Brian White, Marques Houston, And Chrissy Stokes Lead The Cast

April 29, 2020 – Los Angeles – Producer Chris Stokes’ (You Got Served) will be premiering his new forty-minute, musical drama series, “Howard High” on the new streaming service, UrbanFlix TV (Urbanflix TV) on Friday, May 1st.  The show follows ‘Frank King,’ played by Brian White, (“Ray Donovan”/ ”Scandal”) a former honor roll student of the high school who is asked to come back and take a principal position at the school, not knowing that the school is on the verge of closing down because it has become the  lowest-ranked school in the state.  Frank also doesn’t realize that the only reason ‘Superintendent Thomas,’ played by Dorien Wilson, (“The Parkers”) offered him the position was so he could position him to take the fall and blame him for the school’s decline. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the performing arts music program. After firing the music teacher, and with the help of his friend and new music teacher ‘Michael Kirsh,’ played by singer Marques Houston, (You Got Served), Frank and his team just may be able to save the school! The show is also introducing newcomer, Chrissy Stokes, in the lead role of ‘Nicki Ross,’ a beautiful moody teenager who’s just moved to Los Angeles from Arizona, where she got into some trouble. She’s a bit shy, and in no rush to reveal the incredible singing talent that she has. To round out the cast, Stokes’ has assembled some of the hottest singers and dancers in Hollywood which include, Jarell “J-Boog” Houston, V Bozeman, Anthony Lewis, Hannah Malone, Lindsay Davis, Earanequa Carter, Dustin Michael, Mila J, Ross Fleming, Ray Ray and Deonte Jackson. The show is written and directed by Chris Stokes who also serves as executive producer alongside Louis Arriola and Bart Malone.  Brian White, Marques Houston, Jerome Jones, Shondrella Avery and J Owen serve as producers. 

Howard High Trailer:

Stated Stokes. “I’ve always had an affinity for musically driven projects.” “I consider this the television series/musical version of You Got Served. In my era, there was a popular show called “Fame” that was loosely based on The Juilliard School in New York City. Being a big fan of that show and coming from the music/dance background that I come from, I felt that this generation needed their “Fame” …. Obviously with a bit of a twist. In that, I created “Howard High” and made it a point to not only highlight the talent that comes from Urban neighborhoods, but also the challenges that the people and the infrastructure of these areas face. I think that “Howard High” will shed light on these challenges while giving viewers an entertaining, wholesome and fun-loving experience while watching.”


Howard High Release/Page 2

About Chris Stokes:

Entrepreneur, director, writer, producer, Christopher B. Stokes made a name for himself in the music industry with the discovery of such stars as Brandy, Immature, B2K, Jhene Aiko, Sevyn Streeter, Mila J, Kevin McHale (Glee), Omarion & Marques Houston. A Los Angeles native, Stokes has been immersed in the music business since the age of seventeen. Known for his ingenuity behind chart-topping success stories such as multi-platinum selling groups “B2K” and “Immature” and solo artists “Omarion” (former lead singer of “B2K”) and Marques “MH” Houston (former lead singer of “Immature”/”IMX”). In 2003, Stokes made his feature writing/directing debut with the super successful You Got Served. That film surprised Hollywood, opening at #1 and continued to dominate even in its second weekend. You Got Served went on to gross more than $150 million worldwide in box office and DVD combined. Other film credits include Somebody Help Me (2007), Somebody Help Me 2 (2010), Battlefiled America (2012), In 2015 Stokes set his eyes on entering into the world of television and launched his film and television production company, Footage Films. His TV credits include “We Belong Together” (2018), “Running Out of Time” (2018), “Fall Girls” (2019), Sacrifice (2019), “Howard High” (2020).

About Footage Films (Footage Films):

Footage Films Was Founded In 2015 With the Intention To Pursue Stories Objectively, Executing The Highest Possible Standards Artistically, Creatively And Technically; To Entertain Viewers; And Tell Diverse Stories. Its Mission Is To Deliver High Quality, Multi-Cultural, Fiction/Non-Fiction Programming And Production For Digital Audio/Visual Media, Theatrical And Broadcast Television Through All Platforms.

