Friday, July 31, 2009

Visual Art in My Future?

Ok, so for the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, I was an organizer of the event moreso than a performer. I did read one of my pieces from the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul, but that was a filler performance when we were having technical difficulties with one of the acts that forgot their cable cords to their keyboard. My biggest artistic display for the festival were the sign murals I created for the festival. (They are featured on this page).
My first major foray in visual art, the murals were meant as welcome mantas for festival-goers to establish the nature of the event-- one of peace, love, soul and hip-hop. Check them out! Thanks to folks who came thru and photographed them.

So, last night I checked out this wonderful event at Tryst located in Adams Morgan in DC. The event was one where visual art was the focus. Live art. We were watching it like it was a performance. Folks painting, drawing and just creating while we, the audience, watched. It was magnificent. The artist Choke, who was featured at the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest as a vendor was one of the live artists. Other visual artists included urban artist Pikasso who is said to be sponsored by soul singer Raheem Devaughn. Pikasso is amazing. I sat next to and chatted with his significant other who showed me photos of their home where there are dozens upon dozens of canvasses he's created just lining the walls. Ahhh, art. I love it, I love it and just being among it is live-giving. I'm going to post some of the photos I took last night shortly.

Performing @ the Green Festival in DC on Oct. 10

I will be performing at the Green Festival on Oct. 10 @ 11am as the opening act for the event. I will be performing original and cover tunes with the wonderful musician Gary Young who will perform vocally with me as well as accompany on guitar. Looking forward to this performance and will definitely have on hand copies of Liberated Muse Volume I:How I Freed My Soul on hand to sell. Hope you can make it out!

I came out to the Green Festival last year and enjoyed myself with my family. I got the wonderful henna tattoo below done and may get something similar done as part of my costuming for the Oct. 10th show.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Second Annual Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest a Success

(Sharon Burton of GeminiVisions Art Studio hugging a doll made by her sister Sherry Ways-Burton)
(Sherry Ways-Burton and DC Councilmember Yvette Alexander)

(My business partner Maceo Thomas, writer Hadassah Ayodele and yours truly in the hot heat at the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest)

(Sharon Burton & Sherry Ways-Burton)

Head-Roc of GODISHEUS is was host and performer

(A couple getting their hand dancing on to tunes from E the R and B Rockstar)

(Writer Hadassah Ayodele)

Yesterday was the 2nd annual Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest that my business partner Maceo and I produce through our partnership Liberated Muse Productions. The turn-out was well and Mother Nature held in her rain urge until the very last act, noon:30, which did not get to perform due to the impromptu rain showers that came after an all day heat temp in the upper 90's. It was hot as Hades!!!!

The event's turn-out was impressive to me given the massive reconstruction that the park site is going through and the extreme heat that was happening yesterday. Maceo and I are determined to have the festival forever in the park-- Marvin Gaye Park-- though. The festival is a gesture toward community building through the arts. The area the festival is in could use cultural good will and we are happy to be a part of this.

I impressed myself by leaving my camera home. My good friend and fellow artist Shan'ta Monroe was commisioned to take photos, and I made a vow with myself to let her do that. Can't wait to see what her eye caught. The photos here in this blog are from Hadassah Ayodele and Sherry Burton, two members of my site and good friends. Sherry made a doll named "Khadijah" that she said was named after me. I bought it! I have a Khadijah doll! Will post a picture of it later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This Morning on FOX 5 with Holly Morris

Shooting this was way fun. Holly Morris was hilarious and my Saartjie sisters were on it with their beautiful organic dance while Nia and I sang. My daughter was there and being a big girl by not calling my name out in the middle of taping which I was so afraid she would do, lol. She's five. You can imagine my fear. She wanted to dance with Binah!

