I’ve spent the better part of my life wondering what the plan was for New Year’s Eve. Where is the party and most importantly, am I invited?
Over the past few years, I have been asleep by 9 p.m. so there goes that notion of partying well into the new year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so much fun, but I feel as though those days are well behind me.
As much as I would like to say I don’t believe in resolutions because everyone makes them seem so cliche and corny, I believe in them with every fiber in my being! There, I said it! And let’s be honest, there is nothing better than writing down a list of goals and dreams that you would like to see happen in the new year and actually making them come to life. The idea of speaking things into existence is so very real. Health fanatics say you are what you eat right? Well, you most certainly are what you think! So, think big of yourself and all that you hope for, the sky is the limit in your own imagination.
But, before you can start on something new, you must say goodbye to what once was. Closure is just that. Sealing the chapters of what at times seemed like a never-ending story, it is now time to start the next chapter, and the best part of all, you get to determine how your story will go.
I can easily reflect on the previous year. All that I accomplished. The people I have met who have changed how I view certain aspects in life and the goals I was able to accomplish and some that I barely touched if at all. It’s ok though and it has led me to this bit of enlightenment. As you continue to step and grow through life, with grace you will continue to evolve into who you were always meant to be. How amazing is that?! And as you grow through this evolution, your entire vision changes, which in turn allows you to finally see the bigger picture.
Have you written out all that you have done in the year prior? Try it and I promise you will be amazed at everything you were able to accomplish in just 12 months.
List or no list, make it a mission to succeed at the things that make YOU happy. Not your family, your friends, your dog, or the energized cat running in circles at 2 in the morning, but you! It’s perfectly fine to do for others, however, it’s easy to get caught up and forget about what’s important to yourself.
As for me, I was not invited to the party and I was perfectly fine with that. I no longer feel as though I am missing out or forgotten because I can see the big picture. I can’t share what it looks like, just trust you will know once you see it.
Be well, be amazing, and take this new year by the horns and own it!
Hello 2023, I’ve got plans for you!
I believe that the energy you put out into the universe will come back to you in many ways. How has music changed your life?
Music has changed my life in every imaginable way. One of my favorite mystics said “music is the dream of silence”. I mean, what a thought. I believe music is our greatest contribution to the planet as human beings. Throughout the ages, music has been that invisible expression that speaks to our souls in a universal language. We are all connected through song. Music has provided me with a tool to share my story and connect with the stories of others. It reminds me of the power of the unseen. The power of beauty. It’s a tool I can use to influence my mood and that of others. Music is my love language in every sense.
As a writer, I love the freedom to create from scratch, however, it doesn’t flow unless I’m in a certain head space. When you write a song, where do you go mentally?
When I write, I don’t go anywhere mentally. In fact I need to get out of my head and into another zone completely. It can’t be intellectual in the beginning. It’s best to tap into a trance like state and to grab whatever floats to the edge of my subconscious and conscious mind. My mood is more important than my mind when it comes to writing and creating. After I get the gist of the story I want to tell, I can then bring in my more analytical mind. That’s when I can start to think about things like structure and form. That’s when I can embellish.
The world of music is always changing, however, good music will always resonate in the souls of those who truly love the craft and creativity behind the magic. What do you feel is most important in keeping music honest, real, and from the heart?
I think the most important way to create truthfully as an artist is to live one’s life. When you are immersed in your own life, you have real material to draw from. When you live authentically, you can create authentic music that’s an embodiment of your soul.
Lalah Hathaway posted an all-star lineup on November 28th and fans went crazy trying to determine how to purchase tickets until we all realized it was a fantasy. If this was to come to fruition, how amazing would that be?
That was so cool to me. After all, she is one of the greatest vocalists ever. I had no idea Lalah even knew who I was, much less enjoyed my music. I love affirmations like that from the universe. Hey Lalah, I’m ready to open for you or collab whenever you have time.
The readers would love to know more about you and your musical journey. Where are you from and when did music become an integral part of your life?
I was born in Louisiana to a southern mom and a Senegalese father. I moved around a lot as a kid, so I don’t think of myself as being from any one particular place. Music has quite literally been a part of my life since I can remember speaking. I was in my first talent show at 5. Started recording demos professionally for writers at 11 and recorded my first original song at 12. Music has always been a part of me.
