‘Pronounced Jah-Nay’ At 25: Zhané’s Renée Neufville & Jean Norris Look Back On Their Classic R&B Debut Zhané’s ‘Pronounced Jah-Nay’ Turns 25 pronounced-jah-nay-25-zhan%C3%A9s-ren%C3%A9e-neufville-jean-norris-look-back-their-classic-rb Email Facebook Twitter News The onetime duo reminisce about their 1994 Motown debut, which featured the hit single “Hey Mr. D.J.” and is still remixed todayLakeia BrownGRAMMYs Feb 18, 2019 – 11:04 am 25 years ago this month, Renée Neufville and Jean Norris released Pronounced Jah-Nay, an R&B masterpiece and timeless body of work rooted in jazz, blues, hip-hop, soul and love. Yes, love. A love of music, artistry, words and self. The certified-platinum album was both futuristic and vintage in its versatility, astonishing vocal range, composition and overall musicianship, easily making it a cornerstone of what would soon emerge as neo-soul.In 1994, R&B groups were a dime a dozen. A new duo or group popped up often, promising to leave an imprint on our souls or make us dance, at the very least. It was difficult to differentiate one from another and then there was Zhané, whose French name is a combination of “Jean” and “Renée” but with a “Z” added for color.”It wasn’t our intention to create a timeless classic album,” says Renée, who wrote much of the album including “Sending My Love” and “Changes.””Stylistically, I love the classics, and I thought it was wise to not chase the trend, but keep the direction of the songwriting neutral so it wouldn’t swing too left or too right.”While the music was neutral, their look was anything but. Two beautiful young women, one whose skin had darker hues, the other light. One tall, the other petite. The glaring differences created a gorgeous balance for the two students who had met at Temple University. Their sultry sound coupled with their unique look grabbed the attention of many including Kay Gee, DJ and member of the GRAMMY Award-winning hip-hop group Naughty by Nature. This relationship led to Zhané’s first hit single, “Hey Mr. D.J.,” which was released on Roll Wit tha Flava, a compilation album from Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Records. The certified-gold single married New Jersey hip-hop to Philly soul. “The song was refreshing,” says Jean. “It was feel good music with a coming-of-age sound.” That powerhouse-groove track helped Zhané negotiate a record deal, ultimately landing at Motown. “We had already proven that we could make a hit song,” says Jean.Zhané didn’t just create one hit song; the 13-track album was full of magic. Pronounced Jah-Nay garnered three certified hits, “Hey Mr. D.J.,” “Groove Thang” and “Sending My Love.” Executive produced by Zhané and Kay Gee, the album hit a cultural chord, creating a space for young fans to not just dance but reflect, grow, love and contemplate. It was “grown folk” music for the young and young at heart. “Kay Gee helped provide the edge we needed to appeal to a younger audience without us sounding too mature,” Renée told us. “I was very grateful to him for that.” While the songs that hit radio waves were well-received classics (“Sending My Love” is the most licensed song from the album), the B-side tracks were arguably the strongest. Songs like “La, La, La,” “Sweet Taste of Love,” “Off My Mind,” and “For A Reason” were masterpieces—complete with perfect riffs, harmonies, notes, range, lyrical composition and a teaspoon of pain.It is remarkable that the then-20-somethings created a classic R&B album with such poignant lyrics. Renée says they pulled from their own experiences when writing. “‘Sending My Love’ was personal. It was about my first love and what I was going through at the time,” she says. “[The songs] “‘Changes’ and ‘Love Me Today’ were about that same guy.” And that is what makes a classic piece of work: The authenticity, human emotions and shared experiences that connects us all. Lyrics that go deep, feelings that run the gamut, melodies that reach heaven and passion that is unmeasurable is what defines timeless music. “There are younger people discovering our music and creating remixes,” says Jean. “Jaguar out of Philly reached out to me recently and told me a young artist in France rhymed over ‘Sending My Love,’ so the music continues to live on, which is an honor.” That same love allows Zhané to sing their music even today. “I still love every song,” Renée says. “I will never grow tired of them. How can you be tired of the gifts God gave you?”Jean and Renée have given fans several gifts since Pronounced Jah-Nay, including the duo’s sophomore project, Saturday Night in 1997. Both artists have gone on to record and release music, Jean with her husband Marcus (they received a GRAMMY nomination in 2018 for Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance) and Renée as a solo artist and collaborator.But will they ever sing together again? It might not happen anytime soon. “There are no hard plans right now,” says Jean. “But I think it’s something that needs to happen at some point.” Read more
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson won the crucial toss and despite overcast conditions and some help for bowlers from the pitch, decided to bat first. The Black Caps have gone into the match with the same team as the semi-finals. There was rain in the morning and the pitch has a bit of grass which means that bowlers will have assitance early on. As a result, Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls will have the big responsibility to avoid early damage from Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer, both of whom were in good form in this tournament. England captain Eoin Morgan didn’t show any disappointment and said it would have been a 50-50 decision for him if he had won the toss. He added that the team that plays better would win and hence, no great disappointment as batting second. New Zealand had batted first in the 2015 World Cup final also but could only post a modest score which was chased down easily by Australia. They would look to make amends for it today.
