November 28, 2007


Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 3, 1931. Although hers was not a musical family, Dakota claims to have known from early on that performing was her destiny. "When I was four years old, I started singing and dancing like Shirley Temple," she recalled in a recent interview. Staton further developed these budding abilities at Pittsburgh’s Filion School of Music. "When I was sixteen, I was in a stage show called Fantastic Rhythm. From that show, I was chosen to be a vocalist with the top band in the Pittsburgh area, Joe Wespray and his orchestra.
I sang with him for two years. Then I went to Detroit, Michigan, and worked in all the show bars there.." While in Detroit, Staton made a particularly strong impression at The Flame Show Bar. From there, she followed a nightclub circuit that led as far afield as Toronto and Montreal in Canada before returning stateside and passing through Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Cleveland and St. Louis before eventually winding it’s way to New York.

It was while singing in a Harlem nightclub called the Baby Grand that Staton was discovered by Capitol producer Dave Cavanaugh and signed to the label. "My first record was a single release on Capitol in 1954," she recalls. "It was called ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ and on the other side was ‘You’re My Heart’s Delight’. Staton attracted enough attention to win the prestigious Down Beat award for the most promising new comer of the year 1955. Although at this point there was still enough of an R&B tinge to her presentation to merit her inclusion, along with the likes of Big Joe Turner and Fats Domino, in fabled disc jockey Alan Freed’s first New York area Rock ‘n’ Roll party stage shows at the St. Nicholas arena, she was rapidly evolving into the dynamic, jazz based stylist whose debut Capitol album, ‘The Late, Late Show’ (1958) would quickly rise to #4 in the album charts. Staton freely admits that Dinah Washington was both a personal favorite and an important stylistic influence, and deep impression she made on Dakota is evident from the first album and throughout all her subsequent recorded work.

For her second Capitol effort, "Dynamic!’ (1958), which reached #22 in the album charts later that year, Cavanaugh turned the musical reins over to a close friend, the gifted arranger and conductor Sid Feller, with whom Staton was to enjoy a long and fruitful collaboration. Feller had arranged for Jack Teagarden’s big band before a hitch in the Army during World War II, and in 1951 he began a longtime association with Cavanaugh and Capitol records (Feller later moved on to the ABC label where he began arranging and conducting for Ray Charles, a pursuit that would occupy him for over thirty years). "I remember when Dave drove me down to a nightclub in Philadelphia to meet Dakota Staton," recalled Feller recently. "When she opened her mouth to sing and I heard that voice, I was overwhelmed. I thought she was just a marvelous singer.

She’s very underrated." "I don’t think that Dakota ever got the breaks she deserved that would’ve helped her become a major pop singer, but I know she’s always been very well respected in the jazz community." Regrettably, Feller’s assessment of Staton’s career development has the ring of truth about it. A wonderfully gifted singer with a thorough grounding in jazz, Staton was always oriented toward albums and never enjoyed the hit single that might have broadened her appeal to a larger market. This, coupled with the fact that she first arrived on the scene after the rock and roll revolution had altered the game rules of popular music forever, has to a degree robbed Dakota of the widespread name recognition she so richly deserves.

Dakota Staton crossed over on April 14, 2007

November 27, 2007


Diane Marino, singer/pianist was born in Manhattan, NYC. She received her early piano training of classical studies and improvisation from the age of 10. Diane was accepted on NYC’S ‘Famed’ High School for the Performing Arts as a classical piano major. She later attended the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan where she studied piano with world-renowned concert pianist Murray Perahia. While working towards her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance, Diane began singing with small groups in the NYC tri-state area, After graduating from Mannes, she was singing professionally 6 nights a week. It was only natural and a matter of time before she would combine her singing and piano playing skills.

Diane performed solo gigs for several years in the NYC area before teaming up with bassist Frank Marino. The duo formed the nine member Brazilian group, ‘Som Brasileiro’ (Sounds of Brazil) in 1993 and have performed at numerous jazz festivals, venues and concerts in the Southeast sharing the bill with artists such as Tania Maria, Pete Escovedo, Joe Henderson and Dr. John, to name a few.

