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Michelle Obama to present Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Eunice Kennedy Shriver

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Political Editor, LeNora Millen

ESPN will posthumously honor late Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver with the Authur Ashe Courage Awards at the 25th ESPYS Presented by Capital One on Wednesday in Los Angeles.  The company announced Monday that First Lady Michelle Obama will present the award to Timothy Shriver who is the Chairman of Special Olympics and will accept the award on his mother’s behalf.

“My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was a visionary, but, more importantly, a revolutionary,” Shriver said when the award was announced. “Fueled by love and anger, she used sport to break down the barriers, she used fields of play to bring people together, and she opened the doors of inclusion and equality to the most marginalized on Earth. It is now up to all of us to follow the athletes of Special Olympics who can teach us all to accept and include each other.”

The Special Olympics, is a sporting event founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the late 1960s to help empower people with intellectual disabilities.

Mrs. Obama says in a statement that Eunice Shriver’s work to promote their inclusion and acceptance was inspiring and changed the lives of countless young athletes.

The courage award is given annually to someone who embodies the spirit of its namesake, tennis legend and longtime human rights campaigner Arthur Ashe.

“Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a passionate champion for those with developmental challenges, empowering them to fulfill their highest potential,” Obama said in a statement. “Her work to promote inclusion and acceptance transformed the lives of countless young athletes and inspired us all. I am incredibly honored to present this award to her son to celebrate her life’s work.”

Kennedy Shriver, who died in 2009, was the sister of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy. She founded the Special Olympics in 1968.

Kennedy Shriver’s Special Olympics organization began as Camp Shriver in 1962 and was borne out of her bond with her sister, Rosemary, who was mentally disabled. The Special Olympics now has more than 5.3 million athletes worldwide.

Kennedy Shriver will be the ninth posthumous recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and second consecutive. Zaevion Dobson, a former high school football player who died after saving two girls from gunfire, was the recipient in 2016.

 

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Soul Singer Audra Bryant Releases Single “Scars”

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Audra Bryant is a soul singer, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur! Audra is releasing her single “Scars” today! Her song is available at www.audrabryant.bandcamp.com Born and raised in Detroit, Audra moved to California to bring her dreams of encouraging others through music to life. She will be releasing her EP “Through The Dark” Soon! Audra’s story is one of strength, faith and resilience! We were happy to meet up with Audra in Los Angeles so we can share his inspirational story with you! Enjoy!

Exposure Magazine: Congratulations on the release of your single “Scars” today! When I heard it I knew that I had to interview you so you can tell us about it! Where did the inspiration for this song come from?

Audra Bryant: First of all Thank you!! I am very excited about this release and I am so happy to speak with you!

I would say “Scars” has been a “work in progress” since I was a little over a year old. I was burned at that age and developed excess scar tissue called keloids and between the ages of 2 and 16 I had six keloid removal surgeries that still left me with very prominent scars. Throughout adolescence and into adulthood I felt very unattractive and not very feminine. I wore turtlenecks and crewneck shirts at all times. I avoided mirrors. Honestly, I did not look at myself change clothes in the mirror until I was 25 years old!

I could not understand why and how God could allow something like this to happen to me and still give me the desire to be in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter where I am supposed to look “perfect”. It would take some MAJOR photo shopping to get rid of these scars and so I hid myself for a long time and lost faith in myself and the possibilities of success. I knew however that one day I would write a song about my scars but I thought it would be a sad song about how difficult it can be for me when people see them and ask me questions about them or how hard it was during puberty to see girls wearing v-neck shirts and having cleavage and I didn’t. Over the past few years however, I did a lot of self-reflection and came to the conclusion that in life you are dealt the “hand” you are dealt and whether it is “traditional” or not as “traditional”/uncomfortable or not so much you still deserve to experience joy and that can only come through self-acceptance. I literally forced myself to love myself even though I felt ugly and this song was birthed in a time when I finally got the lesson that I am beautiful “scars and all.” That I don’t have to live my life mad at myself for pulling the hot cup of coffee down off the table as a child or at God for allowing it to happen or my parents or the world or anything! I can fully own my scars and choose to love them as they are a part of my journey and inner stength that by embracing my scars I am also embracing and loving myself and that is most important!

