The Last Word: Halle Berry Named Sexiest Black Woman Alive, Fergie Returns With a Glam Campaign, and More Rihanna/CB Drama

What’s the word? Another weekend in sight and we have Michael McLendon killing ten people and himself in a shooting rampage in Alabama, Obama encountering talk that he’s taking on too much too soon as well as signing an order to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research and March Madness going into full […]

What’s the word? Another weekend in sight and we have

Michael McLendon killing ten people and himself in a shooting rampage in

Alabama, Obama encountering talk that he’s taking on too much too soon as well

as signing an order to lift the ban on embryonic stem cell research and March

Madness going into full swing.


Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the

shooting in Alabama. Shout out to the sounding boards for keeping all

possibilities infinite.


Hear ye, he ye. It’s…The Last Word for the week ending March

13, 2009


1. Patti Austin Gives Cowardly Commentary on Chris

Brown/Rihanna Situation


It seems like every celebrity has something to say regarding

the whole Chris Brown/Rihanna soap opera. But jazz singer Patti Austin is doing

more than chiming in as she recently revealed to that she wrote a

song that urges folks to take a deeper look at domestic violence.


The song, called “By the Grace of God,” was not inspired by

Rihanna and Brown but rather a domestic violence victim she saw on Oprah.

Still, Austin did not mince words as she compared the lack of talk to Attorney

General Eric Holder’s labeling of American’s as “cowards” for not speaking

openly about racism.


“Many people went ‘How dare he?’ like he talked about your

momma. I’m going to use that word one more time and people can take it however

they’d like to: We’re cowards on many levels when it comes to addressing

violence,” said Austin, who is working with the National Coalition Against

Domestic Violence to bring more awareness towards the issue. “Anybody who hits

anybody to bring their point home is already a coward,” she said.


Austin believes the issue of domestic violence will get

worse despite it being in the current spotlight because of Brown and Rihanna.


“Whatever’s going on with Rihanna and Chris Brown is endemic

of a much larger problem that is only going to get worse as the economy

declines,” she added as she weighed in on TMZ’s posting of the infamous photo

of a battered and bruised Rihanna shortly after the alleged incident. “None of

us will ever really know what happened, and I doubt either of them really knows

what happened, because when you’re in a painting you can’t see it. Well, we got

a chance to see the painting.”


Now that Rihanna and Chris have reportedly gotten back

together and they’re back in the studio recording now, will it take another

incident to truly fix what is wrong with the “painting”? Just wondering.


2. Sheila E. Sets Her Sights on a Glamorous Country Life


Sheila E. may have sung about the glamorous life back in the

day, but the songstress is now forging a new path for herself with a foray into

country music. reports that Sheila, who emerged as the winner of

CMT’s Gone Country reality show last Sunday (March 8), is expanding her 15

minutes in the country spotlight after singing her song, “Glorious Train.” The

singer is currently working on her forthcoming country music album.


“I want to take an advantage of this opportunity and I would

love to do a country record,” said Sheila, who mentioned Dolly Parton, Faith

Hill and Taylor Swift as her favorite country artists.


As for the sound of her album, the vocalist stated the

project would be influenced by her love of contemporary gospel and her

background in pop music.


“I already contacted all of the writers who appeared on the

show and I’m going back to Nashville to do a writing session at the end of

March to come up with material.”


Needless to say, it may take fans a minute to adjust to

Sheila’s new musical direction. So what did her mentor, Prince, make of his

protégés switch from pop and R&B to country?


“He asked me why in the heck would I do this show,” Sheila

told People, as she cited the chance to

work with famed Nashville songwriters as the reason behind doing Gone Country.

“So he said, ‘Okay, well, mama knows best!’”


I can’t hate on artistic growth. Maybe Prince can do a

country duet with Sheila if things are successful. Now that would be

interesting to hear.


3. American Idol’s

Mandisa Gets Personal With Weight Loss


American Idol star

Mandisa is looking a little thinner these days, as she has shed more than 75



And while the weight loss is attributed to a new diet full

of salads, lean meats and fiber, it goes much deeper for Mandisa, who revealed

that her weight issues stemmed from being sexually molested and raped at the

age of 16.


“A lot of girls turn to men to fill that void and some turn

to drugs,” the 32-year-old singer shared with People. “I turned to food as my drug of choice.”


The choice to use food to cope with her trauma resulted in

more stress as Mandisa encountered health problems and ridicule. The final

straw came via a visit to Mt. Rushmore last summer. It was there that the

vocalist encountered shortness of breath that prevented her from making it to the



As a result, Mandisa set a deadline of March 24 to lose 100

pounds. The 24th is the date her new album, Freedom, arrives in stores.


“I thought I couldn’t get up and sing about freedom when I

had been chained for so long,” said the singer, who engages in cardio workouts

five days a week. “Being able to fit into clothes I couldn’t before is great.

To be able to walk into a room and not feel self-conscious, I don’t ever

remember feeling this way.”


The slimmer Mandisa is a far cry from the days where she was

denied health insurance because of her weight. Nowadays it’s all about taking

care of herself.


But don’t expect Mandisa to sacrifice her curves. The singer

is quick to say that she is fine with a slimmer yet voluptuous version of

herself.  “I don’t need to look

like the models on the magazine covers in order to be beautiful.”


Case closed.


4. Fergie Goes Viva Glam for HIV/AIDS Awareness


Although domestic violence is the current hot topic,

HIV/AIDS is still a problem that needs addressing. And Fergie is more than

willing to do her part as she begins a new partnership with MAC cosmetics for

the company’s Viva Glam campaign.


According to the singer, the charity campaign will include

her creating her own brand of lipstick as a unique way of raising awareness for

the condition young people who may be at risk.


“I think it’s important to realize that half of all new HIV

infections each year are in men and women 25 and younger…,” Fergie told the LA


. “I have friends that are proud of

being careless, that haven’t been infected or who have been and aren’t bothered

by it. I want to educate people.”


Fergie had hands on experience with creating the Viva Glam

IV lipstick as she admitted to going through ten shades of the stuff before

deciding on a soft pink-tinged rose color that would work for a variety of skin

tones. In addition to Viva Glam VI, the Grammy-nominated vocalist went a step

further for the campaign by renaming and remixing her hit song “Glamorous”

under a new name “Viva Glamorous.”


“It’s a new house dance remix with new raps and new vocals

and harmonies,” added Fergie, who will promote the lipstick and HIV/AIDS

awareness in a series of magazine ads.


A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the new lipstick

will go to HIV/AIDS education. MAC and Fergie’s Viva Glam IV lipstick is

scheduled to hit stores next week.


5. Tyrese Trades Singing Career to Make Big Movie Moves


Those looking for new music from Tyrese Gibson will have to

wait a little longer as it looks like the actor/singer/rapper is trading his

microphone to see what can happens by spending quality time on the big screen.


According to WENN, Gibson made a full switch to acting after

talking to fellow artist turned actor Will Smith.


“I had one of the heaviest and deepest conversations with

Will Smith and he said to me, ‘Tyrese, you are 29 years old, and I just turned

40… If you take this acting thing serious for the next three years it’s gonna

change your life forever,’” he said. “So I shut down everything on the music

side and I lost about forty six pounds training with Will Smith and his trainer

Darrel Forster, and it’s just pure film focus now man.”


Will’s advice apparently did more than facilitating Tyrese’s

turnaround. It seems as though the former corner, who will soon return to

fighting Decepticons on this summer’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,

picked up a newfound appreciation for acting as he is focused on taking

advantage of potential opportunities to hone his craft and grow.


“I can’t take the situation for granted anymore, and keep

doing movies and music and music and movies… going back and forth,” he added.

“So I just cleared out everything that’s got to do with music. I’ll totally

focus on acting and see how far this takes me.”


All of this reminds me of what my teachers kept telling my

mom in school. “If he just applies himself, there’s no telling how far he can

go.” Here’s to you Black Ty for waking up old memories and making an effort to

master the art of acting.


In Other Words…


*Although Chris Rock is working hard on his upcoming feature

Death At A Funeral, his brother Tony is

working on dealing with his recent arrest for DUI. TMZ reports younger Rock was

charged with driving under the influence and driving with a .08 blood alcohol

level or higher.


Shortly after his arrest, Rock told the web site that he had

been drinking Patron and putting the pedal to the metal on the 101 Freeway. In

addition, Tony made things worse for himself by mocking his arrest and saying

he would skip the alcohol education course. If convicted, he could be sentenced

to six months in jail.


Note to Tony: You have two choices if this situation doesn’t

get any better. Give up the a** or take the class. ‘Nuff said.


* With a successful stint in pro-wrestling and an equally

successful career as an actor, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is living a good life.

But this may not have been the case had the entertainer chosen a life of crime

over doing better.


Media sources report that Johnson was arrested numerous

times for fighting and theft, which resulted in frequent encounters with

authorities while growing up in Hawaii. Fortunately, he turned over a new after

leaf his mother bailed him out of jail when he was 17. According to Johnson,

his troubles with the law didn’t help his parents, who were struggling with

financial problems.


“My parents were dealing with evictions and repossessions

and electricity getting shut off, and I just realized I had to get it together,”

the entertainer said.


Shout out to Dwayne for getting it together and making sure

the smackdown is laid only onscreen.


* Ladies and gentlemen, Halle Berry has scored the top spot

on another list. The Oscar winner was named the Sexiest Black Woman Alive last

week by TV One Access. Tyra Banks, Alicia Keys and Jada Pinkett Smith as well

as Rihanna, Iman, Janet Jackson, Joy Bryant, Gabrielle Union and Kerry



Now don’t get me wrong. I love me some Halle, but she can’t

hold the top spot on every publication or website forever. No. 1 has to go to

somebody else eventually. So who would you pick to pick up the mantle of

sexiest woman, actress, entertainer, etc. etc. I can think of a few, but I want

to hear from you. Who can replace Halle Berry?**To get the latest AllHipHop Alternatives Features, follow us on Twitter @**