Issue 26 Renell Gibbs- Taking Hollywood By Storm

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Age: 28 Hometown: New Jersey living in Atlanta Shive: Have you had a chance to checked out our brand? What do you think about it? Amera: Yes, I love what you guys are doing. Very positive platform that highlights talent. Shive: When did you start your career? Amera: Age 4 Shive: Can you compare your style to anyone in the game right now? Amera: I don’t compare myself to anyone, I’m my own brand. Shive: What would you consider your recognizable track? Amera: “All eyes on me “or “beautiful “ Shive: What steps did you take in getting to the point your at now? Amera: Grind everyday and not give up when it gets hard. Shive: Who would be your ideal artist to work with? Amera: If love to collab with Nicki Minaj , Jere- Shive: What is your ultimate career goal? Amera: To leave a mark worldwide. I just want miah, Neyo, cardi b to inspire others. or really anyone that’s dope. Shive: Why do you think it’s hard for emerging artists to break into the industry? Amera: Not enough support. We need more attention for mainstream artists.


For more info on me or my music visit: Instagram : @therealameraj YouTube : Therealameraj Or just search Amera J

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TonyMerc Age: 34 Hometown: New Orleans

Shive: Have you had a chance to checked out to be. I love the hustle. out our brand? What do you think about it? Shive: When did you start your career? Merc: Yes, I have and I think it’s awesome. I Merc: 2004 after the passing of my baby love supporting and seeing our people do- brother. ing more then being the negative & lazy people who they paint African Americans Shive: Can you compare your style to any-


one in the game right now? Merc: No one has a style nor voice like mine I’m one of a kind. But if you had to compare me to someone I’d say my homie Rick Ross. Shive: What would you consider to be your recognizable track? Merc: Off Saftey & I’m The Man but I love all my music. Shive: What steps did you take in getting to the point your at now? Merc: Patients, Hard work and dedication. Shive: Who would be your ideal artist to work with? Merc: Rick Ross Meek Mills I would’ve love to work with Pop Smoke and Nipsey Hustle. Shive: Why do you think it is hard for emerging artists to break into the industry? Merc: Because of how the game is formatted now with all the watered down rappers. It’s hard for a talented rapper to get in rather someone with no talent at all. Shive: What is your ultimate career goal? Merc: To be as big as Jay-Z. A legend in the game. For more info on me or my music visit: YouTube Spotify ,iTunes ,Tidal Amazon Music & Google Play.


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Avodgy Shive: What is Avodgy? Avodgy: Avodgy is a great collaboration and a crossing of two worlds. Street culture & high concept fashion. We cement everything we are as a brand in to one prestige package. Shive: How did it come about? Avodgy: came about because I love my Son. He wanted to start a clothing line for some time, so I thought, if I started one, it would be something he could be a part of or take over one day along with his sister and auntie. But, like all children they tend to get distracted do to life. Contrary to plans, the debut of the line was at my book signing due to my son. People seem to gravitate to the brand. I was being ask a lot how can I get a shirt. That is when it hit me that I had to keep going not only for my son but my family and my other kids. God has a way of opening doors even when you don’t see it. That’s when I met this amazing man who, I can say now, is my brother and partner. He had a custom sneaker business with an amazing logo that I though would be a great mascot for my brand, and we just had so much in common that 8

Shive: What was your biggest fear when starting your own line? Avodgy: Failure and not being a good leader for my team or business.

if we took our two dreams and make it one we could really do something amazing in fashion if Avodgy and DoKRoC partner up. Shive: Who or what was the inspiration behind the Avodgy brand? Avodgy: stands for prestige style and creativity. The style and foundation of brand just encompasses the variety of people that I have encountered from my lengthy involvement with the entertainment industry, as well as family & friends.

Shive: What is your personal favorite item in the collection right now, and why? Avodgy: I have to go with the “Slow Down” piece. It’s a simple design that the brain can see and process...bright yellow and mimics the street sign. It’s timeless, so there’s no cliches or themes that will go out of style. When you wear it, the color contrast just draws the eyes to the shirt... you can literally watch people’s mouths move as they read it, lol.

Shive: How did you get the name? Avodgy: The name came about because I wanted something that was more than just a name for clothing but a name that could be remembered for ever. A name that is for a fragrance that men and women could wear. A high class brand that has suits that give you that success feeling. A brand that when you say the name Avodgy you even see it on jewelry.

Shive: How could we purchase something from the collection? Avodgy: You can purchase items from our online store, which the website is or go to Gallery 302 if you live in the Delaware area at Christiana Mall.


make sure that you have a good relationship with your team or partner, because without that your dreams can evaporate. Shive: What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company? Avodgy: When you have a team, you have to learn to compromise ideas and views. My team makes it real easy to do so, because they’re so crafty and innovative. Shive: There is so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection and keep consistent. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out?

Shive: What was the biggest mistake you made when starting out? Avodgy: Trusting people, you have to remember, no matter what, business is business, and you have to remember to protect yourself and your business. If people don’t understand that, then you might need to re-evaluate the relationship. Make sure that you have honesty and respect for whomever you work with and make sure you have your paperwork in order and you keep a lawyer on your team. Also,


Avodgy: Just keep designing, and don’t second guess yourself. The idea you come up with might not be an initial hit, or many others will feel a design that you might think was one-step from getting tossed in the trash. Just remember that you can’t please everyone, and everyone has an opinion. Shive: What is next for Avodgy? Avodgy:We believe with in a year to be doing major collaborations, more features and awareness of our brand and seeing Avodgy on everyone of all ages and style’s because at Avodgy, Style is Universal. For more info on the Avodgy brand visit:


WORKING with the press

The job of a music publicist is to create a database of contacts within the entertainment industry, and determine which magazines, newspapers, fanzines, as well as music blogs and e-zines are most likely to review a client’s record, interview them, or write a feature story. This job is not any easier than finding a distributor or getting radio airplay.

Publicity, by itself, does not sell many records. It is most effective when your name is consistently in front of music fans. That will not happen overnight. You will most likely be your own music publicist in the beginning, and it will take you some time to learn how to work with the press. However, learning some basic facts about music journalists and how they operate is as important as the tips I gave you for working with distributors and radio stations.

Music journalists are a strange breed. They are, for the most part, a fickle group of individuals with their own inconsistent musical tastes, egos, and attitudes. If you want your local music magazine, or some music e-zine to write a story about you, even review your record, there are some things to learn about these important gatekeepers. If you anticipate getting a newspaper entertainment editor to pay attention to your


latest release, or write a feature story on you; being aware of the work habits of these professional journalists can be a great deal of help to you. Here are some important facts for you to know about the people who may write a review of your new record. • There is a hierarchy of influential music writers across the country, and everyone of them,

from the tiniest local music fanzine editor, to the writers who work for Rolling Stone or Spin, all have egos. Even the person who writes reviews for some start-up Music Blog dedicated to ANY genre of music cops an attitude. That attitude can either help or hurt you, depending on what you know about them, and their likes or dislikes. So, research the tastes of music writers carefully before you e-mail or snail-mail your press kits looking for reviews. • Never address your press material envelopes generically to any publication -Music Sandwich Monthly, or whatever. If you do that, most likely what will happen is that your CD will be put into a large pile of similarly addressed envelopes, and the lowest ranking writer on the staff of the publication will be assigned to check out your music. If that happens, your music might be listened to and reviewed by someone

who hates your kind of music and uses his or her review to rant and stomp all over your precious release. • Always research the music blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers, fanzines and e-zines carefully. Take time to read some of the reviews, articles and feature stories, and take note of who wrote them. When you find a positive review for a records that is close to your genre or style, remember the writer’s name and when you do your mailing, address it to that person. • When you find a negative review of a record that is close to what your music is like, take note of that writer, and do not send them your record for review. • Follow-up on every press mailing you send out. Give it a week to 10 days, then phone the publication, email them, or message them asking if they received your re13

cord. If you actually make contact, find out if the record has been listened to yet, and if they plan to do something with it. Be polite and professional. Most writers are quite conscientious about responding to publicist’s calls or emails, but I can assure you that you will meet your share of characters in the world of music journalists. • When you leave a phone message or write an email, be very specific in your message. Introduce yourself, and state clearly why you are calling or writing them. Leave contact information too. You would be surprised how many people do not. • If you have had trouble getting a response from a publication or any Blog writer or e-zines watch your attitude. I have seen and heard many messages that start to argue with a reluctant reviewer. That is a sure way to not make a new contact, or lose an established one.

