Soul Babies by Mark Anthony Neal: What I am reading now for research supporting my next novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two

Greetings All,

Today, I started reading Soul Babies by Mark Anthony Neal (one of my favorite Black male feminists and authors …. Loved his book New Black Man).  Click here to learn more about Neal and his work: http://newblackman.blogspot.com.  I am reading Neal’s Soul Babies as research for my next novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two.

So why am I reading this book? Well, it all started when Tulane University professor and author Shayne Lee referred to the main character Karma Francois in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One as a “post-soul” woman in his interview with me on my Talkshoe.com radio show on November 9, 2009: www.talkshoe.com/tc/15820 (see past episodes archives).   Lee’s Amazon.com book review also makes reference to the term. See below.

“Great artistic efforts do more than just entertain, they enlighten. Love’s Troubadours was highly entertaining, but also challenged me to explore the greater context of the world around me, which is in my humble opinion the hallmark of great art. I learned much about my own strivings and angst while perusing life through the eyes of a hip, chic, post-soul, educated yoga-loving, highly spiritual Black American Princess named Karma. There are no canned characters in this masterpiece, only complex women and men dealing with the vicissitudes of life through their inimitable postmodern brands of spirituality and social perspectives. Karma teaches us much about perseverance as well as about self-transcendence and spiritual consciousness. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is its fresh appropriation of black middleclass sensibilities. Karma is an intuitive and progressive woman and her tastes and interests reflect a mélange of black middleclass tropes often unexplored in contemporary cinema and books. Ananda Leeke fastens our consciousness to a world of black female sophistication, and depicts Karma as an apotheosis of urban-chic and self-transcendence. Leeke takes us on an entertaining and enlightening journey as we watch an incredibly complex protagonist like Karma navigate through the matrices of her personal reformation, negotiate transitional changes, overcome family and relationship challenges and emotional angst, and emerge as a more evolved and emotionally whole woman. This is a well-written book and a fascinating look at an underrepresented portion of contemporary black middle-class life and spirituality.”

Shayne got me thinking about the type of people I write about in my Love’s Troubadours novel series.  So I did a google search for Neal’s definition of post-soul. See below.

“the political, social, and cultural experiences” of blacks born “between the 1963 March on Washington and . . . the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke challenge to affirmative action in 1978.”

After reading the definition, I realized me and most of my characters are post-soul!

When I saw the cover of Soul Babies featuring Soul Train dancers, I hollered because Soul Train was one of my favorite shows growing up in the 70s.  It was a religion for me to watch Don Cornelius and the Soul Train guests and dancers.  They taught me how to dance and dress (at least in my imagination cuz’ my mother would not allow me to wear some of the clothes!).

What do you think about the post-soul definition?

What were your favorite memories from the 70s?

Do you listen to 70s music? If so, who are your favorite artists and groups?

Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and SOOOOOOUUUUUULLLLLLL,

Ananda

Ananda gives an author talk on the March 4th episode of Ananda Leeke Live UStream.tv @9ppm EST

Greetings All,

Celebrate National Women’s History Month on March 4 by tuning into Ananda Leeke Live! from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST for an author talk about the power of the sacred feminine, goddesses, sisterhood, feminism, and womanism in my artwork, poetic memoir That Which Awakens Me, and debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One.  I will also discuss her new book project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Woman’s Online Revolution.  Click here to watch the live show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.

FYI – If you miss the live show, you can always watch a recording: www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the Sacred Feminine,

Ananda

The influence of India.Arie’s music and Spelman College on Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Hi All!

India.Arie’s music has been a powerful influence in my creative work.  Her first CD Acoustic Soul (2001) inspired me to keep moving forward during my novel writing journey.

Karma: Aham Prema (2005) by Ananda Leeke 

(Aham Prema means I am divine love in Sanskrit)

 

Her composition “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” became a personal mantra for the main character Karma Francois in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007). 

I mentioned the song in Love’s Troubadours because India’s music chronicles a woman’s journey of self-discovery.  It vibrates with authenticity and vulnerability.  Surrender and self-acceptance are key themes.  Love’s Troubadours embodies all of these things.  Karma’s journey explores a woman’s pain, passion, and power with authenticity, vulnerability, surrender, and self-acceptance. To learn more, visit www.lovestroubadours.com. The book is available on Amazon.com.