Exposure Magazine: Tell me about your upcoming EP “Through The Dark”?
Audra Bryant: So, this EP is definitely me putting my feelings, my frustrations, my insecurities and my heartbreaks out there! It’s the most personal I have ever been and honestly, I must say that has been refreshingly therapeutic! It has always been my dream to encourage others through my artistry but I had NO idea that that meant I would have to endure so much heartache, self-doubt, stagnation and disappointment in order to create that kind of material. (Lol)

Overall, this EP is an expression of me waking up to self-love, my greatness, owning my femininity and acknowledging the areas in which I need to make better choices. I feel like this project is the equivalent of your best friend pulling you to the side and saying “Hey, what’s up with you? You know you trippin’ right? You are better than this, you are amazing…now own it!!!” Something to that effect! (Lol)

Exposure Magazine: When did you know you had a gift to sing?

Audra Bryant: Hmm I feel like my voice has developed throughout the years. I remember singing Jodeci and TLC songs when I was a kid and I remember liking to sing. I sang my first solo at 8 years old (Man I wish I had video from that! Lol) and I sang in plays throughout high school with Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. I wrote songs for their plays and honestly at that time I thought of myself as more of a songwriter than a singer. I actually won the “Most Improved Singer” certificate my first year in the program. So that should tell you how I started out. Not so strong to say the least! Lol

I don’t feel like I had the “gift” to sing until one day when I was like 22 I came back to Detroit to visit my Mom and we went to a piano bar and I went up to sing. My Mom hadn’t heard me sing in a performance setting in a few years at this point. I sang “Killing Me Softly” and the response I received surprised me! The look on my Mother’s face and the crowd’s face was one of awe and joy. My Mom heard the growth in my voice and she was so very proud! I must mention that she is not the kind of Mother who will rave over her child even if she sounds like wailing cats. Trust me! She had never really encouraged me to sing until that moment! The piano bar wanted me to be a regular as well but I lived in LA at that point.

Exposure Magazine: Has it been difficult to pursue your singing career? What advice would you go to others who want to make it?

Audra Bryant: Heck yeah it has been difficult! VERY difficult for me but not for the same reasons and one might think. My struggle has not been so much about the business of music as it has been my own confidence in my gift. Truly believing I have a gift and that I can and will be successful as an artist. When I moved to LA I developed SERIOUS stage fright! It took me a few years to work through that but I persevered. It also took me a while to develop my “voice” as an artist and by “voice” I mean my truth, my perspective. I was just a singer in my opinion until recently. I feel like I was a good songwriter but I feel like being an artist is different. It’s not just about having a good song or good stage presence (which I believe I had and others would say the same) but do you have a well written song that you connect with? Can you articulate that song well vocally? What is your purpose as an artist and are you approaching the stage with that purpose or intention every time? What message are you trying to convey to the audience? Are you being mindful of them and creating an experience for them that will be long lasting? And lastly, are you being transparent and honest with who you are in your music (song to stage) and expressing yourself confidently?

Those are the barriers I feel that were holding me back so I am happy to say I feel more clear about my purpose and that I am being honest and transparent in my approach. I feel much different than I did before. I feel like I am more of myself and that had always been the missing link for me.

For others who are looking to make it in this industry I say ask yourself the questions above. I feel like the “forever artists” like: Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Sade, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, etc of our time approached music from a holistic perspective…with a clear intention and that is why people still resonate with their work at any age and time. Of course, make sure your Management team, Lawyer, PR, Stylist and all of that are on point but know that no one eats (at least for an extended period of time) unless you do this work that has the potential to make you a “forever artist” and not just a singer (unless of course being a “singer” and not an artist is what you desire is to be).

Exposure Magazine: What can the readers expect from Audra Bryant in the future?

Audra Bryant: Readers can expect some variety from me. I am a singer/songwriter but also an actor/comedian so they will see me on stage in concert or possibly doing standup. I have a few projects brewing now that I can’t speak on so let’s just stay connected. 

Exposure Magazine: Where can we check out your single?

Audra Bryant: https://audrabryant.bandcamp.com

Exposure Magazine: Where can our readers follow you online?

Audra Bryant: IG- @AudraABryant
Twitter: @AudraABryant
FB-Fanpage- https://www.facebook.com/AudraABryant/

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Apple Confirms it has Acquired Music Recognition App Shazam

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Apple confirmed Shazam acquistion on Monday. Image Source: Peter Kotoff/Shutterstock

Apple on Monday confirmed its acquisition of music recognition app Shazam, saying it’s “thrilled” to be gaining one of the consistently most popular apps in its App Store.

This news had previously been reported by TechCrunch, which had one source claiming the sale price was around $400 million—far less than Shazam’s $1 billion valuation at its last round of funding.

“Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users,” the company said in a statement. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement

Shazam is arguably best known for its music recognition technology; tap the “Shazam” button in the app for smartphones and it will usually identify whatever song it hears after just a few seconds. Shazam has become so popular that there’s even a network TV game show called Beat Shazam hosted by Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx. In it, contestants must guess songs faster than Shazam can.

