Tuesday, August 31, 2010
For San Francisco, CA native Jont'e Amerson, it seemed that his journey to become a recording artist was inevitable. He was young when he first realized the power of the beats and words that make up the musical genre known as Hip Hop, but he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of. "The lyrics spoke to me," he says. "They were talking about things that I could relate to, things I had seen and knew about."
Foremost as his teachers through music were Tupac and others heavyweights like DMX. With their example and his drive, he went from just loving their music to writing and producing his own. Why Hip Hop and not another form of music? For Amerson aka Street Fame the answer was simple. "Hip Hop spoke the language of the streets. It was my language, and nothing else out there was connecting to me that way."
That connection and his passion for music seem to really take hold in late 2001 and has only grown since then. When asked how his family and friends have responded to the path he has chosen, Street says that on the surface they have been supportive. "You never know what they really think inside," he adds, "but they all seem to be behind me."
With that support it is his hope that he can take this lyrical journey all the way to the top, representing the Bay but producing music that the world will love.
When it comes to his ideal of success, Street says it is more about a feeling of achievement than about things that you possess. "It's hard to put in words," he says,"because it's different for everyone. Just like love. You just know it when you have it."
Currently Street Fame is promoting his single "Cool Points" and is working on a mixtape and a album. Stay in contact with him at www.myspace.com/therealstreetfame and www.twitter.com/istreetfame. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to announce that Emmy Award-winning Video Photographer and Editor Carlos Spann is now a client of the public relations organization. "I have known Carlos for over twenty years," says Shadow Play President Cyrus Webb. "It's great to be able to help share his skills and abilities with the world."
Spann, a Mississippi native, has worked with many great people in radio and television. His voice has been described as deep, smooth, natural, hip, urban, powerful, sexy, & enticing. Whether you need a voice for commercials, narrations, voicemail, or web advertisements, Carlos will work with you to make your project the best it can be. He's based in the entertainment Capital of the world,Las Vegas, NV.
Whether you are an author creating the perfect trailer for your latest book or a recording artist or speaker looking for that presentation with flair, Carlos is sure to be able to tailor a package just for you. One of his latest projects is to record the introduction for the radio program Conversations LIVE, which is hosted by Cyrus Webb. At the end of the day, Carlos Spann delivers a performance in a unique style that makes your message memorable. (Hear a demo reel of his work here: http://www.esnips.com/web/CarlosSpannDemoReel/)
To discuss your own project with Carlos Spann and take your project to the next level, email him at email@example.com or feel free to call 702-419-0421.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Before he started a BOOK CLUB, he was on TV. Before he was on TV, he was on RADIO. Before he was on radio, he wrote and DREW for others...But before he wrote and drew for others, he did it for HIMSELF.
On Thursday, September 30, 2010, Mississippi native Cyrus Webb presents "MY VOICE: A Decade in the Arts, 1999-2009." This will take place at the Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road * Pearl, MS).
"I'm excited about this event," says Webb, 35. He feels as though many who may know him for just his work in promoting literacy or being on the radio will be able to see the full picture through this event. "This is my first art show and poetry reading in 4 years, and I'm excited to share with people what I have been doing over the past few years as well as over the past decade."
MY VOICE will begin with an art show at 4p.m. featuring some of Webb's work from 1999-2009. The public will be able to walk through his life and chronicle year by year what he had done, how his work has evolved and where he is headed in the new decade. At 6p.m., Webb will host a poetry reading featuring his most popular work from the past decade, as well as new work that has never been heard before. Joining him will be special guest poet April Mahoney aka Nouveau Spice from San Diego, CA. The crowning achievement for Webb during the evening will be the release of his new poetry chapbook MY VOICE: The Compilation.
Admission to the entire day's events is free, and the public is encourage to come out and celebrate one of Mississippi's native sons.
For more information, contact Cyrus Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org, 601.896.5616 or visit www.cyruswebb.com.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Bestselling author Electa Rome Parks has been thrilling readers for years, yet her newest book is not only causing a buzz because of her incredibe writing, but for the issues it raises as well. The Atlanta native talked with Cyrus Webb of Conversations Book Club and Conversations Magazine about her journey in the literary world, the messages of her new book DIARY OF A STALKER, how sex is used today in selling readers on a book and what's next for her.
Here is their conversation:
Electa, thanks for taking out the time to talk with Conversations. I want to start off by talking with you about your journey as an author. What has surprised you the most about your success over the years?
Thank you for having me. Wow, Cyrus! This is a hard question and I have thought about how to answer it for a few days now. I have never, ever, been thrown by an interview question before:} I guess there is a first for everything.
I think my biggest surprise about my success has been how deeply readers embrace and react to my characters. My imperfect, flawed characters become real to them and readers ask about them at signings or via email as if they are real people. That connection, that bond of my readers to my characters is magical to me. Absolutely priceless!
