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2 December 2020

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard - Blog Tour Banner

The Book:

Three Monkeys 
(DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1)
By Len Maynard
  • Publication Date: 22nd July 2020
  • Publisher: Sharpe Books
  • Page Length: 270 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Crime

The Blurb:

1958.

A girl’s body is found in Hertfordshire.

Her eyes and mouth have been sewn shut. Candle wax has been poured into her ears to seal them.

DCI Jack Callum, policeman and dedicated family man, who cut his teeth walking the beat on the violent streets of London, before moving his family away from the city, to a safer, more restful life in the country, leads the investigation into this gruesome crime that shatters the peace of the sleepy English town.

Images of three monkeys are sent to the police to taunt them: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Something more sinister than a mere isolated murder seems to be going on as more victims come to light.

Who is doing this and why?

At the insistence of the first victim’s father, a local dignitary, officers from Scotland Yard are brought in to bring about a speedy conclusion to the case, side-lining Jack’s own investigation.

In a nail-biting climax, one of Jack’s daughters is snatched. Before she can become the next victim, Jack has to go against the orders of his superiors that have constantly hampered his investigation, and risk his own career in an attempted rescue at the killer’s own home.
[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Three Monkeys - Front cover

Three Monkeys: the first DCI Jack Callum Mystery - Excerpt:

Frances Anderton let herself out of the Blainey house and took a deep lungful of the warm, summer air. She walked down the crazy-paved path, through the gate and out into the tree-lined street. It was early, not yet seven. Hopefully, she would be home before breakfast.

She walked briskly along the street, before turning into Glendale Road, an equally leafy thoroughfare. A milkman trundled by, milk bottles rattling in the crates stacked on his float, but apart from him there didn’t seem to be anybody about. She crossed the road and took the small lane that led to Riverdale Avenue, a few streets away from her parents’ house.

She was regretting the argument she’d had with her father the previous evening that led to her being sent away by her mother to stay with family friends. It was to keep her out of the way of her father’s unpredictable temper – not that he’d ever hit her, but last night he had come very close to it. All because of that stupid dress, her desire to wear it, and his unreasonable demand that she should not.

It wasn’t as if she was a child. She was fourteen, for heaven’s sake. She should be allowed to dress how she liked, not be confined to the gymslips and ankle socks which, if her father had his way, would be all she was ever allowed to wear. She wouldn’t, couldn’t, stay his precious little girl forever. He should let her grow up. Her older sister hadn’t had these problems, she was sure. Fiona was wearing what she chose, going out to parties, mixing with boys, and father didn’t make her life miserable.

Along the road a young man was crouching down beside a gleaming, two-tone blue motor scooter. He appeared to be tinkering with the engine.

“Hello,” the young man said as she walked past. “It’s Frances, isn’t it?”

She was taken aback for a moment. “Yes,” she said, hesitantly. “How do you know who I am?” He was smartly dressed in a fawn jacket and cream slacks. His fair hair was short, neatly parted and combed, and he was very good looking. He was smiling at her, at her. She was not at all confident with boys, remaining very much in her sister’s much more glamorous shadow. Suddenly she was very aware of the wire braces on her teeth, her freckled face, and her unruly shock of ginger hair.

“You’re Fiona Anderton’s sister, aren’t you?”

“Are you a friend of Fiona?” she said.

“Yes, Fiona and I go back a long way. Derek Webster,” he said, and stuck out a hand.

She shook the hand. “Very pleased to meet you,” she said.

“Likewise, I’m sure. What do you think of the scooter?” he said. “I’ve only had it a few weeks.”

“It’s very…smart,” she said.

“It’s more than smart,” he said. “It’s a Phoenix, designed by the great Ernie Barratt, made with an all steel body and a 150cc engine. There’re not many of these around.”

She made a show of admiring the motor scooter, but not really sure what she was supposed to be admiring.

“Would you like a go?” he said.

“I…I don’t know how.”

He laughed. “Not to ride it,” he said. “I’ll take you for a spin, if you like, on the pillion.”

She shook her head. “I’d better not,” she said.

“Don’t you trust me?” he said. “Don’t you think I can ride it properly?”

“No,” she said. “It’s not that. I’m sure you ride very well.”

“Then where’s the harm?”

