Here’s a look at African American people and issues making headlines throughout the country.

Soprano Janai Brugger, a member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, was one of five winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. The other winners include baritone Anthony Clark Evans, tenor Matthew Grills, mezzo-soprano Margaret Mezzacappa and countertenor Andrey Nemzer. Each winner received a cash prize of $15,000 as well as invaluable career exposure. Some of the biggest stars in opera, including the evening’s host Eric Owens (returning to LA Opera next season in “Madame Butterfly”), received their first major recognition as National Council Auditions winners. Brugger made her LA Opera debut in 2010 as Barbarina in “The Marriage of Figaro.” In her two seasons as a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, she has also covered the leading soprano roles in “II Postino,” “The Turn of the Screw” and “Roméo et Juliette.”

Centric Television (a part of BET Networks, a division of Viacom) joins the array of R&B stars scheduled to set sail on the first-ever Soul Train Cruise as the network is named an official media partner. Home to the Soul Train Awards and the weekly Soul Train series, Centric will help steer the iconic show in new and exciting destinations, including extensive cruise promotions on the network, onboard events and co-branding opportunities. The love, peace and Soul Train travels from Ft. Lauderdale on Feb. 17, 2013, with concerts and round-the-clock activities, featuring Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Kool & the Gang, Jeffrey Osborne, War, the Spinners, Jody Watley, Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Russell Thompkins Jr. & The New Stylistics, Cuba Gooding Sr. and the Main Ingredient, Gerald Alston of The Manhattans, George Duke, comedian Alonzo Bodden and others. Special early reservation rates are available through April 30, 2012.

New York
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Gye Name Empowerment Project will host its fifth annual Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit Saturday, March 31, from 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. The Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit is an interactive day that is comprised of dynamic workshops, educational activities, live entertainment and engaging conversations. This year’s keynote speaker Susan L. Taylor, editor, author, editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence magazine and founder of National Cares Mentoring Movement. The Sista-2-Sista Youth Summit titled, “Celebrating The Sista Within,” will open with a West African dance class, followed by a series of interactive workshops, each facilitated by a team of one adult and one young woman. The workshops include topics such as: “Forgiveness: Access to Freedom,” “Aliveness: Creating a Life Worth Living” and “Get Fly!: Presentation as Power.”

Kurtis Blow Jr.’s (aka Kurtis Cloud) will be on worldwide tour from Europe to Japan, with dates on Bad Boy’s own Machine Gun Kelly’s “Hostile Takeover” tour with Tech N9ne, all which will assist him in reaching new crowds. To coincide with his touring, Kurtis plans to introduce his first EP “Champagne Dreams & Purple Clouds,” an iconoclastic Hip-Hop project that was inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” slated to drop mid-first quarter. To celebrate the worldwide release of CDPC, Kurtis is debuting the first video from the project for the single “Blowed.”

The nation’s first Minority Biomedical Entrepreneurship Conference (MBEC) will convene May 21-22 in Cleveland. MBEC offers a unique platform for minority professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, students and industry leaders to engage, network, collaborate and exchange ideas. Minorities represent less than 5 percent of the growing biomedical industry workforce, and a fraction of that number engages in entrepreneurial endeavors. To address the issue of underrepresentation, and to increase minority competitiveness in the biomedical industry, the America21 Project, a minority innovation and competitiveness initiative, and BioEnterprise, a biomedical business accelerator, partnered to create MBEC. The intent is to hold the conference annually. Attendees will be offered mentoring opportunities with industry leaders and investors, entrepreneurship education, and practical advice on starting and growing a biomedical company. Entrepreneurs looking for funding are afforded the opportunity to present before a group of seasoned biomedical investors.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is uniting with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to rally its more than 1 million members through the Call to Service for St. Jude initiative. For the first time, the Council, composed of African American international Greek letter sororities and fraternities, supports one mission–helping St. Jude treat the world’s sickest children with the best care. The National Pan-Hellenic Council Call to Service for St. Jude is a 30-day challenge where members, friends and family can register and support an organization’s individual fundraising goal for St. Jude. The top 10 fundraisers will receive a trip to Memphis to attend the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards dinner in October and tour the hospital. The challenge will culminate on April 5 with the annual Radio Cares for St. Jude Kids radio event, led by Radio One Inc., which has raised more than $14 million for St. Jude.

“Duty of the Hour,” a film on the late Benjamin L. Hooks, will explore the long, complex, and difficult history of race in America and highlight how the nation was, and can be, transformed by committed visionaries, like Hooks. Through interviews, archival film footage and period photographs, the documentary examines Hooks’ rise from the streets of segregated Memphis to the national stage of policymaking and advocacy. This red carpet event begins at 5:30 p.m., Friday, April 20, at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Memphis. Hooks, nominated by President Richard Nixon, was the first African American to serve on the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He used this platform to champion increased ownership and employment in the media industry as well as to expose the detrimental impact of negative images of African Americans in the media.

Excel Media Wire, a leading authority in the minority and African American media markets, has launched a mobile application targeting tech-savvy African Americans. InSpotter, is trying to become the trendsetting authority on African American nightlife, entertainment and shopping, as well as social and cultural events in multiple major metropolises. The application is available to download free on iPhone and Android. By focusing on a previously neglected demographic, InSpotter strives to capture the attention of a market that is already plugged in with their smart phones, but does not have an app to fulfill their needs. With real time profiles on African America’s most innovative and quality-driven nightlife venues, InSpotter caters to the unique preferences of urbanites with a desire to stay on top of the trends, ideas, and culture in their community. By tapping into the spirit of the in-crowd.