Trumpet Award Creator Xernona Clayton and 2014 Trumpet Award Hosts Laz Alonso and Melissa De Sousa on Stage at Awards Ceremony

At the closing ceremony, Trumpet Awards creator Xernona Clayton and 2014 Trumpet Award hosts Laz Alonso and Melissa De Sousa exchange tokens of appreciation for jobs well done.

Xernona Clayton is Chair, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation and Creator and Executive Producer of the Trumpet Awards. I know, that’s a long title but one well deserved. As reported on the Trumpet Awards Foundation’s site, in 1965 Xernona Clayton accepted a position with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is also the first southern African American to have her own television show on WAGA-TV, CBS affiliate in Atlanta. This is a synopsis of her civil rights activism and esteemed career in television. She worked for Turner Broadcasting for almost 30 years. Ms. Clayton has also received several acknowledgements in her own right. One that is dear to my heart is the one in which a street is named in her honor. Being directionally challenged, I am reassured when I see the sign that reads Xernona Clayton Way, because I know where I am in Atlanta or where I want to be.

Laz Alonso and Melissa De Sousa as previously stated co-hosted the 22nd Annual Trumpet Awards. Laz Alonso, a NAACP Image Award Winning Actor, starred in Stomp the Yard, Avator, Fast and Furious and Jumping the Broom. His television credits are Bones, CSI-Miami, the Practice and more. Melissa De Sousa, a NAACP Image Award Nominated Actress, played major roles in The Ron Howard Story, Best Man and Best Man Holiday.

The Trumpet Awards honor African Americans who excel in their chosen field.

The 2014 Trumpet Award Honorees, who all have compelling personal stories to share, are Alfre Woodard, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Bronner Bros., Devon Franklin, The Honorable Kamala Harris, Cheryl McKissack, Deryl McKissack, Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Steve Pemberton, and the Williams Sisters from the Bahamas.

Presenters included Palmer Williams, Roland Martin, and Robby Montgomery. Amber Riley, Carl Thomas, Jaheim, Raheem DeVaugh, SWV and Kurtis Blow are among those who gave outstanding performances.

The 22nd Annual Trumpet Awards ceremony was taped on January 25, 2014 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.  The program will air on TV One this spring.

Photo Courtesy of First Class Inc.

Please see report on Red Carpet arrivals posted below.


Trumpet Award Honoree Alfre Woodard Graces a Star Studded Red Carpet at the 2014 Awards Ceremony in Atlanta


It was a chilly afternoon in Atlanta, the production crew had difficulty rolling out the red carpet because the tape would not stick.  So there we were, the media, in the lobby of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre waiting to be positioned for the arrivals while hoping  the red carpet event would be moved indoors.

We were there to cover the 2014 Trumpet Awards Red Carpet.  The Trumpet Awards, created by Xernona Clayton, honors African Americans who have excelled in their chosen field.  This is  evidenced by the 2014 honorees  who come from public service, business and entertainment industries.

As luck would have it, the sun peeked through the clouds as the red carpet positions were announced. Our hopes for indoor coverage vanished as we made our way to designated spots. Shortly after, the red carpet event began. While waiting for the first arrival, a group of photographers pondered whether Alfre Woodard would brave the cold and walk the red carpet.  She did not disappoint us.  William Packer, producer of the hit movie Ride Along led the procession of notiables. Actress Meagan Good Franklin dressed in a stunning black designer gown was there to support her husband Trumpet Award Honoree DeVon Franklin senior vice president Columbia Tristar Pictures.

Also on the red carpet were Trumpet Award hosts Laz Alonso a NAACP Image Award Winning Actor who starred in Stomp the Yard, Avator, Fast and Furious, Jumping the Broom and Melissa De Sousa a NAACP Image Award Nominated Actress whose credits include The Ron Howard Story, Best Man and Best Man Holiday.  Melissa De Sousa was a trooper.  Dressed in a beautiful, off-white gown, the actress stopped for photos before making her way inside.  Laz Alonzo, who was called for a brief interview, expressed to the press a desire to direct and produce films.

I was delighted to see actor Chris Tucker who also expressed an interest in producing and actress Demetria McKinney from House of Payne who announced the release of a new single. Ms. McKinney is always on my best dressed list. Also on the red carpet were members of Bronner Bros., a Trumpet Award Honoree. They are a beautiful family, but trying to fit everyone in one frame proved to be a challenge for photographers. When asked how she keeps a large family in tow, Ms. Bronner replied “by setting a good example.” Bronner Bros., an Atlanta-based company, manufactures hair care products, sponsors lavish hair shows and publishes Upscale magazine.

Trumpet Award Honorees Cheryl McKissack and Deryl McKissack also stopped by to greet the press.  The sisters own McKissack and McKissack a construction company that lists the Martin Luther King Memorial in its portfolio.  As one can see, all of the honorees have great testimonials to share.  However, Steve Pemberton’s personal story is most inspiring.  The Trumpet Award Honoree rose from being an abused foster child to Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Walgreens. Mr. Pemberton also authored a book to explain to his children why his parents never come to visit.


The Red Carpet Event was a blast in spite of the cool climate. As I made my way to my car, I did so with heart-warming stories, funny tales and great photos to share.

The 2014 Trumpet Awards ceremony was taped on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.  The program will air on TV One this spring. The Trumpet Awards was created by Xernona Clayton Founder, President and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc. and Executive Producer of the Foundation’s Trumpet Awards. Sponsors of the 2014 Trumpet Awards include: The Coca-Cola Company, Cadillac, Wells Fargo, Delta Air Lines, Nordstrom, Newell Rubbermain, Marriott Marquis Atlanta, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, The Home Depot, Southwest Airlines and Georgia Power.


2014 Trumpet Award hosts Laz Alonso and Melissa De Sousa on the red carpet. See video below.


The 2014 Trumpet Awards Honorees are Alfre Woodard, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Bronner Bros., Devon Franklin, The Honorable Kamala Harris, Cheryl McKissack, Deryl McKissack, Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Steve Pemberton, and the Williams Sisters from the Bahamas.



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Kevin Hart Captivates the Audience at The Dreams Protected Tour Sponsored by American Family Insurance

A high school student called my office the other day to inquire about a college application.  I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice when she talked about her goals to earn a degree, work in the fashion industry and travel abroad.  Then she spoke about the discouragement that she received from her family and her enthusiasm waned.

She touched my heart. The day before her call, I attended the Dreams Protected Tour sponsored by American Family Insurance.  One of the topics of discussion at the tour was “dream killers.” The esteemed panel at the event Kevin Hart, Soledad O’Brien, Eunique Jones, Cynthia Butler-McIntyre and Cori Murray had varying thoughts on the subject.  One panelist chose to share her ideas with a small circle of friends.  While another suggested you “fire” people who are not supportive of you and surround yourself with positive people.  Actor/Comedian Kevin Hart kills his haters with kindness. He said a few fellow comedians from his old neighborhood  expressed resentment towards his success.  So Kevin Hart hosted a showcase for local talent in his hometown.  Kevin Hart had support from his family, but host AJ Calloway from Extra,  asked what advice Kevin would give to someone who does not have support.  Look within.

The Dreams Protected Tour was fabulous!  Broadcast journalist/executive producer/philanthropist Soledad O’Brien motivated attendees by sharing her story.  The broadcast journalist dropped out of pre med because she did not want to pursue a career in medicine. Not knowing what she wanted to do, Soledad accepted an entry level position at a TV station.  One of her tasks was removing staples from bulletin boards. She literally worked her way up from behind the scenes to in front of the camera. So when an intern recently informed her that getting coffee was demeaning and that she was not going to do it anymore . . .   Let’s just say it didn’t go well.

Kevin Hart had the audience buckling over in laughter as he shared life lessons in a comedy format. A man recognized the actor/comedian from a movie that had not been released.  As it turns out, the movie was bootlegged weeks before the film premiered in theatres.  Needless to say, the flick was not a box office hit.  As a result Kevin Hart had difficulty marketing his next project.  So Kevin Hart turned to social media.  He built up a following across all platforms, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter etc. and marketed his project himself.  His social media network is now a brand that is accessible by negotiation.

The Dreams Protected tour is scheduled to stop in several cities in the U.S. I hope the young lady who called me the other day is able to attend.  But just in case she is unable to, I sent her a college application, information on possible scholarships and the Dreams Protected journal I received at the seminar.

The Dreams Protected Tour sponsored by American Family Insurance was held on Sunday, November 3, 2013 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA.  The panel included Kevin Hart, Actor/Comedian; Soledad O’Brien, Broadcast journalist/executive producer/philanthropist ; Eunique Jones, accomplished photographer who created the I AM Trayvon Martin and Black History Month campaigns; Cynthia Butler-McIntyre, National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Cori Murray, Entertainment Editor to Essence magazine.  AJ Calloway,  new dad , entrepreneur and correspondent for Extra, hosted the event.  The Dreams Protected Tour sponsored by American Family Insurance is free and open to the general public. For more information go to www.tour.amfam.com.  Protect your dreams!

A. Ragsdale









October 25, 2013 – Two-time GRAMMY award winning artist Melanie Fiona hit the road last week to begin a five city college tour with fellow Roc Nation artists, GRAMMY award winning songwriter/singer Bridget Kelly and chart topping songwriter and crooner Elijah Blake.  The tour, sponsored by EOS products kicked of its first stop in Atlanta at Tongue & Groove on Thursday October 24th. The packed room was filled with Atlanta influencers,
tastemakers, editors and fans. The next stop for the artists will be Ann Arbor,
Michigan on November 6th 2013.  Follow EOS on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram to learn how and where to secure free tickets.

Courtesy of RocNation


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