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Music Abroad: 5 International Vixens You Should Know

There is nothing new about talented Vixens coming from abroad and shining on American soil. Landing heavy rotation on radio stations and stealing the hearts of American fans, British singer Adele is the latest example of this, and Rihanna, hailing from the island of Barbados, has become one of music's biggest acts. Also, Sade Adu, of Nigerian and British descent, is known as a soul legend. Of course, there are more brilliant artists in the world who haven't quite cracked the American music mainstream. For those looking to upgrade their playlists with some audible treats, here is a list of five international songbirds worth your attention from now on. - Natelege Whaley

 

1. V V Brown
Reppin': England, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico
Signature Style: Pinned back bang, masks, costumes.

V V Brown's style of pop is in no way cookie cutter with its swing and explosiveness. She stepped on the scene with her debut album Travelling Like The Light in July 2009. The album made an appearance on the US Billboard charts peaking at 179. Her single "Shark in the Water," about a stint with a disloyal beau, charted at 67 in America. Although Brown hasn't blown-up per say, she has made her buzz in the industry performing at SXSW and also being invited by one of her musical influences, rapper Q-Tip, to perform at the Jack Daniel event in Los Angeles in June 2010. In September 2011, V V Brown released her single "Children" featuring Chiddy from Chiddy Bang. The song will be on her upcoming album Lollipops & Politics to be released in February.

Songs to Know: "L.O.V.E.," "Shark in the Water," "Children."


2. Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes
Reppin': England and Zimbabwe
Signature Style: Up-dos, gold and shimmer, color blocking.

With her voluminous hair always pinned up to show off her cocoa brown features that can compete with any top model, Shingai is definitely a style magnet. As leading lady of The Noisettes, she has released two albums since 2007 with the band including What's the Time Mr. Wolf and Wild Young Hearts (2009). Their catchy tunes meet somewhere between rock and pop, with Shingai's soulful chops bringing the songs alive. Born in South London, England, Shingai's childhood was not so fortunate, as her father died when she was 11, leaving her to be raised by a single mother. Music then became her escape from reality. This child-like reverie and excitement is always present in her live shows and music videos. So far, The Noisettes have performed at Coachella in 2007 and SXSW in 2006 amongst countless other shows. They are currently working on a new album.

Songs You Need To Know: "Don't Upset The Rhythm," "Never Forget You," "Every Now and Then."

3. Asa (Pronounced Asha)
Reppin': France and Nigeria
Signature Style: Quirky specs, buns.

The happy go-lucky singer Asa has made a name for herself in her birthplace of France and home country Nigeria. Inspired by her father's collection of Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley and Fela Kuti records, Asa decided to pursue a music career. Her self-titled debut released in 2007 and peaked at number 15 in France. Her sophomore album Beautiful Imperfection (2011), reached number 3 on the US Billboard World Music chart. Asa possesses a serene control on her 1960s inspired "Be My Man," and her song "Why Can't We" brings out more of her fun laid-back vibe. In 2011, Asa was nominated for Best Female Act in 2011 at the Victoires de la Musique (French Music Awards). She has also opened for Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Akon and John Legend, and has toured internationally.

Songs To Know: "The Way I Feel," "Why Can't We," "Be My Man."

4. Nneka
Reppin': Nigeria and Germany
Signature Style: Curly 'fro, natural, street-culture inspired.

Nneka, does not want to be your next pop superstar. Her hip-hop and reggae inspired tunes have given her a platform to record emotionally-charged responsive lyrics about unrest in her native Nigeria and in the world. This has brought her comparisons to Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill. Nneka began her musical career after moving from Nigeria to Germany. In April 2005, she opened for Sean Paul in Hamburg Stadtpark, Germany, and received great feedback, leading her to begin recording her first album Victim of Truth, released later that year. She followed up with No Longer at Ease (2008), and Soul Is Heavy in 2011. In 2010, Nneka, received an opportunity to be a more familiar face to America, coming aboard as the opening act for Nas and Damian Marley's Distant Relatives tour.

Songs To Know: "Heartbeat," "African," "Uncomfortable Truth."

5. Rebecca Ferguson
Reppin': England
Signature Style: Classic, retro chic.

Already being compared to Aretha Franklin and Macy Gray, with her stern and rich vocals, Rebecca Ferguson is another British singer to be reckoned with. Before becoming a contestant on the The X Factor UK, Rebecca was rejected from Britain's Got Talent and P. Diddy's Starmaker. Although distraught at first, she continued on with her dream. She wanted to win The X Factor, and being runner-up allowed her to have more creative freedom over her album. Her debut Heaven released December 2010, and the songbird's first single "Nothing's Real But Love" reached top ten on the UK Singles charts. Her second single "Too Good To Lose" will release March 4.

Songs To Know: "Nothing's Real But Love," "Glitter and Gold."

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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Actress Gabrielle Union attends the Being Mary Jane premiere, screening, and party on January 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET)
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BET To Unveil Edible Billboard For 'Being Mary Jane' Wedding Finale

As Being Mary Jane comes to an end, BET is willing to offer fans a taste of what's to come in the series finale.

The network has enlisted the help of Ayesha Curry, celebrity cook and cookbook author, to create an edible billboard that also doubles as a wedding cake. The sweet treat will commemorate Mary Jane's (played by Gabrielle Union) nuptials in the two-hour series finale.

On April 20 from 1:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal in New York, fans will be presented with the edible billboard. At the intersection of Ashland Place and Hanson Place, the closer Being Mary Jane enthusiasts get to the billboard the quicker they'll notice that the four-tiered wedding cake is created from individual boxes, each containing a slice of Curry's prized wedding cake.

All fans have to do is pull a box from the billboard, snap a picture for the 'Gram, take a bite and enjoy. Although lovers of the show won't be able to celebrate with Mary Jane herself, biting into a slice of her wedding cake, for free, is the next best thing.

Don't forget to tune into the series finale of Being Mary Jane on Tues. (April 23) at 8/7 c.

Also, check out what's to come on the series of Being Mary Jane below.

Save the date! 👰🏾It'll be worth the wait. Join us for the series finale of #BeingMaryJane TUES APR 23 8/7c only on @BET! pic.twitter.com/jEwkbC71OW

— #BeingMaryJane (@beingmaryjane) March 29, 2019

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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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