Buppies, a new web TV show & source of inspiration for my new novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two

In November, I discovered “Buppies” (http://buppies.bet.com), BET’s new web TV show that chronicles the life experiences of five Black professionals in Hollywood.   “Buppies” is a blend of comedy and drama.  It depicts how twentysomething upwardly mobile Black folks live, love, dress, work, and deal with issues such as  relationship breakups, death, sexual orientation, and pregnancy.

“Buppies” centers around Quinci Allen, a Hollywood Black American Princess (BAP) socialite and publicist.  Quinci is dealing with the death of her celebrity father and recent breakup with fiancé Shaka.  As she navigates the landscape of her life’s ups and downs and discovers who she is, Quinci realizes the importance of her friendships and begins to rely on them as her true family.  Her friends are also engaged in similar journeys of self-discovery.

My thoughts about “Buppies”

So far I like the story line of the series. I wish the webisodes were longer.  They are only three minutes. However, the actors and producers pack a lot into those three minutes! Check out my social media suggestions on how BET can market “Buppies” below.

  • Expand “Buppies” social media presence by launching a Vimeo and YouTube channel so that fans can see what life is like for the actors behind the scenes. The page should be linked to “Buppies” composer Gary Gunn’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/garygunnmusic.
  • Create a UStream.tv channel for the actors and producers so they can host weekly live chats.
  • Launch a video campaign that encourage fans to make their own videos sharing why they love the show and what characters resemble their lives.
  • Increase Twitter followers and Facebook fans.
  • Offer weekly chats on Twitter or Facebook that feature one or more of the actors and producers.  The conversations could create a series of topics that could be featured during a weekly or monthly blogging carnival.
  • Have the actors do audio  blogs with Cinchcast or Utterli about their characters on a weekly basis. Post the blogs on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Invite bloggers to review the webisodes or a topic discussed on the webisode.
  • Promote the show with campaigns on Twitter and Facebook which include some giveaways.

Click here to read a review of “Buppies” by Aymar Jean Christian, a journalist turned academic who founded the Televisual blog: http://blog.ajchristian.org/2009/11/01/buppies-tatyana-ali-and-the-value-of-making-a-web-series. Christian is also a doctoral student in communication at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania.

I adore the cast of “Buppies” which stars Tatyana Ali as Quinci. Ali is one of my favorite actress from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Young and the Restless.” She is a singer, activist, and graduate of Harvard University.

Quinci’s ex-fiance Shaka McCarthy, a corporate attorney and rapper, is played by Ernest Waddell, a Brooklyn-born actor with childhood roots in Bowie, Maryland (a P.G. County homeboy!).  Waddell is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.  As a NYU student, he worked on “As the World Turns” and HBO’s “The Wire.”

Robin Thede, an actress, comedian, writer, entertainment correspondent, host and radio personality, and Northwestern University graduate, plays Priscilla “Prissy” Belle, one of Quinci’s best girlfriends.  Prissy is a magazine editor with a celebrity attitude who is dating Eliot David, a sports agent with a closet full of secrets that involve his relationship with another man.

Preston Davis, an actor and native of Los Angeles, brings the character Eliot to life.  Davis is a graduate of Louisiana State University, has a recurring role on HBO’s “Entourage,” and is starring in the upcoming films, “The Brotherhood V: Alumni” and “The Prankster.”

Chante Frierson breathes “keep it real” life into Quinci’s other best girlfriend Kourtney Bellows, a woman who considers being a music industry heiress a profession.  Frierson’s acting career began with recurring roles on NBC’s “A Different World” and the Broadway production of “Rent.”  She recently appeared in the San Diego Musical Theater production of “Dreamgirls.” Click here to learn more about the cast of “Buppies”: http://buppies.bet.com/cast.

Filmmaker Julian Breece wrote and directed the series.  Breece and his producing partner, Aaliyah Williams co-produced “Buppies” through Game Theory Films and in partnership with Tatyana Ali and her sister Anastasia’s company HazraH Entertainment.

Gary Gunn, a fellow Howardite and composer with D.C. roots, created an amazing soundtrack for ”Buppies.”  Click here to listen to the soundtrack: http://www.garygunnmusic.com/filmtv_buppies.html.

