When it comes to paying homage to the life of a legend like Whitney Houston, one certainly faces a challenge. Yet for photographer, Randee St. Nicholas it’s all part of the job. St. Nicholas curates the new book, Whitney: Tribute to an Icon that contains 130 images of Houston, some never before seen, taken by some of the leading photographers in the business. It also includes essays by Clive Davis and Pat Houston, in addition to one from St. Nicholas. After having photographed Houston for the past 20 years, St. Nicholas was able to witness the sensitive side of Houston.
“She was definitely vulnerable because she was childlike. She was incredibly human,” St. Nicholas says. “No matter the struggles of her life there is something special about her in all those ways that come from just being human and having her own insecurities.”
Being vulnerable is but one of many factors needed to write a successful memoir. According to Regina Brooks, founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, non-celebrities are hot commodities for life stories so long as they follow a few key simple rules: research, be truthful and have a hook. In her book, You Should Really Write a Book: How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Memoir, Brooks offers tips for future memoirists. “Think of your hook as an elevator pitch. You need it to sell it to the agent, editor and ultimately to get media attracted,” she advises. “Your hook should be able to make an agent S.M.I.L.E. by being shocking, memorable, inspiring, loving and entertaining.”
Brooks also recommends that in order to demonstrate market value aspiring writers should increase their social media reach. “Publishers are typically looking for authors who have twitter followers of at least 10,000 and 5,000 Facebook followers.” For the rest of the tips you’ll have to check out the book for yourself.
When musical talent such as Yassin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), Wyclef Jean and Yo-Yo Ma want to tell their story they opt for wax instead of print. One of the places where they record is Stadiumred, Harlem’s premier studio in the historic Lee Building at 125th Street & Park Ave. The studio once housed the iconic jazz saxophonist and musician Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodic Studios and has since been transferred into a state-of-the-art facility. Claude Zdanow, founder and CEO of Stadiumred is hoping that the company can continue to reenergize the local music scene. “When we first started people said no one makes music anymore in New York, they go to L.A. and Nashville,” he says. “But I have seen this neighborhood grow so much over the past five years. We want to build a brand that represents all sorts of music and represents New York music and Harlem music.” To make that happen Zdanow has recently launched three other divisions of Stadiumred covering artist development and a record label, an event creation company and a concert/event video streaming company.
Of course you can’t hit the studio without the right producer and one of music’s top beat masters is Drumma Boy (Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and Drake). For the 1st Annual Global Spin Awards, Drumma Boy presented an award to give recognition to disc jockeys across the globe. Those in attendance included Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Joyce, Ralph McDaniels and host Sway Calloway. While the event was celebratory, some argue that the DJ’s of today don’t do enough to break records for underground and independent songs on the radio or in clubs since the industry is heavily commercialized. Drumma Boy who formed, Drum Squad to support new records shared his thoughts on this. “Some DJ’s are put in situations where they are only allowed to play what’s ‘in the format’ or in the ‘program’ and run into altercations with the local artists whose music doesn’t get played. Many artists don’t understand that radio and club spins cost money. It’s so much competition these days so you’ve really gotta stick out and be the hottest thing buzzing.”
All the buzz this week is a few events including Ballet Hispanico’s return to the Apollo Theater on Dec. 1st. The dance company will premiere three new pieces including a contemporary spin on Cuba’s danzón, Argentina’s tango, and 1980’s Spanish pop. From pop to jazz and R&B check out the Lonette McKee and Michael Henderson concert, A Night to Remember. Presented by Aaron Davis Hall at The City College of New York, the event will feature McKee performing hits from Sparkle, Round Midnight, Lady Day and a special duet between the two headliners. But don’t expect any Houston covers.
The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.