Spelman College is also featured in Love’s Trouabdours.  Several characters are Spelman graduates (Karma’s twin sister and cousin are Spelmanites).  To learn more about Spelman, watch the video below.

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is mentioned in Love’s Troubadours too.  Watch the video below featuring a tour of the Museum  given by its director Dr. Andrea Barnwell , an art historian, writer, and critic.   I was able to visit the Museum and see the exhbit featured in the video in October 2009.  AMAZING! 

FYI – Art plays a major role in Karma’s life. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. My novel offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through her eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, Americas (USA and Mexico), Europe, and Japan such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Yayoi Kusama, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Ansel Adams, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Francisco Mora, Alexander Calder, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Maria Izquierdo, Jean Michel Basquiat, Andre Derain, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Constantin Brancusi. Eldzier Cortor, Amedeo Modigliani, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White. Read the art blog post: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2007/09/blessings-all-my-debut-novel-loves.html.

Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for India.Arie and Spelman College,

Ananda

Tulane Professor/Author Shayne Lee reviews Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Happy Snow Wednesday in D.C.! 

Yes it is snowing in the wonderful District of Columbia.  I am loving the peace and quiet that comes from snow days!  It is giving me an opportunity to sleep  a lot, have long yummy yoga/meditation/Reiki sessions, read magazines and books, chat with friends on Skype, and discover what is happening online.

Shayne Lee

Yesterday I learned Shayne Lee, an author (one of my favorites) and Tulane University professor, wrote an incredibly generous review of my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One on Amazon.com.  See below. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the peace of snow days,

Ananda

Shayne Lee’s Amazon.com Review

 An Intriguing work of art, February 9, 2010
By  Shayne Lee (Houston (by way of New Orleans)) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

Great artistic efforts do more than just entertain, they enlighten. Love’s Troubadours was highly entertaining, but also challenged me to explore the greater context of the world around me, which is in my humble opinion the hallmark of great art. I learned much about my own strivings and angst while perusing life through the eyes of a hip, chic, post-soul, educated yoga-loving, highly spiritual Black American Princess named Karma. There are no canned characters in this masterpiece, only complex women and men dealing with the vicissitudes of life through their inimitable postmodern brands of spirituality and social perspectives. Karma teaches us much about perseverance as well as about self-transcendence and spiritual consciousness. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is its fresh appropriation of black middleclass sensibilities. Karma is an intuitive and progressive woman and her tastes and interests reflect a mélange of black middleclass tropes often unexplored in contemporary cinema and books. Ananda Leeke fastens our consciousness to a world of black female sophistication, and depicts Karma as an apotheosis of urban-chic and self-transcendence. Leeke takes us on an entertaining and enlightening journey as we watch an incredibly complex protagonist like Karma navigate through the matrices of her personal reformation, negotiate transitional changes, overcome family and relationship challenges and emotional angst, and emerge as a more evolved and emotionally whole woman. This is a well-written book and a fascinating look at an underrepresented portion of contemporary black middle-class life and spirituality.

Listen to my first Author Chat on BlogTalkRadio – Who are the love’s troubadours?

 

 

Happy Monday!

Today I hosted the first episode of my author chat series on BlogTalkRadio.  Click here to listen to the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke/2010/02/08/author-chat-with-ananda-leeke.   During the show, I discussed my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  I also reflected on the question of the day – Who are love’s troubadours? – and how African American playwright Lorraine Hansberry inspired the novel series. Let me know what you think of the first episode (it is pretty short – 10 minutes).

By the way, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One is available on Amazon.com. It makes for a great winter read and Valentine’s Day gift. Click here to order the book: http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq 

Thank you for your support!  Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Joy for knowing I am one of Love’s Troubadours (so are you!),

Ananda 

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via Author Chat with Ananda Leeke.

What does it mean to be a Black man?

A Tribute to Deno, painting by Ananda Leeke

(appears on back cover of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One – www.lovestroubadours.com)

Happy Thursday,

Today I am celebrating the birthday of my best friend and co-writer Deno Moss.  Deno was born in 1962. He made his life transition on February 6, 2003 (two days after his 42nd birthday).  During the last two years of his life, Deno spent an enormous of time working with me as a co-writer on the Love’s Troubadours novel series.  He is one of the reasons I started writing the novel.  His persistence, support, friendship, and writing talent made him the perfect partner.  He also happened to be my best friend from the time we met during my freshmen year at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

During the course of our 20 year friendship, I witnessed Deno’s journey as a creative, giving, consistent, and loving Black man who was a husband to Marcie, father to Jordan, son to his mother, brother to his siblings, and friend to many.  He gave from his heart.  He shared wisdom wrapped in his Wilmington, Delaware accent, silly humor, life experiences, soul music, comic books, and Brooklyn living.  He continues to give from his heart as my guardian angel.

Last night I was doing research for one of Deno’s favorite characters Symon Allure, the main man in my new book Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two. Symon is a post-soul man born in 1963. His mom is Afro-Cuban. His dad is African American with Richmond, Virginia roots. When the book opens, you meet Symon in a state of reflection about what happened to him in 1968. One of his memories is his father Maxwell, a jazz musician, taking him to a barber shop in Brooklyn.

Malik Yoba

The barber shop was key in my research last night. It led me to the first episode of actor/musician/healer/father Malik Yoba’s new BET web TV show called Shop Talk: What’s on the Hearts of Men. It is set in Brooklyn.  The first webisode is entitled “Father and Son.” It features Malik and his seven year old Josiah. They visit a barbershop. Josiah asks the men in the barber shop what it means to be a man. Check out the four-minute webisode: http://shoptalk.bet.com/video/webisode-1-father-and-son.

Shawn Wallace

Here’s another thing to check out: author Ytasha Womack’s great blog post featuring an interview with Shawn Wallace, musician and producer of the upcoming documentary You’ll Be A Man , about what it means to be a Black man: http://postblackthebook.blogspot.com/2010/02/doc-youll-be-man-interview-with.html.  Click here to learn more about Wallace:  http://www.myspace.com/qimusicgroup.  Watch a short video (7 minutes) about Wallace’s You’ll Be A Man documentary: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=53896857. FYI – Womack’s new book is Post Black. Check her book out on Amazon.com.

Now after all that, I wanna know one thing.  What does it mean to be a Black man?

Please share your thoughts. They will deepen my book research.  Thanks in advance!

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the Black men in my life who demonstrate love, support, friendship, consistency, understanding, and responsibility,

Ananda

PS: My dad John; grandfathers Robert and John; Uncles Bob, Robbie, and Samuel; brothers Mike, Mark, and Matt; cousins Tre, Finis, and Tony; and brothalove friends Fred (play father), Wayne, Jason, Ken, Henry, Andre, and Tim’m represent what it means to be a Black man to me.  They demonstrate love, support, friendship, consistency, understanding, responsibility, and so much more.

Ananda’s Great News! Her wire sculpture featuring the Haitian love & healing goddess Erzulie will be on exhibit at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute on March 11-May 24 in NYC

Great News All!

Yesterday I learned my wire sculpture “Erzulie’s Black Heart” will be featured in the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s exhibition “Wearing Spirit: Aesthetically Personifying the Feminine in African Sacred Traditions” from March 11 to May 24 in New York City.  The opening reception will be held on March 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  If you are in the Big Apple on March 11, join me at the reception.  It will be BIG FUN!  For more information about the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, visit www.cccadi.org.  Many thanks to Shantrelle Lewis for inviting me to submit my work!

Ananda Leeke's wire sculpture Erzulie's Black Heart

Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley (the greatest photographer in the universe! – www.leighmosley.com)

Below is my artist statement for the exhibition.

Artist Statement

Ananda Leeke’s passion for African goddesses began while she was studying Kemetian and Yoruba religions and writing My Soul Speaks, her first chap book of poetry, in 1992.  In 1995, Leeke began using coat hangers, an assortment of wire, found objects, vintage jewelry, fabric, and amulets to sculpt images of African goddesses including Oshun, Yemanya, Oya, Maat, Auset, and Het Heru.  Over the past fifteen years, she has explored these goddesses in her artwork, writing, and travels to Cuba, Egypt, Ghana, Louisiana, and Senegal.  She discovered Erzulie, the Haitian goddess of love, while writing her debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One.  Erzulie influenced the lives of many characters in Love’s Troubadours. Erzulie’s veve is incorporated in Love’s Troubadours logo and artwork on the book cover.

Erzulie’s Black Heart is a goddess of love and healing who was born out of the middle passage experience of enslaved Africans in Haiti.  She is a Petwo spirit.  Her love and healing energy are hot, aggressive, and quick to act when the children of Haiti need her.  Her black heart represents a sanctuary for Haitians when they are faced with life’s hardships including poverty, illness, violence, and natural disasters such as hurricanes and the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that occurred on January 12. Erzulie’s Black Heart heals the pain and suffering of Haiti’s sons and daughters. She protects them with the fierce love of a Black warrior woman.  Her intention is to bring the children of Haiti to higher ground.

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Erzulie, the Haitian goddess of love,

Ananda

Marinating on what it means to be post-black as I research and write Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two

Hi All,

As many of you might know, I am writing my next novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two.  I am in the midst of a research and reading phase that has me on a bottomless pit search for all things interesting.  So far, my adventures have been online and offline.  My eyes have traveled through numerous magazines, books, Amazon.com book reviews, Twitter and Facebook conversations, YouTube videos, and web TV shows.  All kinds of good stuff is surfacing. It is really juicy!.  There’s no real order to my method too.  It’s a bit messy!  And that’s okay!  I am flowing with the FLOW!

I am fascinated … well to be honest infatuated with what it means to be post-black.  The seed of my infatuation was planted during a radio show discussion I had with one of my favorite authors Shayne Lee, a Tulane University professor, in November.

Our conversation was FABULOUS! I am so glad it was recorded because I am using it as research now.  Click here to listen to the show on Talkshoe.com:  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/15820 (look for episode 10 that aired on November 9, 2009).

During our conversation, Shayne and I discussed why we both loved reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers and its connection to my new book That Which Awakens Me and debut novel  Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (available on Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq). Shayne gave a juicy review of Love’s Troubadours.  He called the book’s main character Karma Francois  a “post-soul woman.” Those three words led me to post-black.  They shifted my reality Translation:  Shayne’s three words set it off for me.  Hey that’s what the brotha does!  His analysis and books take you there.  I read Shayne’s book T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher last year and am looking forward to reading his new book Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace. I’ll be using Holy Mavericks as research for a character who is the son of an evangelical minister in my next novel.  Click here to learn more about Shayne:  http://tulane.edu/liberal-arts/sociology/lee-profile.cfm.

So after my reality shifted, I started examining Karma’s world through a post-black lens. The first stop on my post-black research journey was Thelma Golden, executive director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

While Golden worked at the Whitney Museum, she and artist Glenn Ligon coined the phrase “post-black art” in the late 1990s.   The phrase was explained in the Studio Museum’s 2001 catalogue for Freestyle, an exhibition of twenty-eight up and coming artists of African American backgrounds.

Golden wrote,

  • Post-black artists are “adamant about not being labeled ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.”
  • “They are both post-Basquiat and post-Biggie. They embrace the dichotomies of high and low, inside and outside, tradition and innovation, with a great ease and facility.”
  • “Post-black was the new black.”
  • Post-black is “both a hollow social construction and a reality with an indispensable history.”

What do you think of Golden’s post-black commentary?  I am still chewing on it!

FYI: I used Golden’s museum curator career as a template for Karma’s career in New York City.  Golden’s curatorial work and willingness to show women and people of color artists that might not have been shown anywhere greatly influenced my discussion of African diaspora art in Love’s Troubadours.  She introduced me to Kara Walker, Chris Ofili, and other artists mentioned in my novel.

Yesterday, I discovered author Ytasha Womack’s new book Post Black: How a New Generation Is Redefining African-American Identity (click here to read Womack’s blog and Twitter page).  That was a Happy Black History moment!  I ordered a copy of the book from Amazon.com today and will be attending Womack’s D.C. book reading on February 16 at Busboys and Poets’ 5th and K Street location (time – 6:30-8pm).  I am so excited!  Hopefully, Womack’s book reading will give me more food for thought as I explore the post-black world  I share with my main character Karma in Love’s Troubadours – Book One and main character Symon Allure in Love’s Troubadours – Book Two.