• If you score with a publication, and they agree to do a story on you, or interview you – keep any promises you made to get them more information, or sending another copy of your CD. (Ask too, if they accept mp3 attachments to emails, or if they have a way for you to upload songs to them. If you flake out on an appointment, or show up late for an interview, you may have lost a valuable ally. Writers are busy people, just like everyone else in the entertainment industry, and too many artists and bands have an unprofessional attitude when it comes to dealing with writers and editors. • When a review or article on you comes out and you find things about it that are objectionable to you, watch your temper. No artist gets only glowing reviews. Bad or mediocre reviews are part of the game. Avoid the temptation to write or call back when you are emotionally heated about

the story. Publicity is about making and keeping relationships with the press. You never want to get a reputation for being a jerk or a troublemaker. If you do lose your temper, I can assure you your tirade will show up in the next issue of their publication – and no, I am not one of those people that believe all publicity is good publicity. Working with the press, finding contacts, making the initial connections, and nurturing the relationships along the way from local, to regional to national recognition is a time consuming commitment. Nevertheless, publicity done well and consistently over time can be a career rewarding experience. Christopher Knab is an independent music business consultant based in Seattle, Washington. He is available for private consultations on promoting and marketing independent music, and can be reached by email at:



Taking Hollywood by storm RENELL GIBBS 15

Shive: What was growing in New Orleans like? What would you consider the challenges and benefits you were faced with or enjoyed while growing up? Renell: New Orleans made me who I am today. Growing up in New Orleans wasn’t always easy, but it prepared me to be able to adapt to different situations and overcome any challenges that I may face. No matter where I am, New Orleans will always be home and I am grateful for all that, the city

has taught me and given me. Shive: You provided substantial help during Hurricane Katrina to youths and their families. How would you define your contribution during this incident? Would you say your service for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina affected your career as an actor? Renell: Helping youth and their families who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina gave me a sense of purpose that was much bigger than I


was. The youth and families were appreciative of the support and it felt good knowing that I was making a difference in peoples’ lives. By supporting others, I’m reminded every day of how much I had to be grateful for in my life. Shive: Some of the male youths you mentored back in the days must have a career of their own already. Do you keep in touch with them? Would you say the support you gave them was worth it?

Renell: Absolutely…I stay in touch with the young men I worked with and many of their families. They are all on their own personal and professional journeys. Many of them have families of their own and pursuing rewarding careers. Seeing them now, as young adults, is really rewarding.

and roadblocks, but with perseverance and hard work, you can overcome them and you will create opportunities for your-

Shive: In 2020, you transitioned to full-time acting. What prompted this transaction? What are the special benefits you have enjoyed so far from this transaction? Would you advise an upcoming artist to give such transitioning a try? Renell: It was just time. Like many people, COVID-19 gave me the time to reflect upon and think about what was most important in my life and how I wanted to spend my time. I felt as though I had accomplished what I was meant to achieve working with young people directly, and it was time for me to move onto the next chapter of my life embrace acting full-time. I was ready to focus solely on my acting career and put 100 percent into developing my craft. I would encourage aspiring artists to stay the course. Stay focused and driven. Never let the lack of support or encouragement derail your dreams. There will always be challenges


self that will move you forward toward attaining your goals. Shive: Since you started acting

in 2008, until you transitioned fully in 2020, what role would you consider as your favorite of all the roles you have acted? What special experience would you say you have gotten from the role? Renell: It is hard to say which role has been my favorite. They have all been different and I have learned something new from every role and every set that I have been on. I get so much energy from acting and being around other actors. I have enjoyed playing every role that I have had. Shive: What would you say was the defining drive behind your success in Hollywood so far? Was there a particular talent or skill that you possessed? Were there other stars in the industry that were helpful for your rise? Renell: I am driven, persistent and I don’t give up. Once I discovered acting, it didn’t take long for me to know that I wanted to be a professional actor. I committed myself to becoming the best actor I could be. I study and prepare a lot for upcoming auditions and roles. I am always striving to put in my best possible performance. I have been fortunate to meet many talented actors over the

years. Working alongside of other professional actors and being on set inspires me and keeps me focused on attaining my goals. Shive: What passion is behind your choice of career in Hollywood? What attracted you to begin a career as an actor? Have you always wished to practice in the movie industry? Renell: I always loved movies when I was a kid. I watched my favorite movies repeatedly growing up. It wasn’t until after Hurricane Katrina, however, that I thought about becoming an actor. I had a colleague who worked with youth who was acting part-time and it sounded interesting to me. So, I figured I would give it a try. I did some research and enrolled in my first acting class and as they say, the rest is history. Shive: Now that you are taking full-time roles in the industry, which actor would you say has been your greatest motivation or has served as a role model in the industry? Renell: I gain inspiration from watching a wide range of actors. It is impossible to narrow it down to one or two actors, as every actor has their own style. The diversity of performances


and approaches is what I find most motivating and interesting to study as an actor. Shive: Whenever you are not on a film-making set, there must be something you like to do in your leisure. What would that be? Renell: When I am not acting, I like to prepare for acting! Lol. I am always doing things that will keep me ready for my next role. I stay focused on my health and my diet. I do a variety of different workouts and I read acting books. I also enjoy spending time with my family when I am off. Shive: What advice would you give the youths you helped transition successfully into college, workforce, especially the upcoming actors looking up to you in the movie-making industry? Renell: Stay focused. Be patient. Work hard. Remain humble. Make sure you keep following your dreams, no matter what. Even if you don’t have the people you wish you had in your corner, or you don’t have the support system you wish you had, keep looking ahead and moving forward.

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Snowbunniee Age: 21 Hometown: New Orleans, LA

Shive: Have you had a chance to check out our brand? What do you think about it? Snowbunniee: I love this brand. There is nothing better than working with people who actually want to help others also! It’s a blessing to have brands like this one around!

Shive: What steps did you take in getting to the point your at now?

Snowbunniee: The steps I took in my life to get here were to simply be consistent & believe in myself, networking and never giving up! I’ve started from scratch plenty of times but I still got back up and took my next step! Shive: When did you start your career? Snowbunniee: I first started rapping in 2015, Life is full of stepping stones that will never but my career started to escalate in 2018 end. when I finally became recognized over a viral video of me remixing Cardi B’s song,“Money”! Shive: Why do you think it’s hard for emrging artist to break into the industry? Shive: Can you compare your style to anyone Snowbunniee: From my personal expein the game right now? rience I’d like to start out answering that Snowbunniee: I wouldn’t compare myself or question by saying being an artist is NOT style to anybody. I firmly stand on that and easy! Locally, in New Orleans it is very hard humbly believe I am one of a kind & unique- to break into the industry for simple reason of jealousy, hatred & envious motives. The ness is everything for me! industry is a hard place to trust and it’s hard Shive: What would you consider your most to get HELP! If more artists would help SUPPORT other artists, producers, engineers, etc. recognizable track? it would be easier. Therefore, my final answer to that is it is very hard when nobody is Snowbunniee: 911 - The Real Snowbunniee supporting, believing in you, or helping you! Streaming on all platforms!


Shive: Who would be your ideal artist to work with? Snowbunniee: Nba youngboy . I couldn’t even image how dope a track with the two of us on it would sound like! Shive: What is your ultimate career goal? Snowbunniee: Ultimately, I want to be successful & happy in life doing something that I am passionate about while also being a voice for the people who are too afraid to use theirs! For more info on me or my music visit: https://song. link/i/1537538397


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Ayye Tam

Age: 24 Hometown: Washington Dc Shive: Have you had a chance to check out our brand? What do you think about it? Ayye Tam: Yes, It’s Dope. Shive: Explain what Sickle Cell Warrior means. Sickle Cell Warrior is a phrase that I coined to express how I feel every day. I was born with the rare blood disorder, sickle cell anemia. The pandemic forced everyone to focus on their health but living with a rare blood disorder, I have no choice but to focus on my health. I run the risk of experiencing crisis, infections, organ damage, and blood transfusions. I decided long ago that I would never let my disorder stop me from doing what I love the most. Some days are rough, but I can honestly say that living out my dream is worth it. There are so many days that I have to push through and get it done. Only a warrior would be able to carry that type of weight on their shoulders. We fight a huge fight every day because it’s not like we only worry when we are in pain, we have to take care of our health every single day. We go through crisis,


infections, organ damages, surgeries and blood transfusions. We manage to overcome those obstacles in life. Shive: What do you do? Ayye Tam: Entertainer. Started off as a Hip-hop dancer but I’m venturing off into doing music and acting. Shive: How did you get into doing this? Ayye Tam: I’ve been dancing all my life, once I saw the opportunity on social media I took a shot. Shive: What is the best thing about doing what you do? Ayye Tam: Making people smile, being an inspiration to anyone who needs inspiration at the time. Shive: What is the worst thing about doing what you do? Ayye Tam: Getting sick/ having pain crisis , not being able to be as active as I am when I’m not sick or in pain Shive: What steps did you take in getting to the point your at now? Ayye Tam: Been following my passion and when following your passion everything flows into place Shive: What is your ultimate career goal? Ayye Tam: Being a Sickle Cell spokesperson & opening a dance studio for the disabled For more info on me, visit: Instagram - @tamguwoppp YouTube - Ayye Tam ZVo8Ndm_3Ko Twitter - @tamguwoppp



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f your loved one is new to prison life, it will take some adjusting. It’s not easy. It’s a huge change. To live, as well as possible in prison, a person needs to develop some mental toughness and knowledge. Advise your loved one to focus on positive things and to work on internal issues. Setting goals and creating daily routines can help them get through each day. Encourage them to adopt an exercise routine to help build physical well-being. Not only can physical fitness make them more capable of handling themselves and less of a threat for being picked on, but it can also help their overall wellness. Endorphins that are released during exercise can help a person feel more at peace.

Your loved one should also be finding encouragement in the right reading materials. Focusing on growing their spirituality and building their education can help them thrive, even when

they are behind bars. As they continue to work on themselves, help them plan for the day they will be released. Even if that is a few years away, doing the research now can help you both better plan for when the time comes. It can also help your loved one focus on better days ahead.

a healthy focus. Remind them that even if there are those who don’t respond or have cut them off, there are still many others who love and support them. You may be able to put money in their account so they are able to call home more frequently and purchase mailing and writing materials for letters.

Suggest that they learn about what programs are available in the prison and seek out the ones that could benefit them. In addition to being involved in programs, they should seek other ways to stay productive.

Your loved one is going through a hard time right now. It may be a long, difficult road, but there are things they can do to get through it. Provide them with some of these tips and continue to show them your support so they know there are still people who care about them outside of the prison walls.

Advise your loved one to be cautious when making friends. They should be careful about who they connect with and not make direct eye contact with others as some may react violently to this. It is best to avoid conflict, to show others respect and to have control over attitude. Encourage your loved one to stay connected with friends and family. This will help them keep


[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]



When you write your bio, you are NOT writing your autobiography. You are writing a music business document. Your bio then is written FOR the music business contacts you want to impress, deal with, and create lasting relationships with. (Because you are into this for the long haul, aren’t you?) Before you begin to write your bio, be sure you have taken an inventory of your background, accomplishments, goals, and objectives as a musician, and, once again, remember who you are writing the Bio for: A&R Reps at Record Labels, Media Contacts, Booking Agents, and Management Contacts, Booking Agents, Promoters, etc.

These professionals in the music business are busy individuals, who may deal with dozens of “wanna-be’s” every week, so make your bio informative, upbeat, and filled with useful comments, descriptions, quotes, and motivational language that can make them want to listen to your music, and help you on your musical way. When you are ready to write your Bio using this outline can keep you focused and organized. Note: The instructions and suggestions below are for traditional

music business oriented needs. Since we are in the midst of the digital music revolution, I would ask you to do one other thing besides write a traditional artist or band bio. Please visit They can help you with what are called EPKs (Electronic Press Kits.) However, the information I am providing you with will go along way to helping you with your EPKs, but you WILL need both at this time. So, let’s get going. Follow these directions and you will have the tools to write your own bio, and essential part of any Press Kit, analog or digital. 1st Paragraph: Start with an introductory sentence that clearly defines the essential band/artist name, your specific genre of music, where you are from, and perhaps a positive quote about your music from a contact you have made in the music business. 2nd Paragraph: This section should address the immediate purpose of the Bio. What are you doing at this time? Mention a current activity you are involved with. If a new CD or digital release is coming out, that should be the main topic of the first sentence of the second


paragraph. In other word, a reason why the Bio has been written should be clearly stated early on. Hints about any promotional activities that will be occurring to support the CD or digital release is also useful in this paragraph. 3rd and 4th Paragraph: At this point, information on any other band members can be introduced, and background information on the forming of the group, past experience, accomplishments, and recognition issues can be addressed. If you have developed a plan for your career path, additional paragraphs elaborating on this type of can be written, that demonstrate how your current project is part of a larger career development plan. Quotes from a couple of your songs can be useful to highlight your new release. Ending: Remember, the bio should not waste words. For a new artist 1 page is sufficient to get the job done. For artists that are more experienced, a page and a half to two pages should be the maximum length. Therefore, ending the Bio in an efficient way should be the aim; use another quote from a gatekeeper who supports the artist, or summarize the 2nd paragraph information, reminding the reader of current activities.


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