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ISSUE 9 2013

first Ever ! MissourI Fashion Week

Ricco Barrino

Leading By Example

GORDESI fashion for all

Go Au Natural Caring for your Hair

National Hispanic Month


Elevate

SIMPLY

CEO Derek Palmer Editor and Chief Candace Smith Palmer Photographers Derek Palmer Keith Foster Graphic Designer Candace Smith Palmer Board of Directors Danielle Walker Keith Foster Tony Graham Advertising & Subscriptions for inquiries for Advertising contact advertise@simplyelevate.com phone: 336.870.4149 Order single magazines or subscriptions at www.simplyelevate.com/store

WHO ARE WE? We’re here to simply elevate artistic people. ON THE COVER: Photography: Charles Reeves Model: Ashley Nichole

125 Carden Place, Suite C Mebane, NC 27302 Phone: (336) 870 4149 Email: info@simplyelevate.com

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ceo’s note

08 fashion & beauty 07 08

Beauty Marq’d

Mastering Make-up

It’s Only Natural

Care for Natural Hair

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48 music

inspiration

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Need “Mo’Shine”?

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Do You Take This Man?

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Leading by Example

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Embracing American Kin

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Meet the Larkins

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Healing Through the Expression

We have it right here

The Life and Times of Ricco Barrino A Devine and Loving Duet

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Missouri Fashion Week

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Traona Kearney

culture

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Sip & Swap

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Meet Heather McCollum

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Beauty and the Beast

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Need a New Hero

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GODSORIGINALDESIGN

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Consistency is the Key

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Blessed IAm

Making History

Salon and Natural Hair Stylist Product trade and Social Bringing Imagination to Life Gordesi: Enough Said

The halls of education are teeming with voices and footsteps. At night the temperature is dropping and there is a crispiness in the wind indicative of only one thing: Fall. Relax for a spell and curl up with a hot cup of tea. This month our cover celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. We introduce you to: Fashion Designers, Curtis Hutson and his brand Gordesi, Charles French of the Total Image Menswear, Make-up Art-

Author and Cancer Survivor

Another View of Marriage We are family Of Art Part III

Honoring National Hispanic Heritage month

Meet the Creative Team of Aceblade Owner of Tight Cut Barbershop Writing in our Midst

ist Allison Chase, Hair Stylist Traona Kearney and new Hair Columnist Serena Holmes. The music section is filled with the Larkins and Mo’ Shine. There are also enlightening stories of cancer survivor Heather McCollum, comic book writer Danny Quick of AceBlade, author BlessedIAm, and entrepreneur Edward “Oodie” Crawford. Also stay engaged with our Culture section featuring Ryan O’Neal, Frank Frontis and Acquilla “Semevou” McCoy. So sit back and learn a few things as we simply elevate your mind! Derek Palmer, CEO of Simply Elevate Magazine September 1, 2013

Genesis 8:22 “ While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

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Contributors S

erena Holmes began writing short stories and drawing comics as a very young child. She is currently working on a New York Times bestselling novel, if we are to possess a quarter of the belief that her mother has in her. She holds a BA in Journalism from the University of South Carolina, and a PhD in Optimism from the School of Life. She absolutely lives for traveling and her dream is to one day own a pied-à-terre overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

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rank Frontis has a background as a professional feature article writer, having worked for several publishing companies in Memphis, TN where he wrote pieces related to art, health and wellness. Currently he’s focused on fiction, working to compile and complete an anthology.

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d Marcus is a freelance writer and poet living in Raleigh, NC. Being a girl about town (no matter how small the town), she enjoys all things entertaining and artistic and will pester just about anyone that tickles her fancy for an interview. She is currently completing a novel and preparing a book of poetry to be published simultaneously in the upcoming year. You can visit her on Facebook and Pinterest.

ngel Miller-Barrino, founder of Purpose and Praise Ministries, is a domestic violence awareness and prevention advocate. She is the epitome of strength. She truly seeks His Purpose for her life. Her most recent book, His Purpose, My Praise is available everywhere books are sold.

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eace, also known as, Latarshia Turner-Brothers, Is originally from Brownsville, TN but in 1993, Peace came to Greensboro, NC to pursue Mass Communications at Bennett College. After graduating, she fell in love with her best friend, who is now her husband, Torrey Brothers, and stayed here to build a life, family, and career in North Carolina.

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Our Sponsor About CL3 Platform

CL3 Agency is a strategic market and event planning company in CT that specializes in branding, presentation, web integration, public relations and signature events. We service individuals, businesses, organizations, event planners and hotels with meeting space with unique and creative strategies that build networks, generate sales and enhance growth. We offer customized promo packages, advertising specialties and personalized coaching sessions. CL3 prides itself on it’s collaborations with other businesses and organizations and Simply Elevate is one of them. We have enjoyed this growing working relationship so much so that it has lead to CL3 becoming Simply Elevate’s sponsor. We support the initiatives of the magazine, their focus on community and their hands-on approach to supporting our clients, affiliates and company. CL3 is excited and grateful to utilize this space on Simply Elevate’s platform to promote, empower, educate, encourage, inspire and support. Stay tuned for our programs, projects and events as well as how you too can get on board. For more information on our services and special offers for Simply Elevate’s subscribers call 203-565-6170 or email cl3agency@gmail.com. In the meantime, visit www.cl3agency.com

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eith Foster is a photographer in the small town of Plattsburg, outside Kansas City, Mo. He has been taking photos for almost 50 years and loves it more every day. Keith has been married to his wife Kimm for 34 years. Keith specializes in photographing people and his talent lies in his ability to capture his subject’s spirit and personality. yan O’Neal Milton is a syndicated columnist who is also the publisher of AMPS (African-American People Succeeding) Magazine. This publication is a voice for the positive events going on in the African American community.

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Celebrating

aSheik Calhounis a fashion and beauty writer. She enjoys blogging about personal development and emotional wellness. She wants to engage her readers and inspire them to find their purpose. “Never allow anyone to silence your voice.”

Hispanic Heritage Month Our cover honors Hispanic Heritage Month which begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18. The term Hispanic or Latino, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race. On the 2010 Census form, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” According to the 2010 Census, 50.5 million people or 16% of the population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from the 2000 Census, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13% of the total U.S. population.

Model: Marie Ventura McIntosh

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BEAUTY MARQ’D

“Sultry, sexy, fresh faced, vibrant, and powerful are all looks that can be translated through our makeup choices.”

