Saturday, March 31, 2007

Live Blog- Toya

"Kenny Loggins or Richard Marx?" This is what the security guard outside the club just asked me as I sat on the ground waiting to be let in. When I answered Kenny Loggins, she nodded and smiled. "I don't blame ya" she responded.

Yes, I am outside sitting on the ground 3 hours early (and I am infamously late for everything else including work unfortunately) to see the man that made Tia and me, Tia and me when we both found out we were avid fans: the tremendously underrated and one of my favorite sAngers and songwriters of all time, Kenny Loggins.

Now if I say Kenny Loggins and you scrunch up your nose and think Footloose (the only song of his I loathe) then this won't mean beans to you. But if I say his name and you start flipping out and rattling off song titles like "This is It" Heart to Heart", "Now and Then" and "Love Will Follow" then you may indeed be feeling me. I LOVE this man. One of the first road trips Tia and I went on was to Atlanta to see him play at Chastain Ampitheatre. It rained buckets. However he encored and sang "Forever" acapella and it really didn't matter. We went backstage where Tia quickly turned to me and warned "Toya, DO NOT turn this into another Rick Springfield incident." Now, see that's not even fair. You attack one 80's icon and you are marked for life. Anyway, we walked in and of course as with John Mayer, I started giggling. I could not help it! This was the man that sings Meet Me Halfway! We get to the table as Tia gives me the side eye and giggling I let out a "Hello sir". He said hello and I looked at Tia who had a pained smile on her face. As he signed his book for us (oh if you bought the book you got backstage. We split the cost and have yet to crack open the book.) there was silence. Tia looked at me as I read her mind. "Toya, do what you do best and strike up a conversation. PLEASE." Breaking the silence I said,"So, I have a funny story..."

Oops! I have to continue this on another post cause I am on my Treo. To be continued...


I began to tell Kenny Loggins that when Tia and I moved in together that we were not friends until we found out that we were both fans of his. Our favorite Kenny Loggins song is off of the Footloose soundtrack called "I'm Free (Heaven Help the Man)." Perplexed, he looked at us and says "I'm Free? I have never done that in concert." Tia starts rattling off. "Uh huh, and you didn't do Heart to Heart, and this one and that one and Love Will Follow and..." Sliding back in his chair, looking comfortable enough to speak candidly, Mr. Loggins says "You know, my white audience really struggles with Love Will Follow." I swear if Tia and I could've paused that moment to look at each other and fall out into hysterics, we would have.

So the show that I live blogged from last week was great. I initially had the same seat I had for the writer's round 2 nights back with Richie Sambora, Shelly Fairchild, Big Kenny and Stephanie Smith but opted to sit at a table in the middle, unbeknownst to me, right in front of the mayor. I also sat next to the guy who wrote Aerosmith's"Living on the Edge" and the lead singer of The Tubes. Remember "She's a Beauty". If you don't think that was the jam back in the day, well everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You however, are just wrong.

Even though I mainly went to see Kenny Loggins perform, I was pleasantly surprised that songwriter Gary Burr was my absolute favorite of the night. He is a fabulous songwriter. He writes those kinds of songs where even though you have never heard them before, you listen intently to what the chorus is going to be much like a punchline. He blew me away every time. He played right before Richard Marx in the songwriter's round and almost everytime when he finished a song, Marx would go "F*** you, Gary."

*Sigh* Richard Marx. Ever see someone in person and you are amazed at how they sound exactly how they do on the radio? I mean Richard Marx has that kind of voice that you know it is him upon the first note. So I was in shock pretty much. I remember the very first time I saw him (and that hair) in his video "It Don't Mean Nothing" and I was a fan from the jump. Oh and he looks 12. I mean, seriously. I don't know what he and the Nelson twins drink but they need to go on and market that.

Back to Kenny Loggins: I forgive him for not singing even one of my favorite songs. For one, he is coming out with an album which will be exclusively available at Target so I am not mad at him for plugging that. Secondly, what I like about him so much is that he has so much music that crosses so many genres. So the genre he pulled out that night was the singer songwriter, rootsy kind which lent no room for "What a Fool Believes", "This is It" "Leap of Faith" or the aforementioned Quiet Storm jam that no one knows is him singing "Love Will Follow." So I had to sit through the songs I don't like like "I"m Alright" and "Footloose". However, I was NOT mad that he pulled out that Pooh Corner jam.

It was a great show to end a great week of music for this year's Tin Pan South. I can't wait until next year.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Who did it? - Tia

Last night's episode of Grey's was a re-run so I found myself watching Bring It On - All or Nothing. Yes, I like cheerleading. So what? And I've been a fan of Hayden Panettiere since Remember the Titans. Her last name is a bit hard to pronounce though, but I digress.

If you're not familiar with the Bring It On series, all three movies are basically the same: White bred cheer squad thinks they're better than the "urban" squad. "Urban" squad proceeds to whip white bred squad's butt and in turn earn the respect of everyone in the general vicinity. Pretty simple. Pretty basic. Never going to win an Oscar or anything. Just mindless teenage movies.

