Sunday, December 30, 2012

From "Audrey Hepburn" to "Better," Chrisette Michele is Unstoppable

Image courtesy of the Curly Nikki website.

Chrisette Michele never ceases to bewilder, beguile or amaze.  In a post about three years, I said she was one of this generation's best vocalists.  She continues to lives us to this year after year.  Always channeling the best of her soul and her emotions into music with the versatility that pleasingly boggles the mind and pushes boundaries.  Her most recent mixtape, Audrey Hepburn: An Audiovisual Presentation, carries on in this tradition.  

Image courtesy of the Hello Beautiful site.

Audrey Hepburn: An Audiovisual Presentation is "a dedication to the artistic vision inspired by Audrey Hepburn and the #RichHipster movement."  The nine-track mixtape features Robert Glasper, Kenneth Whalum, 2 Chainz, Nello Luchi, Wale, Dunson, Bilal, Guitar Slayer, Lem Payne, and Fogo.  Audrey Hepburn is both classic and modern in terms of sound and style and has a laidback groove that makes for pleasing, easy listening.  It's soulful cool.  Hip-Hop cool.  Jazzy cool.  Funky cool.  Classy cool.  Sassy cool.  Sultry cool.  It's everything we've come to love about about Michele (and maybe more).  

While the mixtape is enjoyable in its entirety, personal favorites include "Can The Cool Be Loved" featuring Bilal and Dunson, "Charades" featuring 2 Chainz, "Pray Me Well" featuring Robert Glasper, "Rich Hipster" featuring Wale, and "My Fair Lady" featuring Guitar Slayer.  Audrey Hepburn is an excellent treat to tie us fans over until the release of her next studio album.

And speaking of her next studio album, I, like many fans, was so happy to come across another unexpected treat online a few weeks ago in "Better," the title track from Michele's next album.  Featured on the recent Motown Music Sampler Vol. 1, Michele continues to dazzle us vocally, lyrically, and musically on "Better." On this soul-stirring, mid-tempo R&B tune, Michele sings about the search for love and how "love's gotta make me feel better" because "getting to love's got me losing my mind."  It's honest music that many will be able to relate to.  "Better" is powerful enough to resonate with fans the same way "Blame It On Me," "Epiphany," "Love Is You," "Goodbye Game," and "If I Had My Way" did.

What I love (or one of the things I love) most about Chrisette Michele is that she's a risk taker.  She's not afraid to do what moves her and to share what she's going through.  She enjoys breaking outside of the box.  Boxes and categorization can limit our growth and progress.  They also can hinder our ability to see ourselves (and others) in totality (seeing, appreciating, celebrating, and respecting all we bring to the table).  We've got to be free, especially when we wish to be our most creative, authentic selves.  That's the plane Michele is on.  And as revealed in her recent Singersroom interview, you can see, feel, and hear a deeper faith, strength, and confidence in Michele both personally and musically.  From Audrey Hepburn to Better and beyond, there's no stopping the force that is Chrisette Michele.

Download Chrisette Michele's mixtape Audrey Hepburn: An Audiovisual Presentation from the Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes site.

Related Post:
Day 6: Chrisette Michele - One of This Generation's Best Vocalists

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Message for Christmas and Beyond in Maya Angelou's "Amazing Peace"

Image courtesy of the Goldstar site.

 It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

~ Maya Angelou, "Amazing Peace," 2005,
While Christmas has come and gone, the message in Maya Angelou's "Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem" is one for all seasons.  Angelou's poem, with its vivid imagery and hopeful, moving tone, is one of community, inclusion, and harmony.  

Angelou highlights the wonder and beauty of the holiday season and the universal feelings of trust, hope, kindness, forgiveness, and peace that overcome us this time of year.  Given these times of social and political unrest, there is an urging for the spirit of the holiday season to extend beyond this brief period.  There is a dire need for amazing peace all year round.  What better time than now to commit ourselves to "[celebrating] the promise of Peace" today and everyday?

Maya Angelou's "Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem" can be read in full on

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

We are all so blessed. Blessed in ways beyond measure and comparison. The gift of life, love, health, prosperity, the pursuit of happiness, family, and friends are just some of our blessings. At times we forget (or take for granted) just how blessed we are. We may block blessings with our bemoaning and complaining. The better thing to do is take action to make things better. 

As author and spiritual activist Marianne Williamson states, "We should complain less and bless more." If we're in a position to bless someone, especially those who may be less fortunate, we should do it selflessly. And we shouldn't reserve these acts for only a season. We should strive to commit ourselves to these acts every chance we get. That way the season of kindness, caring, giving, and blessings extends throughout the year.  This will be one of my goals moving into 2013 and beyond.  

I hope and pray that you and yours have a wonderful, happy, and safe holiday season! Be grateful. Be thankful. Be encouraged. Enjoy!

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weekly Musings on Life, Love, and Politics - Week 7

Here's the latest weekly musings:
  1. Not sure there's a harder sell than making others believe in something when you don't believe in it yourself. Persuasion/buy-in often fails without conviction, confidence, and universal appeal.

  2. The more you accumulate in this life, the harder you're going to have to work to maintain it.  So many of us are out here living lives we don't want to live and working ourselves into an early dirt nap each day just to maintain things we don't need. When our world suddenly changes and all these "things" we've accumulated go to the waysides, then what? "Things" don't make us. But they will break us if we place more value in them than living a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.

  3. There's something about the simple life that becomes more and more appealing the older I get. I'm striving for it. A simple life doesn't mean a boring life. It means living within your means. It means striving for a stress-free/drama-free life. It means living to truly love yourself and not looking for value and esteem in superficial and materialistic things. The simple life means being happy and content. It means counting on your joy through it all and having success on your own terms. The simple life means balance.

  4. Change is inevitable. There's nothing any of us can do to stop change. We may be able to place roadblocks in its way or try to prolong the shelf-life of the traditional ways of yesteryear. But change will eventually take shape and form just the way destiny intended. Governing bodies, institutions, organizations and people have all been forced to change with the times. Our modern world is no different. Embrace it!

  5. Maybe some, not all, of us forget that celebrities and public officials are human too. They're everyday people with more high-profile occupations. Putting the obvious differences aside, they have the same basic needs as us and often experience the same things we do. (Don't let the "celebrity life" fool you into thinking otherwise.) So it makes no sense that we put them on pedestals so high even they can't compete with themselves. And then we want to shame, blaspheme, and condemn them when they do things that we don't agree with. Our society gets kicks out of building people up and tearing them down. Just think about how it would feel if their shoes were on our feet.

  6. I imagine if love were a tangible commodity that it would sell out each time it hit the shelves. Marketing campaigns would be out of this world. Businesses would face fierce competition year after year, as the industry and consumers would determine who creates and sells love the best. I figure love as a commodity would always be trendy, never going out of style. Because it's something everybody wants. Sadly, we fail to realize that love is always in our midst.

"Beautiful," Teena Marie's Final Album, To Be Released 1/15/2013

I've been getting behind the groove of Teena Marie's catalog quite a bit lately.  Hard to believe it's been almost two years since her death.  Like many, I was shocked and saddened by her passing. Having been touched by her music for so long, it's a loss that I, like many I'm sure, still have yet to get over.  Much to my surprise, I discovered Teena Marie's final album, Beautiful, will be released on January 15, 2013! 

Teena Marie was in the process of finalizing her 14th album just before she died.  Composer/bassist Doug Grigsby, Marie's longtime musical director, co-produced the project and Alia Rose, Marie's daughter, oversaw the completion of the project.  Alia performs on three songs, a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love," "Rare Breed," and "Sweet Tooth" (both of which she co-wrote along with the title track).  According to Urban Bridgez Entertainment, Beautiful, "with its intimations of death, was a difficult one for Alia, with her mom seemingly prescient about her destiny..." Alia said, "If you listen to the lyrics, it’s almost as if she was making that transition to the spiritual world as the record was being made, which is incredible...It’s like we’re going on this journey with her."

One can only imagine what it's like losing your mother and going into the studio to finish what would be her final album.  Alia said it was a "a very dark and emotional time for her," but she knew she was the only one who could finalize her mother's album.  She said she "almost didn’t want to finish [Beautiful] because [she] knew it would be the last time [she'd] get to work on it."  As perfectly stated by Urban Bridgez Entertainment, "Beautiful is a mother’s gift to her daughter, who returns the gesture the only way she knows how, by completing it. The end result is a true labor of love." 

The first single, "Luv Letter," is classic Lady Tsoulful, passionate, and funky.  The song is a tribute to Alia Rose's father, who was a postman, and pays homage to The Marvelettes and Stevie Wonder, specifically his hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)."  The single was sent to radio in November and is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.  If you haven't heard it yet, check it out on Soul Tracks or Urban Bridgez Entertainment.

Beautiful is a bittersweet opus that I'm sure will add to Marie's iconic, awe-inspiring, poetic, and rich musical legacy.  The album is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Time for Change: Love's In Need Of Love Today

Good morn or evening friends
Here's your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to every-body
What I'm about to say
Could mean the world's disaster
Could change your joy and laughter to tears and pain

It's that
Love's in need of love today
Don't delay
Send yours in right away
Hate's goin' round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it's gone too far

~ "Love's In Need Of Love Today," Stevie Wonder, Songs In The Key of Life (1976)
There was a certain point after hearing about the tragedy in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012 that the tears couldn't help but fall.  I was stricken with an unsettling sadness, worry, and horror.  Immediately, I wondered how and why something like this could happen (again)?  What was it in the shooter's life that brought on a period of acute psychosis such as this?  And how long will it take the people of Newtown (and the neighboring areas) to get back to some sense of normalcy, especially those families suffering from the loss of those they loved?

While I may never completely understand the situation, what I do know is that many of us are troubled...  So much so that we're slipping through the tracks.  We're either blind-sighted to the warning signs or ignore them altogether.  Looming in our room is a pink elephant which continues to be neglectedmental illness.  Never something to be passed off, mental illnesswhen properly diagnosed and treatedcan be effectively managed.  But when will we give mental illness the same kind of attention we give other illnesses in this society?  How many more acts of senseless, inconceivable of violence and rage must we endure before the change we need occurs?  How many more innocent people need to die before we decide to take the appropriate preventative measures?

In a society such as ours, it should never be easier to get our hands on ammo than it is to seek help for mental illness (or any other medical condition).  If the laws that govern us don't change, our days will continue to be disturbed by events such as those in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO. 

I will continue to pray for the victim's families, the town of Newtown, CT, and our nation.  Hopefully we can all pull together, stop playing politics, drop the sensationalism and exploitative tactics, and take action.

One thing I know for sure is the human spirit is resilient.  No matter what the tragedy, we will heal.  Better days will come.  If we let love, peace, and harmony reign, we will prevail.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Influences: Maya Angelou and Her Poetry in "Poetic Justice"

Maya Angelou's poetry didn't hit me immediately when my mother and I went to see John Singleton's Poetic Justice during the summer of 1993.  It would be one year later (after seeing the film several times on cable) when Angelou's poetry moved me in ways that were like revelations.  I was 12 then.  At that point, I was writing song lyrics mostly.  Hadn't given much thought to writing poetry.  But there was something about Angelou's poetry (in particular the poems featured in Poetic Justice — "Alone," "Phenomenal Woman," and "In A Time" to name a few) that spoke to me and gave me an even deeper appreciation for the world of arts and letters.  Shortly thereafter, I used my allowance to get a paperback copy of Maya Angelou's Poems.  I committed myself to reading it (and occasionally reciting and memorizing selected poems from it) everyday for months.

Angleou's poetry speaks about the human condition in a language that is universal.  Her work often has a consciousness that is (always) socially, politically, culturally, and historically relevant.  The sincerity and candor of her words continue to draw me in.  The lighthearted, comedic tone of poems like "Seven Women's Blessed Assurance" (from I Shall Not Be Moved) consumed me with laughter and delight.  With poems like "Still I Rise," "Amazing Peace," "On The Pulse of Morning," "Human Family,"  "Mother - A Cradle To Hold Me," and "Our Grandmothers," Angelou has left me with a hefty sense of pride and a better understanding, love, and respect for the human race and our shared experiences.

To say that Maya Angelou's work has been a source of inspiration and influence would be an understatement.  Angelou's writing (along with a few others) fueled my fascination with the human condition and my desire to write about it in a unique yet relatable (and at times, unconventional) way.  While it was never my desire to write like or copy Angelou, if my writing can (one day) have the slightest feeling, impact, and influence of her writing—that would truly be amazing.

Check out the following snippets from Poetic Justice featuring Angelou's "Alone" and "Phenomenal Woman" (as voiced by the character Justice, played by Janet Jackson).

Thursday, December 06, 2012

BuddahDesmond to Appear on Black Authors Network Radio Show on 12/10/12 at 8:30PM EST

Image courtesy of the EDC Creations site.

As part of ongoing promotion for my book Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics, I'm happy to announce that I'll be appearing on the Black Authors Network Radio Show on Monday, December 10, 2012 at 8:30PM (EST).  The Black Authors Network Radio Show is hosted by Ella Curry, who's also the show producer and founder of EDC Creations.  The interview will be approximately 30 minutes.  You have the option of listening/participating over the phone or online (on the Blog Talk Radio website).  Interview details are below:
Black Authors Network Radio Show Details
Wednesday, December 10, 2012 at 8:30pm EST
The Call-in Number for this show is: 
(646) 200-0402
If you're a registered chatter of Blog Talk Radio already, you'll have the opportunity to win free books and other gifts. 

If you wish to join the conversation over the phone, please remember to mute your computer speakers before dialing in (as there may be feedback otherwise). 

I hope you'll be able to listen and/or join in. If not, the show will be available for download one hour after the show ends.  The show runs from 8PM-10PM, so the download should be available around 11PM.  You'll be able to download the show from the Black Authors Network iTunes page or from the Black Authors Network Blog Talk Radio page (direct show link:  Feel free to check out either page to listen to previous shows.

I'm excited and look forward to the interview and connecting with current and prospective readers/fans.  Please spread the word!  And if you haven't already, pick up copy of Prevail. It's available at iUniverse, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.

Thank you for your continued love and support!

Until next time...

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings,


Related Posts:

It's Time To Celebrate

Well grades have been posted. I earned a 4.0 this semester.  The MBA is officially done! To say that I'm elated would be an understatement. Traveling down the road that brought me here was far from easy. But I didn't give up. Further proof of the fruits that faith, determination, diligence, and commitment can can bring you.

Before I move on to the next thing, I'm going to take some to reflect and bask in the glory of this moment. It's something I've often neglected to do after major milestones in my life. I usually just keep it moving... Going forward with little or no breaks. Like a maniac of sorts. But recently, I've committed myself to taking it easy and truly living in the moment (especially after major life events like these).

But you know what else it's time to do? It's time to CELEBRATE!

Until next time...

Peace, Love, and Many Blessings,


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Weekly Musings on Life, Love, and Politics - Week 6

Let's get right to it...the latest weekly musings!
  1. While there are times when we won't always be up and happy, it's during the times we're down when we should empower ourselves with hope. If we can't find it within ourselves, look to the inspirational and uplifting journeys of others who made it through. This may be just what we need to hold fast and securely to our hope.

  2. When our elected officials are unable to compromise on bills that impact the very people they represent and they let their personal interests impact their ability to fight for what's right, you have to wonder who they're really standing for? Do they forget why they're in office? Do they forget they stand for all and not just the people and organizations they keep in their back pockets?

  3. I have to admit that I've often been caught off guard and amazed by the level of hatred, intolerance, and ignorance expressed in comments to political news articles in the weeks following the election. I probably shouldn't be. But one thing's for surethis nation is not as progressive as it's oft proclaimed.  There's still a long, LONG way to go.

  4. Loving someone is easy. Maintaining a relationship with themnot so much. What should keep the relationship strong are the very things which brought you together. This, along with the desire and willingness to see the relationship (and each other) prosper and grow.

  5. Sometimes we have to ask people what they want (outright). Forget the guessing games. If we were mind readers we'd be in a different realm. We're able to proceed confidently when we all have an understanding of the purpose and mission of why we're here. Otherwise it's bullshit.  When time and money are at stake, bullshit deserves no seat at the table. Unless it's a bullshit convention, bullshit should never be allowed a seat at any table.

  6. It's a shame (for others) when you do your best to give people what they want (and then some) and it's still not good enough.  No matter how good it is they're never satisfied. What strength and fortitude it takes to deal with this on a regular basis (especially if it's at work or at home). Realize it's not always you, sometimes (or a lot of times) it's them. Just don't let it ruin your confidence or self-esteem. Don't let it change you. Don't let it stress you out. It's all part of the process of learning how to work and deal with people.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Power Of Your Words (from Prevail)

You've got the power to influence the masses;
You've got the power to make change.
You've got the power to make a difference in someone's life,
So don't underestimate the power of your words.

Someone is always listening;
You've got to be responsible for what you put out there.
People are looking up to you.
They admire you,
Respect you,
Want to be just like you.
So encourage them,
Inspire them,
Uplift them,
'Cause if anyone's gotta take it to the street,
It better be for a damn good reason.

Set an example,
And never underestimate the power of your words.       

© 2012 BuddahDesmond

Prevail: Poems on Life, Love, and Politics is available at iUniverse, Amazon (Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle), Barnes & Noble, Book-A-Million (Paperback | Hardcover), and other retailers.    

Related Post:
101 Days Project: Prevail