“Buppies” has become a source of inspiration for my next novel Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book TwoBook Two tells the story of Symon Allure, the last person you meet in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  Symon is a thirtysomething Brooklyn-born African American man with an eclectic background and striking resemblance to actor Courtney Vance.  His eclectic background includes working class Afro-Cuban roots dipped in the southern culture of Richmond, Virginia, and a professional persona that mirrors Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois’ Talented Tenth. Symon earned his BA and MBA in finance from Howard University’s School of Business.  He is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  He works as an investment banker in Washington, D.C. and enjoys a buppie lifestyle with his 15th Street bachelor pad home and BMW.  The novel opens with flashbacks from Symon’s childhood in 1968 and moments from his freshmen year at Morehouse College.  It takes you on a journey of Symon’s dating experiences which lay the groundwork for a major life transformation that helps him discover his identity as one of Love’s Troubadours.

Videos from Ananda’s December 6th Book Release Party

Happy Kwanzaa and New Year!

I hope your holiday season has been a joyous one so far!  Today I uploaded several videos from my December 6th book release party that celebrated my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  Enjoy! 

That Which Awakens Me and my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) are both available on Amazon.com:   http://tiny.cc/7uFsg and http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq.

Enjoy your week!

Peace, Compassion, Gratitude, Unity, and Self-Determination,

Ananda

What do you think about The Washington Post article: Successful, black and lonely & Helen Andrews’ upcoming memoir “Bitch Is the New Black,” a satirical look at successful young Black women living DC?

Happy Friday!

Here is some food for thought.

Last night, my dad J (a proud member of BAP Living!) talked to me about an article he read in The Washington Post. It was about Helen Andrews, the author of “Bitch Is the New Black,” a satirical memoir that explores how successful Black women in their twenties make their way in D.C. See below. He asked me to read it because he thought my thirtysomething Boho BAP character Karma Francois (who lives in D.C.) in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) provides a different perspective on what it means to be a single Black woman in D.C. My perspective offers healing and tools that help Karma examine her life choices and understand what she has done and where she can go in the future by making better choices. J also said that my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery offers a road map on how a single Black woman has lived and learned to navigate the ups and downs of life in D.C. over the past 20 years with compassion, connections to others, creativity, communities of support, and contemplative practices. I am still marinating on the article. When you have time, read it and tell me what you think. The article alsl has a video featuring Andrews talking about her new book. Check it out.

I started a discussion on my social networking site BAP Living.  Click here to read and/or participate in the lively discussion:  http://baplivingforbapsandebw.ning.com/profiles/blogs/what-do-you-think-about-w-post?commentId=2076799%3AComment%3A16601&xg_source=msg_com_blogpost.  Below are some of my comments from the discussion.

“I think it is important that Black women tell all of our experiences. We each have a story. We each have a way of living and navigating our life choices. We are not monolithic. I think there are so many representations of what it means to Black and female. We have to continue to share who we are with each other and live from a place of authenticity. I think Helen Andrews is telling her story the way she sees life as a Black woman. It does not reflect my life. It may reflect others’ lives. And that’s okay. I want Black women and girls to know we each have a different perspective …  Social media allows us to share our stories and life experiences in ways that illustrate the diversity of Black womanhood. So let’s keep telling our stories. Let’s keep writing books, blogs, poems, plays, and webisodes that say what we think is real and true for ourselves. There is room enough for all of our stories, experiences, opinions, and wisdom.”

“We give a lot of our energy and power away by spending so much time on what mainstream media is doing. We could channel that energy into creating our own content on the various platforms we now have available. You are so right about the stereotypes. And yes I agree with you that people don’t read things about the Black experience and understand there are a million different experiences out there. That’s where we have to stand up and tell our stories the way we see ourselves. Evey blog post, book, play, video, webisode, poem, photo, song, and piece of artwork we make that reflects our diverse experiences increases our power and presence. I have witnessed the power of transforming folks’ opinions about Black womanhood when folks who look like me and don’t look like me read my books and blogs, visit my social networking sites, hear me speak or teach in public, and watch my videos and webisodes. It is a slow change, but I see it. It may not hit the mainstream in the way that Andrews’ book and movie can, but it is my contribution. I just want to honor and support more of us making similar contributions to telling our stories.”

