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D’Angelo sounds off on ‘Soho Karen’ at Verzuz Apollo event

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D'Angelo sounds off on 'Soho Karen' at Verzuz Apollo event

D’Angelo may have done the very first solo Verzuz — I mean, who would want to battle him? — but he brought in a very special guest musician to kick off his performance at the Apollo on Saturday night.

That would be Keyon Harrold, the veteran trumpeter and member of D’Angelo’s band whose 14-year-old black son, Keyon Harrold Jr., was falsely accused of stealing an iPhone from a white woman at the Arlo Hotel in Soho last September.

No explanation was needed as this went down live at the Apollo Theater — the mecca for African-American artists. This was a moment — as Black History Month draws to a close — to remind you of how far we still have to go, with this distinguished musician, Harrold, introduced with a “very, very dear friend of mine” by the four-time Grammy winner on the most historic of black music stages.

As he continued to introduce “my brother, a great musician,” it was very clear that this was a moment that the reclusive star was taking to reintroduce himself to the masses by showing the humanity that exists in all of us — including the father of a 14-year-old kid who was allegedly assaulted by 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto, nicknamed “Soho Karen,” for doing nothing wrong. 

Before even singing a note, D’Angelo had already made a statement.

Then they launched into what appeared to be a song in progress, with D’Angelo declaring that “love is a thing that makes the world go ’round.” And as Harrold vibed out on his horn with the neo-soul man on the keys — Lena Waithe very accurately described it as MTV “ ‘Unplugged’  vibes,” in the comments — it was a moment that dissolved any “Verzuz” between people.

The battle, it seems, was over before it ever really began in this latest installment of the Verzuz series that has been one  of the most popular virtual series to come out of the COVID era.

As D’Angelo was about an hour late to take the stage around 10 p.m. at the Apollo, DJ Scratch kept the people and the party hype, with a who’s who of African-American artists —  including Common, Timbaland, Snoop Dogg and Babyface — in attendance.

But although this Verzuz had been billed as “D’Angelo & Friends,” he wasn’t really throwing down tracks against anyone else. It was all about him.

And who could argue with that? Just seeing D’Angelo — rocking a tan hat and matching do-rag to go with his faux-fur black coat — was enough of a gift for the fans who have been waiting since he last dropped his “Black Messiah” album in the final days of 2014.

And D did deliver on bringing out a few “Friends”: Redman and Method Man showed up to drop rhymes on “Left & Right,” from D’Angelo’s 2000 masterpiece “Voodoo.” And two-time Grammy winner H.E.R. turned up to do the Lauryn Hill part of “Nothing Even Matters,” from the 1998 classic “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

But in the end, this didn’t feel like a true Verzuz, with no one for D’Angelo to really battle. The obvious choice would have been Maxwell. Just as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott went diva to diva in an early Verzuz last year, it would have been great to see D’Angelo put his best up against his top neo-soul-man competition.

Still, it’s hard to argue with anything that leaves you feeling all of the “Brown Sugar” sweetness on a COVID Saturday night. 

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Author reveals how his brother killed his mother in new memoir

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Author reveals how his brother killed his mother in new memoir

Most memoirs are a recounting of the author’s own life and experiences. “Everything is Fine” by Vince Granata (Atria Books), out April 27, is a memoir of an entire family — and a tragedy that forever changed its members. 

Granata was an only child for the first 4 ½ years of his life. On the day his mother and father returned home from the hospital, he remembers writing “welcome home mommy” in sidewalk chalk outside their Connecticut home. His parents had arrived home with not one but three siblings in tow — triplets Christopher, Timothy and Elizabeth. It was a joyful event. But the birth of his siblings put in motion a tragedy that would take years to unfold. 

On July 24, 2014, his brother Tim, 24, attacked and killed their mother in the family home. Claudia Dinan Granata was 58. Tim suffered from schizophrenia. “I won’t take the medication, the medication destroys me, takes my mind, takes me away from God,” he ranted to his mother on the morning of the attack. He had frequently threatened suicide. 

“Tim’s demons, electric in his ill mind, convinced him that the woman who had made him peanut butter sandwiches when he was a grass-stained child was the source of his constant pain,” Granata writes. “…After he killed her, he dialed 911, sitting on our front steps, clutching a white Bible.” 

This is a memoir about a horrifying crime, but it is also a book about mental illness, and the family’s ongoing attempts to get help for Tim in a system that is hopelessly flawed. Tim was hospitalized at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital in February 2014. In the weeks leading up to the murder, there were numerous signs that he needed to return, but he refused to go back. 

“Eventually, I had no choice but to look at loss and pain, at all the pieces of my family’s story that I didn’t think I could ever understand,” Vince writes. “It was this process, recognizing the pieces, struggling to put them in order, that almost destroyed me. It’s also what allowed me to live again.” 

Tim was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

As academic institutions look toward the post-COVID-19 future of education, some are implementing strict vaccine requirements ahead of the upcoming semester as others incentivize or urge students to pick up the inoculations.

Many colleges already require students to provide proof of certain vaccines, but those have been in use for years. The three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are all less than a year old.

But now that vaccines are open in many places to people age 16 and up, colleges are beginning to look into how that can benefit their reopening plans.

Colleges that will require proof of vaccination for students who want to live on campus include Oakland University in Michigan, Cornell University in upstate New York, Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Brown University in Rhode Island.

“Students have an option to come to Oakland University and not stay in residence halls,” Oakland President Dr. Ora Pescovitz told Fox 2 Detroit this week. “Only 20% of our students live on campus. The other 80% are commuter students.”

The school is offering religious and medical exemptions to students who provide proof to the dean of students.

But she said more than 1,000 people signed up for vaccines within the first six hours after the school announced the new requirement.

Northeastern University in Boston is going a step further and requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all students before the fall 2021 semester as part of its plan to return to full-time, in-person learning.

Nova Southeastern University announced last week it would require vaccinations by Aug. 1 – then backtracked after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide ban on “vaccine passports,” citing concerns about individual liberty and patient privacy.

“We will continue to follow all state and federal laws as they evolve,” Nova President George L. Hanbury II said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Mars Perseverance rover takes selfie with Ingenuity helicopter ahead of historic flight

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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6, 2021, using the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera located at the end of the rover's long robotic arm. Perseverance's selfie with Ingenuity is constructed of 62 individual images, taken in sequence while the rover was looking at the helicopter, then again while looking at the WATSON camera, stitched together once they are sent back to Earth.

To the delight of social media users, NASA’s Perseverance rover used a camera on the end of its robotic arm to snap a selfie with the Mars Ingenuity helicopter this week ahead of its historic flight mission.

Shown about 13 feet apart in the pictures taken on April 6, 2021, or the 48th Martian day of the mission, the rover used its WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument.

In a release, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said Wednesday that the selfie had been constructed using 62 individual images — taken in sequence — that were stitched together.

It noted that the Curiosity Mars rover, which landed on the red planet in 2011, takes similar “selfies.”

Ingenuity, which has been released on the Martian surface, is scheduled to attempt the first-ever powered and controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet no sooner than April 11.

NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter with its blades unlocked acquired by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover using its Left Mastcam-Z camera, on Sol 47, 08 April 2021. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mastcam-Z.
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter with its blades unlocked acquired by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using its Left Mastcam-Z camera, on Sol 47, 08 April 2021. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mastcam-Z.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE

Once the team at JPL is ready, Perseverance will relay the helicopter’s final flight instruction from mission controllers, according to NASA.

If all final checks and atmospheric conditions look good, the helicopter will lift off climbing at a rate of 3 feet per second and hover at 10 feet above the surface for up to 30 seconds.

After data and potentially images from the rover’s Navigation Cameras and Mastcam-Z are downloaded, the Ingenuity team will determine whether the flight was a success. 

The results will be discussed by the team at a media conference that same day.

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