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Karena Evans & 9 Other Female Music Video Directors You Should Know

At 22, Karena Evans has made a name for herself as one of the most sought-after music video directors in the game. Before leading the visuals behind SZA's ethereal single, "Garden (Say It Like That)" Evans made waves for directing Drake's cinematic videos for "God's Plan" and "Nice For What."

A former intern to music video videogrpaher Director X, Evans' hard work is paying off. She's the first woman to receive the Lipsett Award for her work on "God's Plan" and one of the youngest music video directors to create back to back music videos accumulating 600 million views on YouTube.

Her wins take us back to the golden days of music videos where women have always shined in the art of mini-storytelling. From cultural love letters like Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" (Sophia Muller) and the raw grit of Jadakiss' "Why" (Sanaa Hamri), female music video directors have helped created some of the most memorable music videos of all time.

With many moving on to directing award-winning TV shows and films, check out some of the most legendary directors and other women on the rise below.

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9. Laurieann Gibson

While known to many for her career in choreography, Gibson tried her hand at directing several of Lady Gaga's visuals. The most famous of which, is Gaga’s “Yoü and I." For this, Gibson incorporated her proficiency in several ways to craft one of the singer's most legendary videos. Outside of music, her status as a prestigious dancer served as the basis for the movie Honey with director and writer Bille Woodruff.

8. Claudia Matè

The Spanish-born, London-based artist is just starting out as far as creating music videos go. Matè is a new media artist that rose up out of the “net-art renaissance,” specializing in 3D graphics, virtual reality and GIF animation. She’s worked with networks and brands like Adult Swim, MTV and Gucci. Her most recent work with Kelala’s “Frontline” is by far the most unique in the music video arena.

7. Sophie Muller

Muller is still one of the go-to music director for anyone with a hot pop song looking to bring it to new heights. She’s been in the business since 1989 and has worked with Annie Lennox, No Doubt, Rihanna, Shakira, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Beyonce, Ellie Goulding and One Direction. Muller’s visuals can be hard to stylize because each video is specific to the artist. Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” stands out above the rest.

6. Lacey Duke

As a youth, this Toronto-native found an affinity for visual storytelling. A passion which made directing music videos Duke’s most natural occupational option. As a result, Duke has created visuals for acts like D.R.A.M., The Internet and most recently, Janelle Monae's "I Like That." Duke has also flashed a preview of her cinematic potential as she has written, directed, and screened several short films at BET and festivals across the globe. Along with music videos and short films, Duke was behind Covergirl’s #GirlsCan campaign feature Monae among other advertisements.

5. Floria Sigismondi

Most recognized for her writing and directing the 2010 film, The Runaways,  Sigismondi first gained notoriety as a music director. Throughout her tenure she has orchestrated visuals for everyone from Rihanna to Marilyn Manson. Yet, it was her work on Christina Aguilera's 2004 ballad, “Fighter,” that gained her the most praise. In addition to movies and videos, Sigismondi has also directed commercials for powerhouse companies like Samsung and Gucci.

4. Hannah Lux-Davis

This VMA award winning music director is best known for her clean music videos that capture the bubbly feeling of the pop artists she usually works with. And although she stays mainstream (Ciara's "I Bet," Ariana Grande's "Side to Side" featuring Nicki Minaj, Halsey's "Alone"), our favorite from Lux-Davis has to be Lil Wayne’s “Love Me” featuring. Future and Drake. Outside music visuals, the Bellevue, WA native has also been contracted by Apple/Beats and Viacom for spins on her music videos.

3. Diane Martel

Martel got her start in the early ‘90s with Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover.” In her lengthy career, Martel has worked with (deep breath) Christina Aguilera, Method Man, Eve, Jennifer Lopez, Omarion, Beyonce, Ciara and Miley Cyrus. The creative’s video style is minimal allowing the focus to be on the artist. Her most known and controversial work is Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” in which she drew inspiration from Benny Hill and 1960s variety shows. She recently worked with Miley Cyrus for her newest project Younger Now.

2. Sanaa Hamri

One word comes to mind when watching Sanna Hamri’s videos: vibrant. She attributes her vivid imagery to her photographic memory of colors and Italian cinema and art from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Visuals for Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Prince, Common and Jadakiss, show the Moroccan-born director is all about pops of color and visuals with a message. Most illustrative of Hamri’s style is Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass,” full of icy blue ice sculptures, neon pink, and black light dances with eye-candy men.

