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Nigerian Singer, Sound Sultan Buried in United States

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Nigerian Singer, Olanrewaju Fasasi better known as Sound Sultan, has been laid to rest.

The decrease was buried in New Jersey, United States, according to Islamic rite.

Eelive.ng had earlier reported how the late singer passed away at age 44.

According to a statement by Dr Kayode Fasasi on behalf of the Fasasi family, the rapper died after a long battle with cancer.

The statement had read “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing away of multitalented veteran singer, Rapper, songwriter Olanrewaju Fasasi A.K.A Sound Sultan.

“He passed away at the age of 44 following a hard fought battle with Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma.

“He is survived by wife, three children and his siblings. We his family will appreciate the utmost privacy as we come to grips with this tragic loss.”

Nigerians had also payed tributes to the late rapper.

His career in show business started in the 1990s, when he hosted shows to raise money for studio sessions.

By 1999, he had won numerous local talent-hunt shows. He released his first single “Jagbajantis” in 2000, which was a hit in Nigeria. After independently releasing other singles and featuring in hit songs of other artists, he then signed for Kennis Music.

Under Kennis Music, Sound Sultan released four albums. By 2007, his contract with the label expired and he partnered with Baba Dee to start Naija Ninjas.

Under Naija Ninjas, he released Back From The Future (2010) and signed artists such as Karma Da Rapper, Young GreyC, Shawn and Blacka.

In 2012, Sound Sultan became a UN Ambassador for Peace for his exemplary lifestyle and career.

Below are some of the photos from the burial:

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Interview With ‘Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey’ Director

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A.A. Milne’s original “Winnie the Pooh” stories only lapsed into the public domain five months ago but the tubby little cubby has already made his foray into slasher films.

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” wrapped earlier this month and the first stills – showing a demonic looking Pooh and Piglet about to pounce on a scantily-clad young woman relaxing in a hot tub – have already set the internet on fire.

In an interview with Variety, director Rhys Waterfield – who is in post-production on four other films including “Firenado” and “Demonic Christmas Tree” – said the response to the stills has been “absolutely crazy.”

“Because of all the press and stuff we’re just going to start expediting the edit and getting it through post production as fast as we can really,” said Waterfield. “But also, making sure it’s still good. It’s gonna be a high priority.”

According to Waterfield, who also wrote and co-produced the film, “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” will see Pooh and Piglet as “the main villains […] going on a rampage” after being abandoned by a college-bound Christopher Robin. “Christopher Robin is pulled away from them, and he’s not [given] them food, it’s made Pooh and Piglet’s life quite difficult.”

“Because they’ve had to fend for themselves so much, they’ve essentially become feral,” Waterfield continued. “So they’ve gone back to their animal roots. They’re no longer tame: they’re like a vicious bear and pig who want to go around and try and find prey.”

The film was shot in 10 days in England, not far from Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for Milne’s imaginary Hundred Acre Wood in the “Winnie the Pooh” stories. Although Waterfield declined to reveal the budget for the slasher flick, he said audiences “shouldn’t be expecting this to be a Hollywood level production or anything like that obviously.” Jagged Edge productions, which Waterfield runs with co-producer Scott Jeffrey, made the film and ITN Studios have already signed on to distribute it (a release date is TBC).

Given the premise, the biggest challenge, Waterfield said, was balancing the line between horror and comedy. “Because when you try and do a film like this, and it’s a really wacky concept, it’s very kind of easy to go down a route where nothing is scary and it’s just really ridiculous and really, like, stupid. And we wanted to go between the two.”

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Jagged Edge Productions

As an example, Waterfield explained the set-up behind the still (above) of a girl relaxing in a jacuzzi with Pooh and Piglet ominously standing nearby. “She’s having a good time and then Pooh and Piglet appear behind her and they chloroform her, take her out of the jacuzzi, and then kind of drive a car over her head,” Waterfield said. “It’s scary but there’s also funny bits because there’s shots of Winnie the Pooh in a car and seeing him with his little ears behind the wheel and like slowly going over there [to kill her.]”

The only worry, especially with all the new-found publicity, is whether Disney will have anything to say about “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.” Although Milne’s earliest stories are now out of copyright, Disney retains exclusive use of their interpretations of Pooh Bear and his friends. “We’ve tried to be extremely careful,” said Waterfield. “We knew there was this line between that and we knew what their copyright was and what they’ve done. So we did as much as we could to make sure [the film] was only based on like the 1926 version of it.”

Which is why Waterfield’s Pooh Bear has swapped the little red t-shirt for a lumberjack suit and Piglet is clad in black. It’s also why other characters still in copyright, such as Tigger, will not appear (although there is a scene featuring Eeyore’s tombstone, the miserable donkey having been eaten by a starving Pooh and Piglet.)

