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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kenny Lattimore: Taking Listeners Back 2 Cool

by Cyrus Webb

The New York Times may have said it best when it called Kenny Lattimore the "Modern Soul Man", and though it's been a decade since his last solo project not much has changed.

The man who is known for sultry love songs that will stimulate your mind and give the guys something to recite to that special lady is back with new music and sharing all that he is with all of us. His single FIND A WAYdelivers not only the melodic rhythms that you come to expect but a message of what it means to truly get to a woman and be who she wants her man to be.

This year alone he has literally been around the world and back again, meeting his fans, sharing his music and his talents on stage and showing us all what it means to live life on purpose. Getting this interview with Lattimore was not only an honor for me but something that I knew lovers of music would enjoy as well as individuals looking for an example of what is possible for them in relationships and in life. In this man we see an example of both.

In one of the most insightful conversations I've had Kenny Lattimore takes us into the depths of who he is and strives to be and what he hopes for all of us as well.

LATTIMORE ON HIS PURPOSE:
"I really feel that my musical purpose has been to speak to the hearts of women and the minds of men. It's been about my own personal journey, the way we approach communication and approach life. As I learn things and experience things I am able to put it in my music. I'm careful to give something for the ladies and not leave out my male listeners. I want the men to know that there is strength in wanting to know and understand women."

LATTIMORE ON BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF:
"One of the most difficult things was knowing my purpose when it wasn't popular. Knowing my musical purpose was more than what was sometimes expected I had to keep rolling and stay true to myself, not allowing anyone to deter me. As I have matured I have been able to embrace it more. There's no getting around this simple fact: God calls you to a purpose."

"Music is a platform of communication. I had strong ideals about love and what love should be, but I wasn't always sure how I wanted to translate that fully. I had to get comfortable. As you live you get better."

"As an artist there is a certain sense of vulnerability that we have to accept. Everything you want to do is not always going to translate. Your purpose can't be to fulfill myself. It has to be to give to others. That's what I have been working on over the years."

LATTIMORE ON HIS GREATEST PASSION:
"I would have to say that my greatest passion is mentoring and giving information. As a mentor you become very protective of people. That is one of the reasons I started the KL Foundation. It includes mentoring, education and the arts. Through the platform I have I am able to talk freely about the things I am passionate about."

LATTIMORE ON NEW MUSIC:
"I appreciate you even when I have been trying to figure it out. The fans believed that whatever I did I would continue to come with a certain quality. For me it is about being able to build a legacy that is reputable and respected."

LATTIMORE ON STAYING TRUE TO THE PURPOSE:
"It's tough when the world is going in a particular direction and you may feel as though you are out there by yourself. The important thing is making decisions that let you know you are doing the right thing. It might not be easy. It takes the consistently to understand who you are and be strong in that. Embrace where you are suppose to go. There is a tremendous blessing in embracing your purpose."

LATTIMORE ON YOUR DREAM:
"Despise not the day of small beginnings. That is what I say to people who are trying to figure it out. God delights when we start. We sometimes think everything has to be lined up a certain way. Even when you don't understand your purpose you can discover it and walk in it."

Stay in touch with Kenny Lattimore on his website www.kennylattimore.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kennylattimore and on his Facebook fan page.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Actor Jonathan Chase: Living In the Moment, Loving the Process

by Cyrus Webb

Living your life with purpose and passion is more than just words. It's about action. Just ask Jonathan Chase. In the past decade he has gone from being a supporting actor on hit shows such as Monk and Veronica Mars to one of the bright stars on the new runaway comedy LOVE THY NEIGHBOR on the Oprah Winfrey Network. I had a chance to talk with him about the experience and what this journey has been like for him, and the conversation was nothing short of inspiring.

JONATHAN CHASE ON LOVE THY NEIGHBOR:
"As soon as I take a breath and realize we shot 26 episodes of a sitcom in such a short amount of time (about a couple of months), something that takes Hollywood 10 1/2 months to do... I can't believe it. I truly appreciate the speed that Tyler Perry is able to perform and function. It's a feat beyond itself. When I got to LA and worked on another job I couldn't believe how slow it was compared to what we did in Atlanta."

JONATHAN ON THE EXPERIENCE:
"I was actually going to be a sports agent. I took a semester off and traveled abroad to London for 6 months and saw a play a week. That's when I fell in love. So many musicals I saw that changed my focus. After that I did some off Broadway and got my first gig in TV for a little show called Oliver Beene playing a tennis pro. They flew me to LA from NY in 2003, and I never went back. Seeing people perform live is what got me hooked. That is what I love about Tyler. He comes from that world (of live performances), and his live audience has translated and been his devoted fan-base for television and film. Take Love Thy Neighbor for instance. It was a play, and Tyler Perry created the show around them. He's like King Midas."

JONATHAN ON BELIEVING:
"I believe that at some level you have to be able to push yourself beyond what you can even imagine. You have to be willing to never give up and never surrender and not listen to the noise that comes from outside of yourself. You're the only one that can tell you what you can and cannot do."

JONATHAN ON HIS TRUTH:
"I know what it's like to struggle. I was doing what I could to pay for class and coaching and wardrobe. There have been so many ups and downs. Right now I'm on a huge high. It's a dream come true. That is my truth. I've also had the lowest lows. It's all about the work. I do it for the work. I try to make everything I do look effortless. People ask me what I do,  and I tell them I'm in the pursuit of a career of an actor."

JONATHAN ON HIS ONLINE SUPPORTERS:
"It's like a digital blind date with 10k people at once. I feel like I'm blessed to have them. The support from fans means getting up and making it to a meeting and doing the best I can. Knowing my work has affected someone helps me."

JONATHAN ON ENJOYING THE MOMENT: 
"I take it one step at a time and try not to 'future' myself too much. As long as I'm right here right now I give you everything I got. I have no regrets. I can just focus on the work that way. That's my best approach to acting and all aspects of my life, living in the now."

Want to keep in touch with what's going on with Jonathan Chase next? Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jonathan_chase and like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/actorjonathanchase.

Branden Nicholson Shares How to Discover Your WHY

by Cyrus Webb

Have you identified your why?

The question might seem strange to some, but it is one that each of us no matter where we are in life have to consider.

Every day we make decisions about things that we do or don't do. These decisions then affect not just ourselves but those around us. How many of us have seen something and said "I want that" or "I wish I could do that" The obvious question to ask is "Why?" The answer will determine if we are willing to do the work necessary to get what we say we want.

Fitness model and trainer Branden Nicholson has not only identified his why, but it literally affects each and every aspect of his life. Today he is literally affecting the lives of individuals around the world through his coaching and motivational tips, but the journey began with himself and the question of Why.

Nicholson, who is the founder and CEO of B. Nick Fitness, has dedicated his life to not just getting his clients in the best shape possible but stimulating them mentally to face the challenges in front of them. His love of fitness and wellness came 8 years ago when he snapped his right femur bone in half.

"I was rushed to the hospital and had three major surgeries that left me with a 28 inch rod in me with four screws to hold it in place," he says "I was in the hospital for over 2 months. I could not walk for a full year." During this time Nicholson went through the doubt that so plagues so many. "I went from people and coaches calling me everyday to everyone giving up on me including the doctors. I was told I would never return to the football field and would never be able to walk again in life."

Some would have allowed that diagnosis to end any hope they had. Not Branden Nicholson. "Through all of this God was showing and telling me that this is not where I was going to end up at. I used my pain to push me through prosperity. I beat all odds against me.I am here to tell you that when you are going through pain I know exactly what you are feeling, because I have been there. I will tell you this much, if you work through your pain, the other side is your reward.I learned that pain isn't permanent, you can get through this because you are bigger and better then your pain. I proved everyone wrong that tried to stop me, kill my dreams to walk again, that Impossible is nothing.I got this far using my pain. God showed me he had a bigger plan for my life."

That plan has included the work that B. Nick Fitness is doing through in-person training and online. "There's nothing like this," says Nicholson. "Through social media I'm helping people that I can't reach change their lives by getting in shape and motivating them to get on the right track and stay there."

This is when the Why is so important. "What keeps me motivated is knowing that I have people looking up to me. My clients and family look to me for support and assurance. My whole personal experience also motivates me." He also realizes the importance of focusing on what is important. Though many are impress by the physical appearance, Nicholson says that you can't be defined by what people see. "That comes and goes," he explains. "You can look healthy on the outside and be crappy on the inside. It has to start within. That is your base. If the base isn't grounded it all falls apart. You have to stay focused and grounded. It's all about discipline."