You have a beautiful voice. I love your single, Ready Enough. What is the meaning behind this song? I’m happy you love that one. “Ready Enough” is about embracing the beauty and potential inherent in all of us. We come to this earth with all that we need to live out our destiny. Things may happen that throw us off of our path, but that doesn’t mean we are lost. We always have the ability to make contact with our soul. We have enough at all times. We just need to reach for it.
What inspires you the most when it comes to creating and exploring new music?
I’m inspired by so many things, but I would have to say my environment is a deep well of inspiration for me right now. I’m very affected by the natural landscape and beauty of the place where I live. Being close to nature humbles me. It gets me out of my own way and out of my head. As I mentioned, it’s important for me to not overthink. When I overthink, I cannot be creative. So my surroundings are important.
You are taking a cross-country road trip. Who’s on your playlist for this long ride?
Oooh, that’s a hard one to answer, but I would say at this point in my life my road trip playlist would include Joni Mitchell, Sade, Cocteau Twins, Stevie Wonder, Harold Budd, Laraaji, Alice Coltrane, Bob Marley, Antonio Carlos Jobim … demos that I’m working on. There are so many other artists I love that I didn’t include, but I think their music best fits other situations in my life right now.
Music is an important part of so many lives. Without it, I most certainly would be lost. What do you want your fans to feel when they listen to your music?
I want them to feel that life is absolutely worth living. I’ve called it “life affirmative” music in the past and that still feels very true. Life is worth loving and opening your heart to. Even in the midst of challenges. As long as we are feeling people, we have hope.
When you are not writing and creating new music, what do you like to do to unwind?
I love to hike to unwind. Moving my body outside is so good for me. There’s that getting out of my head again. Communing with nature heals me every single time. I also love to read a good book. I know I’m in a good place when I’m reading a lot.
Is there anyone in the industry you would love to collaborate with?
Oh yes. I’d love to collaborate with John Mayer, Kevin Parker, Frank Ocean, and Esperanza Spalding.
Can you give us a glimpse into what’s next for Sidibe?
New music and live performances. Hopefully some sweet collaborations too.
How can your fans connect, follow, and most importantly support you?
Fans can find me on all of the socials. I’m most active on IG. They can support me by playing and sharing the music! If you’re feeling extra generous, you can go to my Bandcamp page and buy the music there.
In closing, leave us with a bit of positive inspiration.
Don’t get too caught up in the visible. Remember that the most important things are invisible to the human eye. Use your imagination and prayer to make contact with the divine spirit that is always present. Trust in the mystery and allow it to be.
Get your digital or print copy of Issue 32 at Groovmagazine.com
I am a firm believer in surrounding myself with those who inspire, motivate, and uplift me. Without those three things, honestly, what is the point? I was drawn to Anthony 'AJ' Joiner from his daily 'make you go hmmm' kind of questions. He is an author, entrepreneur, radio personality, and founder and CEO of BLOOKSY.COM - the SaaS platform that uses artificial intelligence to help authors and academics write and publish faster. Wow! It's the perfect beat I needed to accompany the melody that has been playing in my head for so many years! Awarded as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Future Successors. AJ also hosts Tips & Tool every Tuesday on the #1 drive-time radio show! I could go on and on, but that would take the joy out of reading for yourself. So, sit back, relax, and get to know AJ. You will be so very happy that you did!
◆ How are you doing on this cold, yet amazing day?
Thanks for asking! I know it's cold outside, but I promised myself that I would be healthy so that I could walk my daughter down the aisle. So yes, it was cold this morning but I got my butt out and I ran. And I didn't even record it and put it on Instagram because it was too cold to take my hands out of my pockets and the little gloves were too fiery for me to tap on the screen so I just handled my business and came on back to the house.
◆ I am anxiously awaiting the moment when I finally start writing my first book. There has been a bit of procrastination due to an overwhelming feeling that I have absolutely no idea how to get started. Blooksy gives me hope that the process doesn’t have to be so difficult after all. Not only is it a modern approach to the art and fashion of writing, but it offers features such as live transcription as well as a virtual ghost writing assistant. As the founder and CEO of Blooksy, tell us why you felt this amazing platform needed to be a part of writer’s lives.
The top reason I had in mind while developing Blooksy was to really help speed the process up for writers. Aside from that, most writers have a hard time organizing their thoughts because they have so much that they want to share, that sometimes it can just come like drinking water from a firehose. Blooksy helps you to instantly organize your thoughts into chapters and structure them in a way that you can hierarchically view them.
Another reason is the process of getting your idea written out which is a challenge for most writers. But because you already know your stories, it would be so much easier if you could just speak your stories and directly have them typed out into the platform, which is why we added an Artificial Intelligence-powered voice-to-text tool, so that you can talk right into the software.
One more reason is the ability to collaborate. When writers are working on their books, they want their friends and colleagues to keep them accountable. They want to invite other people to do their work and maybe have the ability to edit it. We have a built-in collaboration in Blooksy which makes it super simple. And the biggest, biggest innovation is artificial intelligence. When you run out of ideas, you can just open the artificial intelligence and it will automatically create content based on the ideas that you want to talk about. And this works really well for nonfiction writers or experts who just got stuck and needed a kickstart for their content. Our artificial intelligence tool is named Aven – after my grandmother, Neva – who is an amazing storyteller. So, you can open up Aven and type in your idea and she will go out and write original content for you up to 12 paragraphs at a time. And this is why Blooksy was needed for all those reasons.
To the most beautiful girl in my world... Here's to you!
Here we are once again. That special day, significant, and absolutely blessed day. Your day! Life couldn't get any better if I planted this story into a fairytale with the perfect happy ending.
There are material things that a person might receive for their day of birth. Cards, flowers, jewelry, clothes, etc., but there is no gift more treasured than the gift of life. You are 81 years young on this day. Wow! I can only pray as time goes on that I am graceful, elegant, and beautiful as you are. A true gem in full living color.
I have always loved celebrating birthdays. So very important and so worthy of the praise given to the special person on their truly special day. On this day may you smile a bit longer and harder than you did the day before. May the well wishes from those near and far fill your heart and flow through your soul, and may God continue to bless you, keep you and protect you for years to come.
Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you so much! From the moon and back and then all over again for as long as I live. 🎁
I noticed on the day of Thanksgiving that my refrigerator was acting weird. The things that were supposed to remain frozen were melting, and what was supposed to remain cool was now at a nice room temperature. Of all days for this to happen! I must admit I cooked absolutely nothing so there was no worry, however, I knew I needed to fix the problem before it escalated into an even larger mess!
As I began to empty my freezer of the frozen blueberries, perfectly pink raspberries and a grocery store supply worth of frozen veggies, I was thankful that my meat was still frozen. To the chest freezer we go!
I digress, per usual, because I am not here to talk about my silly appliance! However, in hindsight, the broken appliance is the reason that brought me to the conclusion that I needed to write this post, so in short the non-working appliance is to thank for this enlightenment you are about to experience. Don't mind this run on sentence, I tend to do that when I have had more than the suggested dose of caffeine for the day.
This past Sunday I awoke hungry. It was early, around 7:30 a.m. and I decided I was going to take myself to breakfast. There is a very nice and friendly breakfast/lunch cafe a short distance from my home, so I showered, got dressed and a bit reluctantly I might add, I walked in.
Hostess: How many?
Hostess: Would you like to sit at the bar?
Me: No. In the back of my mind I am thinking 'do I look like I need a drink? Or is this the place where all singles are seated for breakfast?!'
Hostess: Follow me
As I am seated at a table that is clearly designed for four I smile and remember the times when this used to be my norm. Venturing out and eating alone that is. There is a certain peace that comes along with the delicious meal I was preparing to have. I'm a people watcher, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I enjoyed the noisy silence. The conversations from the tables before and behind me which were somehow muted out to the point where it seemed as if I was in a world all by my lonesome.
