The NABJ Convention is my 'annual therapy'. Philly's gathering was no exception. Of course, there are always awesome workshops. And as I stepped down from being Chair of the NABJ Arts & Entertainment Task Force, I was happy to have good programming for our members. The reunion started at the Convention Center; We experienced some beautiful art at a gallery; We checked in at friend Caleb Wilkerson's place; Had a reunion with our Aci Nae girlfriends. They hosted our pilot project last year: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/6/19/postcards-from-the-edge.html;  and dinner at Del Frisco's (PRIME RIB! YUM!); and PURE EXCITEMENT to see my NABJ FAMILY! Much of it can be seen in these pix:



I'll share the rest here:


While here in Philly, I primarily wore the bespoke designs & tailoring of my friend Kevin Andre Dickens. He does AWESOME work out of his Manhattan-based KD Studio. Holla if you want to reach him! THANK YOU, KEVIN!


NABJ Thursday was a good one! Lunch at El Vez for delicious, nouveau Mexican cuisine with Ant & Caleb Wilkerson; sometimes client BET brought in my fav Tracee Ellis Ross; Malcolm Jamal Warner; Anna Marie Horsford (a "..life of Riley..." fan! WHO KNEW? LOL!); & Melissa DeSousa - co-stars of BET's new scripted sitcom "Reed Between The Lines" (Premiering in October 2011).


http://www.essence.com/2011/08/03/tracee-ellis-ross-graces-the-september-issue-of-essence/  So speaking of Tracee Ellis Ross and NABJ, I must shout out some of my sisters I know through NABJ and associated circles of Black journalists: Kierna Mayo (pictured left) penned the Tracee Ellis Ross cover story in the current issue of ESSENCE. This month’s issues has even more for me to LOVE inside: Karen Good Marable – wife of one of my BFFs Maurice (the wedding Ant & I attended in Jamaica earlier this summer); Bevy Smith; Tai Beauchamp; & Robin D. Stone (who writes of a mutual girlfriend Celeste Victoria who was plucked from our lives 10 yrs ago on 9/11 & the miracle legacy she left behind who we all have known and loved as she is Celeste’s daughter Jasmine – now a full-fledged woman who continues to be BE A DIFFERENCE in our world, despite the huge loss of her doting mother. (Here’s my reflection of 9/11:  http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/a-letter-from-ground-zero-91101.html). WORK, SISTAHS... and keep booking them, my friend CONSTANCE WHITE - Editor-in-Chief!


TARGET also pulled out the stops with its "A Conversation with Steve Stoute" (profiling his book project "The Tanning of America"). The session was moderated by Soledad O'Brien. I had a hand in producing her at Ogilvy a couple of weeks ago. DJ Solange Knowles was in the re-mix on this spectacular...and even helped me find my lost Blackberry!

Now, there's buzz of her portraying Miss Ross in the not-yet-official-but-perhaps-closing-in bio-pic, "Blondie" about original Supreme Florence Ballard. http://www.mlive.com/movies/index.ssf/2011/08/rumors_of_florence_ballard_bio.html


ERIC BENÉT brought NABJ a screening of TRINITY GOODHEART - his TV movie on GMC on which I had a chance to get some shine from my red carpet reporter duties at the Power to End Stroke Concert at The Apollo a few months ago. In fact, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has hired me again to do some voice-over work for their sales & marketing materials. After the screening, Eric was joined by my friend (and NABJ baby) Rhonda Baraka and GMC’s Paul Butler for a Q&A with CNN’s T.J. Holmes.


My mentor and mother of all things NABJ-TV (the student project - circa 1991 for me): Sheila Brooks hosted a REUNION of the NABJ BABIES in the lobby of our host hotel! ALWAYS GREAT TO RECONNECT with EVERYBODY! And CONGRATULATIONS to Sheila for receiving a special honor in the name of our beloved Pat Tobin whose daughter Lauren – a friend – presented it.


FUN times with the fellows in Downtown Philly! Woody's ended up being a night-cap spot on one night along with a number of other fun spots.


I jumped on the NABJ stage one night to HOST the big DISNEY event. And one of my all-time favorites performed, vocal greats Yolanda Adams; a taped appearance from Steve Harvey who updated us on his Disney Dreamer's Academy. This is the 4th year I've hosted the like for recurring client DISNEY… and during the show, DISNEY surprised me with a DISNEY trip and a special salute for being HOST of their event since the beginning.We introduced Disney Dreamer’s Academy back in Vegas a few years back. THANK YOU, DISNEY!


Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, “The Help” came to NABJ. And Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and Octavia Spencer in tow. The author Kathryn Stockett and director/screenwriter Tate Taylor were also in attendance. MSNBC’s Tamron Hall moderated – my second time working with her at NABJ. Michael K. Watts and I produced a Hall of Fame Luncheon she hosted a few years back in Tampa.


Lucasfilm Ltd. brought a special sneak peek of RED TAILS – a high-flying WWII epic inspired by the heroism of the first all African-American aerial combat unit. Showcasing the inspiring story of the Tuskegee Airmen to the screen, the film celebrates the intrepid young airmen who took to the skies to fight for their country – and the fate of the free world. In attendance: Charles Floyd Johnson, Producer; Terrence Howard; and Cuba Gooding Jr. who also joined NABJ for the “Salute to Excellence” Awards where my dear friend and NABJ sister Mara Schiavocampo brought home two awards for her work at NBC News. Also in the mix for NABJ, my ITIKA - or Ti-Ti - as I call her. As you know, she's one of my Chicago BFFs. Radio personality Kendra Gee also hung out with us. Always a good time with ITIKA!


NABJ in Philly brought MY ANNUAL THERAPY & a GREAT TIME! Though it was EXHAUSTING (with all of my commitments), it was - as always - WORTH THE TRIP! After NABJ, I jumped right into working with an awesome team on producing a special project at BET in NYC (for related MLK Monument Dedication festivities). Total honor to be a stand for King’s legacy in this way.


The Maroon & White Fund will host a national tribute to the Morehouse College Glee Club's "100 Years in Song" during a special weekend from September 30th to October 2nd, 2011 here in New York City – including a Lincoln Center appearance. For the entirety of the Morehouse College Glee Club's 100 years in existence, it has represented the best of Morehouse College and America. During my four years at Morehouse, I got to travel all over with the glee club and in 1991, I got to speak on the stage of the Kennedy Center in front of the glee club as we honored recipient Robert Shaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Conductor and Composer during Kennedy Center Honors (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZF2iK2VOY8). For more information, see the flier below:


I've still been able to squeeze in some friend time: my NABJ brother Bruce Reynolds joined me for a quick drink at Hudson Eatery; we got in nephew Herman time (with his mom Fe in town) at Melba's; and also in Harlem, Orange 67 was the backdrop for a nightcap with friends Jamar; Garrett; and company. But most excitedly, my nephew invited me to accompany he and his friends to see Beyonce perform. It was a fun group of Morehouse brothers; Spelman sisters; and a Howard alum in the mix for the HBCU love of it all. She was doing one of her “4” NYC shows. And word has it, the first of those shows sold out 22 seconds after going on sale. She did "4" shows of her "4" material over "4" days at Roseland Ballroom. And she - of course - gave us a sampling of her greatest hits. The crowd - including us - were singing along to every word. And we were dancing to every groove. For our show, Jay Z, Diddy, Mary Mary, Neyo, The Dream, and Adrienne (of 3LW/"Cheetah Girls" fame) were in t he house. As always, GO BEY! And of course, I ran into many friends - including my karaoke pusher men Dante and Marcus; and fashion editor extraordinaire Walter Greene.


Happy Birthday, my Amazing Grace Nichole's BDAY set at Chez Lucienne in Harlem was a BLAST! In attendance: Nichole's New Ro crew Michelle who came with her client, singer Po Johnson (& Diche) in tow - both of whom are on "LaLa's Full Court" (Michelle too!); Tanya (attorney - now at ESPN); Angelique Frances (producer who hired me to do red carpet at her daughter's Sweet 16); Nic's cuz Jeffrey Williams ("Fashion Show" winner); our Dawn; Will (on his way to Haiti for an international assignment); and others (I missed Sid & Danielle...but HEY Y'all!). Then, after set at Red Rooster.... Oh! And most excitedly, my friend Janet (Hill)Talbert (www.onthisrocknyc.com) was in the house. She's a former book editor turned FAB jewelry designer whose line is Christian-and-Inspiration-themed! And one of our ALL-STAR KARAOKE REGULARS Belinda Munro just won THE APOLLO the other night! She is advancing to the next round on Aug 24: http://www.apollotheater.org/recap-winners-and-losers/494-amateur-night-81011.

Congrats BELINDA!


One week after Caleb showed us such a good time in Philly, I got to hang out at the nearby-Hudson Hotel to join he, Monica, Ern, and Ant. Afterwards, we popped by Moca Lounge in Harlem for catfish fingers and fries.


See how AWESOME Ant’s art show was: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150273229038737.334123.662073736 He and our girlfriend Cynthia are a part of a collective of artists who did pieces inspired by Basquiat. The community exhibit is up until January 2012. Ant’s artist name is Akhenaten. He’s showing two of his pieces, “Sun Pharaoh” & “Queen Mother in the Sky”. His has previously shown his conceptual body of work “Manufacturism” in his hometown of Denver, CO at the 910 Arts Gallery. His background also includes studies in Journalism, Native American Art and Art History at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Afterwards, our girlfriend Mara Schiavocampo and her husband Tommie opened up their Harlem home to all of our friends and family for an after-set that toasted and celebrated Ant and Cynthia, the amazing artists that they are.


Shout out to Ant's BFF Manivone Nonthaveth who presented her 1st solo art exhibition "PAPER STATUS: Paper Sculptures" at VELVET in Williamsburgh (Brooklyn, NY). This is the spot where Ant used to bartend and host theme Sunday nights. FAB NIGHT - even after a double shift of editing on this special project at BET! GO MAX! And I went to opening of PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT as well with my inner circle artist soul-mates Anthony Harper & Manivone Nonthaveth. We got to see the works of Lawrence Joyner; Tyson Hall; & Dean Richards. Also ran into my friend Jennifer Ouellette – AWESOME maker of hats and other designer accents: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/20/pat-in-a-hat.html.


My friend Paul Wharton (from "The Real Housewives of DC") first came to my ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT in Harlem a few months ago (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/4/18/baby-its-you-me.html). Now, he's a FABULOUS recording artist - including collaborations with Ginuwine & Sole. GO PAUL!


Shout out to my friend Carl Nelson who took a play “Incognito” to the National Black Theater Festival in Winston Salem,NC. Several of my friends were there as well - including Lamman Rucker - one of the event's hosts. Also, LaChanze Fordjour and so many others were there!


Shout out to Detroit's Tyree Guyton whose Heidelberg Project Ant and I got to experience while in Detroit a couple of years ago. He's released a new children’s book, Magic Trash, the story of a young Tyree and his beloved grandfather Sam Mackey. The official release date is September 2011, copies are for sale at $16. Go on line http://www.heidelberg.org/index.php?option=com_rokquickcart&view=rokquickcart&Itemid=155 


Did you see my favorite DREAMGIRL Jennifer Holliday on the season finale of Fran Drescher's TV Land series "Happilly Ever After"? Tichina Arnold got to show her chops in this episode as well: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/7/31/crazy-stupid-love.html.


The New York Mama Juggs Show Tour is up and running at the 15th Annual Fringe NYC! It is billed as “… a trip to Grandma's House You'll never forget!” Check out FringeNYC - The New York International Fringe Festival: http://mamajuggs.com/?tag=the-new-york-international-fringe-festival


A sad circumstance brought many of my favorite BET people – past and present – back together again - including Quan Lateef; Loren Lillian; Kelli Malcolm; Hershelle Burton; and a host of others. Special shout out to Will Hill who too has brought his talents to ALL-STAR KARAOKE THURSDAY NIGHT in Harlem. Now, he's got new music that is available on Amazon, Rhapsody, and I-Tunes. Check it out! http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/future-fresh-single/id448858048


Sending love home to Savannah and my cousin Rosa M Brown! I LOVE YOU! And we'll all miss STEVE (R.I.P.)! So many GOOD MEMORIES!


My cousin his here! His name is Tyler Maxwell Middleton. WELCOME TYLER & CONGRATS Roc Middleton & Cousin Kea! I LOVE Y'ALL... and can't wait to meet Tyler! XO


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Reader Comments (2)

Such a nice photos as well as event is also good. I like to be a part of this event.Lots of different activities done in this event. So youngsters grab this opportunity to show there talent.


September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack Anderson
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October 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterworldpharmarx

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