A night with Alpha Tau

71 women joined the Alpha Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority , Incorporated on Thursday April 24. Their New Initiate Presentation was hosted at Southern University’s the F.G. Clark Activity Center in front of more than three-thousand supporters. I got to spend the evening capturing some of the moments ,check out the photos below:IMG_0950IMG_0841IMG_0404IMG_0390IMG_0424IMG_0396IMG_0393IMG_0477IMG_0415IMG_0425IMG_0433IMG_0730IMG_0430IMG_0427IMG_0435IMG_0485IMG_0496IMG_0622IMG_0858IMG_0714IMG_0852IMG_0802IMG_0863IMG_0897IMG_0841

Boosie Speaks

When Lil’Boosie’s five year prison sentence came to an end  this year the first thing he wanted to was speak and that’s exactly what he did. The rapper hosted “Boosie Speaks” in New Orleans. During his first official press conference , only for invited guest and journalist,the rapper sat down with radio personality to Angela Ye to discuss his plans for the future and clear up any rumors surrounding his freedom.  Boosie talked about everything from being referred to as the second coming of Jesus to his thoughts on on the current state of the rap industry.  Check out the highlights below:

 

 

Mo’Nique to Headline First Show in Baton Rouge

This afternoon when I heard Mo’Nique would be making an appearance in the Capitol city ,and Good Life Production would be  responsible for bringing the Queen to her subjects in Baton Rouge I had to call them to the official details.

Here they are:

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Academy Award-winning actress a.k.a. the Queen of Comedy ,Mo’Nique will make her Baton Rouge debut when she headlines Monique and Friends at the River Center on Saturday, August 17th.

“There have been a lot large scale concerts this summer ,but we haven’t had events for mature crowds to come out relax and enjoy themselves and this show provide them that experience” said Quincy Q Quiett , CEO of Good life productions.

Quiett said after bringing sought after musicians like Gucci Mane ,Rick Ross and Trina and controversial reality tv personalities such as Josline Hernandez and Stevie J during the summer there also need showcase diversity among the city’s nightlife.

It’s been 2 years BET cancelled her late night talk show and 4 years since her Oscar-winning performance in Lee Daniels’ Precious.

“We haven’t seen much of over the past couple of years but when you’ve built such great reputation and brand like Monquie’s you can take break your fans will anxiously await your return” said Quiett

Although the mother of three has been on a hiatus that doesn’t mean the queen has been lounging on her throne. This year Mo’Nique changed her diet , began exercising regularly and those changes yielded your highness an astonishing 82 lbs weight loss.

Although comedian’s waistline has gotten smaller she is still working on providing fans with big laughs. She currently touring and in the process of developing a new show with BET Networks.

“People can expect from this show what they will get every Good Life event not just a high quality show , but instead a high quality experience.”, said Quiett

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I did my best to get all the details on the “friends” that will be joining Mo’Nique on stage ,but Q told me some thing’s are better left a surprise and we won’t be disappointed.

Tickets can purchased from now until the date of the show from any Ticketmaster, Wal-Mart or the River Center box office.

You’re welcome for the heads up.

Chicken Shack enters Mobile Food Market

Chicken Shack Truck

One of Baton Rouge’s most long-standing restaurants has joined the mobile food industry thanks to the leadership of the Delpit family’s fourth generation of entrepreneurs.

The great grandchildren of businessman Thomas Delpit has taken the famous Chicken Shack recipe mobile with a new express food truck.

“My sister and I came up with the idea after she went on a trip to Texas and saw how popular food trucks were,” said Douglas Smith, 25, manager of the Chicken Shack Express and Delpit’s great grandson.

The Chicken Shack Express Truck serves  some of Shack’s most popular dishes, including poboys, sandwiches, fish, and shrimp dinners with sides and of course the Chicken Shack’s famous fried chicken.

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“One of the greatest things about having a food truck is that unlike a typical restaurant, we can go to where our customers are instead of expecting them to come to us,” said Smith.

The truck operates Monday through Wednesday, 11am-2pm  on 4th Street Downtown Baton Rouge, and Thursday and Friday from 2pm to Dusk at Mr. Lee’s Carwash on Washington Street.

Just like his grandfather, Joe Delpit, and great grandfather, Thomas Delpit,  Smith is pursuing his dream and helping the family business grow at the same time.

Smith said that once he had the idea of starting a food truck for a long time and it motivated him leave his job at a securities company in Tennessee and relocate to Baton Rouge.

