Q + A with Monsieur Adi

Monsieur Adi

Monsieur Adi has been a firm favourite here at Public Description.  Our first interview was in 2013 while I had a weekly radio show. After researching different artists I stumbled across a slick and addictive remix done by Adi of a Lana Del Rey track ‘Born to Die’.  From that moment I was hooked on Monsieur Adi’s music. I am not alone as he became a sought after musician, producer and remixer due to his elegant musical offerings.

Since 2010 he has been creating official remixes for artists such as, Ellie Goulding, Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Bastille, Laura Mvula, and The Kooks. In 2014, he debuted his brilliant single “What’s Going On?” featuring vocals of A*M*E.

Adi has established himself as one of the most consistently creative and dynamic artists around 

Public Description is thrilled to have caught up with Monsieur Adi for a short Q&A to find out how he has been coping during lockdown and what we can expect from him in the near future.

 

Elle: We have missed you at Public Description. How have you been spending lockdown?
Monsieur Adi: That means so much to me! Thank you. I have been working on some various projects. Luckily I had planned for it to be a quieter year.

ElleWhat positive would you take from this period?
Monsieur Adi: The positive is that I have been able to get in touch with myself on a very deep level as well as
connect with my friends and family more, despite the social distancing.

ElleHave you found it difficult during this time to be creative?
Monsieur Adi: At the beginning of the pandemic, I just completely shut down and could not create even if I wanted
to. My anxiety, something I have been dealing with, just multiplied heavily. But through some inner and
outer work, I was able to get back to it and am feeling happy.

Elle: It sounds like it was quite challenging for you for a while. I am so pleased to hear you over came this and are excited to be back. Is there any advice you could give to anyone else starting out right now during this time?
Monsieur Adi: Breathe, haha. Even after I have been in the industry for a while, it feels like I am just starting
out. I’d say never lose the fun and joy of making music if you can.

Elle:The suspension of live music under lockdown has been devastating for artists, how has this impacted you?
Monsieur Adi: To be honest, it has not impacted me so much as I prefer the production side of things as opposed to performing live and I had already planned to make it a really quiet year in terms of being out and about.

Elle: So the most important question is can we expect to hear new music from you soon?
Monsieur Adi:It’s funny… I said I was not going to make music to release ever again, but a year ago I was at a concert of the Soweto Gospel Choir in Amsterdam and while they sang “Amazing Grace”, emotions just flooded me and I said I have at least one album left in me. Ever since then I have been working on it. It’s different, but full of heart and soul.

 

Elle: Sounds intriguing. Any planned collaborations coming up?

Monsieur Adi: Yes, I am working on some projects for others which is super exciting!

Elle: Which artist and song do you play on repeat right now?
Monsieur Adi: I have “My Love” by Inez on repeat ! It’s so beautiful.

Elle: Is there anything about the music industry that you would like to change?
Monsieur Adi: I’d change how social media numbers are the measure used to determine an artist’s talent. I think it is very short-sighted. But I could also just be very old-fashioned, haha.

Elle: Lastly, what is the positive you will take from 2020 so far?
Monsieur Adi: It was the year that everything changed and I found myself after having lost that many years ago.

Thanks to Monsieur Adi for this interview.

Q + A with Devrim Karaoglu

Devrim Karaoglu 1 by AG phot

Thank you to Producer/ Songwriter Devrim Karaoglu for taking time to chat about your Love for Music and how your career has excelled.

How did you get started in the music industry?

I started remixing for some big Turkish artist in the year 2000 (Tarkan ,Ajda Pekkan).  Later in 2001, I started producing for various artist in Istanbul until 2006, when I moved to LA to finish Tarkan’s English Album (Come Closer).  Since then I live in LA

How do you decide with which artists you wish to work?

It’s hard to saysometimes i go to shows and fall in love with an artist or I hear something on the web that speaks to me.  My management also connects me with different writers and artist.  For me, it’s important to get in the studio to get a vibe first.
It’s always exciting to meet new artist.

What was it like to work with Lana Del Rey?

It was lovely. Lana is an incredible soul /poet/ artist /
Her and Rick Nowels write beautiful timeless songs together.  I have co-produced with Rick songs like Summertime Sadness, Dark Paradise etc.. 

Who are your favourite artists?

I think Nelly Furtado is my all time favorite artist . Her song “Say it Right’ is probably one of my favorite tunes …timeless.
I also recently discovered Dua Lipa .She definitely has a long career. Really love her voice and writing.

Do you have any special musical talents i.e. do you play the piano / guitar etc Who influenced you and what music styles do you listen to?

I started playing the turkish saz at an early age .Later on I learned the timpani and played with a youth symphonic orchestra in Germany for 7 years.
At age 14, I started playing the keyboard/synthesizer . My main influences were Pink Floyd, Santana,  Yello, Depeche Mode,  Police, Sting , Art of Noise , Ravi Shankar, Youssou N’dour and a lots of Turkish classic and folk music. I love connecting eastern and western elements in my music.

Are there any albums you’ve produced that you felt were exceptionally great but that didn’t get the attention they deserved?

Not really

Do you have a favourite musical project that you’ve worked on?

In 2001, I have produced for a first time an album for Mete Ozgencil, an award winning  Turkish artist, who is well known in Turkey for his songwriting and video directing.  The album has been listed in the Top 10 Album List of that decade. It’s sort of a cult album now.  I am very proud of it.  

Do you have advice for young people who want to become music producers?

Listen to arrangements and chord progressions of your favorite songs.

Analyse mixes and frequency positioning of instruments but don’t try to imitate, be unique and timeless.

Don’t use to many trendy production tricks that will sound out of date in 2 years and also have a good basic knowledge of engineering .

Besides your interest in music , what else do you enjoy to do?

I work so much in the studio, in my free time…I usually socialise with friends, watch movies or documentaries.
I also love cooking food, it’s like writing a song for me…very meditating.
Sometimes, I do make graphics and animations on the computer but that has slowed down in the past years.

What does the rest of 2016 look like for you?

There is a couple of projects I am very excited about for this year.
One of them is Faye Medeson, who is an incredible Neo-Soul Artist from Sweden.  And also there is Troi Irons, who is signed to Def Jam.  She is an incredible artist, singer and writer with strong lyrical melodies coming out this year.

I have also decided to put my own songs into one umbrella this year with some Guest Artist featuring on it…be surprised!!

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Follow Devrim on…

Twitter: @dkevrim

Facebook: Devrim Karaoglu

Email: info@dkevrim.com

 

Whitney Houston & Kygo

When Whitney Houston passed on the 11th February 2012, the world lost one of the greatest vocalists of possibly all time. Fans were left heartbroken at the thought of never hearing that perfect vibrato again.  But, seven years later and we are able to listen to polished and addictive Kygo and Whitney collaboration of the 1986, Steve Winwood cover “Higher Love”. Originally recorded in 1990, the pop anthem was due to go on her third album I’m Your Baby Tonight but shelved due to a decision by legendary music producer and A&R executive Clive Davis, to avoid Houston being seen as a cover artist. 

“The only place it was released was as a bonus cut in Japan.” recalls Clive.

Kygo’s slick remixed version ensures Whitney and Kygo are catapulted into new musical heights with this contemporary tropical house version. Turn up the volume to this and enjoy.

 

 

 

Film Director: Dimitry Kalinin | Uncovered

Photography: Roberto Vivancos 

 

Public Description caught up with exciting new film director Dimitry Kalinin, on set of one of his latest short films.

Elle: Dimitry, thank you for sparing some time to discuss your recent project and allow me to catch you in action filming ‘Holy Smoke’. You look quite at home being busy on a film set.

Your background is originally in banking, when did you realise you wanted to get into filmmaking?

Dimitry: I always loved theatre and films. Banking was a means to an end- to pay for my family in Siberia and to save money for my study as well as my projects.

Elle: A Writer/Director’s first film is often something deeply personal, could that be said for your first introduction into film?

Dimitry: My first film, called “Over” is a deeply personal film, which I filmed in West Cork, Ireland. I worked very closely with my writer, my partner; we were the only people in this remote cottage half way up a great hill, overlooking a sea loch. The solitude and melancholic beauty shaped the story and how I filmed it.

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Top Left: Dimitry Kalinin in action
Bottom Left: Dimitry on set
Bottom Right: Scenes from Holy Smoke with Nickolas Grace and Timothy Walker

 

Elle: Can you tell us your influence for writing Holy Smoke’?

Dimitry: I simply wanted to make a light comedy set in a church.

Elle: ‘Holy Smoke’ has an excellent cast. How did you decide upon choosing who would play your characters?

Dimitry: I decided that I want to approach actors I personally knew and whose  performances I have admired.  I met Nickolas Grace about 7 years ago at a wake. I could not believe it he was talking to me. I saw Brideshead Revisited in Russian as young man and in Germany as well. I approached a friend in common to ask him to see me. I sent him the script and few days later I had his number and we had a coffee in Notting Hill for few hours. He was incredibly generous to give his time for a student film project as was Timothy Walker.

I have known Timothy for some time. He recommended to me the  Raindance courses where I did my first filming making and producing course. Timothy is an amazing character actor and I wanted him to play three different roles in my film- like Alec Guinness in  “Kind Hearts And Coronets”. But the time for the filming was very tight and the make up artist would have needed time to do make up for a vicar, bishop and an old Lady. Timothy would have been superb playing all the roles.

By chance I went to see a play in the Old Vic Tunnels where I saw James Messer on stage. I thought he was perfect for the part as an Altar Boy. I wrote him a letter backstage asking him to see the script. He said yes to me as well. I could not believe it that I had got such an amazing professional cast. I was dancing in the street.

Elle: In three words, how would you describe ‘Holy Smoke’?

Dimitry: Flamboyant, funny and smoky

Elle: What other films have you completed?

Dimitry: I have made three short films. Two films I made with the same writer- my partner Stephen Dawson with whom I am now working on a documentary. I also worked with a Parisian writer who wrote a very personal script about a secret marriage. We filmed it in December last year.

Elle: Do you have aspirations to act in one of your films one day or prefer to stay behind the camera?

Dimitry: I don’t think I want to act now. I prefer to be in charge of the situation. I love working with actors. They are my Gods and I am their slave and they know it.

Elle: Film making is often a time consuming job what do you do to relax?

Dimitry: Going to the gym. Gym is my meditation time where I can listen to my music and think about new projects. I love motorbiking as well. All my activities are connected with music. I even ride the bike listening to music.

Elle: What can you tell us about your directing style?

Dimitry: Gentle, I plan everything in advance and need to stay calm during the shooting.

Elle: When do story ideas usually hit you?

Dimitry: I love having a conversation with friends on a one to one basis. Spending an evening with creative or engaging people gives me a buzz and ideas for other projects. That is how I got my ideas for the documentaries and I am doing an adaptation – The Diary Of A Madman by Gogol with Timothy Walker.

Elle: What’s the best advice you could give someone new to filmmaking?

Dimitry: Just do it with any equipment you have. Your family and friends would love to take part in your film.

Elle: Finally where do you want to go from here?

Dimitry: The next big step is to make a feature film. That is already written in outline and a full script and all the other thousand preparations are underway.

holy smoke
Holy Smoke stars:
Nickolas Grace
Timothy Walker
James Messer
Nickolas Grace on the set of Holy Smoke

Public Description would like to thank Dimitry for his time and wish him every success with his two films which have already received rave reviews.

Photography: @robertovivancos

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

I was extremely happy and lucky to get a chance to attend the private view of the V&A’s major exhibition, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams before it opened to the public today, 2nd February. It certainly was everything and more. The signature look was evident through the timeline of Dior. A wasp-waist jacket with full skirt, which has stood the test of time together with princess worthy haute couture evening gowns.

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I have remained a Dior fan since my first purchase some 20 years back, so this exhibit was particularly special for me. It all started when I purchased my first Dior handbag at the age of 22, which didn’t leave much change from my modest months salary. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed that I’d spent that much and it was maybe a little irresponsible at the time, but I also felt extremely proud of my purchase and it started a love affair with Dior that has endured. The handbag, designed under then creative director John Galliano has now, become a firm vintage favourite of mine which compliments the newer pieces which I have purchased since.

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The exhibition highlights the early start of Dior in 1947 to the present, and traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential design houses, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house. A must see.

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V&A Exhibition

Interview | Photographer: Roberto Vivancos

 

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Public Description caught up with photographer, Roberto Vivancos to find out what inspires his work and love for photography.

 

Roberto: “First of all, thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure to be interviewed by you and to make a contribution to your blog.”

“I think I was just way too ahead of that time. Ha!”

When did you take interest in photography?

“At the age of 9 I received my first camera which was a Fuji Polaroid and right away, I was hooked, amazed by the wonder of it. The act of simply pressing a button to capture a moment before your eyes and watching it develop and print right there in a matter of seconds on a small piece of photographic paper was just incredible to me. And years later, while I was at University studying IT Engineering, I was quite literally the first person in my city who owned a digital camera (an HP photosmart of just 1.2 megapixels). I remember carrying it everywhere I went, taking as many photos as I could in order to learn the basics of photography and at the same time, reading as much as I could get my hands on about the art of photography.”

“I have a little anecdote about it as digital cameras were such a novelty at that time. I was stopped one time by two policemen in my hometown back in Spain while taking pictures as they apparently didn’t like the fact that I was shooting a certain something somewhere, so I was politely asked to hand over to them the film roll. When I informed them that my camera actually didn’t have a film roll but instead had a memory card, they thought I was making fun of them and consequently got fined as they simply wouldn’t believe me.”

“I think I was just way too ahead of that time. Ha!”

 

Whose work has influenced you the most?

“I would like to say that my style is very much inspired by cinematic visuals. As far as I remember, my work has been influenced by many facets of the entertainment industry, from manga and anime to film and movie posters to name a few. Speaking of which, I love the styling of the characters of Dragon Ball by the artist Akira Toriyama and the way lights and shadows are used to define their features and make them appear more dramatic. I would definitely say that movie posters have also been a big source of inspiration, mainly from the sci-fi genre due to the cinematic effect of contrast between rim lights and dramatic shadows. I just love that.”

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“One of my latest discoveries and new found photographer guru, is Dylan Patrick, a Jedi Master of the Cinematic Headshot. I think we have several things in common in terms of our aesthetic and technical preferences and his work really inspired me to create a revamped incarnation of the Cinematic Headshot.”

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“Peter Hurley is another incredibly talented headshot photographer whose style is one that I’m quite fond of. Not specifically in terms of technique but more about  the way he directs the subject to utilize their features to bring out their beauty and vibrancy. Not to mention my personal favourite the infamous squint; Google Brad Pitt for reference.”

“I’d say my style is a mix of the above mentioned headshot masters – Dylan Patrick in terms of  lighting, editing and framing and Peter Hurley in his direction and general attitude towards portraiture (I love an on point squinch.)”

“Movies of course have also been a big source of inspiration. Films such as Star Wars and The Matrix, to name a few, have driven me to perceive every picture I take as if it were a frame in a Movie.”

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What makes your photographs stand out from the average photographer?

“What could be regarded as a particularity to my photography, or let’s say, my signature, is the contrast between light and shadows, the so called chiaroscuro. I always rely on histogram expansion to include as much information as possible by enhancing contrast to create striking and appealing images.”

“There is always something about my subjects. A message trying to get across or a secret that is hidden in an attempt to bridge the gap between the viewer and the model. It’s all in the eyes.”

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What does photography mean to you?

“I am the kind of person who stops in the middle of the street, looks up and makes a square frame with his hands to a click sound. Cheesy I know! I love to live life collecting snapshots of moments frozen in time.”

“Had I to choose between words or images to express my thoughts and feelings, I’d certainly go for the latter. From my point of view as a creative, I genuinely enjoy telling stories through visually riveting and compelling images. I feel more comfortable when conveying a message involving the visual sense and I apply this philosophy to pretty much everything, from street photography, photojournalism, headshots to visual design, as well. That’s why photography has become such an essential aspect of my life as well as its pure driving force.”

 

Is it fair to alter reality by adjusting images in post-production?

“In my opinion and coming from my background of photography, I would say it most definitely depends on the kind of image and its purpose. You might not want to alter a headshot drastically as it is essential that the actor needs to look like his picture on the page as he does in real life when he walks in for an audition. I usually edit these types of photos by making tweaks to allow the subject to look as they would do on their best day.”

“On the other hand, there is another side of me that loves to play with reality, to alter it and bring forth new environments as well as physically impossible situations or extraordinary, out-of-this-world settings with crazy makeup and imaginary realities.”

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How important is it for a photographer to connect with your subject model to bring out their true self ?

“That’s the key part of it. You might have the best equipment in your studio or outdoors, as well as the best weather conditions for that perfect shot, but if the subject is not highly engaged with every part of their body and soul, the picture won’t transmit any particular vibe nor will it tell a story. I always tell my clients to focus on the reflection of themselves in the camera instead of the very device and I also ask them to gaze out and think through the lens.”

 

Locations and weather conditions are critical aspects to a successful picture. How do you plan if unpredictable factors occur?

“The very nature of an unpredictable factor is exactly the impossibility to predict it. But that’s also the beauty of the essence of it. When the unexpected happens, when you catch that glimpse or that glint of sunlight on a rainy day, that’s where the magic happens.”

“Besides, logistics and gear preparation are crucial. I always make sure I get spares sorted before a shoot.”

 

Could you describe the process of a photo shoot set up in your studio?

“I like to study my subjects before they actually come to the studio (I carry out a bit of Facebook  stalking a.k.a research to check their best side and study the shape of their face, cheekbones etc.) to direct them in the best possible way and enhance their traits.”

“I have a setup which is more suitable for guys with soft boxes and more cinematic and dramatic lights – my favourite – and a re-interpreted version of a classic clamshell-style layout for girls with a beauty dish and a reflector.”

 

Colour vs Black and White, which one is your favourite and why?

“I rarely shoot in black and white. I am a visual designer and I love colours. As humans, we see the world around us in colour. The same applies to headshots, by trying to capture the most veritable representation of the subject at that very moment and providing them with that special extra chance to get a part at an audition. When an actor walks in for an audition, he shows up in real life colours.”

 

Do you step out of your comfort zone to be creative?

“Most definitely. First of all, if you don’t do it, you might end up getting bored doing the same all over again and nobody wants that, so I constantly strive to push the boundaries. Then, by not keeping oneself up-to-date on new things and the latest techniques means becoming obsolete. That’s why I always try to experiment new things, techniques, different light setups, different environments… you name it.”

“As an artist, it’s a must to get out of your comfort zone because you aim to create magic and magic only happens when you think outside the box. I also apply that way of thinking to life itself.”

 

What advice would you give to an amateur photographer starting out into photography?

 

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“The first advice would be that as a visual artist, whether he be a photographer, a painter or a designer, the main objective is to tame the light. You use light to shape a scene or subject with highlights and shadows, to create something visually appealing. When someone sees your work, their brain scans shades and lights to recreate a visual representation, so understanding how light affects our subjects and learning about the quality of light, its properties, fall-off etc, is paramount. By broadening my knowledge of light, my photography and my interface design have increasingly become better.”

“Another recommendation would be, invest in your lenses rather than in your camera. I think one of the most common mistakes is to use up your budget for the body of the camera to the detriment of the lenses. For me, this spells out a big No. It’s better to save a few hundred quid on the body and get a better quality lens as you will get better quality images, at least from a technical point of view.”

“As humans, we tend to look and walk ahead but it’s always good to take a look back, to look up above and just everywhere. Let your gaze roam free.”

“Finally, I’d say: When in doubt Shoot! the only bad picture is the one you don’t take so… whether you’re shooting with your phone, DSLR or compact camera, always bring something to shoot with as you never know when the magic moment will occur.”

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“Among the perks of suffering from jetlag, I’d definitely list being awake at 5am to capture this spectacular sunrise picture on the Thai island of Koh Yao Noi.”
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“Check out my work on www.robertovivancos.com, my Twitter and Instagram accounts @robertovivancos and my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/robertovivancosstudio.”

 

Special thanks to Roberto Vivancos for his interview with Public Description.

Dr Maya Angelou | Phenomenal & Inspirational

Dr Maya Angelou – Celebrated Poet, Memoirist and Civil Rights Activist

Maya Angelou - poet, memoirist & civil rights activist - courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Dr Maya Angelou became one of the most celebrated and leading voices of our time. She was the first African American woman who publicly discussed her personal life through her book I know why the caged bird sings. The book covers her eventful childhood up until age 16 when she gave birth to her son, Guy. This was the first of seven autobiographies that she wrote through her life time.

The title of Dr Angelou’s most famous autobiography came from the third stanza of Paul Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy”. Dr Angelou admired his works for many years, and also credited him and William Shakespeare with forming her “writing ambition”. The title was suggested by civil rights activist and jazz vocalist Abby Lincoln.

“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings”

– Paul Lawrence Dunbar

A young Maya - courtesy of nbcnews.com

A young Maya

Dr Angelou was born on April 4th 1928 as Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. She spent her formative years in the harsh segregated Stamps, Arkansas with her parental grandmother, Annie Henderson, and her kind but cripple uncle, Willie. At the age of three, after her parents’ divorce, Maya and her brother, Bailey (who gave her the nickname Maya), were sent to live with their grandmother. Her grandmother, who owned the general store in black Stamps, helped Maya to develop pride and self-confidence. However, at the age of seven, during a visit to her mother, Maya was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman. She told her brother about the rape. After testifying at Freeman’s trial, Freeman was found beaten to death (some belief at the hands of her uncles). In her seven-year-old mind, Maya though it was her voice that killed him and she refused to speak in public for five years as a result of her guilt and belief. It was during these years that she discovered poetry and her love of art when Mrs Flowers, an educated black woman from Stamps and friend of the family, introduced her to the literacy world. At the age of 13, Maya and her brother re-joined her mother in San Francisco. Maya’s love for art won her a scholarship to San Francisco’s Labor School where she studied dance and drama. It was during this time that she started to speak again. At age 14 she dropped out of school to become San Francisco’s first African American female streetcar conductor, but she returned to school shortly thereafter to complete her studies. She became pregnant in her senior year and at age 16 gave birth to her only son, Guy, a few weeks after her graduation. In order to support her and her son, she worked as a night club dancer, a singer, a prostitute and a fry cook, while not giving up on her talents for music, dance, performance and poetry.

 

In 1950 she married a Greek sailor, Tony Angelos, but the marriage did not last long. She moved to New York City to continue her study of dance, later returning to San Francisco to sing at the Purple Onion Cabaret where she was noticed by talent scouts. She toured Europe from 1954 to 1955 as a member of the cast in the touring production Porgy and Bess. She recorded her first album in 1957 named Calypso Lady.

 

She was also known for her ability to write lyrics and perform spoken word. She collaborated with Quincy Jones writing lyrics for B.B. King in the film For Love of Ivy, a Sidney Poitier film.

Dr Maya Angelou has won three Grammys: Best Spoken Word Album, Best Spoken Word or Non Musical Album 1993 for On the Pulse of Morning, Grammy for Best Spoken Word or Non Musical Album, 1995 for Phenomenal Woman, Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, 2000 for A Song Flung up to Heaven.

Moving back to New York, Dr Angelou joined the Harlem Writer’s Guild in 1958 and under the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she started to write the first book, “I know why the caged bird sings” which was published in 1970. The book received international acclaim. However, it was banned in many schools at the time due to her open honest writing of her rape, a long taboo topic in the culture at that time. During her time in New York, she acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom. She was also the first African-American woman to write a script that was filmed. She wrote the screenplay and composed the score of the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia which received a Pulitzer Price. She also appeared in Alex Haley’s series, Roots (1977) and John Singleton’s Poetic Justice (1993). She directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta, in 1996.

Dr Angelou also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die, which was published in 1971. She later wrote the poem “On the Pulse of Morning”—one of her most famous works—which she recited at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. She was the first person to recite a poem at an inauguration since 1961 when Robert Frost recite his poem at President John F Kennedy’s inauguration. The recording of the poem won a Grammy Award.

 

In 1960 Dr Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt with South African civil right activist, Vusumzi Make. She served as the editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. Their relationship ended and she and her son moved on to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School for Music and Drama, wrote The Ghanaian Times and was feature editor for The African Review. During her time abroad she read and studied with enthusiasm. Dr Angelou was fluent in six languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Western African Fanti.

Whilst in Ghana, Dr Angelou met Malcolm X and in 1964 returned to America to help him build his new organization of African-American Unity. He was assassinated shortly after her return and the organization dissolved. She also counted Dr Martin Luther King Jr as one of her friends, and was devastated when he was assassinated on her birthday in 1968. He asked her to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She has continued her works in civil rights and she is also recognized as an international ambassador for goodwill crossing lines of race and culture.

Maya Angelou receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama - courtesy of post-gazette.com

Dr Maya Angelou receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama

In 2011 President Barak Obama presented Dr Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Dr Angelou died at home in Winston-Harlem, Northern Carolina on 28 May 2014 at the age of 86 but her voice continues to live on in her poems and memoirs.

On The Pulse Of Morning – Poem by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou - courtesy of barnesandnoble.com

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers-
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours- your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

Phenomenal Woman – Poem by Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman - Maya Angelou - courtesy of theosbornegroupblog.com

I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size

But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Researcher: Riette van Zyl

Vindata | Leaders not Followers

vindata

(This interview done originally with publicdescription.com in 2014 )

I’ve been a fan of Vindata for a long while now. I was first introduced to them by my Phoenix FM presenter; Vixter, who has been fiercely supporting Vindata for a long while. Regularly playing their tracks and telling anyone who will listen that they will be the next big thing, so how smug are we now that BBC Radio 1 have only just caught up and started playing one of their tracks off their next EP which was aired on Skream & Benga.

You will be blown away by this LA based duo too. Take my word.

 

Elle: For our readers could you tell me who forms Vindata and how you guys formed?

Vindata: Vindata is made up of Branden Ratcliff and Jared Poythress. We met through mutual friends around 2007. We started this project in 2010 after realizing how much our musical background and upbringing we had in common.

 

Elle: How would you describe your music style?

Vindata: We have a very broad range. It’s mostly based off what we’re feeling at any given time. Some call it Future Bass, Future R&B, Chill trap or whatever name they just created. We actually like not being bound by a specific genre. It gives us plenty of room to grow as artist.

 

Elle: What is your musical influence?

Vindata: Well, we grew up in Church so Gospel definitely had a huge impact on both of us. But we also have roots in Hip Hop and R&B.

 

Elle: Who would be your dream collaboration to work with?

Vindata: The Neptunes, Kanye West or Timbaland.

 

Elle: Which person do you feel you have learned the most from in life?

Branden: My Mother,

Jared: My Father.

 

Elle: Any plans to come to London soon?

Vindata: Hopefully, London has always been one of the places we wanted to visit first. We really respect and admire London’s appreciation for the arts.

 

Elle: What can we expect to see from Vindata?

Vindata: We finished our second EP titled “…For One To Follow”. Have been really excited for this, as it further elaborates our path we’ve chosen and what we’re currently feeling.

https://soundcloud.com/vindata

vindata.bandcamp.com/