Pharrell Partners With Verizon To Launch Music Education Program

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Pharrell is giving back to his hometown of Virginia Beach in a major way. In addition to bringing the highly anticipated Something In The Water music festival to the coastal city, the songwriter and record producer has reportedly partnered with Verizon to launch a new music education program in nationwide Verizon Innovative Learning schools, according to Billboard.

Launched under the Verizon Foundation, the organization will provide free technology, internet access, technology-focused curriculum to under-resourced middle schools. The partnership also includes the building of a Verizon Innovative Learning Lab, which will feature cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, and machine learning. The lab will be located in a middle school in Virginia Beach.

“I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access, and support. All kids, not just my own,” Pharrell tells Billboard. “There’s a lot of variables in a situation as to why something falls apart, but there’s only one scenario where it holds together, and that’s when all the variables are there. The environment, the family, the school, the system — there’s so many things. We just want to do what we can to balance the odds so that as many kids as we can afford, or help and assist in whatever ways, get this access and support.”

Pharrell’s Something In the Water festival kicked off last night in Virginia Beach. The event will be going on all weekend long with performances by Chris Brown, Travis Scott, Sza, Pusha T, Jhene Aiko, and many more.

Sylvia Rhone Named Chairman & CEO of Epic Records

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Music industry executive Sylvia Rhone has been promoted to chairman and CEO of Epic Records. The announcement was made today by Sony Music Entertainment. In her new role, Rhone will lead the creative direction and management of Epic, home to artists including Camila Cabello, Travis Scott, Future, 21 Savage, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana.

Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, who Rhone will continue to report to, describes her as a “trailblazing and iconic executive who has played a critical leadership role in driving Epic’s recent artist development success. Her wealth of experience and passionate support of artistic vision will help us further grow the reach of Epic’s roster around the world.”

Sylvia Rhone has served as President of Epic Records since 2014. According to Billboard, Rhone has overseen the release of projects for artists such as Future, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, and more. Prior to joining Sony, Sylvia Rhone spent eight years as the President of Universal Motown Records and Executive Vice President at Universal Records. She was the first African American woman to be named the chairman of a major record company, working as the Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group’s Elektra Entertainment Group from 1994-2004.

“I am excited to continue my amazing journey at Epic Records supported by Rob Stringer’s vision and leadership,” stated Rhone. “Everything we do is a testament to our incredible artists who set the bar of the entire Epic culture, inspiring our dedicated executive team every day and enriching the legacy of this great label.”

Brittany B. Talks Stepping From Behind The Scenes, Her New Record Featuring 24Hrs, The State of R&B, Her Upcoming EP, & More With Live Civil

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From an early age, singer-songwriter Brittany B. always knew she wanted a career in music. Growing up in Compton, California, she recalls being an 8-year-old entertainer who not only became a regular performer at school talent shows, but would perform songs by Destiny’s Child during recess, a group in which she credits as being one of her most cherished musical influences.

“I knew at a very young age that I wanted to pursue music as a career,” Brittany B. recalls. “I had to be about 8 years old and I remember singing to my friends at recess. They would say “you have a great voice, sing to us,” so I would sing Destiny’s Child songs to them. I actually went to the military briefly, but was discharged. Even when I was in basic camp, I would sing and everyone would tell me I didn’t belong there — that I belonged on stage.”


According to an article published on Genius, Brittany B.’s first break came in 2011 when she worked on Grammy-nominated musician Terrace Martin’s album, ‘Locke High 2’, and contributed to his track “Love,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. Since then it seems that Brittany B.’s career as an artist has only elevated as she went on to sign a publishing deal with Spirit Music Group and earned writing credits on Theophilus London’s “Can’t Stop,” featuring Kanye West. Other collaborations include artists such as John Legend, Eric Bellinger, Chrisette Michele, Ledisi, and Bhad Babie, whose Brittany B. assisted track “These Heaux” peaked at No. 77 on Billboard’s Hot 100 — making Bhad Babie the youngest female rapper to chart on Billboard. After spending most of her career behind-the-scenes, writing for different artists, and becoming a Grammy-nominated songwriter herself, Brittany B. is ready to step into the spotlight to tell her own story.