Picture credit: MJ White (Beauty Marq’d) Derek Palmer Photography

Step Up Your Confidence With Your Makeup Game.

fashion&style

Photographer: Keith Foster

By M J White

Whether it’s buying a piece of clothing, jewelry, or makeup; our confidence can be enhanced and linked to some of our most simple and basic buys. That confidence is the cornerstone and basis to determine and follow through with any decision we make. Whether we realize or not, we all tend to mentally scrutinize items of interest to determine the mindset that item can represent to those who see us. With that piece of jewelry we look at how it looks on our hand, against our skin, or with our hair up or down; and that piece of clothing, where we’ll wear it to, who may be there, and what’s the look we want to translate. The idea of a “power suit” or “freak ‘em dress” is commonly referred to make the connection we have with the thought of our confidence being entangled by what we wear.

Makeup is no different to that process. Sultry, sexy, fresh faced, vibrant, and powerful are all looks that can be translated through our makeup choices. Want to be sultry and sexy go with a black or purple Smokey eye and nude lip combo. Feeling super confident and powerful? Go with a simple bronze eye shadow and winged black liner with a bold red lip. Enjoy simplistic? Go with just a black eyeliner, lip gloss, and a light dusting of blush and bronzer, just enough to give your face warmth. So the next time you need a pick me up, to ace an interview, or have a night out with the girls and you’re picking out that outfit that you feel your best in, don’t forget about your makeup. That lipstick you pull out your purse may just turn your demeanor from dull to FABULOUS in a blink of an eye!

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It’s Only Natural Story by: Serena Holmes tender, the only logical option was the sizzling hot pressing comb; a comb so hot, curls seemed to begin to straighten at the mere sight of the smoking comb lying on the stove.

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traightening natural coils has, for many, many decades been a welcome choice for those who desire the shine and manageability that the process affords them for their hair. In addition, it was often the only realistic and available choice, due, in part, to a number of factors: the pressure to mirror the images that women saw in the media and on the streets of their own communities, the types of hair salons to which they had ready access, and their knowledge, experience, and a limited understanding and acceptance of their hair in its un-altered form.

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inky. Curly. Wavy. Frizzy. Fluffy. Poofy.

natural hair. arrett Morgan, inventor of the modern day traffic light, is also responsible for the creation of or many women who have chemical relaxers. In 1913, Morgan abandoned the use of a chemifounded the company that produced cal relaxer, one or more of these the formula that would force resiswords can be used to describe their tant curls into submission by weakhair. And, as quiet as it’s kept, there ening their internal protein structure. are probably several more words Several decades later, numerous that they’ve uttered while trying to companies sprang up, offering manage their natural tresses- words women dozens of product options. unfit to print here. And, to be fair, There were lye and no-lye solutions it’s only natural if they have. that not only tamed curls, but also unfortunately, had the potential to chemical relaxer, after all, burn the sensitive skin of the scalp, relaxes the naturally curly state face, and ears. Soon other products of hair textures that range from very were introduced that made claims tightly-wound coils to the deepest to be organic, chemical free options, of waves. Hot combs and flat irons but that gave a less than stellar curlare temporary alternatives that defeating performance. straighten curls, without the use of chemicals. And obviously, without a ot all curls could withstand the straightening agent, more time and harsh treatment of the relaxer. effort can be required to tame the For very, very young girls whose twists and turns of un-processed, hair was too delicate and skin too

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ut, in recent years, the choice to wear their hair in its natural state has become not only realistic, but also more readily available for many women. Depending upon where you live, just a few, short years ago, it was a rarity to see a woman sporting a springy afro or spongy twists standing in line at your local grocery or retail store. Now, there are perhaps 6 such women. The natural hairstyles that were proudly embraced and worn during the Civil Rights Era have again found wide-spread love and acceptance in many communities. In fact, the acceptance has spread so far that it has climbed to the upper floors of corporate boardrooms, resulting in a flooding of the mainstream market with new lines of natural hair care products and new media images of curly-haired, smiling women at work and at play. Smaller companies continue to crop up as well, competing for their opportunity to meet the growing demand. The number of

specialty salons catering to locks, twists, and other natural styles has also been steadily on the rise, springing up not only in the expected large metropolitan areas, but also in smaller towns, as well.

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ome say that there was a stigma surrounding un-tamed kinks and coils that is now being lifted. Whether it’s satisfying the simple curiosity of something different, toying with a new trend, desiring to embrace natural products for the body both inside and out, making a cultural statement, or (you can insert your reason here), it is undeniable that the movement is growing in popularity.

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hat can also be said for certain hair. Increased acceptance and understanding of non-relaxed hair is that the hair in its natural curly, kinky, coily, wavy state will not is the goal. I welcome questions tolerate anything less than respectful and loving care; and that, when cared for properly, yields unexpected and exciting results. Hundreds of women are experiencing unprecedented hair growth, dozens growing it to the middle of their backs and even down to their waistlines. Most are pleasantly surprised by the softness of the texture and the degree of natural curl that develops as their hair thrives without chemical alterations. New styles emerge as women become more creative with their look. Armed with a better understanding of their hair texture, and with access to more products and style options, women who’ve chosen to stop relaxing their hair soon learn that they, too, can relax. They learn to let go and simply go along for the ride. After all, it’s only natural.

Model: Gidget Photo by: Derek Palmer

concerning un-processed hair and its upkeep, which can be directed to serena.holmes@simplyelevate.com.

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his is the first installment of many planned column entries, focusing on educating women on the care of their natural, un-processed hair. It is my hope to review products and style options, and to provide insight regarding how various chemicals and hair regimens can affect the health of natural

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History Makers:

The First Ever Missouri Fashion Week After looking at several corporate-type buildings around St. Louis, Cillah Hall moved her firm, Xanadu Public Relations, from St. Charles to the CWE over a year ago. She was happy to find a unique studio space in the neighborhood and as she said, “The energy felt right. I’ve traveled around the world and the CWE has that vibe and cultural diversity I find so appealing.” Cillah, who’s from Zambia, went to boarding school in England before returning home to attend an English boarding school there. She was first runner-up in a Miss Zambia contest---the winner went on to become Miss Universe--and though she was terribly disappointed at the time, she says her life would have turned out much differently if she had won. She has been in St. Louis for 17 years and loves the p.r. business, representing a variety of clients such as Mercy (formerly St. John’s Hospital), Cardinal player Matt Holliday’s Golf Classic, and former NFL player Roland Williams, who will appear at Saturday’s show. Cillah also launched a national p.r. campaign for the Pujols Family Foundation.