Also, check out the discussions on Urban Politico’s blog –  http://theurbanpolitico.blogspot.com/2009/12/bitch-is-new-black.html and Raintings of Creole Princess – http://creoleindc.typepad.com/rantings_of_a_creole_prin/2009/12/helena-andrews-bitch-is-the-new-black.html#tpe-action-posted-6a00d8341c5e0053ef0120a744967e970b.  They are rich!

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Authentic Storytelling,

Ananda

Article copied from The Washington Post’s web site: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/09/AR2….

Successful, black and lonely
D.C. author’s tale of young black women’s loneliness catches Hollywood’s ear

By DeNeen L. Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 10, 2009

Helena Andrews is 29, single, living in D.C., and might be the star of a black “Sex and the City” — stylish, beautiful and a writer desperately in search of love in the city.

Andrews’s life appears charmed: The film rights for her memoir, “Bitch Is the New Black,” a satirical look at successful young black women living in Washington, were purchased before the book was finished. Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” is set to produce the film and Andrews will write the screenplay.

When Andrews pitched the book, she described it as part “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” part “Sex and the City.” The book is to be published in June by Harper Collins.

“What I am trying to say about single black women in any urban environment is, you don’t know them as well as you think you do. They may not know themselves as well as they think they do,” Andrews says, seated at a table with a white tablecloth in a restaurant on U Street. Her appearance is flawless: She is wearing an ivory blazer and skinny jeans, her movie-star eyes glisten with shadow and her hair is cut in a fresh bob. Perfect. Image is everything. And it means nothing.

“The book was a time for me to step back and reflect,” to capture the internal dialogue and the dialogue with girlfriends who are “caught in a quarter-life crisis.” She is not talking about all young black women, but some. Revealing a story not oft told.

A lot of black women put up an exterior that says: “Everything is together. ‘I’m fine. Perfect. Don’t worry about me. Keep it moving.’ That is the trend,” Andrews says. “Put on new stilettos. Put on a mask of bitchiness.” But that image — prevalent in both the media and the workplace, Andrews believes — is one-dimensional.

“When people think about black women, they have only one adjective for us, which is ‘strong,’ ” Andrews says. “The girl you see walking down the street looks like she has it all together,” but she may not.

A journalist who has written for Politico and The Root, Andrews says her book attempts to reveal what’s behind the veneer. In a series of essays, Andrews documents the lives of so many young black women who appear to have everything: looks, charm, Ivy League degrees, great jobs. Closets packed full of fabulous clothes; fabulous condos in fabulous gentrified neighborhoods; fabulous vacations, fabulous friends. And yet they are lonely: Their lives are repetitive, desperate and empty. They are post-racial feminists who have come of age reaping the benefits of both the civil rights movement and the women’s movement, then asking quietly: What next?

“Gone are the [college] days when friends are an elevator ride away, dinner plans are made on the way to somebody’s hall, and Thursday is Friday or Friday is Thursday (who cares, you’ll figure it out in Philosophy C203),” Andrews writes. “Soon enough, the little old lady living in a shoe is you — and the rent is effin’ unbelievable, and nobody comes to visit because you’re too far from the Metro. Adulthood comes in little jigsaw pieces. Once the painstaking work of fitting them all together is done, the picture doesn’t look nearly as cool as it did on the box.”

Andrews writes about what it is like for a young, black woman dating in D.C., trying to find a mate who seems ever elusive. The futile rituals are familiar: the dressing up, the eager cab ride over to the party, the hold-your-breath as you walk in, scanning the room quickly for any looks returned. The mantra sounding in the back of your head: “So-and-so found a man last year at a party like this. Maybe tonight is my night.” Then one by one, the men prove to be disappointments and disappointing: married, uninteresting or uninterested.

The disappointment as you end up at the bar once again, committing straw violence in your drink (stirring the drink frantically and unconsciously).

Andrews writes the truth of those nights. The truth is for too many, they never work out. Not for Andrews and not for her friend, Gina, who is a prominent character in her life and in the book.

“For a lot of black women, especially young successful black women, we have a lot of boxes on our master plan list checked off,” Andrews says. “We think happiness should come immediately after that. But that is not always the case.”

