Review: ‘Sing 2,’ starring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Bono and Halsey

November 28, 2021

by Carla Hay

Pictured in front row, from left to right: Klaus Kickenlober (voiced by Adam Buxton), Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), Porsha Crystal (voiced by Halsey), Clay Calloway (voiced by Bono), Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), Darius (voiced by Eric André), Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll) in “Sing 2” (Image courtesy of Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)

“Sing 2”

Directed by Garth Jennings

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional U.S. city of Redstone City and briefly in the fictional U.S. city of Calatonia, the animated film “Sing 2” features a predominantly white cast of actors (with a few black people) voicing the characters of talking animals that are connected in some ways to showbiz.

Culture Clash: The owner and star performers of Calatonia’s New Moon Theater take their act to Redstone City, the nation’s entertainment capital, in the hopes of becoming bigger stars, but the ruthless mogul who can give them their big break expects the group’s act to include a reclusive rock star who hasn’t performed live in 15 years. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of “Sing” fans and fans of the movie’s voice cast members, “Sing 2” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a “jukebox musical” with a poorly constructed, flimsy plot.

Pictured from left to right, beginning second from left: Jimmy Crystal (voiced by Bobby Cannavale), Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) and Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in “Sing 2” (Image courtesy of Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)

Plagued by “sequel-itis,” the animated musical “Sing 2” sacrifices character development for a plot that sloppily rushes storylines and then turns into a commercial for Bono and U2’s music at the very end. The movie loses much of the charm of 2016’s “Sing” by having the main characters go off on different tangents and by introducing several new characters that are presented in a very superficial way. The “Sing” movie series (which is about talking animals, many of which can sing) also loses a lot of comedic appeal with “Sing 2,” by introducing a murderous villain that drags down the story with soulless acts of evil.

This decline in quality can’t be blamed on a change in filmmaker leadership. “Sing” and “Sing 2” were both written and directed by Garth Jennings and have the same producers (Janet Healy and Christopher Meledandri), as well as the same chiefs of certain departments, such as film editing, visual effects and music. The voice actors of most of the lead characters in “Sing” reprised the same roles for “Sing 2.”

Considering all of the talented people involved, it’s a disappointment that so much of “Sing 2” seems like a lazily conceived cash grab that does nothing innovative. The entire movie lacks suspense (there are absolutely no surprises) and over-relies on stringing together what are essentially separate animated music videos and trying to make it look like it’s all part of a cohesive plot. The visuals of “Sing 2” are perfectly fine, but there should be more to a movie than it just looking good.

Sequels are supposed to tell you more about the main characters, but “Sing 2” fails in this regard because you won’t learn almost anything new about the main characters from watching this sequel. “Sing 2” continues to have an overload of pop hits (original recordings and cover versions), but it’s less effective in this sequel, compared to the first “Sing” movie. That’s because “Sing 2” is essentially a mediocre “jukebox musical,” where song placement is more important than having a well-written storyline and memorable dialogue. Most of the new characters in “Sing 2” have hollow and stereotypical personalities.

“Sing 2” also follows a predictable plot formula for the second movie in an animated series: The main characters travel out of their home environment and get involved in new adventures somewhere else. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that formula if it’s done with an engaging story. (It’s a formula that Pixar Animation has mastered with many of its sequels.) Unfortunately, “Sing 2” does not have a story that’s very interesting.

“Sing 2” is also one of those sequels that doesn’t do a very good job of introducing the main characters to viewers who didn’t see the first “Sing” movie. “Sing 2” assumes that people seeing this sequel are already familiar with the main characters. But that’s an assumption that just makes the screenwriting look even lazier than it needed to be.

Some of the characters in the first “Sing” movie struggled with different personal issues. For example, one character has a criminal parent who discouraged him from being a singer, and that parent ended up being incarcerated for a robbery. Another character suffered from stage fright. If any those issues are mentioned in “Sing 2,” they’re vague references when they should be a little more detailed, to give the characters more depth. In addition, “Sing 2” doesn’t really mention that all of the main characters that are singers met each other through a talent contest that was the focus of the first “Sing” movie.

If you must waste your time on the inferior “Sing 2,” it’s best to see the first “Sing” movie so you can understand the backstories of the main characters and see their real personalities. In “Sing 2,” almost all of the main characters’ personalities are reduced to soundbite-like dialogue in between singing songs. The good news is that all of the cast members who sing do a very fine job with their performances.

In “Sing” (which takes place in the fictional U.S. city of Calatonia), an ambitious koala named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) owns an inherited theater that’s in danger of shutting down due to his financal problems. In order to get publicity for the theater and increase attendance, Buster holds a talent contest that attracts several Calatonia residents, and some of these characters end up being the stars of the contest. In “Sing 2,” Buster wants to take his productions out of regional theater and into the big leagues of a Vegas-styled musical show.

These singing stars from the “Sing” talent contest make their return in the “Sing 2” movie:

  • Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a pig who’s a harried housewife and a mother of 25 piglets.
  • Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a porcupine who’s a rock singer/guitarist and a feminist.
  • Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), a gorilla who can play sing and piano a lot like Elton John.
  • Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), an elephant who’s shy and insecure except when she’s singing.
  • Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), a pig who’s flamboyant and an occasional duet partner with Rosita.

Also returning for “Sing 2” is Buster’s eccentric administrative assistant Miss Crawly (voiced by writer/director Jennings), an iguana with a glass eye that often falls out and causes mishaps. Making cameos in “Sing 2” are two other characters from the first “Sing” movie: Johnny’s gorilla gangster father Big Daddy (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz) and elderly sheep Nana Noodleman (voiced by Jennifer Saunders), who is a wealthy benefactor and former theater diva.

In the beginning of “Sing 2,” New Moon Theater (the venue owned by Buster) is presenting a musical production of “Alice in Wonderland,” with Meena in the starring role of Alice. The show is a local hit that plays to sold-out audiences. During a performance, Buster is excited to see that an important talent scout named Suki Lane (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) is in the audience and taking notes.

Suki (who is a brown dog that can walk upright and has human-like arms and legs ) works for the mega-company Crystal Entertainment in Redshore City, the entertainment capital of the nation. Redshore City is designed to look a lot like Las Vegas. Miss Crawly tells Buster that Suki has been paying attention to the show and seems to be entertained.

After the performance, Buster rushes after Suki to talk to her before she can leave. He asks her what she thought of the show. Suki haughtily replies, “It’s a cute little show, but it’s not what we’re looking for. You’re not good enough. You’ve got a nice little local theater here, and it’s great for what it is, but trust me: You’d never make it in the big leagues.”

Buster is stung by this criticism, but he’s not ready to give up so easily. Even if his productions are considered regional theater, he knows that these shows have value because they frequently sell out. Suki gets in a chauffeured car to leave. Buster chases after the moving car on his bike, and he holds on to the car door to continue to talk to Suki.

Suki thinks that Buster is crazy and tells the driver to speed up, in order to get rid of Buster. Buster is essentially run off of the road, and he lands in a nearby canal. This debacle is witnessed by several residents who are near the canal. It’s a humiliating moment for Buster, but it’s played for laughs in the movie.

A discouraged Buster tells Nana about Suki’s rejection. He moans, “I’m a failure!” Nana scolds Buster for letting this setback make him think that he should give up. She tells him that if he doesn’t believe in himself and what he has to offer, then no one else will. Buster takes this advice and decides to round up Meena, Rosita, Ash, Johnny, Gunter and Miss Crawly to go on a road trip with him to Redstone City. The goal is to convince Crystal Entertainment to let them do a musical at the much-larger and more famous Crystal Tower Theater.

Ash already has a paying gig at a local rock club in Calatonia, but she’s being underpaid. When Buster meets up with Ash to ask her to go on the trip, he sees her backstage after a performance, right before she’s supposed to do an encore. The club owner/manager hands Ash a paycheck, and she’s annoyed because the amount is far less than what other artists at the club are getting paid.

Ash says to the club owner/manager: “I have a rule about not letting guys like you tell me what I’m worth. Unless I get paid like everyone else, I’m outta here!” And with that, she walks out of the building with Buster, without doing the encore.

The owner of Crystal Entertainment is Jimmy Crystal (played by Bobby Cannavale), who is literally and figuratively a wolf. He’s a hard-nosed, ruthless business mogul who insists that people call him Mr. Crystal. He is first seen judging auditioners at Crystal Tower Theater and giving red-buzzer rejections to every act, no matter how talented the act is.

Meanwhile, Buster and his group have arrived at Crystal Entertainment headquarters, but they don’t make it past the reception area because they don’t have an appointment. However, they go in a side employee entrance, find some sanitation worker uniforms, and disguise themselves as sanitation workers, in order to sneak into the auditions.

After a quick change back into their regular clothes, this enterprising group sneaks onto the audition stage. Buster makes an earnest pitch to offer his theater group for a musical show at Crystal Tower Theater. Mr. Crystal rejects them, of course. Buster tries to get Mr. Crystal to change his mind, but Mr. Crystal doesn’t want to hear it and is infuriated that these rejected auditioners don’t want to leave the stage.

Just as Mr. Crystal is about to have them thrown out, he overhears Gunter say that Gunter is a fan of Clay Calloway, a rock superstar lion who has been in seclusion for the past 15 years. Mr. Crystal asks if they know Clay. Buster lies and says yes. Mr. Crystal then changes his mind and says that he’ll agree to let Buster’s group do a show at the Crystal Tower Theater, on one condition: Clay Calloway has to be part of the act too.

Buster continues to lie and says it won’t be a problem because he and Clay are friends. When Mr. Crystal asks what the name of the show is, Gunter comes up with a title on the spot: “Out of This World.” It’s described as an outer-space musical. Mr. Crystal doesn’t care about the details because he just wants Clay Calloway to perform at the Crystal Tower Theater.

Mr. Crystal gives Buster and his group just three weeks to produce the show. He puts them up in the Crystal Tower Hotel and pays for all of their expenses. Buster is elated and decides he’ll figure out a way to convince Clay Calloway to be a part of the show. Ash is a big fan of Clay’s and she wants to go with Buster for this persuasive visit. Ash explains that Clay has become a grieving recluse ever since the death of his wife Ruby, who was his muse.

In the meantime, Buster works with Gunter on the concept for the “Out of This World” musical. They come up with the idea to have Rosita star as an astronaut looking for an outer-space explorer, with Gunter as a robot sidekick/aide. During this mission, she will have to visit four planets that have four different themes: war, love, despair and joy. This idea is as poorly conceived as it sounds.

Meanwhile, there’s more to Mr. Crystal than meets the eye. When an uninteresting movie like this is filled with hackneyed stereotypes, here’s one more: Mr. Crystal is really a gangster. A Vegas-styled hotel/casino owner who’s involved with illegal activities? Where did the filmmakers get this idea?

“Sing 2” starts to go off the rails in how it presents the preparations for this horrendous “Out of This World” musical production, by having the stars of the show go off in different directions with silly subplots. Rosita decides to invite her husband Norman (voiced by Nick Offerman) and their 25 kids to Redstone City. (After all, Mr. Crystal is paying for everything.) And so, there’s a scene of the kids being brats as they invade a food buffet area in the hotel and cause all types of chaos.

Rosita is playing an astronaut who has to do some high-flying stunts on stage. And therefore, it’s not a good time for Rosita to find out that she’s afraid of heights. Around the same time, Mr. Crystal insists that his daughter Porsha Crystal (voiced by Halsey) will be the star of the show. Buster is put in the awkward position of telling Rosita that she’s being replaced in the starring role. Porsha is a spoiled airhead who sounds like she’s spent too much time watching “Jersey Shore.”

Johnny is supposed to play a dancing gladiator-type of warrior in “Out of This World,” but Johnny doesn’t know how to dance. And so, the show’s uptight and mean-spirited monkey choreographer Klaus Kickenklober (voiced by Adam Buxton) makes Johnny’s life a living hell. But what do you know: One day, Johnny sees a sassy lynx street dancer named Nooshy (voiced by Letitia Wright), who attracts an enthusiastic crowd. Johnny is impressed with Nooshy’s talent, so he hires her to give him private dance lessons.

Meena, who is very inexperienced when it comes to dating, is paired with a conceited yak actor named Darius (voiced by Eric André), so she’s dreading the love scenes that they have to do in the musical. “Sing 2” has such slipshod screenwriting, Meena’s and Darius’ character roles in “Out of This World” are never clearly defined, except to show that they’re supposed to play each other’s love interest in “Out of This World.” Darius could have been breakout “Sing 2” character as a hilarious buffoon, but he’s mainly brought out for some underwhelming scenes where the jokes fall flat.

Meanwhile, Meena catches the eye of a mild-mannered elephant named Alfonso (voiced by Pharrell), an ice cream truck vendor. It’s obvious that Alfonso wants to date Meena, but she’s bashful about how to handle it. Alfonso compliments Meena on her singing talent, but she’s afraid to have conversations with him. None of these new supporting characters in “Sing 2” has a backstory or fully developed personality.

Meanwhile, there’s a time-wasting scene where Miss Crawly drives to reclusive rock star Clay’s estate (while System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!” is playing), to find out if she can get access to him. Some more problems ensue involving her glass eye, because the filmmakers seem to want to make Miss Crawly’s glass eye the main gimmick for the slapstick comedy about her. Needless to say, Miss Crawly is unsuccessful in getting to Clay. Buster and Ash decide to give it a try.

The second trailer for “Sing 2” already revealed that Clay (voiced by Bono, lead singer of U2) does come out of seclusion to perform on stage. But even if this major plot development hadn’t already been disclosed, it would be very easy to predict. The movie blandly and vaguely handles how Clay is convinced to come out of seclusion.

“Sing 2” is Bono’s animated feature-film debut as an actor. Bono’s speaking voice in this role is lowered one or two octaves from his real speaking voice. It seems like he’s trying to sound like a husky-voiced American rock star (somewhat like a combination of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits), but Bono’s natural Irish accent can still occasionally be heard in the dialogue.

As for the music of “Sing 2,” just like the first “Sing” movie, a lot of it comes in snippets of one minute or less per song. Songs that drop in for a longer than a minute (but still quickly) include Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Mercury Rev’s “Holes,” Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean,” Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” Eve’s “Who’s That Girl” and Camila Cabello and Mendes’ “Señorita.”

The longer musical numbers are serviceable, although there are a few standout moments. Halsey shines in her biggest number, when she sings a rousing rendition of the Struts’ “Could Have Been Me.” Halsey’s version of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” is also impressive. Johansson does nicely with her cover version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

However, the Tori Kelly/Pharrell Williams duet of Dionne Warwick’s “I Say a Little Prayer” has no heat. It’s also a very tame song selection for the characters of Meena and Alfonso, who are supposed to be in the early stages of a romance. Their first duet should’ve been more of a passionate love song or a more emotion-filled song about longing for love.

It seems like the “Sing 2” filmmakers bent over backwards to make Bono and his Clay character overshadow the movie’s last 15 minutes to steal the show. In the first “Sing” movie, main characters Rosita, Meena, Ash and Johnny all had their big individual singing moments in the spotlight. In “Sing 2,” everyone seems to have to clear a path for Bono/Clay.

In “Sing 2,” the Johnny character is woefully under-used as a singer. The movie seems more concerned about showing him awkwardly learning dance moves. It’s a shame, really, because Egerton is such a talented singer. His rendition of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” in the first “Sing” movie was one of the catalysts to Egerton being cast in John’s 2019 musical biopic “Rocketman.”

“Sing 2” is essentially a vehicle to promote U2’s music in the latter half of the movie. There are four U2 songs in “Sing 2”: the aforementioned “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and “Your Song Saved My Life,” which was written for the “Sing 2” soundtrack. Obviously, “Your Song Saved My Life” is supposed to be Clay’s big moment. “Your Song Saved My Life” isn’t bad, but it’s not outstanding, and it won’t be considered a U2 classic.

If you want to know another reason “Sing 2” is such a disappointing mess, the filmmakers made Bono—one of the most charismatic rock stars on the planet—a dull and dreary character in this movie. The Clay character could’ve been played by almost anyone, but it seems like in order to get U2’s music for this movie, the filmmakers had to cast Bono in this role. It’s too bad that Bono and the rest of the talented voice actors are stuck in this hack karaoke project that has a major studio budget.

Universal Pictures will release “Sing 2” in U.S. cinemas on December 22, 2021.

Review: ‘Black Is King,’ starring Beyoncé

July 31, 2020

by Carla Hay

Beyoncé in “Black Is King” (Photo courtesy of Disney+/Parkwood Entertainment)

“Black Is King” 

Directed by Beyoncé, Kwasi Fordjour, Emmanuel Adjei, Blitz Bazawule, Pierre Debusschere, Jenn Nkiru, Ibra Ake, Dikayl Rimmasch and Jake Nava

Culture Representation: This visual album of Beyoncé’s original songs for the 2019 “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack features a predominantly black cast (with a few white people, Asians and Latinos) primarily representing life in Africa in a musical format.

Culture Clash:  Many of the songs’ lyrics and the movie’s narration are about pushing back against fear, bigotry and self-doubt.

Culture Audience: Beyoncé fans are the obvious target audience for this movie, but “Black Is King” should also appeal to people who like to see visually stunning musical numbers set to contemporary R&B music.

Beyoncé (center) in “Black Is King” (Photo courtesy of Disney+/Parkwood Entertainment)

People already know that Beyoncé is capable of making a collection of memorable an impactful music videos, so it’s not too much a surprise that she has done it again with “Black Is King,” a visually intoxicating and emotionally empowering movie that celebrates self-confidence and Afro-centric culture.

Whereas Beyoncé’s visual collection for her critically acclaimed 2016 album “Lemonade” was her feminist response to issues going on in her personal life at the time, “Black Is King” is more of a rousing anthem directed at generations of people, especially those whose ethnic roots are in Africa. There are no conversations in “Black Is King,” but the messages are loud and clear.

Because “Black Is King” is a visual representation of Beyoncé’s 2019 soundtrack album “The Lion King: The Gift,” the songs themselves (and some of the music videos) were made available a year before the full “Black Is King” movie was released. But seeing all of these songs together as musical numbers in “Black Is King” puts the soundtrack in a whole new light.

“Black Is King” is not a traditional movie, since there is no real plot. Rather, it’s an atmospheric journey of eye-catching sights, sounds and philosophical thoughts. The choreography? Spectacular. The hair and makeup? Gorgeous.  The costumes? Unforgettable.

Folajomi “FJ” Akinmurele portrays Beyoncé’s fictional son Little Simba throughout “Black Is King.” At the end of the film, this dedication appears on screen: “Dedicated to my son Sir Carter. And to all our sons and daughters, the sun and the moon bow for you. You are the keys to the kingdom.”

The movie has narration that includes lines from the 2019 “The Lion King” movie, which had Beyoncé as the voice of warrior lioness Nala. But the most intriguing narration comes from a script whose credited writers are Beyoncé, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Clover Hope and Andrew Morrow, featuring poetry by Warsan Shire.

James Earl Jones provides the opening voice narration as he intones in “Balance (Mufasa Interlude)”: “Everything that you see exists together in a delicate balance. You need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling creatures to the leaping antelope. We are all connected in the circle of life.”

Beyoncé also voices several messages of Afro-centric pride, including “Black is the color of my true love’s skin” and “Let black be synonymous with glory” and “Black is king. We were beauty before they knew what beauty was.”

There are also calls of empowerment, such as “Life is a set of choices. Lead or be led astray. Follow your light or lose it.” And she also speaks about the importance of representation: “To live without reflection for so long might make you wonder if you even truly exist.”

It wouldn’t be a Beyoncé visual album without cameos. They include members of her immediate family: husband Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter); their children Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi; and Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles Lawson. “Brown Skin Girl,” with Saint Jhn and Wizkid featuring Blue Ivy Carter, celebrates inner and outer beauty and includes visual appearances by Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o and Kelly Rowland, who is one of the original members of Destiny’s Child with Beyoncé. Jay-Z, Knowles Lawson and Rowland can also be seen in “Mood 4 Eva.”

And several artists on the audio soundtrack can be seen in “Black Is King,” including Jessie Reyez (“Scar)”; Nija, Busiswa, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack and Moonchild Sanelly (“My Power” ); Shatta Wale (“Already”); Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi (“Keys to the Kingdom”); and Salatiel and Pharrell Williams (“Water”).  Meanwhile, Beyoncé hands over the spotlight to Lord Afrixana, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi, who perform “Don’t Jealous Me.”

Noticeably absent from “Black Is King” are Kendrick Lamar, Major Lazer and Childish Gambino (also known as Donald Glover, the voice of adult Simba in 2019’s “The Lion King”), who are featured artists on the audio soundtrack’s songs but don’t make visual appearances in the “Black Is King” movie. Lamar can be heard on the duet track “Nile,” while Major Lazer is featured on “Already.” Childish Gambino/Glover is a featured artist on “Mood 4 Eva.”

Speaking of “Mood 4 Eva,” it’s one of the highlights of “Black Is King” and it has explosion of beauty that’s both raw and luxurious. (And there’s also a scene of Beyoncé and Jay-Z holding hands that’s reminiscent of their famous 2018 “Apeshit” video that was filmed in the Louvre Museum.) “Don’t Jealous Me,” another standout segment, conjures up African tribal imageries that includes giant yellow python around the neck of certain people, including Beyoncé. “Water” is pure glam, with Beyoncé in outfits ranging from a stunning magenta gown to flared ’70s-styled denim with Rapunzel-length hair.

Although “The Lion King” takes place in Africa, and “Black Is King” is very Afro-centric, “Black Is King” was actually filmed around the world: Africa, New York, Los Angeles, London and Belgium. However, the movie prominently several African actors in the story segments, including Folajomi Akinmurele, Connie Chiume, Nyaniso Ntsikelelo Dzedze, Nandi Madida, Warren Masemola, Sibusiso Mbeje, Fumi Odede, Stephen Ojo and Mary Twala.

Not everyone likes Beyoncé’s music. Not everyone likes the 2019 movie version of “The Lion King.” However, “Black Is King” is a perfect example of why Beyoncé is a superb entertainer who’s a major influence on pop culture while speaking out on issues that are important to her.

Disney+ premiered “Black Is King” in July 31, 2020.

2020 Songwriters Hall of Fame: Mariah Carey, Steve Miller, Isley Brothers, Pharrell Williams, Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart among inductees

January 16, 2020

March 31, 2020 UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled to take place on June 10, 2021. See information at the end of this article.

The following is a press release from the Songwriters Hall of Fame:

Musical legends Mariah Carey; Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart (previously known as Eurythmics); Ernie Isley / Marvin Isley / O’Kelly Isley / Ronald Isley / Rudolph Isley / Chris Jasper (previously known as The Isley Brothers); Steve Miller; Chad Hugo / Pharrell Williams (previously known as The Neptunes); Rick Nowels’ and William “Mickey” Stevenson will become the latest inductees of the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 51st Annual Induction and Awards Dinner. These legendary songwriters wrote mega-hits such as, “Vision of Love,” “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “Shout,” “The Joker,” “Hollaback Girl,” “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and “Dancing In The Street.” The star-studded induction event is slated for Thursday, June 11, 2020, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Additional special award honorees will be announced soon.

SHOF Chairman Nile Rodgers said, “The first thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the second thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the third thing you need to know is it’s about the song. I am very proud that we are recognizing some of the culturally most important songwriters of all time and that the 2020 slate of inductees represents diversity and unity across genres, ethnicity and gender, writers who have enriched our lives and in their time literally transformed music and helped make it what it is today.”

Established in 1969, the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF) serves as a vital bridge between music’s past and future. In the Hall, musical pioneers are enshrined and celebrated, while the organization’s outreach to the music community grooms the next generation of troubadours. To qualify for induction, a songwriter with a notable catalog of songs qualifies for induction 20 years after the first commercial release of a song.

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is one of the most celebrated singer-songwriters and the best-selling female artist of all time. Smashing the Billboard Hot 100 number ones, Mariah Carey is the all-time most successful female songwriter in chart history. She has written or co-written 18 of her 19 number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and holds the record as the songwriter with the most weeks spent at the number one spot on the chart, counting 77 weeks in total. Mariah is in an elite group of songwriters to have had four or more number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from one album, four of which are from her self-titled debut album.

She wrote her debut single, “Visions of Love” and first No.1 hit single at the age of 17. Since then, she has penned the most successful modern (post-1963) Christmas standard, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and in 2006 the song became the first ringtone to be certified Gold by the RIAA, and it is now certified 2x Platinum making it the first ringtone to do so. The Christmas hit also holds the Guinness World Record for highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on Billboard’s Hot 100 by a solo artist in addition to becoming the most streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours.

In 2011, Rolling Stone voted Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day” with Boyz II Men the Best-Ever Musical Collaboration and the track held the record for most weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1995 to 2019. The superstar is also the only songwriter to have had three songs debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Fantasy,” “One Sweet Day,” “Honey”) and she is the only songwriter to receive Billboard’s Song of the Decade twice (“One Sweet Day” and “We Belong Together” for the 90’s Together” for the 00’s). Additionally, Mariah’s “We Belong Together” and “One Sweet Day” are both on Billboard’s list of All-Time Top 100 Hit Songs.

Over the course of her career, Mariah Carey has received ample recognition for her songwriting. In 2012, she won the BMI Icon Award for Songwriting, and has won 34 BMI Pop Music Awards for 21 different singles including three Songwriter of the Year Awards and two Song of the Year Awards for “Vision of Love” and “One Sweet Day.” She was Grammy-nominated two times as a writer for Song of the Year for “Vision of Love” and “We Belong Together” and three times as a writer for R&B Song for “Honey,” “We Belong Together,” and “Don’t Forget About Us.” In 2018, Carey was nominated for a Golden Globe for the title song of the movie, The Star and in 2019 won the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for songwriting.

In addition to her outstanding songwriting achievements, Carey has won multiple GRAMMY Awards, numerous American Music Awards, Billboard’s “Top Female Artist of All Time”, Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award, Billboard’s “Icon Award,” and the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium.” With her distinct five-octave vocal range, prolific songwriting, and producing talent, Mariah is truly the template of the modern pop performance.

Over the last three decades, Mariah Carey has written over 50 timeless songs and has collaborated with industry icons including Jermaine Dupri, Rick James, Tricky Stewart, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, Dianne Warren, Carole King, George Michael, Randy Jackson, Whitney Houston and more. Mariah Carey’s songs have been covered, performed and sampled by numerous artists, including Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Kelly Rowland, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel, Cee-Lo Green, Michael Buble, Fifth Harmony and Drake. Her ongoing impact has transcended the music industry to leave an indelible imprint upon the world at large.

Annie Lennox / Dave Stewart (previously known as Eurythmics)
80’s British pop duo, Eurythmics namely, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, achieved global success with their album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) for which the title track became a worldwide hit topping the charts in numerous countries including the U.S. The duo went on to release a string of hit singles and albums before they went their own ways in 1990. Both Lennox and Stewart spent the next nine years focusing on their solo careers. Eurythmics reunited in 1999 to record their ninth album, Peace, and once again in 2005 to release their single “I’ve Got A Life,” which also appeared on the new Eurythmics compilation album, Ultimate Collection. The duo won an MTV Music Video Award for Best New Artist in 1984, a GRAMMY Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1987, a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 1999, and were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. They were also nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Lennox’s solo career began with the release of her solo debut album, Diva, which includes several hit songs like “Why” and “Walking on Broken Glass.” Her 1995 album, Medusa, includes “No More I Love You’s” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” She has released six solo studio albums and a compilation album entitled The Annie Lennox Collection in 2009. Over the decades, Annie Lennox has received numerous accolades in recognition of her contribution to the music business, including 8 BRIT Awards (including a Lifetime Achievement), 4 Ivor Novello Awards, 3 MTV Awards, 4 Grammy Awards, 26 ASCAP Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Into the West,” written for the soundtrack to the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. She was also named one of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone. Lennox has been awarded fellowships from some of the world’s most prestigious music institutions, including The British Academy of Songwriters, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Berklee College of Music, and The Musicians Company.

Dave Stewart is recognized as one of the most respected and accomplished talents in the music industry today with a music career spanning four decades and over 100 million album sales. Stewart co-wrote and produced each Eurythmics album along with Annie Lennox. He has also co-written and produced albums and songs with Tom Petty, Gwen Stefani, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Nicks, Mick Jagger, Bryan Ferry, Katy Perry, Sinead O’Connor, Joss Stone and many others. Along the way, his work has garnered numerous awards including 26 ASCAP Awards and BMI awards for most performed songs, 4 Ivor Novello Awards, 4 Brit Awards including Best Producer, a Lifetime Achievement Award, The Silver Clef Award, the Clive Davis Legend in Songwriting Award, and a Grammy Award. In 2015, Stewart also won the Outstanding Contribution to UK Music Award given by the Producers Guild. He has scored films for several directors, has written and produced the title songs for many hit movies and together with Mick Jagger, he wrote and produced the score for Alfie, which won the pair a Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Additionally, Stewart along with songwriter/producer Glen Ballard wrote the music for the musical adaptation of the 1990 Jerry Zucker film Ghost, which is now being performed in many cities all over the world. Beyond his creative work as a musician, Stewart is a renowned film and TV producer, author, photographer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He has established multimedia companies including Dave Stewart Entertainment (DSE) and The Hospital Club with Microsoft’s Paul Allen, co-authored The Business Playground: Where Creativity and Commerce Collide (Financial Times/Pearson), and Executive Produced NBC’s hit show Songland. Also, in 2001, Stewart was approached by Nelson Mandela to help fight against the Aids epidemic. Stewart developed a Global Campaign using Mandela’s prison number 46664 as a telephone number. When people dialed this number Mr. Mandela answered followed by new songs Dave had written with Joe Strummer, Bono and Edge, Paul McCartney, and many others. While you listened, money was being donated into 46664 foundation by the telephone companies. He then went on to organize the biggest concert ever staged in South Africa, appearing on stage with Beyoncé, Bono, Bob Geldof, Queen, Anastacia, and longtime partner Annie Lennox. The concert was broadcast live to over 1 billion people and Oprah Winfrey devoted a week to this special event. In addition, Stewart is an award winning public speaker winning best public speaking awards 3 times in the last ten years.

Ernie Isley / Marvin Isley / O’Kelly Isley / Ronald Isley / Rudolph Isley / Chris Jasper (previously known as The Isley Brothers)
The Isley Brothers started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr, Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. first formed in the early ’50s, the Isley Brothers have enjoyed one of the longest, most influential and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music. Over the course of more than a half-century of performing, the group’s distinguished history spans not only two generations of Isley siblings, but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music’s transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering fun.

The Isley Brothers have had over 15 #1 singles in the United States Billboard charts, sixteen of their albums charted in the Top 40 and 13 albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA.

After moving from Cincinnati, Ohio to the New York City area in the late 1950’s, the group first came to national prominence in 1959 with their fourth single “Shout,” written by the three brothers. Initially a modest charted single, the song eventually sold over a million copies. Afterwards the group recorded for a variety of labels, including the Top 20 single, “Twist and Shout” and the Motown single “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” before recording and issuing the Grammy Award-winning hit, “It’s Your Thing” in 1969 on their own label, T-Neck Records.

Influenced by gospel and doo-wop music, the group began experimenting with different musical styles incorporating elements of rock and funk as well as pop balladry. Younger brothers Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and Rudolph’s brother-in-law, Chris Jasper, joined the group in 1973. The Isleys scored a massive hit with their rock-funk fusion cover of their own earlier single “Who’s That Lady” retitled “That Lady, Pt. 1.” The album “3 + 3” also proved highly successful, as did 1975’s “The Heat Is On” also spawned the smash “Fight the Power, Pt. 1” For the next decade, they recorded top-selling albums, including “Between The Sheets” and had several hit singles. Towards the end of the decade they frequently topped the R & B charts with singles like “The Pride,” “Take Me To The Next Phase, Pt.,” “I Wanna Be With You, Pt. 1” and “Don’t Say Goodnight.”

Isley/Jasper/Isley was formed as a splinter group of The Isley Brothers in 1984 by Chris Jasper, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley, releasing three albums including “Caravan of Love,” which featured the #1 out-of-the-box title hit, written and sung by Jasper and subsequently covered by English recording group, the Housemartins, who made “Caravan” an international #1 pop hit. The group disbanded in 1987.

After the break-up, Jasper continued as a solo artist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, forming his own independent record label, Gold City Records. Ernie teamed up with Ronald Isley and they have continued to record and tour as the Isley Brothers. They have achieved mainstream success in the intervening decades with spots on the pop and R & B charts including Dreamworks first #1 record, “Body Kiss.” They most recently collaborated with Carlos Santana on 2017’s “Power of Peace” and are currently on a nationwide tour celebrating the Isley Brothers 60th Anniversary.

Ronald became a solo artist while keeping the Isley Brothers’ name and continued to record platinum albums. Ernie and Marvin later reunited with their brother Ronald until Marvin became ill. Marvin passed away in 2010. Ronald and Ernie are currently on a nationwide tour celebrating “Shout’s” 60th Anniversary!

The Isley Brothers, including Chris Jasper, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Two of the Isley Brothers’ songs have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Their music has been sampled widely and featured in a number of hip-hop’s most important songs, including those by Notorius B.I.G., Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog, Mac Miller, Ludacris, etc.

O’Kelly Isley Jr. died from a heart attack in1986. Rudolph Isley retired in 1986 and went into ministry with his wife Elaine.

Steve Miller
Steve Miller has been an enlivening presence on the American music scene for more than half a century. Miller crafted a brand of pure pop that was smart, polished, exciting, irresistible and that dominated radio in a way that few artists have ever managed. Hit followed hit in what seemed like an endless flow: “The Joker,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock’n Me,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Living in the USA” and “Abracadabra” among some of his stand out hits. Running through Miller’s distinctive catalog is a combination of virtuosity and song craft. In the course of his long, full career, Miller has sold tens of millions of records and with each listen the beauty and immediacy of his work, whether at its most playful or most serious, is palpable.

Key songs in the Miller catalog include “Abracadabra,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Living in the USA,” “Take the Money and Run” and “The Joker.”

Steve Miller Band announces a 40-city tour of the USA starting in June.

Chad Hugo / Pharrell Williams (previously known as The Neptunes)
Chad Hugo a native of Virginia Beach is a Grammy Award winning producer and multi-instrumentalist. Best known as half of the songwriting-production duo The Neptunes with Pharrell Williams, and member of the genre breaking hip-hop/funk-rock band N.E.R.D. For nearly 30 years, Chad has quietly and profoundly influenced the shape of hip-hop as a genre of music.

His most recent work, Hugo co-produced nine songs on Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods album that debuted at number one in the US. Hugo recently wrapped up a world tour with N.E.R.D and their platinum hit “Lemon,” featuring Rhianna. Also in 2018, Splice tapped the Virginian for his first ever sample pack of sounds. Featuring a library of high quality signature samples and loops from Chad’s expansive catalog of chart topping songs. He is currently in the studio working on solo material and collaborations with Pharrell, SG Lewis and others.

Pharrell Williams, visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, has been a creative force in the music industry and beyond for more than two decades. From his beginnings as a teenage prodigy and multi-instrumentalist in Virginia Beach back in the early ’90s, through enough hits to earn him Billboard’s Producer of the Decade in 2010, to his current status as multi-media superstar, Williams has never stopped creating.

Starting his producing career as one half of The Neptunes with longtime production partner Chad Hugo, Williams has helped create classics such as Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” JAY-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me),” Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U,” and Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You.” Over four albums, Williams and Hugo, along with Shae Haley, created an unpredictable hybrid as part of the Virginia Beach alt-rock/hip-hop group N.E.R.D., which reunited for 2017’s No One Ever Really Dies. The album debuted with the wildly successful single, “Lemon,” featuring Rihanna, and includes world-class artists such as Kendrick Lamar, André 3000, M.I.A., Future, Wale, Gucci Mane, and Ed Sheeran.

The music industry has honored Williams with 13 Grammy Awards, including 2004’s, 2014’s and 2019’s Producer of the Year, and ASCAP’s prestigious Golden Note Award in 2012. He received a 2017 Academy Award nomination as one of the producers for Best Picture-nominated Hidden Figures, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for co-scoring the film. In 2014, his original song “Happy,” featured in the animated film Despicable Me 2, also received an Academy Award nomination. “Happy” remained atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten consecutive weeks, peaking at No. 1 on iTunes in 103 markets worldwide, and was the lead single from his 2014 solo album, G I R L.

In April 2019, Pharrell launched the first ever Something in the Water, a multi-day music festival and cultural experience on the beach in his hometown of Virginia Beach. The festival’s mission was to unite the community and celebrate the diversity and magic of Virginia Beach. It was an opportunity to bring the best of what Pharrell has encountered around the world back to his hometown. The weekend celebrated opportunity and the chance to empower everyone from the youth to the small business owners. Some of the world’s biggest musicians, personalities, scholars, students, artists, activists and athletes converged on Virginia Beach to activate and amplify, collaborate and co-author, shift and shape the future.

Most recently, Williams and Hugo co-wrote and co-produced the original song, “Letter to My Godfather,” for Netflix’s The Black Godfather about the legendary music executive, Clarence Avant. Williams also produced five songs on the soundtrack for Disney’s 2019 remake of The Lion King including, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Mbube.”

Rick Nowels
A prolific songwriter since the age of 13, Grammy winner Rick Nowels has co-written over 60 Top 20 singles worldwide, Belinda Carlilse’s No. 1 global hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Circle in the Sand” among the most notable. His breakthrough came when Stevie Nicks heard his songs and teamed with him in writing “Rooms on Fire” and other songs. His numerous other credits include the #1 hit “The Power of Goodbye” on Madonna’s Grammy Award-winning Album of the Year “Ray of Light”.

Nowels received an Ivor Novello award for “White Flag” with Dido. He co-wrote the ASCAP Song of the Year “Game of Love” for Santana featuring Michelle Branch, “Green Light” for John Legend/ André 3000, “You Get What You Give” for the New Radicals, “Standing Still” for Jewel, “Fallin’ for You” with Colbie Caillat, “I Follow Rivers” for Lykke Li, “Loud Places” for Jamie xx and “Lost in your Light” for Dua Lipa/Miguel. Rick has also written with Lana Del Rey for all six of her studio albums. Their hits include “Summertime Sadness,” “Young and Beautiful,” “West Coast,” “High by the Beach,” “Love,” and “Lust for Life”. Other collaborations include Adele, Sia, Nelly Furtado, Tom Odell, Alessia Cara. Key songs in the Nowels catalog include “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” “White Flag,” “Summertime Sadness,” “You Get What You Give” and “The Power Of Goodbye.”

William “Mickey” Stevenson
William “Mickey” Stevenson joined Motown in 1959 as its very first Head of A&R, responsible for building its roster of songwriters, musicians, and artists, writing hit songs, and producing its superstar roster. Notably, Stevenson is responsible for helping develop Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, and Martha Reeves. He was one of the principal architects of the “Motown Sound,” having personally assembled the “Funk Brothers,” Motown’s famous house band for most of the label’s timeless 1960’s hits. Stevenson also discovered many of Motown’s legendary songwriters, including Ron Miller, George Ivy “Jo” Hunter, Norman Whitfield, and Frederick “Shorty” Long.

Described by Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr as “the best A&R man who leads the list of [Motown’s] unsung heroes” and by Smokey Robinson as “never having received his props,” Stevenson was also a prolific songwriter and producer during Motown’s golden era.

Among his biggest songwriting successes are Martha & the Vandella’s “Dancing in the Street” (co-written by Hunter and Gaye), Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston’s “It Takes Two” (co-written by Sylvia Moy), The Marvelettes’ “Beechwood 4-5789” (co-written by Gaye and George Gordy), Marvin Gaye’s “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” (co-written by Gaye and Gordy), Marvin Gaye’s “Pride and Joy” (co-written by Gaye), The Four Tops’ “Ask the Lonely” (co-written by Hunter), The Contours’ “Can You Jerk Like Me” (co-written by Hunter), and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ “Devil With the Blue Dress On” (co-written by Frederick “Shorty” Long).