Story byNicki Dwyer Photography by: Cillah Hall Pictured: Cillah Hall

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For the past year Cillah and Kristy Lee (KLee Productions) have been working hard to put Missouri Fashion Week together. Cillah said the four-night event (next Weds. through Fri.) is just like putting on four weddings backto-back. Developer Steve Smith’s Moto Museum (the title sponsor of the event) has proven to be the perfect venue for MOFW as it holds up to 600 people and is part of Grand Center, the Arts and Entertainment Center of St. Louis. Cillah’s prior experience with fashion events was at the St. Charles Fashion Week, owned by Streetscape Magazine (media sponsor of MOFW), which she helped produce for four years. She watched the St. Charles event grow to the point that the fashion designers were looking for more, something bigger, and that’s why Missouri Fashion Week was launched. Are you as surprised as I was to learn there are 7 schools in Missouri that have fashion design programs? Every graduate’s dream (of course) is to move to New York or L.A. (Project Runway scouts for talent coming out of these design departments too.) But since living and working in the Midwest is less expensive, and because fashion designers

are now able to find buyers for their creations wherever they live, many stay put. However these artists need encouragement and a platform to show their talents. The more opportunities to do so, the stronger our region becomes as a fashion design center. When word got out that Missouri Fashion Week was taking place in St. Louis applications came from across Missouri, Chicago, Kansas City and as far away as San Diego. The four-night event will feature a total of 20 designers with five showing at least 15 creations each night. Each night has a different theme such as Thursday’s “Street Trends” to Friday’s “Art and Glam,” and also supports a different local non-profit organization---the Meagan Meyer Organization and Connections to Success for example. Saturday’s non-profit, Studio Place, helps children living in difficult situations design their own clothing. Everything is arranged ahead of time so the designers can concentrate on what they do best---presenting their fabulous designs to the public. There are approximiately 50 people behindthe-scenes who will make each evening run smoothly. Cillah’s team consists of 5 interns and 15 volunteers, the runway models have a hair team of 6-7 stylists, there’s a make-up team, dressers, etc. etc. For those who may be unaware that St. Louis was once a major fashion hub (along Washington Avenue downtown), the YouTube video on the following page is full of information about the upcoming event and how Missouri Katrina Bennett earned both a BFA and MA in Fashion Design. Her label is called Fashion Week is helping St. Louis “Katrina Z’Chori,” (above). revisit its history. Peter Kinder, Missouri Lt. Governor, will be attended opening night to present a proclamation recognizing next week as Missouri Fashion Week.

Missouri Fashion Week co-founders Kristy Lee and Cillah Hall receiving proclamation from Lieutenant Governor Peter King (top right)

Missouri Fashion Week is not affiliated St. Louis native Sherrell Hall started her with Alive Magazine’s St. Louis Fashion line “Adiktion,” above, in 2003 (right) Week.

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Sierra Moses line “Haus” won the Perfect Fit Award in 2009 and Raw: STL Fashion Designer of 2012. (above)

Commentary by the woman herself Cillah Hall

Kristen Kempton handprints her fabrics using original artwork. Her label is called “IHeartFink,” above.

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Please visit www. nickidwyer.typepad.com/nicki/ For more about the goings on in Missouri

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TRAONA KEARNEY:

that’s not going to happen.”

Loving, living, and styling naturally Story by: Serena Holmes

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raona Kearney, a licensed natural hair care specialist at Naturally Masterminds Design Studio, a division of Masterminds Design Studio of Greensboro, NC, is the host of the 2013 Sip and Swap hair and beauty event held in August. I sat down to find out exactly what this master of natural hair care had on her mind, and found that there was a great deal that she had to share.

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IMPLY ELEVATE: “If someone was on the fence about going natural, what would you say to bring them over to the natural hair side?” RAONA KEARNEY: “I would say, pretty much, ‘why not?’ Women who are relaxed can wear their hair

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because their hair gets straighter and it looks much healthier than some of the clients who are relaxed. So I would ask [women who are relaxed] what their reason for staying relaxed is. I know that often, they don’t want to convert over because they don’t want to go through the transitioning stage. They don’t want to do the “Big Chop”, which is probably the hardest stage. Once they get past that point, it’s so much easier. I think that if people can offer them effective hairstyles to get them through the transitioning period, they’d feel so much more confident and comfortable coming over to being

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: Me: “What are some of the things that can stunt the growth or length retention of natural hair?” : “The problem is, a client will come in and say: ‘I need my hair to grow’. I can’t make your hair grow. The growth happens from within your body. I can help

Photos by: Brian Robinson

straight, and straight, and they can wear their straight. That’s pretty much it. You can put some flexi rods in it, but that flexi rod style isn’t going to last longer than about two to three days. They can put braids in it. I think that if they want versatility, natural hair offers way more versatility. There are so many things coming out on the market such as thermal styling or keratin treatments. What we have here at the salon is the Design Essentials Strengthening Therapy system, which is similar to an amino acid-based system that helps to straighten your hair. I have clients who are natural, but who you would never know are natural,

completely natural.”

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: “Because so many women are creating products for their hair at home, using items from their refrigerators and cabinets, and managing their own regimens, what would you say are the benefits of coming to see you, a professional, in a salon? : “I think that the biggest thing is experience. I have a license, so that requires me to get additional training. Continuing education is the key for maintaining a license, and so because of that,

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I’ve learned a lot of different techniques and ways to help a person’s hair reach its maximum potential. I think that when people are doing it at home, they’re relying on ‘he say/ she say’. They’re going on YouTube – which is wonderful, because they’re learning different techniqueshowever, as I said, everybody has a different hair texture. So, when they’re looking at, say, Curly Sue, doing a particular hairstyle, Curly Sue, nine times out of ten, does not have the same hair texture as the person who is watching the video. They’re expecting the same outcome, but

you prevent breakage, which will somewhat affect the appearance of the growth. One thing that I’ve noticed with my clients who have been doing their hair at home, and are experience a lot of breakage is that they’re doing too much manipulation. They’re starting to develop some type of trauma alopecia caused from too much pulling around the edges, too much braiding, or braiding too tightly, and other unhealthy habits. One way that I help with that is using the steamer that we have here in the salon. A steamer allows each strand to open, enabling the conditioner to penetrate the hair cuticle, which helps to strengthen and impart moisture to the hair. That’s one thing that I really see helps a lot with my clients to achieve stronger, healthier hair. That, and letting them know when it’s time for a protein treatment and a trim.