As I'm watching the 3rd installment, I find myself getting mildly perturbed. The most recent movie is set in (fictional?) Crenshaw Heights. White bre(a)d (with the crusts cut off) Britney arrives for her first day of school to receive all of the disdain one would expect a rock & roll listening white girl to receive at a black school. As she walks into school one of her fellow students grabs her butt. Of course she is offended. Maybe I've been out of high school a while but my first question was, "Who does that?" Who grabs any body part of a complete stranger? Now maybe it's just me, but if you attempt something like that with me be prepared to be PUT DOWN. I will do everything in my power to STOP YOUR HEART!

The whole scene made me really mad. I realized that it was just another example of the hyper-sexualized black man. The whole thing helped perpetuate the myth that the black man is an animal with no self control and wants nothing more than instant gratification. For a moment I thought, "Maybe I'm just being too sensitive." But the longer I watched the movie the more I realized that it played on every minority stereotype there was. And by the end I couldn't really enjoy the cheer-off which we all know is the best part of the movie.

The stereotypes in this movie ran the gamut. The one Asian girl in the movie OF COURSE knew karate or tai-chi or something. The grammar was HORRENDOUS. It seemed like every black person in the movie missed 3rd grade English. There is a scene in the cafeteria where a 3 of the cheerleaders do an impromptu cheer that consists of a small introduction and both black cheerleaders began theirs with, "My name..." (insert name here) Not my name IS. I know that it's a small thing. But it didn't help the whole "Black folks are illiterate" argument.

You had your hot tempered Latina. Let's not leave out the Latinos. You had your dumb blonds. And you had your weight jokes that seem to have managed to cross over racial lines.

It seems that in some ways Hollywood is trying to make strides in the racial disparities in television and movies. The recognition of shows like Grey's Anatomy and movies like Dreamgirls would lead one to believe that someone is trying. But for every step forward there seems to be 2 steps back. There are times when it seems that movie executives are hell bent on letting you know that black people are illiterate baby makers, Latinos are dishonest baby makers and Middle Eastern people are here to destroy us all.

At the moment 3 of the top 10 non-reality shows have positive black characters (Grey's Anatomy, CSI:Miami and CSI:NY (I LOVE YOU GARY DOURDAN!!!)) But more times than not we are bombarded with minorities as the stereotype. Loud, obnoxious, irresponsible, stupid. And middle American thinks that what they see on t.v. is how the world really is. Prime example, My next door neighbor in college was shooting a home video to take back home with him to somewhere in the Midwest. Iowa or something. We'd been friendly for the most part. I mean he was my neighbor. We'd borrowed movies back and forth and walked together to the theater up the street a few times. One afternoon right before graduation, I was returning a movie I'd found while I was packing up to leave. I wandered over next door while he was in the middle of filming his roommate's parting words. As I walked in he asked me to say "Hi" to his mom. No problem. But then he asked me to and I quote, "Show mom how to back that thang up." Now I really don't know what possessed him to ask me to do something like that other than the fact that I was black. It's not like I'd EVER been over at his house and randomly dropped it like it was hot. I was an practically an eff-ing college graduate at that point. But I was a BLACK FEMALE college graduate. Needless to say he was dutifully given the finger and the movie was CHUCKED at his head.(Which probably didn't help the angry black woman stereotype but I didn't care in that moment.) As I was walking out I heard him say that he had to rewind the part with me giving him the finger. So it was okay for me to make myself appear to be a sex-crazed pole dancer but the finger may offend your mom? Yeah...okay...

One could argue that the problem lies with Hollywood. It is a known fact that there are few black writers and producers playing in the big game. So the jobs of writing minority characters falls to white writers. "This industry still feels that Whites can write for Black characters simply because they have the power to do it," says Warner Brothers' Leisa M. Henry. But few white writers are able to write quality minority characters. The question is: How do you write a character that you can't relate to? Your can't draw from your own experiences and many times you have no concept of the character you're writing about. And when your only frame of reference comes from years of embedded stereotypes you're treading on dangerous ground.

While Hollywood may be partly to blame, we are not completely blameless in the situation. I've often asked if we as a race didn't fuel the stereotypes what would music, television and movies be like? How many times have you been out somewhere and seen someone living the stereotype? I have seen 3 year olds who know all of the words to the most salacious rap songs on the radio. I saw a little Hispanic girl who was no more than 3 or 4 in high heels and a mini skirt swishing, not walking, out of Walmart. Someone either taught her how to walk like that or someone didn't stop her from learning to walk like that. That child is on the fast track to Baby Mamaville.

It's true that our children are inundated every 3rd second or so with a negative image. But we, not the television or the radio, should be the driving forces in their lives. We should be the one explaining to them why it's not okay to call women bitches. We should be the one correcting their grammar. (My dad was GOOD for that. I remember him correcting my erroneous use of a preposition when I was 19.) We should be the ones instilling pride in them for being who they are and letting them know that they are not bound by the restrictive rules of society. But we first have to believe it ourselves.

When we stop being the stereotypes it will be harder for music and television to perpetuate them. We are better than what we have been told we can be. Circumstances may seem contrary to that, but sometimes the only thing holding us back is US. We MUST stop doing ignint ish like the Chicken Noodle Soup dance. That mess is one step away from being a minstrel show dance routine. We must stop selling out souls for a quick buck. (Ladies: YOU WILL NOT BECOME AN ACTRESS BEING A VIDEO HO. Your only claim to fame will be how many men have made stops with you.) It is our responsibility to teach our little boys and girls what really matters. And we have to school them on how the game is played. Regardless of income or status, we have to stop buying into the hype (stop living hood rich and pay your damn bills on time.) We can not continue to believe that we can only be what we are told to be. We have to KNOW that we can be more than we ever thought or imagined.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
- Harriet Tubman

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14
Tears - Tia

There are things about me that a lot of people don't know. For instance, I like cheerleading. Seriously. I like to watch cheerleading. Granted, I used to make fun of the cheerleaders when I was in high school. But deep down I was always a little jealous. I have seen all of the Bring it On movies. I actually just watched the 3rd one last night and I have a few grievences but I'll get into that later.

Something else you may not know about me is that I am a crier. I'm not nearly as weepy as I used to be. (Toya once called me a faucet of tears.) But I will still cry at a sweet moment or a good movie. This right here though, this darn near sent me over the edge. If this doesn't move you in some kind of way then you're dead inside and you may want to seek counseling.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Live blog part 2-Toya
I am sitting indian style on a speaker flush up against the stage 3 feet from richie sambora and big kenny. I mean, its like they are in my living room. I don't even watch television this closely. I expected for someone to come up to me and say "Ma'am we need you to move. Not because you are in the way but because it's just not fair that you get to sit there". I am so ignorant for texting in front of Richie Sambora's face but I can't help it. Here is the text I sent to Kenny's good friend, Damien:"So surreal. I am so blessed. I love music so much! forget the celebrity of it. Its a gift." I feel like a kid. There are 2 female singer songwriters named Shelly Fairchild and Stephanie Smith and they are incredible. To be able to sit hear all night on this speaker and hear these great songs, some I have never heard... I can't even explain. As much as I am loving these songs, I would not hate to hear Wanted Dead or Alive soon. I'll keep yall posted...

That's my foot at the bottom and Richie Sambora's foot on stage.

Why Big Kenny of Big and Rich is my favorite Nashville celebrity, hands down: Kenny went to get some water and said that he passed this man in the hallway and invited him to take his place in the songwriter's round. I love that man! This little man, Angie Aparo, , got up on stage, took Big Kenny's guitar and sang the absolute fool out of Elton John's "Rocketman". BY FAR the highlight of the entire night. The audience loved it so much that Kenny asked him to do one more. He joked that that was the only song that he knew and I yelled,"Well, sing it again!" He then sang Faith Hill's "Cry" which he wrote himself. The emotion in which this man sang was undeniable. I would have had no problem with him singing the rest of the night.

Richie Sambora did in fact sing Wanted Dead or Alive and I'll Be There for You. If you would've told me in 7th grade that I would be sitting at his feet while he sang this in front of me, I would've been in an even bigger hurry to be a grown up. Last night I went to a lecture given by Terry McBride of Nettwerk records were he described what makes a song connect to people. He said it's melody+lyric+the (emotional)bookmark. I think that is why I don't get too excited over too many artists (not counting my recent encounter with Common and we won't even get started on the Rick Springfield incident) but will get choked up around my favorite songwriters. For instance, I giggled hysterically before meeting John Mayer because all I could think about is how songs like "Quiet" and "Not Myself" are some of my own emotional bookmarks; songs that are a major part of the soundtrack of my life.

I plan to attend a few more shows before the end of Tin Pan South. I also plan to attend every year from here on out. It's events like this that really, really make me love living in Nashville.
Live blog-Tin Pan South 2007-Toya

I am downtown sitting outside waiting to get into the next songwriter's round. My friend Mary got me a pass for this week because she is a die hard Bon Jovi fan. DIE hard. Richie Sambora is scheduled to perform. Sidebar: Matthew Nelson is on the bus less than 5 feet away from me. Help me Holy Ghost.

It's times like these that I miss Tia a lot. There are so many shows coming to Nashville that we would've loved to go to together. It just seems so unfair. I called her last night during Mr Biggs "Be With You" but thought it unfair to call when they broke out into Sister Christian. We are so odd.

It's interesting to hear people talk about the personal lives of the artists they love. I have some friends who I know without a doubt are going to be stars and I don't know how I would be able to take people talking about them as if they actually know them. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes: to turn on the TV and see a whole show devoted to your weight loss,love life, breakdown, etc. Yikes! I remember being a huge New Kids fan. Too huge actually. Obsessed to a fault. And then we met them and we acted completely unfazed all to their amazement. I should probably blog about that someday. Too long a story to go into now but it's a funny one. Sidebar: a black woman just walked by but we are not eye level to do the silent "what's up".

My mom has this saying "Be who you is". LOL! That always makes me laugh. I've been doing a great deal of soul searching into who I am and why I seem to find myself in certain situations (Sidebar:there is another Tag. Tag 2.0 XP as Tia likes to call him. More details to follow). I make no apologies for loving all kinds of music. To me that is a tremendous blessing. The very things I was teased about when I was younger are the very things that will make me successful. Oh my goodness, if I had a nickel for everytime I have been called Oreo or White Girl, I would be Oprah rich! God created me specifically for my purpose & for that I am grateful. Gotta go in!
Are you for real? - Tia

Remember Ben Covington? If not there are a few blogs to reference here and here. Well, don't call it a comeback. Mostly because it's not but it is at the very least noteworthy.

I was on the phone with a friend of mine who used to live in Nashville. We worked together at this small but tortuous company in Leiper's Fork. I hadn't talked to him in FOREVER. But back in the day he was the homie. Well we get to talking while he's out with another one of my friends we used to work with and her boyfriend. They were having a mini-reunion of sorts. And I hear my other friend in the background say, "Tell her who you might be living with." Now I want to preface this by saying that my friend now lives 2000+ miles away from me and a good 800 miles away from Nashville. The conversation between me and my friend, we'll call him Gator, went like this:

Gator: Hey guess who might be living with me?
Me: Who?
G: Ben Convington
M: What in the hot holy hell?
I then proceeded to tell Gator the Ben Covington story. At the end of it all he said was, "Ooooh."

Seriously, what are the odds? Back in Nashville, Gator and I didn't go to the same church so he didn't know Ben. And now of all of the places in all the world, somehow Gator and Ben managed to meet in a completely different state and get along well enough that they may be living under the same roof. Are you for real?

Gator was immediately sworn to secrecy. He was instructed not to mention me in any fashion. EVER. While he was being sworn into eternal silence, Gator brought up a valid point. "You know he's eventually going to figure out I know you. I have a picture of us from the last time you were down here. It's in a frame and everything. You can't miss it." Crap. Fine, if he sees the picture you can mention that you know me. But that's it. Ben strikes me as one who will only mention the bare minimum when it comes to his life.

Seriously though, what are the odds? Toya always jokes that her life is an episode of The Truman Show. I usually just laugh it off. But if I didn't know better I would swear that my pilot option just got picked up for the summer season. And boy, the first episode is a trip.
Cologne is from the devil - Tia

So I was minding my own business this morning trying to find a seat on the overcrowded train. I walk by this guy and he's wearing the same cologne that this guy I used to date SEVEN YEARS AGO used to wear. For about 5 seconds it was like I had stepped into a time warp. All of these memories came rushing back to me. In that moment it was the most overwhelming thing in the world. And it's been SEVEN YEARS. Who knew the olfactory neurons were that strong??

*side note: How much of a nerd am I? I just went to wikipedia to read about olfaction. Did you know that "Odour information is easily stored in long term memory and has strong connections to emotional memory?" Yeah, I did. Found out this morning.)

I was watching that Ashley Judd movie with Greg Kinnear (the name escapes me at the moment) and she went to a doctor to see if she could get, I think it was the hippocampus, removed after she broke up with Greg Kinnear's character because she had to smell him all the time. Yeah, after this morning she doesn't seem as looney tunes as she initially did.
I'm bored - Tia

I'm bored. It's my 3rd to last or is it 4th to last...My last day of work is April 3rd and I've basically been tying up loose ends for the next poor soul who has to step into my position.

As one might imagine tying up loose ends doesn't take all that much energy. A phone call here an email there but that's about the extent of it. So I've been reading blogs for the last few minutes and stumbled across this one. I have had to keep myself from laughing out loud a couple of times while reading his archives. I mean, who wants to be the girl laughing all hard in the corner? It would be a shame to get fired on one of my last days.

Anywho, since a blog is nothing more than extra information that you really don't need about a complete stranger, here is some stuff about me that you probably didn't know.

