“Born of the same parents, some went separate ways”
Grace Jones and Bishop Noel Jones are sister and brother.
GRACE JONES/NOEL JONES
Grace Jones, born in Jamaica on May 19, 1948, is a well-known actress, singer, lyricist, dancer and supermodel; she relocated to New York with her family in 1965 and studied theatre at Syracuse University. Her movie career began with a minor role as a drug courier in “Gordon’s War” in 1973, but her real breakthrough came in 1984 as Zula in “Conan, the Destroyer” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This led to another big role as May Day in the James Bond thriller, “A View to a Kill” in 1985.
While her movie career flourished, Jones has also been adept as a singer and a model. Her slim physique made her the ideal standard for modeling as she juggled and multi-tasked her three careers successfully.
Jones’ movie credits included “Boomerang” starring Eddie Murphy, “Straight to Hell” some direct-to-video and foreign movies. She received Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress nominations consecutively in 1985, 1986 and 1987. As a model, she worked with some celebrity fashion designers in Paris and endorsed several products. She made her first music album, “Portfolio” in 1977 just after her first film and continued with an album a year for the next five years. To complement her music, she performed live act with lions and leopards which became almost a cult attraction with her fans that she was dubbed “The Queen of Gay Discos.” In 1984 and 1986, Jones received Grammy and MTV Video award nominations.
In her private life, she always seemed to prefer European White men.
Bishop Noel Jones is the senior pastor of the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, California, which has a choir called ‘The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir.’ Formerly, the Greater Bethany Community Church, it also has approximately 17,000 members. According to the church’s website: “Our mission and ministry are to serve as mediators in our families, our church, and community as we are empowered by the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. Bishop Jones founded The Noel Jones Ministries (formerly known as Jesus Alternative Ministries) to assist in providing answers to situations “we face on a daily basis relating to social consciousness, sexuality and religious thought.”
In a visit to the City of Refuge Church on Sunday, one may be able to hear the bishop give an intellectual sermon, one of his trademarks. He is a much sought-after speaker and is often traveling throughout the week but still returns to the City of Refuge Church to give his scholarly Sunday lecture. Bishop Jones is often seen on BET, CNN and TBN.
He is an ordained bishop with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, the second-largest predominantly African-American Pentecostal organization in the world. Bishop Jones has a Bachelors of Science in Theology from Aenon Bible College and a doctoral degree from International Circle of Faith. He is the father of three adult children.
Melanie Lomax and Dr. Michael Lomax are sister and brother.
ATTORNEY MELANIE LOMAX/DR. MICHAEL LOMAX
Melanie Lomax was a civil rights lawyer in Los Angeles and the first Black woman to become the president of Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. When Mayor Thomas Bradley appointed Melanie Lomax to the police commission, it was the first time that the board had two Black commissioners at the same time. She was an established civil rights lawyer having gained a reputation in the Los Angeles County Counsel’s office defending county agencies in labor and civil matters where she had begun in 1975. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, and founded her own law firm in 1984 specializing in age, sex and racial discrimination cases. Lomax was the president of the police commission when motorist Rodney King was beaten by four LAPD officers which eventually triggered one of the worst incidents of civil unrest in the nation. Afterwards she waged a tireless battle, as commission’s president, to oust the then police chief and to transform the department’s culture. When she was not successful, Lomax tendered her resignation, returned to her law practice and continued her efforts to change the LAPD and served as vice-president and general counsel of the local NAACP. She publicly admonished some Black Hollywood entertainers for not giving back enough to the Black community who, she said, was the source of much of their wealth and success. Lomax died mysteriously in 2006 when her car plummeted down an embankment near her home in Hollywood Hills.
Since 2004, Dr. Michael Lomax has been the president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), an American philanthropic organization that raises funds for college tuition money for Black students and general scholarship funds for 39 private historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). A career educator, Dr. Lomax taught literature at both Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia. He also served as president of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he increases enrollment by nearly 70%; completed new acquisitions, renovations and the first new academic building in many years, the Dillard University International Center for Economic Freedom. Dr. Lomax doubled the university’s assets and almost tripled the fundraising from alumni, individuals, corporations and foundations. With that background, he was a shoo-in to head the UNCF.
Dr. Lomax also serves as the Chairman of the UNCF’s Board of its Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSP), which provides support for institutions of higher learning to build and create partnerships, with governmental and other organizations. He is also Chairman of UNCF’s Advisory Board for the Frederick D. Patterson Institute (named in honor of the founder of UNCF), the first Black-led research institute in the country to design, conduct, analyze, interpret and disseminate research to the public, policymakers, and educators.
As chairman of Fulton County’s Board of Commissioners for 12 years, Dr. Lomax ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for mayor of Atlanta, Georgia in 1989. He has three daughters and lives in Atlanta with his wife, Cheryl Ferguson Lomax and family.
Brandy Norwood and Raymond “Ray J.” Norwood are sister and brother.
BRANDY NORWOOD/RAYMOND “RAY J.” NORWOOD
Brandy Norwood, professionally known as ‘Brandy,’ is an American R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, television entertainer, actress, and film producer. She is also the daughter of gospel singer, Willie Norwood and Sonja Bates-Norwood. Brandy first appeared in a supporting role in the sitcom, “Thea,” in 1993. That same year, she signed a recording contract and released her self-titled debut album the following year. In 1996, she starred in a successful sitcom, “Moesha,” and released her second album, “Never Say Never,” two years later which led to the Grammy Award-winning, “The Boy Is Mine,” a duet with singer, Monica.
In 1997, Brandy did the television movie, “Cinderella”; in 1998, the horror sequel “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer”; and in 1999, another television movie, “Double Platinum.” Her television movies were considered two of television’s best rated special programs. In addition, Brandy emerged as one of the most successful new breed of urban R&B female vocalists during the late 1990s and Billboard magazine ranked her among the top 20 pop artists of the decade. Her latest album, “Human” was released in 2008.
Thus far, Brandy has sold over 8.5 million copies of her five studio albums in the United States and over 25 million albums worldwide. She has also won over 100 awards as a recording artist.
Ray J. Norwood, better known by his stage name Ray J., is an American singer, record producer and actor. He is the son of gospel singer Willie Norwood and Sonja Bates-Norwood, and the cousin of rapper Snoop Dogg. In 1989, he first appeared in television commercials at the age of eight and then played the foster son in “The Sinbad Show,” from 1993-1994. Following in the musical footsteps of his sister, Brandy, he recorded his first album, “Everything You Want” in 1996 and then on her television show, “Moesha” three years later.
In addition to having a role on “Moesha,” Ray J. worked on the music for several commercials and for another record, “Another Day in Paradise” which he did with Brandy. It became a success in Europe and also in Australia. He extended his talents in the area of producing and performances, and in addition to working with his sister, Ray J. also worked with the Neptunes, Lil’ Kim and several other singers for his second studio album, “This Ain’t A Game” which was released in 2001.
In a recent interview with his family at the Sentinel, he spoke about his transition from being on an independent label to signing with a major label, “You can only go so far independently. I think I’ve reached my peak independently.” And as a major label artist, Ray J. still has miles to go in his career.
Susan Rice and John Rice are sister and brother.
AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE/JOHN RICE
Dr. Susan E. Rice is a foreign policy advisor and United States Ambassador to the United Nations. She has a long history as an advisor during presidential campaigns – all the way back to the 1980s – to serving in the State Department before her present position at the U.N. She grew up on the edges of government, being born in Washington, D.C. Though she was a gifted athlete, Rice seemed to inherit a calling to government service: her father, Emmett J. Rice, is a Cornell University economics professor and former governor of the Federal Reserve System and her mother is education policy scholar Lois Dickson Fitt, currently at the Brookings Institute. During the Clinton administration, Rice served on the National Security Council and as assistant Secretary of State. And Rice also served as a foreign policy advisor for candidate Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. She was a natural to become his U.N. ambassador.
As a student, Susan Rice attended some of the best educational institutions and in addition to excellence in her athletic ability, her academic achievements were equally compelling. At National Cathedral School (a private school for girls), she was a three-sport athlete, student council president and a valedictorian. Then at Stanford University, she graduated with a B.A. history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and attended New College, Oxford, where she wrote a dissertation titled “Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe , 1979-1980: Implication for International Peacekeeping” as the UK’s most distinguished in international relations.
Rice interest includes international humanitarian intervention from her experience since her time at Stanford with as a management consultant at a global management consultant firm, as director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995; and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997. All of which led to her being appointed as President Barack Obama’s U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
Born in Washington, D.C., John Rice, received an M.B.A, from Harvard University, and is the founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT – an organization committed to developing top minority talent for leadership roles in the business and non-profit sector). His maternal grandparents immigrated from Jamaica to Maine and parents always reminded him (and his sister) not to let the presence of affirmative action diminish his accomplishments or to use race as an excuse or advantage.
MLT was aired on CNN as a part of Soledad O’Brien’s “Black in America”: Tomorrow’s Leaders focusing on the program’s work of putting Black professionals in senior leadership positions in corporate America, and creating opportunities for the next generation of youth leadership. When Rice developed MLT as a nonprofit mentoring program, it was aimed at providing minority business students with guidance and advice; but in he and his board realized the need was greater than their original intentions.
According to Rice: “We took a deep dive into the major challenges minorities face getting into business schools, They’re under represented in major MBA programs, largely because they are struggling to demonstrate qualifications. They’re also underrepresented in entry-level jobs and, while in college, minorities are not graduating at the same rate as nonminority populations.”
Michelle Obama and Craig Robinson are sister and brother.
MICHELLE L. OBAMA/CRAIG ROBINSON
As the First Lady of the United States and the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Michelle Obama may be considered the most powerful woman in the world. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Michele Obama attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School before returning to Chicago and to work at a Chicago law firm, where she met her future husband. In addition, she worked at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Michelle Obama traveled on the campaign trail continuously on behalf of her husband’s presidential bid and delivered a keynote address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She is the mother of two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and is the first Black First Lady of the United States. Since becoming First Lady, Mrs. Obama has become a fashion icon and role model for African-American women, and a notable advocate against obesity and healthy eating. As an extension of her help with the children during the campaign, Marian Robinson, Michele’s mother has moved into the White House to continue to help with the First Children.
Growing up on Southside of Chicago in a blue-collar neighborhood, prepared Mrs. Obama for the role she currently has representing the country. She grew up in a conventional home, attended nearby South Shore Methodist Church and joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School. That academic road led her to Princeton and Harvard, where she graduated as an attorney. Though her role as a parent now seem to consume much of her time.
Sometimes referred to as the First Brother or the First Brother-in-Law, because of his special familial relationship to the first family, Craig M. Robinson, the older brother of the First Lady, is the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University and prior to that, he coached the basketball team at Brown University. At 6′-6″, he was a star forward at Princeton University in the early 1980s where he was also a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year in 1981-1982 and 1982-1983, and led the league in field goal percentage both years. Robinson is the fourth highest scorer in the school’s history.
Growing up in the South Shore area of Chicago, Robinson attended Mount Carmel High School, graduating in 1979. And though other universities had offered scholarships, on the insistence of his father, he chose Princeton University, and so did his sister. He graduated in 1983 with a B.A. in Sociology, the same year he was drafted in the fourth round NBA Draft by the 76ers, but never played in the league. However, Robinson did play professionally for the Manchester Giants in the British Basketball League for two seasons, and then returned in 1988 to become an assistant coach at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a position he held until 1990.
Robinson left basketball and went to the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business where he earned an MBA in Finance and became a successful bond trader. From 1990 to 1992, he was a vice president at Continental Bank and then went to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter where he was also vice president until 1999. After that Robinson became a managing director and partner at Loop Capital Markets, a minority-owned boutique investment banking firm.
That President Obama and he are ardent basketball buffs makes their relationship solid. He said, “When I played basketball with Barack, he was quietly confident, which means he had good self-esteem without being cocky. He was certainly a team player and had natural leadership ability.”
Bebe Winans and Cece Winans are sister and brother.
PRISCILLA M. “CECE” WINANS/BENJAMIN “BEBE” WINANS
As one of a large family, Priscilla “CeCe” Winans and her brother are members of a family of gospel singers. She has won numerous Grammy and Stellar Awards for gospel music. Born in Detroit in close proximity to another music genre (Motown), CeCe made her music debut in 1995 with a platinum certified release, “Alone in His Presence” for which she won her first Grammy Award, two Dove Awards and her first Female Vocalist of the Year title. It was such an outstanding debut that she teamed with superstar, Whitney Houston, in 1996.
Her first being hard to beat, her second release, (“Everlasting Love”), two years later became gold certified in addition to having several singles on the Billboard chart. And she released yet another album in 1998, “His Gift.” The following year, CeCe formed her own recording company, PureSprings Gospel, with her first album on the label “Alabaster Box .” Moving up a notch in production, Cece released a concert VHS titled “Live At The Lambs Theater in New York,” in 2000 using a combination format of songs from her previous albums.
CeCe’s next album, self titled “CeCe Winans,” came in 2001 and then “the Throne Room” in 2003 which morphed into a 25-city tour in 2004-2005. When she released her seventh album in 2005, CeCe incorporated her nephew into the family music business and also her son and younger sisters. Her collection of songs has been rated in the Top Ten R&B radio hits and she has continued to release gospel album well up to 2008.
Like two peas in a pod, Benjamin “BeBe” Winans and his sister traveled the same musical route as gospel singers. He released several albums with her and then later as a solo artist – so did she. They were vocalists for the PTL Club on it campus in North Carolina. One of their biggest hits there “Lord Lift Us Up,” was in such popular demand that it spawned a full-length album, which did well on the charts.
In 1989, BeBe won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Soul Gospel Performance on his brother’s choir and with CeCe, he recorded five albums. In 1995, they split up to pursue solo careers. BeBe went to Atlantic Records and in 1997, released his first solo there featuring two single hits, “In Harm’s Way,” and “Thank You,” in addition to the international crossover hit “I Wanna Be the Only One” featuring British soul trio Eternal (three Black Sisters).
Next, BeBe moved to the Motown label and release “Love and Freedom” produced by Warryn Campbell, Brian McKnight and Masters at Work. Its lead single “Coming Back Home” featured McKnight and BeBe did a remake of Stevie Wonder’s “Jesus Children of America” with his older brother and Stevie Wonder himself. As his sister did, he also incorporated some of his siblings into the family music business.
BeBe recorded a live album two years later, “Live & Up Close” at BET studios with another sister and Stephanie Mills. Released on CD & DVD, it included the album’s first single, “Do You Know Him.” By 2003, BeBe formed his own record label releasing his first album the following year, at the same time making his film debut in “The Manchurian Candidate” with Denzel Washington.
Since then, BeBe has done an album with a single honoring Dr. King; performed during President Obama’s inauguration; hosts his own nationally syndicated radio program; and has starred in a Broadway production of “The Color Purple” along with Chaka Khan. He participated in a remake of “We Are The World” to benefit the victim of the earthquake in Haiti and also in 2010, he recorded a remake of Aretha Franklin’s “Precious Memories.”