Love is much too hard to find and when these women do, it may go all wrong because of issues that are too complicated for statistics, Andrews says. She is quick to say, “There are tons of black families who are healthy and good.” Even so, black women are more likely than white women to grow up poor or otherwise struggling financially; to be fatherless and to experience a myriad of other societal and/or familial dysfunctions. Ironically, the “issues” can also include being a “strong” woman: the can-do, opinionated type many black women become after growing up in a matriarchal household, the type with whom some men still just can’t deal.

“I have tons of friends who are extremely successful lawyers and lobbyists, staffers on the Hill. They are great at what they do. They are in their late 20s and early 30s,” Andrews says, sipping Ethiopian coffee. Her dog, Miles, is sitting beneath the restaurant table, whining softly.

“But there is loneliness at their jobs, because most likely they are the only black person there and people treat them like they are the only black person there. They dress a certain way. They go out on the weekend. . . . And still they end up going home, and it’s you and your damned dog.”
Talking about a suitor

Andrews is presiding over a table at a chic restaurant, this one in downtown D.C., on a Saturday night. It is the kind of restaurant that is crowded not for the food but for the chance to see and be seen. Crowds are spilling out the door into the darkness of 14th Street. The once-desolate street is filled with beautiful people. Who knew this about Saturday night on 14th Street?

Andrews is speaking with two polished girlfriends, a lawyer and a political staffer, who didn’t want to be named because of their jobs.

“I went on a date last night with Cornrows,” Andrews says, using the nickname that her friends have given the man. “I got in his car and there was this strawberry smell fragrance. I had to roll the window down by hand. I assume it’s paid for.”

Cornrows, she says, seems nice, but that is the problem. “He can put together coherent sentences, but they are not in any way related to my life,” she says. She laughs, but catches herself. She knows the man is trying hard. She also knows Cornrows doesn’t stand a chance.

“I’m a mean woman. I don’t date nice people. That’s why I’ll be alone for the rest of my life. I will always have to settle.”

Staffer: “You need a man in your life. They come in handy for labor.”

Andrews: “He offered to help me move. That was nice.”

Lawyer: “He wasn’t nice to offer. He just wants to get with you.”

Andrews: “I don’t find him attractive. If he was funny, that would go a long way. He could be my winter boo. I need a boo. My life sucks. When your life sucks, a winter boo with his own apartment would be awesome to have.”

What is a winter boo? you ask.

And they explain a winter boo is someone you hook up with when it’s cold outside, someone good enough to take to office holiday parties, someone who has a car and who can drive when the wind is whipping down the sidewalk.

“It’s like a booty call, but it’s not,” Andrews says.

“It’s like you like him enough to bring him out to public settings. They, like, serve a seasonal purpose.”

But what happens in the summer, you ask.

“There is no such thing as a summer boo. You are supposed to be out. Be free.”

The catch?

“A winter boo doesn’t know he’s a winter boo,” until summer comes and he has been set free.
‘Why is she single?’

The genesis of Andrews’s book came from a conversation a few years ago between Andrews and Gina, a social scientist who lives in Los Angeles. They wanted to start a blog to explore “why black women can’t find a man.” The day she talked to an agent about this idea and pitched it as a book, one of her sorority sisters committed suicide.

It jarred Andrews. “We stopped. Discussed what happened. We think each other’s lives are fine. You got a good job. A good place to live. You will handle it.” But some people can’t handle it. “She looked like any other successful black woman,” Andrews says of her friend. , “Good clothes, stylish. Ivy League degree, master’s.” Nobody saw it coming. She won’t discuss the details, but you can see it in her face, the mind racing over the why.

“People keep talking about the black single woman in D.C. But do you know who she is? Does she know what she wants? They should stop saying we have it all together. . . . I am that single black woman in Washington, D.C. Why is she single? This is who I am. Tell me.”

Andrews’ résumé is a snapshot of upward mobility. She graduated from Columbia University, majoring in English literature and creative writing, worked at O Magazine, then went to graduate school for journalism at Northwestern, and in 2005 landed as a news assistant in the New York Times Washington bureau. At the moment, she is not working, but waiting for all the deals to be sealed with the movie.