Diane’s debut jazz quartet CD ‘A Sleepin’ Bee’ was released in 2003 and has received national acclaim charting on the national charts as well as receiving extensive radio airplay and rave reviews. This CD offers a wide array of vocal and instrumental traditional jazz standards, Latin jazz, and Brazilian jazz (sung in Portuguese).

Diane’s second CD ‘On the Street Where You Live’, released in May of 2004 has also received national acclaim charting on the national jazz charts and proves once again that Diane is a natural whether playing, singing, or both. This CD will take the listener to the very depths of emotions. There is a re-current theme throughout that tells stories of love, and love lost, as well as playful gems of Latin and Brazilian jazz. Diane is joined by bandmates Frank Marino (bass), Mitch Reilly (saxes/flute), and Chris Brown (drums).

Diane Marino and her quartet’s CD ‘On The Street Where You Live’ once again delivers to the listener, masterful musical magic and another gift for the ears to treasure.

November 26, 2007


George V. Johnson Jr is a talented young jazz vocalist that specializes in a brand of jazz singing popularized most notably by Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson called Vocalese. In fact, the title of this CD, Next in Line bring to bear the very words uttered by Eddie Jefferson (heard in the opening seconds of the disc) proclaiming his protege' George V. Johnson as the successor to the throne. On this CD, Johnson sings with exuberance on a number of varied standards, including tunes by Charlie Parker, Jimmy Heath, and Miles Davis.
The original “Opening Night” laments the lack of recognition that the major record companies give to serious aspiring jazz artists, and will strike a chord with every jazz musician that has ever solcited a record company in hopes of a record deal. Johnson has a smooth, graceful, and soulful style, and is supported very well in this regard by bandmates that can groove alongside, and underneath him. George V. Johnson shows us on Next In Line that he is a man dedicated to the art of song and singing, bringing forth both tradition and intuition. The promise first heard over twenty years ago is finally seeing the light of day, as Johnson is can be heard scatin' and singin' the night away. It's as if he was singing the world a lullaby; giving it everything he's got, and asking nothing in return. George V. Johnson Jr. The “V” is for Vocalese .

Track listing: Eddie Jefferson sound bite: Opening Night; My Little Suede Shoes; Star Eyes; Nigerian ju ju Highlife; Gingerbread Boy; Freedom Jazz Dance; Bitches Brew.
Personnel: George V. Johnson Jr. (vocals); Tina Prat (jazz tap); Arnold Sterling (alto sax); Bernard Samuel (piano); Herman Foster (piano); Tom Mc Kenzie (bass); Mark Johnson (drums); Victor Jones (drums)

Considering himself the musical offspring of the highly entertaining jazz singer Eddie Jefferson, George V. Johnson, Jr.'s common surname has sometimes led to confusion, particulary in the early days of his career when neither the middle initial nor "junior" status were attached to his credits. Some discographers thus see a double image in which a man named George Johnson was involved in modern jazz singing projects, including credits for vocal arrangements in 1979. Then along comes George V. Johnson, Jr. a few years later, hanging in for the long haul and finally enjoying the benefit of releases under his own name with the ironically titled Next in Line in 2000.

Not to be confused with scat singing, which consists of nonsense syllables and sounds, this vocalist belongs to a singing tradition in which lyrics are concocted to fit the ebb and flow of a jazz soloist's performance, often including the original improvised horn solo. While Johnson, Jr.'s excellent efforts included a version of John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" for one of Pharoah Sanders' highly-praised Evidence recording dates in the early '80s, the singer's efforts were reduced to part-time status for a good portion of the ensuing decades due to having to hold a day job. Nonetheless, he performed regularly as part of the James Moody group, a fitting setting since after all it was where Jefferson himself had been featured quite regularly. After the release of not one but two discs under his own name in 2000 Johnson, Jr. apparently decided to notch up his efforts and try to make it as a fulltime performer