If you can't see the video above, click here:

Last Day Performing Show for Fringe Fest, FOX 5 Morning News with Holly Morris in the Morn

It's after midnight already, but I'm just waking up now. Lol. I crashed upon arriving home. Today was a long day, ending our three-show run of the show Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty in this year's Capital Fringe Fest. The house was packed and the adrenaline was pumping. So was the heat, which had me sweating buckets-- I'm sure almost literally. The audience response was very positive as it has been since the show's debut in the Capital Fringe Fest, so we were glad to go out with a bang. Loved reading this feedback from an audience member HERE.

Looking forward to appearing on FOX 5 in the morning with Holly Morris to talk about our experience in the Capital Fringe Fest and show excerpts from our show. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to share with the viewing public information-- if only bits-- about the life of Saartjie Baartman, the woman known as the Hottentot Venus.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Preparation for the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest that is This Coming Saturday, July 25!

People ask me all of the time how do I find time to do it all. I have to admit that today, I have asked myself that question. There is a lot to do today given that the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest is now in less than seven days. My business partner Maceo and I literally put this festival together ourselves logistically. We have the wonderful Rod Freeman coming back as our sound liaison again, but, our team is really a party of two. We attempted to have partners come on board this year, but a lot of folks were crying broke because of the recession. We were pleased to announce on Thursday, during a radio broadcast on 89.3 WPFW that we had received a new sponsor-- the US Cenus Bureau, which was such a wonderful occurence given our difficulty this year getting folks to partner. We usually go to the grassroots and small business folks to keep the festival for the people and by the people. Maceo and I earn absolutely no money from this annual festival. The reward for us is being part of this renaissance in DC where the diverse talent is connecting with their audience. The talented folk who perform also are performing free of charge. They have the opportunity to sell their wares, though. It's all about the music, bay-bee. The love energy involved in this fest is some next level ish.

What is so shocking to me is the number of egos I've encountered over the course of the past year as we prepare for this festival. I really shouldn't be shocked, given the number of egos we encountered last year. But, really, it does continue to amaze me. Everything-- from the neosoul singer who asked could he do anything for the fest and when I told him "sure, we would love you to host" and he was never heard from again to the singer who told someone who told someone that she wanted to be in the festival, but wasn't going to come to us until we ASKED HER PERSONALLY to be involved, and only then, would she consider it. For the record, we do a call for acts. What that means, is that we don't ask ANYONE personally, we see who is interested and then choose from there. There is too much talent in this city for folks to feel self-entitled I always believe. It is already difficult from the jump to determine who will be in the festival because the submissions are always from folks with MAJOR talent. If we could include everyone who is hot and submitted their music, we would.

I encourage you to come out and check it out. Visit to see for yourself and get the directions so you can check out this year's fest. Our hope is that it will rock as much, if not more, than last year.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Review in the Washington Post Critiques the Saartjie Project, and My Piece in Particular

So, today, I learned of a review that was written yesterday in the Washington Post by Post writer Nelson Pressley about the Saartjie Project show "Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty" that we performed this past Wednesday. First off, let me tell you, the Wed show was incredible! The energy we felt back stage and onstage was amazing. I think we were a lot more well-rested than we were on Friday's show of last week which began at 11pm and didn't end until almost 1 am in the morning. Wed's show was fluid and the packed audience seemed to really enjoy us.

The review is a favorable one in which it encourages folks to come out and positively highlights some of our favorite pieces-- Binahkaye Joy's solo piece "Bare" which is based on her work as a nude model and Farah Lawal's monologue "Exotic Beauty".

Some of his negative criticisms rested heavily on the piece I penned, "Changing Muse" which depicts the four sterotypical images forced upon black women over the decades-- the mammy, the angry black woman ("aka the Bitch"), the video vixen/jezebel and the Black Militant. In his review, Pressley writes:

", in five or so minutes, can you meaningfully suggest four stark types (from suffering kerchiefed matriarch to strutting mini-dressed hip-hop gal) for contemporary black women to play? The dialogue meanders and the idea simply isn't fleshed out."

Well, my response to Mr. Pressley is that (1) the characters were purposefully "stark"-- they are stereotypes, muses for many of the often racist caricatures black women are expected to portray on film, within the work world, etc. and (2) to flesh out, or lengthen-- which I assumed was the critique's basis, it was too short-- is to nullify our use of the vignette formula. The vignette "Changing Muse" is a conversation between our sterotypes which raises the question "Who is at fault?" Are the stereotypes created from accurate images or are they tools to further oppress and create divisiveness among women?

One comment he wrote that disturbed me was the suggestion that the goal of a piece on black woman stereotypes is not appropriate for contemporary women to play. I feel he is being both presumtuous and not in tuned with the fact that these "stark images" still smother (or attempt to smother) our efforts as black women to emerge from the blanket of stereotypes. To address them head-on is imperative, particularly within the context of the story we weave.

Secondly, as someone who writes reviews, I know that the expectation of the paper you write for is to make sure that your review is balanced in that it is not totally touting the piece, but also highlighting areas fit for improvement. What the challenge is for a non-female and non-black person reviewer is giving a review about our piece without being born from the framework in which the piece speaks to. I found that to be the case with the following review of our show as well on the DC Theatre Scene web site.

I am not saying that I believe only a female black woman can review our piece and fairly review it, "understand" it and enjoy. That would be ridiculous to insinuate, particularly given the feedback we've received over the past year of numerous performances from folks of all races, nationalities and genders. However, I do believe that a certain expectation for our performance is borne from a "traditional" theater format and model that is not indicative of our experimental piece, nor borne from a space that is diverse. I also think, based on the feedback in particular from black women, that the work is often shockingly personal and intimate and the ability to relate is often linked to your experiences garnered from your existence as a black woman.

If you've seen the show, I would love to hear your feedback to discuss.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Late Night Performance with the Saartjie Project, Selling of Two Books & News that My Car Can Be Fixed--All in a Day!

So, right now, I am very, very, very tired. But I feel great! I am so tired that my legs are stretched out and I can barely move them. Maybe it has to do with my three-hour stay at the pool this afternoon with my family at friend's pool party and my non-stop flipping & diving off of the diving board. Maybe. But, I'm sure it has more to do with yesterday's fast-paced flurry of activity that ended with a late night performance with my sister circle The Saartjie Project at the Warehouse Theater in DC as part of this year's Capital Fringe Fest. That performance capped off a day that was pretty perfect in the way so many open projects and dilemmas closed with finesse. I also sold two copies of Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul! Yeay!

To begin, my car, has been in the shop since Monday. It's a 2007 Suzuki model, and, apparantly, according to my mechanic, Suzuki's are dying breeds and the maker is hard to get a hold of when parts are needed. So, for the past week, I had absolutely no word on what was wrong with my car nor what the cost of repair would be. (The issues I was having is that the car would sometimes not drive forward if placed in "Drive"). So, finally, yesterday, the mechanic asked me to find the part and then they could fix it. Yes. He asked ME to find the part. I didn't balk or say "WTF", which was on my mind to do, but asked for the name of the part and proceeded to go online. See, the mechanic had been calling the Suzuki Parts place which is local and had been on hold, he said for 45 minutes. I called the dealer where I bought it, talked to the parts person and was given a price and a time I could pick it up. It was that simple. So, hopefully, my car will be fixed by Monday and it won't cost me an arm and a leg like I was first led to believe.

After that was taken care of, I was able to begin the process of mailing checks off to the schools of the students my business Liberated Muse Productions have raised funds for during our June 19 "Celebration of Freedom" show held at the Potter's House in DC. We raised approximately $400 to go towards enrollment fees & housing deposits for four students who live in the east of the river area in Washington DC. My business partner, Maceo Thomas, and I are committed to this area and try to devote a lot of our attention to supporting the community through events, fundraisers and other things that build awareness. Students who live east of the river in DC have a less likely chance of graduating high school, let alone attend college, so our support of these young people is something we are most proud of.

Then, after picking up my life partner from work (because he is a gem of a man and has let me hold his car during the day to handle business since my car is in the shop) I was able to rush to Staples to get some flyers made to promote the book and then take a quickie nap before the 11pm Saartjie Project show.

The two hour nap I took didn't seem long enough, but it was all that was possible before booking it to the Warehouse Theater which is located in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area of DC. My life partner, thankfully, was driving, since he would be in attendance as well, working the tech for our show that night. (I can't parallel park his truck). The wonderful Stephan Cox, who was one of my students when I worked at Morgan State University and later has become such a pivotal part of Liberated Muse Productions, volunteering for many of our projects, including the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, was in attendance to help sell copies of Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul which I was able to sell before and after the show in the lobby area of the theater.

I was surprised, frankly, that we had folks turn out for last night's show, given how late it was. However, we had a fair turnout for our show which extended to almost 1 am in the mornng. Be sure to check out our show "Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty" next Wed, July 15 or Sun, July 19 if you are in the DC area. These showtimes are way earlier-- 8pm and 2pm respectively, and there is a bar in the theater. Does it get any better than that? Visit for ticket info.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Liberated Muse Promotional Book Tour

(In Photo: l to r Jessica Solomon, founder of the Saartjie Project, Margaux Delotte- Bennett Ananda Leeke, me, Dee Stone. The little girl is my jewel, Khari)
Tonight's show at the Artomatic as part of our book promotion tour of Liberated Muse Volum I: How I Freed My Soul was simply wonderful.

Words can not express our gratitude for for those who came out to the show tonite @ the Artomatic. The energy was amazing, we sold all of our books we brought to sell and we feel like we extended the Liberated Muse family!

If you were among some who wanted to purchase a book but we had sold out, please visit the book's site at

Special thanks to all of the performing artists & book contributors who participated: Farah Lawal, Dee Stone & Charlie, Margaux Delotte-Bennett, Anonamas & Jewels, Gary Young, Quineice Clarkson, Ananda Leeke, Sharon Burton, Shant'a Monroe & Alan King.

Peace to all of the members of the network who came out to show their support-- it was great meeting many of you for the first time face to face!
Make sure you check us out at the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest on Saturday, July 25 at Marvin Gaye Park in DC.

Get details at

Many blessings,


Friday, July 3, 2009

The Saartjie Project Featured in the Washington Post

So, what a wonderful surprise to wake up with word from Jessica Solomon, the founder of the Saartjie Project, that we have been featured in the Washington Post. The article mentions the Saartjie Project show "Deconstructing the Myth of the Booty" which will be in this year's Capital Fringe Fest. The photo above is the only featured photo in the article. (I am standing far right).

Capital Fringe strives to provide outlets and opportunities for artists to self-produce in a nurturing and supportive environment while exposing their work to patrons and the local, national and international media that they would never be able to garner on their own. Capital Fringe is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in the summer of 2005 with the purpose of infusing energy into performing arts in the Washington DC region.

As part of the Fringe movement that began in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1947 and continues today, Capital Fringe joins a host of counterparts around the world.

The Saartjie Project was featured in the Washington Post as one of the top six picks in this year's fest in Washington DC. Read the story by clicking here

I hope you will come out to see the show. I can hardly believe that a year has passed already since I answered Jessica's call for sisters to join the project. My song "All of Me", which I wrote about seven years ago, prior to becoming a mom, but struggling as an artist to find a safe space to grow and perform, is included in the show. The song is performed during a satirical look at the reality-show "Flavor Flav" phenomenon in one of the show's vignettes called "the Pageant". I have really been able to blossom as not only a performer while part of the Saartjie Project, but also as a writer and artistic director. I've written two of the scenes/vignettes-- "Changing Muse" & "I Will Send for You" (which will debut in the Capital Fringe Fest show)-- and a spoken word piece "Queen Ghetto Booty" which is performed by the phenomenal dancer-poet-singer-goddess Binahkaye Joy.
Please purchase your tickets today! Visit our website at


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