Saturday, Dec 20th

Last update05:52:28 AM GMT


'No third party' in Church split

The split emerged just six weeks after the pair went public with their engagement

Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson have said that no one else was involved in their split.

As the pair finally confirmed their separation, they said they were trying hard to deal with their "difficult time".

Over The Rainbow star Charlotte and her rugby player ex also said they were trying to "minimise the impact" on their two children Ruby, two, and Dexter, 16 months.

The split emerged at the weekend, just six weeks after the pair went public with their engagement. They had been together for five years.

Gavin is thought to have flown to Spain for a break with friends.

A statement issued on behalf of the couple on Wednesday said: "Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson have confirmed reports of their separation and would like to stress that no third party was involved.

"They are trying their hardest to deal with this difficult time for both of them in a way which will minimise the impact on their two young children. They fully intend to work together and cooperate in ensuring there is as little disruption as possible to the children's lives."

In April, Charlotte told how Gavin had secretly bought her a two-carat heart-shaped diamond engagement ring while they were on holiday in Dubai in January.

He proposed on her birthday in February.

In an interview with OK! magazine, she said she was "absolutely joyous" and "really emotional" at the proposal.

By The Press Association

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McCartney anxious about Obama gig

He is being honoured by the Library of Congress

Sir Paul McCartney has admitted being "slightly nervous" about performing in front of US President Barack Obama.

The 67-year-old star is going to sing just a metre in front of the President at the East Room of the White House.

"For an English kid growing up in Liverpool, the White House - that's pretty special," he said.

"He's a great guy," the ex-Beatle said of the President, "so lay off him."

Macca will be presented with Washington's highest award for pop music by the Library of Congress at the  event.

The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is named after the US songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin, whose collections are housed at the library.

Admitting he was "slightly nervous" about the performance, Macca - speaking on stage at a private performance in the Washington library in front of the likes of Stevie Wonder and Jerry Seinfeld - said it was very special to win the Gershwin Prize because he grew up listening to music by the Gershwin brothers.

This is the star's first major lifetime achievement award from the US government.

The Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Wonder and Seinfeld are part of an all-star lineup that will honour McCartney at the White House concert.

Performers will also include Jack White, Dave Grohl, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello.

By The Press Association

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Vocal Slender, Nigerian Slumdog Millionaire to perform in London

From a rubbish dump in Lagos to London's O2. Vocal Slender set to perform at the Cokobar Music Festival

With almost 16 million inhabitants Lagos is the second most populous city in Africa, and every day more people arrive in search of a better life (it is the seventh fastest growing city in the world).

While Lagos may be Nigeria's most prosperous city, it is a city of vast contrasts.  In areas such as Victoria Island you can find glitzy shopping centres, expensive residential properties, beach resorts, luxury hotels, banks, swanky nightclubs and so on. 

The three-part BBC documentary “Welcome To Lagos”, produced by KEO Films, shed light on the other side of this megacity, including places such as Olusosun, a rubbish dump where about 1000 scavengers work and live.
One of these scavengers is Eric Obuh aka Vocal Slender, 28, who was followed in the first episode, broadcast by BBC 2nd on 15th April.

Eric who grew up on the streets is also an aspiring rap artist; he is as he puts it "working hard to become somebody," collecting scrap from the dump and selling it in order to make money to record and promote his music. Not an easy task because whilst Nigeria's music industry of today is bursting with homegrown talent and the biggest stars can afford to live in luxury, the competition is immense.

When he is not working and living on the dump, Eric stays in Ajegunle, Lagos' biggest ghetto where the careers of many big names including Daddy Showkey and African China started.

In Ajegunle Eric struggles to make a name for himself as Vocal Slender performing at outdoor parties and trying to promote his music.
The Independent newspaper said "watching Eric slogging his guts out as a scavenger on the Olusosun rubbish dump in order to fund his music career couldn't be anything but inspiring."

The Times agreed saying that "the lives followed were inspirational, not least because these poorest of the poor saw only opportunity," and they continue to say: "Remember the name: Vocal Slender. There won’t be a story to match it on tomorrow’s Britain’s Got Talent."

The Guardian remarked that “Welcome To Lagos” was a "celebration of Lagosians' resourcefulness" while the New Statesman called it "one of the most moving, interesting and uplifting programmes in years."
Vocal Slender's story fascinated millions of viewers, who were inspired and touched by him and the other people featured. 

One of London's biggest Nigerian promoters decided that he wanted to help Vocal Slender get the break he so deserved.  So he made contact, flew to Lagos and offered to book him for an upcoming show: the Cokobar Music Festival, to be held at London's indigO2 on bank holiday Monday, 31st May.
The event already had a star-studded line-up, and now Vocal Slender has been added to this bill as a special guest.

Eric was issued his first passport, the visa was arranged, the flights booked and Eric can now look forward to this amazing opportunity.  Not only will it be his first performance abroad, he would also be sharing the stage with the highest calibre of Nigerian acts - from Lagos Wande Coal ("Bumper 2 Bumper", "You Bad"), Dr Sid ("Something About You"), Bracket ("Yori Yori") and DJ Zeez ("Fokasibe"), plus London-based JJC ("We Are Africans") and Tilla Man ("Pu'Yanga"); not the sort of bill you could expect to see him on in Lagos at present. 

Whilst in London a professional music video for his single "Owo Yapa" is to be shot as well, (kindly financed by Cokobar) as having a good video is paramount in Nigeria’s music industry, and it will help him establish his name when he returns to Lagos.
Right now Eric still works on the Olusosun rubbish dumb but this could be his chance to turn his dream of making it in the music industry into reality - and to become the Nigerian Slumdog Millionaire.


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London River, new film on prejudice released in Italy

It is set during the aftermath of 7 July terrorist bombings

London River, a film exploring prejudice has just been released in Italy.

Set against the backdrop of the 7th July 2005 bombings, London River directed by Rachid Bouchareb (“Days of Glory”), stars the wonderful Malian actor Sotigui Kouyaté who sadly passed away on 17th April 2010.

It tells the story of a friendship which develops between two seemingly unconnected people – Elizabeth (Brenda Blethyn) and Ousman (Kouyaté). Both of them have come to London to search for their children who are missing in the aftermath of the bombings.

Although they come from different religious backgrounds – Ousman is an African Muslim living in France, and Elizabeth is a white Christian living in Guernsey, UK, they share the hope of finding their children alive. Putting aside their cultural differences, they give each other the strength to continue the search and maintain their faith.

Bouchareb comments: “My film is less about the bombings themselves, and more about the meeting between these two people that takes place in their wake. That’s what was more important to me, that these two people who meet are united by the same problem, which is their desire to find their children. And the story is about these two people, a man and a woman from very different backgrounds but faced with the same fears, the same anxieties. I needed a crisis to bring them together, but that crisis could have been something else, the September 11 attacks for example.”

He notes that “Our lives aren’t so different because we are not different, whichever of the four corners of the globe we might live in. In our thoughts, our feelings, our fears, our joys, our hopes and worries - our lives, they are not so different at all. They are the same.”

Kouyatè who plays the role of an African farmer who has travelled from rural France to London to search for his son, said: “London River is about the problems that life poses for mankind. It has to do with the attack of 7/7, and it also talks of Islam, but these subjects are not at its heart. Rather, it wants to show the difficulties people have in accepting one another, the fear they feel. It is a film about how we react to things and this is what interests me. It teaches us that when you meet the other, don’t be scared to look them in the eye, for if you are brave enough to do so, you will be seeing yourself more clearly.”

The film in a very intelligent manner, uses the tragedy to bring closer two people who were living in totally different worlds, apparently convinced that they had nothing in common. But it’s just a matter of time before it emerges that the son Ousman is looking for and the daughter Elizabeth is looking for, not only knew each other but were actually roommates and maybe lovers. 

The love between their children which they were unaware of refuses to be destroyed by the 7 July bombings. Fate has it that their parents must come to know about it in such a sad circumstance.

Parents, who were initially convinced to be totally different, soon realise that they have so much in common. They end up putting aside their cultural and religious differences to give each other the strength to continue the search and maintain their faith in humanity.

Production Company: 3B Productions/The Bureau/Tassili Films
Directed by: Rachid Bouchareb
Starring: Brenda Blethyn and Sotigui Kouyaté
Producer: Jean Bréhat
Production Designer: Jean Marc Tran
Cinematographer: Jérôme Alméras
Editor: Yannick Kergoat
Sound: Philippe Lecoeur, Franck Rubio, Olivier Walczak
Music: Armand Amar
Running Time: 87 mins
Distribution: Bim

By Stephen Ogongo

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Paint store clerk is Idol winner

DeWyze's victory was based on votes cast after Tuesday's performance show

Lee DeWyze, a paint store clerk who overcame his shyness to impress American Idol judges and viewers with his spirit and soulful voice, triumphed over bluesy musician Crystal Bowersox in the contest's ninth season.

When asked by host Ryan Seacrest how he felt, an emotional DeWyze said, "I don't know. It's amazing, thank you, guys, so much ... I love you. Crystal, I love you."

The finalists had closely matched fan bases, with just a 2% voting gap between them coming into the finale, Seacrest said.

DeWyze's victory was based on votes cast after Tuesday's performance show, which drew more judges' compliments for Bowersox, 24, of Ohio, than for DeWyze, also 24, of Illinois.

The total number of votes cast in the finale wasn't announced by Seacrest. That's a departure from most years past: Last season, for example, the high-profile contest between Kris Allen and Adam Lambert drew 100 million phone and text message votes.

Fox didn't comment on the omission. But Idol, although still TV's top-rated show, has seen audience erosion this season that could have affected the tally. The talented but low-key Bowersox and DeWyze might also have provoked less interest.

The finale made the most of Simon Cowell's last appearance as a judge. A film package recounting highlights from the Cowell years was shown and comedian Dane Cook came on stage to sing "Simon Says," made up of the Briton's barbed comments, and to crack a few jokes.

The walk down memory lane continued with ex-judge Paula Abdul, who often played Cowell's sparring partner during the seasons the shared. "I've loved all the fun we've had together," Abdul told Cowell. "'American Idol's' not gonna be the same without you. But as only I can you, it will go on."

The finale, as usual, was stuffed with humour, including the return of Larry "Pants on the Ground" Platt and William Hung, return appearances by former contestants and music stars.

Kris Allen, last year's winner, sang "The Truth," with Carrie Underwood, Michael McDonald, Christina Aguilera, Hall & Oates, Robin and Barry Gibb, Janet Jackson and Joe Cocker were among those whose performances were scattered throughout the two-hour show.

By The Press Association

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