Hamri moved to the United States to go to college, initially pursuing a career in theater. When things weren’t panning out, she decided to work as an assistant for cinematographer and producer Malik Hassan Sayeed. While working for him she taught herself the editing software Avid and began cutting videos for Sayeed, Hype Williams and Brett Ratner, leading up to her big break– Carey's remix video to "Thank God I Found You" featuring Joe and Nas.

Since then she’s excelled in the music video business, using videos to tell stories that resonate with her. Hamri told Vulture she started to feel confined to the three minutes of a music video and longed to “tell bigger stories.” She now directs FOX’s hit show Empire.

1. Melina Matsoukas

Matsoukas’ cinematography portfolio is stacked with the biggest names in the music industry like Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Solange. Her video’s modus operandi flirt with video elements from decades past or pull from hip-hop’s extravagance, almost always capturing women as dynamic badasses in every frame. That explains why, creatively, Matsoukas and Beyonce go together like Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, “Formation” being the creative’s standout video. It has amassed over 100 million views since it hit YouTube in December 2016.

Matsoukas is a creative gift, using her talents not only for music but for TV as well. She’s one of the key directors of Issa Rae’s Insecure and directed a handful of episodes of Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None.

READ: SZA Finds Love With Donald Glover In Mystical “Garden (Say It Like Dat)” Video

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CIRCA 1980: Photo of Bill Withers
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Bill Withers' Greatest Hits: Remixed, Sampled And Covered

The recent loss of legends in jazz, soul and classical music have saddened the music industry and reminded us of their touching gifts to music. The passing of Manu Dibango, Krzysztof Penderecki, Ellis Marsalis Jr., Bucky Pizzarelli and Alan Merrill brought endless tributes from peers and fans with the recent loss of soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers doing the same.

With a mirage of hits, the iconic songwriter left his mark on music with the release of his debut album Just As I Am in 1971. "Ain't No Sunshine" put a spotlight on his songwriting while 1977's "Lovely Day" reminded the industry of his signature vocals. Withers released eight studio albums, one live album and garnered three Grammys for his powerful songs that gave hope and love to fans to this day.

Hip-hop and R&B have gained the most from Withers as his music went on to inspire records like "No Diggity" by BLACKStreet, "Roses" by Kanye West and other songs from UGK, Dr. Dre, Jill Scott and more.

Take a look at some of Withers' finest tunes covered, remixed and sampled below.

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8. “Lovely Day” | Menagerie (1977)

Sampled On: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999) LunchMoneyLewis - “It's Gonna Be A Lovely Day” feat. Aminè | Pets 2 Soundtrack (2019) Swizz Beatz - “Take A Picture” |One Man Band (2007)

Standout: T.W.D.Y., “Player’s Holiday” | Derty Werk (1999)

Short for "The Whole Damn Yay," the group used Withers' sample while throwing a splash of The Bay's laid back flavor. With cameos from future legends like E-40 and Ray Luv, the single already embodied the best of R&B and hip-hop with guest verses from Too Short, Mac Mall and Otis & Shug. The mimosas and yacht are also a great touch.

Covered By: Jill Scott, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault Vol. 1 (2011) Alt-J, This Is All Yours (2014) Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (2013) Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Standout: Kirk Franklin, The Nu Nation Project (1998)

Who was going to beat a chorus singing to the lordt? Franklin's take on the classic gives us stirring gospel and appreciation for Withers and God. There are plenty of covers that have lifted the same vocals as Withers, but the ones listed have put their unique spin on the track.

7. “Ain't No Sunshine” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001) Lil B - “Up And Down” | Based Jam (2012) 2Pac- "Soulja's Story" |  2Pacalypse Now (1991)

Standout: DMX - “No Sunshine” | Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)

"No Sunshine" served as the only single from DMX's film alongside Steven Seagal, which gave everyone the perfect backdrop to the movie and X's intricate storytelling. Both the original and flipped version points out the dark elements of our lives. Withers penned the song after watching the film 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses, he pondered over the toxicity in his life. "Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you," he said in 2004 to SongFacts. "It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of."

Covered By: Soul For Real | Candy Rain (1994) Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972) The Boris Gardiner Happening | Is What's Happening (1973) The Temptations | Solid Rock (1972)

Standout: Michael Jackson | Got to Be There (1972)

At 14, the future King of Pop gave a riveting cover of Withers' hit for his debut album, Got To Be There. From his vocal control throughout the track to the instrumentation, his cover takes the song to another level of heartbreak.

6. "Grandma's Hands” | Just As I Am (1971)

Sampled On: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996) Big K.R.I.T. - “I Gotta Stay” | K.R.I.T. Wuz Here (2010) Brother Ali - “Waheedah's Hands” | Champion (2004)

Standout: BLACKstreet - “No Diggity” feat. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen | Another Level (1996)

R&B heads are well aware of BLACKstreet's neverending ballads and the genius of Teddy Riley. But the pivot of their sound for their sophomore album Another Level was due to Withers and the William “Stylez” Stewart. Speaking to Fact Mag in 2017, the creator of New Jack Swing gave credit to Stylez for bringing him the sample of "Grandma's Hands."

“If he hadn’t played that sample for me, there would never be a ‘No Diggity’ And if he didn’t write it according to the melody I gave him so it would sound that way because I wanted it to sound funky,” he said. “I wanted it to be appealing to everyone, but mostly to women. I wanted every woman to feel like they were the ‘No Diggity’ girl and that song was about them and it came across. And now, still, today, that song plays and people are on that dancefloor.”

Covered By: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981) Merry Clayton, Merry Clayton (1971) Barbra Streisand, Butterfly (1974)

Standout: Gil Scott-Heron, Reflections (1981)

Gil Scott-Heron's version of the soul classic reminded us of his versatile talents. From spoken word to his vocal abilities, the Godfather of rap music always came through with his own sound and style. Reflections was one of four albums the late artist dropped in the 80s with critics looking to it as one of his finest projects. Other cuts from the album included "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and "B Love."

5. "Use Me" | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012) J. Cole- "Dollar And A Dream II" | The Warm-Up (2009) Leela James - “So Good" | Fall For You (2014) UGK - "Use Me Up" | The Southern Way (1992)

Standout: Kendrick Lamar - “Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst"  | Good kid, Maad City (2012)

Lamar's take on "Use Me" blended right into the themes of his debut album, Good kid, Maad City allowing the artist to create another world on the project. To make things even better, Lamar also sampled Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" for the track.

Covered By: Grace Jones, Indigo Nights, Live (2008) Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit  (2004) Issac Hayes, Dr. Dolittle Soundtrack (1998)

Standout: Mick Jagger feat. Lenny Kravitz, Wandering Spirit (2004)

On his third solo album, Jagger linked with Rick Rubin to test his creative energy, allowing him to work with Lenny Kravitz on their version of "Use Me." Colliding worlds was one thing but to hear Kravitz's vocals come in on the bridge, set the track apart from the rest.

4. “Kissing My Love” | Still Bill (1972)

Sampled On: J. Cole - “The Cut Off" featuring kiLL Edward  | KOD (2018) Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992) Masta Ace- "Movin On" | Take A Look Around (1990) Master P- "Bastard Child" | The Ghettos Tryin To Kill Me! | 1994

Standout: Dr. Dre - "Let Me Ride" featuring Snoop Dogg, RC and Jewell | The Chronic (1992)

"Kissing My Love" is one of most sampled from Withers catalog, thanks to its feverish drums. It's also why it fits into Dr. Dre's single and the G-funk era.

3. Grover Washington's “Just The Two of Us” featuring Bill Withers | Winelight (1981)

Sampled/Covered On:  Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997) Eminem- "Just The Two of Us" | Slim Shady EP (1997) Keri Hilson- "Pretty Girl Rock" | No Boys Allowed (2010)

Standout: Will Smith - “Just The Two of Us” | Big Willie Style (1997)

Touching and soulful, Smith's dedication to his eldest son Trey is just too cute for words.

2. “Let It Be” | Just As I Am  (1967)

The Original: The Beatles - “Let It Be” | Let It Be (1968)

"Let It Be" is a pretty special record. Aretha Franklin recorded a version a year before the release of The Beatles' version and Withers gave his take on the record in the 70s. Slightly faster, his upbeat take on "Let It Be" just hits different.

1. “Rosie” | Menagerie Re-Issue (1977)

Sampled On: Kanye West - “Roses” |  Late Registration (2005)

As the somber part of Late Registration, "Roses" brings us into Kanye's world where he contemplates the mortality of a loved one. It's a sentimental take on the sample and one of the artist's most underrated songs. It's also a hidden gem for Withers as it isn't featured on Menagerie's LP. It was added as a bonus track on

Enjoy the jams in playlist form below.

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Remain Calm: 5 Ways To Curve Negative Effects Of Coronavirus Isolation

Self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak seems to be best practice in keeping our families and peers safe but it's also a shift in our normal social behavior. As millions of families around the country get adjusted to self-isolation, the state of our mental health and how our bodies react to the practice are changing by the day, especially lower-income and marginalized groups.

Speaking with Wired, John Vincent, a clinical psychologist at the University of Houston, shared how apathetic behavior can rise to the forefront, making space for anxiety and depression.

“People start getting lethargic when they don’t have positive inputs into their small worlds,” Vincent says. “We can expect depression to kick in, and depression and anxiety are kissing cousins.”

But the biggest reason behind the uneasiness isn't the self-isolation but just how long it will last. Details of COVID-19 are changing by the day with the most cases now coming out of New York. Yet, there's still little to no information on what happens next.

“Open, transparent, consistent communication is the most important thing governments and organizations can do: Make sure people understand why they are being quarantined first and foremost, how long it is expected to last,” Samantha Brooks of King’s College London told the outlet. “A huge factor in the negative psychological impact seems to be confusion about what's going on, not having clear guidelines, or getting different messages from different organizations.”

Uncertainty hitting low income and marginalized groups is also a problem within itself. As virtual parties and celebrities opening up on social media happen on a daily, there are people who might not access fun distractions on the web.

“Some people have posited technology as a means of connecting people, but lower-income groups might not even have FaceTime or Skype or minutes on their phone,” Thomas Cudjoe, a geriatrician researching the intersection of social connections and aging at Johns Hopkins University says. “People take that for granted, using their devices can be a strain on people’s incomes.”

To make self-isolation less than a bore or a daunting task, experts suggest creating a schedule to dictate control in your home.

1. Work It Out

Gyms are closed, but your home can be transformed into a personal training center. Use heavy bags for weights and if you can, create a playlist of workouts on YouTube. For those who have memberships for Blink or Peloton, the platforms have streamed their workouts on apps.

2. Mindful Meditation

Meditation isn't about dumping your thoughts, it's about staying aware and mindful. AQUA has developed online that leverages the power of "Mindful Meditation and Mobility Movements" for flexibility and fluidity in the body. Classes are free of charge but feel free to donate.

3. Take It Back To High School

Give your friends a call or indulge in a FaceTime party. Feel free to use the Wifi in your home to reduce the amount of data used on your phone. Lala Anthony held a too-cute FT birthday party for writer Kiyonna Anthony with a 70s theme. You can also find creative ways to hop on the phone with friends and family instead of constantly chatting about 'rona.

 

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We made the best out of our quarantine situation🎉‼️FACETIME 70s Party💃🏽🎉HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY NIECE @kiyonnathewriter ❤️❤️💃🏽💃🏽SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY ARIES ♈️ MAKE THE BEST OF IT!!!😘

A post shared by ℒᎯ ℒᎯ (@lala) on Mar 23, 2020 at 7:14pm PDT

4. Start A Journal

Journals just aren't for kids. The practice not only gives you something to do, but it fuels creativity and a new level of self-awareness. Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently developed Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice, with over 150 inspiring questions and quotes that connect to key themes in her memoir. The journal will also help bring readers to terms with the importance of family and personal reflections as well as the goals they'd like to make a reality.

5. Have a Dance Party or Enjoy Lo-Fi Beats To Quarantine To

If you don't have data or battery power to watch a virtual DJ party, make your own. If you have to pull out your record player, do it! You can also hop on your favorite streaming service and create a playlist all your own.

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From Teen Sensation To Vocal Bible: Brandy's 15 Best Songs

September 27, 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the multiplatinum self-titled debut album by one of R&B’s greatest voices, Brandy Rayana Norwood, or simply Brandy. She was already well on her way to stardom prior to her debut as a background vocalist for Immature and one of the stars of the short-lived ABC series, Thea. However, it was the album Brandy that set her on the path to tremendous success.

Since officially bursting onto the scene in 1994 sporting her well-known braided crown of glory, she has been a force to be reckoned with. She was handpicked by her idol, the late Whitney Houston, to portray the role of the first Black Cinderella in the 1997 film Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Her show Moesha was one of the longest-running black sitcoms. Brandy was also a CoverGirl in 1999 and became a friend of Barbie that same year when Mattel released the Brandy Doll. In music, she’s released six studio albums, sold more than 40 million records worldwide, headlined three world tours, and won more than 30 awards including seven Billboard Music Awards, a Grammy and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Award. Brandy deserves her flowers.

Let’s check out the top 15 songs that helped solidify Brandy as your favorite singer’s favorite singer (just ask Solange) and earned her the title of the “Vocal Bible.”

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