But there is more. Born in California, grew up on Catalina Island and in Los Angeles. Her mother is a lesbian. She has seen her father once, when she was 6 months old. When Helena was 7, her mother decided to move to Spain, but the girl’s grandmother kidnapped her.

Is this a true story, you ask.

“Yes, it’s my life story.”

Helena’s mother, Frances Vernell Andrews, 57, who lives in Stone Mountain, Ga., says in an interview that it is indeed a true story. When she read the book, “initially it was like walking down memory lane from my child’s perspective. Initially she kept saying, ‘Mommy, you can’t read it. I am not showing it to anyone.’ I had come up to Washington for Thanksgiving two years ago. I went on her laptop and e-mailed some of the chapters and read them when I got home. She didn’t know initially. But I said I needed to know a little bit about what you are putting out there. But I was delighted. She is a terrific writer.”

In the book, Andrews recalls the abduction. And her mother recalls the story, too. “We were on our way to Spain and my mother didn’t feel I should go,” Frances Andrews says. “She wanted me to stay and marry this man. She drove us to the airport and said, ‘Go in and check your bags. The baby can wait.’

“I go in and get my boarding pass. I come out and my mom is gone. I thought she must be circling the block. I waited two hours. Then I gave up and went back to my mom’s home and sat and waited. She came back without my daughter. She said, ‘You need to settle down and stop chasing the world,’ ” says Frances Andrews. “I am a lesbian. My family thought I should not have had a child.”

She promised her mother she would settle down. “Just bring me my child.”

Her mother brought Helena back and Frances left town with her daughter for an island.
All about attitude

Helena Andrews says she is a mean girl. That is where the title of the book comes from.

“It’s much easier if you have a mask, ‘Don’t [expletive] with me.’ Then you don’t have to worry about office politics.” She once asked a colleague, “Why does no one say hi to me in the morning?”

“Because you are a bitch,” the colleague replied.

Andrews wasn’t offended. That is her way of moving through the world. That way you don’t get hurt, you mask any softness or weakness inside.

She doesn’t look like one of those mean girls. Perhaps that is the point. Andrews has that innocent cheerleader, preppy look, even as she strolls her neighborhood of Northeast Washington, with her cute little black pug dog in her arms.

The homeboys on the sidewalk part like a sea to make room for her. A man rolls down the window and asks her to buy him a car. And she smiles. She turns around and smiles again. He has no idea who she is.

Day 1 of the That Which Awakens Me Book Release Party Countdown

Greetings All!

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with fabulous food, fun, and family moments that fill your heart with joy, gratitude, and love.

Join me in celebrating Day 1 of the That Which Awakens Me Book Release Party Countdown.  Check out the video below that features me reading an excerpt from Chapter 5 of my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  It discusses my writing life. For more information, visit www.anandaleeke.com. The book is available on Amazon.com.

If you are in D.C. on December 6, come on by the official book release party from 4pm to 5pm at SHAKTI MindBody Studio www.shaktimindbodystudio.com, 1302 9th Street, N.W, Washington D.C. The Chinatown Metro (walk 3 blocks north on 7th Street) and Mt. Vernon Street Metro (walk 1 block South on 7th Street) are located near SHAKTI.

Judy Weathers, my Ameriprise Financial financial advisor will provide a gift certificate for a free consultation to individuals who purchase copies of That Which Awakens Me and Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (my debut novel about a yoga teacher in D.C. (www.lovestroubadours.com). The book party will be videotaped by Matt Leeke of Majik Productions, Inc. Many thanks to my yoga teacher Faith Hunter (www.faithhunteryoga.com) and her SHAKTI business partner Ieshia Ali for hosting the book party!

 Thank you for your positive energy and support!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Blessings,

Ananda

Tune into the Nov. 9th episode of The Ananda Leeke Show @9pm EST for a conversation with Author/Professor Shayne Lee about Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers and Ananda’s books, That Which Awakens Me and Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

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Greetings All,

Join me for a conversation with my brothalove Shayne Lee, an author and professor of sociology at Tulane University, about the influence of The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (www.gladwell.com/outliers/index.html) on my new book, That Which Awakens Me on the November 9th episode of The Ananda Leeke Show at 9:00 p.m.  We will also discuss my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  Click here to listen to the show: www.talkshoe.com/tc/15820. 

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Shayne Lee

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Shayne penned T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (2007) and Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (2009).   I read T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher earlier this year and fell in love with it.   Shayne’s book influenced my new book, That Which Awakens Me.  I even quoted from his book in my memoir!   Yeah it was that GOOD!  I also wrote a review about T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher and interviewed Shayne on BAP Living Radio in February.   We had big FUN!  Click here to read my review:  http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-review-td-jakes-americas-new.html.   To learn more about Shayne, visit www.tulane.edu/sociol/slee.pdf.

 Enjoy your week!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

Watch videos of Ananda discussing her writing journey & social media marketing strategies at Captial BookFest 2009

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Dear All,

Click on the videos below to watch me discuss my writing journey and social media marketing strategy on October 3. 2009, at the Capital BookFest’s panel discussion on “Everything You Wanted to Know about Getting Published. Authors Kevin Johnson, Donna Hill, and Charisse Carney Nunes participated in the discussion moderated by Gregg A. Wihelm. It was held inside of Borders Bookstore in Largo, Maryland.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

 

 

Celebrate jazz musician John Coltrane’s birthday today and his connection to my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

johncoltrane

Happy John Coltrane’s Birthday!

Today marks the 83rd birthday of jazz musician Ohnedaruth John William Coltrane. Ohnedaruth is the Sanskrit spiritual name that Coltrane adopted. It means compassion.  Below are some of my favorite Coltrane quotes:

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being … When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls.”

“My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being.”

“There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror.” 

 

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Coltrane’s spiritual name Ohnedadurth is also the name of one of the main characters in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).

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Ohnedaruth is the brother of Love’s Troubadours main character Karma Francois.  Karma and Ohnedaruth visit St. John Coltrane Church in San Francisco, CA.  Click here to learn more about the church:  http://www.coltranechurch.org. Coltrane’s music is also featured throughout the book.

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Alice Coltrane

The music of Coltrane’s wife Alice Coltrane is also featured in my novel.  For more information about Coltrane, visit www.johncoltrane.com. Click here to learn more about Alice Coltrane: www.alicecoltrane.org.

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Love’s Troubadours (iUniverse, Inc. – August 2007 – www.lovestroubadours.com) tells the story of Karma Francois, a thirtysomething Oakland-born BoHo B.A.P. (Bohemian Black American Princess) with Louisiana roots and urban debutante flair. The novel begins with Karma’s life in an uproar. Her relationships and the museum curator career that she struggled to form in New York City have crumbled, leaving no viable options to rebuild. Relocating to Washington, DC, Karma struggles with denial, depression, and debt. A lack of full-time employment opportunities forces her to craft a gypsy existence as a Jill of Many Trades: yoga teacher, art consultant, and freelance curator at Howard University Gallery of Art. Unable and unwilling to appreciate these jobs as gifts, she wallows in a pool of lost identity-and doesn’t see a way to keep from drowning. When she looks in the mirror, Karma sees a woman whose choices have dishonored her true character. Now, for the first time in her life, Karma must learn to see herself for who she really is.

Love’s Troubadours is available on Amazon.com for $20.95. To purchase a copy, click on the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Troubadours-Karma-Book-One/dp/0595440819/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2834089-1615222?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192066805&sr=8-1

What is your favorite John Coltrane composition? 

I love Coltrane’s “In A Sentimental Mood” composition that he and Duke Ellington created together.  It was featured in Love Jones, one of my favorite movies!

Enjoy your day!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

 

 

 

My Creative Paradigm: Eric Roberson, A Music Man First

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Happy Sunday!

This morning I got up early and practiced yoga outside, meditated, chanted the Sanskrit word dharana (concentration) with my mala bead, read my Science of Mind daily devotional book, and ate my usual breakfast –  oatmeal with raisins and honey.  Right now I am sipping a cup of green tea as I pause from reviewing the latest version of my poetic memoir manuscript that my publisher sent a few weeks ago.  The music of Eric Roberson, a brilliant independent artist from New Jersey (a Howardite like me and my brother Matt!), is keeping me company.  His new CD,  Music Man First drops on August 25.  Click here to learn more about Eric: http://blueerrosoul.blogspot.com.  You can pre-order a copy of Music Man First here: https://ericroberson.btruu.com. It’s $12. When you pre-order the CD like I just did, you get an autographed copy. What a treat!  Don’t sleep on this one folks!  Eric’s music is AMAZING! Check out his latest video below.