Your newest book DIARY OF A STALKER is just the latest in what has been an amazing career for you. For those who might not know your other titles, run them down for them.
My titles are The Ties That Bind, Loose Ends, Almost Doesn't Count, Ladies' Night Out, These Are My Confessions, Diary of a Stalker and coming soon, True Confessions (January 2011)
When did you know that writing was something you were not only good at but wanted to pursue outside of just a hobby?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Being a quiet and shy child, writing was a form of non-verbal communication that allowed me to express myself. Ask anyone who knew me back in the day, I was always penning short stories, poems, writing in my diary and later a journal.
When I penned my first manuscript, which by the way, has never seen the light of day---my friends and family encouraged me by saying it was good, but as a writer, you never truly know how readers will react to a story.
I realized I wanted to pursue writing outside of just a hobby when I first read Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan and simply fell in love with the characters and her writing style. I thought, "I can do this. Hell yeah." And Terry's huge commercial success added more fuel to my fire.
I think you would agree, Electa, that with each new challenge we face, there is some form of uncertainty. When it comes to the road you have travelled as a writer, has there ever been a time when you thought that maybe this wasn't going to work for you?
I admit I have questioned the politics of the literary industry but I have never, ever questioned my strong desire to write. Failure has never been an option.
Cyrus, this is a great, timely question because I have discovered or should I say confirmed many facts about myself during the course of writing and completing Diary of a Stalker. First of all, let me say, I think this was one of the quickest books I have ever written. It was like there was a passion and fire lit underneath me that consumed me, that burned from within and I couldn't tell the story fast enough.
Lessons learned: I've learned that writing is a critical part of my very being, much like breathing. No matter what changes the industry may bring, I'm still going to write. That's an absolute, undeniable fact. I've learned that I truly do love writing and it loves me back ten-fold. I'm faithful to it and it rewards me by bringing unbridled joy and happiness to my life.
I've learned that I can try to run and hide, but it's always going to seek me out, find me, much like a stalker, and remind me who and what I really am. That can't be denied or taken away or diminished. Just like I'll die an African American woman, I'll also die with the spirit and soul of a writer.
I've learned that writing speaks to me like no other regardless of whatever goes down, even if I have to write for free and for my eyes only, I'll still rise because if you know who you are---all the rest doesn't even matter. What's meant for me is meant for me and no one or any entity can take that away. With a strong voice meant to be heard, I'll strive and survive.
You and I actually met each other in 2008, and I saw firsthand the way you enjoy interacting with your fans. Has that been an easy process to get used to, knowing that people are following you and love your work?
Besides the actual writing process, hands down, the most gratifying part of being an author has been meeting and greeting new and interesting readers who are embracing my stories and e-mailing me and writing me and meeting me at signings and telling me how much they've enjoyed my books! We talk about my characters like they are old friends. No matter how many times I've experienced this, it always makes my day. Puts a big smile on my face
Their (the readers) feedback and reactions totally validates that my craft is a gift from God! If I can touch a number of people with my stories or even if I only entertain them and they don't walk away with a life lesson, then I've still done my job.
As you know, my stories are typically relationship based, very drama filled with an ounce of spice thrown in, well maybe a pound of spice thrown in, and they usually cover a topical issue that is prevalent in today's society. Believe me, I have so many characters screaming inside my head, waiting to tell their story, that I feel like the lady from the movie Sybil. Bottom line, I pray and claim that my readership base will continue to grow and I'll have wonderful opportunities to meet many more fans.
With every book there seems to be not just a great read but a message that the reader can take away. In DIARY OF A STALKER there are many messages. Where did the idea for the book come from?
Diary of a Stalker: a best-selling male author gets more than he bargained for when he meets a fanatical female fan. What starts out as a one-night stand quickly spirals out of control and into a dangerous game of obsession and pain.
Since it had been a couple of years since my last novel, Ladies’ Night Out, dropped, I wanted this new release to be something a little different from my previous novels. Yet, I wanted to maintain the core elements that my books are known for. So the drama, the fast-paced nature, the steamy relationship-based elements are still alive and well.
I attend a lot of literary events such as conferences, signings, workshops, etc. After awhile, I started to notice a pattern no matter what city or state I was in. Even though the avid readers, mostly female, poured much love my way, I noticed the male authors received an extra dose. Maybe because there aren’t as many male authors? And I noticed, if I attended a large event, I would see some of the same female readers around the same male authors. Hmmmm. So then, I started thinking about how groupies follow rock banks, rappers, professional athletics and entertainers. Why wouldn’t this exist in the literary arena as well? Throw a few over the top "what if questions" into the mix and Diary of a Stalker was born.
It is hard to find one of the main characters in DIARY that doesn't have some form of baggage and is without fault. Was one of the messages you wanted to get across, that no matter what our backgrounds or what we have that we still have the same problems?