A - AVAILABLE: Yes. I have been single for what now seems like an inexplicable amount of time.
B - BIRTHDAY: July 22,
C - CRUSHING: I KEEPS a crush. Usually on guys that I can't have or don't need.
D - DRINK YOU LAST HAD: It was a martini of some kind yet I can't remember exactly what. Must not have been that great of a drink.
E - EASIEST PERSON TO TALK TO:Toya. I can talk to her about EVERYTHING. And have on several occasions.
F - FAVORITE BANDS: It varies daily. There are some consistent ones but for the most part what I listen to varies on any given day.
G - GUMMY BEARS OR GUMMY WORMS: I don't really like candy. I'll eat it but I don't have to have it. I could go the rest of my life and never eat candy. Now, I will cut you over some cake.
H - HOMETOWN: Knoxville, TN
I - INSTRUMENT(s): I used to play the sax when I was in junior high. And I played piano by ear. But I pretty much just leave the instruments to the musicians.
K - KILLED SOMEONE: I'm not sure how I'm supposed to answer this
L - LONGEST CAR RIDE: The drive from Nashvegas to LA. I was in the desert outside of California and remember thinking, "If I died here, it would take people DAYS to find me." It's a long haul, y'all
M - MILKSHAKE FLAVOR: I am lactose intolerant which is just the most unfortunate thing in the world because I LOVE DAIRY. But I guess if I had to pick one it would be cookies and cream from Jack in the Box.
N - NUMBER OF SIBLINGS: Two, one of of of 'em is going to an NBA scout camp next month. I'm so proud of him.
O - ONE WISH?: An English Husband. I am aware of how shallow this is and frankly don't care.
Q- QUIET?: I would love some right now
R - REASON TO SMILE: I have people who REALLY love me. That makes me happy.
S- SONG YOU LAST HEARD: Icebox the remix - Omarion and URSHER
T - TIME YOU WOKE UP: 6:10. How about that is sleeping in for me?
U- UNDERWEAR YOU'RE WEARING?: Red Supergirl underpants....Shut up.
V - VEGETABLE YOU HATE: I don't really like vegatables as a whole. I only eat them so that my cholesterol stays low and so my arteries don't harden and I turn into a solid.
W - WORST HABIT: I worry too much about things I shouldn't and things I can't change.
X - X-RAYS YOU'VE HAD: Knees (too much basketball in school) Back, ankles, toes, teeth.
Y - YOUR FRIEND THAT SHOWED YOU THIS: I actually stole this from the guy I mentioned earlier. Thanks man.
Z- ZODIAC SIGN: My sign is Leopard....Yeah, I said it.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Live Blog
This is Toya your Nashville BGLU correspondent coming to you live from Tin Pan South's Scrap Metal concert well members of Slaughter and NELSON are on stage. Let me tell you something and I am not shamed: Nelson is FINE AS HELL!!! I have no other way to say it. I am 5 seconds from running up on Matthew. Or is it Gunnar. Whatever they still look good and if Kip Winger hits the stage, my friends know I am going to jail tonight.! The guy from Mr. Bigg just took the stage. Gotta go!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You should know...Joy Denalane - Tia

When I first heard Joy Denalane I thought, "This chick is from around the way." I figured she grew up singing in someones church choir, honing her vocals on songs like God is trying to tell you something or I'm Coming Up (on the rough side.) Yeah, not so much.

Joy Denalane hails from Germany but listening to her you would never know it. Her voice conjures up thoughts of dark smokey clubs in Brooklyn. You'd think she grew up in the ATL listening to Aretha, Mary J and Luther. A self proclaimed "South African black woman in Germany" Joy's first album Mamami is heavily inspired by her African roots. Songs like Ghetto of Soweto let you know that she's not just some cute Afro-German girl but rather a woman who is proud and concerned about her culture.

A natural talent who never took singing lessons and didn't start performing until she was nineteen, Denalane's sophomore album, Born and Raised, showcase polished and passionate vocals one would expect from a seasoned veteran.

I found out about Joy from iTunes when her song Change was the free download of the week several months ago. And if I'm being honest I only noticed the song because of her look. (It worked for me with Corrinne Bailey Rae. I figured it would work for me again.) But as soon as the track hit with the horns, I was hooked. I think it was the conviction in here voice. She made me believe that we could overcome the injustice in the world.

Step by step day by day
Said it won't be long, it won't be long
Step by step come what may
I feel it coming on strong
Step by step day by day
We gonna overcome
Step by step come what may
As long as we are one

Plus it didn't hurt that Lupe Fiasco is in the song. (We love him around here.)

While I love Change it's not my favorite song. I think I have run a hole in Sometimes Love. And One in a Million is that jam. Truthfully, I haven't really come across a song of hers that I haven't liked.

The only downside is that the cd isn't easy to come by. Yeah, it's available on iTunes of course. But I'm a hard copy kind of girl. As long as they keep making cds I will buy them. I guess I'm just old school. I like mp3s as much as the next chick but there's something about having an actual cd to hold. But we've already been through this....I can order a copy off of Amazon for something close to $30. I like the chick and all but dang. So I'm going to head over to Amoeba and see if they have a copy. I mean, I want to support the girl. As Toya mentioned there is a definite shortage of good R&B by brown folks. So if it comes down to it, Joy will eventually get my $30.

If you're interested, check her out at myspace.

By the way, the guy in this video is FINE!!
Reason #1843490 that I'm glad I'm leaving my job - Tia

I have to get up at 5 am to go to the gym if I want to work out. With the commute, by the time I get home at night I'm too tired to go work out and the gym is packed anyway. So I have to get up at an ungodly hour just so my clothes will fit.

5 am sucks. I can't wait to leave this job.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Let's NOT Be Colorblind- Toya

I have been doing Toya's Boyfriend of the Month for a long time but the way I have been feeling about Elliott Yamin lately goes beyond a monthly crush. After hearing his debut album this past week and seeing how my man has come up (I loved him snaggletoothed anyway), I immediately wanted to FIND HIM. Not hear about him, watch him on Leno, see his new video, etc. No, I wanted to FIND him. Someone please warn him to not come to Nashville cause it's a problem.

I called, texted, and emailed Tia everyday last week to see if she had this record. To tell you the truth, it is just a GOOD record. Just good, not amazing. Out of 4 stars, I give it 2 1/2. I wish they would've let Elliott SANG more (turn up your CD player towards the very end of "You Take My Breath Away" to see what I mean). The songs, mostly ballads, are good songs and his cover of "A Song For You" does not make you want to run him down in the street like most Hathaway covers/imitations make me want to do. What I love about this album so much are the lyrics and Elliott's ability to sing these songs as if he means every word.

When I woke up with the sunlight
And dreams echoing through my head
And I heard you breathing softly I remember the things you said
There is no time there is no place that you would rather be
Then the good times all the hard times as long as you’re here with me
Cause I’m the man who holds my ground
I’m the man who sticks around
I’m the man to hold you tight
Cause I’m the man in love with you, with you

Give a shout of praise if you can get behind those lyrics! And while this song as well as many others on the album make me swoon and happy to be a girl, I have never been more grieved about the state of urban music as I am right now.

I looked on Rhapsody the other day and this was the chart for Top 10 Soul/R&B artists:

1. Joss Stone
2. Justin Timberlake
3. Akon
4. Amy Winehouse
5. Nelly Furtado
6. Beyonce
7. Musiq
8. Christina Aguileira
9. James Morrison
10. Fergie

Umm, ANYONE see a problem????

Robin Thicke has the #1 R&B song in the country with "Lost Without You". Now no fans are more happy about Robin Thicke's success than Tia and I are. While interning at a recording studio a while back, I remember him singing in the hallway and thinking to myself "OK, when is YOUR record coming out?" We've been fans from WAY back. 10 years later and he is deservedly getting his due. I don't have a problem with white artists doing soul music. I know quite a few artists that do and do it extremely well all with the knowledge and respect for the music truly being black music. I am not saying that there are no black artists singing love songs anymore. I have been wearing independent neo-soul artist Anthony David's "The Red Clay Chronicles" CD out to death (if you just asked yourself who that is then you should be able to see where I am going with this). My problem is that it seems to me that mainstream labels are encouraging white artists who do soul music to be able to sing about love while they are encouraging black artists to sing about anything but love. You may think this is far fetched but I have reasons to believe this to be true.

For one, I have some friends that are black soul artists that have gone into record label meetings where the executives try to persuade them to make their songs more sexual because that is "what's hot right now". I turned on the radio to 101.1 The Beat to find every R&B ballad I heard outside of Marques Houston's to be about infidelity and love gone wrong. EVERY SINGLE ONE. However on the same station I can hear Your Boy sing this:

Because, I can see us holding hands
walking on the beach our toes in the sand
I can see us in the country side
sitting in the grass laying side by side
You can be my baby
Gonna make you my lady
Girl you amaze me
Ain't gotta do nothin crazy
See all I want you to do is be my love

Then IN THE SAME song you hear T.I. say this ignant ish right here:
I'm patient, but I ain't gonna try
You don't come, I ain't gonna die
Hold up, what you mean, you can't go why?
Me and you boyfriend we ain't no tie
You say you wanna kick it when I ain't so high
Well, baby it's obvious that I ain't your guy
Ain't gon' lie, I feel your space
But forget your face, I swear I will
St. Barths, same bullet, anywhere I chill
Just bring wit me a pair, I will

I like Amy Winehouse a lot and will admit that Joss Stone's album is bananas. I am not mad at James Morrison at all either. However, I am absolutely furious at the lack of love songs sung by black people currently being played on the radio. I remember when Jesse McCartney's "She's No You" came out and while I loved the song, I wished it was Omarion or Usher who had recorded it and made a video that would undoubtedly be on 106th and Park; a video that would be played in the midst of all the horrible images that our young black girls see of black women that could say that no matter what the world's standard is of what's hot, the video girls can't even compare to their natural beauty. What a message that would send!

Is it any wonder that it seems that some guys don't even know how to talk to females anymore? It used to be back in the day the brother with the weakest rap game could get pointers from a Smokey Robinson record, a Luther Vandross record or even a Boyz II Men record. Now what do guys have?

Turn me on and Imma turn you (out)
You kno I love you like good food
You kno you fuckin wit a good dude
You kno you give good brain like you graduated from a good school
You kno Imma good move
You should do (me)So hey...shawty wat it is?
Da Carter who it is
Now shawty do it big
A party at my crib
Dats a party in da hillz
You call it wat you want
But she can call it wat she feel
-LLoyd's "You" featuring Lil' or Yung or Grown Enough to Know Better Wayne

We are so wrong to think for one minute that the state of our music does not affect the climate of our community and how we treat one another. Dead wrong. Life imitates art which imitates life and so on. Look at the rise of STD's amongst our young people. Am I saying that all of this is due to music? Of course not. But let's not give promiscuity a soundtrack. Or a theme song, right Timbaland?

