Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Woman of Interest: What About Tamar?

So...I woke up this morning with a theological chip on my shoulder. I asked myself, "What about Tamar?" Who is Tamar you ask? She is a biblical character, daughter of the infamous King David. There are actually a few Tamars in the Bible but Wikipedia eloquently makes the distinction "for the rape victim, see..." And that's just it...Tamar's claim to fame in the Good Book is "Tamar: daughter of David and rape victim." I guess it is important for me to include that she was raped by David's son...yes her brother!
I am often amazed by how provocative the Bible can be. Sometimes the stories and parables read more like an episode of the "Young & the Restless" circa 1989 than a sacred text. But that's what makes it the most important manuscript of them all: its cultural relevancy. I mean who needs a Harlequin book when you've got the Old Testament? That being said, I don't often hear holistic commentary on issues involving women in the Bible. Through much teaching you may be lead to believe that women are just ancillary pieces to the puzzle (with the exception of Eve!). However, when you read the text for yourself you may find that a woman completely drives a particular story. Case in point: I've been in discussions about the Tamar rape where people focus mostly on the strained relationship between her brother's Absalom and Annon. I agree that this relationship is an integral part of the story but by the end of the conversation I always find myself blurting out, "But what about Tamar?"
This theological quandary still rings true in my heart when dealing with issues in modern society. I mean do we ever stop to think, "I wonder how Anita Hill is doing since the Clarence Thomas thing? Has Monica Lewinsky been able to live a normal life since Bill? Will OJ Simpson's daughter with Nicole ever be able to maintain healthy relationships with men?" How many times have you heard a story about a family tragedy or the fall of a dynasty with little to no mention of the womenfolk involved?
I wrote this piece today because I want to now confess publicly one of my newly discovered missions in life: to empower the Tamars of the world to change their lives and those of other women and children around them through education and the arts. It is surely a daunting mission but one that I am finally ready to accept.
But more on this later...
For more information about Tamar, you can reference 2 Samuel 13.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Long live the King...in our hearts and minds...MJ 1958-2009

Looking in my mirror
Took me by surprise
I can't help but see you
Running often through my mind
Helpless like a baby
Sensual disguise
I can't help but love you
It is getting better all the time

I can't help it if I wanted to
I wouldn't help it even if I could
I can't help it if I wanted to
I wouldn't help it, no

excerpt from MJ's tune,"I Can't Help It" Written and composed by Stevie Wonder and Susaye Greene.

Thursday, June 25th...my life was changed forever...I can't help it MJ...I can't sleep...when I close my eyes...your face is all I see...may you rest in peace...a peace that man/woman never allowed you to get here on earth...you gave us your life and shared with us all of your many gifts andd for that we will love you forever...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Woman of Interest: Zahra Rahnavard

(pic source: news.yahoo.com)
I try to keep up with the news both local and abroad because I think it is important. Especially in the sporadic and volatile times we live in right now. I've really been trying to keep up with the information coming in about the situation in Iran with the election and subsequent protests. However, I don't feel like I know enough about all parties involved to take a strong "cyberstance" like many of my other peeps. I don't know that much about Mousavi so I can't say whether he is a worthy alternative to your boy A or not. However, I have been reading up on Mousavi's wife and she seems pretty awesome.

Dr. Zahra Rahnavard is a PhD toting artist, educator, leader, and women's rights activist. She was very active in her husband's presidential campaign (ala Michelle Obama) which is pretty unprecedented in that region of the world. Mousavi and Rahnavard have also been known to show their affection for each other in public by holding hands in the streets (which is said to be frowned upon in the Muslim world). Now I don't know THAT much about her but I am pleased with what she represents for the oppressed women of Iran and in countries all over the world.

For more information on Dr. Rahnavard, click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I often find myself on a subway packed with rowdy 6th graders headed to a field trip on my morning commute and I am far too often tempted to scream on them like I was their mama! They cannot seem to sit still and talk at a normal level to save their lives. Even worse is the scene I see some afternoons outside of my office building which is a block away from two or three NYC Public High Schools. I usually find myself witnessing the sad state of affairs surrounding our young people; huge crowds of teenagers who are lost, with no direction no consideration for ANYONE including themselves. I am sometimes so angry that it scares me.
BUT this morning was different. My heart was made glad on my commute into work when I saw a full row of Black and Latino boys on the train sitting quietly...reading...intensely. I literally almost cried. I snuck a picture (I called it "The Young Cornels")...I had to capture the moment so that when I see another group of BeBes I have a memory...some hope...a glimmer of possibility to get me through.
Why is this such an anomaly in this day and age? I will do whatever I can to make sure that this is something I see everyday...maybe not in everyone...but this MUST become the RULE and not the EXCEPTION. Any ideas?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Meet Job's Daughter...

I sent a tweet out today that simply said:" I believe that writers are direct descendants of Job." Not sure why. Well...actually I do. I was reading a Chronicle of Higher Learning piece on college student writing and the internet. At the same time, I was listening to the NY Times Book Review podcast. The guest was bestselling author, James Irving who said that it often takes close to a year between the time that he gets the idea (usually the last line) for a new book and when he writes the first sentence. What patience!?!!?!? It made me think of my own process and how impatient and unforgiving of myself I can be at times.

Job is a historical figure who I think about quite a bit. Every time I read his story, I get something else out of it which I can then apply to my own life. He is widely known as one of the most patient men to ever walk the face of the earth. He also endured longsuffering and affliction in defense of what he believed in. He lost everything yet stood firm on the promise that his latter days would be greater (well...he had a "moment" but he was still human!). The story of Job always causes me to reflect on my life as an "artist".

I am always striving to get better, do more...and the journey gets lonely. Although I know loads of artists and people in general who are going through what I am going through...it never feels like that in the low moments. In these moments, I feel like I am at the bottom of a well...screaming at the top of my lungs...every once and awhile someone will pass and stick their head down to see where the sound is coming from...but they don't see me but instead see their own reflection in the water...not realizing that there is a woman down in there...somewhere.

BUT then I think of Job...he lost his family, his wealth, his health...everything...yet still he was faithful and God blessed him tremendously in the end. I ask myself, "Can you go on knowing that this desert moment that you are experiencing may go on for quite some time?" I rest on the thought and come to the same conclusion that my spiritual forefather came to in his prayer to God: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Secret to World Peace and Harmony...Let Women Rock!

Yo...an undeniable fact is that when women are given the space and place to rock (by rock I mean do what they do and do it well), the world becomes a better place and humanity is at its best.

I have always been inspired by women (famous and not so famous) who just go for it...whatever that means for their lives. However, recently the opportunity to watch women really ROCK what they do has infused my heart with so much pride, joy, and inspiration that I am overwhelmed with new ideas and dreams that I am looking forward to ROCKING in due time.

Every time Michelle Obama steps off of a plane or walks down the hallways of the White House we look on in awe of her because she is totally ROCKING 1st ladyhood. When Beyonce steps on stage some of us hate but others of us recognize the tradition she carries on in the spirit of women like Tina Turner who give audiences 150% every single night. If you have ever had the good sense to read a Toni Morrison book (Beloved being my fav), when you are done not only are you amazed by the work itself but have to recognize the amazing woman behind it.

Lately, two very good friends of mine have combined efforts to create a collective of two known as Dlaila. Dlaila = Key (http://ladyplum.wordpress.com/) + Jini (http://jinita.wordpress.com/). Now individually these women are super fantastic talents and beautiful people. BUT together they REALLY ROCK...and they are just getting started. Check them out and you will see what I mean: http://dlaila.wordpress.com/

Jini has two AMAZING daughters who are just in their preteens and they are already ROCKING IT...AND HARD AND HOW! Jauhara is a crazy fresh visual artist and musician and Chandani is ridiculously gifted writer and singer (among other things). These girls bring me so much hope for the future...WOO HOO! They make me want to have a little girl or two. :-)

Check out the below for a small gallery tour of some of Hara's work. When Chandani allows me access to some of her written work, I will share that with you as well.

So people...I beseech you...instill the gift of ROCK into the hearts and minds of little girls. They don't know the power that they have...I forget all the time so I get it...I do. Tell them that if they choose to sing, or cook, or dance, or write, or nurse, or mother, or police, or profess, or confess, or sweep, or whatever to ROCK ALL THE WAY OUT. The human race is depending on them. ;-)

short gallerie tour from dlaila and company on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Real Housewives of NJ: A Critical Analysis

Oh My Lawd! Those RHNJ women are scary...the scariest yet. What they think is cute and classy is so...not. I cannot believe that they are just a few miles over the bridge from New York because they could not be more different then my NY girls.

I will say that the show can be entertaining at times. All of the RH casts have been in some way or another. However, this one is the most dysfunctional...at least it seems so based on what we get to see. These girls spend so much time in the plastic surgeons chair, tanning bed, and hair colorist salon that I am sure I would not recognize them in a picture from their high school yearbook. The only one that looks normal and has any damn sense is the self-proclaimed matriarch Caroline (I think that is her name). She's textbook Italian mom with a little money. I like her. Her sister Dina pisses me off because she acts like she's better than this other woman Danielle but she's just as "meshuganah". The other two have "Stepford" tendencies but I can almost handle them. Overall, they all could use a little Jesus in their lives. I can't really make my final judgment because the juicy episode where the girl Teresa turns over the dinner table and curses the kids out doesn't air until next week. STAY TUNED...

I really appreciated the RHNY because those women were REAL. Jill Zarin rocks! I don't care what anyone says. That heifer is who she says she is...unapologetically. The dynamic between her and Ramona was a classic NY girl love/hate friendship. Perhaps it is just because I live in NY but that show just felt so much more relateable. Even more so than RHAtlanta which had all of the black women. I got that one and enjoyed it but NY was more my speed.

Bethany was like the girl I went to college with who is so ambitious but is having a hard time finding a man because she feels like she has to be two different women...split in two. I can totally understand where she is...EXCEPT she needs to eat because the Skinny girl thing is starting to get out of hand. The Countess was at her best when she had her unexpected bouts with "down-to earthness". I think life is starting to humble her a bit. To the one who is married to the gay man I say, "you like it, I love it." They seem happy in a strange way. Leave them be! My only suggestion for the show's producers would be to ship that Kelly off to NJ before she gets her behind kicked in NY! Can you say nightmare?

So Mr. Bravo...what's next? The Real Housewives of Pittsburgh? "What are yinz doing?" Holla at your girl...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the wrong place at the right time...

As you may well know, I am an independent recording artist and performer which means I am a professional artist with a day job (for now)! Sometimes this bugs the crap out of me because the time I spend sitting at this desk making my corporation money is time I should be using to perfect my craft(s). HOWEVER...I often wake up and remember that being broke aint cute...especially after 25...okay 30! The truth of the matter is that this job has been a blessing for the most part. Since I've been here I received my first master's degree (working on my 2nd towards a PhD right now)and released my debut album. SO...it hasn't really stopped me from pursuing my dreams at all. BUT...days like this...when I am sitting on 8 hour conference calls...I want to run away! ARGH! For me this may not be the right place in my mind but it is where I am supposed to be right now...we will see what happens.
This is me sitting at my desk listening to a presentation being made by some European consultants to our LA office...HE HE:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Where's DMX when you need him?

Y'all gon' make me lose my mind up in HERE, up in here
Y'all gon' make me go all out up in here, up in here
Y'all gon' make me act a FOOL up in HERE, up in here
Y'all gon' make me lose my cool up in here, up in here
-DMX "Party Up"

I feel you dawg...it has been one of them dayz! fo rilla!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What a Man Sounds Like When He Sings...

One thing I often think about as a vocalist is how there is a shortage of great male singers in popular music. Well...not male but MAN! Sure, there are a few adolescent, whining boys to choose from...and I won't name any names. But take a second and think about the first time you heard Sam Cooke or Donnie Hathaway sing...WOO HOO! When is the last time you heard a man and got that loving feeling? Can't remember right? Our boy Maxwell is on his way back to rescue us from the manless landscape of music and I can't wait (he's looking really good these days too) BUT if you REALLY want to hear what a man sounds like when he opens his mouth to sing, check out this one right here: Kurt Elling.

There are times when I listen to Kurt's music and a tear comes to my eye. If you could set the warmth and love of a real man to music, this is what it would sound like. I know it sounds weird but I feel safe and loved when I listen to him sing; even if only in that moment. It is unbelievable.
I listened to him on the subway this morning (after giving him a rest for a few months because I was totally od-ing) and it felt like I was hearing him for the first time again. I had an A-HA moment! LOL!
Elling has created quite a few albums for Blue Note and one for Concord AND he has another one to be released on Concord later this month featuring the music of Hartman and Coltrane...YIPPIE! For more information, go to his site (you won't be disappointed!): http://www.kurtelling.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Perhaps I will have a change of heart at some point but for now, I am vehemently opposed to Kindles. Why would I want to read a book in the form of an over-priced Speak N' Spell? I LOVE books...the smell of them, feel of them, the struggle to keep them bound and in one piece. Everytime I see someone on the subway reading from a Kindle with their bourgois green leather case and their nose high in the air I want to go post-crazio on them and pull their nose off! It honestly makes me want to puke! Yes...I admit it...I am an intellectual, cosmopolitian elitest New York snob. I HEART BOOKS...SUE ME!
I am going to regret this post in a couple of years when I am on the beach in Trinidad reading the latest Coehlo book on my Kindle but until then.....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Me at 33...

Don't look so bad, but I'm not at all what I thought I'd be. Perpetually single...not poor but barely middle class....performing sometimes, but sitting at a desk most of the time...somewhat successful but not terribly. Don't get me wrong, I live a good life...but I KNOW that I am not living my best possible life and that's what's killing me...33 has to be a good year for reinvention, right? Being the "JESUS WALK" year and all...I need to be made anew. I am strong but afraid too.