That's just it. I was far from lonely. The reluctance I initially felt when walking into the cafe was the thought that someone would wonder why it was a table for one. Where were my friends or loved ones? That feeling soon left as I cozied into my chair and enjoyed the creme brûlée latee that I knew I would have to exercise off later. Not to mention the steak, potatoes, eggs and fluffy pancakes! But hey, no one is counting calories here! The food, the energy, the service, all amazing!
Life doesn't always allow you the comfort of company or a companion, however, that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy the simple things.
This is by far my last solo adventure. Stay tuned! I'm kinda in the mood for something spicy and delicious!
If you are in the area check out Toast and Jam Cafe! I have always had a truly exceptional experience.
The year was 1997, I was 24 years old and had recently moved to Atlanta Georgia. A friend asked about my dating life. Single at the time, I said well I prefer to date someone really old, like around 35.
We are still laughing about that conversation to this day.
Throughout the years as I have grown, learned lifes lessons, aged a bit, a few aches and pains here and there, I have a new level of appreciation for aging gracefully. It's not someting that you ever wonder about until you actually have to. Birthdays have always been very special to me. The planning of the birthday dinners, the gathering of close friends and family, the laughter and good cheer. It simply makes me happier and happier as the years continue to go by.
I am officially a member of the 50 club! A half a century old. Wow! Does it feel different? No, it feels just the same as it did when I said the final goodbye to my 40's. I feel as young as I did all of those years ago when I proclaimed that anyone past the age of 35 was archaeic and old enough for me to date. Thankful for my evolution.
This birthday was special. A milestone if you will. A coming of age and a firm grasp on what life is all about and what matters to me. Finally, I feel as though I have arrived into that magical space. And this arrival didn't magically happen when the clock struck midnight, this has been in the making for some time. There is no turning back. Full steam ahead and open to whatever this next chapter has in store for me. I wanted an intimate gathering with those I hold close to my heart and that's exactly what I got. The cake planning took on a life of it's own and it's safe to say I completely fell in love with it. It was as important as my outfit choice for the evening. Simply beautiful.
Thankful to God for another year of blessings. His grace and mercy that continues to keep me and cover me is never taken for granted.
This... is 50!
He's your favorite new author and I can certainly see why. Writer of Urban Fiction and Urban Fantasy with a sprinkle of erotica for your reading pleasure. What I love most about authors who aren't afraid to write Erotica is the ability to release boundaries and allow the fantasies to take flight. When Synx is not writing, he is hosting his new podcast show, 'You're on The Mic W/Synx'. Show some love for this talented and amazing author and find out what makes him tick!
◆ How are you doing on this amazing day?
Just thankful, it has been rough the last few weeks.
◆ You are an author, writer, & the host of ‘You’re on the Mic w/Synx’ Podcast. Tell me more about your writing journey, your podcast, and how you got started.
I started out writing back in elementary school. I even won a young authors contest one year. But of course, like most, by middle school I discovered reading books and writing wasn’t the coolest thing if you wanted to be in the in crowd. Like so many, I gave into peer pressure, and like that the nerd in me was dead.
In 2019 one of my friends posted that they had just written a poetry book and was selling it on Amazon. I was astonished and if we weren’t really friends the conversation could have come off as condescending in how I was asking how he was able to do it. He explained the self-publishing process to me with Amazon and just like that the fire was reignited. Prior to that moment, I wrote small things here and there as a stress reliever or something to spark the mood with my wife, but nothing serious. After that conversation, I started writing my first book, which was a collection of erotic short stories, till this day I hate the book because it lacked everything a good book needed to have, from the structure of it to the format. But after that, things got better especially after I discovered the importance of having an editor.
◆ As a writer I have found that my creativity comes from everything around me. What inspires you to create the characters in your books?
Music and life are my biggest muses. My book Power Circle: Family, Friends & Killas was based on the song Power Circle by Rick Ross and MMG. If I'm writing something that is more on the erotic side, I'm listening to R&B. Listening to music causes my mind to create a movie in my head then I try my best to translate that movie to paper.
◆ Black fantasy and urban fiction with a sprinkle of erotica. The world of erotica is often looked at with shrugged shoulders, however, it is one of the biggest sellers in books today. What do you like most about writing fantasy and erotica?
