Lima, Jan 16 (AP/UNB) — A year ago, Venezuelan migrant Reymar Perdomo was singing for spare change on jammed buses, struggling to make ends meet while building a new life in Peru's capital.
But her life took a turn when she wrote a heartfelt reggae song about leaving her homeland that went viral on the internet and has brought tears to hundreds in the Venezuelan diaspora that has spread around the globe. Now Perdomo combines her street performances with appearances at concerts and on TV programs, and her song has become the unofficial anthem of Venezuelans who have fled their country's economic implosion.
"This song gives me goosebumps" said Junior Barrios, a Venezuelan migrant who listened to Perdomo perform her song "Me Fui" — Spanish for "I Left" — recently at a busy plaza in Lima. "Leaving your home from one day to the next day isn't easy, and this just makes a whole bunch of emotions surface at once."
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015 as food shortages and hyperinflation became rampant in what was once a wealthy oil-exporting nation. By the end of 2019 that number is expected to grow to at least 5.4 million.
"Me Fui" is Perdomo's retelling of how she left Venezuela reluctantly with her "head full of doubts," pushed by her mother, who insisted there was no other way for her to make something of her life.
The song, which the 30-year-old plays with a ukulele after her similar-sounding Venezuelan "cuatro" broke while busking, talks about how she was robbed and faced other hardships as she had to cross four countries to reach Peru, pressing on while "speaking softly and crying along much of the way."
"I had lots of mixed feelings about having to leave Venezuela, and felt a lot of pain. And I just needed to express that in order to move on with life," Perdomo said in an interview after performing on the streets of Lima's wealthy Miraflores district.
Her nostalgic song has had more than 2 million views on YouTube thanks to a passer-by who recorded Perdomo singing and posted the video online. It's also gotten a wave of attention on radio and television, helping Perdomo get noticed by famous pop artists around South America who have asked her to be the opening act at their concerts. She has also produced a slicker version that has had 1.2 million views on its own.
In December, Perdomo was invited to Colombia by a popular satirist and Youtuber who had her sing on a bus, surprising her by bringing along Latin Grammy winner Carlos Vives and Andres Cepeda.
Perdomo said she almost fainted as Vives, who was wearing a hat and fake moustache, threw his disguise away and started to sing the chorus of her song.
"That happened exactly a year to the date after I left Venezuela" Perdomo said. "And for me to be there, performing with one of my favorite singers, singing my song, just felt like proof that God exists."
Perdomo, who used to be a music teacher at a public school in the rural state of Guarico and once participated in a televised talent show. Although she says she never voted for Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, as a public employee she was required to sing at pro-government rallies, something a few online critics have held against her.
Though becoming something of a symbol of the Venezuelan exodus, she still struggles to get by.
Her mother, brother, sister-in-law and year-old nephew have joined her in Peru and all share a small rented apartment in one of the city's working class districts. Only Perdomo's brother has found a permanent job, working as a bouncer at a nightclub, so the street performer works long days to help sustain her family.
Still, social media fame is opening new doors.
Perdomo says that Vives has invited her to perform on a regular basis at his nightclub in Bogota and that she is speaking with organizations in Colombia about the possibility of recording an album focused on the plight of migrants.
These opportunities have her thinking about moving yet again — this time to Colombia's capital.
"This has been a tough year, but it also been amazing" Perdomo said. "I think that to help people and do what you love, you don't need a lot of money. You just need to believe in yourself and be willing to work real hard."
New York, Jan 15 (AP/UNB) — R. Kelly wrote a letter threatening to reveal embarrassing details of a woman's sexual history if she didn't drop a lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse, the woman and her lawyer said Monday.
In the letter, a person identifying himself as R. Kelly warned a lawyer for the woman, Faith Rodgers, that if she persisted with the suit, she would be "subjected to public opinion."
The letter said the singer would demand medical documentation of her claim that he gave her herpes, force her to turn over texts and social media posts, and have "10 personal male witnesses testifying under oath about her sex life."
"If Ms. Rodgers really cares about her own reputation she should cease her participation and association with the organizers of this negative campaign," the letter said.
A lawyer for R. Kelly in Chicago, Steve Greenberg, denied the letter's authenticity, saying it "looks fake."
"It obviously was not authored or signed by Mr. Kelly, nor sent on his behalf," Greenberg said. "He doesn't write letters."
The letter was sent in October to one of Rodgers' lawyers in New York, a few weeks after the singer was served with the lawsuit accusing him of demeaning her, locking her in rooms and vehicles, and subjecting her to "non-permissive, painful and abusive sex."
Rodgers, 21, said she met Kelly as a 19-year-old after a concert in San Antonio. She participated in the recently aired Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly," which catalogued years of accusations against the singer.