Eric’s music has been a creative inspiration for my writing process over the past eight years.  When you read my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com), you learn about Eric’s music and the role it played in the life of the main character Karma Francois.  Love’s Troubadours even begins with a scene that discusses Eric’s music! Now you know that shows how much I love his work! This cat is fantastic! And yes I am a HUGE fan! Does it show?

My new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (September 2009) also pays tribute to Eric and his music through a poem.  See below.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

Have a positively wonderful day and week!

Peace, Creativity, and Music,

Ananda

 

POEM

Creative Paradigm

Inspired by Eric Roberson, an African American independent soul artist, musician, and song writer.

Something more happens when I hear his music or see him perform.

His energy sparks my imagination.

It helps me dig deep and uncover what I have been hiding from: fear to put my creative expression in full rotation without industry support.

The moves he makes as an independent artist liberate my consciousness.

They offer a creative paradigm I can duplicate in my own world.

They bless my indie artist soul.

Diversity Among African Americans: We are not monolithic!

 

 

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Photos taken at Oyster Harbor Beach in Annapolis, MD

 

Happy Monday!

While my dad and I were getting some much needed “plage de temps” (French phrase that means beach time a/k/a chilling out, chill-axing, cooling out, R&R) on Sunday morning in Annapolis, he shared soundbytes from the Washington Post about Judge Sonia Sotomayor and his all-time favorite person, President Barack Obama.  He spent time talking about Eugene Robinson’s op-ed that discussed several comments President Obama made about his speech at the NAACP’s 100th anniversary. Click here to read Robinson’s op-ed:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/18/AR2009071801045.html.

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Robinson’s op-ed also referenced President Obama’s statement about how the civil rights movement weakened itself by promoting a one size fits all definition of what it means to be Black: 

“One of the ways that I think that the civil rights movement . . . weakened itself was by enforcing a single way of being black — being authentically black. And, as a consequence, there were a whole bunch of young black people — and I fell prey to this for a time when I was a teenager — who thought that if you were really ‘down’ you had to be a certain way. And oftentimes that was anti-something. You defined yourself by being against things as opposed to what you were for. And I think now young people realize, you know what, being African American can mean a whole range of things. There’s a whole bunch of possibilities out there for how you want to live your life, what values you want to express, who you choose to interact with…  I do think it is important for the African American community, in its diversity, to stay true to one core aspect of the African American experience, which is we know what it’s like to be on the outside… If we ever lose that, then I think we’re in trouble. Then I think we’ve lost our way.”

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Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic by Ananda Leeke (2005)

Message on painting: The truth is that Black folks ain’t monolithic.  No folks are. You dig! When Deno and I started writing the novel, we wanted to show the depth and breadth of Black folks loving themselves and each other in and out of life’s joys and pains … in and out of our identities…gender…class…religions…ages… We wanted to tell the truth.  The truth being that Black folks are Love’s Troubadours.”

 

I am so happy that President Obama talked about the diversity among African Americans and how being African American means many things.  His statement echoes a familiar chant that I have addressed in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com), Love’s Troubadours Art Collection, and my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.): African Americans are not monolithic.  See the photo of my painting, Love’s Troubadours: Black Folks Ain’t Monolithic above.  The lives of African Americans are filled with multi-layered stories.  We are much more than what we read about in mainstream media.  Our lives are richer and deeper than what we see on television and movie screens.  That’s why we must be vigilant in telling and documenting our stories. 

More on President Obama

Last night I had a chance to catch up on my reading. So I read an op-ed by Shayne Lee, one of my favorite authors. Click here to read Shayne’s op-ed: www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/50451437.html?cmpid=15585797.  In his op-ed that was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on July 10, Shayne discussed how former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka cleared President Obama’s path to becoming Senator and President.  How could that be?  The topic itself made me blink a few times.  To see why I blinked, read an excerpt from Shayne’s op-ed below.

“Let’s go back to 2004. National Democratic leaders strategize feverishly in an effort to win enough seats to control the U.S. Senate. They have their eyes on Illinois, a state with no incumbent running for reelection. Obama wins the Democratic nomination for the open seat, and the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, drops out of the race due to the embarrassing details of his divorce records.

Obama is looking down a clear path to the Senate – until Mike Ditka begins flirting with the idea of running on the Republican ticket.

Some Democrats are champing at the bit for their Harvard-educated lawyer to pit wits against the charismatic but nonetheless inarticulate jock. But others fear that the former NFL coach, who brought Chicago its first and only Super Bowl championship, enjoys instant name recognition, while Obama is still establishing himself with Illinois residents. They find the prospect of a young politician with a weird name running against one of the state’s greatest sports legends somewhat daunting.

So, to raise Obama’s visibility, they grant him the great privilege of addressing the 2004 Democratic National Convention in prime time. Ironically, Ditka announces he will not enter the race shortly before the convention. But Obama’s name is already carved in stone on the schedule.

Almost 10 million Americans watch Obama deliver a riveting speech that changes his life and American politics. Before long, Obama is the new face of the party, criss-crossing the nation in fund-raising efforts for struggling candidates, building strategic alliances, and thereby taking steps toward a viable presidential candidacy.

I sum things up with a sort of syllogism: Obama’s presidential run is unimaginable without the political power and rock-star status bestowed upon him by his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His speech never happens without a sports legend threatening to run against him for the vacant Illinois Senate seat. Therefore, Barack Obama would not be president today without Mike Ditka.

There is a lesson to be learned from the president’s remarkable journey. Even an immensely gifted, highly competent, Ivy League-trained talent such as Obama needs a bit of luck to achieve great success in America. How much more of it do the rest of us need”?

Okay now what do you think? 

If you are like me, you might be saying, “this cat made me think.”  That’s why I am a huge fan of Shayne’s work.  His writing always pushes the envelope and causes me to consider a different perspective.  He uncovers facts and weaves them together with insightful commentary that sheds light on areas most folks miss.  I think Shayne moonlights as an “Easy Rawlins” detective when he leaves his gigs as an author, sociologist, and professor at Tulane University.  

For more information about Shayne, visit http://www.tulane.edu/~sociol/slee.pdf

Be sure to check out and buy Shayne’s books on Amazon.com: T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher (NYU Press, 2005) and Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace (NYU Press 2009).  Support Shayne!  His work will enrich your life! 

To read my review of Shayne’s book, T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher, click here: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-review-td-jakes-americas-new.html.  

Visit BAP Living Radio to listen to a recording of my February 23rd interview with Shayne (search for Episode 13):  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18598.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

African American Art at the White House and in Ananda’s Debut Novel, Love’s Troubadours -Karma: Book One

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Cut by Kara Walker – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Walker

 

Happy Saturday!

I read a great post on Black Visual Artist’s blog that featured an article by Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History & Culture. It discussed African American art, one of my passions and a major subject area in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com). Click here to read the post: http://blackvisualartist.blogspot.com/2009/07/african-american-art-still-needs.html.  The article was published in the July/August 2009 issue of The Art Newspaper: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/African-American-art-still-needs-support/18560

I enjoyed reading about how President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have launched the White House campaign to bring greater diversity to its art collection—including more works by African American artists.  I agree with Conwill’s assessment that the Obamas’ efforts are having “a catalytic effect—stirring conversation, raising expectations. And that’s a good thing. The move is also throwing a strong light on African American art and the artists who create it.”  Several of the artists that Conwill mentions such as Kara Walker, Betye Saar, and Lorna Simpson are featured in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com).  I have included a blurb about the artwork in my novel below.  Enjoy!

Who are some of your favorite African American artists?

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

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African American Art Featured in Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com): 

Art plays a major role in the life and museum curator career of Love’s Troubadours’ main character Karma Francois. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. Love’s Troubadours offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through Karma’s eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Jean Michel Basquiat, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Eldzier Cortor, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White.  Artists from other countries are also featured.  Click here to read more: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2007/09/blessings-all-my-debut-novel-loves.html.

Are you looking for a great summer read that discusses African American art?  If yes, click here to purchase a copy of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One from Amazon.com:  www.amazon.com/Loves-Troubadours-Karma-Book-One/dp/0595440819/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2834089-1615222?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1192066805&sr=8-1.