So, check out “Out” magazine (www.out.com) this month (http://www.out.com/detail.asp?id=25657
). I am featured in the lead story photo inside the current issue which profiles Food Network star Sandra Lee (page 51): http://www.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issn=1062-7928 (click on the page at the bottom of the screen). You may recall, I shot it last year. I met Sandra Lee one night at a NYC cocktail party hosted by a friend.On this night, Sandra asked me to come visit her photo shoot for OUT Magazine the following day as I knew her publicist Audra. Upon my arrival to the photo studio, she asked if I'd join the shoot as she had - since the night prior - been going goo-goo and ga-ga over my ---- get this ---- cheekbones. Suddenly, I was being whisked away from the kraft service table into wardrobe, hair, and makeup. QUITE THE RUSH! Well, here it is: http://www.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issn=1062-7928And this is how I blogged about it last year: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/15/butterflies-begin-from-having-been-another.html R.I.P. to E. LYNN HARRIS: Without him, I may not have ever gotten to the point where I would agree to do such a shoot. His works - from "Invisible Life" to the present - helped me EMBRACE MY TRUTH... and helped me be PROUD about who I am - for "the world to know"! I am HAPPY and HUMBLED to be a part of this layout as perhaps the extent of the diversity on the particular page.
Another highlight from the last couple of weeks was being able to do a few days of business back in New York City (as I’ve been holed up in Atlanta on a project featuring singer Monica).I can’t detail all the goings on but you’ll be able to see it yourself come October on BET. The best part is I got the chance to see Ant as we were put up at The Hudson Hotel (www.hudsonhotel.com) - a stone’s throw from his day work on “The Wendy Williams Show” (www.wendyshow.com).I got the chance to introduce Ant to Monica. And we got the chance to introduce to Monica my nephew Noot, who has been the Grammy-award-winning diva’s #1 fan for many years.In addition to a reality show, Monica has a new CD coming out… and I trust it to be a big hit for her. Though work, great to share it with my guys.In between our long-in-the-tooth shooting days, Ant and I got to hang out a little – including some time at my old stomping ground for ‘intimate evenings of song’ The Duplex (http://126.96.36.199/rileyshowforkodjoe.wmv). My “Broadway baby love” Ken Roberson performed The Wiz’s “If You Believe” and Pippin’s “Magic To Do” for the spirited crowd. We also got to hang out with our friends at spots like “Nowhere” and “Splash”.But we had a blast hanging in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn (www.fortgreenepark.org) with Ant’s Denver buddies Manivone, Chris, Reggie, and many others.On this night, we enjoyed a taste of Greek cuisine at a neighborhood spot (juxtaposed to now-old-hat-soul-food–since–in-Atlanta from Amy Ruth --- www.amyruthsharlem.com) and we even got a little karaoke in at our favorite spot One 7 (www.karaoke17.com). While in NYC working, I got access to Whitney Houston’s listening party. However, scheduling didn’t allow me to attend.Still, New York City provided me lots of pleasure – including a quick visit with my Detroit buddy Greg Dunmore with whom I spent lots of quality time on my last leg of L.A. (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/6/23/hes-hoppin-it-to-hollywood.html). We dined at the Hudson Hotel’s “Kitchen”. Check out Greg’s HAT CONTEST PROMO for Aretha’s SOLD-OUT Detroit Fox date from a week or so ago: www.youtube.com/?v=m1pjxxPOVso.
I have been working alongside Monica for the last month and change (not to mention the chance to work with some of the best and most kind folks in the business).And on top of that, there have been some additional, personal highlights to my time here.I was excited to get the chance to warm up for an exclusive performance she recently did at my Morehouse brother Christian Ruffin’s place “The View” (www.TheViewatKingPlow.com).His One Stop Productions company (www.OneStopProduction.com) managed the sound, lighting, staging, etc. for the affair. Though in place as a stretching mechanism for Monica’s fab costume changes, it was good to be on the stage and to be given an opportunity to let my personality shine through.I sang too! Lots of fun.Plus, I got to invite some dear friends out – including my homegirl from Savannah (READ: elementary school) Tonja (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/8/26/its-good-to-be-black.html).She brought her husband Andrew who is managing a music group 430 that is creating quite the buzz on the charts and on the road as they prepare to tour stateside and internationally (www.myspace.com/4thirty). Tonja also proved herself quite the “A Day in the Life of Riley” correspondent as she also took this pic at our high school classmate Anthony David’s recent Atlanta set that I couldn’t attend due to scheduling (www.anthonydavidmusic.com/).Also, my girl Elise – Media Relations Manager at Morehouse (www.morehouse.edu) - came and enjoyed the show along with Morehouse brother Jabez Shakur (www.marooninstitute.com). And amidst our preps for this project, Monica’s makeup artistChristian – also a friend of my L.A. buddies Scott and Tony – and I got to enjoy some lovely meals at two ATL hot spots: “Geisha House” (www.dolcegroup.com) and “Two Urban Licks” (www.twourbanlicks.com).He's been an awesome host to me - and not always as over as the accompanying picture, but always cute, fly, and so cool!
I also got some quality time with family and friends. My brother Herman, sister Janice, and I got the chance to spend some quality sibling time together. Of course, we did one of our favorite things to do: EAT. First, Houston’s (www.hillstone.com). Then, Busy Bee (for banana pudding): www.thebusybeecafe.com. Also, we got the chance to memorialize Michael Jackson (as a family) since he was such a part of our growing up.We met him on Norton Air Force Base in San Bernadino, CA at an airplane expo: The Thunderbirds. Also, we shared an audience with him at Magic Mountain for a Sylvers Concert.Then, there are the Jacksons/solo shows we've attended in addition to one moment in Atlanta when I got to meet him at The Omni for a charity benefit at which he made an appearance with TLC. Oh! And I attended that pre-9/11 30th Anniversary concert in September of 2001.We played Michael all day and night long which brought a bit of closure to The King of Pop’s passing (I wondered why I hadn’t quite gotten over it yet. I was waiting on this moment with my brother and sister.). Janice, cousin Floyd, and I got the chance to do a meal at “Six Feet Under” (www.sixfeetunderatlanta.com) followed by a screening of DVD “Madea Goes To Jail” (www.madeagoestojailmovie.com/).
And my friends popped by too – including my Morehouse brother Khalid with whom I enjoyed Ron Winans and Gladys Knight Chicken ‘n Waffles (www.gladysandron.net).Also, on the Morehouse tip, I stumbled into my Spelman sister Laura Morse while in the Atlanta airport. Always good to see my peeps.And Morehouse brother Michael K. Watts was in town for business but made it his business to see me (in a very small window of time).He’s been doing some awesome work with his writing (as his Maxwell interview is featured in this month’s UPSCALE Magazine – www.upscalemagazine.com).But Michael is also doing some awesome work inside his longstanding brand as a collector of pop culture memorabilia. Stay tuned for more details on this special way in which Michael Jackson’s #1 fan is being a stand for the great entertainer’s legacy.
And there was lots of fun to be had at Midown Tavern (www.midtowntavern.net) where our friend Anthony Hill, head writer for Tyler Perry’s “Meet The Browns” (www.tbs.com/shows/meetthebrowns) invited us to karaoke.I experimented on Diana’s “Waiting in the Wings” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAVA6kBZ73Q). Anthony and I did The Spinners “Games People Play” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8). I got a showstopper in: Mariah Carey’s “Can’t Let Go” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLkwbUPfk3g).And SWV’s LeLee (my colleague Shareen’s buddy) was in the house. Shareen introduced us on our last stint in Atlanta.
Meanwhile, You recall I told you about Laurent Korcia earlier this year (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2009/1/14/through-the-mirror-of-my-mindi-see-reflections-of-you-and-me.html). Well, here’s a link to a recent NPR story on him: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106479206 His CD is coming out next week.
And one of my favorite New York City editors Kerry Soloway has some great programming coming on Public TV soon (www.NightingaleEditorial.com). It’s a Great Performances “Harlem in Montmartre”. Check it out!And my girlfriend Paula Witt is a part of a speakers’ bureau and spreading positive messages all over the world via “Truth Be Told Speakers” (www.truthbetoldspeakers.com). CONGRATS!
… and as I come to the end of this leg of my Atlanta stint, I head home for a few days.I’ll take a little breather, though will still be prepping for NABJ in Tampa (www.nabj.org) and my two-month stint in L.A. for which I still am trying to identify a place to stay. And when I get a moment in, I am simply counting my blessings!