wave pattern, of your hair. It’s important to know that because different hair textures respond differently to different products and different treatments. For instance, a lot of people think that coarse hair can take a lot of heat, that it can take a lot of stress, that it can take a lot of manipulation. The total opposite is true. Actually, coarse hair is some of the most delicate hair that you could possibly have. So you need to know that when you’re doing things like blow outs. You need to know that when you’re doing things like braids. You need to know that when you’re doing different treatments. People with coarse hair don’t want to go really light with color because that will damage their hair rather than help it. People with a straighter texture have hair that can handle a little bit more, but they might not like it because their twist out might not look the same or their flexi rod style might not last as long. There are advantages and disadvantages to all textures. I know that a lot of people dislike having a coarser texture of hair…..or the zigzag or kinky hair. However, this texture holds curls better. When it’s straight, it tends to stay better. When a person has the “in-between” hair, sometimes it tends to frizz a little quicker. So, I encourage women who are doing their hair at home to come to the salon, where I can check what texture their hair is, and I can tell them what works best for their hair. That’s another reason for the Sip and Swap event this month. I want people to come in and learn about the products. If you’re out spending money on your hair, just spending money on the wrong things because you’re following Suzy Q on YouTube, let me give you something else to try on your hair that might work a little bit better for you.

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: “What is hair typing and, is it essential to the proper treatment of natural hair? : “Hair typing is the curl or wave pattern of your hair. Different people label it differently. If you take a strand of your hair when it’s completely wet, or saturated, pull it lightly and then you will see its pattern. Some people see a zigzag pattern, some people see a loose “s”, some people see a slight wave, and some people just don’t see anything at all. People see zigzags, curls, coils, waves, they see all of that. When you see the pattern, it sort of tells you the texture, or

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: “What are some of your favorite hair products?” : “My favorite product to use on my clients is KeraCare, which has a natural hair line. KeraCare has been around for years. It’s by Avalon. I think that as a whole, I would gravitate to that line before anything else. Next to that, is Design Essentials. They have great products that I use for quite a lot of different hairstyles. Those are my two favorite ones. Influance has a natural line, which is all organic. A lot of our naturals like the line because it is organic. It doesn’t have all of the parabens and other ingredients that naturals are trying to get away from. I don’t think, as a professional, that those ingredients will hurt [the hair]. Using sulfates on your hair will hurt your color, but it won’t necessarily damage your hair. We’ve been using sulfates for years, and most of us still have of our hair. I think that a lot of people are moving towards natural everything, not just natural hair.

market. I didn’t have anything. I tried to wear my hair in little afro puffs, but I wasn’t as bold as to wear it in an afro all over. They didn’t have flat irons [back then], so I was still using a straightening comb off of the stove if I wanted it straight. I remember one day, back in college, I was straightening my hair, and I looked on the counter and saw that there was hair everywhere. I had a complete breakdown. I went to my aunt, who is also a cosmetologist, and she put a comb-thru on my hair, which is almost like a really light relaxer. The next day, I tried to straighten it, and at the end of the day, it was still poofy. So I realized that this isn’t working. I just let it grow out, and it’s been all she wrote since then.

“This is the hair that my parents gave me”

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: “Tell us about your own natural hair journey.” : “My natural hair journey didn’t begin with being relaxed, and then having an epiphany, and then becoming natural. I grew up in Anchorage Alaska, so it was never really a problem to have my hair natural, because the weather there is so dry and cold. My mother never gave me a relaxer. I had a very sensitive scalp and a fine hair texture, so a relaxer was really nothing that I needed to have. My mother is originally from NC, so when I moved back here right before high school, I remember thinking that the weather here was completely different for my hair. I would press my hair at night with a straightening comb and then leave for school the next morning, and when I came back, my hair was in a ponytail because the weather had messed it all up, making it poofy. So at that point, I started trying a few things. This was prior to the whole Natural Hair Care Revolution, [with products] all over the

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: “What do you love the most about be-

ing natural?” : “I love the versatility. I love everything about it. Honestly, I love my culture, and so I think that connecting from a cultural standpoint is what I love the most about it. When people see me [wearing] my real fro, and it’s picked out and round, I think that people look at me and say ‘ok, she loves herself, she loves her culture, she loves her people, and there’s no doubt about it’. That’s what I love for people to know about me. By no means am I negating any other culture, but I just love where I come from, and I love who I am. I love that I’m able to go bright with color because I don’t have any other chemicals that are restricting me. I love that I can go blond today and, maybe, red tomorrow. I love that. This is the hair that my parents gave me, and I would never, by any means, want to hide that from the world.”

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Traona Kearney styles her clients at Masterminds Design Studio, 309 W. Lee St; Suite A in Greensboro, NC. She can also be contacted via the Masterminds Design Studio’s Facebook page, and on Instagram at tray_bay.

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A Naturally Twisted Sip and Swap Story by: Serena Holmes Photos by: Brian Robinson

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he August 2013 Sip and Swap event hosted by Naturally Masterminds Design Studio in Greensboro, NC was Traona Kearney’s answer for “product junkies” who felt stuck with hair and beauty products that they were no longer using, but couldn’t bear to simply throw away. It was also a way for women to try new hair and beauty products without the dreaded possibility of wasting even more of their precious, hard-earned money, a problem that Kearney says many of her clients express to her that they have. The Naturally Masterminds Design Studio is the natural hair care division of the Masterminds Design Studio owned by Sherelle Wofford. Wofford opened the doors of the salon to unveil Kearney’s creative concept for an ultra-stylish affair that drew attendees from miles around, despite having to contend with inclement weather. Under Kearney’s direction, the studio was transformed for a trendy shopping and socializing experience. The Naturally Masterminds staff made the swapping of products hassle-free by organizing individual stations according to product type, with written instructions posted at each station providing clear details on how to swap products based upon whether they were of professional, commercial, or generic grade. Each participant who donated products to swap was issued tickets that were determined by the types of products that they brought with them. Both the tickets and the products were colorcoordinated for ease of transfer.

