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Al Green enthralls Atlanta crowd at first-ever Fox Theatre concert

Photo by: Drew Dinwiddie

On the fifth stop of his first tour in over seven years, the notorious soul singer, songwriter, and record producer Rev. Al Green performed at the Fox Theatre on May 3rd in Atlanta, GA. Green took to the stage a little after 9 PM, dressed in a black tailored suit, white collared shirt, black bow tie, and black sunglasses. He began the concert performing his 1972 hit song “It Ain’t No Fun To Me” from his renowned album Let’s Stay Together. Green made a point to greet the crowd by gifting his signature long-stemmed roses to a bevy of women attendees.

A diverse crowd of young and older generations filled the Fox Theatre last Friday evening to experience Green’s first-time ever performing at the notable Atlanta venue. Several concert guests arrived dressed to impressed, wearing lien outfits, three pieced suits, evening gowns, and cocktail dresses. Prior to the start of the concert, attendees purchased cocktails, beer, wine, soft drinks, popcorn, chips, pretzels, peanuts, and an assortment of candy from the theatre concession stand to indulge in during the show.

Green executed a 13-song lineup, in the span of an hour and fifteen-minute long performance. He performed many of his classic singles such as “Let’s Get Married,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” “Simply Beautiful,” “I’m Still in Love with You,” “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” and “Tired of Being Alone.” He was so passionate as he entertained the crowd, that he came out his suit jacket during mid-performance.

In a recent interview with The Atlanta Voice, Green stated, “My favorite song is ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ because it actually broke in Atlanta,” Green said. “There was a disc jockey in Atlanta, and he played ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ like he had a headache.”

“He played and played it. They told me, ‘Al you got to come to Atlanta. This boy in town is driving us crazy with this song.’ So I came over to Atlanta and walked into the club where he was, and he was so excited to meet me. I think he was just tired of being alone himself.”

Accompanying Green on stage was a trio of background singers and brass players, organist, two background dancers, and a full band comprised of a drummer, electric guitar players, and a keyboard player.

Mid-concert, Green transitioned from showcasing soul music into singing Gospel music such as his famous single “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, and the well-known Christian hymn “Amazing Grace.” He also paid tribute to several late great artists during the concert by producing snippet performances of “My Girl” by Temptations, “I Can’t Help Myself” by The Four Tops, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding, and “You Are Everything” by The Stylistics.

Though Green recently celebrated his 73rd birthday on April 13th, he continues to uphold his title as the prototypical soul-singer, best known for his iconic and flawless voice. As proven from his May 3rd concert, age has ceased to hold back Green from reenacting his legendary dance moves like dropping to his knees onstage during his rendition of “For the Good Times.”

Green concluded the show with his popularized single “Love and Happiness,” best known as the opening soundtrack in the 2000 film “Love and Basketball.” As he exited the stage, fans cheered and applauded in a standing ovation.

Reverend Al Green will return to Atlanta stage after seven year absence

(Photo: Christian Landry)

Returning back to the stage after seven years, the legendary soul singer, songwriter, and record producer Rev. Al Green will be performing at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA for the first time ever, on May 3, 2019, at 8 PM.

Green’s performance in Atlanta is among the limited run of tour dates. The tour will kick off in Austin, TX on April 24, and includes shows in other major cities such as Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, New York, and Chicago; ending in Los Angeles on May 9.

“It’s springtime, and I wanted to spring it up in a couple of cities with a tour,” Green said. “Rather than trying to have new guys trying to come in to imitate someone else’s plan, I’m using the same band that I have been performing with since the beginning.”

“We’ll sing what we usually sing like, ‘Let’s Stay Together,’ ‘Tired Of Being Alone,’ ‘Love and Happiness,’ ‘For the Good Times,’ ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,’ and more.”

Green said since he decided to start touring again, he has been getting a number of requests to visit other cities including Raleigh, Durham, Boston, and San Francisco.

“I only wanted to do four shows, my manager sent me 26 shows, so we got it down to eight shows,” said Green.

(Photo: Jim Weber/Associated Press)

Over the span of five decades, Green has undeniably made a lasting impact in multiple music genres including blues, soul, r&b, pop, and gospel. He’s also won 13 Grammy awards. He obtained the first Grammy of his career as a result of his first Gospel album “The Lord Will Make A Way.”

“My favorite song is ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ because it actually broke in Atlanta,” Green said. “There was a disc jockey in Atlanta, and he played ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ like he had a headache.”

“He played and played it. They told me, ‘Al you got to come to Atlanta. This boy in town is driving us crazy with this song.’ So I came over to Atlanta and walked into the club where he was, and he was so excited to meet me. I think he was just tired of being alone himself.”

In more recent years, Green has dedicated most of his time to his congregation at Full Gospel Tabernacle church in Memphis, where he still preaches regularly. However, he did record and release “Before The Next Teardrop Falls,” back in 2018. It was his first single in almost 10 years.

“God gave me the gift of music from the beginning, Green said. “I used to wonder, ‘Why have you given me all of these songs, but everybody says they’re bad?’”

“Then God told me, ‘Look Al, that’s people for you. I gave you the songs to put shoes on your little kid’s feet, to educate your children, and to take care of your household. You wanted to be a singer so I gave you the songs.’”

Green says he thinks the public is now comfortable with his ability to remain a man of God while switching genres at will.

“At first, they used to say, ‘Why did you go back to singing R&B?’ Well I mean I started singing R&B, and then I went to gospel. I didn’t start singing gospel then go to R&B,” Green said.

“The changing part for me was when I born again in 1973 in Anaheim, California. I was suddenly woken up from sleep and started rejoicing in the Lord. I am just thankful because all these things have happened to me, and I’ve been able to be successful with all the same people over the years. This is the full evolution of what God started in our lives since the beginning,” further expressed Green.

Green says that he’s currently working on new music.

