As the title of Raheem DeVaughn’s new single,Love Connection” suggests he just wants to get closer with listeners for the summer release of his latest album, A Place Called Loveland. To do so he is ensuring that he makes all the right moves including: a new team in the form of Kevin Liles’ KWL Management company; a joint venture record deal with Mass Appeal Entertainment and of course solid musical material. This time around he realized he needed to open up to working with others in order to grow as an artist.

“In the past being young I might have been standoffish to working with other songwriters,” he admits. “With this album I allowed myself to creatively work with others. There are great songs out there with no one to sing them and we found them. I worked with Mario Winans, Kristal ‘Tytewriter’ Oliver and Carvin & Ivan.”

While finalizing the album, DeVaughn is also busy broadcasting The Raheem DeVaughn Show, reaching over 100 countries a week. On the show he plays a range of mainstream and independent music and even addresses controversial topics that often involve his famous peers. Yet, he aims to counter what he considers to be the sensationalist tactics of the media. “Since I am an artist I know the media can pick you apart. It’s never my goal to throw any of my peers under the bus. It is purely for fun and to expose their music.”

Although DeVaughn chose Liles as his manager he might also have been in good hands with Manny Halley. As the CEO of Imani Entertainment, Halley is a diversified businessman. Some of his current projects include managing Nicki Minaj and bringing celluloid life to Teri Woods’ bestselling books, True To The Game and Dutch. He rose to prominence as the man who helped catapult Keyshia Cole to stardom and he has learned many lessons between now and then. One of his most unorthodox pieces of advice is to fund your own projects. “I put my own money up when I have a vision and believe in something,” he says. “If you want a company to put money into something them most of the time they want to water your project down. When it’s your money it’s your vision from the beginning to the end result.”

Taking such chances hasn’t always resulted in success for Halley, especially after a failed restaurant. “I almost lost opening a fine dining restaurant because I didn’t have any partners. I used my own money and I was learning as I was drowning.” Still he has no regrets. “I built a Rolodex and now I am a restaurateur. I know the whole experience now from building safety to getting a liquor license and how to negotiate a lease.”

Learning from mistakes is what celebrity chef, Charles Mattocks a.k.a. The Poor Chef is hoping to teach diabetics. Mattocks, Shire Regenerative Medicine, and Heal2gether are hosting a one-month mobile RV tour to raise awareness of diabetes complications. With over 25 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes Mattocks knows that his tour is needed to address some major challenges related to this disease. “There is not a lot of cohesiveness with the fight against diabetes compared to something like breast cancer. Plus I am also dealing with pharmaceutical companies that have a vested interest in people continuing to be diabetic,” he says. “So the RV tour is about showing that you can live a great life with diabetes, but if you don’t do what you need to it can have some serious ramifications.” For the tour schedule please click here.

Art tours are a popular attraction during Armory Arts Week. On March 5, The West Harlem Art Fund presents a public art tour of the stained glass windows at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with special guest: stained glass artist Ellen Mandelbaum. This event is also offering an artist portfolio review by Leanne Stella, director of  Art In Flux Harlem, public artist Dianne Smith and others. Later that day join Harlem Biennale, ArtCrawl Harlem and cultural historian, collector and Harlem resident John T. Reddick  for the walking tour, Ragtime Ascending to Jazz. The walking tour showcases the influences and collaborations between Black and Jewish performers, composers and musicians in Harlem.

The latter sounds like it might be a great tour for DeVaughn to join and find some additional inspiration for his forthcoming album.

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.