Shazam has also invested in second-screen TV viewing features, image recognition, and augmented reality services and products. Shazam’s talent and technology could be used in several of Apple’s products and initiatives, including Apple Music, Siri, and augmented reality.

Shazam already integrates with Siri. You can ask Siri “what song is this” while a song is playing externally, and, after a long pause, it will provide you with the name and artist, along with a “buy” button for Apple Music/iTunes gussied up with Shazam logo. Currently, the Shazam app allows you to add a song to your Spotify playlist after identifying it, regardless of whether you’re using an Apple or Android phone. We don’t know yet what, if anything, will happen to that feature because of the Apple purchase.

The acquisition is probably about much more than the widely known music recognition feature. Shazam has been developing augmented reality features that allow brands to serve up customized ads and transaction opportunities to users who use the app on visual or aural cues around them. Apple’s Tim Cook has made it abundantly clear that he expects augmented reality to be one of Apple’s biggest areas of growth and investment. Much of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X’s hardware and software is built with AR specifically in mind, and Apple is even rumored to be working on a pair of AR goggles, though it will likely be a while before we see those in the market, if we do at all.

Apple generally does not spell out the details of how it plans to use acquisitions, but there are a number of areas where Shazam’s current business overlaps with that of Apple’s, making for an interesting range of possibilities for where and how the two will work together.

Shazam’s core business is in music recognition: people use its app to capture a clip of music that is playing, and then it matches that against its large database to tell you what you are listening to, a business that has brought the company over 1 billion downloads of its app to date.

Over the years Shazam has augmented this with a number of other services: it sends users through to other sites to download and listen to the music at their leisure; it provides more information to users about the music and the artists behind it; it keeps charts of popular music based on the clips that it hears and that people want to identify. It’s also branched out into more marketing services based on visual recognition — essentially augmented reality plays where users can capture snaps of images that lead them to more content from a brand or another organization.

Through all of this, Shazam has developed some interesting partnerships, specifically with Apple and Spotify (who together get around 1 million referrals each month via Shazam), and Snapchat, which currently has an integration with Shazam where Snapchat users can “recognize music, engage with Shazam content, and send their music and artist discoveries as Snaps to their friends.” It is no surprise that these are also the three names that we heard were all approached and discussed an acquisition of the startup.

Shazam provided the following statement to TechCrunch on the acquisition.

“We are excited to announce that Shazam has entered into an agreement to become part of Apple. Shazam is one of the highest rated apps in the world and loved by hundreds of millions of users and we can’t imagine a better home for Shazam to enable us to continue innovating and delivering magic for our users.”

Notably, Shazam had a post-money valuation in its last round of over $1 billion — a far cry from the roughly $400 million that is being paid by Apple. The reason for this, one source says, is that for all of Shazam’s popularity and move into revenue-generating areas like marketing, the company never really found a solid business model for the long-term future.

“Shazam should have moved into streaming music years ago,” the source said, “which is one reason why the Apple deal makes so much sense.” Spotify, as a point of comparison, has healthy recurring revenues from subscriptions and Apple Music has both subscriptions and downloads — not to mention the wider use of Apple Music and the ecosystem pull it gives Apple for its wider hardware business. That hints at some interesting integrations coming up.

A Backstory on the Acquisition:

Apple and Shazam have had a friendly relationship for years, but the catalyst was that pending bid from Snap. As Recode first reported, the Snapchat parent had entertained buying the company.

It turns out that the conversations with Snap began about six months ago, after advisor Goldman Sachs drummed up interest. Snap was open to acquisition talks because its integration with Shazam’s music recognition technology had been going well.

Snap has had a volatile time on the stock market since it went public in March, and so Shazam was getting mixed messages about how much the social media platform would be willing to pay.

Shazam’s conversations with Apple began the following month, and they became exclusive about two months ago. From what we understand, the Spotify talks were earlier and couldn’t progress because of the price, and likely also the fact that Spotify, which is gearing up for a public listing, has a lot on its plate right now.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, saw an opportunity for Shazam to help build out its music business. Since the days of the iPod, music has long been a priority for the company. Lately, it’s been focused on enhancing its Spotify competitor, Apple Music.

Cue believes that Shazam could help improve its offering and liked that the app had moved beyond music discovery, building out artist pages and other music-related content.

Shazam already integrates with Apple Music, referring many of its 100 million users to play songs on its platform. It also lets users buy the music directly via iTunes.

Techcrunch and Apple Music contributed to this report.