“I’m going to be working on a country western album featuring some cover songs, and I am going to write one or two songs myself,” Green said. “After that, I’m going to do an R&B album.”

In addition to his tour performances, Green will appear at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 50th Anniversary on April 28.

Prices for the concert range from $90 to $400 per person. Tickets are still available for purchase via the Fox Theatre website, as well as other concert ticket websites. Following Green’s final performance in Los Angeles, he intends to release new music, as well as continue his ministry work.

Music rights company teaches key industry lessons at Georgia State

Photo by: Lowell “Kong” Waters of The Atlanta Voice

Songtrust Atlanta hosted its latest Music Publishing Workshop at Georgia State University’s downtown campus in their new media center on for two hours on March 28th. Since its expansion to the Atlanta region, the global digital rights management platform has been dedicated to providing monthly sessions of Music Publishing Workshops to better educate local creators.

Bre Harper, Songtrust Atlanta A&R representative, headlined the workshop in collaboration with GSU’s Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII), a media center designed as a flexible startup incubator space to nurture media entrepreneurs, and National Collegiate Entertainers Group, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students the entrepreneurial side of the music industry. This marked Songtrust’s first time ever collaborating with a university in Georgia.

President of GSU’s Panther Entertainment Group (PEG) Derek Jackson, offered Harper his room in the CMII building to use for the music workshop. Jackson believed that the Music Publishing Workshop was in alignment with the purpose of PEG. According the PEG website, the student organization was established in 2013 “with the purpose of educating students on the structure and formalities of the entertainment industry.” Currently, PEG’s prime directive is to generate hands-on opportunities for students to learn about the challenges and responsibilities of the industry.

Further explaining PEG’s mission and reasoning for collaborating with Songtrust Atlanta’s workshop, PEG President Derek Jackson said, “Our mission is to help empower students to use their intellectual property to build businesses. The historical rhetoric around the music industry has made it difficult for young people to understand their rights as it relates to their work.

“I’ve been following Songtrust for some time now, and I have great respect for the fact that they use education as a form of marketing,” Jackson explained. “They understand that, generally speaking, most people don’t know anything about publishing. So, their efforts to educate the population help to democratize the industry. There’s a lot of music companies that make a living off of what people don’t know. So, I think that we should celebrate the ones that are confident enough to put everything on the table and allow you to choose for yourself.”

Though the workshop was held on GSU campus, there were several non-students in audience eager to be educated on music publishing by Harper as well. Many local artists, songwriters, publishers, producers, managers, and entertainment lawyers attended the workshop.

As a GSU alumna, Harper returned to her alma matter on behalf of Songtrust, to share insight on music publishing. The workshop was similar to that of February’s 55th Park Bar Global Music Publishing Workshop presented by Harper, and Associate Director of Client Acquisition CJ Olivieri.

“It was great to be able to come back to my alma mater and give back. It’s crazy because the building and the resources that they have now for the music industry program, were not here when I was a student at GSU,” conveyed Harper.

Harper provided valuable knowledge on the difference between mechanical royalties collected by mechanical agencies, versus performance royalties collected by Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) and Collective Management Organizations (CMOs). Additional guidance about the U.S. Copyright Office, and the benefits of using Songtrust instead of creators alternatively registering their work with PROs was given as well. Harper also advised workshop participants that information in relation to the music publishing market is steadily changing.

During the workshop, one of the workshop attendees shared information he learned about music publishing on YouTube with Harper and fellow audience members. In return, Harper explained that most of the information would have been correct if only it had been eight months prior.

“I gained so much knowledge from the workshop. I particularly learned the appropriate way to bring up split sheets in a studio setting,” Tendraia Perry, a local attendee and aspiring A&R representative. “I am in the early stages of my career as an A&R, and I was able to connect with Bre to get some advice on how to effectively develop the necessary skills to succeed as a music executive.”

Following the workshop, several guests remained to further speak with Bre about music related questions, and network amongst fellow workshop participants. A discount of 40 percent off of Songtrust membership was granted to workshop attendees as well.

Harper is in the works of planning additional collaborations with GSU and the Atlanta community such as community events. Information about Songtrust Atlanta’s April Music Publishing Workshop is still pending. Updates on future Songtrust events can be found on Songtrust’s social media handles, as well as their official website.

Maxwell and Kem dazzled love-struck crowd during concert

Photos by: Lowell “Kong” Waters of The Atlanta Voice

Urban contemporary radio station V-103 (WVEE-FM) hosted “An Evening With MAXWELL Featuring KEM” in Atlanta on March 30th at State Farm Arena. At 8:30 PM, Kem opened the concert dressed in a salmon colored tailored suit. He performed his popular songs such as, “Love Calls”, “You’re on My Mind”, “Nobody”, “Share My Life”, “My Favorite Thing”, “It’s You”, and more. A saxophone soloist amongst background dancers and singers accompanied Kem on stage. One of his background vocalists in particular was The Voice contestant Beth Griffith-Manley. Kem played the piano while singing during his performance as well.

Between songs, Kem shouted out to Georgia cities College Park, Decatur, Marietta, Lawrenceville, and others. He also insisted on praising God throughout his performance. At one point during the concert he stated, “God is God all the time”, and the audience responded, “All the time God is good.” Further interacting with the crowd, Kem asked for all the men who were with women they loved, to stand up, and join him by singing to their loved ones.

Kem acknowledging Kem for his performance, he asked them to stand up, and give praise to God.

Following Kem’s performance, V-103 assisted with allowing a man from the audience to successfully propose to his long time girlfriend on stage. Immediately after the wedding proposal, the DJ played a series of old school hip-hop and R&B hits. He played well-known songs such as, “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton, “Candy” by Cameo, “Before I Let Go” by Maze & Frankie Beverly, and more.

