For the first time ever, producer and emcee Pete Rock performed live with a jazz band. Aptly named Pete Rock And The Soul Brothers, the band’s set was a part of New York City’s Winter Jazzfest, a marathon music festival The New York Times described as designed to “encourage discovery” of new groups and sounds. I was very eager to hear the female saxophone player that Pete Rock was raving about on his instagram…
Pictured above: Pete Rock And The Soul Brothers – Maurice Brown (Trumpet) Lakicia Benjamin (Sax), Bigyuki (Keys), Mono Neon (Bass), Anu Sun (Percussion), Marcus Machado (Guitar), Daru Jones (Drums). Follow them on social.
Attending this concert felt like witnessing a historic moment for Hip-Hop. There was an urgency to my need to attend, an urgency underscored by our loss of iconic producers, emcees and other vanguards of the culture.
Pictured above: Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown (Trumpet)
These losses have shaken me, but I’ve found multiple lessons therein. One of those lessons involves not assuming that I can just “see someone another day” for another day is not promised. For these reasons and more, I made my way to Bowery Ballroom, despite the cold.
Watch the video mashup of a few of my favorite moments from the band who say they plan to do even more work together in the future.
As the band jammed, and guest emcee Smoke Dza crooned smoothly over the music, I look out at the crowd and was struck by the amount of lovers I saw. There were so many couples in attendance, they were wrapped in each-others arms, swaying and dancing together. There were groups of friends, and even strangers making new brief, joyful connections with the simple exchange of an excited glance and a smile.
Renee from Zhané was in attendance. At first, I didn’t know it was her! She had on a big, warm hat, and puffy jacket with a hood pulled over it. She was filled with energy as she danced in front of me. When she went live on social media, she spun in a slow circle, giving her followers a full view of the crowd. That’s when I was sure it was her in the legendary flesh.
As I waited for my friend after the show, I noticed Renee encouraged various artists in the band to see if there ways she could help them further their careers by making a few strategic introductions. She was doing what I want to do more of as a way to honor Combat Jack’s memory. Spread even more love, practice more collective economics, operate from a mindset of abundance, listen to my intuition, and be of service to others by connecting them to opportunities where I can. These are things I do, but can always do more of.
I tapped Renee and introduced myself. We had a candid conversation about New York’s arts and culture scene (endangered by gentrification), and supporting the growth of our Hip-Hop architects as they explore new avenues for their talent. I felt encouraged by her intense desire to see all of us help each other succeed.
When I noticed and introduced myself to Shara, (Pete’s manager for years), she greeted me with warmth. “Chevon? Wait, Chevonmedia, right?”
I nodded yes.
“I know you. You do good work,” she said smiling.
I smiled right back.
I admire many women in Hip-Hop, but the ones behind the scenes are some of the most inspiring, unsung heroes I look up to. It feels good when one of them recognizes my efforts. Salute to all the awesome women behind the scenes. And salute to Pete Rock And The Soul Brothers band, who put on a show that so many awesome women were delighted to attend.
My freelance communications work for the filmmaker Victorious de Costa involved bringing attention to the the Indiegogo fundraising campaign he launched for his film ‘Digging For Weldon Irvine‘. I booked him on interviews and today I’m sharing a bit about my favorite interview, which was on The Laura Coates Show.
‘Digging for Weldon Irvine’ is a feature length documentary, currently in production, about the life and influence of the enigmatic, highly sampled American composer, Weldon Irvine.
A Hampton alum, Weldon Irvine wrote the lyrics to ‘Young, Gifted and Black’, and was the bandleader for jazz singer Nina Simone. He was also a mentor to many hip-hop artists, including Q-Tip and Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Bars about Weldon can be heard in What’s Beef, if you listen.
A reminder of how little some things have changed, Weldon’s last major project before his passing was ‘The Price of Freedom’, a compilation featuring hip-hop, jazz, and R&B artists in response to the police shooting of Amadou Diallo.
Weldon’s own brilliant life ended abruptly when he shot himself in front of Nassau Coliseum in New York on April 9, 2002.
Director Victorious de Costa was in the midst of fundraising to finish off the balance of the film when he hired me to boost visibility of the campaign. One of the interviews I booked him for was in Washington, DC, on The Laura Coates show. Laura is a big Jazz fan who was eager to hear more about ‘Digging for Weldon Irvine.’
Listeners learned about the film that day, had an opportunity to donate, and speak with the director. Some callers even reached out behind the scenes with personal stories of their relationship to the composer, some of which may be included in the final cut.The fundraising video for the film features interview clips with Weldon’s family, DJ Spinna, and more. Victorious, an award-winning filmmaker and Sundance Institute member, has funded much of the film out of pocket. Still want to donate? Have questions about the film? Contact the director here. Have a great day and contact me if you want to discuss your need for communications consulting.
I recorded a voiceover for a Race Forward project this week. I always enjoy doing voiceovers! Need my voice for a commercial, intro or other audio production? Visit the contact page on my website. #chevonmedia
I spoke to a group of filmmakers about the importance of social media and digital communications! 🎥 I had a blast watching people’s eyes light up when I answered questions about how customized communications strategies can help them. I felt honored to be invited to speak. 🔻🔻🔻 Need a consultation ?
Reach out to me at chevonmedia.com/contact !
In the Spring of 2013, I produced an art event featuring paintings by TTK, Sam Woolley and Klashwon. The opening began with conversations about the paintings and turned into a musical celebration of the artists and their work. Watch the video below to find out more!
White Rabbit, hosted the closing reception of our 1Plus1Plus1 art show in the summer of 2013. The exhibit featured works by artists TTK, Klashwon, and Sam Woolley. A good amount of the artwork was hip hop themed or had references to the 80′s. DJs Large Professor, Nina Azucar and Mirandom killed it on the turntables while people danced, purchased art and merchandise. Be sure to watch the video I commissioned at our closing party.
Being born on New Year’s Day usually means that people are sleeping off the festivities from New Year’s Eve. January first doesn’t lend itself to typical birthday celebrations. I was fully prepared to mark my birthday with a cupcake and a few friends at brunch, but an article in The New York Times changed my mind. The article, a story about teen mothers, touched me for two reasons: I used to work at the NYTimes and I live in Brooklyn. I had no idea that young mothers in the area faced such high levels of discrimination, frustration and alienation. Was there something I could do to help? It turned out there was.
Being a supporter of the most positive elements of Hip-Hop culture afford me a special relationship with notable Brooklyn DJs and producers, one of whom was adamant that I celebrate my birthday in a bigger way than just a lonely cupcake. I had declined the offer but, upon digesting the article, called up the deejays. “Would you still be open to throwing me that birthday party?” I asked. I explained my concerns regarding young mothers in Brooklyn and asked if I could turn my birthday into a fundraiser. DJ Akalepse, DJ Evil Dee, Lord Finesse and Rich Medina gave me free reign. I was responsible for the conception, publicity and production of an event to benefit The Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective and I am pleased to say we raised funds and awareness of the struggle that young mother’s in Brooklyn face. It was one of the most fulfilling events I’ve put together so far.