“I really wanted to turn this idea into a reality, If you really want to pursue a dream or goal you can’t only do it part-time you have to give it 100 percent,” said Smith

Smith said that since it’s opening at the end of May the Chicken Shack Express truck has received great feedback from its customers and local business have requested to be added to their list of stops. He also said that due to popular demand the restaurant hopes to have an additional truck by this time next year.

“I’m taking the business skills that my grandfather instilled in me and I am putting them back to our family business so that it continues to grow even more,” said Smith.

Donated iPads give added motivation and challenge gifted students

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Room 123 sits in the pre-K quad behind the main building of Glen Oaks Park Elementary School in North Baton Rouge.

The classroom looks like a small children’s museum, decorated with posters and charts, mobiles hanging from the ceiling, art projects covering the walls, colorful bins of blocks and markers, vegetables growing outside in a garden, a corner library, and two guinea pigs.

Anyone who enters the class will be overcome with the desire to learn.

And that’s the way the teacher, Bertha Hinojosa, wants it.

“I want my students to be exposed to a variety of things,” she said.

“One unique thing about children is they are very inquisitive; I want to encourage that.”

Hinojosa’s been teaching for more than 30 years, retired twice, and returned to teach gifted and talent students.

She has amassed nearly 1,000 books for her classroom library which is organized by reading level.

She spends her weekends shopping  library sales, garage sales, and thrift stores to find books.

“I keep all the of books organized by reading level so my students can see what level they are on. I encourage them read at that level or higher,” she said.

With the collection out growing the class’ corner library, Hinojosa wanted  her expanding  collection to continue grow so she decided to get iPads for her 16 pre-K and Kindergarten students.

Not only would she be able to incorporate modern technology in her students learning but one, eight-gigabite iPad can hold up to 6,000 books and take up less space than the actual books.

The students could also be challenged to use and master the new technology in their learning.

“Technology and education evolving together is very important, because now–more than ever–most jobs are technology instead of labor based,” she said.

East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Bernard Taylor agrees.

“It’s thinking outside the box, being innovative, and relating the use of technology in education and daily life to children at an early age that can only help increase their ability and motivation to learn and the success of the school,” he said.

Hinojosa has seen her students become more motivated.

She said this enthusiasm for learning sparked by the use of iPads in class could be the reason that a large majority of her Kindergartners are reading at or above a first grade reading level.

“Before we got the iPads I had 14 students who were trying to use only four computers to learn and take Accelerated Reader tests. (The iPads) have really helped increase the amount the students learn in the time we are here,” said Hinojosa.

Now, the tests are taken on their iPads and scores are sent to parents cell phones.

“This gives parents and guardians more ways to stay involved,” she said.

Hinojosa said the iPads have helped open more lines of communication with parents. Many times parents will call or email with suggestions on what applications are good to use.

“With such equipment, they have their pulse on and immediate access to more innovative information and educational formats and are wired in preparing for their future,” said Taylor.

The iPads have encouraged the young students to develop their overall knowledge of more advanced subjects including math concepts, names of U.S. Presidents, and matching states with their capital cities.

Four-year-old Addison Robertson identifies all 50 states on a blank map and 3-year-old Owen Waguespack is already adding and subtracting because of iPad applications.

Originally, Hinojosa’s plan  was to receive iPads through a grant, but funding would not be available until after January 2013.

“We wanted them by the time school started, so we decided to find donors on our own,” she said.

She and coach Ron Robertson, contacted parents,  friends and local businesses including Cargill  Inc. and District 5 Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards, who provided the class with first-generation iPads.

The class has six iPads, but Hinojosa hopes to receive enough donations for a classroom set  of  16  to monitor each child’s individual academic progress.

Under a new Louisiana law those who help Hinojosa reach her goal, by  donating iPads,  would be eligible for a tax credit.

“Technology is always changing and people always want the latest versions of gadgets and now they have a chance to help children learn when they get rid of their old ones,” said Hinojosa.

Thanks to legislators, a person or business is eligible for a tax credit of 40 percent of the cost for property donated which is of a “sophisticated and technological nature” including any computer or data processing equipment which is capable of being used for purposes of research, research training, or direct education of students.For a new iPad donation, a person could receive as much as a $200 credit. Glen Oaks Park will provide donation receipts.

“We’d love to get this technology throughout the entire school. Imagine that,” said Hinojosa. The school is located at 5656 Lanier Drive.

