“Motown to Def Jam”
Of course, Motown has been on my brain of late: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK1yncqPlOQ. And even more of the label’s legacy continues to sprinkle itself all over the world – from Paris where Miss Ross did a tour-de-force performance at the Louvre this week... to HARLEM where my friend Souleo for invited me to be a tour guide for his “Motown to Def Jam” Artcrawl Harlem gallery tour for African-American Music Appreciation Month. The project is a first I’ve been asked to do and the first in which four Harlem art galleries feature over 40 visual artists. Each of them created especially commissioned pieces inspired by songs from the Chess; Stax; Motown; Philadelphia International and Def Jam Records catalogs. THE BEST CONCEPT EVER, right? AND I GOT TO BE A PART OF IT! This past Saturday, ArtCrawl Harlem presented the kickoff—a four-hour trolley bus tour to each gallery led by expert guides including media veteran Flo Anthony, historian John T. Reddick, arts renaissance man, Walter Rutledge, and me. I was most excited to pop by Harlem gallery SOL (as run by my Morehouse and Morehouse College Glee Club brother Gregory Caldwell). That space was dedicated to Def Jam Records – including work by dear friends Derek Fordjour (another Morehouse brother and my girlfriend LaChanze’s husband): http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2012/1/27/black-tales.html and Dianne Smith about whom I’ve written much in “…the Life of Riley…”: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/6/15/welcome-back-into-my-life-again.html. THANK YOU, SOL: https://www.facebook.com/TheSolStudio and all of our participating galleries. The day culminated with a dinner gala at Broadway Housing Communities’ Rio Galleries featuring special performances by R&B songstress, Meli’sa Morgan, Annette Taylor 2013 winner of The Howard Stern Subway Talent Contest, bass virtuoso Lawrence Wilson... and teenage jazz sensation, Solomon Hicks paying tribute to the legendary labels through song. One of the highlights of the exhibition was the opportunity to see the visual arts debut of Aanisah Hinds, daughter of Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray who attended the event in motherly support for her baby girl. In a press piece advancing this event, Hinds notes that this project is her chance to let the world know that talent runs deep in the family beyond music. “I’ve been painting for five years now and I’m just at a point where I feel like people other than my art teachers should see my work,” says the 18-year-old emerging artist. “I mean what is art if there’s no one to see it? So Motown to Def Jam is the perfect platform for me to share my work and perspective on life. Plus this project is significant because it appreciates the history of our music.” The exhibition runs until July 26 with a series of free youth tours, gallery talks and more. PLUS, A LITTLE ON MOM MACY GRAY: She will perform at the new NYC venue SubCulture. On June 19th and 20th, she joins acclaimed jazz composer David Murray and his Infinity Quartet for “Stomping and Singin’ the Blues” – a showcase that marries blues to pop to soul to jazz. THANKS AGAIN, SOULEO whose weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond. Souleo is the founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC. THANKS SOULEO!
MORE MOTOWN THE MUSICAL
Was able to break-away from my MANY-TO-DOs recently for a FAB lunch of Virgil’s BBQ and more with Bonnie Newman Davis – my NABJ sister friend; iconic print journalist; and endowed professor of journalism at North Carolina A&T. She and her sister were in town to see Motown The Musical – so I had to stop by last night and welcome them in (along with my opening night highlight video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK1yncqPlOQ). Then, got a quick visit from my former CNBC mates and friends for life. Berlinda Garnett (now big producer at Fox’s Good Day Philadelphia) and music manager, enthusiast, and all-around great guy Miles Anthony Williams. And foot care specialist, Dr. Maasi J. Smith popped by too (http://drmaasi.com/).
The HARLEM SHAKE opening was a BLAST! PLEASE SUPPORT it! AND LIKE: https://www.facebook.com/harlemshakenyc CONGRATS to all my many HARLEM friends and associates who are responsible for uptown’s latest SPOT! AND WHAT A CROWD at its GRAND OPENING! Inside, there is an old-school counter from which you order your comfort selects – including burgers, dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc. – all of which you can wash down with an assortment of regional sodas – like Vernor’s Ginger Ale, Mexican Coke, and Dublin Cherry Lime Soda. The milkshakes are hand-made and made with New York Organic Valley whole milk and organic Blue Marble ice cream. AND OF COURSE, there are many other sweets!
Legendary stylist and TV personality Phillip Bloch invited us to his Manhattan apartment for a summer evening set! Great food and friends in the house – including the great PR, marketing, and management folks from the SMEG – in the house with their client J. Rome who you should recall as the winner of ABC’s hit show “Duets”. He’s ready to embark on his career: http://youtu.be/gLdZOmPJdeM. CONGRATS, J. ROME! GREAT TO MEET YOU! Wonderful set, Phillip!
CHEF KENNY’S EAT FOR LIFE! RE-IMAGE HEALTHY
Shout out to my friend Ulysses Carter and SMEG/Savvy Marketing Entertainment Group! They invited me out to Chef Kenny’s Eat for Life! Re-Imagine Healthy: An Evening of Art, Music & Food Tasting Event. Chef Kenny Minor is a graduate of the Art Institute; Kenny’s career highlights include sharpening his culinary skills under chef Daniel “Chino” Parilla of the notable Five9th restaurant in New York City. He has been featured on an episode of Chopped on the Food Network and catered many private events for top celebrity clientele. He has an upcoming feature on the Bravo network channel this fall. Kenny’s food styling has been featured in Hampton Magazine “Restaurants”. Chef Kenny’s accomplishments reflect his passion and dedication to the culinary craft. Cooking has become the launching pad for Chef Kenny's message of good health and Eating for life! THE BACKDROP: La Maison D’ Art Gallery AT 259 West 132nd Street near Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave). We all experienced traditional southern cuisine with ingredients remixed and re-imagined through the tasty and healthy techniques of Chef Kenny.
While wrapping up my day on a special project with recurring client BET, I got a call from Paul Wharton – inviting me over to his new Manhattan apartment for a quick cocktail with a few of his friends. After wrapping his turn in BRAVO’s “Real Housewives of DC”, Paul Wharton is now still representing on many levels: DC50 show “Paul Wharton Style” primary among them. Next up: a skin-care line; lifestyle-guru books; TV production work; and more! WELCOME TO NYC, PAUL! http://paulwhartonstyle.com/
20 FEET FROM STARDOM
‘20 Feet From Stardom’ is a new documentary that explores the good, bad, and ugly of being a background singer. The wonderfully-curated selection of background singers includes Darlene Love, Lisa Fisher, Tata Vega, Patti Austin, and wonderful nods to perhaps the most famous background singers, Florence Ballard of The Supremes; Luther Vandross; Cissy Houston; Sheryl Crow; and a host of others who are UNSUNG but have been SINGING for a long time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: http://twentyfeetfromstardom.com/.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE (AGAIN)
Thanks to my friend Terrie M. Williams (Founder/President of the Terrie Williams Agency & author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks like we’re not Hurting” and more)!
She invited an impressive group and me out to the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in HARLEM to see YOU ARE NOT ALONE and then to comment on a panel, which also included:
Lee Daniels Academy Award nominated film director for the movie Precious & The Butler); Antoine Craigwell (journalist and producer of You Are Not Alone); Nathan Hale Williams (film and television producer, and entertainment attorney); and Tanya Odums (Assistant Principal).
The documentary explores Black gay men dealing with depression. It is a combination of powerful, heart-wrenching, and poignant as it marries professional opinions provided by mental health professionals, academics, and religious leaders (Christian and Islam) to beautifully-woven docu-dramatized iconography (as directed pointedly by Stanley Bennett Clay).
I’d seen the film a few months ago on an invitation from my BFF Sidra Smith (Producer, Free Angela – Shola Lynch documentary on Angela Davis). She and our mutual friend Stanley gathered a group at Sidra’s Harlem pad. Though Stanley could not be in attendance last night, I must say he is the Writer & Director of YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This, as he is directing the play B-Boy Blues which is launching in DC June 26th. Stanley is my hero (as actor and author), but he too has been a renowned film director since the late nineties, beginning with his feature "Ritual" which won the Jury Award at the 2000 Pan African Film Festival.
With regards to "You Are Not Alone," he directed and put together a beautiful film – including the dramatic scenes; the interviews; the music; the editing; casting and working with the actors; cinematography; etc--and let me tell you: He made one cohesive and IMPORTANT film. Was great to SHOUT STANLEY OUT accordingly last night! Worth also noting that “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” is the brainchild of Guyanese-born, double NYABJ-Award-winner/journalist/national gay mental health activist Antoine B. Craigwell.
THANKS TO TERRIE WILLIAMS and Ryan for inviting me out to be a panelist for "TERRIE WILLIAMS Presents: You Are Not Alone". GREAT NIGHT! Black gay men dealing with depression should know, like all of us, we are nothing without our emotional and mental health. Declaring who we are is healthy—not doing so is a very painful experience, and no one should ever have to live this way. Thank you so much for your support of this important film.
RENAISSANCE BRUNCH FOR PRIDE
THANKS to those of you who have been popping by some of the things that LIFE OF RILEY is posting and sharing for your ENTERTAINMENT and AMUSEMENT - especially the folks in NEW YORK CITY! Well, if you know how LIFE OF RILEY rolls around this time, you know that PRIDE is involved! To kick off PRIDE WEEK, I'll be supporting my friends Artie Thompson, Nathan Hale Williams, and their special guest host/BFF Sidra Smith (Producer, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners) at The Hudson Bond for the 2nd installment of The Renaissance Brunch Series! I told you how much of a blast it was the last time with MISS Bevy Smith as guest host ( BRAVO, Fashion Queens & 'Dinner with Bevy'). This Pride Week Kick-Off Event takes place this SATURDAY, JUNE 22nd from 1p-4p at The Hudson Bond - 215 West 40th Street @ 7th Avenue - 212-719-1200. TO MY PEEPS (and you know who you are), COME ON OUT!: http://renaissancebrunch622.eventbrite.com/.
1pm - Cocktail Hour (by ALCARAN TEQUILA)
2pm - Brunch Served (Promptly)
HERE'S THE MENU:
... Cheddar Jalapeno Grits
Shrimp w/ Spicy Cajun Gravy
Seafood cake w/ side of Hollandaise Sauce
Grilled Chicken and vegetables w/ Chicken Gravy
Cocktails following Brunch
GET TICKETS HERE: http://renaissancebrunch622.eventbrite.com/
* Business Cards 2 Win Giveaways
Album Listening Party & Signing for
* Music by DJ Poison Ivy
$45 - (Before 6/20)
$55 - (Before 6/22)
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