Performing In Buffalo's Key Bank Center THIS FRIDAY!

Earth Wind & Fire's Verdine White on 'The 2054 Tour'

"The Audiences Are Having A Great Time...!"

With over 90 million records sold worldwide, seven Grammy wins and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the NAACP Hall of Fame and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, Earth, Wind & Fire are easily one of the most successful groups of all time. Yet their pioneering fusion of funk, soul, jazz, rock and world rhythms have not only transcended commercial and artistic success, it’s also established the group as a genre unto itself and most importantly a soulful, syncopated and all encompassing way of life. Earth, Wind & Fire and the groundbreaking Nile Rodgers and Chic are co-headlining this summer’s greatest party: “The 2054 Tour” which stops at The Key Bank Center Friday, August 11. “It’s going really good,” says bassist Verdine White, whose inimitable musical and personal style has been a key element of the group since its inception, regarding the tour when reached by the phone. “We’re having a great time and both bands are great.

The audiences are having a great time and we’re seeing a lot young people.” That unity or conscious party, if you will, is key in helping define the Earth Wind & Fire experience which is imbued with spirituality, optimism and love as envisioned by the late-Maurice White when he formed the band in Chicago in 1970. “We have to thank my brother Maurice for his enlightenment, encouragement and his insight in all of those areas,” concurs White when prompted about the group’s uplifting message. Indeed, indelible hit songs like “Shining Star” “Sing A Song” and “September” or landmark albums like That’s The Way Of The World, Spirit, and I Am still seem timely and timeless four decades after the fact while E,W&F anthems that were directed towards the African- American community like “Keep Your Head To The Sky,” Mighty Mighty” and “Devotion” share universal truths with which all cultures could identify.

Let’s also not forget about “Reasons” or “Love’s Holiday” which surely spike a population increase nine months after couples play or stream them. Not to mention E,W&F’s sonic imprint which helped shape modern Black pop and the last half century of American popular music influencing the likes of Prince, Outkast, Beyonce, Keith Sweat and Phil Collins among many others while also proving fertile sampling ground for A Tribe Called Quest, The Fugees and Public Enemy to name a few. They also continue to offer musical inspiration in troubled times and in this era it’s something that’s needed more than ever. Prompted for his thoughts on whether the current political climate has made the group’s music more relevant, White notes that, “I think a lot of people are coming to the concerts for a feel good experience and what it does is re-enforces our message and how much people love it and appreciate it more.”

Reflecting on the passing of his older brother Maurice last year from Parkinson’s disease at age 74, White says, “You’re always going to have to deal with it. We were pretty much ready for it and our shows are dedicated to him and we do a certain part of the show for him. We’ll always love him.” Currently comprised of Philip Bailey (who joined in 1972), Verdine and Ralph Johnson, Earth, Wind & Fire remain a vital force on the road and in the studio having released Now Then & Forever to acclaim in 2013 and their first ever Christmas release Holiday in 2014 while further demonstrating their versatility and universal appeal by closing this year’s Country Music Awards with a performance of “September” and appearing on CMT Crossroads with Country Artists Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride and Darius Rucker.

Of the worlds of Country music and Earth, Wind & Fire colliding White says, “They’re big on songs and we’re big on songs and they did a poll and they wanted to sing our songs with us. It was very beautiful and it was an honor too, to show how our music has translated.” “We’ve just grown and we’ve done a lot of different things and we’ve obviously had the opportunity to be part of the culture changes and the technological changes” says White of the group’s longevity. “We’ve done some really interesting things.”


2017 Barber of the Year JERRY F. DANIELS 

Jerry F. Daniels, Sr. is being celebrated this week with two major honors.


In addition to being named the Challenger’s 2017 Barber of the Year, a brunch is being held in his honor on Sunday, July 16 at the new Landmark on Pearl Street. The recognition is well deserved. Jerry has been barbering for 60 years!  He will be 85 years young on August 11, and the handsome Grand Master appears to be far from slowing down.

A native of Cordele, Georgia,  he spent most of his childhood in Florida.  He attended Florida A&M College where he majored in English and minored in Humanities. At one point, he said, he wanted to be an electrical engineer.  But he was drafted into the Army. After receiving an honorable discharge he found his way to Buffalo “My Pastor was Peter Trammell (the father of former Judge Wilbur Trammell). At that time young men would go to him and ask him about jobs.”  