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Crestworth Middle School Temporarily Closed

Officials with the Recovery School District said Crestworth Middle school will close temporailly for failing to meet building codes that would have allowed students and staff to begin classes next week.
Instead, students will travel to Glen Oaks Middle School until Crestworth reopens.

RSD staff are calling parents personally to notify them of the change, said Kizzy Payton, executive director of communications for the district.

Since the move is not permanent the students still will be considered Crestworth Middle School Students. Transportation will be provided to Glen Oaks middle school.

“We are not sure how long it will take to bring the school up to code,but RSD is making getting the students and staff back in the building a priority and will have the students back in the building as soon as possible” said Payton.

“RSD was not able to enter the schools that were acquired until the first of July with inspectors, it was discovered during the inspections that Crestworth would need to undergo improvements before it can open to students and staff,” she said.

Crestworth and 11 other Baton Rouge schools were taken over this year by RSD. Crestworth is the only school that will be closed temporarily.

DJ Ya Boy Earl offers Music and More

Everyday from 6pm to midnight Earl Easton, known through the airwaves as DJ Ya Boy Earl can be heard on Baton Rouge’s urban radio station Max 94.1FM, mixing the most popular hip hop and hosting the market’s No. 2 radio show. But success hasn’t come easy to the 28-year-old Shreveport native.
For many college students, the last semester before graduation is the happiest and easiest times of their college career, but for Easton that is when things became the hardest. Touting a 3.9 grade point average, in his last semester, Earl, who was called to serve the National Guard in Iraq.
“I had to drop all my classes and prepare to go and serve my country,” he said; but he was soon honorably discharged for medical reasons.
As a veteran, he returned to Southern University ready to complete requirements to earn his batchelors degree in arts.
The honors, graphic design student was told he did not have financial aid.
After hearing that news many students who depend solely on financial aid would have been discouraged and even given up on their education, but, not Easton.
“I was so far away from home…The only person I had to depend on was myself. Since, I couldn’t get financial aid I had to pay out of pocket.”
Easton marketed his graphic design skills to help him earn income but it wasn’t enough to cover all the expenses that come with being a full time college student.
“I couldn’t get an apartment because as free lance graphic designer I had no proof of income. So he lived in a hotel in Baton Rouge.
“I had to pay almost $200 a week and sometimes I did not have it. So I would just have to sit in my room all day because if I left the hotel would turn my key card off,” he said.
Even with set backs, he was still determined to continue his dream of being on radio which he started his freshman year at KNMJ 99.7FM in Shreveport.
“I would take a bus to Shreveport on thursdays and would be the night host for a station and be back in Baton Rouge by Saturday night,” said Easton. He also worked at WTQT 94.9L-FM in Baton Rouge, but was still earning very little money.
“After just being a voice on radio (as an intern), I knew that actually dejaying would be the next step and another way to earn money,” said Easton.
Once he won more than $2,000 at a casino, Easton decided to make an investment in himself and in his career by purchasing dejay equipment with his winnings.
Then, his hussle began. He wore any of his three professional hats to earn income.
From radio host to dejay Easton said he realized that catering to the music industry was more lucrative than trying to be a part of it. He doned his business hat and decided to put all of his talents together and open a music store, Earl’s Music and More, located at 7873 Greenwell Springs Road.

“A lot of people thought I was crazy because music stores around the country are closing down,” said Easton. He said his vision and ideas for expanding provides a different experience to it’s customers than other music store.
“At my store we don’t have national artists,” he said. “Baton Rouge has such a unique local music scene so at Earl’s Music and More, you will find independent artists who really need help getting their music out.”
True to his radio name, Easton is “ya boy,” when it comes to providing exposure to untaped artists, encouraging school pride on air, motivating students during visits, or helping a client find the perfect sound or imagery to launch their product or business.
After facing many set backs DJ Ya Boy Earl said he is still grateful for them all, because without them, he would not have developed in a media personality with the No.2 urban radio show during 6pm-10pm.
“There were some rough times in my life and I had noone to depend on during them, (but) it’s nice to know now that I am in a position where I know that I can be someone who others can depend on,” he said.
As an dejay and business owner, Easton’s popularity is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. He said this year he is focusing on helping independent artists get their music to fans.
He also plans to open a teen center in Baton Rouge, as well as continue hosting an annual celebrity basketball game in the fall.

DJ Deaf Puts his own Spin on Baton Rouge Night Life

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Los Angels native James Merritt II is making his mark on Louisiana’s
night life by providing the music for some of the most popular clubs
and award winning hip hop artists’ performances.