Furthermore, the DJ hyped up the crowd by calling out ad-libs such as, “If you were born before the 90’s make some noise” and “If you were born before the Internet make some noise.” Several concert attendees danced along to the music, while also joining together in the aisles to do the electric slide. Attendees who were in Greek fraternities and sororities hopped and strolled with their fellow members throughout the arena as well.

Maxwell came on stage a little after 10:00 PM, dressed in a black silk shirt and pant ensemble, paired with a black embroidered kimono robe, black cap, and red tinted aviator glasses. He performed many of his famous songs such as, “Fortunate”, “Get to Know Ya”, “Lifetime”, “W/ As My Girl”, and “Pretty Wings.” In addition to musical performances, Maxwell executed various daring dance moves like a back bend stretch and the splits.

Audience members eagerly cheered him on as he performed, including throwing a pair of lace underwear on the stage. Maxwell responded to the notion by placing the underwear on the microphone, and continuing to sing while gripping the microphone. Maxwell also indicated amid his performance that, “There is no king of R&B without Sam Cooke and many others.” Essentially responding to Atlanta R&B singer and songwriter Jacquees saying he was the king of R&B in 2018.

Maxwell will be returning to Atlanta on September 27th at 8:00 PM to perform with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The concert will be held at the Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park. Tickets can be purchased on all major concert ticket websites.

Women’s music brunch lifts veil on mental health in entertainment industry

Women in Music (WIM) Atlanta hosted a member only ‘Brunch With a Purpose’ event on March 23rd at The Gathering Spot.

The brunch featured a conversation with Shanti Das, founder and executive director of Silence the Shame. In addition, Das is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, marketing consultant and an entertainment executive that highlighted the impact of mental health in correlation with the music industry.

Facilitator of the conversation was Vice Chair of Events for WIM Atlanta Dina Marto,who also serves as an independent music executive, A&R coordinator, counselor, product manager, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Attendees included various WIM members comprised of artists, songwriters, publicist, and more. Silence the Shame staffers along and board members of the WIM Atlanta chapter were present.

Das began her career in the music industry while attending Syracuse University. She worked as an urban promotions assistant at Capital Records for two consecutive summers, and interned in the sales department at Sony Music Atlanta. After graduating from Syracuse in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications, Das was hired as National Director of Promotions by LaFace Records.

From 2000 to 2009, Das elevated her way through the industry. She served as Vice President of Urban Marketing for Columbia Records, Sr. Vice President of Urban Marketing for Sony Urban Music, and Executive Vice President of Urban Marketing and Artist Development for Universal Motown. Though she successfully assisted several music legends such as Outkast, Donell Jones, Goodie Mob, TLC, Prince, and more, Das felt compelled to pursue a career outside of the music industry. Das quit her job at Motown to move back to Atlanta in 2009, in order to take care of her mother as she suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.

“I would come to work everyday miserable. I was just angry all the time,” Das said as she explained the events leading up to her departure from Motown. “I was at the highest point of my career working at Motown as Executive Vice President, I was making almost half a million dollars a year, and then I quit, walking away from it all. I could have easily stayed and fought the good fight to possibly become president of a label, but that wasn’t in the cards for me. I felt something moving my spirit.”

“2015 was dark for me. I was a high functioning person with clinical depression, and didn’t know it. I couldn’t recognize it. I went through financial hardships. I almost lost my home twice, and I started withdrawing from family members. One night in September of 2015, I counted up all the pills in medicine cabinet. I was ready to kill myself. I thought that I was done with living, and that the work that I had done was enough. I thought that since my dad did it, it was okay for me to do it.

I got out the house, and ended up running into a good friend of mine. I know that was God putting her in my pathway. She encouraged me to call my sister and talk to her. I called the national suicide prevention hotline, and also text my pastor. My pastor told, ‘I’ll pray with you, but you’ve got to go to the doctor. You’ve got to get some help.’ So I called my healthcare physician on Monday morning, and he encouraged me to call a psychiatrist. I got on antidepressants and started going to therapy,” shared Das.

During a 2015 radio interview with Ryan Cameron, Das openly discussed mental health awareness in 2015, Das said, “People have to be open, honest, and brave to start sharing their stories. Maybe they should just silence the shame.”

Das launched Silence the Shame in 2017 as a result of her personal battle with depression over the years, as well as encountering her love ones suffer from mental health disorders. Silence the Shame serves as foundation to eradicate the stigma, and normalize conversation relating to mental health and wellness. Public figures such as Jeezy, Big Sean, Toni Braxton, Estelle, Chloe x Halle, and more have supported the Silence the Shame movement.

“Over my 25 year career, I never really knew how to handle my stress and depression. When I was 7 months old my dad took his own life, but I’m okay with it today. I’m 48 years old and I’m finally at peace with my father’s suicide. My ego came into play. My sister told me, ‘You need to go to therapy. You still haven’t come to terms with dad’s suicide.’ I told her, ‘Nah I don’t need therapy.’ I thought that since I was doing marketing for Outkast, Prince, and all these folks, that I didn’t need any professional help. Working in the industry made me feel like I was invincible. Like I didn’t need any help what so ever,” confessed Das.  

Marto also shared her experience having been the former assistant to the late Shakir Stewart when he took his own life in 2008. 

When Shakir committed suicide and I was his assistant at the time a lot of people asked, ‘Wow why did he do it?’ As if he just woke up one day and just decided to end it. I think what people don’t understand is that when you’re thinking from a healthy mind, you don’t understand what somebody from an unhealthy mind is feeling or going through. It’s not that they want to do that they just want the pain and suffering to stop. They don’t feel like at that moment they have another way out.”

Das invited a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Ayanna Abrams, to provide additional insight about creatives battling with mental illnesses.

Most of the link in connected between bipolar disorder and psychosis. These are the disorders that tend to socially help creativity because you can set longer hours. Particularly with bipolar disorder you might experience this euphoria or mania phase when you just go and go. You’re getting the music out, getting the lyrics out, and perform at all hours. In a lot of ways you’re doing this for other people. The more you’re in that performative space, the less connected you are to yourself.”