Jerry was one of them. “He told me ‘boy! Why don’t you go into barbering?' I told him I didn’t know anything about barbering and he told me to go to school and encouraged me to apply.  “I had just got out the military and had my GI Bill so I enrolled In the Roberts School of Barbering,  which at that time was located on Washington and Huron in downtown Buffalo."

The rest is history. 

Jerry, who has been barbering since 1957, said he started   out with his   cousin, Richard Daniels in 1966at the Tabernacle BarberShop on Jefferson near Broadway.  He said in an interview with The Challenger several years ago, that he remembers charging .50 for children and eventually $1 for men back in the day. He eventually opened his own shop – the Carl-Jeff Barbershop at 851 Jefferson on corner ofCarlton.  

 Jerry later purchased his current location at 859 Jefferson Avenue.

 He has been the recipient of a number of community awards including the Black Achieversin IndustryAward, an MLK Award and others. He has had streets and a small park near the barbershop named after him and is held in high esteem by his customers, co-workers and his community.

He takes it all in stride.

Several times a week Jerry goes to nursing homes and hospitals to cut hair for Vets, the sick and elderly.  “Barbering is more than an occupation,” he said. “It’s a ministry. You really connect with people. Sometimes you become a sounding board for them. Many times people come in and they may have a problem…you allow them to vent.  Then other times people just want to talk and once they leave they feel better. “ He continued: ”Barbering is also educational because you have all types of people come in from every walk of life and you have to learn how to adjust as much as you can.”

He said his parents were very inspirational throughout his life.  His father was a Minister and his mother was a Missionary in the church. “They always encouraged me(by telling me)   You can do it’. “  There were others who inspired him along the way. But the Lord and His goodness, he said,  has been his greatest inspiration and help in times of need.

“Sometimes the job is not easy, but with God, itis always doable.” First and foremost you have to keep the Lord in your life," he said then quoted Philippians 4:13: “‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  For many years he was a member of Cedar Grove. He now attendsShiloh Baptist Church.

“I would like to thank my customers for their loyal support," he said humbly. “I tell people, ‘through our doors walk the finest people in all the world.!  Everyone who comes in is a celebrity!"


We proudly salute

Jerry Daniels, our 2017 "Barber of the Year!"

(The community is invited to come out this Sunday from 1-4 p.m. for Sunday Brunch in honor of Mr. Daniels, ”A stranger to none and a friend to everyone.” The event will take place at The Landmark on Pearl, 318 Pearl St. Tickets are $35. Call 884-1444 for more information.)

2017 Beautician of the Year HARRIETT BLACK

Harriet Black’s customers have nothing but love and admiration for her.

In the nomination entries for the coveted title of 2017 Beautician of the Year they used such words as caring, conscientious, loving and God fearing to describe Harriett, also known as “Duchess.”

The kind of accolades she received speaks volumes about her life and her career. She has owned and operated her own salon “Hair Concepts by Duchess,” for 27 years and has worked in the industry for 36, building a reputation for excellence and dependability.

-Hair Matters-

When she was 8 years old she decided to be creative and streaked her Barbie Doll’s hair with red fingernail polish. “I got a whooping for that,” Harriett said laughing. “But at eight years old I knew this was my calling.” And it remained her passion even after she became a young adult, finished school and attended Bryant and Stratton where she received a certificate in business administration. She ultimately pursued her dream, enrolled In the Continental School of Beauty, and graduated in 1981. That same year she got married and started to work as a professional cosmetologist.    

Her first job, in a local salon, lasted one whole day.“When the owner told me I would get 20% I was out!” recalled Harriett. Work at three other salons followed - Ben’s Coiffeur, Tase’ and Iren’s Beauty Bar on Humboldt Parkway.

Finally in 1990, armed with experience, a God given talent for hair care, a diploma from Continental and a certificate in Business Administration, she opened her own shop, Concepts by Duchess, at 862 E. Delavan next to Woody’s and Manuel’s Afro Styles. The name of the business, she said was in honor of her late father who gave her the nickname “Duchess.” “He passed away in 1988 and I said if I ever got my ownsalonthat name would be involved in it.” She stayed in the E. Delavan Avenuelocationfor 10 years before purchasing hercurrentbuilding at 543 East Amherst in 1999.  In 2013 she burned her 15 year mortgage; a testament to her business savvy, her work ethic, and strong support base .