I have made it my personal business that a certain amount of money out of each paycheck will go to supporting an independent black soul artist. Artists that would rather be independent than compromise the love of their music and the love of their people just to be hot for a moment. We must support these artists to keep the message of love flowing within our community. Hopefully if enough of us support these artists, the majors will take notice and the artists can sign record deals on their terms. I want my kids to have good music to listen to. I want them to go through my CD's like I went through my parents' collection of LP's and 45's and daydreamed about the love that LTD and Gladys Knight and the Pips sang about. I don't want my daughter going through my CD's asking me how old she has to be before she can have a shot of Petrone and if giving brain means sharing the notes she took in class that day. Something needs to change.

It's about damn time - Tia
My girl T-hype sent me a link about this story about 2 weeks ago but I'm just now getting around to posting about it.

One of my close friends has 3 daughters. So between my inner child and her actual children I have spent more than my fair share of time watching Disney movies. The last time I was over at the house we were watching The Little Mermaid (my favorite Disney movie after Beauty and the Beast) and I absently noted that there STILL wasn't a black Disney princess. My friend, who is white, said, "There isn't??" She thought about it for a moment and realized that I was right. And I think she was more upset than I was. (She's mildly militant to be Caucasian.)

So you can imagine how excited I was when Taryn sent me a link to a story about Disney's 1st black princess. Seventy-five years ago, yes, I can understand there not being a princess of color. But now it just seems long overdue.

Anyway, I'm excited and I know I'm not the only one. So I beseech you, please support this film when it opens. Take your kids, your siblings, heck, take your roommate, and go see it. Besides, Disney princess movies are usually pretty good.

Tennessee Girls ROCK!!! - Tia

Congratulations to Miss Tennessee Rachel Smith. She was crowned Miss USA last night here in Los Angeles.

Brown skinned Tennessee Girls ROCK!!!!
I (Tia) had to choose b/w buying groceries and buying music this morning...

I chose music.

It's an illness.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's all a lie - Tia

You know how they say the Hollywood is nothing more than smoke and mirrors? Well that's pretty accurate. For the most part "life" in general is a big lie. No I'm not having some existential crisis or anything. But I did get a big fat reality check recently.

Last week my brother was in town on spring break. I love that kid. He is HA-HA-LARIOUS. He says some of the most ignorant stuff. For instance, he thinks Scarlett Johanssen is "really extra regular looking." (I DIED laughing when he said that. Mostly because I really don't get the appeal of the chick. I'm no hater but she's just a regular looking white girl to me.) He also berated me for buying sugar free kool-aid. At the time he thought it was sugarless. He looked and me and said, "Why would you buy that?!?! Think about what kool-aid is. It's only made of 3 ingredients: SUGAR, water, Purple." People in Wal-mart must have thought I was insane. I was doubled over laughing. PURPLE...PURPLE....Apparently, colors are also ingredients.

Anyway, after the first few days I was at a loss as to what to do in LA. This is supposed to be the city of glitz and glamour. If New York is the city that never sleeps then LA is the city that rarely ever takes a nap. *I stole that from my roommate Crista.* But since I'm not rolling in money, there is only so much that I can do. You can only go to Universal/Magic Mountain/Disney so many times, which by the way, costs a small fortune. It's $70 to go to the Happiest Place on Earth. I don't know about you but big mice don't make me $70 worth of happy.

So with no inclination as to what to do I asked my roommate if she had any ideas. She asked what we liked to do and my answer was simply, "Kick it." After a few minutes of careful thought she looked at me and said, "What it basically boils down to is 'Where do you want to eat? or 'Where do you want to shop?'"

It was not too long after that that it hit me. It's all a lie. With the exception of the phenomenal weather, LA is no better than any other city on earth. Think about it, what do when you're not at home? You go eat or you go shop. You might go dancing. Or you see a movie. Every major city in America has restaurants, malls, clubs and theaters. The larger the city the larger the selection of restaurants, malls, clubs and theaters.

Riddle me this...(Cut me some slack, I rode the Riddler's Revenge this weekend at Magic Mountain) What makes the difference in all the restaurants, malls, clubs and theaters? It's the people you're with. It's your homies, your trues, your roaddogs, your ace booncoons, your folks. I realized it's not where you are, it's who you're with. Your people make all the difference. You can eat at The Ivy every day, shop at the Beverly Center every time you get paid. But it doesn't mean a thing if you've got no one to enjoy it with. Who wants to watch Grey's on a 71" flat screen alone?

So my request of you, party people, is this. If you think of it, pray for me. I need some people. All my folks are 2-3 time zones away. And I can count on one hand how many people I've met that I don't work with. Hopefully that will all change soon since I start work at H&M on April 9 and I won't have to commute 4 hours a day. But if it doesn't I PROMISE you, I'm packing my stuff and moving home. Damn the sunshine. I'm going back east where gas doesn't cost $3 something a gallon and where people don't look at you funny when you're nice to them.

Hallelujah Hollaback!!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

You should know...Amy Winehouse - Tia

You know how you come across an artist and you get really excited? You get that sparkle of hope like music might not be completely dead. On life support...yes. But someone is charging the paddles and about to yell, "CLEAR!!!" to get the juice flowing again...(Sorry for the medical references. My brother and I have watched nothing but Grey's Anatomy and college basketball for the last 3 days.)

I literally stumbled across Amy Winehouse last week. I was reading another blog and the writer had posted a couple of her tracks. I was instantly hooked. Her voice is amazing. Something like a chain smoking Lauren Hill. And of course she's from Great Britain. (I'm convinced that all great music comes from the UK. They understand what music is. They realize that we don't give a damn why you think you're hot.)

The track currently on rotation in my iTunes is Rehab. It's a kiss my a** ode to not needing help with the DRANK...not drink....DRANK. The track has a 60s feel to it. I can almost see Ike and Tina doing it. (Wait, were they more 50s...??) In the song she mentions Ray (Charles) and (Donnie) Hathway which doesn't surprise me. You can hear their influences in a lot of the tracks on the cd.

I'm off to Virgin to pick up her cd and James Morrison's. (He's another British singer I stumbled upon last week. It was a good week for the Brits.) If you're interested in hearing more, check out Amy's myspace.


Friday, March 16, 2007

I do not trust Tank - Tia

There is something about Tank that I just don't trust. He has never done anything to me personally. But there is something about him that makes me not trust him. I told Toya that I can't trust a man that pretty and that diesel who sings love songs.

Tank gets the side eye from me.

But I must admit that I like this song...Still doesn't make me trust him though.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The improbability of crushes - Tia

There are days when being a girl is just flat out impractical and infuriating. I refuse to believe that guys feel the ridiculous emotions that girls feel. I would never admit this in mixed company but girls really are a little crazy.

I have two highly improbable and impossible crushes. I'm not really looking for a crush of any sort right now. Frankly, I'm not really looking for a relationship right now. I'm in the middle of leaving my job. I have no idea what I'm doing in LA. Every other day I hate it here. I feel like POO. I commute 4 hours a day. And my family is just a mess right now. A crush, let alone multiple crushes, is just...STUPID. It's a pointless waste of time. ARGGHHHHH!!!

Crush number one: There is a guy who rides my train who is FI-YAH!!!!! He's actually the engineer. Translation: he drives the train. He is all kinds of fine. Every time I see him I think, "That man is FIRE!!" He's gotta be in his late 30s. He's even got the salt and pepper gray hair. He's got the Sean Connery thing going on. He is the best part of my day. He even gave me M&Ms the other day. So you want to be fine and bring me chocolate?!?!? JERK.

I think he may be married though. He wears something that could be construed as a wedding ring on his left hand. But now that I think about it he never mentions his wife. Married or not he just strikes me a McDreamy type. Very good looking. Very big trouble to be around. For some reason he just has DANGER, WILL ROBINSON written all over him. AND he's going to The Police concert. What is the deal with bad boys being so yummy?

Crush number two: LIVES IN MANCHESTER...ENGLAND....I probably don't need to explain any further. But just in case you were wondering, aside from living across the pond he 1. does not love Christ. 2. has a kid. 3. lives in England. (Did I mention that?) 4. he's 2 inches shorter than me. But he loves music like no one I've known since Toya. And he has one of the sweetest souls of I've anyone I've ever known. And he's one of those guys that girls will not fully appreciate because we almost never do.

Being a girl just...stinks sometimes.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Toya's Boyfriend of the Month- Travie, Gym Class Heroes
It's been a while since we found one worthy. I cannot even tell you who the last Boyfriend of the Month was. I think ever since I met Common last November, finding one was just pointless so I just let him ride out the rest of the year. But now, we have a winner.
Anne Marie, my friend who introduces me to all things cool, had an extra ticket to go see Gym Class Heroes. Now she had told me about them for a while and I gave them a brief listen. I didn't really feel any kind of way about them. And then I saw them live.Insert rapidly fluttering eyelashes here------>
If I would've known how hot the lead singer was for GCH, I would've had my behind not even 5 minutes from my house at their in-store performance at FYE and it would've been a problem. We were at the concert and I turned to Anne Marie "Wait, is that a tattoo on his neck?" "Yeah, and he has sleeves too". Hold me, Jesus.
So yes, Travie is the new boyfriend of the week. Just when I thought I had grown out of my skater phase, I discover him. Well, I think 20 years of loving skater boys is more than just a phase but, ya know. Old habits die hard.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I swear I'm not dead - Tia

But between my 4 hour commute every day and my job working me like I Hebrew slave, I haven't had much time to breathe let alone post. But I miss my BGLU family so I promise I will try to do better. Plus I'm working on a site redesign (currently only in my head) and I may be leaving my company to go work at H&M. Yea!!! 20% off....

And I think I may have figured out how to blog from my phone....Maybe. So it has the potential to be...GOOD TIMES!!!!