About Brian White:

Daytime Emmy-nominated actor, producer, and writer Brian White was recently named president of the ON! Channel a premier streaming subscription service. White has been in the television and film industry for more than 20 years.  The ON! Channel was founded in 2017 and is the fast-growing, ad-supported subscription streaming service featuring more than 400 hours of original content from award-winning content creators from all over the world including feature films, short films, series and documentaries, including audiobooks, podcasts, and talk shows. White’s role at ON! will be helping to grow the subscriber base, expanding the current ON! catalog and creating new partnerships and affiliate relationships. As an actor, he has been featured in a variety of well-known TV shows including “Ambitions”, “Moesha”, “Mistresses”, “Scandal”, “Ray Donovan”, and the series “Beauty and the Beast.”  Some of his film roles include Stomp the YardFighting and Good Deeds to name a few. Currently, he is producing and starring in the multi-Emmy Award-nominated “Bronx SIU”, Season 3.  A Boston Native, White is a former NFL player, stockbroker and a graduate of Dartmouth College.


Howard High Release/Page 3

About Marques Houston:

Marques Houston was born on August 4, 1981 in Los Angeles, CA. He is an actor best known for You Got Served (2004) and the TV series “Sister, Sister” (1994). Houston began his journey into the behind the scenes world of film-making in 2010 partnering with longtime music manager Chris Stokes, who directed most of the films he wrote and produced. Marques is currently the CEO of the film production company Footage Films.  Houston also serves as an Executive Producer and Writer in the Footage Films. Following in the paths of filmmakers John Waters’, John Singleton’s and Spike Lee’s casting tradition, Houston and Stokes often cast some of their actors more than once in different films portraying different roles. His first full writing and executive producer credit was the 2015 film Will To Love, starring Keisha Knight Pulliam, Draya Michele, and himself respectively.  He has gone on to produce the TV movie thriller “Running Out of Time,” starring Tasha Smith, RonReaco Lee, Telma Hopkins that aired in December 2018 on BET.  Since the start of this new career, he has written and produced over 10 films so far, including one he has co-written with Stokes that was released to theaters in 2017, titled, Til Death Do Us Part starring Taye Diggs, Stephen Bishop, Annie Ilonzeh and Malik Yoba.  His most recent projects where he showcased his talents in front of and behind the camera were “Sacrifice” which is currently streaming on BET+ and “Howard High” which premieres May 1, 2020 on Urbanflix TV.

About Chrissy Stokes:

Chrissy Stokes was born on July 4, 1997 in Los Angeles, CA. She is an actress who got her start as Nicole in the 2012 TNT Drama Southland.  She also appeared on screen with Marques Houston in Somebody Help Me 2 as ‘Tee Tee.’ She plays ‘Nicki Ross’ in the upcoming 2020 Urbanflix TV series “Howard High”. 

Headshots of the leads and producer Chris Stokes:

Chris Stokes:

Brian White:


Marques Houston


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Dorien Wilson:

Chrissy Stokes:

Media Contact For Footage Films:

Shannon Barr


Strategic Public Relations

[email protected]

Howard High Premiering May 1st on Urbanflix TV

Howard High promo image on Chris Stokes blog
Howard High-The Series

Make sure you catch the premier of Howard High, May 1st on Urbanflix TV.

Howard High School is on the verge of closing down because it has become the lowest-ranked school in the state. Needing someone to take the fall for the school’s decline, Mr. Thomas reaches out to former honor role graduate Frank King (Brian White) to take over as principal. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the Performing Arts Music program. After firing the music teacher, and the help of his friend and new Music teacher Michael Kirsh (Marques Houston) Frank and his team just may be able to save the school.

Don’t miss it!!

