Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Greatest Band You’ll Never Hear…Again. Part I

In a refurbished rowhouse in Houston’s Third Ward, I was privy to one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life, and this was just a rehearsal.

In September of 2008, a few days after Hurricane Ike had ripped through the Gulf Coast, I received a phone call from my friend Justin.
me: What’s up man?
Justin: I’m starting a band.
me: Huh?
Justin: I’m starting a band.
me: Oh cool. With who?
Justin: Fran, Carlos, Denis and his brother Abel.
me: …….yes!!

Justin is one of those frustratingly talented friends whose creations leave you both happy and tormented. Happy because of the quality, tormented because of the lapses in between. Since I met him I knew he was supposed to do something special, important.
I’d seen him through two production crews, Underground Station (with Carlos) & Neon Collars (with Denis) and some forays an MC. All of which I thought had amazing potential and promise. But something was always amiss. There were elements or a vibe that was not completely there. The band made sense. It felt like a natural progression, the evolution of his previous bodies of work.

And then there’s Fran. Her talent is undeniable. There’s so much passion and pain and confusion and hope and sorrow and yearning in that voice. It’s humanity, weaved and sewn into notes and melodies. And it escapes from her body with such an intense yearning. It’s as if her words are messages from another world sent to save you from some impending, steadily approaching doom; light amidst so much darkness. This is coupled with this uncanny, yet natural way of making you fall in love with her. Her presence instantly puts you at ease yet demands your attention, or better yet you eagerly offer it.

A collaboration between these two spirits potentially possessed a power that was truly world changing, if only individual worlds, if only one at a time. Just the thought of it had formed synapses in my brain that redefined possibility and reshaped my own potential. This is why I knew it would work. This is why I was excited about it.

Actually, I was more than just excited. I remember feeling a sense of relief. What they were committing to do was important; it were as if it proved something. That something was possible. That purposes and passions will align and seek others of their kind, a confirmation long awaited and much desired.

After what I was told was a very exciting meeting and introduction, Justin Lewis, Franchelle Lucas, Carlos Conway, Denis and Abel Cisneros formed Neon Collars, the band.

For the next 2 months I waited, painstakingly, to hear just a snippet of anything they had produced. I would drive by the rehearsal space, call random band members during rehearsal time, offer to cater, but to no avail. When I was finally invited to witness, it was much more than I ever knew to expect. In a refurbished rowhouse in Houston’s Third Ward, I was privy to one of the most amazing musical experiences of my life, and this was just a rehearsal.

At this point in time they were preparing for their first gig, The Project Row Houses Fall Festival. This is a community festival that often serves as a platform to showcase the art of Project Row Houses‘ friends and community partners, that happens in the Third Ward Community of Houston, TX.

The buzz about the band had circulated quickly throughout the community, as we were all familiar fans of the individual members’ solo efforts, so this was the majority of the audience. While we were all in ecstatic joy and excitement with the first notes, the experience became ethereal when these sounds became present in the eardrums and the spirits of unsuspecting people passing by in the neighborhood. It was as if the songs possessed a gravity that they couldn’t escape.
For the next 30 minutes we all were exposed to a world we had never experienced before.

It was rough, organic, unpolished and beautiful. It was the music of purposes aligned for a moment in time. I loved it because it was proof that diligence and passion and faith truly do produce sweet fruit.




I can’t shake this feeling that there has to be more than this.
I was born for more than this.
Been told my whole life I was special. And I believe it.
Bought into it.
I was engineered to be significant. To produce something for the world.
I’m allergic to this mediocrity I currently find myself in.
It makes me itch. Makes my skin crawl.
I’m seriously sick.
Maybe that’s why my mind is so cluttered. Why nothing makes sense.
Why can’t I figure out my next move.
I have to get out of here. I have to escape.. I have to…
So please, tell me how.


I’m just sayin… Jennifer Hudson

American Idol and The Second Coming of…Patti Labelle??