Stevenson was also a highly successful producer, having produced Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” (co-produced by William Weatherspoon), Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (co-produced by Henry “Hank” Cosby), and countless other hits.

After leaving Motown, Stevenson was appointed head of Venture Records in 1969, a subsidiary of MGM, and founded Peoples Records. He later shifted gears to follow his passion, writing and producing a series of theatrical musicals including Swann, Showgirls, Wings and Things, The Gospel Truth, TKO, Chocolate City, and Sang, Sista, Sang.

In 2015, Stevenson released his autobiography entitled “The A&R Man”. Currently, he is collaborating with Brian Holland, Smokey Robinson, and Deitrick Haddon to produce “Azusa Revival,” a musical based upon the origins of the Pentecostal movement.

About The Songwriters Hall of Fame:
The Songwriters Hall of Fame celebrates and honors the contributions of songwriters of all genres of music, educates the public with regard to their achievements and produces a spectrum of professional programs devoted to the development of new songwriting talent through songwriting craft forums, scholarships, digital initiatives and Master Sessions on both coasts. Educational activities are held at The GRAMMY Museum, which hosts the permanent Songwriters Hall of Fame Gallery, and at the University of Southern California/Thornton School of Music, with additional events and programs at Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business, the University of North Carolina and NYC’s Stuyvesant High School. Out of the tens of thousands of songwriters of our era, there are approximately 450 inductees who make up the impressive roster enshrined in the Hall of Fame. A songwriter with a notable catalog of songs qualifies for induction 20 years after the first significant commercial release of a song. The list of inductees include Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier & Brian Holland, Smokey Robinson, Paul Williams, Hal David & Burt Bacharach, Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly, Bob Dylan, Isaac Hayes & David Porter, Carole King, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Lionel Richie, Carole Bayer Sager, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, Don Schlitz, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins, Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Webb, Van Morrison, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Diane Warren, Stevie Wonder, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, Mac Davis, Leonard Cohen, Ray Davies, Merle Haggard, Cyndi Lauper, Desmond Child, Mick Jones & Lou Gramm, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards, Bill Withers, Jay Z, Tom Petty, Toby Keith, Max Martin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Berry Gordy, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Robert Lamm & James Pankow, Bill Anderson, Steve Dorff, Jermaine Dupri, Alan Jackson, Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, Allee Willis, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Missy Elliott, John Prine, Dallas Austin, Tom T. Hall and Jack Tempchin, among many others.

Full biographies and a complete list of inductees are available on the Songwriters Hall of Fame website at https://www.songhall.org. Joining online is quick and easy: https://www.songhall.org/join.

Ticket Information:
Tickets for the Songwriters Hall of Fame event begin at $1,750 each, and are available through Buckley Hall Events, 914-579-1000. Net proceeds from the event will go toward the Songwriters Hall of Fame programs. Songwriters Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 organization. The non-deductible portion of each ticket is $180. Contributions, for which no goods or services are received in exchange, are fully tax-deductible as provided by law.

March 31, UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City has been postponed and rescheduled for 2021, and the show will award the previously announced honorees. Originally set for June 11, 2020, the ceremony will now take place on June 10, 2021. The previously announced honorees are Mariah Carey; Eurythmics co-founders Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart; the Isley Brothers members Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley,  Rudolph Isley and Chris Jasper; Steve Miller; the Neptunes founders Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo; Rick Nowels; and William “Mickey” Stevenson. Paul Williams will receive the Johnny Mercer Award. Universal Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jody Gerson will receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award.

2019 Hollywood Film Awards: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Pharrell Williams, Bong Joon-ho among honorees

October 17, 2019

The Hollywood Film Awards announced today that the critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon, “Avengers: Endgame,” the all-time highest-grossing film in history, will receive the “Hollywood Blockbuster Award,” presented to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso at the 23rd Annual “Hollywood Film Awards.” Additionally, award-winning musical artist and producer Pharrell Williams will be honored at the ceremony with the “Hollywood Song Award” for his song “Letter To My Godfather,” from the Clarence Avant documentary “The Black Godfather.” Actor and comedian Rob Riggle will host the “Hollywood Film Awards,” which will take place on Sunday, November 3, 2019, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA.

ABOUT THE HONOREES
Avengers: Endgame – The epic conclusion to the Infinity Saga that became a critically acclaimed worldwide phenomenon, this dramatic showdown pits the Avengers against the universe’s most powerful villain, Thanos. After devastating events wiped out half the world’s population and fractured their ranks, the remaining heroes struggle to move forward. But they must come together to restore order and harmony in the universe and bring their loved ones back. Featuring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldana and Evangeline Lilly, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” is produced by Kevin Feige and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Trinh Tran, Jon Favreau, James Gunn and Stan Lee are the executive producers, and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay.

Kevin Feige has been the driving creative force behind several billion-dollar franchises and an unprecedented number of blockbuster feature films, all connected to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In his current role as producer and president of Marvel Studios, Feige is a hands-on producer and oversees Marvel Studios’ feature film productions, whose 23 films released have all opened No. 1 at the box office and collectively grossed over $21 billion worldwide. Eight of the MCU films have crossed the $1 billion threshold at the global box office. This May, Marvel Studios’ critically acclaimed “Avengers: Endgame” broke records on its way to becoming the highest grossing worldwide release of all time after 89 days in theaters. To date, Avengers: Endgame has garnered over $2.795 billion at the worldwide box office and was the fastest film in cinematic history to reach $2 billion, which it did within 11 days of release. The film also had the highest opening weekend of all time with over $1.2 million.

A native of Buenos Aires, Victoria Alonso serves as EVP of Production for Marvel Studios and as an executive producer of all Marvel films which have amassed over $20 billion worldwide including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain America,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Thor,” “Black Panther,” and the female-led “Captain Marvel” as well as upcoming storylines around major strong female characters such as “Black Widow.”  Alonso began her career in visual effects & production – from PA to VFX Producer and eventually joining Marvel as EVP of visual effects and post production.  Alonso was named one of People en Español Magazine’s top “Poderosa” Most Influential Hispanic Women in 2019. She was also listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017/2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 and was the 2015 honoree for the Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement. She was the first woman to be presented with the Harold Lloyd Award from the Advanced Imaging Society, and the first woman to receive the Visionary Award at the 15th Annual VES Awards.

Pharrell Williams is a visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. He has been a creative force in the music industry and beyond for more than two decades.

Over the years, Pharrell has been honored with 13 Grammy Awards, including 2004’s, 2014’s and 2019’s Producer of the Year, and ASCAP’s prestigious Golden Note Award in 2012. In 2017, he received an Academy Award nomination for co-producing Best Picture-nominated “Hidden Figures” (2016), as well as a Golden Globe nomination for co-scoring the film. In 2014, his original song “Happy,” featured in “Despicable Me 2,” also received an Academy Award nomination.