“It such an amazing feeling to be able to be on stage providing the
music for artist whose music I play on a regular basis” said Merritt
also known as DJ Deaf

Success and notoriety did not come easy for the L.A. native who grew
up in Dry Pong, a small town in northern Louisiana right outside of
Alexandria. Merritt said that in L.A. There was a lot of gang violence
and his parents wanted to get him out of that environment.

“It was my first time living in a predominantly white area and going
to a mostly white school, in the beginning the [white] kids there
didn’t know how to accept me”, said Merritt

Through the cultural differences Merritt was able to find one common
ground between himself and his new peers and that was music. Although
Merritt had always enjoyed listening to to a variety of music it was
during his childhood growing up in Dry Pong that he feels his
interest in music really grew and became more versatile.

“In California of course I was listening to popular rappers artist
like Kriss Kross and 2pac but it was in Louisiana where I was first
exposed to pop music and main stream groups that were popular at the
time like the Spice Girls”,said Merritt

Brenda Merritt, James’ mother, said We never limited our children to
one genre or decade of music we wanted our children to be lovers of
all kinds of music. She said she remembers when James was in school he
played the trumpet and they wanted music to be appreciated in all
aspects in their home.

“Although I enjoyed I music I never planned on having a career in this
industry, I originally wanted to be a computer programer” said Merritt

Merritt said he realized early on that he did have the the patience
or desire that it would take become a computer programer and began
exploring other career avenues. It was during what was supposed to be
a night of fun that Merritt would find his calling.

“I was having my 21st birthday with my twin sister I had a friend who
had a DJ equipment and he was going to DJ the party while guest hung
out and relaxed by the pool” said Kristen Morrison, Merritt’s Friend

Morrison said Something happened with their friend who was supposed to
DJ the party and he ended up leaving Morrison, her twin sister and
guest at a pool party with no DJ.

“ I had become known as the friend who good taste in music and
listened to a variety of genres and the equipment was there so I
thought I would step up and give it try.”said Merritt

Morrison said that once Merritt hit the stage the atmosphere of the
party had quickly changed. She realized that she would not have rely
on an mp3 player or already mixed CD’s have to supply the music for
the party.

“ The party was supposed to be a pool party, but no one was no longer
in the pool we were gathered around the DJ booth dancing, requesting
songs and free styling on the microphone”said Morrison

Merritt said it was after his impromptu DJing set at the party the
original owners of the equipment asked him if he would like to DJ more
often. Before James could begin his career as a DJ he need a name to
DJ under. Merritt said his name “DJ Deaf” was actually inspired by a
childhood friend who was born deaf but still involved in the arts and
although the two have lost touch he says he still has the utmost
respect for her because he feels she accomplished more in music and
dance education than those without a handicap could.

“ I told them yes, and I have been working since then and have just
been able to make connections through word of mouth and inviting
people to some see me spin” said Merritt

Word on DJ Deaf has spread fast since his first “gig” almost two years
ago. DJ deaf has been able to provide the music for some Baton Rouge
and New Orleans’s popular night clubs and bars like The Varsity, DJ’s
Club Elite, The Office, The House and Club Theory just a to name few.

“It is so fun seeing his ability to blend genres ,like country and rap
together ,and watch all different types of people come together enjoy
what he does” said Morrison

Merritt said He treats every show like it is his first and has one
responsibility. That responsibility is to try and understand what
type of music he should play for a room full of hundreds ,sometimes
thousands, of strangers he has never met to that will the best time.
Merritt said having this responsibility is one of the most
challenging,but also one of the most exciting aspects of being a DJ.

DJ Deaf has also become the go to do DJ for popular hip hop artist,
like the Ying Yang Twins,Gorilla Zoe, and Academy Award winning group
Three 6 mafia ,when they have performed in Louisiana.

“ When I was Djing at the Juvenile concert I struck up a conversation
with him and found out I would DJing for his performance and I
literally had 5 minutes to prepare for his show with him, but I made
it happen and that so far has been of the highlight of my career”said
Merritt

Brenda Merritt said she was skeptical of her son taking on being a DJ
as full time career , but her attitude towards his career path changed
once she was able to see him in action. Merritt said she knew her
son had so much talent inside him and is amazed to to see him put it
into action and see so many people enjoy it.

“This is not any easy road to travel but rapper Gorilla Zoe told me
that if you have to look past the nay sayers and people that will
tell you your music is whack a and continue towards your goal
anything is possible” said Merritt

Cameron James 2012 (c)