No, that wasn't one of my intentional messages, but it certainly could be a message pulled from Diary of a Stalker. I feel Diary of a Stalker had so many messages, much like all of my books. My main point was that men and women shouldn't be so eager to immediately have an intimate relationship without really getting to know a person first.
Your book also touches on an issue with the writer Xavier Preston that is discussed quite a bit in the entertainment industry: the using of sex and sex appeal to push products. Have you found that to be something that readers have picked up on and that has resonated with them?
Yes, it has resonated with many readers. My readers went into reading Diary of a Stalker, I think, feeling that the storyline was going to be cut and dry. Xavier was good and Pilar was going to be bad. However, that wasn't necessarily the case; it wasn't that black and white. Many thought Xavier received exactly what he deserved.
Writing about sex is one thing, but I'm curious as to what your personal thoughts about authors using their own sexuality to get attention.
The old adage that sex sells is very true, even in the literary industry. Literally. I have seen it up close and personal at various literary events and conferences I have attended over the years. Personally, I have never used my sex appeal or sexuality to get attention. I believe an author's talent or an interesting storyline should be the lure to encourage a reader to pick up a book. That should speak for itself. The literary industry is similar to the music industry in many ways; after all, both are part of the entertainment industry. These days authors have to have the total package (good looks and charm doesn't hurt) to stand out from the overly saturated marketplace.
However, I try not to be judgmental, so I say to each his own.
Do you feel that your book showcases what can happen when we play with fire, no matter what our profession?
Definitely! Human emotion is human emotion no matter what your profession may be. In relationships, we simply can't treat people badly; we truly never know who we are dealing with and what they are capable of. That is why it is so important to get to know a person before starting a sexual relationship. All that glitters is not gold; it may be fool's gold.
Can you tell us what has surprised you the most about the response of DIARY?
The biggest surprise has been readers' reaction to Pilar and Xavier. I was pleasantly surprised that readers do not have as much sympathy for Xavier as I thought they would. Readers feel he deserved all he received and more. Many are rooting for Pilar because they empathize with her in many ways and most readers have a love-hate relationship with her. Pilar fascinates and captivates their attention.
I follow you on Facebook and saw you writing about a sequel to DIARY OF A STALKER. Is that because of the readers' response to the characters or have the characters themselves told you their story isn't over?
Actually it is a combination of both. My readers and I have a great bond and I truly listen to their feedback and comments. They have told me via email and social media outlets that they wanted to read more about Pilar and her back-story. And Pilar, well, she made it perfectly clear, loud and clear, that her story was not yet finished; she had much more to reveal. It wasn't over until she said it was over and of course, she runs the show. So coming soon, the sequel to Diary of a Stalker.
I want to shift to your role as an example and mentor for others. What would you say to authors that are just starting out and wondering how they can mirror the success and longevity of someone like yourself?
I know this is going to sound sappy, but so be it. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and never give up. Picture where you want to be a year from now, five years from now and claim that space. We all have stories to tell, but there are only a few of us who actually sit down and put pen to paper. That makes you unique in itself.
Believe in your gift and use it every day. Network and surround yourself with people and places that uplift and promote your creativity. Listen to your inner spirit. The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.
And last, but certainly not least, write "something" every day. And remember, it's true; you can't please all the people all the time. If you believe in what you write and you're passionate about what you write, readers will pick up on that aura.
Keep the faith and it will come.
Success definitely comes in different forms. What does success look like for Electa Rome Parks today?
Good question. Personally, I define success as being able to do something you truly love on a day to day basis, getting paid for it in the process, giving back to the community (to whom much is given, much is expected) and being the best person you can be which enables you to sleep peacefully at night. To me, those combined elements make you a successful person. And if you place God and your family first, the sky's the limit!
Thank you for your time, Electa. If our readers want to keep in touch with you, what is the best way to reach you online?
My readers (I'm so possessive) can stay abreast of my world at any of my sites below. I also adore chatting with my readers because I greatly value and appreciate their feedback and support. They can drop me a note at email@example.com
When it comes to thinking outside the box, we could all learn a thing or two from author and motivational speaker Randy Kearse. The Brooklyn, NY native is a self-described "Book Hustler Extraordinaire" that has allowed learning from his personal experiences to transform him into a succss story that people all around the world are reading about...literally.He talked with Conversations Magazine about how the choices he has made have changed him and his thinking about everything from the meaning of life and even the definition of success.
In less than a decade, he has gone from prison to being featured and praised in the New York Times. Kearse's story will inspire not just aspiring writers and those already in the literary world, but anyone who has a dream that seems too impossible to make come true.
Randy, first of all let me just say congratulations on all of your success with your career as an author. Let's start there. Would you have believed just 10 years ago that you would be talked about all over the world and featured in such prominent papers like The New York Times?