Through the pictures of his clients that he shares online we know the approach that Branden Nicholson uses is paying off in the lives of others. "That's the best feeling in the world," he told me. "Even when I was playing ball I never felt like this. Just to be a part of someone's life is big. When I get the chance to see them that's a thrill for me. I came into this industry saying that if I can change one life then this is the job for me. It's all about progression and taking one step at a time. All the lives I continue to change I give all the glory to God."

Because of his inspiring approach to life I asked Branden to partner with Conversations Media Group in sharing some of his motivational tips with our audience. He agreed, and the result is what we call "31 Days of Inspiration". Through the entire month of May we will share these tips online through social media. Many of them have to do with self-reflection. Others address issues of faith and some even tackle the importance of the company you keep.

Through the "31 Days of Inspiration" it is our hope that you will be able to find that inner strength to push forward even when the odds seem against them. Nicholson has this message for anyone going through a trial or situation where they feel there is no hope: "I'm telling you not to give up but to push through it. Pain is temporary.It may last for a minute, hour, day or even a year, but eventually it will subside and something else would take its place.But if you quit that will last forever! "

So what is your Why? What will drive who you become? Begin to answer that question now and watch the shift that occurs in everything you say and do. For more information about Branden Nicholson visit http://www.bnickfitness.com. You can also stay in touch with him through Twitter at    www.twitter.com/officialbnick and his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BNickFitness.

Photo credits: Top photograph of Nicholson: Black Russian Studios NYC / Bottom photograph of Nicholson: JRW Photograph Hawaii

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CONVERSATIONS PROFILE: Towanda Braxton

by Cyrus Webb

Her family has been in the public eye for years, but one thing about Towanda Braxton: what you see is what you get.

She is a multi-talented individual who has not just relied on her beauty to make it in the world. She is a real talent that can sing, run a business and still keep it real as millions are able to see on Braxton Family Values.

It was my pleasure to speak with her about not just her journey in the entertainment industry, her venture called The Secret Squirrel and her remaining true to herself.

TOWANDA ON THE SECRET SQUIRREL:
"I came in [this business] as an artist first, and then I became an assistant. Through The Secret Squirrel I ask those who want to be personal assistants to answer this question: 'How would I want my assistant to treat me?'

"You want to be indispensable. You want it to be difficult for them to replace you.If you are going to do treat people the way you want to be treated you're going to do a great job."

TOWANDA ON PERSONAL GREATNESS:
"I'm still on that journey. I don't think I will ever reach that plateau because I'm a perfectionist. It makes me want to strive to do better all the time."

TOWANDA ON REALITY TV AND BRAXTON FAMILY VALUES:
Our family made a pact that if we were going to do it [a reality show] then we were going to be 100% real. No sense in doing it if it wasn't real. That is what people get from the show: the realness."

TOWANDA ON SUCCESS:
"If I can help somebody then I am doing my job. Everybody has hiccups along the way to be the person who they are and who they were meant to be. The things that I have gone through in life have made me stronger."

TOWANDA ON LIFE, FAMILY AND PURPOSE:
"What keeps me going is my children. They keep me grounded and laughing.

"Enough is just not enough for me. I always strive to be better than I am. When it comes to The Secret Squirrel I don't like interviewing people who know it all. Everybody should learn something new everyday.

"I think I have many purposes: my business, acting, etc. I meet people all of the time who change my life. It doesn't matter how old they are."

TOWANDA ADVICE FOR OTHERS:
"A person should find their niche and stick with it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do. You can't live for everybody. You have to live for you. Ask yourself this question: Are you making yourself happy today?"

To stay updated on everything going on with Towanda Braxton and her brand visit www.towandabraxton.com. For up-to-the-minute updates, follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/towandabraxton and "Like" her Facebook page.

*   Photo provided courtesy of Towanda Braxton

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why the World Is Going "Country Crazy" for Recording Artist Amy Rose

Country recording artist Amy Rose releases her new single "Country Crazy" today.

Read my article and review of the single here: Why the World Is Going

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Conversations Magazine Introduces It's March/April Issue Featuring Women Changing the World

Conversations Media Group is excited to announce that it's March/April 2014 issue of Conversations Magazine will feature its 25 Women Changing the World.


"There are so many amazing women doing great things," says Cyrus Webb, President of CMG and Editor-In-Chief of the publication. "This is our opportunity to give them some much-needed attention and praise."






The issue, which releases Fri. March 14th, features Leeza Gibbons, Gloria Gaynor, Jackie Collins, Wahida Clark, Iyanla Vanzant, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Iris Bolling, Francine Weinberg, author Kelly Stone and more.


Order the single issue for only $6.99, shipping included by clicking the button below.



To find out more information about Conversations Magazine visit www.conversationsmag.com.







Saturday, February 15, 2014

Devon Franklin: Living A Life Produced By Faith

by Cyrus Webb

It's been almost two years now since I turned on the television one particular Sunday morning for Super Soul Sunday on the Oprah Winfrey Network and became engrossed in Oprah's conversation with Devon Franklin. The two were discussing his book Produced by Faith and before the segment was over I was online ordering the book and digesting the tips.

The premise of the conversation on OWN as well as in the book was all about direction and who we chose to take our lead from. What a timely discussion for us to have today as there are so many things that try to control your life and monopolize your time. In the book Produced by Faith Franklin discusses the importance of looking at your life as a movie with our Heavenly Father being the greatest Director of all. Will we choose to listen or will we allow our egos to keep us from heeding the direction He gives?

This was a conversation I knew I wanted to have with Franklin, but I knew because of his schedule it might be almost impossible.

Thankfully I was wrong.

We were able to connect and the discussion that followed was not just inspiring but what I knew others needed to hear.

When I asked Devon about the response to the book and the way it was connecting with the hearts and minds of the world, Devon told me this:  "It's been powerful. By being vocal about who I am and owning who God created me to be has contributed to my success in entertainment and guided me as I chart my own course in this business. I've learned and been able to share that when you put God first everything else will fall into place."

In the book we are able to see how Devon got to this place of not just being fearless in his faith but how it has been rewarded. "Part of it came out of necessity," he told me when referring to the courage he was able to display. "When something doesn't feel right it's very hard for me to do it." When it came to assignments that made him unhappy and unfulfilled he says he recognized where the feeling was coming from. "I wasn't being my true self and operating in the confidence that God had given me."

So what Devon do to get on track? He did a self-examination. "Out of necessity I had to figure out how can I begin to start to like who I really am," he says. "Every time I tried to do my job as someone else it didn't work. I realized I had to do it the way I was built to do it. There is a danger when we feel like we have to emulate how someone else operates. You can't be successful if you are just emulating someone else. You have to find your own way of doing something."

How do we know that Devon's perspective of his life and his dedication to his faith have worked? Consider the facts. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Production for Columbia Tristar Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, making him one of the youngest individuals in that position in the industry. He recently oversaw the remakes Sparkle, starring the late Whitney Houston in her last on screen role, and The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

Since the release of Produced By Faith Franklin has been more out-front, sharing what has worked for him. "Knowing that I'm created for a purpose.in these moments when I'm coming from behind the scenes I bring with me the knowledge I have taken in," he says. When looking at the success of his entertainment career and even the attention the book has gotten he keeps things in their proper perspective.

"All these things that are happening to me or not about me," Devon says. "It's really about God's time and God's will and knowing there are people that need to be reached." By keeping his eye on the bigger picture, he has managed to keep his focus. "When you get lost you lose sight of what originally motivated you in the first place," he explained. "It's always keeping purpose number 1. It's about reaching people and being a servant. Long as I can keep that front and center it continually helps me in making decisions. All of us have to make decisions that are rooted in purpose and what God wants you to do."

One of Devon's quotes is this: "To get where you want to go, you’ve first got to become the person God wants you to be.” This takes effort but it is definitely worth the work involved.

When it comes to his book and his message Devon says that his hope and prayer is that as you're looking at your life as a movie and God as the director it will give perspective. This means that we won't think the bad time we are going through are all there is to life. "The danger is that we think the scene we are in is permanent when in fact it is temporary," he says. "In that permanent perception we make decisions that can alter the direction of our story. All of us have practical things we can do to move from one scene in our lives to the next. We just have to trust that God knows our story from beginning to end."

For more information about Devon Franklin's book Produced by Faith and the work he is doing to help you live the life that is meant to be yours, visit www.producedbyfaith.com. You can also stay in contact with Devon on Twitter at www.twitter.com/devonfranklin.