A lot of creatives also use their art as a self-care and expressive technique. They think, ‘I don’t have to check in with me personally because I get to be this person.’ They completely clock out on what’s going on in their relationships and families. They become less declined to care of themselves because they think everything is fine. People are used to seeing them a certain way so they feel like everything has to be fine, because they have to keep performing,” explained Dr. Abrams.

Das further mentioned that the substance abuse epidemic encompassing the entertainment industry is ultimately due to creatives suffering from mental health issues.

Forms of healthy alternative coping mechanisms shared by Das included: write a “not to do” list, go for a walk, take a nap, meditation, yoga, follow a healthy daily diet, engage in art activity, go dancing, and more. She also mentioned that every other Saturday Silence the Shame administers a free Self-care Saturdays’ event in Atlanta.

During the closing remarks, Das guaranteed future collaborations with WIM Atlanta. WIM Atlanta also gifted Das with a year membership to their organization, and donation to Silence the Shame. Additional information about Silence the Shame can be found on all major social media platforms at “@silencetheshame,” as well as their website, silencetheshame.com.

Songtrust Atlanta hosts ‘Global Publishing Workshop’

(Photos by: Lowell Waters)

Songtrust Atlanta hosted its second workshop of the year on February 28th, at 55th Park Bar from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The New York based company functions as a global digital rights management platform which allows songwriters, and artists to manage their music publishing and related rights. As a continuation from their previous event held this past January at Culture Republic Studios, Songtrust Atlanta conducted a Global Publishing Workshop.

Associate Director of Client Acquisition CJ Olivieri joined A&R representative of Songtrust Atlanta Bre Harper as hosts for the workshop.

“In Atlanta, there are so many people that are underserved in the music industry,” Olivier said. You would think since it is such a hot bed that they would be over-served, but they are being over-served with things they don’t need. Something like publishing, which should really be a important thing for them, no one knows anything about it.”

Olivieri currently travels internationally as an advocate and overseer for Songtrust New York and Nashville offices, and now assists with the start-up of Songtrust Atlanta.

Upon registration, attendees were promised to gain in-depth knowledge about music and global publishing administration, and be able to network. A mix of songwriters, publishers, producers, musical artists, and entertainment lawyers, were among those in attendance for the publishing workshop.

On behalf of the Songtrust team, the first 50 attendees were presented with a free drink ticket, that they were able to use at the 55th Park Bar. Though the bar was open to the public for regular business, a section was apportioned just for Songtrust Atlanta’s workshop.

Numerous of local creators huddled together in the reserved section of the bar, socializing with one another as they eagerly waited for the workshop to begin.

Olivieri and Harper began the workshop thoroughly explaining the difference between mechanical royalties collected by mechanical agencies, versus performance royalties collected by Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) and Collective Management Organizations (CMOs).

Along with providing valuable information about collecting royalties, Olivieri and Harper went on to enlighten the audience about Songtrust’s support with music publishing and allowing creators to protecting their assets.

As the audience continued to grow throughout the workshop, Olivieri and Harper were subjected to utilize a PA speaker amplifier and microphone system that was presented to them by one of the guest.

During the workshop, Olivieri was quick to advise the audience, “Know the power of your copyright. A lot of people don’t how valuable publishing is. They don’t understand the importance of it until years have passed, then all of a sudden they go try to get the money, and it’s gone. It’s been black boxed and distributed out to other people.”

“Understand the value of the asset that you have, and register your songs quickly. People don’t realize it takes six to nine months to collect on publishing. So the sooner you get that process going, the more likely you’ll be able to prevent that money from being black boxed in the first place,” shared Olivieri.

Harper also shared with the audience in order to get started, maintain royalties, and revenue, artists, songwriters, and producers need a distributor, publisher, the importance of registering music with Nielsen’s SoundScan, and Songtrust.

Attendees actively listened to the advice given, while also taking notes by hand or on their phones. Many of the workshop attendees partook in the variety of food and beverage selections offered by the bar as well.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the Songtrust team administered a 40% discount on Songtrust services as an incentive for guests.

Creators who went on to stay after the presentation, conversed about their takeaways from the workshop, and further networked regarding potential collaborations.

“We don’t come here to sell, we come here to try to show everyone this side of the business that they don’t know,” Olivier explained. “Hopefully they learn a little bit, take that information, go learn more about it, and help their friends learn more about it. We can’t do our job of signing people up, if they don’t know what publishing is, and why it’s so important. If they choose to go to a different publisher that’s fine, we just want people to get the money that they’ve earned. That’s the most important thing to us.”

Ashanti Mayo, Legal Assistant at Jonathan E. Leonard, P.C., attended the workshop with her colleague Cheniece Webster-Jones, Esq. M.M., LL.M., to become more informed about music publishing for her current and potential clients. Mayo also previously worked with Harper during her time with Disturbing Tha Peace Records so she wanted to extend her support to her former colleague and associate.

“I’m from New York, and although I went to school her and have friends here, I’m in a industry that I need to know people. I need to be able to network. I learned more about publishing. We do a lot of publishing daily, or license a lot of compositions for TV shows and commercials. Publishing is what I’m doing everyday. I also came to meet more people here and see if they need a lawyer,” expressed Mayo.

Newly appointed Director of Business Development for North America Anna Bond also appeared at the workshop, representing Songtrust. Bond received her title just three days prior to the Songtrust Atlanta music-publishing workshop.

The workshop being one of her first attended events as a new member of the Songtrust team, Bond confessed, “I came because I’m brand new to the company. I just started on Monday. I came to meet Bre from the Atlanta team, see how these workshops work, and see how folks from Bre and CJ’s team interact with creators on a grassroots level.”