“I have so many experiences that I want to share through my music with everyone so that they can understand where I’ve come from and where I’m going in my life,” she says.


We caught up with Brittany B. to discuss what makes now the perfect time to step from behind the scenes, the state of R&B, advice she would offer to an aspiring artist, her new record featuring 24 Hrs., and what we can expect from her upcoming EP. Check out what she had to say below.


When did you realize you wanted a career in the music industry?

I knew at a very young age that I wanted to pursue music as a career. I had to be about 8 years old and I remember singing to my friends at recess. They would say “you have a great voice, sing to us,” so I would sing Destiny’s Child songs to them. I performed at all the school talent shows and always knew I would be an artist. I actually went to the military briefly, but was discharged. Even when I was in basic camp, I would sing and everyone would tell me I didn’t belong there — that I belonged on stage.


I read that Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Mary J. Blige, and Destiny’s Child serves as your most cherished influences in music. Is there any one of the newer or younger generation that you have also been inspired by?

Billie Ellish, H.E.R., and Daniel Ceasar have really inspired me as well. They have all mastered one of the key qualities an artist must have — authenticity.


After spending years behind-the-scenes writing for different artists, what made you want to begin pursuing and focusing on your own music career — or becoming “the face of your own words” so to speak?

I just feel that this is the moment in my life when I can tell my story the right way, with the right team, and in a time where I really have a lot to say. I have so many experiences that I want to share through my music with everyone so that they can understand where I’ve come from and where I’m going in my life. I’ve worked behind the scenes for a long time and now I feel like I can finally step into the forefront.



You have a new record called “Good For It” featuring 24 Hrs., which I love by the way. What was the inspiration behind this record?

The record is a blend of my new sound with my feelings about love. Where are the men who want a ride or die woman? I just wanted to bring that aspect back to music in a cool way. There’s so much music about being single, turning up, and “taking someone’s man.” I wanted to talk to the women who wanna be cuffed and who are loyal. I’m so happy that twenty hopped on the record too because his lyrics are just as important as mine. He talked about impressing his girl and never doing her wrong. Those lyrics are super important for this time in Hip-Hop where men are saying the complete opposite and women are praising “scammin’ a man”.


It seems as though R&B doesn’t get as much love and support as it once did in the ’90s and maybe early 2000’s. The genre is noticeably absent or not as widely represented on the radio, awards shows, and mainstream music in general, with the exception of maybe one or two hot new artists here and there. As a singer-songwriter, what is your opinion on the current state of R&B?

R&B will never go away. It’s always present however right now it’s not the dominant genre. Hip-Hop is more dominant right now, but that doesn’t mean that R&B disappeared. There’s a lot of artists blending both sounds. I feel like every genre will get its time to be the “popular,” so I think R&B artists shouldn’t change to fit in. The most successful R&B artists were the ones who stayed true to their sound and core fan base. I think R&B is actually becoming more popular than ever and emerging due to the over saturation of the Hip-Hop culture. Basically, people want to hear something different; they wanna feel different.


If you could offer a piece of advice — one ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ — to an aspiring artist looking to break into the music industry, what would that advice be?

Do stay true to yourself. Be authentic. Always do what you feel is right regardless of popular opinion.

Don’t take the first offer or opportunity that comes your way out of fear. Know your worth and then add tax


Where are you as far as the completion of your ‘Bossed Up’ EP — and what can we expect from the project?

I have over 50 songs recorded, but I still feel like I’m not done yet. I want this EP to be impactful and really speak to the independent women. You can expect boss bitch anthems and real records. I also want to showcase all of my talent — my writing, singing, and rapping. So make sure to stay locked in via social media, @brittanybmusic.