November 25, 2007


Art Tatum was born Oct. 13, 1909 in Toledo, Ohio and despite being blind in one eye and only partially sighted in the other he became arguably the greatest jazz piano player who ever lived. He came from a musical family and when younger had some formal training at the Toledo School of Music, however he was largely self-taught. His teacher their recognized his talents and tried to steer him towards as a career as a classical concert pianist. Tatum was more interested in the music of Fats Waller, which would be a strong influence on his music. At 18 he was playing interludes at a local radio station and within a short period of time he had his own show. In 1932 he was heard by the singer Adelaide Hall who brought him to New York as her accompanist. One year later he made his first recordings, among which was "Tiger Rag". This song which features breakneck tempo and rippling left- andright-hand cascades and crashing bass notes had every pianist in the country amazed by his astonishing dexterity.

While in New York he established his reputation in "cutting contests" with other top pianists, which he never lost. He spent the next few years playing in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles and even England in 1938. During this time he established himself as a major figure in jazz circles. In the early 1940s Tatum formed an extremely popular trio with bassist Slam Stewart and guitarist Tiny Grimes. He spent much of the next decade touring North America. In 1953 Tatum signed by producer Norman Granz and recorded extensively both as a soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, soloist and in small groups with Benny Carter, Buddy De Franco, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Ben Webster and others. His incredible talent allowed him to be extremely productive during this time. Ray Spencer in his biography, noted that Tatum was constantly "refining and honing down after each performance until an ideal version remained needing no further adjustments". This allowed him to achieve a remarkable work rate. For example, his solo sessions for Granz were mostly completed in two days. That is a total of 69 tracks and all but three of them needed only one take.

The starting point of Art Tatum's style was Fats Waller's stride. As Tatum once said, "Fats, that's where I come out of and, man, that's quite a place to come from". From this beginning he went on to create and superbly original and creative style of playing piano. His left-handed figures where similar to stride but he was really known for the way that he explored harmonic complexities and unusual chord progressions. When improvising, Tatum would often insert totally new chord sequences (occasionally with a chord on each beat) into one or two measures. He also developed the habit of quoting from other melodies, something that became a standard practice among modern jazz musicians. What really set Tatum apart was his amazing technical abilities which combined with his willingness to explore the imagined limitations of the orthodox keyboard which produced astonishing rhythmic and harmonic complexities. It is claimed that he could identify the dominant note in a flushing toilet. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the excellence of Art Tatum lies in the opinions of his peers.

His influenced many musicians including Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, and even non-pianists such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Many would say that he inspired the bebop revolution in jazz. When Oscar Peterson first heard him play he thought it was two people and he considered Tatum the best jazz instrumentalist of all time. Legend has it that classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz was so awed by Tatum's wizardry that it brought him to tears. Fittingly, his strongest support comes from one of his early influences, Fats Waller. One time in 1938 Tatum dropped in to hear Waller play at a club. By way of introduction Waller told the audience, "I just play the piano, but God is in the house tonight."

Sadly, on Nov. 4, 1956 his prodigious output was cut short when he died of uremia, however his artistic influence has been strong and long-lasting.

November 24, 2007


Sterling A. Brown was born May 1, 1901, into a black middle-class Washington, D.C. family. His father was a pastor at a local church and a teacher at Howard University’s School of Religion. His mother was a graduate of Fisk University. Brown attended Dunbar High School where writer Jessie Fauset taught him. In 1918, he graduated with honors and received a scholarship to Williams College. After graduating cum laude in 1922, he began Harvard University where he received his master’s degree in English in 1923.

During the Harlem Renaissance, Sterling took a unique approach to his style of writing. Unlike the majority of other black poets and writers, he chose to write in the dialect of country black folk. Even though at the time this was an unpopular style, his extraordinary talent and his ability to reveal humanity in his poetry won over the most ardent critics of this style.

