Listen here to our February blog chat with accomplished jazz musician Rhonda Robinson. Read more about her fascinating background below (from rocket scientist to jazz vocalist and flutist). Don’t miss her upcoming event at An Die Musik, Hot Winter Nights Part 6: Rio in Baltimore on Friday, February 28, beginning at 8pm. If you miss the 8pm performance, don’t despair, there is another one at 9:30pm.
It’s that time of the month again! If you are a regular, you know we feature inspirational folks in a variety of fields from the arts to business for our blog chat series.Yesterday I spoke with local jazz vocalist and flutist Rhonda Robinson about following your passion, creative inspiration and more.
This former rocket scientist, educated at Johns Hopkins University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, left behind an engineering career to pursue her first love, music. She now leads the Rhonda Robinson quartet and regularly performs throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, appearing at An Die Musik, Creative Alliance at The Patterson, and at a host of other venues.
Some of the group’s notable appearances include opening for prominent poet and activist Amiri Baraka and Blue Ark Ensemble at University of Baltimore and performing for “A Night at Ethel’s Place,” a fundraiser for city concert artists, which also honored legendary jazz vocalist and Baltimorean, Ethel Ennis.
This coming Friday, February 28, beginning 8pm, don your party attire and catch her performing live at An Die Musik for Hot Winter Nights Part 6: Rio in Baltimore featuring world-renowned Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez, accompanied by bassist Max Murray, and drummer Jesse “Jay” Moody.
Live In Color! – Emelda
I am convinced, great books find us. Oh the euphoria of connecting to words which resonate so deeply with your own experience. A few weeks ago one of my best friends, Shannon (former Live In Color co-editor) blessed me with two books. One of them, Smart Women, Smart Choices: Set Limits and Gain Control of Your Personal and Professional Life by Hattie Hill, is transforming the way I think about lots of stuff.
Hill, an entrepreneur, international speaker and consultant, lived the lessons of this book, and after the dissolving of her first marriage, she reflected inward: “When did I cross the line from smart, independent woman to one whose cape was so weighted down with others’ concerns that I could no longer fly? In fact, I could barely walk.”
It’s taken me years to admit this to myself, but I am a pleaser, easily placing other people’s needs before my own. Yes, I know it’s detrimental, but until now, I had no concrete language for understanding these choices. With each section of Smart Women, Smart Choices, Hill helps me confront pieces of myself.
We meet women who do it all, and fit into various roles: “the juggler, ” “the achiever,” “the doer,” etc. Yet each shares a common trait, in addition to caring deeply for others, they carry them, shouldering more than their load with co-workers, friends, children and spouses. Oh, how well I relate!
Hill, though, is not satisfied for us to simply observe similarities, she demands change. At the end of each chapter there are questions and exercises. Clearly, we must do our work.
I am ready. For me, 2014 is about clarity, and doggedly removing obstacles which impede growth. Currently, because of my own busy life, I read a little at a time. Here are some of the passages that stand out:
Superwoman is a myth. No longer is stronger, faster, better, the formula for success in living a meaningful life. Women must discover a new way of meeting the overwhelming demands of modern times and that requires new choices.
We need to differentiate between carrying and caring.
Caring is an act of love. Carrying is a misuse of love.
Control is the illusion that we can make everything happen to perfection if we keep a firm grip on the reins. We really don’t trust anyone to get the job done but ourselves. As we take over the controls, either subtly or overtly, we begin to carry.
Loving starts with ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot love one another.
Live In Color! – Emelda
Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
- James Baldwin
We’re kicking off the months at Live In Color blog with one inspirational word, a guiding light to carry us through our days, especially during those moments when all feels dismal. Isn’t this the beauty of inspiration? It empowers us to see the world with fresh eyes.
Throughout February, we celebrate love. I know. I hear you groaning! Valentine’s Day is Friday, the stores are overrun with teddy bears, chocolate candy and flowers. Our focus on love though is no ode to these superficial sentiments wrapped in commercialization.
No. It’s about increasingly moving towards an authentic love, rooted in faith, family, and self confidence. It is taking time to celebrate the enormity of subtle moments we ignore: your child tugging at you, eyes reaching for affection and reassurance, a friend’s easy laughter over lunch, or significant other’s hand falling subtly against your skin, carrying both warmth and fidelity.
Those instances when you realize life, in all of its complexity and beauty, presents you with endless possibilities to see it anew. This is love which inspires, transforms and uplifts. We hope you will join us in this ongoing journey.
Please do share how love guides you this month, not merely as a word, but a principle within your life.
Live In Color! – Emelda
It’s challenging being a brown girl in a world where lightness is synonymous with beauty. Some of us feel invisible at times, ignored and marginalized. Often, when we are acknowledged it’s through the prism of stifling stereotypes, from gold digger to gum poppin’ baby mama.
Ambush & Kareem Ali, a DMV-based hip-hop duo, are out to change all of that. Their latest track, “Love In My Heart” is an ode to everything commercial rap refutes, authentic black beauty. The video, shot by Keystone Productions (yes, full disclosure, that’s my hubby’s company) follows one woman’s journey to self love.
We watch as she struggles with a boyfriend who refuses to see her, even as she acquiesces to his notions of Eurocentric femininity. But Kareem Ali reminds us with a confident grin, his voice steady over the vibrant beat, “…when chocolate looks good, baby, nothing looks better.”
In a world where singers and rappers extol “yellow model chicks” without hesitation, it’s refreshing to hear and see a brother admiring skin tones the color of rich mahogany. Images matter immensely; this visual essay, these rhymes, stand as a testament to the power of resistance, and a willingness to define ourselves for ourselves. It’s all rooted in love; Ambush & Kareem Ali didn’t have to work to convince me.
Enjoy more of their music on SoundCloud.
Live In Color! – Emelda
Style rebels decimate boxes, crushing rules with stilettos, sneakers, timberland boots, or any other form of fabulous footwear! Solange, singer and founder of record label Saint Heron, easily fits this description, a free spirit willing to take risks. In our era of stylists and filtered selfies, it’s refreshing to watch a celebrity experiment.
Years ago, she embraced her natural tresses, eschewing straight weaves which show up on female entertainers of color from red carpets to magazine covers. Folks were upset, tweeting furiously: Who did she think she was cutting all of her hair off like that? Wearing it natural? Why?
We love Solange for not allowing the pettiness of public opinion to dissuade growing feelings of freedom and joy. Her taste is a genuine reflection of a global sensibility; some of our favorite pieces marry African prints with bold colors and intricate shapes. Lately, these looks are catching our eye:
Live In Color – Emelda
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
- Albert Einstein
It’s a new year, and we are excited to bring you our first blog chat! These interviews with inspirational people in a variety of fields from artists to community activists, educators and entrepreneurs, are so uplifting for us. A little over a week ago I chatted with Shanise Morris, a young talented entrepreneur whose background spans communications / writing, culinary arts, poetry and painting. What is such a multifaceted person to do? Why become your own boss of course! She recently founded Plush Plum Events, which specializes in event design and planning.
Shanise is part of a steady trend as increasingly women combine professional experience and education to start businesses. According to statistics gathered by the Center for Women’s Business Research (2009), “one in five firms with revenues of $1 million or more are owned by women.”
Yes. Women entrepreneurs rock! So relax, put up those feet, and watch our interview. We’re sure Shanise will inspire you, too!
Video produced by Keston De Coteau (my talented husband) of Keystone Productions.