How Women Conquered The Grammys: Live Civil Highlights Marsha St. Hubert, Kirdis Postelle, & Ebonie Ward

The 61st annual Grammy Awards took place on Sunday (Feb. 10) and it was a ceremony dominated by female performers and presenters. First-time host, but fifteen-time Grammy award winner Alicia Keys not only opened the show by walking on stage to her 2007 hit single, “Superwoman,” which won a Grammy award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2008, but she also welcomed to the stage Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

The lineup of performers included Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile,  Jennifer Lopez, and Janelle Monáe alongside Dolly Parton, Diana Ross, and a tribute to Aretha Franklin, which featured Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day. While there was no shortage of female star power at Sunday night’s event, here at Live Civil, we wanted to take a moment to also acknowledge the female star power behind some of the night’s biggest winners from Cardi B and Dua Lipa to Future and Kendrick Lamar!

Marsha St. Hubert

Senior Vice President of Urban Marketing, Atlantic Records

One of the most talked about wins of Grammy night was Cardi B being awarded the Best Rap Album for her debut release, ‘Invasion of Privacy.’ Cardi B made history by becoming the first female solo artist to win the award. During her acceptance speech, Cardi thanked her team for their hard work and dedication, including Atlantic Records Senior Vice President of Urban Marketing, Marsha St. Hubert, whose work with Cardi B helped her to claim a #1 album on the Billboard charts.

With more than fifteen years in the music industry, Marsha St. Hubert got her start as an intern for Lyor Cohen at IDJ in 2002. However, in 2004, Cohen left IDJ for Warner Music Group (WMG) but asked St. Hubert to join him. Shortly thereafter, Marsha went to work as an assistant for Atlantic Co-Chairman & CEO Craig Kallman. From there, she advanced to A&R Operations Manager.

Serving as a Project Manager for Atlantic Records in 2007, Marsha St. Hubert helped to develop breakthrough projects by artists such as Wiz Khalifa, DJ Drama, and Lupe Fiasco. Following a two-year departure from Atlantic to work at Epic Records, Marsha returned to the label in 2014. It was then that she was able to begin working on new campaigns for Gucci Mane, Missy Elliott, Kodak Black, and PNB Rock, just to name a few.

Marsha took to Instagram to post a clip of Cardi B’s acceptance speech with the caption, “You’re welcome! It was a long road traveled to get here. Some days were great. Some days were… well… not! But you always showed up and showed out! Your career trajectory is now the new blueprint. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of me. I’m proud of US!”

Kirdis Postelle

Senior Vice President of Marketing, Warner Bros. Records

With an extensive resume detailing over twenty-five years of experience in the music industry, Kirdis Postelle started out working as an administrative assistant in the artist development office of LaFace Records in 1992. Working with industry moguls and founders of LaFace Records, L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, it is there that Postelle says she learned the basics of the music industry and it has helped to guide her career to where it is today.

“My first job was as an administrative assistant at LaFace Records in Atlanta,” Kirdis says. “Working at LaFace was like music industry boot camp. I worked long, hard hours and learned a lot of the basics that have guided my professional career to date.”

For the next seventeen years, Kirdis would work under Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, managing multiple divisions of the company. Like her experience working at LaFace, Kirdis was able to take what she learned and applied the next several years that she would spend as a veteran music executive.

“One of the most important lessons I learned working for Dr. Dre for 17 years was: Always strive for excellence,” she says. “He would set the bar for us so high that in most instances we couldn’t reach it, but when we did the results were extraordinary. He also taught me not to be afraid to walk away from or let something go that didn’t meet the standards we’d set.”

She continued, “[Dr. Dre also taught me to] never take no for an answer, even from him. People tend to work from ‘no’ as a default position. I learned that a compelling argument, new information or enough money was often enough to turn a no to a yes. I can count on one hand the number of times I had to tell Dre something couldn’t happen.”

During her time at Aftermath Entertainment, Kirdis Postelle worked with artists such as Eminem, The Game, and Best Rap Performance Grammy winner for “King’s Dead,” Kendrick Lamar. Today, Kirdis Postelle serves as the Senior Vice President of Warner Bros. Records where she develops and implements marketing strategies for artists such as Andra Day, Lil Pump, and Best New Artist Grammy winner Dua Lipa.

Ebonie Ward

Brand Manager, FreeBandz

From opening men’s clothing boutique Fly Kix ATL nearly ten years go to serving as the Brand Manager for Future and his Freebandz label, Ebonie Ward is certainly a well-known name throughout the Atlanta music scene. Ward was able to get her foot in the door of the music industry by hosting curated music events and in-store appearances with artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Future early in their careers, according to Atlanta Magazine. Today, Ebonie Ward serves as the Brand Manager for Grammy award-winning rapper Future, who took home the award for Best Rap Performance alongside Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, and James Blake for “King’s Dead.”

“I basically oversee his image in its entirety,” Ward says of her current role as his brand manager.

In 2017, Ebonie got her first official recognition as a creative director on Future’s self-titled and Hndrxx albums.

B2K Visits ‘The Real’ To Discuss The Millennium Tour, Reuniting, Fatherhood, Self-Growth, & More

If you were a huge fan of B2K like myself, then you were happy to hear news of the R&B boy band coming back together after 15 years for their highly-anticipated 2019 Millennium Tour. Omarion, J-Boog, Lil’ Fizz, and Raz-B will take the stage in select cities from March 8 through April 28 to perform a collection of their greatest hits. If I had to be honest, the guys announcing their reunion prompted me to revisit their catalogue and boy did it take me back down memory lane. I mean, “One Kiss,” “Sleepin’,” “Everything,” “I’m Not Finished,” “Would You Be Here,” “Baby Girl,” “What A Girl Wants,” and more. The list goes on. B2K will be joined by acts such as Mario, Pretty Ricky, Bobby Valentino, Chingy, Ying Yang Twins, and Lloyd.

The guys recently joined the ladies of the ‘The Real Daytime’ to discuss their upcoming tour and what it’s like reuniting after 15 years. The men also reflected on fatherhood, self-growth, and what makes them different now from when the world was first introduced to them as B2K. Also, if you want to know whether B2K will be recording any new music, well, J-Boog poses an even bigger question for you!




Tweet Talks Motherhood, Working With Missy Elliott, Music Industry Anxiety & More With BET’s ‘Finding: Tweet’

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So, I’ve really been loving the fresh new content that BET has been producing lately, particularly one of my favorites being their ‘Finding’ series. We were first introduced to the series when BET sat down with R&B singer Nivea last year. The web series then went on to catch up with St. Louis rapper J-Kwon, best known for his hit single, “Tipsy.” Now, we get a glimpse into the life and career of someone who I feel is one of the most underrated voices in music, R&B singer and “Southern Hummingbird”, Tweet.

Tweet is best known for her hit singles such as “Oops (Oh My)” and “Call Me.” In this episode, she takes us back to the very beginning of her career as a member of Devante Swing’s girl group, Sugar, which is ultimately how she met her “guardian angel,” Missy Elliott. Tweet, who is currently working on new music, also talks about the challenges of balancing career and motherhood and feelings of anxiety with re-entering the music industry.

See the full episode below.


Danielle Brooks Releases New Single Titled “Black Woman” & It’s Exactly What We Needed

Danielle Brooks has taken her talents from the small screen to the studio.

The ‘Orange Is The New Black’ actress has released a brand new song titled “Black Woman.” The empowering track was co-written and produced by Anthony Ramos and Will Wells. The inspiration behind “Black Woman” came in the form of a single question from one of Danielle’s friends.

“So, I wrote this with two of my friends and one of them asked me if I could talk about anything I wanted to without a filter, what would that be?” she tells BuzzFeed. “And for me, it was the experience of being a Black woman. I decided to write this song, without any filters, of my journey as a Black woman in America.”

In the song, Danielle criticizes women of other races wanting black features without walking in the shoes of a black woman, particularly a dark-skinned black woman. She also talks about how society brainwashes black women into believing that “as they are” is not good enough.

“You want my thighs, you want my stride, but not this melanin. You want my hair, but you don’t care for this complexion. I’m a black woman,” she sings. “The world tells me there is space for me if I cinch it up and I sew it in. The world tells me it’ll all be mine with some lashes on and some lighter eyes.”

Danielle Brooks hopes to empower black women to feel like they could take over the world and let them know that they ARE good enough. I have listened to the full song and even with a 4-minute track, it wasn’t long enough for me. That’s how powerful and incredible this song is.

“I want black women to feel empowered by this song,” Danielle says. “I want them to feel on top of the world. I want them – when they’re home, and they just had the worst day of their life, or just had the best day of their life – to play this song and feel like they could take over the world.”


John Legend Shares Why He Participated In The ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Documentary

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Since the premiere of Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary, we’ve seen a number of celebrities speak out against the singer-songwriter and Chicago native via social media and news outlets. Some have even made the conscious decision to remove their R. Kelly collaborations from streaming platforms. However, there were several celebrities who reportedly declined to appear in the Lifetime documentary for unknown reasons. One celebrity in particular, however, decided to make an appearance and lend his voice to the victims of abuse.

John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen appeared on Bravo’s ‘Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen’ and revealed why he decided to speak out in the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ docuseries after a caller requested to know what he thought of other celebrities declining to participate.

“I don’t want to cast any aspersions on people because everyone has their own reasons for not doing something,” he said. “I get asked to be on documentaries all the time. It’s not because I don’t agree with the premise of the documentary that I don’t do it, but there are all kinds of reasons you don’t do it.”

John revealed that he is friends with both the director of the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary and those who were a part of the Mute R. Kelly movement.

“The reason why I did it is, I’m friends with the director Dream Hampton,” Legend continued. “She’s awesome we worked together on ending mass incarceration and I respect her work. Another reason is that I have good friends that were a part of the Mute R. Kelly movement. They were literally marching on the streets and they work with rape victims in Chicago. I knew that as a celebrity that I could lend my voice to these people who have been hurt.”


Paisley Park Bringing Music-Education Opportunities To Students of Minneapolis Public Schools

Continuing to inspire the next generation of young musicians through his legacy, Prince’s Paisley Park will be partnering with Minneapolis Public Schools to allow students free access to the private estate as well as music-education opportunities.

Following his untimely death in 2016, the Chanhassen property was turned into a museum. According to the Official Paisley Park website, it provides fans with the unprecedented opportunity to experience first-hand what it was like for Prince to create, produce and perform inside this private sanctuary and remarkable production complex. The program will start with the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource (FAIR) school downtown.

Although no other details have been announced regarding the partnership, Minneapolis schools superintendent Ed Graff released a statement saying:

“As an avid Prince fan and a strong proponent of arts education, I am excited for Minneapolis students to benefit from this partnership with Paisley Park. It’s fitting that this wonderful opportunity is starting with the FAIR School, which is a magnet high school in downtown where the arts are integrated in all academic areas.”

According to Star Tribune, Prince was a graduate of Minneapolis Central High School and was a strong advocate for education, especially in the arts. Prince donated to various schools around the country, including Harvest Prep and Seed Academy in Minneapolis, Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and Marva Collins Preparatory in Chicago.

Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, & Missy Elliott To Executive Produce The Clark Sisters Biopic

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The Clark Sisters are next up for a biopic and judging by the talent involved with the project, it’s guaranteed to be a good one. The announcement was made at a recent event and also confirmed on the legendary gospel group’s Instagram account.

“It is with great anticipation that we share with you the story of the Clark Sisters ‘You Brought The Sunshine’ coming early 2019. We are so excited,” they wrote in their Instagram caption, which was accompanied by a teaser trailer. You Brought Sunshine is the title of The Clark Sisters’ eighth studio album and was their first to hit certified Gold, according to

If that wasn’t enough, legendary musicians Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Missy Elliott are all set to executive produce the film. There is no word yet on an official release date or cast, but it is being reported that the film will air on Lifetime.