She glanced down at her Timex Alice in Wonderland wristwatch and felt immediately embarrassed by the childish timepiece. She pulled down the sleeve of her blouse to hide it. “I don’t want to be late for breakfast,” she said.

“You worry too much,” he said. “Your sister doesn’t…” He let the sentence fade away.

“All right then,” she said, rising to the unspoken challenge. “Take me for a ride on your wonderful Phoenix.”

“Well done,” he said. “Just hop on and hold onto my waist. I’ll have you home in time for breakfast.” He straddled the machine and steadied it as she climbed aboard.

Once she had settled behind him on the pillion, and wrapped her arms around his waist, he kick-started the scooter and eased it forward off its stand. Moments later they were heading down the street.

“Not too fast,” she called above the engine’s noise.

“Just relax,” he called back, “and when I lean into a bend, follow my lead and lean the same way.”

Within minutes they had left the leafy streets behind and were heading into a part of town she didn’t recognise. The neat houses with their tidy gardens were replaced by warehouses and factories guarded by yards of chain-link fencing.

“Where are we going?” she called.

“Away from traffic,” he called back. “I want to show you what this beauty can do.” He twisted the accelerator. The engine rose in pitch and she felt herself pushed back by the sudden turn of speed. She held onto his waist even tighter.

The scent of his hair oil was strong, almost overpowering, and she turned her face away from his neck to take a lungful of fresh air.

“I think I’ve had enough now.”

He didn’t answer. They had entered a long straight stretch of road and he increased their speed still further.

“I’d like to go home,” she said, but her words were whipped away on the air buffeting her face.

Still he was ignoring her.

Seconds later they were leaving the chain-link behind and entering more streets with houses.

“I want to go back, now,” she called.

Finally, he acknowledged her. “Yes, of course.” They were slowing down to a more sedate speed. “I just have to make a stop and then I’ll take you straight home.”

“Thank you,” she said with relief.

He steered them along a tree-lined avenue and then took a left turn, into a drive belonging to a large Victorian house that stood alone from its neighbours, surrounded by high privet hedges. He drew up outside the house and switched off the engine.

“I just have a call to make,’ he said, pulling the scooter up on its stand and dismounting.

“Should I come with you?” she said.

“No, you wait here. I’ll only be a moment.”

She watched him as he trotted up the steps to the front door of the house and inserted a key in the lock.

The door swung inwards and he disappeared inside.

She sat there on the pillion of the scooter and looked at her watch again. It had only been twenty minutes since he had offered her a ride, but to her it seemed much longer, and she was starting to wish she had never accepted his offer. She wanted to be at home, enjoying breakfast with her mother and sister, and building bridges with her father. Being a rebel didn’t sit comfortably with her.

She glanced at her watch again and was just about to dismount to see how long he was going to be. She had one foot on the ground when she was grabbed roughly from behind and something, a rag or a pad that smelled sweet and sickly, was clamped tightly over her nose and mouth. She tried to cry out, but whoever had grabbed her was too strong, and she was hauled backwards off the scooter. She flailed her arms and kicked out with her sandaled feet, her foot connecting with the rear end of the scooter, gashing her toe.

She was trying to pull air into her lungs, but the sickly-sweet aroma was all she could smell, and it was making her head spin. Gradually, as several minutes passed, her struggles grew weaker and her strength ebbed away from her. As she was dragged back over the ground her feet kicked weakly, but her arms just hung uselessly at her sides. Consciousness was slipping away, and her eyes started to close, until all she could see was the green blur of the privet hedges, and the crisp blue of the sky above her. And then they closed completely, and she sunk down into darkness.

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
Len Maynard

Author Bio:

Len Maynard was born in North London in 1953. 

In 1978, a book of short ghost stories, written in collaboration with Michael Sims, was published by London publisher William Kimber. For the following forty years the pair wrote ten more collections of ghost stories before moving into novels in 2006, completing over thirty more books, including the successful Department 18 series of supernatural/crime crossover novels as well as several standalone novels and novellas in the supernatural and crime genres. 

Always a keen reader of crime novels, and with a passion for the social history of the twentieth century it was fairly inevitable that, when he decided to branch out and write under his own name, some kind of combination of these two interests would occur. 

The six DCI Jack Callum Mysteries were the result of several years of total immersion in the world he created for Jack Callum, his family, his friends (and enemies) and his work colleagues. 