"We are here today to let Mr. Kelly know in no uncertain terms that he cannot and will not intimidate his alleged victims into keeping silent about their allegations," one of her lawyers, Gloria Allred, said at the news conference Monday.
"No woman should be victim-shamed, harassed or retaliated against because she asserted her rights and spoke her truth," Rodgers added.
The Associated Press does not typically name people alleging sexual abuse unless they come forward publicly, as Rodgers has done.
Kelly has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
The letter send to Rodgers' New York lawyer, Lydia Hills, also lectured her in sometimes nonsensical terms about her understanding of the law.
"This is to enlighten you concerning the presumption of court appearances that you may not be aware of since attorneys are taught a coloring of law and not Canon or Common Law. Color-of-Law is NOT law. It's fiction for corporate fictions of which I am not."
The letter writer added later that, "I am exempt and not subject to this court so I don't know why you are even addressing me."
Also Monday, the Chicago Tribune published a story detailing court records it obtained on a July lawsuit seeking payment of $174,000 in back rent and other costs for his Chicago recording studio.
The documents include a signed eviction notice, which was put on hold until Jan. 21 for Kelly to pay.
The studio has been the site of recent protests against Kelly, with those involved calling on promoters to stop booking his concerts.
Santa Monica, Jan 14(AP/UNB) — "Roma" is the top winner at the Critics' Choice Awards, winning best picture, foreign language film and a pair of individual honors for director Alfonso Cuaron.
The 24th annual ceremony held Sunday at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California, also split the top actress award between Glenn Close for "The Wife" and Lady Gaga for "A Star Is Born." The split win comes a week after Close won the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a film drama, an award that many expected Lady Gaga would win.
"The Americans" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" tied for top television winners with three apiece.
"Black Panther" and "Vice" each won three awards, including best actor for Christian Bale for his portrayal of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
New York, Jan 14 (AP/UNB) —HBO announced Sunday night that the eighth and final season will begin on April 14. In a one minute and 44 second teaser released Sunday, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of Winterfell.
Fans have eagerly awaited the six-episode finale of the show since Season 7 of the popular HBO show ended in August 2017.
The fantasy series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has been one of HBO's most successful shows.
HBO isn't getting out of the "Game of Thrones" business. A prequel created by Martin and writer-producer Jane Goldman is underway, with Naomi Watts set to star, and other spinoffs are possible.
New York, Jan 12 (AP/UNB) — NBC News announced its professional divorce agreement with Megyn Kelly late Friday, ending an association with the former Fox News Channel star whose attempt to become a network morning television star as part of the "Today" show floundered.
Terms were not disclosed. Kelly was in the second of a three-year contract that reportedly paid her more than $20 million a year.
She's been off the air since October after creating a furor by suggesting that it was OK for white people to wear blackface on Halloween, and exit negotiations had dragged for two months over the holidays. Even before the controversial commentary, her future was considered limited at NBC News.
"The parties have resolved their differences, and Megyn Kelly is no longer an employee of NBC," the network said in a statement Friday night.
NBC says she'll be replaced in the third hour of the "Today" show by anchors Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Dylan Dreyer and Sheinelle Jones.
Her tenure was also a failure for NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, who lured her from Fox News Channel with the type of big-money contract that was once standard in television news but now is less so with financial constrictions and less viewership. In a sense, Kelly was caught in a no-woman's land: some at NBC were suspicious of her because of the Fox News background, while her former audience at Fox resented her for tough questioning of Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail.
While at Fox, her accusations of unwanted sexual advances by the network's late chief executive, Roger Ailes, helped lead to his firing.
She made news at NBC when interviewing women who accused Trump of inappropriate behavior and s poke with accusers of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Roy Moore and others, as well as women who say they were harassed on Capitol Hill. The episode with Trump accusers had more than 2.9 million viewers, one of her biggest audiences on the network.
Time magazine, which honored "The Silence Breakers" as its Person of the Year in 2017, cited Kelly as the group's leader in the entertainment field.
But tough segments on accusations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer didn't win her friends internally, as did her public call for Lack to appoint outside investigators to look into why the network didn't air Ronan Farrow's stories about Harvey Weinstein and allowed Farrow to take his story to The New Yorker.
When those stories began to fade, Kelly had trouble attracting an audience in the soft-focus world of morning television. She also briefly hosted an evening newsmagazine that didn't catch on with viewers.
Kelly made a tearful apology to viewers following her blackface comments, but it proved to be her last appearance on NBC News.
"What is racist?" she said on the show. "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid, that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as a character."
Critics accused her of ignoring the ugly history of minstrel shows and movies in which whites applied blackface to mock blacks.
It's not immediately clear what's next for Kelly. NBC would not comment Friday on whether the separation agreement allows her to write about her experiences at the network.
There's no non-compete clause, meaning Kelly is free to seek other television work if she wants to.