 

LeNora Millen               12-11-17

 

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Port Authority Explosion: Suspect in Custody After ‘Attempted Terrorist Attack’

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Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY update media on explosion in East Village, New York (Photo Credit: BreakingNews.com)

One male suspect has been taken into custody after an explosion earlier Monday morning at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Authorities said a low-tech device was detonated in the New York City subway in an incident that the mayor called an “attempted terrorist attack.” The blast resulted in serious injuries to the suspect and minor injuries to at least three others, according to reports at a morning news conference.

The suspect, who was identified as Akayed Ullah, reportedly sustained burns and lacerations to his hands and abdomen. Police said the suspect Ullah was taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment and then taken into custody.

Three other people also suffered minor injuries caused by being in the vicinity of the explosion, including ringing in the ears and headaches, police said.

The blast was reported in Midtown Manhattan in the area of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, at 42nd St. and 8th Ave., occurring in an underground passageway at the Port Authority subway station, at 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues, authorities said.

The suspect was reportedly walking eastbound in the passageway at the time, during what would have been peak morning commute hours.

“When we hear of an attack in the subways, it’s incredibly unsettling,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “And let’s also be clear, this was an attempted terrorist attack. Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) described the bomb as “an effectively low-tech device” and said he was grateful the only injuries were minor.

“The first news this morning was obviously very frightening and disturbing,” Cuomo said. “When you hear about a bomb in the subway station, it is in many ways one of our worst nightmares. The reality turns out to be better than the initial expectation and fear.”

The NYPD is investigating the explosion as a possible terrorism incident, according to law enforcement officials.

The suspect was armed with a homemade explosive device described by authorities as a pipe bomb of some kind. Investigators are trying to determine if the device may have detonated prematurely, or partially, when it exploded inside a subway station at 8th Avenue and 42nd street, officials said. The suspect, who was injured in the explosion but was expected to survive, was described as an immigrant from Bangladesh, officials said.

The explosion Monday came just weeks after a man driving a truck plowed through pedestrians and bicyclists on a path along the west side of Manhattan, killing eight people and wounding a dozen others. That driver, who survived, was taken into custody and told authorities that he carried out the attack in the name of the Islamic State.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal, which bills itself as the world’s busiest bus terminal, is not far from Times Square. The incident occurred in the subway, a police spokesman said.

Details on how the suspect was apprehended were not immediately available, but the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, a union representing Port Authority police officers, said on Twitter that the department’s officers took down the suspect at gunpoint.

According to the police, three subway lines — the A, C and E — were evacuated as a result of the blast. All subway trains were bypassing the Port Authority and Times Square stations, officials said.

President Trump was briefed on the incident Monday, according to the White House, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) was briefed as well, his office reported.

As of 8:35 am local time the NYPD reported there were no injuries to anyone but the suspect. A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed to that one male suspect was in custody, but could not provide any details about his injuries. A police official told the Associated Press that the suspect had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off.

The explosion occurred at approximately 7:25 am. The Port Authority building was evacuated and several subway lines were bypassing the neighboring Times Square and Port Authority subway stations.

A small pipe bomb went off near the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Monday, and the suspect was immediately taken into custody, police sources said.

The blast happened in an underground subway passage just 200 feet from the terminal at West 42nd St. and Eighth Ave., the sources said.

Port Authority cops immediately arrested the suspect, who was injured in the explosion. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital and is expected to survive, sources said.

Four people in total were wounded at the scene, the FDNY confirmed, all of whom have non-life-threatening injuries.

This photo confirmed by CBS News shows a suspect after his explosive device detonated in an underground passageway near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City Dec. 11, 2017.

Police found an explosive device on the suspect, who had wires attached to his body, one source added. Authorities evacuated the A, C and E trains, but didn’t find any structural damage. “It’s pretty chaotic over there right now,” said a law enforcement source with knowledge of the situation.

Police and firefighters arrive on the street outside of the Port Authority Bus Terminal after an explosion on Monday morning

Gov. Cuomo was photographed with MTA Chair Joe Lhota inside the Times Square subway station being briefed on the situation. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been added to the team investigating the explosion.

The early morning blast sent a wave of panic through the busy area, as commuters scrambled to safety.  Witnesses recalled a stampede of people out of the subway and the sprawling bus terminal, with reports of more people injured in the rush.

 

The explosion was reported at the bus terminal, seen in 2016, on Manhattan’s West Side. (Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News )

As of this report, no group has taken responsibility for the attack, and the NYPD hasn’t confirmed a motive.

The New York City blast comes amid calls from ISIS to attack the Big Apple during the Christmas season.

 

LeNora Millen        12-11-17

 

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