“I’ve been in the industry for 36 years and in August I’llcelebrate 36 years of being married to awonderfulhusband and supporter,” she said of her soul mate Frank Black, who she also describesas a great inspiration. During thoseearly days it was not unusual for her to work until 2 or 3 a.m. Her husband was always there to help care fortheir two daughters (now age 29 and 33), whileHarriett worked her dream.

She also credits her mother Frances Brownforbeing a great help. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my mom and my husband Frank, “ she said, “Alone I dare not climb; with God and you I reach new heights – because you can’t do anythingwithout other people,” she continued philosophically.  “I wouldn’t bewhereI am todaywithout the support of my clients “she added. “In my 27 years here I have always had people in my chair,” she said humbly.

Ultimately she credits God asher greatest inspiration. She has been amember of Friendship Baptist Church since 1981 (she and Frank were married there). He   serves as a deacon and she is a deaconess.  Rev. Edward Jackson Jr. is the current pastor. “My favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13,” she said, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

-Attitude of Gratitude-

Over the years, Harriett has never stopped learning. She holds a Bachelor’s from Dudley’s Hair Care and in 2005 was named the UB School of Management, Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership’s Protégé of the Year. She has also received awards from the National Association of Professional Women and this year won Ashtae Hair Products Platinum Award for a High Rank Client of the Year.  She takes education classes from that North-Carolina-based company twice a year.

“The more mature I get in this industry the more thankful I am to people for choosing me,” acknowledged the lovely 56-years young entrepreneur. “A lot of my clients have been with me since I started out, when our kids were babies and now they’re grown. I even have generational customers; grandmother, daughter and granddaughter.”

She expressed sincere appreciation for her current staff as well as anyone who has ever worked in the salon.  “I would also like to thank all my clients – current and former - they have been stepping stones to get me where I am today. You can’t do anything by yourself and I would like to thank them for that and to let them know the door is always open to return.”

Her advice to young beauticians and shop owners today is simple: Save your money! and think retirement.“Your company is you! “ she declared. “So if you don’t preparefor retirement now who will? There’s life after the chair!” She said the industry has changed a lot in the sense that everything is more commercial now. “I’m into the health of the hair,” said Harriett. “I want to get to know you. I want a relationship.  You are more than just a client to me!”

Congratulations Harriett! We proudly salute you as our 2017 Beautician of the Year!

Buffalo Niagara Blues Festival Prepares For TheHighly Anticipated Homecoming Of Buffalo’s Own Grammy And Blues Music Award Nominee Lucky Peterson along with Allstar Lineup of Blues Acts on Saturday July 8th !

By Leah Hamilton

On July 8th the City of Buffalo prepares for the 4th Annual Blues Festival held in historic Silo City and the highly anticipated homecoming of Buffalo’s own Grammy and Blues Music award nominee Lucky Peterson! Board member andFestival Chairman Chuck Laedke is looking forward to the festival. “The blues has so many different regions of influence and we strive to bring those differences to each festival. This is the 25th anniversary of the society and I think this lineup is a great way to start the celebration. Lucky is a true bluesman and when he hits the stage the place will light up! He’s a true entertainer!”

Groomed well for success by his father blues man James Peterson, Lucky was taken under the wing of blues legend Willie Dixon who made frequent stops at his father’s Buffalo night club The Governor’s Inn where Lucky performed .    When Lucky was just 2, he played the drums with John Lee Hooker. He played the organ with Muddy Waters. And everyone remembers the indelible song “1,2,3,4”  that launched him into our hearts and his appearances on The Tonight Show, Ed Sullivan Show and What’s My Line.  “Lucky puts away childish things when he plays the organ,” noted a 1971 Newsweek Magazine article. “ His left hand digs into the beat and cushions his flying fanciful right. He plays the blues with feeling and wild unrestraint as if his little body were the instrument itself.” His first album was “Our Future: 5 Year Old Lucky Peterson,” for Today/Perception Records. As a teen, Peterson studied at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. Some of his accomplishments in music include playing backup guitar and keyboards for Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and Little Milton, and his unforgettable 90’s solo albums released on Alligator Records“Lucky Strikes” and “Triple Play” plus a number ofVerve record releases. He also did a collaboration with Mavis Staples on a tribute to gospel great singer Mahailia Jackson. ( you can read more about lucky on his website

Lucky keeps a busy schedule touring and we are proud and excited to know he’s coming home to perform at the Blues Festival this year!  “I’ve been trying to book him for three years,” says Laedke “and luckily this year we got him.” Peterson's next level blues,   a fusion of soul, rock-n-roll, R&B and gospel, is sure to bring the house down.  Other great performers gracing the stage will be Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots, Southern Avenue, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Alter Boys, Jack Broadbent, Sofie Reed and Jeff Jensen. Marsha McWilson of Niagara Falls will be doing a vocal workshop on the Blues In Schools Stage where youth bands from local high schools and colleges will play sets between the national acts. 

It promises to be an unforgettable musical day of blues in Silo City (located at 92 Silo City road formerly Childs street). Gates open at 11:45am with Lucky Peterson slated to hit the stage around 8:30 pm. Last year’s blues festival drew a crowd of 2,000 people and according to Laedke this years goal is to double the attendance and raise the awareness of the what the Blues Society of WNY is doing. “ I feel bringing awareness about the Blues Society of Western New York to the masses and what we are involved in locally, regionally, and nationally is the mission of the festival and where better to do that butSilo City. The history of the grain elevators and all of the residents of this area reaches into generations, just as the different styles of the Blues does.” There will be an artist meet and greet after their performances with an opportunity to purchase merchandise. People can bring their own or rent folding chairs at the show. Parking on site is $5 ( motorcycles, bicycles are free).  Please be advised, no cans, bottles or coolers allowed. There will be a beer tent and food trucks on the premises. Advanced ticket price is $12.50and $20 on festival day. For information go to or and for advanced tickets check

Here's a little background from the festival site on the other fantastic acts to take the stage 

Victor Wainwright

Known as the “Piana from Savannah,” Victor Wainwright exploded upon the Blues scene in 2005 with his debut album and has been an international Blues Festival favorite bringing audiences to their feet with his high energy Blues shows.  Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots were honored in 2016 as they took home Blues Music Awards for “BB King Entertainer of the Year” and Band of the Year. Wainwright's musical style was described by the American Blues Scene magazine in 2013 as "honky-tonk and boogie, with a dose of rolling thunder. Wainwright's playing is simply beautiful madness.” His 2015 release, Boomtown, hit #5 on the Billboard Blues Charts.  In 2016, Victor added to his cast of tour talent, WNY guitarist and musician, Pat Harrington. Web Site:


Southern Avenue 

Hailing from Memphis, TN, Southern Avenue made their name during the 2016 International Blues Challenge where they strode into the Finals as their name buzzed throughout the Beale St. clubs as they delivered powerhouse performances.  Lead vocalist, Tierini Jackson commands the stage through powerful runs through Blues and Soul, backed by sister Tikyra on drums, Ori Naftaly on guitar, Daniel McKee on bass and “Mr. 88” Jeremy Powell hammering on keys.  Together these seasoned musicians deliver a performance showcasing music drenched with soul, breathing a new life into the Blues.  Their new self-titled debut album, released on Stax Records made its immediate appearance into the Billboard Blues Charts at #6.  Web Site:


Sofie Reed 

Originally from Luvidka, Sweden, Sofie Reed has made her mark in the Blues world as an international touring grassroots artist whose unique, soulful style is loved and appreciated by audiences.  Endorsed by Lee Oskar, Sofie is ften seen at his "Girls with Harmonicas" shows and recently performed on the Legendary Blues Cruise. Through a rich, creative journey spanning three decades, Sofie’s musical style encompasses roots-blues, folk-blues and even roots-Appalachian-with-a-dalecartian twist.  As a vocalist, guitarist and one-of-a-kind musical visionary, Sofie thrills Blues lovers across the world with her passionate composition and performance. Web Site:


Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Alter Boys

Bringing crowds to their feet, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys rock with traditional Blues, straight up with a big dose of passion.  Delivering smoking grooves, served up with a hot harmonica from Westside Andy and a smooth singing guitar, they play originals peppered with nods to Slim Harpo, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers and Junior Wells.  With multiple Blues Blast Mag awards, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys mixes in a wealth of Blues based on a strong Chicago Blues upbringing that keep its audiences hopping.Web Site:


