Music is the creative expression that makes life beautiful.”

DOING THE MOST & THE LEAST AT THE SAME DAYUM TIME.  

Team work makes the dream work. Many times we do a lot of things well. Quite a few. But not all the things. So instead of focusing at the visionary level ,75% of the time, we are often consumed with the details and “weeds” of it all. Don’t get me wrong... in order to create anything of value, you’ll need to focus on the details or the tactics - basically the action steps to help you achieve the big goal. Our ego likes to tell us, we can manage it all. I realized that even if we can “do it all” we probably shouldn’t. 

A perfect example of the “do it all” mentality is managing all parts of your artistic journey when you’re an independent artist. I came into the game when the school of thought was “you need a manager” when booking shows, scheduling studio time, photo shoots, managing a website and social media, - you know all things, becomes too much. Well shit, it’s too much right dayum now. Lol! I’ve decided that at this point *in my the rent is too dayum high voice* - doing all things is too dayum much. I 👏🏾 need 👏🏾 some help 👏🏾or at the very least a different approach. *kicks mic stand*. 🗣 Help Wanted. I need a team, a faithful few or as my resident Maven Ayanna Castro (Work Your Package) says... a Board of Directors. 

Choreographer & Creative Director.I have a versatile two step and a boat load of rhythm. I also know specifically how I want the video treatment to look ... in my head. Not so much with explaining to the videographer. What I don’t possess is the ability to create four/ten minute dance routines. Nopity Nope. What you will get is great stage presence and bomb vocals - unless we get some personnel in here STAT. 

Community. You build by supporting. I need to know from my fellow artists “How can I help you?”  What can we do together that will advance the community and share with music lovers alike? 

A Trainer or a Fitness Program. Who is gonna get me back to “snack status"? I’m currently on tapas/entree status. Thick Fit if you will. This is not the will of God for my life.  It’s not. I've been using the Nike Fitness app, YouTube videos from Pop Sugar, trainer Jeanette Jenkins and Keira LaShae (she has her own Shopify site with videos and downloads) with the gym I have on property to get these workouts in. About to join Planet Fitness to add another tool in my arsenal. It's $10 a month/$22 Black Card VIP. You're welcome lol. 

Brand Management. Since I studied communications I actually know how to do this or at least the foundation of building brands. However [dramatic pause] two of the essential building blocks in building and maintaining a brand are assets and messaging that support thatbrand. Messaging and creative vision, I got you. Making videos, promos etc. for social media, lyric videos, all the stuff I could do when I should be rehearsing. Slide on over to Fiverr and be blessed. SINCERELY. Outsource some stuff. You can also work out an arrangement with a graphic designer where you both agree on rates on the various assets you need and PAY THEM. You might not have an extensive budget, but just like you want to be paid to sing/play the drums/banjo they deserve to be paid too. Folk got bills. When I need to make something happen and there's no budget, CANVA is the move. $12.95 per month. 

#1 Supporter. Somebody who will keep it real with you and tell you when your idea really ain't ish - to save you from yourself. This same person will also tell you when you gotta go home or hard and do it scared. They're gonna tell you to LEAP...be there to listen while you run through your concept. This person is gonna hit submit on that pitch email - "Yeah I can open for Beyonce at R&BCon or whatever...", "I'm available to do the session for the national artist". Basically, they're gonna kick you squarely in the azz and tell you to do it. You need a #1 in ya life. 

If I'm honest, I can admit I've been trying to do too much by myself for too long. It's totally not working out. So I can continue to wear the cape, or I can do the things I do best and get some help with the rest. Going with Help for $1000 Alex. Hopefully some of these references will help you go further than you could on your own or at least open your eyes to a new way of doing something that's important to you.

The Making of Alright  

The Making of Alright 

It gets better...generally after it goes to hell in a hand basket

Many of you know that I released a new single a few weeks ago and it’s called ‘Alright’. It’s a mid-tempo groove about keeping it moving when life gets tough…keeping the faith. Basically lol, it’s the “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” anthem of 2020. However, if you know like I know – on the other side of Alright is the stuff that wasn’t alright. Whew! Let me explain… 

I wrote the lyrics and recorded ‘Alright’ in a time of huge uncertainty. I had been laid off and hadn’t worked in a loooooooong time. I had no solid relationship so I didn’t really have a bae, per se to lean on for support. My friends and family were there 100%, but having someone who is with you to just say “no worries tonight, I got you” is a different kind of support. Of course, I had my faith in God to guide me through but this time was extemely tough for me. I had never experienced long-term unemployment and if you know me, you know I always have a plan. Baby in that season, none of my plans were working. Not. A. Single.Plan. Worked. That added another layer of angst because if you’re a planner, you feel like ok…if I do steps A-C, the result should be a win right? Nawl. No wins. Steady losses. I mean life was like here “Hold this L!” I was out here like :-|  

Here's where the "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" comes in...

Nevertheless, I decided to keep working on my music. Saying I had a shoestring budget is the understatement of the year. Luckily, I was working with my brother, that phenomenal Nupe and musician known to many as Dre King. Now you can tell by the snippets of his latest project (shameless plug) Marvelous, that this cat kills. Like his ear and talent are unmatched. He is also the king of – no pun intended, mastering all options available to make a bomb record. He has a mobile studio – that he lugged up three flights of stairs to my apartment so we could make this record. That’s dedication! When you’re working with someone who has a “we gon make it do what it do” mentality, you learn a few things. Here’s what I learned making ‘Alright’. 

5 Lessons that recording 'Alright' taught me.

I.SING  I can sing my entire face off – even when I’m sick. I had the worst cold and this terrible congestion that wouldn’t let me be great. However, the session was set so – clear your throat, sip some tea and sing. 
2. USE WHAT YOU HAVE. A studio can exist anywhere you have great acoustics and not a lot of external noise. I recorded ‘Alright’ in between the kitchen and dining room. Legit, the mic was in the middle of both rooms. 
3. THE RIGHT PEOPLE WILL SHOW UP. When people can “feel” you, you don’t need to be there for them to do their part. KingQuest recorded his rap for ‘Alright’ with Dre. I was nowhere around. I gave him no direction. He just knew what to do. 
4. ALL. NOT SOME. Sometimes you’ll have to use all your gifts – not just the obvious ones. I wrote the lyrics, styled myself and did my own makeup for the song cover. Sometimes you’re dayum near all the things because that’s what it takes.  
5. SOMETIMES IT'S HARD. ALWAYS WORTH IT. Doing something great will require sacrifice. It may be sleep, money, hanging out with your peoples, quality time with your boo…I don’t know what thing it is/was for you. But trust me it will be SOMETHING. There may be some tears, quite a few hard days and you legit being 2 minutes away from chucking deuces. At the end of it all,  you can do it – if you want to. My Aunt Pat always says “There is no failure in God and nothing beats a made up mind.” 

The “Studio

I made up my mind that it was gonna be #Alright – and it was. Listen here and let me know what you think. 

Consistency is Key... 

#LIFELESSONS

It's often said that consistency yields results. It's also known that it's hard to build anything without giving frequent and sustained effort. NOTHING works without consistency. Not a relationship, building a brand or career...not even good credit lol. You have to begin it and stay with it for the long haul. The only thing that will change is that you will move from working to establish to maintaining or exceeding the original goal. So the type of work will change but not the need for the WORK. Sheesh! As I'm building a my professional brand in music, I am reminded of this continually. There are lots of winding roads, big highs and lows, morale-crushing disappointments, and life-changing successful moments. Whatever the formula, there is one constant and that is work. No goal is a match for hard work and what my Aunt Pat calls "a made-up mind"!

I've made up my mind that I'm getting back to optimal health - vocal, mental, and emotional. And... a commitment to top physical fitness. I'm working out three times a week - minimally, meal prepping and planning my time wisely. Time is money. I need to be laser-focused and very selective with my time and energy. With everyday that passes and all of the pain and drama in the world - what I can't  do anymore is not treat life that the gift it is. We only get ONE LIFE. ONE! I'm choosing all things excellent. Excellent use of my treasured gift and talents- singing and songwriting and all my skills - communications, community building and strategy development. I'm handling my business financially, in my career and in my relationships through consistent effort and daily decisions that getting me closer to my long-term goals.  

I consistently choose me. I'm not waiting to be chosen. A very valuable lesson that I've learned in this season in life is that creativity is bound to consistency. Sometimes to consistently do a thing - whether that's perform a certain amount of shows per month, record or write a number of songs in a year or save a certain amount of money - we have to create the plan or method that allows us to be consistent. Perhaps performing consistency means creating a show experience that you produce. Maybe writing those songs comes out of a singer  and musician workshop or saving that money means creating a budget and plan tailored to your lifestyle and most important goals. Maybe you're the one you've been waiting for in your search for the one thing that inspires consistency in your life. Just maybe you need to CREATE the CONSISTENCY you seek. I did. 


Pics from the journey.... You can't cheat the work. Honor your process. 

April 2019 (Left) August 2019 (Right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How we #GrammyDC 

 

How We #GrammyDC

May 11th was a night of firsts. It was my first time visiting City Winery DC and the first ever Washington D.C. Grammy Block Party. The venue was amazing and the hard work done by the D.C. Grammy Chapter staff and leadership was displayed in every detail of the event. Amazing venue. Phenomenal talent line-up. A perfectly curated tapas menu paired with numerous wines and liquors, set the tone for a classic night of good music and good vibes with artists, producers and creatives from the DMV and the Mid-Atlantic region. Several artists performed on multiple stages throughout the evening including: D.C.'s own Rare Essence and Kevin Ross, DRAM, Angelica Garcia, Chaz French and MAKUTA. The inaugural party was hosted by WPGC's Joe Clair with sounds provided by DJ Heat. The energy in the room was so positive! It was great to see new connections being made and old friends and musical colleagues reconnecting.


 

I ran into artist friends that I hadn't seen in awhile and we reminisced on some of the our first shows in the D.C. area and talked about upcoming shows where we can support each other. I was fortunate to meet other music comrades from around the D.C. area, as well as, Philadelphia. It was nice to put faces with names and to personally thank individuals who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the best interest of artists - those signed to major labels and independent, are represented and respected. It was overall a wonderful night of great music, networking and cool vibes.

Epiphanies and other moments of grandeur 

Chrisette Michele has a song called 'Epiphany' that I used to perform quite regularly. It's all about coming to a profound realization about a relationship. Ultimately, she determines that it's over and she's leaving. She has decided that she deserves better and that at the end of the day, finding that better is up to her. She has to create a space where this "better" can manifest and she can experience love and life, genuinely and fully.  And so it is with me and the epiphanies I've had in recent weeks. Chief amongst my realizations is that what I'm really looking for - isn't going to show up for me in the way my spirit envisions it. No, I'll have to pray for it, develop it, take risks I've been previously unwilling to take. I'll have to create my own place, build my own table and chairs, secure the WIFI and call the dayum meeting myself. It's not coming magnificently wrapped in a Tiffany's box, nor will it be hand-delivered from any benefactor, friend or supporter. Nawl, this is on me. Brick, by brick I'll need to build it, give myself permission to ball out, boss up, and ascend. In all honesty, it's very frustrating to sit and wait for someone...anyone else to green light what's for you. Frustrating, not because of lack of patience but because you've in a sense given away your power by way of looking for approval. The Bible says that God opens doors that no man can shut. GOD OPENS DOORS, not man. So if I have a purpose that I know He's given me...I already have the keys.