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    Woke up early, 2am-early, to go to work and get the latest on the Grammys. As I was getting dressed, had E!News Red Carpet on, and heard that Chris Brown had apparently been taken in for questioning, and that neither he nor girlfriend Rihanna would be at the ceremony. Word is he either got into a fight with someone else, or he got into a fight with Rihanna…Woaaah…Another Woaaah! moment was MIA almost ready to pop out her baby, performing alongside Jay Z, Kanye West and T.I. Really, she was literally ready to give birth, even telling Giuliana Rancic that she had someone on standby if she did go into labour. Then again, as a colleague said to me, if she had the chance to perform at the Grammys she wouldn’t let being pregnant interfere in that either. And she was performing with Jay Z et al!

    Otherwise, a bittersweet moment for the South African artists. Soweto Gospel Choir was up for Best Contemporary World Music Album, but lost out on that nod. It would have been their 3rd win in a row, following the last two year’s fantastic showing…but good on Ladysmith Black Mambazo – 3rd win, amid notching up 13 nods over the years!

    I am an incredibly happy citizen of the world right now – as most of the citizens of the world are!

    Watching Barack Obama being inaugurated was an absolute treat. As too was the special concert that was organised on Sunday. Seeing U2 perform Pride (In the Name of Love) in front of the Lincoln Memorial – the very spot where Martin Luther King Junior uttered those words that would reverberate through history – was an emotional moment. It truly brought a tear to my eye. And Bono brought home the simple message that “it’s not just an American dream, it’s an African dream…an Israeli dream…a Palestinian dream.” Some may differ in their views, but it was a powerful statement.

    I’ve been watching a few things that have left me sniffling a little – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also had me wiping away at my eyes. As with most good movies, it’s based on a good story, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know it tells the story of Benjamin Button (played by Brad “Gorgeous” Pitt) who is basically born as an old man in a baby’s body. It’s quite surreal and requires a suspended disbelief to truly enjoy.

    It’s directed by David Fincher – whom I met in Cannes two years ago when he premiered Zodiac – and was the man behind the spine-chilling thriller ‘Se7en’. I won’t give it away, but it’s a love story and a life story too. And ten days before I get older with another year, I found its theme of aging and youth to be poignant.

    Another great film is Happy-Go-Lucky, which is also not yet showing at cinemas, but will soon be. British actress Sally Hawkins won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, and she is absolutely delightful to watch. A must-see, feel-good film with substance. Just love those kinds!

      It’s been a concert-filled three days. Top of the list definitely was Wyclef Jean’s “private and exclusive” gig at the Bassline. To say he rocked the party is the understatement of understatements. This man performed for over three hours. I have never been entertained like that before!

      Best bits?

      – The way he cheekily sauntered onto stage, with that naughty smile that he wore throughout his show – together with the lower-than-low-slung jeans.

      – He started the show – as he ended it three and a bit hours later – with a heartfelt song penned in honour of Lucky Dube.

      – The medley he did of Fugees hits – No Woman, No Cry; Fu Gee La, Ready or Not – and the mix he created out of it all.

      – The version of Lil Wayne’s Millionaire he adapted, Wyclef style, complete with his own take on Wayne’s lil voice.

      – During my fave track (next to Hips Don’t Lie and Gone Til November) Dollar Bill he jumped right into the crowd, singing the chorus over and over, before stopping and starting an impromptu

      – When he made us fling all sorts of paraphernalia in the air during Carnival – and then Clef went on to do flick flacks and head stands just after that!

      – Towards the end, when he ran into the crowd (again), and made his way to the sound desk at the top of the stairs. He stood on the beams and hoisted himself up onto the rafters, doing a few pull-ups, before sliding halfway down the banister, positioning himself in the crowd, and asking for his guitar and micstand to be brought to him. He then performed a tender version of Redemption Song, which the crowd lapped up.

      In the hype of it all, I laughed (especially when he did the flick flacks), I cried (during his version of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here), and I shook my hips like I love to do! He promised he’d be back to play a stadium size show. I can guarantee, it’ll be the best couple of hundred bucks anybody ever spends on a concert ticket.

      Meeting him was an experience in itself too. I rarely get star-struck, but Wyclef had my stomach doing flick-flacks. I have long admired his music, since my brother first played Gone Til November for me. And just a few days ago, I was thinking about how much I would like to see him perform. Can tick that one off the list!

      Staying on a hip hop tip. The Roots’ drummer Questlove was in town to play a DJ set at Carfax on Friday night. The line-up was stellar – Tumi and Papercut, 340 ml, Zubz, Kenzhero, Richard the III and so much more. By the time Questlove came on, the place was absolutely packed.

      It was right about then that someone decided to screw things up.

      Apparently, someone in the VIP area above the dancefloor threw teargas or pepper spray onto the crowd. All I know is, I started coughing badly and my throat was stinging. I looked around and realized it wasn’t just me. We all evacuated outside. I was fuming. It had been a stressful week and I had been looking forward to this gig. Now all I wanted to do was go home and forget about it. My friend Daniel tried to convince me otherwise, saying that it would be a waste to let whoever did this rob me of the chance to see Questlove in action.

      Eventually, I decided to stay and ventured back into the club. I enjoyed Questlove’s set from then on. He really surprised me – mixing the likes of Justin Timberlake with Jackson 5, contemporary hip hop with old 60s classics. Of course I went crazy when he played my fave, Seed.

      And lastly, Maroon 5, with “special guests” One Republic at the Coca Cola Dome. I missed Goldfish and the Parlotones because the show started quite early, but I am sure they rocked it in their usual kick-ass style.

      One Republic were nice enough – doing the South-Africa-is-the-best-country-we’ve-played routine with genuine gesture. The set was mostly down tempo and laid back. But when they closed with Apologise they gave me goosebumps. Still such a beautiful song.

      Maroon 5 were good. Not mind-blowing but enjoyable. They played most of their hits within the first few minutes of the show – and I was like, now what?! Adam Levine’s cover of Wicked Game wasn’t too shoddy and it was nice the way he moved into ‘She Will Be Loved’ straight after.

      Ended up meeting most of the band afterwards – and had drinks with James, Matt and Micky. It was nice to just chill with a band and not talk to them only as part of an interview.

        Sure he may not be the hippest cat to visit our shores in recent times, but there’s no denying Lionel Ritchie is legendary. This man has won an Oscar (for Say You, Say Me from White Nights) and Grammy awards (a handful), yet he is as warm and approachable as if he were an old friend. Plus he could show celebs of today – his daughter Nicole included – a thing or two.


        He looks good for a 59-year old, really healthy – like he’s taken care of himself (or had lots of work done!). His charismatic personality also makes him a likeable guy. 94.7 Highveld Stereo’s Rude Awakening held its version of Idols – called “Lionels” – where each member of the team sang Lionel’s hits for him to judge. Lionel played along so well – such a good sport! When Sam Cowen threw off the wig she was wearing to declare how much she loved him, he went along with it – even running around the room so she could chase him. When Bongani Nxumalo sang All Night Long he joined him to make it a duet. And when, at a tree planting ceremony, he made a whole lot of journalists move over to the other side of where we’d been standing, he apologised – genuinely. Not that he even needed to. He’s Lionel Ritchie, he can go where he wants, right?

        Contrast that to some of the younger celebs I’ve had to work with, er, I mean, chase. Ex-Destiny’s-Child-now-solo-singer Kelly Rowland comes to mind. Last week she kept journos waiting at least two hours in the evening for a press conference that still entailed watching an hour-long documentary before she would speak. Knowing what the doccie is about, I understand. Walking into the venue and then going to have some dinner while we all wait, I don’t.

        Hmmm, wonder if Respect is a song only the likes of Aretha’s generation knows the lyrics too…?

          So I just finished reading Christopher Ciccone’s book, Life With My Sister Madonna, which I was reviewing for Jenny Crwys-Williams’ show on 702. I’d read another biography of the singer written by the British music journalist Lucy O’Brien a few months ago, but this was a totally different take on the Material Girl.

          And what a take it is! This is no holds-barred look at what it’s like to be Madonna’s brother. To live in the long shadow cast by her superstardom. I found myself wanting to skip through the parts where he describes how his passion for dance came about or his first gay relationship, and just get to the parts where he talks about Madonna. And I suppose that right there shows just how far that shadow extends. We don’t really care about him – we want to know all about Her!

          Ciccone alternates between loving words about his sister and bitchy remarks – like this one: “I hope that it is Kabbalah’s lesson that she is not the center of the universe.”

          He details the fortune Madonna has made as the highest earning female singer in the world and contrasts it with his meagre living as an artist and interior decorator. He did the decor for many of Madonna’s houses, but she was terrible in paying him. In fact, in one instance, he bought a painting she had requested for about sixty thousand dollars, which he paid for expecting to be re-imbursed. But when he presented her with it, she told him she didn’t like it anymore and wouldn’t pay for it. And apparently Sotheby’s does not accept returns!

          He also talks about her adoption of the little Malawian boy David Banda and the controversy that erupted. I remember rushing off to the airport when Madonna’s people were taking the child from Malawi to London via Joburg. There were about ten people looking after him and trying to shelter him from the paparazzi flashes (and my microphone!). Her brother says it was all done to keep up her image in the public and that she is indeed trying to “one up Angelina Jolie”. It’s that age-old debate of celebrities endorsing charities – who benefits who?

          Speaking of celebs who’re into charity: what an amazing performance by Annie Lennox at the American Music Awards! I am so used to seeing her championing HIV/Aids for the past few years that I almost forgot how beautiful her voice is. She didn’t perform at the recent 46664 concert I covered in London, but only came on stage to compare pictures of a little child who wasn’t on ARV’s with one of another child who is on ARV’s (and posing cheerily with Annie) to urge support for adequate treatment to be in place. Her performance of Why that night was a wonderful reminder.