Online Popcorn Company Contributing to Covid-19 Relief

LockHeart Popcorn on Chris Stokes blog
LockHeart Popcorn

Hey guys! I wanted to introduce you to a new online popcorn company that’s on the rise and doing good in the community. LockHeart Popcorn is an African American owned and operated company. They work with local family-owned farms and food co-ops to bring quality products to their customers. Offering a true Artisan experience. It’s great to see a driven young African American company making positive change and growth. Go check them out by clicking the link LockHeart Popcorn

Actor Brian Dennehy Dies at 81

Brian Dennehy in Rambo: First Blood on chris stokes blog
Brian Dennehy in Rambo: First Blood

The entertainment world has lost a treasure today. Brian Dennehy, star of movies like Rambo: First Blood and Tommy Boy passed today at the age of 81 from natural causes. His career spanned decades in which he became such a recognizable household face. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family.

More as reported by

Brian Dennehy, the winner of two Tonys in a career that also spanned films including “Tommy Boy,” “First Blood” and “Cocoon,” and television roles including “Dynasty” and “Death of a Salesman,” died on Wednesday night in New Haven, Conn. He was 81.

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that our father, Brian passed away last night from natural causes, not Covid-related. Larger than life, generous to a fault, a proud and devoted father and grandfather, he will be missed by his wife Jennifer, family and many friends,” his daughter, actress Elizabeth Dennehy, tweeted on Thursday.

His agency ICM also confirmed the news.

In the 1995 comedy “Tommy Boy,” Dennehy was Big Tom, the father of Chris Farley’s character Tom, who takes over the family’s auto parts business with David Spade after his father dies. In Ron Howard’s 1995 hit “Cocoon,” Dennehy played the leader of the alien Antareans who leave lifeforce-giving cocoons in a a swimming pool near a retirement home.

The imposingly tall, barrel-chested Dennehy won his first Tony for his performance as Willy Loman in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in 1999 and his second Tony for his turn as James Tyrone in a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in 2003.

The actor made his TV and feature debut in 1977 — a year in which he made appearances in at least 10 series or telepics, including “Kojak,” “MASH” and “”Lou Grant,” and the films “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” and “Semi-Tough.” From that point he maintained a heavy work load for decades.

In 1982 his profile increased significantly thanks to his effective performance in the role of Teasle, the sadistic small-town police chief who is Sylvester Stallone’s lead adversary in “First Blood.”

In addition to “Cocoon,” he had significant roles in the 1983 thriller “Gorky Park” and in “Silverado.” He was second-billed, after Bryan Brown, in the well-constructed 1986 thriller “F/X,” in which he played a cop not part of the conspiracy, and in the 1991 sequel. He was fourth-billed in “Legal Eagles,” after the star trio of Robert Redford, Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah.

In 1987, in the flawed thriller “Best Seller,” he sparred ably with James Woods, who played a conman who approaches Dennehy’s policeman-successful writer with a deal that ought not to be trusted. Dennehy also starred in the 1990 crime drama “The Last of the Finest.” Amid a sea of work in TV movies, Dennehy appeared in the 1995 indie “The Stars Fell on Henrietta,” starring Robert Duvall; the next year he played Ted Montague, leader of the clan, in Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet.”

One of Dennehy’s most memorable film roles came in Alan J. Pakula’s 1990 adaptation of Turow’s bestselling novel “Presumed Innocent,” starring Harrison Ford as the Chicago assistant district attorney on trial for the murder of a co-worker with whom he had an affair. Dennehy played his boss, who’s up for re-election and has multiple divided loyalties, with a subtlety that was absolutely necessary. Another signal moment was auteur Peter Greenaway’s 1987 film “The Belly of an Architect,” in which the actor starred as the title character.

The actor was perhaps the foremost living interpreter of O’Neill’s works. In 2009 Dennehy starred on Broadway as Ephraim Cabot in a revival of the playwright’s “Desire Under the Elms,” and in 2012 he played Larry Slade, the former lefty seeking to drink himself to death, in O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, reprising the role in 2015 when the production, also starring Nathan Lane, was revived at the BAM Harvey Theater in New York City.