The government’s regulatory body for telecommunications sector has decided to re-fix the rates of tariff on mobile phone calls.Currently, the lowest rate of on-net call (to and from same operator) is Tk 0.25, which may be raised to Tk 0.35. The off-net call (from one operator to other) tariff is Tk 0.60, which is likely to be revised downwardly to Tk 0.45.The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission also feels that the highest tariff rate for per minute call should be brought down to Tk 1.50 from the current rate of Tk 2.Such decisions were taken at a BTRC meeting recently, officials concerned informed Prothom Alo.The BTRC reommendations have already been sent to the post and telecommunications ministry for vetting. The matter will then be sent to the finance ministry since it is related to the public coffer.The BTRC thinks the government’s earnings will increase once the new tariff comes into effect.However, if the stakeholders have reservations about the sayreommendations, the authorities may reconsider the issues, say officials concerned.If approved, the lowest tariff for per minute mobile call will be raised to Tk 0.35 from Tk 0.25 while the highest ceiling brought down to Tk 1.50 from Tk 2.Experts say the new system will mean lesser tariff for calling the number of a big operator from a number of a small one. They cited an example that a call from a Teletalk number to a Grameenphone number, which costs Tk 0.60 at present, will come down to Tk 0.45 in the new system.However, small operators’ earnings will shrink from off-net calls. For example, they make a profit of Tk 0.38 per minute now, but it will come down to Tk 0.23.Acoording to BTRC, state-owned Teletalk has only 3.7 million subscribers, the lowest.Market leader Grameenphone has 59.3 million customers while Robi, who has recently acquired Airtel, has 35 million and Banglalink 31.3 million.When asked, Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) secretary general TIM Nurul Kabir told Prothom Alo that his organisation is happy with the BTRC suggestions.”Bangladesh has the lowest tariff in the world,” he claimed, adding that a refixation of the tariffs will be welcomed by all the parties. “And the government will get a big chunk from the earnings.”However, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) president Golam Rahman said he found raising the lowest ceiling of traiff unjustified. He suggested refixing other tariffs keeping the lowest tariff unchanged.Both the government and the operators earn big money from this sector. So, he said, there is no reason the custimers will be made to pay this extra charge.The BTRC in association with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) fixed the highest and lowest tariff for per minute mobile phone calls in 2010, using the ‘cost modelling’ system.* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan.
AfghanistanTaliban fighters have killed 12 security forces in the last 48 hours in ongoing fighting in Afghanistan’s western province of Badghis, the defence ministry said Monday.In the latest assault on Afghan forces — who have faced devastating losses in recent years — Taliban fighters last week smashed through government lines near the city of Bala Murghab, seizing several checkpoints.”It is with great sadness we announce that during these operations, eight Afghan National Army and four police who fought with bravery and courage accepted martyrdom,” the defence ministry said in a statement.Another 10 soldiers and 24 police were wounded in the operation that killed “99 Taliban terrorists,” it added.Clearance operations continue in the district, officials said, and security forces helped Red Cross workers evacuate the bodies of Taliban fighters that had been left on battlefields.Jamshid Shahabi, the spokesman for the Badghis governor, told AFP that fighting continued near the district’s main marketplace.Afghan and US-led aircraft were striking Taliban positions, he said. “They have suffered heavy casualties.”The defence ministry last week said Afghan forces had made a “tactical retreat” from a number of checkpoints in the district to “avoid civilian casualties”.Abdul Aziz Beg, the head of the Badghis provincial council, had described the situation as “critical” and called for reinforcements.The Taliban said they had conducted a coordinated attack on a series of government checkpoints, killing 12 security forces.The militants launched their assault ahead of a widely expected spring offensive.They typically declare a new fighting season as winter snows melt, and have in the past sought to gain control of district centres and target government facilities.The clash started as Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy tasked with forging a peace deal with the Taliban, was in Afghanistan, where he spoke with national leaders and stakeholders.Khalilzad is expected in the coming days to go to Qatar, where Taliban and Afghan officials are due to meet.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP the talks were set to begin on 14 April.In January, president Ashraf Ghani said 45,000 security forces had been killed since he took office in September 2014.
Share Eric Risberg/APA 2010 photo shows the interior of the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.In 2016, 30 people were sentenced to death in America, and 20 people were executed.Those numbers are the lowest in decades, according to a report by the Death Penalty Information Center, which collects data on capital punishment in the United States, and advocates against the death penalty.The 2016 numbers fit with a multi-decade trend. Death sentences and executions have been declining steadily since the mid-1990s.But 2016 also generated seemingly contradictory information about how the public views capital punishment. Even as jurors have increasingly voted for life in prison instead of execution, voters in three states rejected propositions that would have eliminated the death penalty.In California, Nebraska and Oklahoma — states with widely varying electorates – people voted by large margins to retain the death penalty.Geographic IsolationAnother trend is clearer than ever: for years, just a handful of states have accounted for most of the death sentences in America. In 2015 and 2016, Texas, Georgia and Missouri carried out 85 percent of executions.In fact, the geographical isolation of capital punishment in America goes down to the county level. This year, just 27 of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties are responsible for every death sentence this year.Even in states that impose the most death sentences, the overall trend away from capital punishment holds true. “Texas juries imposed only four new death sentences in 2016, and juries in Georgia and Missouri did not impose any [new death sentences] in 2015 or 2016,” the report notes.Death Row Numbers DownOverall, the number of people on death row – who are waiting to be executed after being sentenced to die – decreased this year, because the number of prisoners either dying in custody or having their sentences reversed outpaced the number of new death sentences.California has by far the most people on death row, with 741, followed by Florida with 396, Texas with 254 and Alabama with 194. However, when you consider each state’s population, Alabama rises to the top, with nearly 4 people on death row for every 100,000 residents. In Texas, which the Marshall Project has reported carried out more than a third of nationwide executions since 1976, that population-adjusted number is less than one per hundred thousand.The Marshall Project tracks the cases of those on death row in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.Sentencing Challenges2016 was also a busy year for court challenges related to the death penalty. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida’s death penalty sentencing system, which allowed judges to disregard the jury’s sentence to impose the death penalty even if jurors recommended life in prison.In October, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that juries must vote unanimously in order to sentence someone to die. “It’s not clear how many people on Florida’s death row will get the opportunity to change their death sentence to life in prison,” as a result of the decision, Nick Evans of member station WFSU reported.At the beginning of this year, Delaware and Alabama were the other two states that allowed judicial overrides of jury decisions in death penalty cases. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Delaware’s court struck down its law, and this month the state’s Supreme Court said all 12 men on Delaware’s death row would have their sentences automatically converted to life in prison.In contrast, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the judicial override statute in September, reported Kent Faulk for The Marshall Project. If Alabama followed Florida’s lead, and required a unanimous jury decision to impose the death penalty, it could have a large effect on the number of death sentences in the state.“Of the 57 executions in Alabama since the death penalty was reinstated in 1983, 29 involved non-unanimous jury votes, ranging from 11 to 1 for death to 11 to 1 for life, according to an AL.com, Marshall Project review of each case,” Faulk reported.Lethal Injection Protocol States also struggled with challenges to lethal injection protocols, and with where to get the drugs used in executions.In May, Pfizer joined other drug companies in its decision not to allow its drugs to be used for lethal injections. Pfizer was the last open-market source for execution drugs, as we reported. More than 20 other U.S. and European drugmakers had already blocked their drugs from being used to kill prisoners.After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that using the sedative midazolam was constitutional in 2015, multiple states moved forward with executions using that drug as part of multi-chemical protocols for executing people.The Death Penalty Information Center says three executions used the drug this year – one in Florida and two in Alabama. As we have reported, the Alabama defendant Ronald Smith, “unsuccessfully argued that midazolam was an unreliable sedative and could cause them to feel pain, citing its use in problematic executions including the botched execution of an Oklahoma man in 2014. A federal judge dismissed the case in November.”Smith was executed in December. Witnesses said he, “appeared to be struggling for breath and heaved and coughed and clenched his left fist,” for 13 minutes after he was injected with midazolam. It took 34 minutes for Smith to die.On Tuesday, Arizona announced it would stop using midazolam for executions. In 2014, Arizona prisoner Joseph Randolph Wood died slowly, over the course of nearly two hours during which he gasped and snorted after he had been injected with the drug.And, after a botched execution in Oklahoma in 2015, a state investigation released this year found prison authorities had “ordered the wrong execution drugs” from a pharmacist.Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Kolkata: The 10th edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival will see the participation of writers, poets and dignitaries from China, Italy, France, Australia, Singapore, USA, UK and Pakistan, alongside noted names from Indian literary circles. Scheduled to take place from January 18 to 20 next year, it will feature Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer winner for Fiction 2018; Ira Mukhoty, known for her feminist writing; Devdutt Pattanaik, mythology expert and author; Ramchandra Guha, historian; Ravinder Singh, Young Adult author; Upamanyu Chatterjee, celebrated writer; Ravish Kumar, journalist, Poet and author; along with veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) has connected, empowered and mobilised new voices and ideas since its inception in 2010. In the last nine years, the festival has contributed greatly to restoring Kolkata’s literary edge, a distinct and valued identity, I felt, at the time, it was losing. “AKLF has developed as the fountainhead of the mission we pursue 365 days at Oxford Bookstores – of books, reading, literature, writers, publishers, building readership, creating awareness and attraction for the world of books and popularising the whole gamut that goes with books and publishing,” said Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed Novelist of the much acclaimed “All The Lives We Never Lived” Anuradha Roy; former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah; and Sahitya Akademi winner Jerry Pinto will also be participating. They will be joined by Ashwin Sanghi, Rajmohan Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Shobhaa De, and Ratna Pathak Shah. AKLF 2019 will focus on health, current affairs, women’s issues, and children’s literature among other themes. The 10th edition of the festival will be held in Park Street’s iconic spaces giving everyone an opportunity to (re)visit, admire and enjoy their tangible and intangible heritage.