In 2008, Pharrell founded From One Hand To AnOTHER (FOHTA), a foundation that provides over 1,700 children across the US with summer camps focused on S.T.E.A.M.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Motivation. Serving predominantly at-risk and low-income elementary, middle and high school students. In the spring of 2020, Pharrell will launch YELLOW, an organization that will focus on “evening the odds” for every student to have access to a first-rate education.

In 2019, Pharrell launched the first ever SOMETHING IN THE WATER, a multi-day music festival and cultural experience on the beach in his hometown of Virginia Beach.  The festival’s mission was to unite the community and celebrate the diversity and magic of Virginia Beach.  It was an opportunity to bring the best of what Pharrell has encountered around the world back to his hometown. The weekend celebrated opportunity and the chance to empower everyone from the youth to the small business owners.

Most recently, Williams released “Letter To My Godfather,” an original song for Netflix’s “Black Godfather” about the legendary music executive, Clarence Avant. Williams also produced five songs on the soundtrack for Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King” including, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Mbube.”

“Avengers: Endgame,” Feige, Alonso and Williams join previously announced honorees: Shia LaBeouf will receive the “Hollywood Breakthrough Screenwriter Award,” Taron Egerton will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Actor Award,” Cynthia Erivo will receive the “Hollywood Breakout Actress Award,” Olivia Wilde will receive the “Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award,” Bong Joon Ho will receive the “Hollywood Filmmaker Award,” Emma Tillinger Koskoff will receive the “Hollywood Producer Award,” James Mangold will receive the “Hollywood Director Award,” Anthony McCarten will receive the “Hollywood Screenwriter Award,” “Toy Story 4” will receive the “Hollywood Animation Award,” Mihai Malaimare Jr. will receive the “Hollywood Cinematography Award” for “Jojo Rabbit,” Randy Newman will receive the “Hollywood Film Composer Award” for “Marriage Story,” Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland will receive the “Hollywood Editor Award” for “Ford v Ferrari,” Pablo Helman will receive the “Hollywood Visual Effects Award” for “The Irishman,” Donald Sylvester, Paul Massey, David Giammarco, & Steven A. Morrow will receive the “Hollywood Sound Award” for “Ford v Ferrari,” Anna Mary Scott Robbins will receive the “Hollywood Costume Design Award” for “Downton Abbey,” Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou, Tapio Salmi, & Barrie Gower will receive the “Hollywood Make-Up & Hair Styling Award” for “Rocketman” and Ra Vincent will receive the “Hollywood Production Design Award” for “Jojo Rabbit.”

Additional honorees for this year’s event will be announced in the coming weeks.

For the latest news, follow the “Hollywood Film Awards” on social and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #HollywoodAwards.

Twitter: @HollywoodAwards
Facebook: Facebook.com/HollywoodAwards
Instagram: @hollywoodawards

About Dick Clark Productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and DCP. DCP also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified and integrated media company with divisions and strategic investments in television, film, live entertainment, digital media and publishing. For additional information, visit www.dickclark.com.

About the Hollywood Film Awards
The Hollywood Film Awards, founded in 1997, were created to celebrate Hollywood and launch the awards season. The recipients of the awards are selected by an Advisory Team for their body of work and/or a film(s) that is to be released during the calendar year. For additional information, visit  www.hollywoodawards.com.

2019 Academy Awards: performers and presenters announced

February 11, 2019

by Carla Hay

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced several entertainers who will be performers and presenters at the 91st Annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. ABC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which will not have a host. As previously reported, comedian/actor Kevin Hart was going to host the show, but he backed out after the show’s producers demanded that he make a public apology for homophobic remarks that he made several years ago. After getting a  firestorm of backlash for the homophobic remarks, Hart later made several public apologies but remained adamant that he would still not host the Oscars this year.

The celebrities who will be on stage at the Oscars this year are several of those whose songs are nominated for Best Original Song. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will perform their duet “Shallow” from their movie remake of “A Star Is Born.” Jennifer Hudson will perform “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch will team up for the duet “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from the Western film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” It has not yet been announced who will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from the Disney musical sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”** It also hasn’t been announced yet if Kendrick Lamar and SZA will take the stage for “All the Stars” from the superhero flick “Black Panther.”

Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic do the music for the “In Memoriam” segment, which spotlights notable people in the film industry who have died in the year since the previous Oscar ceremony.

Meanwhile, the following celebrities have been announced as presenters at the ceremony: Whoopi Goldberg (who has hosted the Oscars twice in the past), Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Tessa Thompson Constance Wu, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson. Goldberg and Bardem are previous Oscar winners.

Other previous Oscar winners taking the stage will be Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney, who won the actor and actress prizes at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Donna Gigliotti (who won an Oscar for Best Picture for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love) and Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss are the producers of the 2019 Academy Awards. This will be the first time that Gigliotti is producing the Oscar ceremony. Weiss has directed several major award shows, including the Oscars and the Tonys. He will direct the Oscar ceremony again in 2019.

**February 18, 2019 UPDATE: Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Los Things Go,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Mary Poppins Returns.” British rock band Queen, whose official biopic is the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” will also perform on the show with lead singer Adam Lambert. It has not been revealed which song(s) Queen will perform at the Oscars.

February 19, 2019 UPDATE: These presenters have been added to the Oscar telecast: Elsie Fisher, Danai Gurira, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, John Mulaney, Tyler Perry, Pharrell Williams, Krysten Ritter, Paul Rudd and Michelle Yeoh.

February 21, 2019 UPDATE: These celebrities will present the Best Picture nominees: José Andrés, Dana Carvey, Queen Latifah, Congressman John Lewis, Diego Luna, Tom Morello, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Amandla Stenberg, Barbra Streisand and Serena Williams.

Ariana Grande’s all-star One Love Manchester concert raises millions for Red Cross; watch concert highlights

June 4, 2017

Ariana Grande was among the star performers at her One Love Manchester concert, which took place on June 4, 2017, at  Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester, England. According to several published reports, the concert raised about $3 million to $12 million through ticket sales and donations. About 50,000 people attended the show, which also included performances by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams, Niall Horan of One Direction , Robbie Williams, Black Eyed Peas, Miley Cyrus, former Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, Little Mix, Marcus Mumford, Imogen Heap, Mac Miller and Take That. Proceeds from the show will go to the Red Cross’ Manchester fund, to benefit victims and their families of the suicide bombing that killed 22 people and injured about 59 people after Grande’s Manchester Arena concert on May 22, 2017. Those who were at Grande’s May 22 concert were eligible for free admission. The show was telecast in the U.S.  on Freeform. ABC showed highlights of the concert. MTV and the Red Cross had live webcasts of the show on their respective websites. BBC had a live telecast of the concert in the U.K.

Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old resident of Manchester, is reported to have been the suicide bomber. Several of his associates have been arrested in relation to the mass murder. The remaining dates of Grande’s tour have been postponed or cancelled until further notice.

Here are some video highlights of the concert:

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