I love fantasy because it literally has no limits to what you can do. If you want to write about a stripper who was murdered and came back to life with the powers of a phoenix, you can do it, and no one can say anything about it. Lol, as for erotica who doesn’t love sex? I try not to overdo it in my books, but sex is such a real part of life that if you try and omit it, you take a part of realism away from the story in my opinion. I could be wrong though lol.
Film and music are two amazingly beautiful elements that come together to create something quite magical. Actors and singers have been granted the most glorious platform that allows their undeniable talent to shine bright like a diamond for the entire world to see. Cynda Williams has known the gift of song since she was a little girl. Growing up in a family of singers, it would be her move to New York which would spark the beginning of her professional acting and singing career. Her debut film Mo’ Better Blues was an unforgettable journey that showed the world she was more than just an amazing actor. Her song Harlem Blues went #1 on the R&B charts and will forever be a classic. Cynda has acted in numerous films and television roles and she has no plans to stop anytime soon. As an actress, singer, producer, screenwriter, songwriter, author, and inspirational voice, Cynda continues to show the world she has a beautiful voice in more ways than one.
Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, you also spent part of your early childhood in Indiana, where you sang in your grandfather’s church. What do you remember most from this time in your life?
I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago up to about fourteen years old and then we moved to Muncie Indiana. My father stayed in Chicago, and my mother, my brothers, and at that point, my first youngest sister all moved to Indiana because the crime was getting quite bad where we lived. It was what they call The Wild 100s now. It was beautiful for the time we were there, but then the drugs and all of this and gang activity were starting to take over.
I was so excited to go to Muncie because that's where my grandfather Reverend J.C. Williams was pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church. Methodist churches are known quite well for, you know, orthodoxy and stuff like that but our church was very different than that. It was a mixed congregation which was not very often seen in those days. We were a very creative church, there was a lot of music, a lot of dancing, acting, and writing. We did at all. I was very excited and throughout my childhood, I'd gone there every summer. I was a part of the choir and everything but unfortunately when I moved to Indiana things kind of fell apart in my family. My parents ended up divorcing, my grandparents ended up divorcing, my aunts and uncles. It was like everything fell apart, the church fell apart, so it was a difficult time in my life, so that's when I really started focusing on school primarily.
I had some wonderful teachers in high school that really encouraged me and it was a huge departure from my Chicago experience where I had primarily black students, and teachers, but now it’s almost all white. There was quite a bit of racism. My teacher Nancy Krause was an English teacher and a theater teacher and she did all the shows. She made so many opportunities open up for me against the will and wishes of many of the other parents, and of the students, but she didn't care and I will never forget her for that and that saved me. The music that I sang, I sang in the choirs and that really got me through that time of division in my life. It was one of the most difficult times in my life but it changed me and sent me in a direction.
As a lover of music, I lose myself in the way a singer is able to deliver a song and make it unforgettable. I am mesmerized whenever I hear Harlem Blues. As perfect as perfection can be, you have an amazingly beautiful voice and to put it simply, you sang that song! Did you have any idea this song would have such an impact on shaping the culture of music?
I have always been a singer and that's where I began before acting, before writing, before anything else, I was a singer. My uncle, James Williams taught me how to sing when I was a very little girl, he was a professional singer at the time and so he really knew what he was doing. More importantly to me, it wasn't just about the vocals because my parents both sang, a lot of people in my family sang, my grandmother sang, she sounded like Billie Holiday. Had a lot of singers, but what he taught me that was so important was how to perform, how to perform that song, and how to interpret the music. When I got the opportunity to do Harlem Blues I was very blessed by that because it was such a beautifully written song and it was originally by W. C. Handy. Raymond Jones came in and took the lyrics from that turn of the century song, put a more contemporary sound on it, and changed the melody, but they stuck true to those lyrics and it was impressive to so many people. To be honest, I really wasn't thinking about the impact that it was going to have, I really didn't know, it didn't even occur to me. I was just singing like I’d always been singing. I'm very thankful that people love the song. I look forward to the day when I can do more music that they recognize and love.
A world without music is far too hard to imagine. Imagine going through life with no melodies to snap your fingers to, no rhymes to memorize and recite throughout the years, and no special ballads to celebrate the good times. Music is without a doubt as important as the air we breathe. The artists who we love and adore, the producers who work to bring the magic to life, and those who discover some of the greatest superstars of our time.
