Tegan and Sara
(Vapor/Warner Bros. Records)
I like Tegan and Sara. I’ve enjoyed many of their previous six albums. This is another good one, and I’m not just saying this as a fan. They are indie with a big sprinkle of pop. I loved their first single off this album, “Closer,” so I was looking forward to this CD. (It was hard, but nothing was harmed in the process.) People often criticize this duo for sounding a bit whiny, and the music does sound that way to a certain extent, but I don’t see that as a negative with this style of music. I still enjoy their unique voices and especially how they sound when they harmonize. My favorite songs on this album are “Goodbye, Goodbye,” “I’m Not Your Hero” and “Shock to Your System.”

Taylor Swift
(Big Machine Records)
I tried so hard to hate this. First off, I have never been a fan of Taylor Swift. I was just never very impressed -- not being a fan of most country music might have something to do with it. My dislike of Swift was going smoothly, even as she released “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” All was normal. One night I was driving home from work when a song came on, a song that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a pop song, and I was already singing the hook before my first listen to it was even over. I assumed it was a new artist. Later I got online, typed in the chorus, and what came up made me choke on my own spit. I had just sung to a Taylor Swift song out loud in my car. She had gotten me with “I Knew You Were Trouble.” She did it, and I’m not the only one she got with that song. My friends reluctantly admitted to loving that song as well. A few cocktails may or may not have had something to do with our honesty session. But that song led me to check out the album. Trying to be as unbiased as I can, I will say that as a whole, the album is good for pop country. It’s catchy in a way I never wanted to admit. Other favorites include “Red,” and “The Last Time.”
Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire
I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that what fans love most about Alicia Keys is the simplicity of the piano, matching her always great, sweet vocals. She’s undoubtedly soulful, and her voice sounds best when you can hear the emotion so well that you can almost touch it. As a whole, this is not my favorite album of hers, but the good songs should not be dismissed. Try not to judge the album by her first single, the title track, “Girl on Fire.” I’m not a huge fan of that one. Other songs on this album that highlight her voice better and are far more touching are “101” and “Not Even the King.” Other favorites of mine are “That’s When I Knew” and “Tears Always Win.”
“Hey Porsche”
(Republic Records/ Derrty Entertainment)
Nelly disappointed me with this single. It’s a bit trivial, but it’s still irksome. In general, the Nelly we once knew was a rapper and a rhythm and blues artist. We know him as “Country Grammar” and “Hot in Herre.” This is not him -- at least not like we used to know him. This single is pop all around. I thought I was listening to a new boy band. The change is a bit extreme for longtime fans, who expect anything other than this. However, with that said, people who haven’t heard his previous songs may enjoy it for what it is. We will see what the other songs are like when the album comes out, but this song is a miss.

Whether you're spreading truth, information, or love, traveling abroad for humanitarian reasons can have risks. Detained American journalist in Myanmar, Danny Fenster, is to be released from jail, and to fly home soon. But it doesn't always end well for every foreign national attempting to do good in a foreign country.

The missionaries consisting of sixteen Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by the Haitian “400 Mawozo” gang on October 16, is extremely scary. The gang has threatened to kill the humanitarian Christians if a million dollar per person ransom is not fulfilled. The group consists of men, women, children and an eight-month-old baby.

Keep reading Show less

The Black Trans Fund, incubated at Groundswell Fund, and Grantmakers for Girls of Color launched the Holding a Sister Initiative, the first-ever national fund explicitly dedicated to transgender girls and gender-expansive youth of color.

Dr. Monique W. Morris, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, and Bré Rivera, program director of the Black Trans Fund are together spearheading the Holding a Sister Initiative to bring attention and resources to organizations supporting trans girls of color, normalize concern and investment in their success, and create learning opportunities for cis and trans girls of color to move in deeper community with one another.

Keep reading Show less