Jack Broadbent

Hailed as the “New Master of the Slide Guitar” by the Montreux Jazz Festival and the “real thang” by the legendary Bootsy Collins, Jack Broadbent has spent the past year wowing international audiences with his unique blend of virtuosic acoustic and slide guitar, and poignant folk and blues inspired vocals.  With three full length albums under his belt, tens of millions of YouTube views, Jack’s music career is in full throttle as Blues fans won’t want to miss this unforgettable musical experience.Web Site:


Exclusive Interview

by Matt Bauer

The Incomparable Jody Watley

Jody Watley 2017 2.5.jpg

Icon can be an overused word. Yet in the case of the one and only Jody Watley a true visionary and trendsetter whose now40 year career has proved a fierce, trendsetting influence not only on generations of subsequent female artists but in haute couture and choreography as well-it's entirely deserved. The incomparable Watley will be in full effect when she hit the stage at the Bear's Den Showroom at the Seneca Niagara Casino on Friday, May 26 with Shalamar Reloaded bringing a lifetime of legendary hits and uncompromising style to the stage.  

“Shalamar Reloaded (SRL for short) is a brand new experience” explains Watley over the phone from Los Angeles when asked about the group she created in 2015. Featuring male lead vocalist Nate Allen Smith and distinguished choreographer Rosero McCoy,  they have toured to international acclaim while readying an album for the end of this year. “We're not resting on our laurels, so to speak. We're putting a fresh spin on classic material with a full band and fresh choreography and visuals, celebrating what I've done while mapping out the future.”

Innovation has been a key fixture of the Chicago born Watley's career since she first caught the public eye as a 14 year old dancer on the legendary “Soul Train” television show, becoming an audience favorite for her dance moves and fashion sense which led her to being picked by Don Cornelius for the group Shalamar in 1977. As the original female voice on classics like “Take That To The Bank,” “Right In The Socket” and “A Night To Remember,” Watley would help propel Shalamar to platinum status, making the trio one of the most beloved R&B acts of the early 1980s, before leaving for a solo career in 1983 and working in England before releasing her watershed, eponymous solo debut in 1987.

With smashes and MTV favorites like “Looking For A New Love,” “Still A Thrill,” “Don't You Want Me” and “Some Kind of Lover” the album was a confident and fully realized artistic statement by a one of a kind talent that went double platinum and earned a Grammy award for best new artist. “A good portion of my show is dedicated to that album,” says Watley. “Whether it's 30 years old or 3 years old I've always strived to make music that's timeless."

“The music industry is very hard whether you're a male or female,” she adds.  “And one thing that I always advise young artists is to be careful about is the quality of songs that you choose because you may be singing them thirty years later.” She continued to fine-tune her sound and image on 1989's Larger Than Life which spawned the top 10 ballad “Everything,” “Real Love” (one of the most nominated videos in MTV's history) and the groundbreaking duet with Eric B & Rakim, “Friends” which set the blueprint for future hip-hop and R&B fusions and is reflective of the eclecticism that has helped define Watley's art.

She's subsequently collaborated with cutting edge artists likeKing Britt,  Dam-Funk, French Horn Rebellion, Roy Ayers and Mark-de-Clive-Low. Spanning decades and mixing genres like Funk, Disco, R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, Electronica, Boogie and Jazz, Jody Watley's discography is easily one the most diverse in modern music. “I grew up listening to James Brown, Karen Carpenter and Nat “King” Cole” she says of her influences . “I've always been able to embrace different styles and I think it's important to keep evolving.”

As her music has evolved, so has Watley's fashion forward sense of style.  Named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People magazine, featured in the first celebrity modeling campaign for The Gap, and in the pages of Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Essence and the historic 2008 Black Issue of Vogue Italia as well as running her own boutique, Watley continues to be a revolutionary fashion figure.

After selling millions of albums and being honored by BMI with a songwriter's award and included in Billboard's Greatest Dance Club Artists of all time, Jody Watley remains a vital artist having just released her latest single and EP “Sanctuary,” a balmy, soulful celebration of domesticity on her own Avitone recordings label. “We live in very troubled times and home is a refuge and I thought it was very important to celebrate home life and family and love, wherever home may be,” she said.

The audience make up on her current tour reflects her inclusive and diverse vision. “We have people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Everyone can expect to have a great time. People put their phones away for a couple of hours and one thing that I always see is people interacting and making friends.” Learn About More Shows and Events At SenecaNiagraCasino