fruit, decadent desserts, and, of course, a dazzling array of beverages to sip that never ran out. Entry to the event was absolutely free for those who brought with them a bottle of wine or sparkling non-alcoholic beverage to share. Complimentary bottles of spirits were also provided for the event by Bauknight Winery. D J Sweet T played a constant stream of old school and new school hits, creating an atmosphere of finger snapping, “chair dancing”, and squeals of “that’s my song!” throughout the venue. And when the hits became too hot to resist, spontaneous line dances erupted in the salon, which was spacious enough to accommodate both spectators and the laughing dancers who took center stage. Dozens of jars and bottles in a variety of sizes and colors were swapped by women wearing natural hair styles that were just as diverse. And as they sipped and excitedly poured over their product finds, they mingled throughout the salon, chatting about product reviews, hair care tips, and style ideas. Sipping, swapping, dancing, mingling, and collecting prizes, many women expressed how much they enjoyed the event not only for all that was offered by the staff, but also for how well it was executed. It could be argued, then, that Kearney and her fellow staff aren’t just masterminds of hair care, but of creating a sensational event experience, as well.

And along with the potential haul from an afternoon of swapping came the added bonus of a massive product give-away from well-known lines like Mizani, KeraCare, Cantu, Goody, The Curl Collection, Texture My Way, Kendall Pure, Influance, Design Essentials, and The Denman Brush Company, offering everything from new hair accessories to full-sized product kits. Several lucky women also won coveted gift certificates for free or discounted hair services by Kearney and her fellow hair care specialists, Danica Stover and Latisha Clark. Gift certificates for nail services were awarded by Natarsha Moore of ck Hair Designs, as well. And because this event wasn’t strictly about business, attendees were pampered with fresh

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For More Details Check Out:

www.Break-into-Fashion.com

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Photo by JimBob Photography

Beauty and the Beast: Allison Chase, Bringing Imagination to Life

Story by: Keith Foster

One of the first things people see when meeting Allison Chase is her natural beauty. As they get to know her beyond that exterior they find someone with a beautiful soul. They also find an imaginative and creative spirit that can transform a plain face into a beautiful, detailed work of art or a MMA fighter into an electric skeleton. “I have always had an interest in theater and art. Makeup was a way of combining two passions. I took my first makeup class in college as part of my theater degree.” Allison began doing makeup in theatre productions at school but she found she wanted to branch out and do more. “My teacher, Kelly Vogel, really helped me get interested in makeup as a career.” Allison took a seasonal job with a popular haunted house and began to do more than just makeup. She had to create prosthetics for the cast of scary characters at the haunted house. Allison has taken her skills to a wide variety of genres. She has a unique ability to move from high fashion to dungeons in the same session.

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“I don’t think I have a really specific “style”. I love color. Whenever I do body painting, I like to use bold colors that stand out. I enjoy really pale faces when I’m doing high fashion.” Already considered one of the best body painters and makeup artists in the area Allison continues to focus on improving and adding to her skills. “I’d love to really delve into special effects and prosthetics and to become skilled enough to work on big name movies.” Beyond having her work be part of major movies, Allison has other goals for her talents. “I’d like to develop skills that I could someday use to help people who have become victims of disfiguring injuries. I once saw a makeup artist create a whole new ear for a little girl. I’d hope that I could be talented enough to do that for people one day.” Allison’s talent has already gained her recognition in her hometown of Kansas City. She has been published in the magazine “Ladies of Steampunk”, featured on the website incrediblethings.com and

Photo by Keith Foster

her makeup was part of Kansas City Fashion Week. “But I think a lot of things I would consider great successes are simply projects where I pushed myself past what I thought I was capable of. Small moments where I overcome challenges with my craft and improve as an artist are the greatest successes.” You can see more of Allison’s work on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/allisonchasemakeup or the website mentioned in our feature: www.incrediblethings.com/art-design/creepy-geeky-cool-body-paintings/

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GODSORIGINALDESIGN. Story by: Lawanna Pearson Photos Courtsey of: Gordesi

Allow me to introduce you to Curtis Hutson. He has one of our first and only socially responsible urban lifestyle brands. He has come to us with a vision that no matter who you are, what race, or your sexual preference may be, you are an Original Design. He was inspired by his grandmother who took him in at the age of 3. She installed in Curtis to take

the key factors of life and make them his. Curtis went through hard times which I feel is a testimony to us all. If you put your mind to do anything in life and believe that GOD is there to handle the rest, you can make it.

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Something that Curtis said has stuck with me throughout our interview, “What’s in your closet that you can give to help someone? And it’s not about wearing clothes, it’s about wearing Gordesi®, which also helps someone. Meaning that we can give from our own closet, but at the same time buying Gordesi® is also giving because they are also donating

two designers Shavanna Lynn and Valencia Trabron both of these ladies do a remarkable job. Gordesi® is very proud to have them a part of the team. Also he wishes to give a special thanks to his grandmother for being there for him and leading him in the right direction of his life, as well as his mother who is actually by his side today as the Treasurer for Gordesi®. Curtis has a vision that 5 years from

7% of your purchase to a charity of your choice.

now he wants people to just have a conversation about Gordesi®, which I firmly believe will happen. SpeakGordesi® caters to all from 00 ing of his vision, I must give you to 6x. This line of fashion was the story behind the meaning of started by Curtis. He actually started with T-Shirts, now he has Gordesi®. a complete line that is clean and One day while Curtis was incarcerated, he saw the letters GOD written has a very trendy look. He has

Pictured: Curtis Hutson

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on the wall in toothpaste which, at that time, he saw G-God’s O-Original DDesign and Gordesi® came from that GODSORIGINALDESIGN. Ever since then, he has put forth every effort to show that everyone is exactly that: an Original Design. His look is for everyone: children, men, and women. No one is left out of his vision. If you see his logo, it too has a meaning which is ‘G’ with many circles. Each circle take it’s own path to success and as Curtis Hutson says ‘Now, choose yours…. And live your ‘O’ (circle). Curtis has lived through and became a successful businessman after experiencing emotional and financial hardship. He has proven that without any doubt, you too, can overcome ANY situation to live your dream. His motto is “Real Life, Real Clothes” and his soul purpose for his clothing line is to have a fashion statement, a way to give back, a positive messaging brand, and most of all, a conversation starter. He’s doing for you, why can we do for others? As I mentioned before, he wants Gordesi® to just be out there as a conversation piece within 5 years and it’s well on its way, even as we speak.

Fashion for Men, Women and Children

I encourage you to purchase Gordesi®, not only for yourself, but also to help someone in need. Curtis Hutson is giving back and so can you. Visit his website www.Gordesi.com. He will also be featured in the Philadelphia Fashion Expo September14-15, 2013. Please go to www.phillyfashionexpo.com to find out more. So go out there and live your ‘O’. Just to give you a peek at what his look is all about, as you can see, it’s for everyone.

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Need Some Mo’Shine?

music

The woman behind the music

Monica Pearson

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onica Pearson was raised in the church, and has always had a passion for gospel music and the gift to entertain. Monica is driven by her love of music and a desire to win souls for the kingdom. Monica founded Sunshine Entertainment in Charlotte, NC at the age of 28. In 2010, the company’s name was changed to Mo’Shine Entertainment, LLC under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Her versatile ability to relate to all types of individuals, allows her to touch and inspire others through her ministry.

Photographer: Keith Foster

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onica’s anointing is evident as she unifies believers and non-believers together through singing, mime, spoken words, outreach, and hosting events that showcase the diversity of the kingdom. Her mission is to help youth accept and believe in themselves and serve as a role model for others. Monica has always known that she was destined to make a difference. Not always

Story by: Danielle Walker

sure of how, she continued to trust and believe God. Monica has endured and overcome many trials and tribulations to become the Mo’Shine we all know and love. She does not profess to be perfect, but strongly believes we live and learn every day.

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o’Shine attributes her success to the love and support of her family, Planet Saved, and Pastor Ron Duncan of Providence Place Church. Today, Mo’Shine is advancing the Kingdom of God and leaving“No Souls Left Behind.” She actively tries to promote unity by partnering with other ministries of like mind and spirit and is actively developing new artists.

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hen one hears the word ‘hood’, what is the first thing that comes to mind, honestly?

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Leading by Example: Making it out of the Hood

Ricco Barrino

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hen one hears the word ‘hood’, what is the first thing that comes to mind, honestly? While researching multiple dictionary websites for the documented interpretation of the word, I found various interesting meanings. When I typed in the search engine of Google, ‘definition of the word hood’, it brought up multiple options. The 1st definition that came up from the search stated that, “it’s a gangster or similar violent criminal, a hoodlum.” The Urban dictionary indicates that the word ‘hood’ means “the ghetto, or someone from the ghetto, or someone that acts like they from the ghetto.” I always thought that the word hood simply was a way of shortening the word neighborhood; you know kind of like slang, but more or less a description of ownership of where one lives or grew up. It is a place that holds good and bad memories, and a place that highlights either your commitment to faith or acceptance of fear!

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icco Barrino, a High Point, NC native, comes from an extensive family tree of singers and musicians, from the church to the mainstream. His family history includes Uncles who were with Motown, 1st cousins to the two members of the famous 90’s group Jodeci, K-Ci and JoJo, and is the brother to the American Idol winner and Grammy award winning sensation, Fantasia Barrino. Ricco Barrino is headed to the top and is making history of his own. He explains his musical approach, “I live outside the box, so you never know really what you going to get, but overall I kind of approach the game like Marvin did (Marvin

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There’s nothing like music to relieve the soul and uplift it. Mickey Hart

MUSIC

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o some the word hood has a softer, more personal meaning that represents love, hope, struggle, loyalty, trust, and respect. To Ricco Barrino, the word hood has no evil intent or harmful focus; it simply represents family, hard workers, and dreamers fighting for survival and to make their dreams a reality by all means necessary. The word hood definitely has a mental presence, as well as a physical presence, and Ricco is a leading example that when to you want something bad enough and put forth the work to achieve it, then you can be and go anywhere in the world that one desires.

Story by: Peace Pictures Courtesy of: ImagesbyKennedy.com

Photo by Derek Palmer

Ricco Barrino performing at the grand opening of Harlem Bistro in Greensboro, NC

Gaye)”. He continues, “Marvin had songs and topics about everything, from love, heartbreak, you know sex, partying and if you can convey that and kind of twist it and melt it in to today’s topics of what’s going on, I think those are the kind of messages I bring that keep me outside the box!” But the goal of Ricco is not to just stand out but also, “Ultimately the goal is to be able to say something to the world. I like to talk about the things that are going on, different topics that really impact the world and how we live it and how we see it; that’s my motivation when I am writing my music.”

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n the midst of a major shift in his life, he is on the road less traveled to fulfill his greater des-

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tiny. Music for Ricco seems to be more than just a passion or gift, but more like his life, his purpose, his reason for enduring the realities of the industry, in and out of his comfort zone. Music is the foundation or the centerpiece that keeps everything in his life binding together. Music is his outlet to frustrations, love, loss, innocence, pleasure and pain. His enticing tones and smooth runs, and layers of musical instrumental vocals expressed in his music, are able to tap in to all of ones every emotions and offers an unique understanding that only ones that has experienced it could express! The toughest thing for him to adjust to in his own words is, “The industry itself and how they see me. I’m not no Usher or Trey Songz, when you see me you don’t see that cookie cut R&B dude, you just see a regular person. And my thing is, that has been I guess the adjustment. I’m a real authentic North Carolina country boy, and a lot of things in the industry are just an illusion, or a magnification, but now that I have grown into it, I understand it. I’ve paid a lot of dues and still paying a lot of dues.”

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icco’s humbled beginnings led him into all sorts of opportunities that granted a foot in the door of one of the toughest industry’s to delve into successfully. Ricco’s unique sound caught the ear of one of the biggest names in the industry. He went on to secure his own musical journey by becoming a signed artist to the rap Phenomenon, T.I.’s label, Grand Hustle. Although Ricco confirmed that he is no longer signed to the label, he does enlighten us by expressing his relationship with the team, “Grand Hustle is like my family. They will forever be my family. The only thing that ties me to Grand Hustle is the great brotherly relationship between me

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and Tip, Jason Geter and the whole family. I can walk in there tonight and it’s all love. We still work together hand in hand, but as far as a contract, no I’m not solid. One thing about Grand Hustle is that they are fair and so they never said well we going to keep you in contract and choke hold you, you know. They gave me the leeway to go and work with whoever I wanted to and that has been such a blessed situation for me.”

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icco Barrino admits that it is tough to stay motivated and encouraged but it’s the love of the fans and followers and the commitment to his family that keeps him pushing. He is so focused and committed to his story finishing the way he always imagined it would be. “Family, followers, and the struggle itself is what keep me motivated and striving.” Ricco hates being told no and is never satisfied, that’s why I am confident that not only is Ricco Barrino here to stay but is evolving as we speak daily. I have so much admiration and respect for Ricco because through every hurdle in his life, we still see him pressing forward. Even when things get personally tough in his or his family’s life, we still witness him fighting for his existence. Ricco is more patient than one probably realizes and believes that his journey is definitely being led by God himself. “He states that “it’s hard out here, so when God decides that it’s my time, and that he is going to bless me, then all of the hard work, the crying nights and the nights that I wanted to give up but I didn’t, then it will all make sense. That’s what I’m waiting on.”

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icco has the ability to intertwine the best sounds of R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rap, Country, and Pop to give all his fans that finger snapping, toe tapping sound that touches your soul. He’s a veteran of many International tours that include likes of Kanye West, Com-

mon, Keisha Cole, and Patty Labelle. He also occasionally sings background with his sister, Fantasia. He was featured on songs from several high-profile recording artists, including B.o.B’s “5th Dimension” from his album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray (2010) and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s “Gone” from their reunion album Uni-5: The World’s Enemy (2010). Ricco Barrino has also written for such artist as Day 26, Fantasia, R Kelly, Angie Stone, Yung LA and Big Kuntry King. Today Ricco Barrino is making his way up the charts with his new hit single “Followers” off of his new mix tape Musical Evolution hosted by DJ Chuck T. One of my favorite songs by Ricco is Hood, which is a wonderful collaboration with Fantasia. Ricco’s style is very rhythmic; it touches the heart and soul of all who listens. Ricco currently did some impressive work with the new movie, The Butler, with Fantasia of which he got to show off his scoring skills, as well as, his vocal ability.

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ike Fantasia, Ricco Barrino is a super star and the sky is not the limit for this melodic sensation. Ricco is definably a leader and one to take notice of as he prepares his listener’s and the world to change the way they approach life in relation to attaining ones deepest dream. One can certainly dream big and get the lifestyle that one visualizes if they put the work behind the faith and belief. Ricco is putting in the blood, sweat and tears to make it to the top on his own merits. He is a great example in that there is no obstacle and limitations besides the ones we ourselves create.

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ou can follow Ricco on Twitter at twitter. com/riccobarrino, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/riccobarrinoFacebook. You can also visit his webpage at www.riccobarrino.com or subscribe to his YouTube Vevo page at http:// www.youtube.com/riccobarrinovevo. You can also contact Ricco’s management team for bookings at riccobarrinobooking@gmail.com. MIRACLES&BLESSINGS….GOD 1ST…WINNING!

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Divine Duet Let your heart take wings “Christian Love” may not be a musical genre you’ve heard before, but if Raymond and Kim Larkin have anything to say about it, that will soon be changing. The singer/ songwriter couple living together in Winston Salem, NC is driven by a divine mission using their musical gifts as a conduit. Raymond describes this mission by saying, “I believe that we are here to reflect and share the love of God in our relationships and in our music to the world.” Christian Love sounds something like a blend of Gospel, Neo Soul, and classic R & B with a sprinkling of melodic jazz strains heard within certain songs. But what really defines this new genre is not the musical composition but the powerful message that fuels it. Currently on the Love Experience Tour, the Larkins share

Story by: MD Marcus have voices big enough to fill any size venue. They have been booked for festivals, fairs, weddings, birthdays, and church events. They are excited for what their future holds and anticipate ministering through performances at wedding shows, marriage conventions, and conferences. With the release of their full CD Love Defined they offer two wedding ballads; the title track “Love Defined” and “Complete Because of You”. With such mellifluous lyrics like, “You’re my definition of real love, and no one can come between us, I am yours, and you are mine forever together” and “I love you and I cherish you each day, I love you and my loneliness is passed away” one can indeed tell these self-professed best friends do sincerely love singing together and each other.

Enjoy a Sample from Their Latest CD

the mutual desire to communicate a message of marital love and God’s love through their music. Focusing on the greater picture, they encourage married couples and those looking forward to marriage to “keep love lite”. Kim gives the analogy to a soft drink that has “less calories.” To both let go of the little things that may cause friction in a relationship and remember the little things that originally bonded you to your spouse. Raymond and Kim have been performing together since 2005. The connection and chemistry that they share are undeniably seen in their interaction with one another and felt in every note they sing together. With individual sounds that blend beautifully creating smooth harmony full of passion and purpose, these performers certainly

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This talented twosome has been likened to BeBe & CeCe Winans and Ashford & Simpson- and for good reason too. But upon first hearing their music, I was immediately reminded of my all-time favorite musical duo, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. I couldn’t quite put my finger right on what exactly it was at first. It isn’t quite the sound or even the comparable message of love that both duets belt out. After watching several performances and listening to tracks off their new CD, I was finally able to pin it down. They complement each other in just the right way. What they have is a rich and soulful collaboration that comes from a genuine connection that cannot be faked. Raymond and Kim Larkin are definitely the real thing.

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An Author’s Fierce Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

Story by: Lydia Dodson

Heather McCollum

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Photographer: Keith Foster

Culture

Being a writer and book enthusiast, I’m always a little more excited when I’m asked to interview an author. I love the chance to meet fellow writers and learn about new worlds I can disappear into. But Heather McCollum is so much more than an author. She is a motivator. A survivor. A believer. A romantic. An achiever. Talking with her was like comfortably chatting with an old friend. Her story is one that needs a voice. Heather started out pursuing a career in biology at the University of Maine. It was there she met her husband, a fellow Biology Major. She traveled to North Carolina to further her biology studies toward a PhD in Cellular Immunology. She soon learned that working in a lab alone was not for her and went to work at a drug development company running clinical trials. But Biology was not her only passion. “Every night I would come home exhausted from the rat race, and I would write.” Heather is a devoted romantic who dreams of chivalrous Scotsman and vibrant love stories. These stories sprang to life.

into the publishing business. It’s a lot of networking, a huge amount of persistence, and then some luck thrown in there and of course some talent.” Heather’s talent and persistence met that stroke of luck in 2009 when she finaled in the prestigious Golden Hearts. As Heather puts it “The Golden Hearts are like the Emmys for unpublished writers in romance. It was a huge deal. I dropped down on the floor sobbing I was so happy…there is literally a red carpet.” After finalling in the Golden Hearts, Heather started to get the interest of editors. She sold one of her books to Wild Rose Press and pitched another to an agent who quickly fell in love with it and linked Heather with Entangled Publishing. This success led Heather to now have two thriving published series, The Dragonfly Chronicles and the Highland Heart Series, two historical romance series that pull the reader into faraway lands of love and mystery.