Bryant Reid, a native of Cincinnati Ohio has always had a love for music and his 20+ year background as an entertainment industry executive proves just how deep that love really is. Bryant has held the positions of Senior Vice President of Artist and Repertoire at both LaFace Records and Atlantic Records and was the mastermind behind discovering Grammy award-winning superstar Usher as well as assembling the team of writers and producers to create mega-star Toni Braxton’s multi-platinum selling debut album. Reid has worked with Atlanta-based Grammy award-winning trio TLC, the best-selling American girl group in music history, selling over 65 Million albums worldwide as well as working with the Grammy award-winning rap duo Outkast, ranked No. 7 by Rolling Stone on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time. Wearing many hats as a television producer, fashion designer, consultant, businessman, and philanthropist, Reid founded The Reid Foundation for Lupus in 2018 and continues his legacy of hit-making with his launch of the HitLanta brand which started with a modern collection of high-quality, men’s and women’s casual sportswear.
An outstanding career for a truly creative and inspiring genius. The ability to make hits is a gift and Bryant Reid shows us just how gifted he truly is.
Born and raised in Cincinnati Ohio, you were in the top 10% of your graduating class, a member of the National Honor Society, and voted the most outstanding male senior. What was your driving force to aim high and achieve your goals and did you always know you would one day work in the entertainment industry?
My mother was my driving force. She was the most loving, supportive mother a child could have. She just had this unique skill at making me feel that I could excel. She always supported my extracurricular activities which included academics, music, sports, and fashion. She fully supported me when I chose to take the college English 101 course during the summer of my junior year in high school. I passed the course. The camaraderie with my classmates was certainly a factor too.
I've always loved music. When I was a child, I wanted to be like Michael Jackson, but I was not a naturally gifted singer. While playing percussion in my High School marching band I became a serious consumer of music, purchasing every genre and spending countless hours during the summers making compilation music cassettes. Later, I promoted music parties. One of the biggest was an after-concert party I threw for Bobby Brown during his "Don't Be Cruel" album tour and it was a huge success. I had the bug. Eventually, my brother, L.A. asked me to come work with him as an A&R executive at LaFace Records.
I like things. In abundance, not too much, just enough to make my space feel like a nice warm hug.
Not sure when the obsession started, that is, the need to have balance in the form of sculptures, pictures hung throughout the house in a museum-type vibe, and an endless amount of trinkets. Treasured gifts from friends cause those creases in an upward motion on the side of my face. Also known as a smile. Sentimental items that I treasure and tuck away and pull out when I need to be reminded. Mainly gifts that I have given myself.
Remember that balance I spoke of? Well, there you have it. If I waited for all the things I loved from others I might be waiting a while, and I am somewhat particular in my design approach. I'm a fan of treating myself, so I do it from time to time.
As I walk through my home I am in awe at how much I have accumulated. Never a need to ask why because I already know. In as much of a visual sense, space has become a feeling for me. I crave the energy of a room as much as I crave the sunlight. It's a definite necessity at this point, so I ensure that I am never denied of that need. I have accepted the fact that I am the collector of things.
My niece spent the weekend with me. We laughed, a lot, ate very well, visited a couple of antique stores, and had so much fun. If you like things as much as I do, you know what walking into an antique store feels like! And here comes that balance again. Amazing how that keeps inserting itself where needed.
It's early for some on this amazingly beautiful Sunday morning. The sun is shining and there is a breeze that feels like it was meant for the weekend. I stepped outside to pick fresh vegetables, chatted with a neighbor, and stepped back inside to sit for a moment. My mind is in full observation mode. What can I add to this space here or remove, I wonder? Never clutter, always purposely positioned so I have no worries there. For now, I will just enjoy it. Not some of it, not a portion to be saved for later, but all of it.
I should mention that at any given moment an urge will hit and off to a store I go, to gather nails for hanging a new picture, or a plant to go in that space that feels somewhat empty. Hey, the universe didn't create all of these great things if they weren't meant to be enjoyed.
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman