Chop It Up. According to NBC, the series will feature A-list celebrity guests and young Hollywood talent to talk about things they feel passionate about.

“I feel like we just use the cooking by way of conversation and really just expressing ourselves and really having real deep conversations ranging from ethical technology and dating to family to college,” Reid said.

  • This is Reid’s first executive producing project using her co-founded production company, A Seed & Wings. Co-producer and mother Robyn Simpson inspired Reid to create the program. In an interview with NBC’s Snapchat show, Reid remembers her mother “was sitting around hearing me talk to my siblings and my friends about things that, I guess, young people care about. And she was like, Storm, is there something on television, or is there a piece of content where your audience or your supporters or even the older generations can look at and really understand how Gen Z is feeling? And I really sat there, and I was like, No, there’s nothing out there like that.”
  • Reid also admits to struggling to create and produce a show during a pandemic. She says she had to learn about technical work like budgeting and insurance, along with having confidence in her decisions. “It […] made me realize when it was all said and done … like, yes, we did it, and we can do it again. And it really made me believe in myself and believe in my team,” she explained.

Chop It Up will stream new episodes weekly on Facebook Watch.

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