Alicia Keys campaigns for HIV education


Shawty Lo arrives at the 21st annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in June 2008. Oxygen Media has pulled the plug on “All My Babies' Mamas,” a reality special about the musician. (The Associated Press)

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:20 p.m.

Alicia Keys says she wants to spark a global conversation about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Grammy Award-winning singer says that when she traveled to Africa and India she felt connected to women with the virus because “they looked like they could be my sister, or they could be my aunt, or they could be my cousin.” Keys is working with the Kaiser Family Foundation for “Empowered,” a campaign launched last month to educate women about HIV and provide grants to community-based projects that will do that.

According to Kaiser, one in four of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are women. Women of color account for about two-thirds of new HIV infections among women.

The campaign includes outreach through public service ads, social media and community programs. It encourages women to learn about HIV and AIDS, talk with family and friends, protect themselves and loved ones, get tested, prevent spreading the disease and stay on treatment.

Rick Ross

A day after Reebok ended its relationship with Rick Ross, the rapper acknowledged that his lyrics on Rocko's song “U.O.E.N.O.” were “offensive.”

In a statement Friday, Ross said being a musician is “a great responsibility” and that his choice of words in the song “does not reflect my true heart.”

In the song, Ross raps about giving a woman the drug MDMA, known as Molly, and having his way with her.

“Put Molly all up in her champagne, she ain't even know it, I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it,” he raps on the track released in January. It gained traction in recent weeks after women's groups and rape victims issued petitions.

“Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world. So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets,” his statement said.

Last Thursday, Reebok said it had terminated its contract with Ross because the rapper wasn't living “up to the values of our brand.” Ross has appeared in a commercial for the Reebok Classic sneakers.

“We are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue or an appropriate level of remorse,” the statement said.

The Miami-based rapper first addressed the song three weeks ago in a radio interview, saying “there was a misunderstanding with the lyric.” A week after that, he tweeted an apology. It was the same day the women's group UltraViolet protested outside one of Reebok's stores in Manhattan.

In his official apology, Ross also says men who listen to his music should “know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it's wrong.”

Apollo Hall of Fame

R&B star Chaka Khan will be inducted into the Apollo Theater's hall of fame.

The theater announced last Thursday that Patti LaBelle and Mary J. Blige will perform in Khan's honor at its June 10 New York gala.

The annual event raises funds for the Apollo's education and community outreach programs.

Khan and Blige received a Grammy Award together in 2008 for “Disrespectful.”

Singer-songwriter Lionel Richie and the late Etta James were inducted last year into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.

Other previous inductees include LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin, to name just a few.

Sarah Jessica Parker will present this year's corporate award to Time Warner Inc.

‘Babies' Mamas'

Oxygen Media has pulled the plug on “All My Babies' Mamas,” a reality special the network was developing about a musician who has fathered 11 children with 10 different mothers.

The network offered no reason for curtailing the project. In a statement, Oxygen said that, “as part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special.”

The one-hour program would have featured Atlanta rap artist Shawty Lo, his children and their mothers. It was expected to air later this year on Oxygen, an NBCUniversal cable network owned by Comcast.

“All My Babies' Mamas” got a hostile public reception after Oxygen announced it late last year. At least one petition calling for Oxygen to shut it down has collected more than 37,000 signatures.

The Parents Television Council called the program's concept “grotesquely irresponsible and exploitive” and pledged to contact advertisers of the show if it reached the air.

Previously, Oxygen denied charges that the show was meant to be “a stereotypical representation of everyday life for any one demographic or cross section of society,” but rather would reveal “the complicated lives of one man, his children's mamas and their army of children.”

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top