After graduating from Harvard, Brown accepted a teaching position at Virginia Seminary and College. It was during this three-year time in Lynchburg that Brown began learning and studying the dialect of the town’s rural black residents. He spent time with local residents and listened to blues music and spirituals. These first hand accounts with rural blacks later influenced his use of dialect poetry.
After returning to Washington to teach at Howard in 1929, Brown’s poetry was published a few years later. Not surprisingly, his poetry reflected rural black speech patterns. Black writers who considered it demeaning often dismissed this type of poetry. However, Brown’s use of the voice of black folk in traditional forms of sonnets, ballads, and villanelle, proved successful in his work Southern Road (1932). Even writer and opponent of this style, James Weldon Johnson declared that Brown had successfully replicated rural black dialect.

His other important work included The Negro in American Fiction (1937), Negro Poetry and Drama (1937), and The Last Ride of Wild Bill and Eleven Narratives (1975). Brown was a contributor of poetry and reviews to Opportunity, The New Republic, Phylon, and the Journal of Negro Education. In the 1930s, he served as editor of Negro affairs for the Roosevelt Federal Writers Project. In 1969, Brown retired from his position at Howard. He died on leukemia on January 13, 1989.

Sterling Allen Brown defied popular black poetry. Instead of writing in the voice an intellectual, Brown’s poetry captured the dialect of rural black folk. Brown’s poetry was an artistic expression that revealed the humanity of the characters of his poetry.

Sterling Brown crossed over on January 13, 1989

November 23, 2007


Omar Sosa was born April 10, 1965, in Camagüey, Cuba. he is a composer, bandleader, and virtuoso jazz pianist.

He began studying marimba at age eight, then switched to piano at the Escuela Nacional de Musica in Havana, where he began to study jazz. Sosa moved to Quito, Ecuador in 1993, then San Francisco, California in 1995. In San Francisco he became deeply involved in the local Latin Jazz scene and began a long collaboration with percussionist John Santos.

The next year Omar made his U.S. recording debut on Otá Records with Omar Omar, followed in 1997 with the first in a trilogy of groundbreaking world-jazz recordings: Free Roots, Spirit of the Roots (1998) and Bembon (2000).
In 1998 Omar began his collaboration with noted Bay Area percussionist and educator John Santos. The duo released a live recording, Nfumbe, in conjunction with their appearance at the San Francisco Jazz Festival that year. The following year, revealing more of the contemplative side of his musical sensibilities, Omar released his second solo piano recording, Inside, a Top-20-selling CD in France for distributor Night & Day. Capping an extraordinarily productive period, Omar also travelled to Ecuador in 1999 to record his critically acclaimed large-ensemble CD Bembon. In approximately 1999, Sosa moved to Barcelona, Spain.

With Prietos (2001) and Sentir (2002), Omar stretches his genre-expanding fusion still further with the use of traditional vocals and instruments from the Gnawa culture of North Africa. We find tongues in Arabic, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yoruba, as well as instruments like the guembri, oud, djembi, balafon, and marimba. These recordings are world music in its finest sense: strong, uncompromising sounds, yet always welcoming and honest. Throughout we hear Omar's genius as an arranger and his extraordinary inspiration at the piano.

November 22, 2007

MANNIE HAGER "Defiant Sun"

Mannie Hager aka Defiant Sun, was born in Ponze, Puerto Rico at home on the couch out my mothers womb in 1973, moved to Brooklyn in 1985, where he couldn't speak any real english, Mannie learned English by watching cartoons.  His mother who is German spoke to me in German and his father who was Puerto Rican spoke to him in Spanish.  He was born in a house hold of torn religious views.  He is the product of Christianity and Islam and somewhere in between there was peace.  Mannie a Brooklyn native of Puerto Rican and German decent, relocated to Lawton, Oklahoma in 2002. Mannie spent 9 years on active duty where his highest achieved rank was Staff Sergeant. While in the military, he went on numerous campaigns which included being deployed to Somalia, Rwanda, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, and Bosnia. After he left the military in 2001 he resided in Newport News, VA where he worked for Coca-Cola Enterprises until his mother had a stroke and then moved to Lawton, Oklahoma to help take care of his mother. Since his stay in Lawton, Oklahoma, Mannie decided to started school, which at a late age is a struggle. He attends Cameron University where his major is History and Political Science. He will be graduating in May of 2007. Mannie has overcome many obstacles which include surviving cancer in 2005, a battle that he is still fighting to win every day and surviving running over a land mind in Somalia. His story is fascinating on many levels; his poetry is energetic, entertaining, and heartfelt. Mannie speaks from his heart.