He has also written a trilogy of adventure thrillers set in the Bahamas (also available from Sharpe Books) 

He is currently at work on the seventh book in the DCI Jack Callum series

[Blog Tour] 'Three Monkeys' (DCI Jack Callum Mysteries Book 1) By Len Maynard #HistoricalFiction
'Three Monkeys' - Blog Tour schedule

30 November 2020

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes

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Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Some Ms. Marvel comic storylines have revealed her as a well-rounded character while others have advanced Islamophobic themes. (Marvel)

Amid the stress of a rising second wave of COVID-19, comic book fans found something to celebrate this September. Marvel Studios announced the casting of its first on-screen Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan, the alter-ego of Ms. Marvel.

Much like Canadian teen actress Iman Vellani who was plucked for this role, Kamala has been a virtual unknown outside of comic fandom despite being a sensation since her series debut at the top of comic book sales charts in 2014.

It should be no surprise then that Marvel Studios decided to capitalize on this success and signed Kamala for her own TV series on Disney+ for an anticipated debut in late 2021 or early 2022.

As a researcher who has examined Muslim superheroes in American comics, I find Kamala to be the most intriguing of all American Muslim superheroes. She has an ability to destabilize stereotypes of Muslims while reinforcing ideas about American exceptionalism. In the hands of different writers in various comic iterations, she has appeared as multi-dimensional and stereotype-breaking, but also as a one-dimensional figure that advances Islamophobic themes.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American who speaks Urdu. Panel from Volume 1, digital edition. (Marvel)

Muslim characters post 9/11

It may seem that Marvel Studios is taking a big risk spotlighting a Muslim character when we are living in a time of rising anti-Muslim hatred in the West. But while there has been a resurgence of Muslim superheroes in American comics after 9/11, some of these representations reiterate stereotypes.

Muslim characters underwent a mini-makeover in popular culture after 9/11. Characters emerged from being buffoonish villains to figures who gave off the appearance of depth while simultaneously regurgitating stereotypes. American studies and ethnicity scholar Evelyn al Sultany coined the term “simplified complex representation” to describe this approach in her book, Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation After 9/11.

Certainly, Muslim superheroes were a thing before 9/11. But after 9/11, a spate of Muslim superheroes emerged, including characters like the orientalized Sooraya Qadir (Dust), who appeared in New X-Men in 2002, Simon Baz, member of the Green Lantern Corps featured in Green Lantern, and Josiah X who first appeared in The Crew. This is fascinating to me since superheroes often function as patriotic symbols, and Muslims are regarded as the quintessential “other” because Islam is usually framed as incompatible with the West.

After reading Sooraya Qadir’s debut, it became obvious to me that comics found a new way to sensationalize Muslim representation.

Enter Kamala Khan

To me, Kamala seemed to be the rare glimpse of hope that existed on the other side of the rainbow if we just characterized Muslims — who make up almost one-quarter of the world’s population — as something more nuanced. And she delivered on that front, particularly in her early days.

Readers met her as a Pakistani American that spoke Urdu. This means we saw representation of Muslims in the West escape the frequent stereotypical assumption that all Muslims are Arabs and vice versa.

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
This panel from Ms. Marvel, Volume 1, digital edition, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona, depicts Kamala Khan as a believable character in a possible real-world setting. (Marvel)

Later in Magnificent Ms. Marvel #13, written by the Arab American writer, Saladin Ahmed, the sole focus shifted away from Kamala Khan when an Arab American sidekick named Amulet was introduced.

Successful sales, popularity

In Ms. Marvel’s earlier volumes written by the Muslim writer, and white Muslim convert, G. Willow Wilson, we saw Kamala anointed with her superhero mantle to the tune of Amir Khusro’s poetry. We saw her juggle her schedule between battles and mehendis, and even got a glimpse of her great-great grandmother’s move from India to Pakistan during Partition.

Back then, I remember comic book store clerks telling me how popular Ms. Marvel was with customers. The print collection of the series sold half a million copies alone. As Wilson notes, the first issue had had eight separate printings and its digital edition became Marvel’s best-selling digital comic of all time. Its first volume, released in 2014, was ranked again amongst the top five in sales rankings in September 2020.

I remember thinking that this Urdu-speaking Muslim powerhouse could be the start of a new type of Muslim character. She was proof that creators didn’t need to recycle the tireless oppressed Muslim woman or terrorist Muslim male tropes for sales.

G. Willow Smith discusses Kamala Khan as ‘A Superhero for Generation Why.’

Introducing Islamophobic themes

But following the success of the Ms. Marvel series, Kamala appeared in Marvel’s Champions series about a team of teenage superheroes. Perhaps Marvel intended to further boost the popularity of the already-successful Ms. Marvel series by bringing in Mark Waid, a high-profile non-Muslim white writer, who authored the popular comic series (and award-winning graphic novel) Kingdom Come and others.

In Champions, some tired stereotypes surfaced. In the third issue, the team flies to a fictional South Asian country. There, they rescue hijabi Muslim girls from violent men who conform to stock villain Muslim stereotypes like the terrorists seen in Hollywood movies such as True Lies.

Here, Kamala is effectively used as a racist weapon against brown men and is depicted to suggest proof of western superiority. Sadly enough, I was concerned she could be used this way before she actually was.

I was reminded that such tropes may exist simply because of implicit bias as opposed to profitability.

Celebrate and watch

Marvel’s First On-Screen Muslim Superhero — Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel's Alter-Ego — Inspires Big Hopes
Kamala’s selfie with Wolverine, from ‘Ms. Marvel’ Volume 2, digital edition. (Marvel)

For now, we should celebrate the debut of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Muslim superhero. I have hope that the Disney+ series will do her justice as its showrunner is the stand-up comedian and writer Bisha K. Ali, known for incisive commentary.

However, Marvel plans to move Kamala eventually to the silver screen and there’s already talk of a Champions type of superhero team series featuring Kamala.

If anything of the likes of Kamala as a racist weapon to prove western superiority is featured, I can’t say there will be much cause for celebration.

About Today's Contributor:

Safiyya Hosein, PhD Candidate in Communication and Culture, Ryerson University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

24 November 2020

Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits [Videos Included]

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Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
This holiday season, musical legends Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are returning in animated form with first-ever official music videos from UMe for some of the most iconic and beloved songs in the Christmas canon.
This holiday season, musical legends Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra are returning in animated form with first-ever official music videos from UMe for some of the most iconic and beloved songs in the Christmas canon. In the beautifully hand drawn and painted videos created by Fantoons Animation Studios, Crosby brings joy to a down in the dumps town with his trusty Bing-O-Matic in "Winter Wonderland" and croons over a multigenerational military family's holiday gatherings in "White Christmas," guitar-clad Berry helps Santa with his Christmas rounds in vintage comic book style in "Run Rudolph Run," Fitzgerald and Frosty delight in a winter wonderland storybook setting in "Frosty The Snowman" and Sinatra delivers mid-century style, glitz and grace as only he can in the holiday classics, "The Christmas Waltz" and "Mistletoe and Holly."
"UMe is incredibly honored and excited to partner with these legendary artists and estates to celebrate their iconic holiday songs and give them official videos," says Bruce Resnikoff, President and CEO of UMe, the global catalog company of UMG. "Last year was the first time we created holiday videos and we had such a tremendous response that we've gone all in again this year and our content team and Fantoons have really outdone themselves. These songs are some of the most popular year to year and we hope these videos brighten up fans holidays as well as attract new audiences across the digital platforms they inhabit. Similar to before, the video assets and creative will be deployed across UMe's holiday marketing and advertising campaigns for a cohesive look and feel and to achieve greater engagement across a broader audience."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Bing Crosby - "White Christmas" (screengrab)

Mary Crosby of The Bing Crosby Estate:

"Keeping dad's spirit alive, especially during the holidays, is not only of huge importance to us as a family, but to everyone. During these trying times his voice gives hope and comfort to all of us. I am thrilled that there is another way dad is being seen and heard. I love the videos Universal came up with and, of course, love his music! Dad believed supporting the troops was one of the most important contributions that he made in his life. When he was asked about his career it wasn't his awards or the fame that came his way, it was that 'in some small way, if he made the life of a soldier a little bit easier then, that was what mattered. The video for 'White Christmas' is a wonderful tribute to his love and appreciation for the troops."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Chuck Berry - "Run Rudolph Run" (screengrab)

Charles Berry Jr. of The Chuck Berry Estate:

"What an honor to have 'Run Rudolph Run' given such a dazzling visualization as its first music video! The marriage of animation and music could not be better – you can't beat flying reindeer, Santa Claus and electric guitar! My dad always told stories in his songs and his poetic skills are on full display here. The lyrics tell a Christmas story that young and old can't help but enjoy. Fun, frolicking and certainly perfect for the season, it was a holiday favorite in our house and we hope this video for a timeless Chuck Berry song brings joy and helps people get in the spirit this holiday season."
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Ella Fitzgerald - "Frosty The Snowman" (screengrab)

Richard Rosman & Fran Morris Rosman of The Ella Fitzgerald Foundation:

"Since it was released 60 years ago, Ella Fitzgerald's Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas has remained a perennial and beloved standard for the holidays, livening up countless festivities and family gatherings with its joyful and jazzy takes on Christmas classics, including the swinging 'Frosty The Snowman. The Ella Fitzgerald Estate is thrilled to partner with UMe to bring Ella and Frosty to colorful life in this fantastic, beautifully animated video and hope that both Ella's fans and the new generations just discovering her music will love it. What a wonderful gift for the song and album to receive as it celebrates its 60th anniversary!"
Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, Ella Fitzgerald & Frank Sinatra Usher In The Holidays In New Animated Videos For Some Of Their Biggest Christmas Hits
Frank Sinatra - "The Christmas Waltz" (screengrab)

Nancy Sinatra of Frank Sinatra Enterprises:
"I really think he might be the voice of Christmas. I just think that the sentimentality of my dad's recordings is what grabs people. He was emotional when he sang them, and people are emotional when they hear them. That doesn't really change."

The Videos:







These videos are just some of the many ways that UMe is celebrating its unmatched Christmas catalog and helping to turn up the joy this holiday season. In addition to the new animated videos, a variety of "Christmas With…" collections for artists including The Beach Boys, Bing Crosby, Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, Chuck Berry, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5 and Nat King Cole are available to stream on your favorite DSP and there's of course the annual Christmas Music playlist which features some of the most popular songs and artists across the holiday music canon, pairing timeless classics with contemporary favorites. 

For those looking for more holiday entertainment, The Ed Sullivan Show's official YouTube channel is celebrating the season with a music-and laughter-filled holiday playlist. Classics include "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry, "Jingle Bells" by Paul Anka, and more. Festive fun lights up things with "Mrs. Claus Interview" by Stiller & Meara, "Deck The Halls" by the Baird Puppets and holiday cheer with The Muppets.

SOURCE: UMe

23 November 2020

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells" [Video Included]

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Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower (Credit Deb Tam)
After giving the holiday classic "Carol Of The Bells" an eloquent twist on her latest single, dynamic pianist, producer, and activist Chloe Flower today unveils the music video for the track, which was co-written and co-produced alongside Grammy Award-winning icon Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds
  • Once again, Chloe teams up with Asian-American female director Deb Tam who shot the music video on film.
"Carol of the Bells" delivers a cinematic visual that evokes old Hollywood glamour as it switches from black-and-white to color vignettes. Taking place in the iconic Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn with Great Gatsby glee and high-fashion elegance, Chloe performs with palpable passion at a Steinway & Sons piano as a choir carries the heavenly chorus and ballroom dancers joyfully launch stunning routines. 

The Video:

"My inspiration for 'Carol of the Bells' was to bring the joy of music and dance to everyone this holiday season," says Chloe Flower. "With this video, I set out to create a dream world where everyone can escape this difficult time and celebrate the spirit of Christmas, no matter where you are. The director's exquisite old Hollywood vision came to life by intersecting fashion, choreography and piano, bringing glamour to instrumental music."
Styled by Colin LoCasscio, Chloe's wardrobe proves almost as impressive as her playing as she's spotted in Liberace's ornate white coat, graciously on loan from The Liberace Foundation, The Blonds' shimmering gold mini, Alessandra Rich and Stina Randestad couture, as well as vintage Gucci. 
The pianist also worked with James Alonzo for choreography and Jackson Hallberg on art direction. 

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower - "Carol of the Bells" (Single Front Cover)
Earlier this year, Chloe released her original single "Flower Through Concrete." Garnering critical acclaim, The Coveteur profiled her extensively and proclaimed, "Chloe Flower is changing the music industry." Cosmopolitan also states that "Chloe will smash whatever you think you know about classical music and look fire doing it."

The instrumental ballade, "Flower Through Concrete" follows Chloe's 2019 release of "No Limit," her solo piano cover of the viral hit "Old Town Road" as well as her chart-topping single debut, "Get What U Get." Chloe's musical style is ever-growing and has cultivated her into a multi-genre artist. "I'm so inspired by pop and classical music that when I create songs, I naturally incorporate classical ideas within a pop music structure," notes Chloe. With an album set for first half of 2021, Chloe plans to continue her hybrid blend of classical and pop music making a genre all her own, "Popsical."

Continuing her mission of bringing classical music to the masses, Chloe appeared as the centerpiece at this year's Roots X BOY MEETS GIRL New York Fashion Week event and at 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist and Runner-Up, Danielle Frankel's runway show with Vogue stating Chloe's performance was a "funky, energetic spectacle." She performed alongside Cardi B at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards, which exploded on social media and garnered over 9 million impressions and unanimous media praise. Her high-energy and high-fashion performance style has garnered attention of everyone from Pitchfork to Harper's Bazaar with Cosmopolitan stating "Chloe Flower will smash whatever you think you know about classical music, and look fire doing it." The superstar pianist also has received praise from The FADER, Entertainment Tonight, People, TIME and countless others.

Chloe Flower Brings a Touch of Hollywood Glam In New Holiday Music Video "Carol Of The Bells"
Chloe Flower (Credit Rob Berry)

About Chloe Flower:

The Pennsylvania native developed an appreciation for classical early on. By the age of two, Chloe would sit on phone books and play the piano. At 12, she went on to study at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music Pre-College under Zenon Fishbein and later with Herbert Stessin of The Juilliard School. She continued her education at The Royal Academy of Music London, where she experienced a life-changing revelation while playing Bach and listening to hip-hop at the same time. She decided to blend the two together and quickly realized that "hip-hop beats and classical music sound really cool together."

In 2010, she serendipitously met industry icon Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and landed a deal with his label imprint SODAPOP/Island Def Jam. Soon, she found herself in the studio working alongside the legend and co-producing "Lullaby" for Céline Dion. Swizz Beatz caught a set and invited her to contribute to Nas's 2012 chart-topper Life Is Good. As a result, she was featured prominently on record highlight "A Queens Story." More recently, she teamed up with Mike WiLL Made-It, co-producing 2 Chainz for "Poor Fool" from 2017's Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Later that year, she also unveiled a holiday single entitled "Drummer Boy" alongside Questlove and Babyface in addition to other solo compositions. In 2018, she co-produced Swae Lee's "Christmas at Swae's."
  • Beyond writing and performing, Chloe stands out as an active philanthropist, working with the United Nations as a UNODC Artist Ambassador, combating human trafficking and supporting music education globally with a variety of charities. Most notably in her role as a Music Education Ambassador for the Liberace Foundation.

Connect With Chloe Flower:

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE

20 November 2020

'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19 [Video Included]

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'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19
'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19 - Poster
The holidays normally are a time to get together in person with friends and family. However, the pandemic may mean virtual celebrations this year. Regardless of how you celebrate, it's important to protect yourself from possible dangers associated with holiday trees, candles, and cooking fires, as well as unsafe toys.

To keep the season safe, here's what you need to know:

'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19
'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19 ( Photo by Polesie Toys)

Toys:

Data:
  • Choking on small parts and riding toy injuries: CPSC reports that in 2019, there were an estimated 162,700 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 14 deaths to children younger than 15, with most of the deaths associated with choking on small parts, like small balls and small toy parts and riding toys.
  • Toy recalls: continue to decline, with nine toy recalls in fiscal year 2020, three involving a lead violation, compared to 172 recalls in 2008, with 19 involving lead violations. Toys were also recalled for defects, such as choking, entrapment, ingestion and laceration hazards. Recalled toys present choking, entrapment, ingestion and laceration hazards, among other hazards that pose the threat of death or injury to a child.
  • Scooters: The number of injuries associated with non-motorized scooters significantly decreased from 2015 to 2019 for children younger than 15, from about 45,500 to about 35,600 injuries.
Tips:
  • Follow age guidance and other safety information on the toy packaging, and choose toys that match your child's interests and abilities.
  • Get safety gear, including helmets for scooters and other riding toys–helmets should be worn properly at all times and be sized to fit.
  • Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3, and keep deflated balloons away from children younger than 8 years old (discard broken balloons at once).
'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19
'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19 (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)

Cooking:

Data:
  • Cooking fires are the # 1 cause of residential fires.
  • An average of 1,700 cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day each year, more than three times the average number on any other day of the year.
  • In the last two decades, there were 220 fire or scald/burn incidents involving turkey fryers, resulting in 81 injuries and $9.7 million in property loss.
Tips:
  • Never leave cooking food unattended on the stove.
  • Keep children away from the cooking area, and keep flammable items, like potholders and paper or plastic bags, away from the stove and oven.
  • Only fry a turkey outside and away from your home–not inside your garage, or on your porch. Do not overfill the oil in the turkey fryer and follow the manufacturer's instructions on use, including thawing your turkey thoroughly and maintaining control of the oil temperature.

'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19
  'Tis the Season to Be Safe: Top Tips for Your Family During COVID-19 (Photo by Jonathan Borba)

Decorating:

Data:
  • On average, there are about 200 decorating-related injuries each day during the holiday season, with about half of the incidents involving falls. And in the 2018 holiday season, about 17,500 people were treated in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating-related injuries.
  • In the 2019 holiday season, there were six deaths associated with holiday season decorations.
  • From 2015 to 2017, on average, there were about 100 Christmas tree fires and about 1,100 candle fires (in November and December), resulting in 20 deaths, 160 injuries and nearly $50 million in property damage each year.
Tips:
  • Make sure your live Christmas tree has plenty of water, and look for the "Fire Resistant" label when buying an artificial tree.
  • Place burning candles in sight, away from flammable items, and blow them out before leaving the room.
  • Only use lights tested for safety by a national recognized testing laboratory. Throw out sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.

The Video:

About the U.S. CPSC:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.

  • Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

19 November 2020

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge [Video + Lyrics Included]

by
"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
As COVID-19 cases rise exponentially, entrepreneur, philanthropist, songwriter and executive producer Ken Freirich today released a remix and video for his song "Healthcare Workers Rock!". 
The song was written as a rock anthem and the heartfelt lyrics have already struck a chord with frontline healthcare workers around the world fighting COVID-19 and putting their lives on the line every day to help others. 
"The truth is healthcare workers are at their breaking point. The stress of the pandemic right now is unbearable. The music and lyrics of Healthcare Workers Rock! give us an emotional release that make every day more tolerable," said Joseph Varon, MD, Chief Medical Officer of United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, who has been on the frontlines of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. "I've literally witnessed our workers humming and singing the song to help lift their own spirit and the spirit of others. I had a nurse cry when she was asked to be in the video, because it reinforced what a difference she's making for so many. The song and the video are just what the doctor ordered, especially now as we enter what will possibly be the darkest days of the pandemic. We must now get this music therapy to every hospital around the world because it's a boost that will keep our healthcare workers going."
The driving force behind the song is Ken Freirich, a songwriter and drummer who lives by a daily mantra of "making the world a better place." He felt a calling to write and produce a song that could bring people together in a time of crisis. For the song remix, Freirich served as the executive producer and recruited P!nk Drummer Mark Schulman to play drums on the song, GRAMMY Award-winning Producer and Mixer Scott Jacoby to produce and remix the song and GRAMMY Award winner Emily Lazar to master the single. 

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
In addition, Freirich's new record label, Better World Records, LLC is partnering with #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation to provide frontline healthcare workers with the physical and psychological support and resources they so desperately need as they serve on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

#FirstRespondersFirst provides essential supplies and protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to ensure that frontline workers are protected, well-supported and resilient.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)

Since the song's initial release last month, doctors, nurses, EMTs, former COVID-19 patients and loved ones have expressed how the song has become their anthem, helping capture their experiences and feelings, while creating a positive and uplifting movement to help counter one of the toughest years in recent history. The song is on repeat as people travel to and from work and has inspired some workers to create and share their own TikTok videos featuring the song.
"When Ken asked me to play on the track and be in the video, I grabbed my sticks, asked my daughter to be in the video and I jumped at the opportunity," said Mark Schulman, P!nk Drummer. "Healthcare workers are long overdue for an anthem, and the lyrics and video really capture all elements of today's healthcare experience. I'm looking forward to helping spread the message and the video so everyone can celebrate the heroism of these amazing people."
Freirich is an active philanthropist who loves the convergence of music and the opportunity to help others. "Healthcare Workers Rock!" is on Freirich's new record label, Better World Records, LLC, also home to his new band, Random Acts of Kindness. From his position as CEO of Health Monitor Network, the largest patient education/engagement company in the United States, known for its exam room digital posters, Freirich has a unique perspective on the plight of healthcare workers, while his passion for music provides a creative way to honor them.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
"Working 'round the clock, strong and courageous, never gonna stop," part of the chorus belts out with lyrics that embody Freirich's vision for the song. He was inspired to write and produce the track after seeing medical professionals in desperate need of resources and watching colleagues' family members pass away from COVID-19. From his position as CEO of Health Monitor Network, Freirich understands the monumental change in the hospital setting since COVID-19 and wanted to reinforce how everyone supports our healthcare workers.
"I want to have the song played all over the world to give healthcare workers something to rally around as they continue to work through difficult days and nights and the reactions I've received so far have been incredibly moving," says Freirich. He notes how he's heard from the healthcare community how relatable the lyrics are and how they have uplifted them at a time when they need all the support they can get. ­ "The song's pre-chorus lyrics, 'This is what we do, day in and day out,' are for the selfless healthcare workers who are out there working and giving everything they've got to their patients. I wanted to deliver an anthem for them that was empowering and uplifting."

The Video:

The Lyrics:

©2020 Better World Records.

We are on the frontline
Putting ourselves in danger
Trying to save the lives
Of oh so many strangers
Don’t look at them as numbers
That’s not what you mean to us
We’re brothers, sisters, mothers
Like family, it’s all worth the fuss

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win
Let’s Rock!

Never seen a thing like this
In my whole career
The battle’s really tough
Feels like more than a year
Supplies are getting short
Still we try to make the best
One day at a time
‘Cause we can never rest

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win

It’s time we all remember
The real heroes are at home
Our partners, daughters and sons
We miss each and every one

The world needs us now
So we are standing strong
Putting patients first
All day and all night long
We will make it through
One way or the other
Stay true to the cause
Caring for one another

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win

Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win
Let’s Rock!

People can download the song on Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes and view the video at HealthcareWorkersRock.org. Freirich, CEO of Health Monitor Network, has been on a global crusade to help healthcare workers. 

  • Every time the video is shared from the Random Acts of Kindness  Facebook or Twitter pages with #HealthcareWorkersRock, a donation of $1 will be made to #FirstRespondersFirst (up to $100,000).

About Healthcare Workers Rock!:

"Healthcare Workers Rock!" was written by Freirich, songwriter and drummer, and is his newest music / philanthropic initiative. Freirich is an active philanthropist who loves the convergence of music and the opportunity to help others. He felt a calling to write and produce a song that could fulfill an unmet need; a tribute and anthem for all of the frontline healthcare workers around the world who put their lives on the line each and every day to help others.

For the past five years, he has been in a band called MedROCK, a 501c3 organization that "brings the world together through music and makes it a better place through philanthropy." The band put on a benefit concert in Turks and Caicos to help buy instruments for a local school's music education program and has partnered with and raised money for Teen Cancer America, founded by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. Freirich also played a song on drums with The Who at a charity to benefit concert for Teen Cancer American and UCLA Health in Southern California last fall.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (PRNewsfoto/Better World Records)

About Better World Records: 

Better World Records LLC was started to release incredible music across numerous genres, while having a positive impact on the world. The company will use its artists and music to bring people together and will incorporate its strong philanthropic beliefs to projects and initiatives to do good. Random Acts of Kindness is the first band on the label and is a collection of musicians (Random Acts) pulled together with the goal of having a positive impact on the world through music.

About #FirstRespondersFirst: 

#FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, takes a whole human approach to addressing the needs of our frontline workers in order to support their ability to serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. #FirstRespondersFirst's fundraising call to action helps provide essential supplies, protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to this demographically and socially diverse workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond, through its implementing collaborators Americares, Bright Horizons, CORE Response, Direct Relief, Give An Hour, Global Health Corps, Hispanic Federation, IHG Hotels & Resorts, InnerHour, International Rescue Committee, Marriott International, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Black Nurses Association, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Omada Health, Osmosis, Pivot, The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, World Central Kitchen, and You Okay, Doc?. Powered by Thrive Global's behavior change platform, #FirstRespondersFirst also provides access to Harvard Chan School's evidence-based content, specifically tailored to this critical workforce, to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers.

SOURCE: Better World Records

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