The Clark Sisters is made up of Jacky, Twinkie, Dorinda, and Karen, who has recorded over 12 albums and won multiple Grammy and Stellar awards. A few of their songs include “Blessed & Highly Favored,” “Endow Me,” and “Jesus Is A Love Song.”

Kelly Rowland & Kelly Price To Star In BET’s New Series Centered On The Rise of ‘Soul Train’

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Coming to BET is a brand new scripted series that will tell the story of the legendary 1970’s music and dance television program, Soul Train.

American Soul will be a 10-episode drama that centers on the emergence of Soul Train, its creator, the late Don Cornelius, and a cutthroat Hollywood in the 1970’s. It will also highlight Soul Train’s influence on American culture and the mainstream acceptance of Black music.

It has been announced that Grammy Award-winning singer and actress Kelly Rowland will star as Gladys Knight in the upcoming series. Rowland’s multi-episodic role is pivotal as Knight was one of the first performers booked during the early days of Soul Train. You may remember an October 2016 Instagram post by Gladys Knight asking fans if they thought Kelly Rowland would be the perfect person to star in her biopic. How ironic is that?

Joining the cast as a series regular, according to Billboard, is also Grammy Award-nominated singer Kelly Price. Price will star as Brianne Clarke, the head of the Clarke family whose children Simone and Kendall are rising stars in Los Angeles.

Jesse Collins, Jonathan Prince and Devon Greggory are set to executive produce. Don’s son, Tony Cornelius, will co-exec produce alongside Andy Horne. Greggory will pen the pilot, and Jesse Collins Entertainment will produce. The series will premiere in 2019.

Trans Soul Singer Shea Diamond Speaks On Finding Her Voice While In A Male Prison

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Growing up as a trans woman in Flint Michigan, soul singer Shea Diamond, did not have easy. Identifying as a girl from an early age, Shea was constantly being corrected for her doing what came natural to her. I got whoopings for walking like a girl, for using the restroom sitting down like a girl,” says Diamond today. “Even singing when I was little, I remember being corrected: ‘Put some bass in your voice.’ It was like robbing me of the only joy I had in this world.” Desperate to get away from her hometown,  Shea ran away as a teen and at the age of 20, she  was arrested and spent ten years in jail. It was behind bars that Shea found her voice and she sat down with Billboard for their first ever Pride issue to discuss how she went from being a product of every system to creating her song “I am Her,” which has become the anthem for the women’s, trans, and gay movements.

When you are in your early twenties you are still trying to figure out life. That combined with the pressure of keeping up with her classmates is what ultimately landed Shea behind bars for robbing a convenience store at gunpoint. Although Shea was working, the money she was making wasn’t enough to pay for sex reassignment surgery so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I was seeing my peers that had guap, a big ol’ roll of money, and here I am waiting on this check. I’m thinking, if I can do this one time, I’ll be able to maybe have an affirming gender and change my life. The first time I did something, I got caught.”

Even though Shea is a trans woman, she was still sentenced to serve her time in a male facility. There, Shea along with other transgender inmates had to deal with sexual harassment from male inmates, as well as the guards,

“In prison, trans people [were] alienated to the point that they’re fantasized about just as much as cis women are. The male inmates would lust over these female officers that they had to walk past every day, and they would try their best to have us [trans women], too. Even the guards would do that. So officers raped us as well. But we’re never considered credible. We had to go through a lot of different channels to bring some of that stuff to light. I became a member of the warden’s forum, which meant I was able to talk to the warden about inmates’ concerns; things that they felt were injustices, things that would make their unit more livable.”

While going through a difficult divorce, Shea was encouraged by another trans women to get out of the house. The first stop on the cheer up train was The Audre Lorde Project in New York where she sang. After that, Shea began being invited out to sing at different protest, which led her to discovery at a “Trans Life Matter” event by song writer Justin Tranter.

For the full interview click here,