His passion for poetry comes from the depth of his soul, at an early age Mannie started to write poetry. He was exposed to spoken word while being stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas where he went to a book store called Under One Roof in 1999, This was his poetic birth and was hooked ever since. His energetic performance and strength are heart felt within his performance. He can speak on many topics which include political, love, erotica, and history.

Mannie has been writing poetry for about a total of about 15 years and started performing his art 8 years ago. He as had many accomplishments which include organizing some of the hottest shows in the state of Oklahoma on both a University level and professional level. He has also been published on ,, and an article in the Dallas Examiner where he as received honors for his work. He has been interviewed by the Cameron University Collagen and been interviewed on CUTV for his poetic craft, and has been in rotation with Jazz Poetry Café Radio hosted by Phillip G.

He has shared stages along sides of some of the hottest poets in the country such as Taalam Acey, Mahogany L. Brown, L.I.F.E, Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion Archie the Messenger, Rob Hylton, Nathan P, Noodles, SahdoKat, Andrew Tyree, Atryn, HBO Def Poetry Poet Rockbaby, HBO Def Poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo, HBO Def Poet Gemineye, HBO Def Poet Big Mike, Michael Guinn, Stacey Williamson, Jenean Livingston, AJ Houston, Anthony Douglas, Silence, Vocab, Cocoafire, and Austin Grand Slam Champion 2 times in a row Christopher-Michael, and the Dallas raining grand slam champ Colin Gilbert just to mention a few.

He has preformed on many venues to include hosting at the Verbal High in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Book and CD
Openly Crying CD 2006
Out of the mouth of Mannie 2006
Speaking from the Heart 2007 available on

November 12, 2007


Arthur Prysock was perfectly at home singing jazz, blues, or RB, but his smooth-as-silk baritone made him a superbly effective (and underappreciated) pop crooner in the manner of his chief influence, Billy Eckstine.

Prysock was born January 2, 1929, in Spartanburg, SC, and was the brother of saxophonist Red Prysock. As a teenager, he moved to Hartford, CT, where he worked in the aviation industry and sang with several small bands by night. He was discovered in 1944 by jump blues bandleader Buddy Johnson, who signed him as lead male vocalist and brought him to Harlem. Prysock sang on a number of Johnson's hits for the Decca label before going solo in 1952 to tour the chitlin circuit (sometimes with his brother). He quickly landed an RB hit with "I Didn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," and subsequently made his name among black audiences as an emotive balladeer. During the '50s, Prysock recorded for several smaller labels, but his popularity in concert gradually gained him more exposure. He began a long relationship with the Old Town label, scoring RB hits with "I Worry 'Bout You" in 1958, Ray Noble's old ballad "The Very Thought of You" in 1960, and "It's Too Late Baby, It's Too Late" in 1965. That year, he fulfilled a dream by recording an album with Count Basie on Verve, the label he remained with for most of the '60s. Prysock performed at ~Carnegie Hall in 1966, and hosted his own TV show for a short time. By the end of the '60s, Prysock had returned to Old Town, where he recorded several albums while touring the club circuit. He had an unexpected disco hit in 1976 with "When Love Is New," but otherwise remained largely out of sight.

Prysock returned to active recording in 1985 with the well-received A Rockin' Good Way album on Milestone, and also sang a well-known jingle for Lowenbrau beer. Two more albums for Milestone followed, 1986's This Guy's in Love With You and 1987's Today's Love Songs, Tomorrow's Blues, before Prysock receded from the limelight again. He died on June 21, 1997.