I am a fan of American Idol. I watch it more often than I am willing to admit. When nobody is around, I even do vocal runs and hit all high notes. Every Tuesday and Wednesday night, I watch Randy pack on pounds of Mac makeup, not brush his hair (or the bottom row of his teeth for that matter. Them mugs are YELLOW!), and squeeze into skinny jeans that give him a muffin top. I watch Ellen know absolutely nothing about music, and blink way too much. And I see Kara speak one way to white people, and a completely different way to black people (exaggerated head bobbing, urban slang, hand movements).

Why do I do it? Because every once in a while, a star is born.

Enter one Jennifer Hudson. J-Hud sings so great, it makes me want to chop my hair into a spiked asymmetrical bob and have 8 kids! Her voice resonates so strongly it’s almost unnatural. A talented singer AND actress, she went from American Idol reject to Oscar Award winner. I have nothing bad to say about her. Ever.

However, I’ve got serious beef with her manager. After Dreamgirls, Mr. Manager went crazy and thought Jennifer Hudson was really Effie White. Her movie roles make her seem older than she is. Both Dreamgirls and The Secret Life of Bees were set in the 60s. And now she’s set to play Winnie Mandela in a biopic. Shoot, the only current role she got was playing a “personal assistant” (pronounced “Mamie“) in the Sex and the City movie!! Ain’t that bout a [female dog]?!

Musically, her album sounded like a throwaway from Aretha Franklin’s collection in 1968. She’s 28, not 68!! You know what? I’ma start calling Jennifer Hudson “Patti Labelle 2.0“. Like Patti, all her gigs apparently require singing/shrieking at awards shows, usually in tributes to older/fallen stars. Out-sing Whitney Houston? Shoop. Aretha Franklin? Plead for “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” from Aretha Franklin? Done. “Hee-hee” for MJ? Did it…twice.

She’s got a beautiful voice, and a great pair of, err, lungs (What did you think I was going to say?). I want to hear her sing her own songs for once, not a gospel-y version of someone else’s. Crap, soon she’ll start flapping her arms like a bird, kicking her shoes off, and rolling on the floor.

Patti Syndrome is a [maternal parent fornicator]!! (See 3:40)

I mean, I’m just sayin…

B. Dienye

On Creativity by K. West

Was perusing around on Kanye’s new blog the other day and came across this. Among the slew of emotions this garnered within me, conviction was the reigning champ. Was talking to a friend some time ago about this dude’s passion. It grips you, it takes hold. You either love him or hate him. He leaves no option for in between. This is what we aspire to do as artists. We strive to make you feel, make you think, make you act in some way. Sometimes we will fail. But when we succeed…sweet bliss. If we only hit it 1/10, it’s worth it. If that 1000th piece is the one that drop kicks you in the heart, then the other 999 attempts were just preparation and we’d gladly do it all over again.

Great artists suffer for the people.” -Marvin Gaye


Lost In The Shuffle : Richie Havens

I first discovered Richie Havens when I rented the Woodstock Festival DVD and the first time I heard this song it tore through me. His honesty and passion spoke to the purest desire we all have, just to be free. This video basically says everything I want to say so just watch this!

Richie Havens – Freedom

Havens is still performing today with as much if not more passion than ever. I had the privilege of meeting and talking with him last year when he appeared at Dosey Doe’s Coffee House in the Woodlands, TX.
Richie Havens… eternally cool and another great artist lost in the shuffle…

Influences: Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, the Beatles
Similar Artists: Bill Withers, Joan Baez, Terry Callier
Key Tracks: Here Comes the Sun, Follow, Just Like A Woman

By Terrence Lathan aka IBelieveInMuzik

Lunch With Lady O : Episode 4 : Pit Stop

In this episode Nadia talks about the first pit stop in
“The Race to Lunch With Oprah,” as well as shares some “Oprah-ly” advice.

**special dance interlude around 2:25**

Also check out the official request that Nadia sent into Harpo Productions:
Nadia’s Official Request