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Juneteenth 2016 Pageant

It was gathering of splendor and pageantry as girls and boys from area Houston schools showcased their talents in hopes of being crowned Miss and Mr. Juneteenth 2016 at the 8th Annual Mildred Johnson Miss Juneteenth Pageant presented by Friends of Emancipation Park and held at Trinity United Methodist Church.

A total of 18 contestants competed in the following categories (ages 3-5) Little Miss Juneteenth, (ages 6-9) Junior Miss Juneteenth, (ages 12 and up) Miss Juneteenth for the young ladies.  The young men, fell into two categories (ages 3-5) and (ages 5-12) Mr. Juneteenth and Mr. Handsome respectfully.

The pageant promotes community service, academic excellence, as well as encouraging poise and positive self-esteem.

In addition, the contestants were judge on their Juneteenth paper and poster competition. The four-judge panel also scored the contestants on their One-on-One interviews which was conducted immediately after each of them took to the stage to showcase their pageant-walk.

There were 18 contestants in four categories.  Addison DeBoest, Kainaan Jones and Faith White represented the Girls 3-5 Year Olds.  Next was the 6-9 Yearl Olds Girls.  The participants were Olivia Rogers, Symone Jones, Yanni White, Zoriyah Mack, Za’nya Forsey and Zanora Dorsey.  The older girls category 12 and Up participants were Raven Jacson, Kayla Ceasar and Terykah Lewis.

The Boys 5-12 year participants were O’ryan Rogers, Cornelius White, Jakiyea Mack, Jaylon Mack, Lawrence See and LeMarcus Thomas.

A total of five titles were awarded in the Miss Juneteenth 2016 Pageant, where Raven Jackson,12 earned the title of Miss Juneteenth, Addison DeBoest, 6 won Junior Miss Juneteenth and Kainaan Jones, 5 was named Little Miss Juneteenth. O’ryan Roger, 5 was crowned Mr. Juneteenth and Lawrence See, 9 won Mr. Handsome.

The runner-ups, Kayla Ceasar and Terykah Lewis/Miss Juneteenth, Olivia Rogers and Za’nora Dorsey/Junior Miss Juneteenth and Faith White/Little Miss Juneteenth along with Cornelius White/Mr. Juneteenth joined by Jaylon Mack and Jakiyea/Mr. Handsome will joined the title holders in the 43rd Juneteenth Parade and Music Festival.

LeMarcus Thomas, 2015 Mr. Mr. Juneteenth graciously gave his final walk recalling how it has been an honor to have carried a title in recognition of Juneteenth.

“When I won last year, I had a general idea of the significance of Juneteenth.  For instance while all of the Black enslaved people in the nation had been freed, Texas was the last state to get word,” he said.

“That means that Black folks were still in slavery. When word finally arrived in 1865 of June 19th, they rejoiced.  That is why we celebrate this day of freedom still today.”

Thomas went on to say that over the past year he has met many important people.  And that he really enjoyed being in the parade and the bike that he won.  He also said that he enjoyed meeting the Annise Parker, the mayor at the time.

“Mayor Parker told me to ‘keep doing what you are doing and to stay on the right track’.”

Thomas said that his future plans are to enjoy his summer and have fun because he will be entering high school next year.

Mrs. Mildred Johnson had a word for the audience.  She thanked the parents and gave special homage to the grandparents.  “When you trust someone with your children you trust God,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson said that it takes a lot of work to do what they do.  “All of the pretty dresses, costumes, decorations, etc.  I directed this pageant by telephone. I told everybody what to do and want needed to be done. I want to thank Dorris Ellis,  Dorcaus Robinson, the committee, the judges and KijanaWiseman.”

She went on to say she is looking forward to the parade and that Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking an active role in the parade.  Also she informed the crowd that if all goes well that the Juneteenth court could be part of the upcoming Super Bowl LI to take place in Houston.

Sponsor of the 2016 Juneteenth Pageant were Gerald and Anita Smith, This Is It Restaurant, Houston Super Bowl Committee, Ladies of Golf and Priscilla Graham Photography.


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Houston Theater Opens New Lineup For Anniversary

Ensemble Theater conference logo
Ensemble Theater conference logo

Applause was the appropriate reaction in Houston’s Ensemble Theater as it held the Dawn of The Decade 40-year anniversary press conference for the lineup of this year’s performances.

Within the city lies an instrumental one-story building which holds a mission: to preserve African American artistic expression; to enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. Eileen J. Morris, who is the theater’s artistic director, stands by that mission.

“Every time we do art, we are speaking to the community,” Morris said.

“I think that the art that we do and the fact that we are connected so much with our community is what is impactful. That’s one of the traits of the Ensemble Theater, so to speak.”

So much has changed since the theater was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins, who was influenced by the African American Theatre Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Such a movement prompted Hawkins to make a company into what is now known as one of Houston’s go-to places for performing arts. Development Director Kathy L. Kelley, a longtime Houston resident, thinks the theater does make an impact in the Houston community and vice versa.

“The community comes here and they’re embracing and appreciative of what we do and understand what we’re doing and they really support what we do,” Kelley said.

Other than the theatrical arts, the theater will also hold major events such as a gala and a golf tournament to continue spreading the foundation the theater has done. Also discussed by this is Janette L. Cosley, the theater’s executive director.

“And the children who come here for those field trips? I cannot tell you how diverse those audiences are because majority of them come from the Houston Independent school District,” Cosley said.

“They know about African Americans who play sports, they know about African Americans who make music, but they don’t necessarily get to know the actors.”

Public Relations Manager Robert Ross keeps that in mind throughout the conference.

“The community gives us feedback and, as any responsible institution or business, for that matter, you really have to listen to your patron base in order to meet their needs and what their interests are,” Ross said.

Plenty of Time, one of the many plays lined up for the year, will portray the basis of what the Ensemble Theater stands for. Perhaps an appearance by the conference’s guest performer Regina Hearne may be seen at one of the plays. Their season lineup and special events can be found at their website:

Previews of the show run for two days, and the main show runs from May 12 through June 5. May 12 at 7:30 pm is the start of Plenty of Time.

Guest performer Regina Hearne
Guest performer Regina Hearne
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Amber Cloud, Self-Made Musician

Amber Cloud in her studio at S.H.A.P.E. Community Center.
Amber Cloud in her studio at S.H.A.P.E. Community Center.

Developed as a Self-Help for African People through Education, or (S.H.A.P.E.), this particular community center at Live Oak Street in Houston has continued over 47-years-of-existence with hard-working staff members and volunteers. One of the new standouts of this center is Amber Cloud, who realized at a very young age that music was for her.

“I started liking music when I was ten-years-old. I knew that it was something I was passionate about,” Cloud said.

Having trouble with reading and writing at first, the Katy, Texas native broke that habit by learning to read and write music. As she read and wrote music on a day-by-day basis, she fully understood literacy. She would be able to do all she can with her literacy, only to do it more with music.

“I understood music when I read and write it. It took so much out of my time, but I enjoy doing it, and I love making music,” Cloud soundly said.

Cloud, 25, began to invest in recording equipment at 15 years old. Following her high school graduation, she initially attended Houston Community College (HCC) onto the University of Houston (UH), until constant support from Texas Southern University (TSU) convinced her to transfer and remain there until she walks the stage with a bachelor’s in Business Marketing.

“It was the mentors and the relationships at Texas Southern that led me to come and maintain my passion for music and creating it,” Cloud said.

She felt that music will keep people out of trouble. She would fulfill that feeling by making her own studio at S.H.A.P.E on Almeda Road. The Live Oak center is also called SHAPE, but without periods.

Within the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, it provides activities and programs that not only strengthen families, but also the community. Because of this, S.H.A.P.E. would eventually become an award-winning place, which includes an MLK Humanitarian Award. One individual who visits Cloud at S.H.A.P.E. is Najwa Malveaux. Najwa Malveaux, Cloud’s friend, recalls on how they became close eight months ago.

Amber Cloud's music studio
Amber Cloud’s music studio.

“I could tell she is an articulate person. I met her at a coffee shop, and when I spoke to her, she was a real introvert, and we hung out ever since,” Malveaux said.

Her mentor, Laurence Payne, describes Cloud as a person with four P’s: passion, purpose, persistence, and perseverance.

“You have to be able to articulate your vision verbally and in writing. She articulates her vision verbally and in writing,” Payne said.

What Payne has done in the community is not only being a TV host of HCC’s Dialogue Houston, he has provided service to help individuals become successful human beings. He did the same with Amber by instilling intentionality and mindfulness to her.

“I also told her about medi-flect- that is meditation and reflect combined. If you have those two traits and medi-flect, you can do anything,” Payne said.

Angela Cloud, Amber’s mother, knows that her daughter is really trying to make it happen.

“She is a visionary. She has a love for music,” Angela said.

Amber’s mother is very, very proud of her. Her daughter is a go-getter and very focused on her music.

Amber’s ongoing project is her studio, which she plans to not only modify, but also have to create her music and record. Now that she is a musician, Cloud will be made into a successful one, and feels that musicians aren’t born, they are made.

Amber Cloud
Amber Cloud
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Carnival Freedom celebrates military families


Carnival Cruise Line threw out its cupid arrow on Valentine’s Day to more than 800 hundred military families aboard its newly renovated Carnival Freedom while welcoming the charming vessel to its new year-round homeport of Galveston, TX.

Through the partnership with Operation Homefront, Carnival treated the service families to meals, entertainment and overnight accommodations.  In additional Carnival Cruise Lines presented a $100,000 check to Operation Homefront.  The national non-profit organization provides financial support and programs to military families and wounded warriors.

Among the day’s festivities was a special outdoor on-deck performance by musical superstar Martina McBride.  She gave a magnificent performance with her brilliant band and gorgeous back-up singers.

Country superstar Martina McBride entertains military families abroad the Carnival Freedom Cruise Line in Galveston, TX
Country superstar Martina McBride entertains military families abroad the Carnival Freedom Cruise Line in Galveston, TX


McBride performed for over three hours and entertained the crowd with some of her popular songs as well as tunes from her new CD, “Everlasting.”  

She told the audience that she was honored to performed for them. “I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to perform again on a Carnival ship and am thrilled that I was chosen to be part of this wonderful event that honors U.S. service members and their families,” said McBride.

“I’ve played for many audiences in my career, but it will truly be a privilege to salute these incredible families and partner with Carnival to bring an extra special Valentine’s Day.”

Major John Considine, his wife Marily and their two beautiful children were among one of the invited military families. They reside in Fort Hood and Major Considine is an Army Engineer Specialist.  He has recently come off of a Tour of Duty in Afghanistan.

“This is really big what Carnival is doing for us.  We drove down from Fort Hood and are just really happy being here.  The kids are really having a good time too,”  saidMajor Considine.

Major John Considine, his wife Marily children celebrating Valentine’s Day abroad the Carnival Freedom Cruise Line.
Major John Considine, his wife Marily and their children celebrating Valentine’s Day aboard the Carnival Freedom Cruise Line.


The Considines have been married for 14 years.  Marily teaches preschool in Killeen, TX which is less than five miles from Fort Hood.  She is a breast cancer survivor and serves as the face of the Central Texas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen foundation.

Marily is actively involved working with the USO (United Services Organizations).  In 2013, she was awarded Fort Hood’s Spouse of the Year. She was featured on the Today Show in New York for a special Mother’s Day Surprise.  When the Considines arrived back home, they had a complete backyard makeover, including an outdoor kitchen courtesy of the Today Show. 

A special moment for Major Considine was 11 years ago when he returned from duty he was a father.  “I had a beautiful six-month old baby daughter.  It was so special seeing her for the first time. I was so proud,” he said.  For the birth of their second child, he was at home on leave.

Carnival Freedom recently $70 million makeover consists of a new family entertainment programming including Seuss at Sea, as well as the new Camp Ocean kids facilities.

 The latest updates also incorporate a number of bar, dining and entertainment innovations.  The Blue Iguana Cantina and Guy’s Burger Joint were developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri. There are also several poolside bars and a spacious roomy swank bar on the 5th level called the Red Frog Rum Bar that also offers nightly live entertainment.  

Carnival Freedom offers four-to-seven-day cruises that visit beautiful ports throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida.

For more information on contact any travel agent or call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

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Hometown fame composer Jason Moran “Holed Up” in Houston

Selma's movie composer, Jason Moran playing it up on his favorite instrument.
Selma’s movie composer, Jason Moran playing it up on his favorite instrument.

If you have seen the critically acclaimed movie, Selma, then you know that the sound track is equally compelling as the film.  The arranger of the powerful sound track is composer jazz pianist and native Houstonian Jason Moran.  The songs “Bloody Sunday”, “Final Speech” and “Cager Lee” are actually performed by the musical prodigy.

            Growing up, Moran’s parents cultivated his musical and artistic talents by enrolling him into various top-notched musical training programs such as the renowned Yelena Kurinets Suzuki Music School where he received classical piano training and the Houston Symphony Young Artist Competition where he showcased his tuneful melodic talent.  His artistic gifts broaden even farther into the arts from spending time in museums and galleries.

 Now Moran is back in Houston in conjunction with Da Camera of Houston and The Menil Museum where you can see him pay homage to visual artist fellow Texans Robert Rauschenber and his “Holed Up” project.  Rauschenber has had a major influence on Moran’s work.  This event will be held at the Menil Museum on February 5th.

            In the meantime, Moran is schedule to appear and perform at several events around town starting tonight. The schedule of events is listed below: 


Saturday, January 31, 7:00 PM, Eldorado Ballroom: Listening Party with Jason Moran playing and discussing his favorite recordings, co-hosted by Tierney Malone, Homecoming Residency Host Committee member and host of KPFT’s Houston Jazz Spotlight. 2310 Elgin St. Free

Monday, February 2, 9am to Noon Special edition of KPFT’s Houston Jazz Spotlight, featuring an interview with Jason Moran and an extensive selection of his music. Hosted by Tierney Malone. KPFT radio HD-3.

Thursday February 5, 7:00 PM at The Menil Collection:Artists Talk with Jason Moran, Robert Pruitt and Sarah Rothenberg. The creators of “Holed Up” discuss their creative process. Free

Saturday, February 7, 8:00 PM, Cullen Theater, Wortham Center:  Tickets required