November 11, 2007

This Is My Beloved

This Is My Beloved is not so much a record to be listened to as an experience to be shared; the listener feels as if he were eavesdropping on an intensely private monologue in which a man is reliving a crucial love affair.

The album, a reading of a long narrative poem, is a radical departure for Arthur Prysock. Though he has made two narrative short discs (Maman and the intensely popular, A Working Man’s Prayer). Prysock is chiefly known to his army of fans as the most masculine of pop baritone singers, with hit records spanning two decades. The fans will be startled by this one! Even those who have seen him on the Johnny Carson show and noted his easy stage presence and the depth and richness of his speaking voice, are going to discover with a shock that Arthur is a natural actor. In his portrayal of a desperate man who loves, “not wisely but too well,” Prysock speaks with the same direct simplicity, the same lack of pretense which marks his singing style. The result is a very moving characterization.

The poem divides naturally into two sections. Side One is love shared, Side Two is love lost, love remembered. The first two haunting bars of music introduce Prysock’s quiet portrayal as he tells his girl how much he needs her love in a time hate, and from that moment we are caught up in the personal story of a man who shares with us his most intimate thoughts as he memorizes every detail of the woman he loves. We share the recurring premonition that it cannot last. And as the first side ends, it is already later than the lovers think.

“I waited years today. One year for every hour.”

He had bought her favorite food and wine for their private supper, he had bought the purple asters she loved, to set between them on a candle-lit table.

“But you did not come.”

As suddenly as that, the affair is over. There is only the bitter aftermath to come-and we live through that, too, in Prysock’s quiet characterization, movingly underplayed and completely real from beginning to end.

Prysock’s reading gets a fine assist from the sensitive musical score by Mort Garson, whose arrangements have enhanced previous Prysock Albums. To underline the loneliness of the lover, Garson has chosen a transparent approach in which every instrument and group-solo flute, string quartet, rhythm section-comes through cleanly and separately, each a solitary voice. Living and working in Hollywood, Garson has composed an accompaniment in the best tradition of film scoring. The original music provides a moody backdrop for the story, never intruding on it except by design, when the intrusion is that of the outside world intruding upon the lovers with the clatter of a subway train or the ticking of a clock.

The free-verse poem which provides the text was written by Walter Benton during World War II, but like all good love poems it is impervious to time. In Prysock’s interpretation, it takes on new meaning; the “time of hate” in which Prysock lives is different from that of which Benton wrote. But love does not change, and because it doesn’t the poem’s appeal is universal.

This Is My Beloved is not an album for Prysock fans alone-or for poetry lovers alone. It is an album for any man or woman who has ever “loved and lost,” the story of a love affair with Prysock telling it like it is-and was and will be.

November 10, 2007


Shirley Scott was born on March 14, 1934 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An admirer of the seminal Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott has been one of the organ's most appealing representatives since the late '50s. Scott, a very melodic and accessible player, started out on piano and played trumpet in high school before taking up the Hammond B-3 and enjoying national recognition in the late '50s with her superb Prestige dates with tenor sax great Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. Especially popular was their 1958 hit "In the Kitchen." Her reputation was cemented during the '60s on several superb, soulful organ/soul-jazz dates where she demonstrated an aggressive, highly rhythmic attack blending intricate bebop harmonies with bluesy melodies and a gospel influence, punctuating everything with great use of the bass pedals. Scott married soul-jazz tenor man Stanley Turrentine, with whom she often recorded in the '60s. The Scott/Turrentine union lasted until the early '70s, and their musical collaborations in the '60s were among the finest in the field.

Scott wasn't as visible the following decade, when the popularity of organ combos decreased and labels were more interested in fusion and pop-jazz (though she did record some albums for Chess/Cadet and Strata East). But organists regained their popularity in the late '80s, which found her recording for Muse. Though known primarily for her organ playing, Scott is also a superb pianist -- in the 1990s, she played piano exclusively on some trio recordings for Candid, and embraced the instrument consistently in Philly jazz venues in the early part of the decade. At the end of the '90s, Scott's heart was damaged by the diet drug combination, fen-phen, leading to her declining health. In 2000 she was awarded $8 million in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the drug. On March 10, 2002 she died of heart failure at Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia.

November 09, 2007


Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas on June 7, 1917, the granddaughter of a runaway slave, and grew up in the slums of Chicago. Her parents were David Anderson Brooks, a janitor, and Keziah Corinne (Wims) Brooks, formerly an elementary schoolteacher. From the time she was one month old, Ms. Brooks lived with her family, which later came to include a brother, Raymond, in the sprawling black ghetto on the South Side of Chicago.

Her economically deprived but respectable upbringing was enriched by her parents’ love of education and culture. Keziah brooks composed songs and “storyettes” to amuse her children; David Brooks read them daily selections from his prized set of Harvard Classics. Encouraged by her parents, Ms. Brooks read widely and was especially fond of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Canadian novelist who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the black poet.

When she was thirteen, one of her poems “Eventide,” was published in American Childhood, a popular children’s magazine of the period. Urged by her mother, she sent samples of her work to James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes and received encouraging comments from both men. After graduating from Englewood High school in 1934, she completed her formal education at Wilson Junior College, now known as Kennedy-King College, in 1936, majoring in English literature. Gwendolyn Brooks had been a regular contributor to “Lights and Shadows,” a column of miscellany in the Chicago Defender, the city’s black daily newspaper. When she obtained her college degree, she hoped for work as a Defender reporter.

In the mid-1940s such established literary magazines as Harper’s, the Saturday Review of Literature, the Yale Review, and Poetry, began to publish Ms. Brooks’ poems. Encouraged, she submitted nineteen poems to Harper & Brothers, which agreed to publish them on the recommendation of Richard Wright, the black novelist. In his appraisal Wright said: “[Ms. Brooks] easily catches the pathos of petty destinies, the whimper of the wounded, the tiny incidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor, and the problem of common prejudice. . . . There is not so much an exhibiting of Negro life to whites in these poems as there is an honest human reaction to the pain that lurks so carefully in the Black Belt.”

Gwendolyn Brooks was an "objective" poet, one who has discovered the neglected miracles of everyday life. A lifelong resident of Chicago Brooks wrote unflinchingly about the lives of its impoverished blacks, particularly its women, in wrenching portraits that are social documents as well as works of art. Despite the narrow focus of her work, her poems have a universal appeal.

In 1946 and 1947 Brooks received a Guggenheim Fellowship for creative writing and in 1946 a $1,000 grant in literature from the National Institute of Arts and letters. Mademoiselle magazine named her one of its Ten Women of 1945.

To Blyden Jackson, who analyzed her work years later in Black Poetry in America: Two Essays in Historical Interpretation (1974), Annie Allen was representative of Ms. Brooks’ method: the study “of the flower in the crannied wall.” “Her genius operates within its area of greatest strength,” he wrote, “the close inspection of a limited domain, to reap from that inspection . . . a view of life in which one may see a microscopic portion of the universe intensely and yet, through that microscopic portion, see all truth for the human condition wherever it exists.” Annie Allen won for Brooks the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry magazine in 1949 and the Pulitzer for poetry in 1950. It was the first time the award was conferred on a black woman.

On Sunday, December 3, 2000, world-renowned writer, and humanitarian Gwendolyn Brooks passed away at her Chicago, Illinois residence; she was 83. Brooks is survived by her son, Henry Blakely III, her daughter, Nora Brooks Blakely, and countless family members, friends, and fellow poets. Her husband, Henry Blakely, II, preceded her in death.

The legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks consists of her immeasurable contribution to literature as well as the cultural and social contributions made by those she influenced in myriad ways.

November 08, 2007


Janine Nash…aka…Lady J, was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lady J is a lyricist, poet and singer with over 10 years of performance and studio experience. She has been a background vocalist for Barrington Henderson (lead singer for the Temptations); and The Rose Brothers. She has performed as an opening act for Kirk Whalum; Howard Hewitt; Bloodstone and Slave. As a writer she has penned songs with former Earth, Wind and Fire guitarist, Sheldon Reynolds and member Ralph Johnson. One of her written pieces appears on the recently released “Devoted Spirits CD, “The Answer”.

Born October 11th, Lady J is true to her birth sign…Libra. Balance and Harmony are very important and is reflective in her lyrics.

Lady J’s live performances blend soulful R&B with thought-provoking spoken word/poetry…delivering significant messages with a seductive vibe.
Her sets have been described from “Unique & Soul Stirring” to a “Quiet Revolution”. “She makes a sincere and intimate connection with her audience as though they were sitting in her living room”.

"Shades of J", the title of her debut CD, is also the name of her performance band which consists of Co-writers and & Producers Don Manor (Guitar/Keyboards) and Eric Bolden (Drummer). - Nominated for local Cincinnati Music Award - CD Sales - MySpace

November 06, 2007


Brian O'Neal was born in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of six, Bean's musical interest awakened when he began taking drum lessons. Before long Bean immersed himself in music, mastering the Sax, bass and trombone. He aspired to become a professional drummer until his grandmother, "Daisy" purchased a piano for him when he was sixteen. This was a pivotal moment in his development and marked the exploratory phase of his experimentation with melodies and chords. His diligence and expertise earned him a full piano/music scholarship at Alcorn University in 1984.

November 05, 2007


If you have never heard of Eddie Oliver, then you will hear of Eddie Oliver real soon. And if you have not witnessed this artist in action, then you should make it a point to do so real, real soon. It would be a treat indeed to catch Eddie Oliver spitting tales about urban life, love, and spirituality. His listeners love his smooth delivery and vocal expression, in addition to having a great respect for the topics and subject matters that he so eloquently chooses to tackle. Eddie is known for his range and may speak about anything from love, politics, racism, or religion as evident by his spoken word cd entitled POETIC SOUL : MIRROR IMAGES OF EDDIE OLIVER. The CD, POETIC SOUL, is laced with Hip-Hop, Jazz, and soulful rhythms and is exalted by many as a soulful masterpiece. His follow up cd entitled RAMBLIN : STREET CORNER SOUL is just as masterful. He is without question, one of the most influential, and up and coming spoken word artists of our time.

A native of Orlando, Florida, Eddie left home in 1999 to pursue his dreams of writing. While searching for more national exposure for his art form, he stumbled across the Atlanta poetry scene where he has strived and succeeded in earning the respect of being called one of the top spoken word artists in the country. He has captivated fans from all walks of life while performing at grand events throughout the country. Eddie has graced many, many stages with his smooth yet melodic, urban poetry. He has blessed audiences from The National Black Arts Festival, to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and everything in between. He has been featured on the television special POESY, and The Soul Lounge Groovenation Tour. Eddie has shared countless stages with a variety of soulful stars including Malcolm Jamal Warner, India.Arie, and Musiq Soulchild just to name a few. His song I Just Want to Live was featured on the cd compilation FUSION : A BLEND of POETRY and MUSIC distributed by Malaco through Genesis Poets Music Inc.

Eddie is also a rising star on the theatrical scene. He has played the lead role in the hit Gospel stage play Daddy If You Only Knew, A Dance of Fatherhood, and Diante’s Hell where his melodic urban poetry was featured. His poetry has also been on display in Rolling Out Magazine, The Creative Loafing, and The Orlando Times. Feature articles have been written about this new age, renaissance artist in Profound Word Magazine, The Poetry Papers, and Music 2 Showcase Magazine. And this is only the beginning. Now that his first poetry book entitled REFLECTIONS; has been released Eddie aspires to someday be catapulted amongst the poetry elite along side his idol, the great Mr. Langston Hughes.