“No one is going to mistake this [for Disney],” Waterfield said. “When you see the cover for this and you see the trailers and the stills and all that, there’s no way anyone is going to think this is a child’s version of it. Like, no one who looks at this thinks this is a Disney version. It’s very, very, very different.”

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Universal Music Promotes Sujata Murthy to Executive VP

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Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), the catalog division of Universal Music Group, has promoted Sujata Murthy to executive vice president of media & artist relations, effective immediately.

In her role, Ms. Murthy will continue to be responsible for the label’s media department and oversee press strategy and campaigns, as well as work closely with artists, managers and estates across UMG’s roster. Additionally, she will be an integral part in expanding UMe’s corporate and executive initiatives. She will remain based in UMe’s Santa Monica offices and report to president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff.

Resnikoff said, “Sujata is an invaluable member of my executive team and she is someone who has earned the respect of our artists and their management teams. She has also built one of the best media teams in the industry and she continues to play an important role in developing and executing UMe’s successful release strategies for our artists.”

Murthy said, “I am truly honored to work with the incredible artists and catalog that are the very fabric of our musical heritage. I am excited to continue introducing classic albums and artists to the next generation through new platforms and technology helping continue their legacy. I am grateful to work alongside Bruce Resnikoff and the dedicated UMe team.”

Since joining UMe, Murthy has worked with some of the most influential and legendary recording artists of the last 100 years or their teams, including ABBA, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Beastie Boys, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, John Coltrane, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond, Ella Fitzgerald, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Guns N’ Roses, Buddy Holly, the Jackson Five, Bob Marley, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Smokey Robinson, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Cat Stevens, the Temptations, U2,  the Who and countless others.

A native of Chennai, India, Murthy began her music career at Capitol Records and transitioned to become the primary publicist for artists reissuing classic albums on CD for the first time, including Sinatra, Peggy Lee and Dean Martin. She has received numerous honors, including Korn Ferry’s “Most Influential South Asian Women Executives in Media and Entertainment,” included in “The 20 Most Powerful Indians in Hollywood” by the Business Insider, received the Visionary Award from the Women’s International Music Network, and more. She is a board member or advisor to several non-profit organizations focusing on helping underserved and marginalized communities.  She is one of the few South Asian women senior executives in the music industry and serves in various capacities as a mentor and leader for the BIPOC community.

 

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ABBA’s Benny Andersson Talks Live ‘Voyage’ Ticket Sales, Production

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The first news about a virtual ABBA show broke in 2016. Six years later, “Voyage” is set to open at the purpose-built 3,000-seat ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Along the way, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote two new songs for the show and reunited with Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad to record a new album, making a spectacular comeback for the Swedish quartet that first achieved international fame in 1974 by winning the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo.”

After two previews, a VIP invited audience will see the show tonight (Thursday, May 26) and an official opening night happens on Friday, May 27. Fans from all over the world will finally be able to see this one-of-a-kind show featuring technology that has never been seen before. From a production office backstage at the arena, Andersson spoke with Variety via Zoom about the highly-anticipated production.

After a six-year journey, you finally saw the complete finished production of “Voyage” for the first time just six weeks ago. What were your thoughts on this initial viewing?

I thought that everyone who has been working on this project has done a fantastic job. That’s what I felt. It is us up there. It’s ABBA, and so beautifully done. To me, the only question that really mattered was not if it is good enough but how will the audience react when we’re not really there, you know? Will they look at it as a painting? Would you applaud a painting? Would you applaud a movie? You don’t do that. Would they be immersed in what we’re trying to achieve here? The first audience came in on Friday and that was only half-full. They wanted to check the premises, check the bars and see that everything was hunky-dory. The audience was fantastic and the preview we had the day before yesterday was a full house. Yes, an incredible reaction. We were there, I promise you. We were actually there. So I’m very happy.

Fans are wondering if it will be emotional seeing your avatars on stage, since beyond this opening week you will not be present during the show. Did you feel emotional watching the production?

To see the audience, yes. To see ourselves, not much. Because I know what’s going on. The good thing is that we, ABBA, will be equally good or bad every night.

Is it fair to say that this technologically-advanced show is the first of its kind?

Yes, it is, which is why we were turned on by it. We thought, wow, can we really do this? It was good that we had some stamina, because there’s been some uphill [battles] during these five and a half years. We said, “Well, we’ve started it. We need to go through with it and it has to happen.” Everything, from ILM’s work to the lighting to the sound is amazingly beautiful. It’s the best sound you’ve heard in an arena ever, I promise you that. That has been my department. I mean, the music is my department, the band sound. All the people who work with this have been wonderful. But the technique has nothing to do with the show. You sit there and you see a band on stage and that’s what it is.

Almost four decades after the four of you last recorded together, you’re debuting two new songs for the show, “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down.” Whose idea was it? 

That was me. I talked to Björn. I said, if we would have been doing this for real, going out on the stage, we would have added a couple of new songs to perform. And then I called the ladies and they said yes. That surprised me a lot. I think they saw the whole picture, that it would be good for ABBA “Voyage” the concert if we had some new music out there. So we did that and I thought with the first two songs, it went so well and they could still sing and we could still produce music in the studio so we said maybe we’ll do a couple of others while we’re at it, and we ended up doing a whole album.

I understand it went from two songs to five songs to 10 songs.

And then 10. That’s right. We recorded 12 songs and we didn’t finish two of them. No, we said, let’s work on the ones we think we should keep on the album. But this is it. No more.

Björn and Agnetha have publicly said there will be no more ABBA. And now you are saying that, too. No more recordings? Ever?

It’s never say never, but it’s a no. Nothing is going to happen after this.

I thought with the success of the “Voyage” album around the world, you might want to do more.

Yes, it did well. But no.

There is a playlist on Spotify called “Abba A to Z” with every song you have recorded in alphabetical order. It lasts for eight hours. How did you narrow down the vast ABBA catalog to fill the concert’s running time of 90 minutes?

We spent a lot of time on this. We realized we cannot not play [the hits] but we also wanted to give the concert some dynamics, so there are a few songs that the audience will not be too familiar with, but we like them so we put them in. It’s 21 songs and it feels good.

With this new technology, can you change the set list at some point in the future without going back into the motion-capture suits?

Yes. ILM [Industrial Light and Magic] has all the information from us in numbers, so we can bring our body doubles back in. They can do the work if we wanted to swap a couple of songs in a year’s time or so and work on it and it’ll be exactly the same. We don’t have to go back ourselves into the studio again. That’s what they have promised us.

There are eight other songs on the “Voyage” album that are not in the show, so you could possibly add them in a year or two from now.

Maybe. I’m fond of “Ode to Freedom.”

The album was a very bright spot in two very dark years. What did the success of the album mean to you? Were you concerned at all how it would do?

I wasn’t worried. You do the best that you can and you hope for the best. I think it’s the first time we’ve had really good reviews all over.

The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard chart, the highest ranking of your career in the U.S., and was No. 1 in many countries.

Not bad. So we were happy, of course. But I have to say that it actually was to enthuse people to come to this show.

In 1999, when rehearsals were going on in London for “Mamma Mia!” the stage musical, Björn told me he had no idea if the show was going to be a hit. Did you have the same thoughts about “Voyage”?

It’s the same thing with “Mamma Mia!” or any show, anything that you’re working on. You have your previews and you have all your rehearsals and all that and you can say, “This is as good as we can do it,” and you don’t know if it’s a hit or if it’s a flop until the audience comes in. They give you that. The first time with the audience will tell you everything. It did for “Mamma Mia!” absolutely.

A lot of people are still saying they are going to see holograms on stage, but that is not true. How would you describe the technology?

This has been an impossible task. The only way to explain it is you have to go and see it. Because we are digitally produced and we are actually on stage. We’re not on a screen. Well, we are on a screen but you can’t see that and I don’t know how they’ve done it because it’s so beautiful. It’s amazing. The work they’ve done at ILM and our producers and Baillie Walsh, the director. Yes, it’s real. You’re going to see it when you come. It’s really real and I don’t get it. I’m just happy that we achieved what we set out to do and finally we’re in the starting boxes.

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Stufish Entertainment Architects

The ABBA Arena was buiIt specifically to house this show and its unique technology. Yet, I’ve read they might tear down the building in four years.

If it runs until Christmas, I’m happy.

Maybe longer?

I’ll be even happier. The plan is for the city to build housing in this place, so we have about four years, four and a half or whatever, but if I were the mayor of London, I’d keep this arena because it’s beautiful. There’s nothing of the kind in London, no 3000-seaters. I would keep it, put some [other show] out there or let us run if we can.

It’s already been suggested that the next city to host “Voyage” will be Las Vegas.

We’ll see. This has to get on its feet first. We have to see how attractive it is. We’ve sold 380,000 tickets or so. It’s good for a couple months. We need to see if it sells more tickets. But there will be promoters coming in from the U.S. to see if there’s something that will be suitable for their market. I think we’re exactly in the right spot here in London. The English people have always treated us like we were theirs for some odd reason, for which I’m very humbly grateful.

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