DJ Rich Medina: Jump N’ Funkin’ For Fela Kuti & Teaching At Cornell University

“Fela Kuti is the James Brown of Africa. We have been pushing the idea that Afrobeat is apart of Black history for 13 years”. Rich Medina introduced a whole generation of dancers to Fela Kuti and Afrobeat with his Jump N’ Funk parties. The party has been branded “the first and most consistent DJ-based party dedicated to Fela Kuti and his message of peace and equality through music.” A a staple on dancefloors from New York to Berlin for over a decade.

“Rich Medina re-creates the vibe of a Fela Kuti concert, utilizing culturally relevant African photography and Nigerian dance videos for visuals and live percussion by Juan Carlos Izaguire and the legendary Leonard “Doc” Gibbs to accompany his turntable mixes, not to mention live performances by some of the world’s most respected Afrobeat leaders, including both of Fela’s sons, Femi and Seun Kuti. Other artists that have collaborated with Rich Medina for past JUMP N’ FUNK parties have been Zap Mama, Sandra Isadore, Akoya, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Wunmi, Ron Trent and many others.”

Started DJing at 10, graduated from Cornell University and today is teaching at Cornell, talking at Ted talks and and spreading the music of Fela. “The club is my Church”

Kobie Brown “From Fatherless To Fatherhood” (2012 Film)

 I along with millions of Americans have grown up “Fatherless”. And today 40% of American children live in a fatherless home raised by single mothers, aunts, grandmothers and other female caregivers. Kobie Brown’s 2012 film From Fatherless To Fatherhood explores the causes, effects and possible solutions to turning the corner on father absence. We met at Central Park for an unscripted, insightful conversation about the inspiration for the film, his family story and his goals. I love and support what Kobie is doing, solutions through dialogue.

“Before You leave this planet, it is important that you get in touch with what your purpose is and not be defined by what your job or career may be..but find out what it is you are suppose to do for the betterment of mankind and everything else will fall into place.” – Kobie during our Central Park conversation

My Small Story Mix II

14 NYC stories in 14 minutes. A thread of conversations beginning with a new New Yorker  who is proof that people move to NYC from all over the world; a man roller skating w the bottom of a mannequin on his head  in soho; Freedom Bradley Dir-City Parks Foundations on what else “NYC Parks”; Founder of cleanplates.com the online healthy version of zagats; Guy wearing airtrekkers on Park Avenue; Iesha of Street Corner Resources, anti-violence teen protest @129 & Lenox; DJ Moma on going from engineer to DJ and “escaping the rat race”; Abby & Tori on the call that sent them to Haiti; Footwear designer Yusef Sirius El on 5 and 10 year business plans; Opera singer Joanna Bergin on the day she knew opera was her calling; Stylist Jason Rembert@Rocawear pop-up store on how he got his first internship at Elle; my first Yankee game, in the parking lot  I get schooled on Yankee culture by my host and former Yankee exec onYankee branding..but he has a World Series ring, I LOVE NYC; Cinematographer/producer Shawn Peters on what is Weeksville.

The Blisslife of Amel Larrieux from Groove Theory & Sweetback

Today’s temperature was uncomfortably hot and humid but I perked up when I bumped into R&B songwriter Amel Larrieux at Broadway and 10th street. She has just returned from a vacation in the Bay area. We walk along 10th street and she shares the excitement about having her daughter in her band which comes out later this year on Blisslife Recordsr; her love of taking walks and “daydreaming in New York”; her definition of knowledge/wisdom and advice for going after dreams.

Amel Larrieux, was born in New York City’s, Greenwich Village, her mother was a dance critic and professor named Brenda Dixon Gottschild. She was always a creative minded person since a tender age, and fortunately was surrounded by talented family members and inspiring artists.

Miguel Algarin’s 1st Reading @ Nuyorican Poets Cafe (March 3, 2011)

On March 3rd, I was in the right place on the right day. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe opened 38yrs ago, but this is poet Algarin‘s 1st reading at the cafe he co-founded. He read a poem inspired by a visit with Miguel Pinero to William Burroughs’ bunker on NYC’s Lower Eastside. “Willy B..Willy B..Willy B!!” It was a rare night organized by Ra Araya, the Poet Poducer Punk, for a person who founded the most influential poets cafe in America.

Founded circa 1973, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe began as a living room salon in the East Village apartment of writer and poet, Miguel Algarin. Algarin, a college professor at the center of this blossoming arts community, was dedicated to bringing new work into the public eye. By 1975 it became clear that there were many poets and too much energy for Algarin’s living room. William Morrow Inc. had just published an anthology titled “Nuyorican Poetry”. Miguel Piñero’s “Short Eyes” had just won two awards as best play of the 1974 season. Poetry, the vital sign of a new culture, needed to be heard live. So Algarin rented an Irish bar, the Sunshine Cafe on East 6th Street, which was christened The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. By 1980, the overflow of audiences led the Cafe to purchase an “in rem” building at 236 East 3rd Street to expand its activities and programs.

“The storied café currently is in the process of expanding its three upper floors with the help of a $500,000 grant received from the city. The money is going toward developing additional performance space, a classroom and a multimedia lab.” Wall Street Journal article

Tunisian Poet Samia Ouederni @ Nuyorican Poets Cafe

After sharing a poem on Facebook in response to the revolution that was happening in her home of Tunisia, Samia was asked to read for Miguel Algarin, the Founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Samia is the 1st Tunisian poet to be published in English; and, read at the Nuyorican, one of the most important venues for the development of poetry, music and theater in New York. In 1973, Algarin’s mission was to create a multicultural venue that both nurtures artists and exhibits a variety of artistic works to both enlighten and empower the underclass, it is a mission that has remained true to this day.

“If you have the baby here tonight, the baby will be named Nuyorican” Miguel said with a laugh to Samia before her reading. I filmed my taxi conversation with Samia enroute to the venue about Tunisia, NYC, language and poetry. Ra ,a seasoned Nuyorican organizer, explains how he discovered Samia and why he “wanted her to read for Miguel”. She read 5 poems that night. I shared the poem Samia read in Arabic titled ارادة الحياة ( English translation “Will To Live”) written in 1933 by Chebbi. Part of the poem is the Tunisian anthem and now chanted during the ongoing revolution in Tunisia and Egypt.  She is also featured @ The Poetry Foundation.

Brad & Simone: The Organizers Behind HarlemStage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc.

Since 1979, Harlem Stage has been one of the nation’s leading arts organizations devoted to the creation and development of new works by performing artists of color. Brad Learmonth & Simone Eccleston are the passionate organizers behind the programming and arts education departments.  We take a tour of HarlemStage, discuss its history, E-moves, DJ Rich Medina and partnerships with NYC schools.  Harlem Stage has joined forces with the Apollo Theater and Jazzmobile to present the first Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival May 9, 2011.  Celebrating the unique legacy of jazz in the uptown community, the Festival will bring both established and emerging artists to some of the famed venues where jazz flourished in Harlem: Lenox Lounge, Showman’s Café, the Apollo Theater, Alhambra Ballroom, and Minton’s Playhouse. Other festival events will take place at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Columbia University and a variety of locations throughout the Harlem area.

The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile have partnered specifically to create a resurgence of jazz opportunities in Harlem with this week-long festival. Jazz will be presented in all its various forms and diverse formats including jazz dance, concert, club, cabaret and dance events. Conceived as an annual offering, Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival will enable the partners to create a dynamic range of programming, highlighting the role that local Harlem venues have played in the development of jazz.The three partners are also collaborating with Columbia University and its Center for Jazz Studies and Institute for Research in African American Studies to bring humanities programming that will further highlight the cultural significance of the Festival. 

Toure on Upcoming Projects , Storytelling, His Story, Multicultural America & Book Recommendations

While checking my email at the Soho Apple Store, I ran into long time friend and very talented writer, Toure. Referred to as “a one-man media conglomerate” by The Daily Beast’s editor Tina Brown, the pop culture commentator has his hands in various media works, from penning articles for Rolling Stone, where the scribe has been a long-time contributing editor, to contributing to MSNBC and hosting the Fuse’s Hip Hop Shop. His TL is not short of tell-it-like-it is commentary. Touré is expecting the release of his fourth book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? on September 13. These days Toure is Fuse’s pop culture and music insider Touré, takes on double hosting duties with two of the networks hottest shows, “Hip Hop Shop” and “On The Record with Fuse.”
In addition, Touré is the author of Never Drank the Kool-Aid, a collection of published articles, Soul City, a novel, and The Portable Promised Land, a collection of short stories. He is also a Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone, formerly a host and correspondent at BET and was CNN’s first Pop Culture Correspondent. He has appeared on the “Today Show,” “the Paula Zahn show,” “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” “Topic A with Tina Brown,” “Anderson Cooper 360°,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” “Dateline NBC,” “Nightline,” and many others.

Maya Contreras: Drummer, Author & Editor-In-Chief of The Dirty Durty Diary

 Born in Denver, Maya grew up in a creative family. She has done everything in the arts from writing, performance to management. We had a refreshing conversation at NYC’s Gramercy Park Hotel about her novel “The Him Book: One Woman’s Almost Religious Search to Find the One” ,   NYC , Family, longer editorial, Jeffrey Wright and the story behind her bi-annual print magazine THE DDD – Dirty Durty Diary. As an Artist Manager, Maya has worked with distinguished stage and film composers including, Marvin Hamlisch who received an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe and Pulitzer Prize, as well as Bill Conti, an Oscar and three-time Emmy winner and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after composers and conductors.As a musician, Maya has worked with producer Dallas Austin, Professor Griff, composed the music for the Jomadi/Crossroads production of Six from the Rainbow, and was a student of Grammy Award winning drummer Woody Williams.

As a professional writer Maya has covered everything from New York Nightlife to the current climate of the music industry. Her interview credits include: Legendary MCs- KRS-ONE and Pharoahe Monch, Editor-in-Chief of Complex, Noah Callahan-Bever, Editor-in-Chief of the Austin Chronically and Founder of SXSW Louis Black, playwright and actor Paul Stoval-Oakley (Clear, Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci), actor Amina Robinson (Precious, Mamma Mia), Award Winning Director and Producer Jeremy Simmons (Trans-Generation, Eyes of Tammy Faye, One Punk Under God, and The Last Beekeeper) and legendary New York Graffiti crew The Tats Cru.

Kevin Green: Homeless Activist UPLIFTING MEN & WOMEN

Who houses the homeless in your city? In Brooklyn’s East New York, its Kevin Green. Kevin founded Uplifting Men & Women, which ranks #1 out of 50 NYC non-profits housing homeless and ex-cons. “Real Men Do Real Things. UPLIFTING MEN was established because of the growing need for supportive transitional residences as a result of the lack of available housing. Our supportive housing program is based on our Rites of Passage Model. We provide room and board and holistic services to homeless individuals while they prepare to live independently.”

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