(Smiling)... Thank you. Not in a millions years would I have imagined anyone would be talking about Randy Kearse, at least not in a positive way. I mean my life had taken so many twists and turns, 10 years ago I was just trying to figure out a plan that would keep me outta prison once I got out. 10 years ago, I was more then halfway through a 15 year federal prison sentence that I had received. In prison you're just dreaming of getting out and hopefully staying out. I was working on my first book Street Talk: Da Official Guide to Hip-Hop & Urban Slanguage 10 years ago. I dreamed of having a successful book but not actually being a successful author. It's been great.
For our readers that are just hearing about you and your accomplishments for the first time now, let's give them some background. How did you go from someone seen as another statistic headed in the wrong direction to now building your own brand as an author and entrepreneur?
Well not intentionally plugging the titles of one of my books, but the title says it all. I changed my game plan. While in prison and the years are slowly adding up, I'm getting older and life seems to be passing me by, I decided I needed to make some serious changes if I was gonna make it back in society. I had to take a real hard look at myself, my life thus far and the mindset that landed me in prison in the first place. I slowly began to strip away that "street mentality" that is so destructive and slowly began to re-learn the positive things that I had been taught as a youngster and began reshaping my life, the way I seen myself life and the way I perceived my situation. My incarceration could be two things now, a crutch or a stepping stone to something greater, that was the challenge I set for myself. Incorporating some of the things I learned while living a street lifestyle, I knew your greatest asset in most the things we do is the ability to sell yourself. I was good at selling at things, (small chuckle) so it was a natural extension from what I used to sell that landed me in prison to my ability to sell and move books now as an author.
Courage is not always easy to come by. You seem almost fearless in the way you promote yourself. Where does that courage come from and how did you develop it?
When you have traveled some of the roads I have fear is something you deal with on a regular basis. It's just part of the street lifestyle. I have friends who have been killed or sent to prison for the rest of their lives. I have had occasions where I had to literally fight for my life, so I say all that to say this: If I can face down my fear during that part of my, fear of dying, fear or going to jail and still do what I was doing, how can I fear approaching the book business like I mean business. I remember when Changin' Your Game Plan came out, I was so excited and I picked up over a 1,000 copies of the books from the printer and the reality set it, I said to myself, "Yo you have to move this books." (Laughing). The first day I had set up a table downtown Brooklyn had books set out all professional and stuff and nobody was paying me attention. So I came from behind the table with books in hand and at first I was a lil' shy to approach people, but then I had a thought, and the thought said, "you weren't shy when you was selling that other stuff so how you so shy now?" From that moment to this day I have never been shy or scared to approach anyone about my books, I mean the worst they tell you is "beat it" it's not like they're gonna shoot you.
Tell us about your first book.
My first books is actually titled, Street Talk. It's a 750 page lexicon that interprets the whole hip-ho and urban slang vernacular. I POD it 30 days out of prison. Not to make any money but to have a tangible book when I approached publishers. I felt it would be more impressive in book form apposed to sending a 1,000 page manuscript. Took the POD to a small book press fair in NYC and started showing all the different publishers the book and walked out there with a book deal.
The book I'm most known for is Changin' Your Game Plan: How to use incarceration as a stepping stone for SUCCESS. Its a very deep thought provoking books that challenges you to re-evaluate who you are. It's not about prison so much its about life, just written from the experience of being in prison and deciding where I wanted to go from there.
Did you have any plans for a second book or think ahead as to what would come from it?
Street Talk had taken like 5 years to complete and I never really thought of writing anything after that, Street Talk was just a project I worked on as a means to stay sane in prison #1 and hopefully help generate some revenue when I got out to help rebuild my life. Changin' Your Game Plan started as a series of letters I was writing to my brother who had just gotten arrested a year before I was due to be released and I was trying to guide him on how to do time productively.
How did you come up with the way you were going to get the word out about what you had written?
Well with no major marketing and promotion machine behind me, I did things the old fashioned way, handed out thousands and thousands and thousands of flyers that I printed on a used laserjet printer and stayed on the internet day and night, emailing people. Just getting out there in front of people. A lot of writers think just cause you write a book it's gonna sell. No! You have to get out there and sell it. I'm what you call a "flat-foot" hustler. I can walk from one end of town to the other end and back to promote my product. I came into this business with the same work ethics I had when I was standing on the corner. Up early, out in the street early, out most the day meeting people, pitching the book to whoever will listen. If I can get the media exposure I have on my own, Imagine what I could do with a major marketing machine backing me.
We all look at success different ways, Randy. You have already been featured prominently in print and online.Going through what you have, how has your view of success changed?
I used to think success was having lots of money. Success today is knowing that you're doing something that's impacting someone's life in a positive way. That people are recognizing that you're not that person you once were. That people believe your story is worth telling.