“People were really engaged and interested in this topic. Just hearing the questions, they were so interested and focused. You really got the sense that these are creators who really want to develop their careers, and want to make sure that they’re covering all their bases. It’s really inspiring to see people talking to each other now, like you have musicians who are now talking about collaborating,” expressed Bond.

With fifteen years of experience in the music industry, and a passion to continue helping musicians advance their careers and share their unique visions, Bond said, “What I really like that Songtrust does, is that on a really grassroots level, they’re ensuring that creators get all of the royalties and revenue that they’re due. Publishing coming from the label side and coming artists side, is something that people can be extremely confused about. It can seem really opaque and something you need to have crazy connections to be able to access, but you really don’t. Songtrust is a really democratizing platform that makes that available to everyone. What I want to do in my role is to get more people access to the platform, royalties, and help people develop their careers.”

Speaking on the development of Songtrust Atlanta events going forward, Harper stated, “We capped out at capacity the first and second time, so we definitely plan to make the workshops bigger, and doing them twice a month. We really want to make huge marketing efforts in getting Songtrust’s name out in Atlanta. Along with the workshops, we want to have networking parties, mixers, and things of that sort, a couple times a month. We want to keep that networking community going in the Atlanta market, and Songtrust being a catalysts for it.”

Olivieri also affirmed, “We want to keep a consistent event every month for the community. I really like this aspect, where people are networking, collaborating, and figuring out ways they can work with each other. We want to build a community within Atlanta of people who are passionate about learning about the music industry. Hopefully that becomes contagious and spreads, so more people want to become involved. We were also apart of A3C Festival last year, so we want to get back involved with that again.”

Additional information about future Songtrust Atlanta events can be found on Songtrust’s social media handles, as well as their official website, www.songtrust.com.

Women’s collective attempts to close Atlanta’s gender gap in the music business

(Photo: Women in Music Atlanta)

As the leading non-profit devoted to providing a platform for women in the music industry, Women in Music, Inc. (WIM) remains dedicated to educate, support, empower and recognize women from the business and performance sides of the music; and its Atlanta chapter is no different.

A membership-based organization based in New York City, WIM welcomed its Atlanta chapter in 2017. The establishment of the organization in Atlanta was spearheaded by singer and songwriter Hadley Poole.

The Atlanta-native says that she simply wanted to “help shine a light on the talented women in Atlanta.”

“There are so many incredible women empowering the music scene here, such as Michele Caplinger, Tammy Hurt, Jan Smith, Joncier Rienecker and Kesha Lee,” Poole said.

As an exclusive members-only discussion featuring Shanti Das, founder and executive director of Silence the Shame, attendees will talk about the significance of mental health and the music industry.

WIM events are dedicated to educate, support, empower and recognize women from the business and performance sides of the music industry.
According to the WIM website, “The gender divide across all regions is roughly 70% male to 30% female.”
Plus, the American Association of Independent Music reported, “15% of label members are majority owned-by women.”

Moreover, in a published report called “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?”, written by Professor Stacy L. Smith and
the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, only 12.3 percent of the 600 most popular songs of the last six years were written by women, and only 2 percent of producers across 300 songs were women.

In the past, WIM Atlanta has conducted several networking opportunities, seminars, panels, showcases, achievement awards, youth initiatives, and educational resources accessible year round.
Former events held by the WIM Atlanta team have consisted of: WIM Atlanta Presents Creators Night, WIM Atlanta presents Music Publishing 101, WIM Atlanta Members-Only Happy Hour, WIM Atlanta presents Creators Night, Celebrating Atlanta’s Leading Ladies in Music, and the WIM Atlanta Forum.

These statistics confirm the fact that women are drastically outnumbered in the music industry by men, which is one of the reasons that WIM was founded back in 1985.

The organization says that its mission is to “advance the awareness, equality, diversity, heritage, opportunities, and cultural aspects of women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment, and recognition.”

There are male members in WIM. In addition, more than 100 volunteers work daily to serve the mission of WIM. The organization also consists of more than 5,000 international members. Membership ranges from women who are students to seasoned industry veterans.

Some of the corporate members who support the WIM initiative include: Universal Music Group, Nielsen Holdings PLC, Fox Rothschild LLP, Broadcast Music, Inc., The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), Reservoir Records, CD Baby, Inc., Cosynd, Inc., and The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

With Poole as the residing chapter chair of WIM Atlanta, the organization has become one of 13 chapters in five countries providing resources through networking opportunities, seminars, panels, showcases, achievement awards, and youth initiatives in the city throughout the year.

Poole’s decision to bring WIM to Atlanta came after serving as a board member and co-chair of events for WIM New York from 2007 to 2011.

“I felt the power and sense of community from Women in Music New York. So when I came back to home city Atlanta, I thought, ‘man let’s see what we can do with Atlanta,” Poole said.

With a leadership team headed by Poole, the organization has succeeded in producing monthly newsletters and events that highlight its members and their activities.

WIM Atlanta’s events have become one of its staples, consisting of WIM Atlanta Presents Creators Night, WIM Atlanta presents Music Publishing 101, WIM Atlanta Members-Only Happy Hour, WIM Atlanta presents Creators Night, Celebrating Atlanta’s Leading Ladies in Music, and the WIM Atlanta Forum.

“We look forward to not only continuing to shine a light on these incredible women and others but also to start connecting the dots within the entertainment community as a whole,” Poole said.

Currently, the organization is getting ready for its Brunch With a Purpose event which will be held Saturday, March 23rd at The Gathering Spot. This will be WIM Atlanta’s first event for 2019.

However, the organization is also interested in developing one-on-one mentoring for women looking to break
into the music industry.

Poole says that her leadership team plans to foster the community from artists to executives, in hopes of creating opportunities to connect the local entertainment community as a whole.

