Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Arts Advocacy & My First Art Exhibit

DC Advocates for the Arts

Today, I attended a training to prepare me for Arts Advocacy Day in DC. The training and the movement is led by the DC Advocates for the Arts. On Arts Advocacy Day - March 3rd, 2010 - we will meet with policy-makers in Washington DC to share our thoughts about what the arts need to thrive in the District.

The arts has been a major part of my life, particularly the last two years. I've done everything from performing in theater, performing as a vocalist, teaching students how to write songs, producing concerts, producing an art exhibit and continuing to write my poetry, short stories, plays and songs. Earlier this year, I even took a hit at painting. The arts are so tremendously important.

When we look at the value the arts are in connection to education and youth development, the list is a mile long. I'm hoping that our efforts ensure that funding in the district will not be cut any further. The arts provide almost 12,000 jobs and over 300 million dollars in revenue for the district.

The value is endless.

Making HerStory

I was excited to learn that my first painting that I shared early this year here on the blog was selected for the upcoming exhibit Making HerStory. Making HerStory celebrates the vast and diverse forms of creativity offered by women artists. Making HerStory highlights art by women in many forms: visual, written and spoken word, and music. This year’s event will mark the fifth annual celebration of women in the arts. In celebration of HerStory’s fifth anniversary, five youth female artists, ages 6-18, will be provided scholarships to participate in this year’s exhibition.

When Michelle D. Parrish created the "Making HerStory" brand concept, it sort of just happened. An exhibition that she had developed turned out to be a woman only showing and happened to fall at the start of Women's history month. She thought it would be a good idea to tie the two together. This year, the exhibit "Making HerStory 5: The Inclination to Rise," will be from March 1-April 23, 2010, at Peace & a Cup of Joe Cafe', 713 W. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD and Beanetics Coffee Roasters, 7028 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA.

You can get more info HERE.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ignite DC, Telephone Stalker & Driving Again

So, Thursday was my very first day back on the road driving after Snowmageddon hit the area I live in. My car had hibernated under an igloo of snow for two weeks since the snow had come and I vowed I wasn't driving until the road conditions looked better to me.

On Wednesday, me and my honey pulled out the shovels and got to making our driveway decent enough for me to get my tiny ride out from under its snow cave. I woke up on Thursday with pains radiating throughout my back and neck but my arms were surprisingly pain-free which was weird because I had them working on overtime while shoveling. I was in pain and hoping that it would be gone by that evening when I was set to do a presentation for Ignite DC, an evening event where folks from various walks of life give a five minute presentation using 20 slides about any topic under the sun. Mine was on motherhood. I liken Ignite DC to "intellectual karaoke" where there is drinking, mingling and an adult only atmosphere, but, instead of singing in front of strangers, you are talking and sharing pictures with strangers, leaving yourself open for criticism, but hoping that there are folks who are feeling you enough to carry your message on.

My Ignite presentation was based around how motherhood is revolutionary and transformative, yet, the women holding the roles of mothers are the most devalued folks within our work place. I gathered stats I picked up on sites like and from my own personal experience. And, though reading data from my notes, I spoke from my heart.

Staying within my five minutes was soooo challenging! I'm a talker and staying succint was definitely something I practiced with little ease that night. While in my Twitter-verse today, I got some really positive feedback about my Ignite speech, though, which made my heart smile. My favorite tweet was from another Ignite presenter, Dennis Bonilla. He wrote: "I thought your presentation was honest, thoughtful, and extremely funny. Thank you. You had my mom cracking up and nodding." Is that awesome or what? A highlight for me during the presentation was when women from the crowd were feeling me when I started talking about the insanity of choosing to give birth knowing the pain that is involved, yet, how we do it because we have an innocent-like love for our children even before they are born. Women in the audience started shouting out the number of hours of labor they endured through childbirth once I shared mine while on stage. One woman said 72 hours and I bowed down to her and would have started a call and response song if I had had more than five minutes up there. 72 hours of labor, OUCH!

I'm going to post my slideshow with audio soon after I edit it a bit.

My Telephone Stalker

But, before I even made it to Ignite, I had to pick my daughter up from school. The plan was that she was going to stay with her grandparents while her dad and I went to Ignite. But, her dad had to work late (due to lost hours from Snowmageddon) and couldn't come with me, so I was to go by myself. I dropped her off at her grandparents with instructions to get started on her homework and she informed me that she was not happy to be left behind.

"I'm tired of you always going to places for grown-ups only," she pouted.

I didn't even argue. I rarely go to adult-only venues. As I posted earlier, I purposefully chose to perform at venues that are family-friendly so I can bring her. So, she wasn't luring me into that trap today. I kissed her good-bye and jumped in the car to go to the Metro station where I would catch a train downtown instead of try to fight getting a parking space.

Two minutes in the car, my phone rings. It's her. She wants to continue the converation.

"Finish your homework and then we may talk about it," I say.

Fifteen minutes later, I'm walking towards the trains. Phone rings.

"I'm finished my homework. So, how about coming and taking me with you."

So, I tell her to go and review her homework like I've taught her and then have one of her grandparents look it over and then we can talk later. I hung up as the subway glided underground and I lost phone reception. When I emerged in the city 20 minutes later, I saw that she had left me ten voice mails. I did the only smart thing to do. I turned off the ringer.

The next day she informed me that she has no problem calling me and calling me.

"You are going to answer it at some point," she said.

"But why do you do that when you don't really have anything in particular to say to me," I asked.

"I just want to hear you breathe," she said. As I paused and fought back the tears upon hearing such a beautiful sentiment, I turned around (I was doing the dishes) and saw her laughing.

"Just kidding," she laughed. "I was just really, really, bored."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Choosing a Stage Name

Ok, so, I've been going back and forth over the sense it would be to take on a new stage name since I already have a following as Moon. However, in my area alone, there are already three other women I know who have the stage name Moon, so the name isn't the most original if I have any hope of headlining shows in the near future.

As a speaker and writer, my government name has worked just fine because it is probably the most original that you can get, lol. Funny thing is is that my last name, Ali-Coleman is the whole name of a popular DJ in New York, Ali Coleman. He and I met on Facebook three years ago when he wrote me a note saying that when he gets google alerts on his name, my name always comes up. He said that he had been reading up on some of the work that I do in the community and was pleased that at least it was me that shared a similar name and not someone else. He is a great guy. When I say he is doing big things in New York, I kid you not. I am, as well, pleased that I share a name with someone so positive and upbeat. And someone into music, too, like me. That is what makes it doubly awesome.

So, my name as a writer, academic and speaker stays. But, I decided that my performance name as a singer will be Zakia Moon. I love my nickname Moon and want to keep it. My first and last names are just entirely too long for a CD cover, so, I'm taking my middle name Zakia (which means "intelligent") and coupling it with my nickname Moon and voila.

The Zakia Moon self-entitled EP should be dropping soon, fingers crossed. My honey is producing at least one of the tracks and getting him to release stuff to me is like pulling teeth. He is a perfectionist to utmost. Here is an unmastered example of something we've done together. He actually has more stage names than me, lol.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, From Me to You

Happy Valentine's Day! Today, my sweetie made us breakfast and he and I are going to the movies later today as our Valentine's day date. I love Valentine's day, but, then again, I love all opportunities I have to hang with him and my daughter. It sounds really weird, but though I'm a performer, I very much prefer to be homebound and holed up with those two.
Speaking of performing, one of the gigs that was to have taken place this past Friday was the Haiti benefit concert I'm producing called "To Haiti, With Love". The snow made it just impossible to hold the event because, though the snow had ended, the roads in DC made it very difficult to find parking.
The event has been postponed to Feb. 26. We got great coverage for the event and the work I do with Liberated Muse by a local reporter, Wendy Coakley-Thompson. The article showcased our event which will benefit the organization YeleHAITI. You can read the article HERE.
I was thrilled this year to include Liberated Muse into the Cupid's Hunt Podcast Collaboration, contributing a playlist made up of indie artists from our network. Here is the playlist. I hope you enjoy it this Valentine's Day.

Find more music like this on Liberated Muse

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nine Days in The House

So, my last post was about a week ago, but, the funny thing is, I have been in the house since two Thursdays ago. Yup, you heard me.

Now, I did go outside to do this video for my column on

And then, this one.

But that was it. (They were shot in my neighborhood, so I still didn't drive anywhere)

The snow blizzard that decided to hit us again this past Tuesday had me fastened inside with no plan to battle the cold, snow and ice. My car is even snugly layered underneath a sheet of snow/ice because I haven't gone outside to shovel it off. See, I don't do snow.

I don't drive in it. I don't like walking in it. And, I don't like driving in it. I know, I said that, but I wanted to prove a point. Snow and I don't get along!

So, the three of us-- my daughter, her dad and I--were snowed in for more than a week and we have made it to this day alive. Frankly, we get along really well and our house is of nice size that we don't step on each other and can go into our own corners when need be. But, what really makes it work is that we are all messy as hell so there is no clean phobe among us that could get mad at the mess we created by being indoors for over a week. Here are some of the things we did to create mess:

So, the top photo is of our driveway. You can see how large it is. Basically, my partner shoveled about 1/16th of it, large enough to drive his truck out and left the rest. Like I said before, my car is still covered. He didn't even waste his time because he knows I would not be out driving in that. It's supposed to snow again on Monday, so we are reserving our shoveling strength for that one. I feel it in my bones that that will be it. Seriously, I just hope that's it. For real, this snow thing is getting so old! I had to postpone three gigs mainly because the streets are so piled high with snow that even if you are to drive somewhere, there wouldn't be any parking.

When my spouse got out last Sunday to get to the store, he got pizza kits and as you can see in the photos above, we had so much fun with that. My daughter is a little gourmet. She and I made a brown sugar lemon cake last night. She didn't like it, but it is delish. I think she realized she doesn't like cake that isn't chocolate.

We played Wii, but, I admit, my daughter and her dad played more than I did. I spent a lot of time preparing for Ignite DC for next week and reviewing music for, a new writing gig I have that gives me access to new music which is soooo divine! We did play Wii today though before we all broke into our seperate corners to do our own thing and the photo above is a shot I got of my daughter. We are playing golf, but, apparantly, she had baseball in mind.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Blizzard, Lock-Down & Making Water

So...yeah. The Michael Jackson quotes from songs every day for Black History Month didn't last past day two. On day two, my kid chose the song "Rock My World" and I tell ya, you would be proud of the proverb I pulled from that song. But, it was so convoluted, extemporaneous and full of big words that flew over my child's head that her only response was "huh?". So, I vowed that I would not be so deep and wordy on day three, but the news of the impending blizzard kind of made me forget.

(In photo: I took this photo this morning. My spouse was outside shoveling our huge driveway and then decided to perhaps start with the cars because that would probably be easier. As you see, the cars were no easier. My car is the smaller one and it still has snow on it. That sucka only took snow off of his. "You won't be going anywhere anytime soon, he said." He's right.)

That's right. A snow blizzard! The snow started on Friday morning and didn't stop until Saturday evening. I had been hearing reports all week about the snow, but I it didn't become a "Blizzard" until mid-week. I did a video on Friday morning for my column and prepared to cover the snow event all weekend.

A staff person at my daughter's school told me on Thursday when I picked her up that school on Friday would be opening late and closing early. I assured her then that my daughter wasn't coming on Friday. I don't drive in snow. No way, no how. Yup, I'm one of THEM people.

So, I've been in lock down because of this snow since Friday. I got food for the house on Thursday morning and thought that we would be straight, but we are already out of water. I am boiling water as we speak but that bottle of Merlot in the fridge will have to suffice until the water gets cool enough to drink. I've been rationing the apple juice in the fridge-- my daughter tries to guzzle it by the gallon. The shoveling has been postponed until tomorrow.

I had two gigs that had been scheduled for this weekend, but they both have been postponed. I will update my calendar HERE. I've been using my time creatively though. My spouse and I wrote and produced a song; I laid down scratch vocals on Friday. And, my daughter has been practicing her piano, the drums and watching her fill of her Elmo movies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

MJ Every Day for Black History Month

So, it's Feb. I have two gigs coming up this weekend-- if weather permits--commemorating Black History Month. For the first one, I am going to do a couple of my poems and an a capella song. I'm torn between "Redemption Song" and my song "All of Me". We'll see The second gig will be on Sunday at the Celebration Center for Spiritual Living and I will be performing with my friend Gary Young who will be accompanying me on Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds". I wanted to do an original song, but we haven't had enough time to rehearse and practice any of my new pieces.

Michael Jackson's song should be very easy to deliver because I sing a Michael Jackson set almost every day with my daughter who is a MJ fanatic. She adores him and if he were still alive, she would definitely be an MJ stalker. At 6, she knows EVERY song by MJ. How is that possible? I don't even know every song by MJ. We just saw the "This is It" DVD this past weekend and her addiction to the gloved one was even further fed. I admit, I was the same way when Moonwalker came out.

To commemorate Black History Month I've decided to pick an MJ song and create a proverb or lesson so to speak around it for my daughter. Today is "Off the Wall". I'll share with you tomorrow how well this goes over.
I will be honest, Black History Month is pretty much like every month for me because I spend the entire year teaching my daughter things about her heritage as an African-American. I can do a better job always, but I truly believe that for African-American parents, significant parts of of African-American history should be taught throughout the year and extend outside of the four prime topics-- Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver. I love all four of them, but, for real, there are thousands of other significant Black people your kids should be learning about as well. *stepping off of my soapbox*


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