From each situation in life, both good and bad, we have moments where lessons are learned. I'm curious as to what lessons your experiences have taught you that you share with others.
Man I have so many life's lessons I wouldn't know where to begin. So I'll just give one of the most prominent lessons that sticks wit me, CRIME DOESN'T PAY (laughing). Seriously though, my experiences have thought me to appreciate life, freedom, to be humble and enjoy the beauty and wonders of life itself.
What advice would you give to anyone who has a dream but is not doing everything they can to pursue it?
If you don't pursue your dreams, there's always going to be times when you're going to wonder what could have been. Go for it, so at least you'll know the answer to that question of what could have been.
Thanks again for taking out this time, Randy. If our readers want to catch up on everything you are doing, where can they find you online?
Man, Thank you. It's been great because now you're part of my story. (smiling).. People can catch me at www.randykearse.com facebook, linkedin, twitter, digg, blackplanet and on a subway train near you.
Over the past five years, the Hip Hop genre of music has gone through its own transformation with artists emerging and leaving the scene almost as soon as they appeared. For Joey Calendar, CEO of Brite Mic Entertainment, though, that period of time has given him the opportunity to find his own voice, create the music he loves as well as what the people will respect and enjoy.
Orginially from the Bay Area of California, Joey Calendar, 33, and his artists Mike Hunter, Joseph Pryce and Prince the Pistol, are committed to staying in the game for the long haul. Calendar's interest in music began at a young age. His family owned a neighborhood bar with a jukebox, and it was just the catalyst he needed to make music a focal pont in his life.
Though there was enough to sway him into the wrong choices, Calendar saw music as a way of staying positive and doing something productive. Brite Mic began a way for him to get his own sound out. Even as a independent having to finance each part of his venture alone, he understoo the importance of marketing and promoting, getting t-shirts made and creating a buzz around the movement he hoped to create.
It wasn't easy, but with trial and error he realized that it was important to know each aspect of the business from producing, engineering and mixing to having to get your product out for others to hear. Another tool that has aided the direction Calendar has been pursuing is the internet. He acknowledges that it levels the playing field between artists with a recording deal as well as independent artists. It's all about reaching the most people with your product, and the worldwide web has made that easier.
Five years in and the hard work is paying off. Calendar is currently promoting his album R.A.M. H.A.M with the remix of the hit single "Goin' In" feat. E-40. Prince the Pistol is promoting his album The Testament. Mike Hunter is working on learning more about the business while at the same time pefecting his craft and finding his sound. Pryce is promoting his album PRYCELESS and is already seeing some national success with his single "Parttime" featuring artist Raw Smoov.
What does success look like for Calendar and Brite Mic? It's all about reaching a level where they can take care of their families, live a comfortable life and be in a position to continue giving the world great music. For them there is no better reward.
For more information about the Joey Calendar and the artists of Brite Mic Ent., visit www.britemic.com.
Brite Mic Entertainment is represented by Shadow Play Entertainment (www.shadowplayent.com). To schedule interviews, bookings for shows and appearances as well as sponsorships, contact Cyrus Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.896.5616.
At a time when the influcene of Hip Hop is painted with a largely negative brush, author D. D. Turner is hoping to not only change that image but use his love of the culture and music to encourage reading. Born Derrick Turner, the 32 year old is originally from Brooklyn, NY but now calls Houston, TX home. His first book CHRONICLES OF A HIP HOP LEGEND creates a marriage of his two loves, writing and Hip Hop, and creates a literary series that he hopes will be talked about for some time.
In this interview he discusses his beginnings with music and words, what you can expect from Chronicles and his advice for aspiring writers.
Derrick, thank you for taking out the time to talk with Crunk. First of all, when did you realize that writing was something you were interested in?
Prior to the release of Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend, I had been writing for quite some time but it was never creative in terms of the output. I had the opportunity to do artist reviews/bios and editorial contributions for small, start-up publications in the New York City area. Even back then, I found gratification in being able to offer perspective using the written word as a medium...I quickly became hooked.
For many music is the soundtrack of their lives. What about for you? What role does music play in your life?
I am largely inspired by music. In fact, LL Cool J's 'Hip Hop' song off of the 'Mr. Smith' album provided inspiration for The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend, as did The Roots' song 'Act Too' off of the 'Things Fall Apart' album. I often find that my writing is at its best after I listen to some impactful rap music. In fact, I'm in the process of closing a chapter (second installment of The Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend) that was largely influenced by some great music.The second installment of Chronicles of a Hip Hop Legend is going to be crazy!
Your debut novel is called CHRONICLES OF A HIP HOP LEGEND. The title could lead a reader in different directions. What is the book about and what led you to write it?
What led me to write the book was simply a desire to combine both Hip Hop and the literary genre of fantasy-fiction into an entertaining and worthwhile reading experience. Beyond that and even more important, I realized that this was an opportunity for me to be socially responsible and create a literary series that could provide inspiration to young adults and also, address the literacy problems that are plaguing many communities across our nation.
Who would you say your book is written for, and what do u hope they get from it?
The series is primarily for the young adult audience. However, adults have also been responding well to the series. I credit this to the story being a classic good vs. evil tale. Also, although the main characters are Wizards and Sorcerers, they have very real characteristics that people can identify with. Ultimately, I want people to allow themselves to exist behind the words on the page; invision themselves being apart of the story as it continues to unfold.
For many the writing of the book is the easy part. It is the marketing and promotion of the book that is more difficult for some. What about for you? How do you balance the creative side versus the business side?
It is tough but it can be managed. I found out early on that it is important to strike a balance between that which is necessary to maintain progression and the obligation to grant sufficient time to that which got you to this point. I generally try to handle business matters during the day and commit to writing at night.
Social networking is an avenue that many readers and writers are using to network and promote themselves. How have Twitter and Facebook along with others helped you?
Social networking is extremely helpful. I primarily use facebook and twitter and found they have been great in communicating the release/arrival of the series. I receive new friends and followers often.
If I had visited your home 10 years ago and told you that you would have a book available in stores, would you have believed me?
No way. At the age of 22, I enjoyed writing but not extensively. Therefore, at that time, the thought of writing a novel would have been extremely far-fetched.
What about reading? What books did you grow up reading and how has your interest in books evolved over the years?
Early on, I wasn't much of a casual reader. The exception to this however was works that covered topics that I was interested in; mostly historical references and science. As I 've gotten older, I have come to enjoy those works that offer a biographical glance into the author's life with the overall theme of the work being triumphant in nature...This type of story inspires me.
Can you tell us what's next for you?
Including COHH, I have several literary projects in development. The first of those to be released will be the second installment of COHH which is set to be released in November. Beyond that, I am looking to continue to communicate the arrival of this unique literary series and push it to markets beyond our nation.
What advice would you have for aspiring writers that hear or read about your experience?
Please feel free to use my experiences as inspiration; know that you too are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to...Passion feeds the flames of success. Lastly, never allow yourself to be inhibited while writing. The paper/computer monitor knows not of the tool of restriction. Therefore, give into the absence of constraint and allow your creativity to ravage the page.
Find out more about D. D. Turner and the series by visiting www.chroniclesofahiphoplegend.com.
The man called the “Morris Day of Hip Hop” is relishing in the acclaim his singles “The Way I Rock My Clothes” and "I'm Your DJ" are getting, but remains focused on the goal of just giving the world good music. Known in the business as Funkghost, the Tampa, FL native has always been around beats. His father was a part-time dj, and Funkghost was a fan of the 8 tracks around him and was drawn to music made by artists like Run DMC.
Throughout the years he has always tried to show his support for any creative endeavor, looking for ways to build on his personal brand. As he began to build his reputation, Funkghost knew it was just as important to sell who you are as a person as it is to get your music out to the masses.
Over the years he has been asked for his advice by new artists who are trying to break into the business or that are looking for staying power. What does he tell them? “Don’t sign anything with anyone until you have your paperwork and yourself together legally. You have to protect your name and your image at the same time.”
Funkghost also draws on his own means of staying grounded for the next tip. “Surround yourself with successful people. Relationships are key. Make sure you are in a position where you are keeping all options and doors open.” He also understands what it takes to make it in a business like the music industry that changes everyday. "You have to love what you do. If you are doing it for any reason other than your love of the music, it's not going to work."
Looking back over his career in the entertainment business, Funkghost sees himself as a more seasoned artist and definitely more confident in who he is and what he represents. Above anything, he believes in being true to himself.
When asked how he defines success, Funkghost says it is getting new people to know who he is and to hear his music. Because of this, he is always taking advantage of new and innovative ways of connecting with people such as the social networking sites. He sees them as an invaluable way of reaching new heights as he continues forward with his career.
You can hear Funkghost's interview on Conversations LIVE! with host Cyrus Webb by clicking here. To find out more about Funkghost, go to http://www.funkghost.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/funkghost.
Though London is his home, the talent of recording artist Enrico Delves is definitely crossing geographical borders and even those created by various genres. There seems to be no limit to his abilities, and no matter how humble he is about the international buzz he has created, Enrico is on the verge of making a permanent mark for himself in music.
Conversations Magazine first became aware of him through his rendition of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" on Youtube. In that performance he showed off his range and gift for making any song his own. Now Enrico is preparing for the release of his own EP, and is using his popularity online to ensure that everyone knows about it.
In this interview, he talks about his beginnings, what separates him from other talent in music and how social networking and other online avenues are aiding in his dreams coming through.
This is our conversation.
Enrico, thank you for talking with Conversations Magazine. Before we get into what you are working on now, I want to talk about how you got here. When did you realize that music was something you were interested in?
I have been singing since I was 10, but only realised that music was something I wanted to get deeper into when I hit reached aged 14 or 15. I did my first performance and although I had horrific nerves, the adrenalin I got from doing something I loved has kept me engaged.
When you look back on the time you have been singing and producing music, does it surprise you the effect your voice has on others?
It really is a shocking thing to know that people enjoy listening to me. I love music so much, and I am pleased to know that people like what I do.
I found out about you through Twitter when you were promoting your performance of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance". How have social networking tools help you in getting more exposure?
I think besides from performing, all social networking sites drastically boosts anybody's exposure. Online promotion is really effective because you can target any market worldwide without leaving your house (laughs). I hate technology but realized I have to use it wisely to create a fan base. I would say that twitter is an amazing site to talk to people and get a buzz circulating your name so quickly if you use it properly.
Success is measured by people in different ways. What is success for you?
I consider success as a goal that is reached. I believe if we set targets and achieve them can be the most rewarding success. But money does sometimes help. (laughs)
It's not easy to get noticed sometimes in the entertainment business. What are you doing to set yourself apart?
My songwriting and voice sets me apart from a lot of artists. I believe my bold song concepts and vocal range creates something dynamic and reflects old school soul, with a contemporary twist that makes it relevant for the present time in music.
Motivation is also important. How do you stay encouraged when it seems as though your goals are not met as quickly as you would like?
Firstly, I pray for courage and wisdom. I tend to watch documentaries about the rise of musicians for inspiration and reassurance, hard work does eventually get you to where you want to be---as cheesy as that sounds. (laughs)
Thanks again for the time, Enrico. If our readers want to find out more information about you, where would you suggest they go online?
I can be reached at www.youtube.com/eme10d1c, www.twitter.com/enricodelves, on Myspace and Facebook.
Cyrus Webb is the Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine and the President of Shadow Play Entertainment. He can be reached at email@example.com or 601.896.5616. www.cyruswebb.com
It's not just those in the worlds of comedy, tv and movies that have found an inspiration in Academy Award-winning actress/comedian Monique. She has also encouraged an up-and-coming designer in Jackson, MS.
Wife, mother, grandmother, visual artist are just a few of the other hats that fashion designer Gail Rayford-Ambeau wears. In spite of the day to day challenges everyone faces, she has shown no signs of backing down or giving up. Instead she has joined aothers who are taking the bull by its horns and moving forward to their destiny. Just like one of her biggest sources of inspiration: Monique.
"When I look at what Monique has gone through and what she has achieved in spite of challenges," says Gail, "I can't help but think that if she could do it, then so can I."
Gail has been involved in art and fashion ever since she was five- years- old. As an eight-year-old student at Hawkins Elementary School in Toledo, Ohio a young Gail Rayford made her first complete outfit for her class show and tell. Dressed in a pair of purple pants made of that 1970’s 100 percent polyester, a matching denim vest and a hat that mixed both of the fabrics, Gail excitingly awaited her turn to show what she had crafted.
Almost 40 years later, that excitement contins. Today Gail is a fashion designer, stylist, radio show host, seamstress, visual artist and founder of Ambeau’s Art and Fashion. When many are saying that "Thin is in", like Monique, Gail is hoping to show that true beauty begins on the inside and can be visible in what one does---instead of what you look like on the outside.
In 2008 she hosted a fashion show in Jackson, MS with national recording artist and author Jacki-O as the special guest. In 2009 one of her garments was the key piece for national Gospel recording artist and Gospel Music Channel’s 2008 Gospel Dreams winner Melinda Watts debut video--- So Good. She also participated in the Florida Designers’ Expo which lead to styling model Tiffany Richardson from America’s Next Top Model (cycle 4) for a photo shoot with celebrity photographer Derek Blanks.
Her newest endeavors include motivational speaking and co-executive producer and host of Fashion Forward with Gail Ambeau on Conversations LIVE! Radio. She discusses fashion tips, trends to look out for and interviews celebrity guests. So far she has talked with actor and recording artist Tray Chaney (HBO's The Wire), singing sensations Willie Taylor (Day 26), Bertell and Abraham McDonald along with fashion designers Rami Kashou, Chris March and Laura Bennett from Project Runway fame.
At 45 years young, Gail may be a latecomer to the fashion industry, but she definitely believes that all things happen in God’s timing. “I can honestly say that it has not been easy but I have no regrets about the decisions that have been made thus far”. Her advice to those who aspire to follow their dream is to “first obey the voice of God, be willing to stick with it through the hard times to make it to the other side and be willing to give up some things.”
When she talks about who she would like in one of her designs, Monique's name always comes up. "I would love to show my appreciation for what she stands for to me," says Gail. "Monique represents for the everyday woman, especially the big girls like myself." For now she will continue to take each day as it comes, confident that dreams come true for those who believe.
Cyrus Webb is the Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.cyruswebb.com. Additional information about Gail can be found at www.gailrayfordambeau.com or at email@example.com.
Herschel Dixon: Pulling His Own Weight In The Fight Against Obesity by Cyrus Webb
Growing up, sports were more than just a hobby for the Cuba, Alabama native. Beginning at the age of four, he had found something he not only enjoyed but was good at. Growing up in Aurora, IL, he did well in school academically, but by the age of 12 or 13, he was already thinking of making football his profession in life. He trained hard, lifting weights and tried to take care of himself inside and out.
In high school Herschel was at the top of his game in football as a member of the Waubonsie Valley Warriors with numerous scholarships and college opportunities at his feet. By his junior year attending college at Western Kentucky his battle with his weight led to depression and threatened to derail his hopes for the future. But the worst was yet to come.
Herschel would not see his dream of playing ball professionally come to light. Though he left college,he didn't leave behind the eating habits that he had picked up. "Fast food was my biggest weakness," he confesses. "I looked at food as my way of escaping my problems instead of dealing with what was really bothering me."
By 2009, he found himelf married with two children and at a dangerous weight of over 380 pounds. It was at that point Herschel looked at his life and knew that he had to make a change. "I love my family with all my heart," he says, "I knew that if I kept on the path I was on, that I wouldn't be here for them in the future."
In August 2009, Herschel began to take steps that would change his life. After weighing his options, he decided to undergo the gastric band procedure, but he knew that was only a fraction of the equation. In order for him to make a real difference in his life, he was going to have to change his lifestyle as well---and that included what he put in his body.
Exercise, dietary supplements like Optimum Nutrition and making healther choices when it came to food became part of a new routine for Dixon. It also brought about a new mindset as well. "I look at food as something I have to do," he says. "I understand it's not my friend."
Eight months later and after losing over 80 pounds, Herschel may not be playing professional football, but he is making the most of each day. The 31-year old is hosting his own weekly radio show called "Herschel D's Weekly Sports Wrap-Up" and is a supporter of literacy programs like The Write Stuff and even has his own project in the works called Read Or Die.
Success looks different to him now. It's not about a big contract or even fame. "Success for me is about being the best husband, father and individual that I can be," Herschel says. "I want others to be able to look at me and what I've done and say that I encouraged them in their own fight. If I can help others, then that is all I could ever ask for."
Ice T's Son-In-Law Uses 'Trial & Error' To Make His Mark
As far back as 2005, Kut could be found performing in clubs across Kentucky. He's been featured on compilation albums (THE BLAK CODES ENTERTAINMENT CHAPTER 1, THE UNDERGROUND EVOLUTION PAGE 1,GOT IT BOYZ and HIP HOP AND BOOKS: The Compilation, Volume 1) and has had the pleasure of performing with artists not only in Mississippi and Kentucky but in Alabama and Georgia as well.
One-half of the group The Blak Circle, Kut Supreme is hoping to make 2010 his own with the release of his solo album TRIAL & ERROR.
"Music has always been a part of my life, and now I am able to make a name for myself on my own terms."
TRIAL & ERROR is a lyrical journal of the young artist's life. Seen as his most personal work to date, listeners will get a glimpse at a man that is just beginning to let others in.
"When I get in the booth or on stage I am telling the story of my life, or our life," says Kut. "I rap about the experiences I have seen, but I also like to give the people fun music they can ride to, dance to or just chill to." Feel-good tracks like High Roller are just part of the diversity the new project brings.
"I'm just ready to take this music game and my career to the next level," says Kut. "I've put in work over the years, and it's beginning to pay off for me big time. I'm ready for it all."
Other than promoting himself as an artist, Kut is also involved promoting the importance of reading through a project called HIP HOP & BOOKS and The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign. "When I heard about the "Hiphop & Books" project, I knew I had to be a part of it," Kut explained. "I want people that enjoy my music and that of other Hip Hop artists to know that we are more than just entertainers. We are intelligent human beings as well. Education is important, and reading opens the mind. Anything dealing with helping others help themselves is a good thing." He is also writing a screenplay and hopes to get involved in acting as well. Kut is joined by rapper/author/actor Tray Chaney (Poot from HBO's The Wire) and Rapper/author Jacki-O are also a part of literary projects.
When he talks about his famous Father-In-Law, Kut says that he feels fortunate to have Ice-T's life of persistance and staying power to go by. "He is the perfect example of doing all you can to make your mark in the world. That's what I want to do with my life as well."
To find out more about Kut Supreme and TRIAL & ERROR, visit www.myspace.com/kutthesupreme. Contact Cyrus Webb for interviews or bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.896.5616.