Any thoughts on what it means to be post-black?

Do you self-identify as post-black?

Do you have any post-black fiction or nonfiction recommendations?

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Adventures in the land of post-black,

Ananda

Celebrate February with Ananda and her online yoga classes, author chats, and creative coaching sessions.

Happy Early February!

February is one of my favorite months. I am celebrating February by offering online yoga classes, author chats, and creative coaching sessions.  See my schedule of online events below. I hope you can join me.  Please share them with your network.

If you like or learn anything from these online events, please consider making a donation to support Doctors Without Borders’ work to improve the lives of Haitians impacted by the January 12th earthquake.  Click here to learn more and make a donation: www.doctorswithoutborders.org.  

1) YOGA FOR WOMEN’S HEART HEALTH AND PEOPLE OF HAITI ON STICKAM.COM

I will be teaching a series of online yoga classes on February 5, 12, 19, and 26 to honor women’s heart health month and the people of Haiti on Stickam.com:  www.stickam.com/anandaleeke.  Each class will be held from 7:00 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. EST.  

If you miss the classes, you can watch the videos. They are all free! Click here to watch them: http://stickam.com/anandaleeke.

Click here to learn more about women’s heart health month and the Heart Truth campaign: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth.

2) AUTHOR CHATS ON BLOGTALKRADIO

I am hosting three author chats on The Ananda Leeke Show, my new BlogTalkRadio program, on February 8, 15, and 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:15 a.m.  EST: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke.  During the author chats, I will read excerpts from my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One and share reflections that answer the question of the day.  See the list of questions of the day below.   

1) Who are love’s troubadours? – February 8

2) What does love look like in my main character Karma Francois’ life? – February 15

3) What is love mentalism? – February 22

3) CREATIVITY COACHING SESSIONS ON USTREAM.TV

Join me for two creative coaching sessions on Ananda Leeke Live!, my UStream.tv show, on February 11 and 25 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. EST.  Click here to watch the show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.  Don’t worry if you miss the live recording. A recording will be archived on the web site.

My online coaching sessions will utilize creativity exercises included in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  See the list of topics below.

a. How to use six-word memoirs to identify the many parts of yourself – February 11 

b. What does creativity look like in your life? – February 25

Enjoy February!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Love,

Ananda

Wed-Locked, another fabulous web TV show and source of inspiration for my new novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two

Greetings All,

The blogosphere is full of web TV inspiration for a writer like myself.  Thanks to the Black Web TV Facebook page, I learned about “Wed-Locked” (http://www.saint-victor.net/www.saint-victor.net/Projects.html), a fabulous new comedy web TV show about Robert and Denise Davis, a young Black married couple who love each other and are working to keep their marriage together.  They remind me of my own characters in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) and the current novel I am writing Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two.  “Wed-Locked” was launched in November.  It features actress Karla Mosley of the soap opera “Guiding Light” and Lawrence Saint-Victor, the creator and executive producer of the series.  Mosley and Saint-Victor worked together on the “Guiding Light” before it was cancelled.  Mosley also serves as a producer for the show. Christina Faison directs the series. 

You can watch the five episodes here:  http://www.saint-victor.net/www.saint-victor.net/Screening_Room.html.   Check them out on YouTube too: http://www.youtube.com/user/WedLocked09

The show also has a Facebook  page:  http:www.facebook.comWedLockedWebSeriesv=info&ref=profile#/WedLockedWebSeries?v=wall&ref=profile

You can also follow the show on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/WedLockedTweet.

That’s all I am gonna say for now. I watched the preview video “Wed-Locked” on YouTube and fell head over heels in love. Yep I sure did!  I will watch the series and share my thoughts about it soon.  Until then, check out the preview video and a webisode about marriage counseling below.

I loved the interview that Lawrence Saint-Victor and Karla Mosley did on We Love Soaps because they discussed the power of creating their own show with their own stories.  Indie artists creating indie content is amazing!  Watch the interview below.

Enjoy your final day of 2009!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda