My friend Carl Nelson asked me to be one of the hosts for the 6th annual “Drums Along The Hudson” (www.drumsalongthehudson.com/). I tell you about it every time I go. There were drummers & dancers from around the world, Manhattan ’s only open-air Pow Wow, storytelling, Native American arts & crafts, International Food, Free Shad Tasting & Hudson River Fish Exhibits. What more could you ask for? Well, one of my journalist mentors from Atlanta , Xernona Clayton, Creator and Executive Producer of the Trumpet Awards (www.trumpetfoundation.org/home.htm) was honored.
One group, THE WARWICK GOMBEY TROUPE, were flown in from Bermuda for which they have been its cultural ambassadors since 1996. They are an artistic organization whose mission it is to bridge Bermuda culturally to the world through its indigenous music and dance. I even got to take my turn with them.
Ant got to pose with Captain Planet. And I got the chance to be serenaded by Parrots for Peace (www.youtube.com/watch?v=zboT4vzXirw).
We experienced dance combo “Along the Caravan Route”. They took us on a journey along the ancient trade routes passing through India, the Middle East and Spain . Pandit Satya Narayana Charka, Ramzi El-Edlibi, and Sol Koeraus performed.
From Northeast India , we watched Trinayan, a non-profit group of diverse dancers with an average of twenty years in Odissi Dance. “Trinayan” which means the third eye is the nexus of diverse energy in every human being.
We also enjoyed Jeannie and Jerry McDonald of the Mohawk Singers and Dancers. They did a beautiful dance based on the life of an eagle.
But having Xernona Clayton there was the most special. She lives in Atlanta and is part Cherokee. She is the creator, president and CEO of the Trumpet Awards Foundation, which is an organization that highlights the accomplishments of men and women who have significantly contributed to enhancing the quality of life for all. Xernona is a woman of many firsts. She was the first woman of color to have her own TV show in the south. She has been employed at Turner Broadcasting for nearly thirty years. In 1988, Ms. Clayton was appointed Corporate Vice President of Urban Affairs for Turner Broadcasting Inc. In this capacity, she directed internal and external projects for the corporation and served as liaison between Turner Broadcasting and Super Station TNT, Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks and civic groups in Atlanta and across the country. As a corporate executive, Xernona is one of the highest ranking female employees of Turner Broadcasting. She was the special events person for the late Dr. Martin Luther King.
Many of our good friends were there. Ant’s high school buddy Paul came by for the cause. It gave us a chance to bond a bit more. My friend Murphy from “Harlemmade” (www.harlemmade.com/) was there. He – along with Ant and others - is featured in the REMY Martin/Photographer David LaChapelle video (http://www.remy.com/) for which I conducted interviews with a diverse repository of New York City men and women. The bottle LaChapelle created channels Josephine Baker and Paris and The Jazz Age and the energy of that time and period. The design features a curvaceous woman dancing in a brightly-colored jungle. The bottle will sell for $50 and will be available at wine and spirits stores around the U.S starting in June. There will be 150,000 bottles produced. The recent launch party for it took place at Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood . There should be a New York City celebration that I’ll tell you about… very soon.
Ant and I got the chance to hang out with my “Amazing Grace” Nichole and our buddy Dawn. It’s been a minute as Nichole has been out-of-town a bit of late. Now that she’s back, she wanted us to hook up immediately – so I could see her new car. It’s gorgeous and perfect for summer as it’s a convertible. We enjoyed a bite at Ideya Latin Bistro in SOHO (www.ideya.net/) – a spot Itika and I got to enjoy during her visit last year (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/6/4/brothers-and-sisters-play-and-real.html). [By the way, check my Ti-Ti out on Chicago NBC 5’s NudeHippo.tv (www.NudeHippo.tv). It is an off-beat, magazine-style and news entertainment program featuring great people, fun locations, and cool events. This is Ti-Ti’s report on Chicago ’s popular dance passtime ‘stepping’ - http://www.nbc5.com/nudehippo/motionbox.html?dest=%2Fembed%2Fbasic_player%2Fa098dfb0191ce228%3Fgroup_name%3DNBC5. So proud of you Ti-Ti! Keep up the good work!].
Also that evening, our girlfriend Gail from our favorite boutique “N” ( www.nharlemnewyork.com/ ) put her artist’s cap on and co-hosted her art show’s opening nights. It took place at Fuse Gallery (www.fusegallerynyc.com). It’s “Sweet City Woman: Group show Curated by Queen Andrea and GMO$”, who are joined by Toofly, Alice Mizrachi, Muck, and Gillian Goldstein. It runs from May 3rd through May 31st. All of her N bosses Lenn, Larry, and Nikoa came out as did the store’s associates Natasha (who always brings her sass and fun); and Jamar. The night didn’t just end with art. It ended with Dallas BBQ wings and things (www.bbqnyc.com). They’re always appropriate, aren’t they?
