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‘Oh Happy Day’ singer Edwin Hawkins dead at 74

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:41 AM

Remembering Edwin Hawkins

Edwin Hawkins, the gospel singer best-known for the song “Oh Happy Day,” has died at age 74. 

The New York Times reported that Hawkins’ publicist, Bill Carpenter, said the musician died of pancreatic cancer in Pleasanton, California.

Hawkins brought gospel music to the mainstream when “Oh Happy Day” reached No. 4 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1969. 

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The 18th-century hymn was given an infectious new arrangement and released on “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord,” an album by Northern California State Youth Choir, a group put together by Hawkins and friend Betty Watson, to raise money to travel to Southern California for a gospel competition.

The Modesto Bee reported in a 2008 profile of Hawkins that the song took a life of its own when an underground radio DJ in San Francisco played it.

“It was recorded on a friend’s little two-track machine,” Hawkins told The Modesto Bee. “It was never intended for commercial purposes at all.”

Related: Photos: Notable deaths 2018

The song earned the youth choir -- renamed the Edwin Hawkins Singers -- their first Grammy. It got the award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1970.

“Oh Happy Day” went on to be recorded by artists across multiple genres, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis and Glen Campbell, The Associated Press reported.

The song saw a resurgence decades later when used in the 1993 Whoopi Goldberg comedy “Sister Act 2.”

Hawkins continued to make music after the success of “Oh Happy Day,” winning three more Grammys and getting voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Ivanka Trump defends Serena Williams, slamming her status as unseeded at French Open

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 5:05 PM

Tennis great Serena Williams plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France. 
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Tennis great Serena Williams plays a backhand during a practice session ahead of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Ivanka Trump is defending tennis great Serena Williams and slamming Williams’ lack of seeding at the French Open, calling it a penalty for being pregnant.

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“This is ridiculous,” Trump said on Twitter. “Serena Williams is a formidable athlete (best ever) and loving new mother. No person should ever be penalized professionally for having a child.”

French Open officials announced this week they would not give Williams a seeding based on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings. The 23-time Grand Slam champion and three-time French Open winner is ranked No. 453 by the WTA.

>> Related: Serena Williams back in action, playing first match since giving birth

“This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking,” French Tennis Federation officials aid in a statement to The Associated Press. “Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking.” 

“The WTA should change this rule immediately,” Trump said.

Williams took 14 months off to have her first child and was No. 1 in the rankings at the last Grand Slam she played, the 2017 Australia Open, before taking time off to give birth in what turned out to be a difficult pregnancy, including six weeks of bed rest.

>> Related: Tennis champ Serena Williams reveals she ‘almost died’ after giving birth to first baby

Without seeding at the French Open, Williams could potentially have a tough time in the early rounds, having to face top-ranked players right off the bat, instead of in later rounds. 

Tennis legend, Serena Williams, recently spoke to Extra about returning to the sport. She recently gave birth to her first child, a daughter Alexis Olympia. She welcomed her baby with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Following Olympia's birth, Serena talked publicly about her postpartum emergency. After giving birth, she had life-threatening blood clots. Serena explained, It was a tough pregnancy

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Luke Bryan announces 2018 Farm Tour; stops include Ohio, Florida, Georgia

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 3:15 PM

What You Need To Know: Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan announced the official dates for the 10th annual Farm Tour 2018, with six stops in cities from Ohio to Florida.

This year, the “Sunrise Sunburn Sunset” country superstar will kick off the tour September 27 in Irwin, Ohio. 

“I can’t believe we’ve been doing this 10 years!” Bryan said in a statement on his website. “Our goal was to bring big-city production concerts into these small towns across the U.S. giving those communities the opportunity to attend shows that would never come their way.”

Tickets for the “Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2018” go on sale June 6. Presale ticket sales begin June 1, according to his website

Proceeds from the Farm Tour go toward college scholarships for students from local farming families who are attending local colleges or universities near their own town.

Over 100,000 people have attended the Farm Tour since it kicked off in 2009. Over 50 scholarships have been given out to date, according to Bryan’s announcement

Bryan, a Georgia native, told Billboard that the Farm Tour is a very personal experience for him. 

“My whole existence, and the reason that I’m in country music, was based on me being in an agricultural family,” Bryan told Billboard. “It taught me everything I know about life, and my work ethic. It has shaped who I am. I took all those values, and I brought them to Nashville, and used that hard work to get my career off the ground. I still go back home and talk to my dad, and talk about how the business is going. It’s still very present, and very important in my life.”

Luke Bryan 2018 Farm Tour dates:
  • Sept. 27: Irwin, Ohio – Springfork Farms
  • Sept. 28: Pesotum, Illinois – Atkins Farm
  • Sept. 29: Boone, Iowa – Ziel Farm
  • Oct. 4: Archer, Florida – Whitehurst Cattle Company
  • Oct. 5: North Augusta, South Carolina – Misty Morning Farms
  • Oct. 6: Ringgold, Georgia – Doug Yates Farms

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Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 7:06 PM

Morgan Freeman: What You Need to Know

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets.

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Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Two blocks around the corner from Ground Zero, the blues club Morgan Freeman owns, WHBQ-TV met with Celia Bobo. Bobo and  Morgan Freeman have been friends for two decades, and she said she does not believe the accusations.

"I find it hard to believe. I mean, I have known Morgan for many years," Bobo said. "Morgan has been nothing but a southern gentleman in my presence and the presence of my three daughters," she said

A number of Freeman's accusers said he "repeatedly (behaved) in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two even said they were subjected to unwanted touching, according to the CNN report.

Bobo told WHBQ she believes Morgan Freeman might actually be the victim in this case.

"With the current situation of the sexual harassment, I think it has become easier for a lot of people to say they have been sexually abused or harassed," Bobo said.

She said she believes the women who are accusing Morgan Freeman of misconduct are doing it to “show out.”

"He is a great guy, and I have been around him in many different circumstances."

>> Related: Morgan Freeman apologizes after 8 women accuse him of inappropriate behavior

In a statement released Thursday, Morgan Freeman apologized.

"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would willingly offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Freeman said in the statement. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected -- that was never my intent."

Actor Morgan Freeman attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'London Has Fallen' at Arc Light Cinemas Cinerama Dome on March 1, 2016 in Hollywood, California.(Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

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Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 6:10 PM

Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, arrives for a performance at the Solid Gold Fort Lauderdale strip club on March 9, 2018 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Stephanie Clifford who claims to have had an affair with President Trump has filed a suit against him in an attempt to nullify a nondisclosure deal with Trump attorney Michael Cohen days before Trump's 2016 presidential victory.  
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, arrives for a performance at the Solid Gold Fort Lauderdale strip club on March 9, 2018 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Stephanie Clifford who claims to have had an affair with President Trump has filed a suit against him in an attempt to nullify a nondisclosure deal with Trump attorney Michael Cohen days before Trump's 2016 presidential victory.  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The city of West Hollywood, California, proclaimed May 23 Stormy Daniels Day and honored the adult film star with a key to the city.

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The city said in a Twitter announcement that it’s honoring Daniels for her leadership in the #Resist movement.

“In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power, even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation,” the statement said.

>> Related: Porn star Stormy Daniels sues Trump over hush agreement, says it’s void, reports say

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has been embroiled in a lawsuit she filed against President Donald Trump last year in California state court, claiming a “hush agreement” she signed over their alleged affair a decade ago is null and void.

>> Related: Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

She was paid $130,000 by Trump attorney Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for keeping silent about the alleged affair with Trump. But Daniels’ attorney argued the agreement was no good because Trump never signed it.

Cohen has admitted using his own money to pay off Daniels and, while records have revealed Trump made payments to Cohen, the president has denied any involvement with the porn star.

Daniels has said she wants to tell her story, like other women who have had alleged encounters with the president, but the hush agreement prevents her from legally doing that.

>> Related: Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

What You Need To Know: Rudy Giuliani

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