Underscoring his adeptness with the physical business of being an actor, a scene in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in which a drunken Tyrone gets onto a table to unscrew many of the bulbs in a lit chandelier left many in the audience with the fear that the actor would tumble off the stage even though they knew Dennehy was not really drunk.

Dennehy had a decades-long association with the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where most of his explorations of O’Neill originated. He first appeared at the Goodman in 1986 in the title role of Brecht’s “Galileo” and first paired with the theater on O’Neill with a 1990 revival of “The Iceman Cometh” in which he played Hickey. In 1996 he starred there in O’Neill’s “A Touch of the Poet,” playing the tyrannical, Falstaff-like Con Melody.

After his Tony-winning performance in 2003 in O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” he took on the playwright’s obscure, posthumously published one-act “Hughie” at the Goodman in 2004, revisiting the show again in 2010 in repertory with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.”

Dennehy headlined the Goodman’s 2009 “A Global Exploration: Eugene O’Neill in the 21st Century” festival in the revival of “Desire Under the Elms” that subsequently transferred to Broadway.

The production of “Death of a Salesman” that won Dennehy his first Tony originated at the Goodman, later went to the West End and was brought to the small screen on Showtime in 2000, resulting in an Emmy nomination for Dennehy as well as a SAG Award and a Golden Globe. The New York Times called it “the performance of his career.”

In the early to mid-’90s Dennehy starred as a Chicago police detective in the “Jack Reed” series of TV movies, several of which he also wrote and directed.

Brian Manion Dennehy was born in Bridgeport, Conn. He served in the Marines from 1959-63, after which he studied history at Columbia, attending the university on a football scholarship. He subsequently earned his MFA in dramatic arts from Yale.

Dennehy made his Broadway debut in 1995 in Brian Friel’s “Translations” opposite Dana Delany. After “Death of a Salesman” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” the actor played Matthew Harrison Brady in a 2007 revival of “Inherit the Wind” opposite Christopher Plummer as Henry Drummond. And in 2014 he starred opposite Carol Burnett and Mia Farrow in a revival of A.R. Gurney’s “Love Letters.”

Dennehy also received Emmy nominations in 1990 for his role as a defense attorney in the telepic “A Killing in a Small Town”; in 1992 both for his role in the Scott Turow-based miniseries “The Burden of Proof” and for his role as serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the TV movie “To Catch a Killer”; in 1993 for his role in the miniseries “Murder in the Heartland”; and in 2005 for his role in Showtime’s “Our Fathers,” about the Catholic church’s conspiracy, centering on Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, to conceal sexual abuse.

Reviewing “Our Fathers,” Variety lauded “the ever-brilliant Brian Dennehy in a knockout perf as an outspoken priest who uses the pulpit to denounce Law’s leadership.”

In 1981 he recurred on “Dynasty” as D.A. Jake Dunham; the next year Dennehy starred as a fire chief in the brief-running ABC sitcom “Star of the Family.” He tried series television again in 1994 with ABC’s brief-running “Birdland,” in which he played a hospital’s chief of psychiatry, and in NBC’s 2001 sitcom “The Fighting Fitzgeralds,” in which he starred as the reluctant paterfamilias of an unruly Irish clan.

In the highly regarded 1989 TV movie “Day One,” the actor played Gen. Leslie Groves, who oversaw the development of the atomic bomb. In 2000 he starred as Gen. Bogan in the Stephen Frears-directed TV adaptation of nuclear armageddon thriller “Fail Safe.”

Denney was married twice, the first time to Judith Scheff. He is survived by second wife Jennifer Arnott, a costume designer, whom he married in 1988; three daughters by Scheff, actresses Elizabeth and Kathleen, and Deirdre; as well as son Cormac and daughter Sarah with Arnott.




New Series “Howard High” directed by Chris Stokes and starring his daughter set to release May 1

chrissy stokes on chris stokes blog
Chrissy Stokes on Chris Stokes Blog

While we are all still trying to make sense of these unprecedented times, we are finding ourselves turning more to entertainment for solace. For me, I’ve been streaming like crazy. I’m truly living the quarantine and chill life lol. And this May, May 1st to be exact my new series Howard High will be premiering on Urbanflix TV. The show which I call and “Urban Glee” is a nice “wholesome” show that the entire family can watch. Speaking of family, I was lucky enough to be able to work with my talented daughter Chrissy on this project. Chrissy plays the star of the series Nicki Ross.

Here’s a synopsis of Howard High:

High School is on the verge of closing down because it has become the lowest-ranked school in the state. Needing someone to take the fall for the school’s decline, Mr. Thomas reaches out to former honor role graduate Frank King (Brian White) to take over as principal. To Frank’s surprise, there is major talent right under his nose within the Performing Arts Music program. After firing the music teacher, and the help of his friend and new Music teacher Michael Kirsh (Marques Houston) Frank and his team just may be able to save the school.

It premieres May 1, 2020! I hope that you all can enjoy and find some comfort in it while we’re all enduring this pandemic together.

Chris Stokes-Coronavirus Update

chris stokes sitting indian style
Chris Stokes sitting Indian style

While we are all sticking together in fighting against the Coronavirus, I just wanted to share some encouragement with you.

Stay Safe #StateOfEmergency. I’m in the house!!!! #COVIDー19 is no joke! #StayAtHome  so happy to be able to help over 100,000 mask go out to those in the Los Angeles work place! Very positive vibes. This all happens by us being able to stay in. When you stay in that’s one more mask that can go to someone who needs it. Let’s keep fighting this fight together!

chris stokes in all white
Chris Stokes

Spread the knowledge and spread the LOVE!

NBA Superstar Karl Anthony Towns’ Mother Passes Due To Complications From Covid-19

Karl Anthony Towns with his parents

My prayers and condolences go out to NBA superstar Karl Anthony Towns. I just learned that his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns has passed due to complications from the Coronavirus. I want to share this story with everyone so that everyone out there can understand that this virus is SERIOUS!!! IT doesn’t care about race, religion or social status. We are ALL susceptible to it!! So please take it seriously and take the Stay At Home and Social Distancing orders to heart. The only way we can beat this is by following guidelines and doing this together. Again, my deepest condolences and prayers go out to Karl’s entire family.

As reported by ESPN:

Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, has died due to complications from the coronavirus, her family said Monday.

She was 58.

“Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend,” the Towns family said in a statement. “The matriarch of the Towns family, she was an incredible source of strength; fiery, caring, and extremely loving person, who touched everyone she met. Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced.”

Karl-Anthony Towns posted an emotional video to his Instagram page on March 25, revealing that his mother was in a medically induced coma and had been placed on a ventilator due to the virus.

In the nearly six-minute video, Towns said that both his mother and father had started to experience symptoms of COVID-19. Towns’ father, who also tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized, eventually began to feel better, but Jacqueline continued to struggle.

“She just wasn’t getting better,” Towns said in the video. “Her fever was never cutting from 103, maybe go down to 101.9 with the meds, then immediately spike back up during the night. She was very uncomfortable. Her lungs were getting worse, her cough was getting worse. She was deteriorating.”

In a separate statement Monday, the Timberwolves called Jacqueline her son’s No. 1 fan.

“Jackie provided constant and positive energy for him and was beloved by our entire organization and staff at Target Center as she supported her son and the Timberwolves,” the team said. “The League, teams, and players have come together in their support of Jackie and Karl and we are grateful for our NBA family.”

Other reaction flowed in from the basketball world on social media, including from Towns’ former coach at Kentucky, John Calipari.

In an interview with ESPN in 2017, Towns said his mother worked for the medical department at Rutgers University for over 20 years. He has often talked about how close he and his mother were.

“The Towns family is extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have received during this very difficult time,” the family’s statement continued. “They would like to thank the medical warriors at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and JFK Medical Center, who fought for Jackie day in and day out, and helped Karl Sr. from the same virus that took Jackie’s life.

“The family is devastated by their tremendous loss, and respectfully requests privacy in this time of great mourning.”

Los Angeles Stay-At-Home Order Is Extended Through May 15

Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer with Mayor Eric Garcetti in early March on Chris Stokes blog
Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer with Mayor Eric Garcetti in early March

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

As reported by Deadline:

Los Angeles County saw a second consecutive day of fewer COVID-19 deaths, as local health officials confirmed a “flattening of the curve” as residents continue to practice social distancing.

Meanwhile, however, the county’s stay-at-home and business-closure orders were extended to at least May 15. The earlier order was set to expire in nine days. Officials said that while physical-distancing mandates have slowed the spread of coronavirus dramatically, lifting them now could lead to nearly 96% of the local population being infected by August.

Authorities noted, however, that there is no timetable for when the social-distancing rules will be lifted — saying only that the situation will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.

L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued a statement today about the extended social-distancing mandate. Read it below.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director, said during her daily update Friday that 18 people died in the region during the past 24 hours. That’s seven fewer than Thursday, which in turn was four fewer that the day before.

She also said, however, that 475 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the county, 50 more than the previous day.

“Because everyone here is doing their part, because people are heeding the directives, we have seen what we now can confirm what is in fact a flattening of the curve in a way that’s actually saving lives and allowing us to have a chance at making sure that our health care system remains able to serve all who need care,” Ferrer said today. “But because there are so many people who are infected in L.A. County, and because there’s still so much spread, we have to continue to keep ourselves physically apart from each other during the next few weeks.”

Also today, Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, urged people to keep up their self-isolating efforts.

“If you were to reduce physical distancing to the pre-health officer-order levels,” she said, “virtually all individuals in Los Angeles County — 95.6% per the model — would be infected by the pandemic by August 1, 2020. That number is starkly reduced, down to about 30%, if we maintain the current levels of physical distancing.”

She added: “If we’re able to increase the level of physical distancing — people are able to remain at home more than they are today — then we could reduce the number of infected individuals even further, down to an estimated 5.5%.”

Today also is when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new mandate about face coverings takes effect. He said Tuesday that “starting Friday, April 10th, employees and customers at many non-medical essential businesses such as grocery stores will be required to wear face coverings.” He also authorized businesses to refuse service to customers who aren’t wearing masks.

Here is Ridley-Thomas’ statement about the extended social-distancing mandate:

“With this modeling data, the experts at the Department of Health Services have provided an informed perspective on what the weeks ahead could look like. The results are promising – but only if we don’t get complacent.

“The analysis shows our hospitals can handle the anticipated surge of patients without running out of equipment like ventilators, but — and this is crucial — it’s up to all of us to keep it that way.

“We can save lives by staying at home and avoiding infection. Some of the lives we save may be those of our frontline and essential workers – heroes. Let’s stay home for them, so they can continue to go to work for all of us.

“The modeling data is a cautionary tale, but the outcome is up to us. LA County is in a position to preempt hospital surges and deaths — but only with our help. I encourage every Angeleno to continue to follow the extended public health order and stay at home.

“As we move forward, we must continue to be guided by real-time comprehensive data, including demographic and socioeconomic data. This is imperative for us to remain effective in getting a handle on this pandemic and its unprecedented impact on our community.”

Although we are not sure how solid that May 15th date is, we can absolutely know that we will have to adhere to these restrictions at least until then.

We will continue to keep you posted. In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!!

British Primer Minister Boris Johnson admitted to ICU due to worsening coronavirus symptoms

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently been admitted to the ICU in London. Just days after Johnson seemed to be doing well and getting better after contracting the virus, his conditions seemed to take a turn for the worse.

As reported by

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care as his coronavirus symptoms worsened over the course of several hours Monday, according to a statement from the government.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will temporarily take over the prime minister’s duties while Johnson is hospitalized, the government said.

“Since Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus,” a spokesman for No. 10 Downing St. said in a statement.

“Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the Prime Minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital,” the spokesman said.

“The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the First Secretary of State, to deputise for him where necessary,” the spokesman added. “The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.”

Johnson was conscious when he was transferred to the ICU around 7 p.m. GMT (3 p.m. ET). Johnson’s medical team made the decision to move him to that unit as a precaution in case he needed ventilation.

Johnson, 55, announced on March 27 that he had contracted the disease and was experiencing “mild symptoms,” including “a temperature and a persistent cough.”

Ten days later, Johnson entered a hospital “for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms,” according to a tweet Monday morning from his official account.

“I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe,” Johnson said in the tweet.

Boris Johnson #StayHomeSaveLives✔@BorisJohnson

Last night, on the advice of my doctor, I went into hospital for some routine tests as I’m still experiencing coronavirus symptoms. I’m in good spirits and keeping in touch with my team, as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.

Johnson’s diagnosis made him the first major governmental leader known to have contracted the disease.

A total of 5,373 Britons have died after testing positive for the coronavirus, the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care said Monday, up 439 from the previous day.

It said that of the 208,837 people tested, 51,608 have tested positive for the virus.

Two days before Johnson revealed that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, the British royal household announced that Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the throne, had contracted the disease.

Raab told reporters later Monday that Johnson’s team will make sure to implement his plans for responding to the coronavirus as soon as possible.

The U.K. had been accused by experts of responding too slowly to the pandemic. Johnson imposed a suite of nationwide lockdown measures on March 20, after other European nations had already taken extreme measures to contain the rapid spread of the disease.

President Donald Trump, who said he has twice tested negative for COVID-19, has offered words of support for the prime minister during White House press briefings on the virus.

Trump said of Johnson on Monday afternoon that he was “very saddened to hear that he was taken into intensive care a little while ago.”

“He’s been really something very special,” Trump said. “Strong, resolute, he doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”

“But when you get brought into intensive care, that gets very very serious,” Trump added.

Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor, tweeted that her “thoughts and prayers” are with Johnson and his family.

“Godspeed Mr. Prime Minister!” she tweeted.

Ivanka Trump✔@IvankaTrump

Our prayers or with the Prime Minister and hope that he makes a full recovery!

Music Legend Bill Withers Dies at 81

Bill Withers on Chris Stokes blog and Wikipedia
Bill Withers

The music industry has suffered a great loss. Singer and songwriter legend Bill Withers has died at the age of 81 in Los Angeles.

As reported by AP News:

Bill Withers, who wrote and sang a string of soulful songs in the 1970s that have stood the test of time, including “ Lean on Me, ” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” has died from heart complications, his family said in a statement to The Associated Press. He was 81.

The three-time Grammy Award winner, who withdrew from making music in the mid-1980s, died on Monday in Los Angeles, the statement said. His death comes as the public has drawn inspiration from his music during the coronavirus pandemic, with health care workers, choirs, artists and more posting their own renditions on “Lean on Me” to help get through the difficult times.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other,” the family statement read. “As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.”

Withers’ songs during his brief career have become the soundtracks of countless engagements, weddings and backyard parties. They have powerful melodies and perfect grooves melded with a smooth voice that conveys honesty and complex emotions without vocal acrobatics.

“Lean on Me,” a paean to friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me” are among Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“He’s the last African-American Everyman,” musician and band leader Questlove told Rolling Stone in 2015. “Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

His death caused a torrent of appreciation on social media, including from former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who said Withers’ music has been a cherished part of her life. “It added to my joy in the good times, and also gave me comfort and inspiration when I needed it most,” she tweeted.

Billy Dee Williams tweeted “your music cheered my heart and soothed my soul” and Chance the Rapper said Withers’ songs are “some of the best songs of all time” and “my heart really hurts for him.” Lenny Kravitz said “My soul always has and always will be full of your music.”

“We lost a giant of songwriting today,” ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams said in a statement. “Bill Withers’ songs are among the most treasured and profound in the American songbook — universal in the way they touch people all over the world, transcending genre and generation. He was a beautiful man with a stunning sense of humor and a gift for truth.”

Withers, who overcame a childhood stutter, was born the last of six children in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. After his parents divorced when he was 3, Withers was raised by his mother’s family in nearby Beckley.

He joined the Navy at 17 and spent nine years in the service as an aircraft mechanic installing toilets. After his discharge, he moved to Los Angeles, worked at an aircraft parts factory, bought a guitar at a pawn shop and recorded demos of his tunes in hopes of landing a recording contract.

In 1971, signed to Sussex Records, he put out his first album, “Just As I Am,” with the legendary Booker T. Jones at the helm. It had the hits “Grandma’s Hands” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” which was inspired by the Jack Lemmon film “Days of Wine and Roses.” He was photographed on the cover, smiling and holding his lunch pail.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” was originally released as the B-side of his debut single, “Harlem.” But radio DJs flipped the disc and the song climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard charts and spent a total of 16 weeks in the top 40.

Withers went on to generate more hits a year later with the inspirational “Lean on Me,” the menacing “Who Is He (and What Is He to You)” and the slinky “Use Me” on his second album, “Still Bill.”

Later would come the striking “ Lovely Day,” co-written with Skip Scarborough and featuring Withers holding the word “day” for almost 19 seconds, and “Just the Two Of Us,” co-written with Ralph MacDonald and William Salter. His “Live at Carnegie Hall” in 1973 made Rolling Stone’s 50 Greatest Live Albums of All Time.

“The hardest thing in songwriting is to be simple and yet profound. And Bill seemed to understand, intrinsically and instinctively, how to do that,” Sting said in “Still Bill,” a 2010 documentary of Withers.

But Withers’ career stalled when Sussex Records went bankrupt and he was scooped up by Columbia Records. He no longer had complete control over his music and chafed when it was suggested he do an Elvis cover. His new executives found Withers difficult.

None of his Columbia albums reached the Top 40 except for 1977’s “Menagerie,” which produced “Lovely Day.” (His hit duet with Grover Washington Jr. “Just the Two of Us” was on Washington’s label). Withers’ last album was 1985′s “Watching You Watching Me.”

Though his songs often dealt with relationships, Withers also wrote ones with social commentary, including “Better Off Dead” about an alcoholic’s suicide, and “I Can’t Write Left-Handed,” about an injured Vietnam War veteran.

He was awarded Grammys as a songwriter for “Ain’t No Sunshine” in 1971 and for “Just the Two Of Us” in 1981. In 1987, Bill received his ninth Grammy nomination and third Grammy as a songwriter for the re-recording of the 1972 hit “ Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 by Stevie Wonder. Withers thanked his wife as well as the R&B pioneers who helped his career like Ray Jackson, Al Bell and Booker T. Jones. He also got in a few jabs at the record industry, saying A&R stood for “antagonistic and redundant.” Withers also was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

His music has been covered by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Linda Ronstadt, Paul McCartney, Sting, Johnny Mathis, Aaron Neville, Al Jarreau, Mick Jagger, Nancy Wilson, Diana Ross. His music has been sampled for BlackStreet’s “No Diggity,” Will Smith’s version of “ Just the Two Of Us, ” Black Eyed Peas’ “Bridging the Gap” and Twista’s “Sunshine.” The song “Lean on Me” was the title theme of a 1989 movie starring Morgan Freeman.

His songs are often used on the big screen, including “The Hangover,” “28 Days,” “American Beauty,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Crooklyn,” “Flight,” “Beauty Shop,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and “Flight.”

“I’m not a virtuoso, but I was able to write songs that people could identify with. I don’t think I’ve done bad for a guy from Slab Fork, West Virginia,” Withers told Rolling Stone in 2015.

He is survived by his wife, Marcia, and children, Todd and Kori.

R.I.P. Bill Withers, you will be missed.