Before we went to “DIVAS WITH HEART”, Carl invited Ant and me to see Xernona Clayton one more time at Lucy (www.lucylatinkitchen.com/). There, Ms. Clayton dropped science one more time on how awesome it was that these diverse energies were converging under one roof (and – the day prior for The Drums Along The Hudson – under one sky) to see Dr. King’s dream through to its reality. Also, Carl got the chance to thank all of those who made Drums Along The Hudson such a success. My Morehouse brother and buddy was a part as well. He was Xernona's personal escort during her time here in New York City. Ant and I truly felt firmly that we were in the presence of a legend, an icon, a guiding light for us all.
On Cinco de Mayo, Ant, Manivone, and I joined Jason, Marqice, Troy, and others at The Hudson Hotel ( www.hudsonhotel.com ). The backdrop was the beats and music of DJ house legend Louie Vega. The high-priced cocktails notwithstanding, we had a nice time. Afterwards, Ant introduced me to a new, healthy food franchise in Chelsea, Energy Kitchen ( www.energykitchen.com/ ) which promises fast, fit, and delicious food. They made good on the promise as the cajun salmon, home fries, and corn were off the chain. Ant loved the spinach and brocoli as well. It might be one of our new spots to ensure we can eat well and economically.
Going to karaoke is nothing new for us, but we met a cool couple Vincent and Zulma. Great seeing you folks. Also, every 2nd Saturday, Plum Bar is the backdrop for my friends Craig and Mario’s set. After karaoke and a day of errands/spa treatments, Ant and I attended. It’s always great to see the guys and catch up on our respective lives since the last time. In the house, there was Jamar and Ryan; my Melvin (and of course Mario); Hal and my Morehouse brother Jay. Also, my Terry Wynn II who is soon to celebrate a birthday. Can't wait, Terry! A GOOD TIME!
Though much of the week was status-quo, a few highlights stand out (and there’s always a shout out or six to do):
1. I did not attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (www.metmuseum.org), but the hair designs of my dear friend Ted Gibson ( www.tedgibsonsalon.com/ ) did. He gave Hollywood starlet Michelle Monaghan her gorgeous and perfectly coiffed tresses at the Met Costume Gala. GO TED!
2. As Michael K. Watts and I have begun co-producing the NABJ Hall of Fame Banquet (www.nabj.org) scheduled for Chicago in July, I’m reminded of how great it was to produce Rene Syler for our NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards a few years back in Washington D.C. She was so rushed to make the booking, she left her make up at home. She called in the challenge and I made sure – via a handful of women whose complexions were similar – to have those options awaiting her when she got there. (A producer’s job never ends). From there, she popped an altoid and worked her magic. Now, the former CBS Early Show co-anchor can be seen on Parents TV(http://www.parents.com/parentstv/?_requestid=1521497), a service of Meredith Corporation, the publisher of such magazines as Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal. Author of "Good-Enough Mother" will host the channel's first long-form show starting next month. The "Good Enough Mother" will debut on Comcast VOD, Sprint TV phones, and on www.parents.tv. CONGRATS RENE!
3. Remember I told you how a few weeks back in Chicago, my friend Gil Robertson (www.robertsontreatment.com/) introduced me to his client, sports agent Kimberly Holland, who founded and owns Icon Management Inc. (www.jurgita.com/agencies-id98766.html). Based in Atlanta, her sports agency is a home for athletes who need representation and a nurturing vision behind them. She and Gil were in Chicago for the United States Olympic Committee’s media conference (www.usoc.org/). Kimberly has a repository of talented sprinters who have won Olympic gold before and are en route to Beijing – Olympics 2008 to win some more. And she’s featured in this month’s issue of Sister 2 Sister (www.s2smagazine.com) in the “Who Does She Think She Is?” feature section. CONGRATS!
4. You too should remember me stumbling back into a good friend Miles Anthony via MY SPACE. I shouted out his artist DARIEN (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/2/12/so-much-left-to-do-so-little-time.html). Well, more are abuzz about this hot new singer/songwriter on the scene. Another website has done an article on Darien naming him the Featured Artist. The site is called “Funky People Online” and they have their hands on the pulse of what is going on. Check out the article: http://www.funkypeopleonline.com/nl_043008.html Darien 's album will be released this summer so please be on the look out for it.
5. I've mentioned LIVE OUT LOUD to you folks before (www.liveoutloud.info). Over the last six years, LIVE OUT LOUD has created the opportunity to bring over 200 LGBT role models to the New York City, tri-state area high schools, youth centers, and colleges. This group raises the voices of the LGBT community so the LGBTQ youth of today can discover theirs. I'm proud to be one of those voices that LIVE OUT LOUD calls on from time to time. Tomorrow, I am speaking to students at Buschwick School for Social Justice during their LGBT Pride Week. I'll look forward to sharing that with you next time.