“I think the sky is the limit. Atlanta is an iconic city and I think we have only scratched the surface in telling the story of what talent and incredible people are here,” Poole said.

“From the music scene to the film and TV scene, the music tech, and gaming scene, there is such an inspiring and powerful community here.”

To learn about additional upcoming events for WIM Atlanta, and how to sign up for monthly newsletters, follow the WIM Atlanta social media platforms, or visit www.womeninmusic.org/wim-atlanta.

#Super Bowl LIII: OBJ, Teyana Taylor and others make Maxim party one for the ages

Jamie Foxx performs at The Maxim Big Game Experience at The Fairmont on February 02, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Maxim )

Last night’s Maxim party was star studded! For the 19th straight year, MAXIM returned to the biggest weekend in sports with their highly-anticipated and star-studded Maxim Big Game Experience. The Fairmont in Atlanta’s West Midtown district was the hottest place to be last night. Performances by Future and Jamie Foxx had party-goers in a good mood heading into tonight’s big game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. Appearances by broadcaster Taylor Rooks, New York Giants star Odell Beckham, Jr, Teyana Taylor and a cast of thousands gave Maxim’s party at The Fairmont a big game vibe!

In addition, Diplo headlined the musical set with additional performances by Yo Gotti, Zaytoven and DJ Ruckus last night! This iconic evening paid homage to Atlanta royalty with unique activations and A-list talent across 19,000 square feet of event space at The Fairmont, less than four miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Songtrust expands to Atlanta under A&R representative Bre Harper

January 23, 2019

(Photo: Bre Harper)

New York-based global digital rights management platform Songtrust, welcomes its first full-time representative in Atlanta as it expands its operation into Georgia.

The platform is best known for its global music royalty collection services, with the company currently representing more than 150,000 songwriters, 20,000 publishers, and managing more than 1,000,000 songs globally.

“The explosive growth in the music industry driven by Atlanta’s hip-hop, rap, and R&B communities helps support Songtrust’s expansion there, but there is an even bigger story to Georgia: great music of all genres is coming from this region that has been notoriously underserved on all publishing fronts,” said Joe Conyers III, Songtrust’s general manager.

He continues, “Beyond the obvious headlines there is a massive production story behind the artists there, one of which is perfectly aligned with Songtrust’s mission.”

Based in New York, Songtrust was created in 2011 by Downtown Music Publishing, on the basis of being a technology-driven music-publishing company.

Georiga State University alumna and newly appointed client acquisition representative for Songtrust Atlanta, Breanna Harper, plays a major role in the companies expansion.

Reporting directly to CJ Olivieri, Songtrust’s Client Acquisition Manager, Harper is responsible for identifying rights owners, songwriters, and producers in need of global publishing administrative services and seamlessly transitioning them onto the Songtrust platform

Harper comes to Songtrust after holding roles with Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace Records, The Grammy Foundation, and Spotify. The Memphis, Tennessee, native worked under of signed artists such as Ludacris, Big Krit, 21 Savage, and more.

She started her career early while still in college, after seeing a documentary.

“My senior year I saw a documentary about women in music. It had Shanti Das and some other women doing A&R and artist management,” said Harper.

“I had no idea those careers even existed in music. I thought it was just the artists and the producer. Once I found out all those jobs existed, I knew that it was for me.”

After her prior positions, Harper was for an A&R position at Songtrust by a mentor. She went through an extensive interview process, before being hired as a Songtrust Atlanta A&R in September of 2018.

Harper is just one of three new full-time representatives brought on by Songtrust’s desire to expand into Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Nashville. She’s joined by Alex Gershwin, a 10-year music industry veteran, who will be representing Songtrust as a Business Development Representative in Los Angeles and fellow Client Acquisition Representative Carli Gonderinger who be in Nashville.

The company already has a 79 person team spread across its offices in New York City, Long, And Amsterdam. Songtrust’s

Last year, Songtrust made its mark in Atlanta by participating at the A3C Festival & Conference which takes place in the city annually. Britnee Foreman, Songtrust’s Head of Data Strategy, who spoke on “The Future of Data panel,” Olivieri and Harper were also on hand.

For more information about upcoming Songtrust events in Atlanta, visit Songtrust’s Instagram, Twitter, and official website.

Jhonni Blaze shines on WeTV’s ‘Growing Up Hip-Hop: Atlanta’

Johnni Blaze has joined the cast of WeTV’s “Growing Up Hip-Hop. (Photo: Submitted)

Former “Love and Hip-Hop New York” cast member Jhonni Blaze (née Jzapal Jackson) has now joined WeTV Network’s hit reality series “Growing Up Hip-Hop: Atlanta.”

Moving over from VH-1, Blaze intends to take advantage of this new venture to further develop her music career.

During her childhood, Blaze was subjected to many emotional and physical hardships. When she was 15 years old, she was unfortunately forced into prostitution. While living with her father in New York, she traveled by herself to Philadelphia without his knowledge.

Explaining how she was forced to submit to teenage prostitution, Blaze said, “I was taking a bus to Philly, and I thought it was for a photo shoot to make some money. I was like a bad kid. I really wasn’t too close to my dad, so I was just like a rebel. So I got myself into something, and ended up being into prostitution at 15 years old until 17 years old until I was legal enough to switch and just dance.”

Blaze began appearing in music videos as a video vixen for artists such as Jim Jones, Chris Brown and Yung Berg. She also modeled for magazines such as “XXL,” “B.A.D.D.” and “Hip-Hop Weekly.” After dancing and modeling for a while, Blaze decided she was ready for a career change.

Reflecting on her journey as a stripper, video vixen and model, Blaze said, “I just got tired. The money was cool. That was the only reason why I did the dancing. The money was helping me provide for my family, so I did it. I don’t regret anything I went through or that I did. It’s about now, taking it and showing somebody else that’s out there, that you can be at your lowest. Then you look up and you’re at your highest peak, and you keep going.”

As a child, Blaze’s mother introduced her to classical music. Her mother bought her a keyboard, and Blaze used it to teach herself how to play piano. This same musical curiosity resulted in her successfully teaching herself to play the clarinet, violin, drums and acoustic and bass guitars.

Blaze’s time as a cast member of “Love and Hip-Hop New York” increased Blaze’s popularity, particularly as a multifaceted musician and singer. She ultimately aspires to create “everlasting music,” that people will be able to continue to enjoy listening to many years from now.

Acknowledging her family as her primary support system and motivation for succession, Blaze said, “I want to provide for my family. I don’t really think about money, because I know it will come.  When it does come, I’m not the one to go and buy fashionable stuff. I want to be able to hand over money to one of my family members who maybe wants to open up a company. My thing is to see my family be successful.”

Witnessing her mother combat ovarian cancer three times while simultaneously providing for their family, Blaze became inspired to participate in humanitarian endeavors. Recently, she partnered with an Atlanta Salvation Army to provide 400 turkeys to families for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Along with donating the turkeys, she also plans to donate toys to needy children.

Part of the transition to becoming a new cast member of “Growing Up Hip-Hop Atlanta” will involve Blaze showcasing more of her evolving music career. She recently released an EP titled”5:12.” She explained that the EP was named after an episode of heartbreak that she suffered one morning at 5:12 AM. She is currently promoting her two hit singles from “5:12”: “Bad Woman” and “Elephant Man.” Her mixtape “Breaking Point” was released in August.

Blaze has worked hard to create and maintain inner peace, despite all of the troubles she faced when she was younger.

“I used to worry myself, and be depressed about things not happening,” she said. “You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stress is one of the top things people die from. People are trying to be accepted, but we weren’t put on the Earth for everybody to accept us in the first place.”

Bridget Kelly emerges with new music, visual for ‘In The Grey’

(Photo: Billboard)

Grammy award-winning songwriter, singer, and television personality Bridget Kelly has developed a little bit of a chip on her shoulder. And for good reason.

In the midst of introducing her second project since leaving Roc Nation, Kelly is making the rounds, promoting her most recent visual for her latest single, “In The Grey,” from her album, “Reality Bites.”
Just this April, the New York City-bred bombshell released “Reality Bites,” a 13-track debut that showcases both her range as a singer and her truth as a songwriter.

“(After leaving Roc Nation), I had this terrible stigma around me. I felt like everybody that looked at me, saw me as damaged goods,” she admitted. “Like if I left Roc Nation and left Jay-Z and if it didn’t happen there, it’s not going to happen somewhere else. I tried my best to not stop working completely, but in the wake of that too, I was also given the opportunity to appear on television.”

Kelly joined the cast of Love and Hip-Hop Hollywood in 2017. She essentially believed the franchise would be a great platform to give her fans an inside into her life as an independent music artist.

Vigorously working in the studio to create more upcoming projects, with plans to also go on tour, Kelly said, “This year for me was really incredible because, in the wake of that breakup, I made this incredible album.”

In her first appearance on the show, the hit VH-1 series captured Kelly’s ex-boyfriend James break up with her in front of the nation.

Challenged to face the dismantling of her six-year relationship throughout filming season four of Love and Hip-Hop Hollywood, Kelly said, “It was really painful and shocking to go through in the public eye that way. With having to gravel with that on camera, then go home to decompress and handle everything.”

“On this season of Love and Hip-Hop Hollywood, everything around my storyline was about my album and my process,” she said, about Season Five. “That to me was a blessing because I feel like I’m really utilizing the platform properly now. I’m really trying to make the most of it in a positive way, as opposed to getting on there throwing drinks and snatching wigs.”

Born and raised in New York City, Kelly has always admired the diverse culture of music, art, and language that she grew up around.

Her passion for singing began when she auditioned for the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan.

Grinding to launch her music career by any means, Kelly often performed on New York subway platforms with her portable speakers. After performing, she would pass out CDs of her music.

Kelly has always understood that hard work is just as important as talent when it comes to success.
“The need to hustle and grind . . . in the most densely populated major city in the United States really allowed me to hone in on my craft, and . . . figure out what it was that I wanted to do early on,“ she said.
Kelly ultimately learned how to adopt music as a coping mechanism for her struggles as a teenager.
“As a teenager with all of our insecurities and self-discoveries in that time period, for me, being able to write and perform and express myself in a positive way was impactful.”

Shortly after her acceptance into the performing arts high school, Kelly’s father signed her up to participate in a church choir.

Unfortunately, when she was 20 years old, her father passed away due to a battle with liver cancer. The tragedy of her father’s death served as further inspiration to fully embrace her creative talents as a singer and songwriter.
Before her father’s passing, Kelly promised him that she would make something of herself. Her last promise remains her underlying motivation in pursuit of her goals.

Kelly hired Alaska Gedeon as her assistant. In an attempt to help take Kelly’s music career to the next level, he used his connections with Def Jam Recordings to arrange an interview for Kelly with Jay Brown and the executives of Roc Nation, LLC.

It did not take Roc Nation long to recognize the depths of Kelly’s talent.

“They were just impressed by my vocal ability,” she said. “I had a catalog of music at that point. They threw me in a booth, and were like, ‘Just sing.’ I was in there singing for like an hour and a half, and they just recorded me for like an hour and a half.

“I was singing my stuff and cover songs. It was kind of a whirlwind. Everything happened really fast after that.”
In 2008, Kelly signed with Roc Nation, the label founded by multi-platinum rapper and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
While signed to Roc Nation, Kelly released several projects including her 2011 EP “Every Girl” and 2013 EP “Cut To…Bridget Kelly.” After six years at Roc Nation, Kelly left the label in 2014.

“I was still trying to figure out who I was as an artist,” Kelly said. “That opportunity really provided some incredible experience for me, but I think ultimately I needed to do some more self-work.

“We put projects out, did a lot of touring, and a lot of collaborations with different artists. I wrote for a lot of different artists, and had countless sessions where I hoped that the albums would come about,” she added. “I think a lot of artists go through that process where they feel like they’re just constantly working like they’re this hamster in a wheel. Sometimes it turns out to be successful, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s kind of a crab shoot.”

In addition to singing, Kelly has assisted many artists with their songwriting.
One of her most notable collaborations is with Kelly Clarkson for her 2011 single, “Einstein,” from the Grammy award-winning album, “Stronger.”

Kelly admitted feeling pressure to put her career as a songwriter on hold, in order to cultivate her career as an R&B singer.

“I internalized that and really stopped writing, letting it paralyze me,” Kelly said. “For like two or three years I didn’t write anything. It was a learning experience for me.

“I had to develop a thicker skin at the time, too,” she said. “I had to get back to being confident, find the strength to put the hater blockers up and having tunnel vision as far as my creative process was concerned.”
Four years into processing from her separation with Roc Nation, Kelly now feels she has accomplished a better sense of self-awareness working as an independent artist.

Going forward, Kelly presently yearns to cultivate her confidence, while also partaking ventures that bring her peace. She has begun branding her fitness journey, with promoting her mantra, “If you didn’t sweat, it didn’t count.”

Kelly said she is also interested in becoming a voiceover artist, and hosting a late-night show.

Up close with ‘Bring It’ star Dianna Williams

Dianna Williams (Photo: Submitted)

In collaboration with the Atlanta Hawks, Lifetime-TV reality star and dance studio proprietor Dianna Williams, along with her Dancing Dolls, will be conducting the DD4L Buck or Die Training Camp, a two-day camp on Nov. 20-21 at the new State Farm Arena.

Participants of the training camp will perform with the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team on Nov. 21 during the halftime show when the Hawks take on the Toronto Raptors.

“Bring It!,” the non-scripted series that features Williams and her Dancing Dolls dance team aired its fifth season finale on Sept. 6. The Lifetime Network series has aired for a total of five seasons, consisting of over 100 episodes. 

Though a sixth season has been filmed, Lifetime has yet to announce if it will be picked up, as of press time.

Williams, commonly known as “Miss D” or “Coach D,” serves as the founder, head coach and decisionmaker for the Dancing Dolls, a troupe comprised from some of her best talent featured on the show. Williams is a dancer and choreographer, in her own right; in fact, the no-nonsense instructor said began dancing when she was four years old.

As the only dancer in her family, Williams said she naturally developed a knack for dance, without much outside influence.

She said she believes that dancing was a gift from God, and as such, defined her purpose.

“Growing up and utilizing dance (allowed) me to be the best ‘me’ that I can be, “ Williams said.

Williams attended the Angie Luke School of Dance in Clinton, Mississippi, and while a student there, she danced with an assortment of studios and organizations. She became exceptionally skilled in various forms of dance, including ballet, jazz, modern dance and tap.

For Williams, the incorporation for her love of dolls, music and dancing was a crucial component behind the creation of the Dancing Dolls.

While teaching a dance class for the City of Jackson’s Parks and Recreation Department,  Williams said she witnessed many families’ financial hardships, which often prevented them from enrolling their children in her class.

“In the City of Jackson’s program, the classes were $15 a month,” Williams said. “They could not afford it, even though it was dirt-cheap. Seeing all these things that were happening, I said, ‘There’s got to be something more I can do for the community.’

“I wanted to get young Black girls off the street, so I could give them an opportunity to dance and express themselves.”

So, in 2001, Williams created the Dancing Dolls.

Shortly after, Williams enrolled at Jackson State University to pursue a degree in criminal justice. After graduation, she continued coaching as a recreation aide and dance instructor for several programs on the north side of Jackson.

In 2009, Williams married her longtime boyfriend, Robert Williams, and gave birth to their son, Cobe Williams. 

“My husband was the one who suggested the first studio,” Willims revealed. “I’m telling him, ‘They took our car, and we need to figure out how we’re going to eat tomorrow.’ In his mind he’s like, ‘Yes, they fired me from my job, but why should I go look for another opportunity when I can create my own?’ In his mind, he already had it handled. ”

Prior to opening the Jackson Dollhouse Dance Factory, Williams moved to Sandy Springs, Georgia due to the relocation of her husband’s job. While living in Georgia, Williams’ family faced many trials and tribulations.

Her husband lost his job, her car was repossessed and her family was evicted from their home. After encountering so many losses, her husband suggested that they move back to Jackson, so she can continue coaching dance and finally open her own studio.

Shifting her focus in 2010 to developing the Dancing Dolls dance team, Williams opened the original Dollhouse Dance Factory in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Dollhouse Dance Factory experienced a significant boost in exposure when videos of the Dancing Dolls went viral on YouTube.

In 2013, a production company, Pilgrim Studios contacted the Dollhouse Dance Factory to scout the Dancing Dolls.

Lifetime Network was also interested in working with the Dancing Dolls. After careful consideration, Williams elected to take the Dancing Dolls to Lifetime.

“It was a matter of taking a chance on a bunch of Black kids that people don’t know anything about,” Williams said. “It was a show they didn’t believe in from the beginning, only giving us eight episodes. But they came back and added more because the ratings kept growing every week. We doubled our ratings every week.”

After developing one of the most successful television shows on the Lifetime Network, Williams created Dollhouse Dance Factory 2 in Birmingham, Alabama in 2015. 

In 2017, she opened a third Dollhouse Dance Factory in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Williams is currently working on the release of her limited edition “Coach D Doll,” created by Trinity Designs, a Black-owned company in Dallas, Texas.

She said will also continue to develop the Dancing Dolls.

Williams said she plans to publish her biography soon, wanting to give her followers a more honest look into her life.