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It turns out that journalist Lee Hawkins is a singer, too

  • Article by: C.J.
  • Star Tribune
  • March 4, 2009 - 8:44 PM

The polished corporate side of Lee Hawkins is only part of the profile.

There's a photo of Hawkins on the Web looking very hip in a fur because he's also a singer. That fur is a far cry from the corporate look of the Wall Street Journal reporter and CNBC correspondent who anchored a TV special now in rotation about "NEWBOs: The Rise of America's New Black Overclass," which includes interviews with Torii Hunter, Puffy Combs, Wyclef Jean and Mellody Hobson. Hawkins is scheduled to be in the Twin Cities when his book on the NEWBOs is published.

"You found that picture? You found out about my music career?" the Minnesotan said, laughing over the phone from NYC Tuesday. "It's part of the profile because the music is just part of who I am. ... I grew up making music.

"This really speaks to [my] family. My father is an extraordinary musician. When I was a kid, we were part of the Jack & Jill Club. The St. Paul chapter had a group [of teens] that performed every year at the Festival of Nations and all of these different school across Minneapolis and St. Paul. We were like the Jets or New Edition. Most of the music I've done has been gospel or R&B. I was in a group that did rap music, but I wasn't the rapper; I've always been the singer. I'm probably known more as a solo artist."

He's just full of surprises. In 2002, Hawkins released a CD, "Serenade," which got play on smooth-jazz stations. Two songs from that album appeared on a compilation album from Cafe de Soul, a label in Europe. "Serenade" was produced by George Nash Jr., who has produced for Eric Benet and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Hawkins has an upcoming single on a national compilation album, which he doesn't want to jinx by talking about too much. "My music is not R&B in the modern sense of Chris Brown," Hawkins said. (Another reference, please. I am so perturbed by Brown's alleged biting and beating of Rihanna and fearful that she's stupidly going to be holding his hand at his court hearing set for today. "Good observation. That would be powerful," Hawkins said.)

"It's more adult contemporary R&B," Hawkins said. "Think of Sade, Brian Mc-Knight. Anita Baker."

Little Hawk (there is a Lee Hawkins Sr. -- wife-mom is Roberta -- a gospel singer known in the metro) said he hasn't intentionally avoided discussing his music career. "It's one of those things that's just second nature to me," he said. "It doesn't occur to me that it would be so odd for others to know I'm also a singer."

How did I find out about this, Little Hawk wanted to know. I was arranging to pay Cretin-Derham Hall sophomore Tyler Hamblin for copies of his book, "15 Ways to Get A's," recently featured in a report by WCCO-TV's Caroline Lowe. Tyler's father, Ken Hamblin, mentioned that he played in a band with Hawkins. "He is very professional as a journalist, but he likes singing," Ken said. "Lee is well-rounded. That's the flat truth."

She wins, he loses

A California jury has awarded nearly $7 million and a BMW to a woman who claimed that she got herpes from the founder of Redmond Products, formerly based in Chanhassen.

Patricia Behr's lawsuit alleged that Thomas Redmond knew he had genital herpes for more than 25 years, but did not disclose that fact or wear condoms during their September 2003 to June 2004 romantic relationship, a period during which they also became partners in a small business, the Associated Press reports. Behr declined my request Tuesday for an interview. "It's been kind of rough for her; maybe in the future," said a spokesperson for attorney, Shaun M. Murphy of Slovak Baron & Empey.

The Riverside County jury awarded Behr $4 million in compensatory damages and $2.75 million in punitive damages, in addition to a 2004 BMW that Redmond had given her as a gift. Redmond now lives in Las Vegas, according to the AP story. His company was sold in 1997.

"The jury decided they didn't like a wealthy man for no particular reason I can find out," Redmond's attorney, Robert Frisbee told the AP. Frisbee claimed that Behr knew Redmond had the sexually transmitted disease and doesn't believe she proved that she got it from the man, whose family was famously clad in bath robes for ads for the Aussie line of hair-care products. Behr's lawsuit described Redmond's actions as "beyond the bounds of decency." To say nothing of how this would take the hop right out of any kangaroo.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on Fox 9 Thursday mornings.

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