But then two years ago life gave Heather a shove back into the real world away from her beloved romantic lands, and she started on a journey that It wasn’t until after Heather and her husband had would change her life forever. It was a simple evehad three children that she was finally given the ning just like any other playing on her adult league opportunity to spend more time with the characters soccer team. After suffering a hard hit to the hand, she envisioned. The cost of daycare became too Heather went to the doctor suspecting it might be high and she left her job to stay home with her chil- broken. While at the doctor she figured she’d kill dren and focus on her writing. Now that she had two birds with one stone and mentioned some odd more time, Heather entered contests and sought symptoms she’d been experiencing. Nothing too to get her books published. “It’s very hard to break out of the ordinary. A twinge of abdominal pain.

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Some bloating. The next day she was sent to an ultrasound which discovered a five inch mass completely burying her ovaries that had grown in only five months. A week later in the operating room removing it, the surgeon quickly knew it was ovarian cancer. “Life would never be the same. And it wasn’t. It isn’t.” Three weeks after the surgery, Heather started a 15 month chemotherapy clinical trial. “It was ironic because I swore after managing clinical trials for years and years that I would never be on one! And there I was signing up with a 42 page protocol with all these horrific things that could happen to me. So I signed away.” Those next 15 months were full of horrendous suffering. Heather lost her hair, the ability to walk, and at some points the ability to open her mouth. But Heather never lost her faith and her inner power to fight for life with all she had. Heather saw reminders of God’s presence throughout her entire journey. “The day before I got hit with the soccer ball I was driving on the highway and I got the twinge of pain in my side again. I was going to pick my daughter up from preschool and I thought ‘Oh no what if it’s something terrible! What if it’s cancer?!’ And I started to hyperventilate on the highway, I was just terrified suddenly. Then this car just kind of pulls in front of me and goes over directly in front of my car and its license plate said ‘Don’t Panic.’” After shaking it off and telling herself she’d go to the doctor eventually, she got hit with the soccer ball that night. Heather’s “eventually” became God’s “right now.” When they discovered the cancer in Heather, she was at Stage IIC, giving her a 70% chance of surviving five years. If she had waited only another couple of weeks her cancer could have easily moved to Stage III, giving her a 20% chance of surviving five years. It was a soccer ball push from above.

edly came up to her with prophecies that she would do well and heal or that God had heard her prayers. One such stranger stands out specifically in her memory. “One man came up to me and said ‘Psalm 6! God wants you to go read Psalm 6!’ I said ‘Well what’s Psalm 6?’ And he goes, ‘Well I don’t know exactly but it’s something about an ordeal and you look like you are going through an ordeal,’ because I had no hair. So I went to read Psalm 6.” In the verse David pleads with God to not let his enemies kill him so that he may spread God’s Word. This was the same prayer that Heather had repeatedly prayed, pleading to stay alive to raise her children and spread the word about this horrible quiet disease. And at the end of Psalm 6 it says, “God has heard your prayers.”

“If This Disease Doesn’t Kill Me, It Was the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me”

Heather continued to feel God’s continued support from unexpected sources. Strangers repeat-

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to survive. I was only interested in reading and writing about how to kill this beast.” Heather blogged throughout her experience about her victory through the suffering. Eventually she plans to write a nonfiction book to help cancer survivors. But right now Heather is excited to lose herself once again in her fictitious worlds that she can reassume some element of control over. She was thrilled to release her latest Dragonfly Chronicles book via Kindle on August 27, 2013, set to release nationwide in December. The next in the Highland Heart series is scheduled to release in January 2014. Heather is also very excited to announce her newest project: a young adult paranormal trilogy set to come out in February 2014. This allowed her to explore a different style of writing aimed for very different readers. Heather will be very busy with book signings come December through spring 2014, given her books release back-to-back months. Heather will be participating in the Tasty Book Tours and

Book Fair in Wilmington, North Carolina on February 28-March 2. Heather accredits her triumph to her unfailing God and her fierce family. From her husband who devotedly carried her when her legs failed her to her oldest daughter decorating her room with “I am a survivor” posters for inspiration every day, the love Heather received from all corners of her life was never ending. “I felt god with me every day. If this disease does not kill me, I think that this was the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life. It’s redirected me. It’s given me focus. It’s showed me how literally not to sweat the small stuff. When I see roses now I don’t just breeze by, I literally will stop and smell every rose on that daggone bush. All the refrigerator magnets make sense now.” So let’s all wear teal this month, listen to the whispers, and stop and smell every rose for Heather and for all who share in this battle.

Now that she is in remission, Heather has kept her side of the bargain. She started the Shout Against a Whisper Campaign, which aims to educate women about ovarian cancer. “Ovarian Cancer is the deadliest of the GYN cancers. It is like a snow globe inside you. It’s very quiet. That’s why it’s so deadly. Usually people don’t realize they have it until they are stage III.” The symptoms are mere whispers in every woman’s life and Heather intends to shout until every woman knows what these symptoms are. These symptoms include bloating, urinary problems, pelvic pain, and feeling full quickly. All these symptoms are very benign and familiar in most women’s lives. Heather urges all women to be very aware and if you experience even one symptom for three weeks or more, go get a pelvic exam. Heather is a fierce fighter against ovarian cancer traveling as much as she can to teach anybody who will listen how to hear these whispers. On September 14 Heather and her team will walk in the Gail Parkins Ovarian Cancer Walk in Raleigh, North Carolina to help raise awareness and money for the vicious disease. During her chemotherapy, Heather was mentally unable to write her romance fiction novels. “I was only interested in writing about how I was going

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Need a Hero?: AceBlade The Creative Team Behind the Hero

We never know when God will kick us with a little inspiration. That kick might catch us downright unaware, but if we don’t follow it the regret will inevitably kick us harder. Danny Quick got just such a thrust sending him in a surprising direction which would prove to change his life forever.

Story by: Lydia Dodson Photos Courtsey of: Danny Quick

From left to right Christoph Hollers - Creator of AceBlade Joe Staton - Co-creator of Kilowog Danny Qick - Lead writer of Ace Blade

ca for greed and corruption whose citizens’ only focus is on money and power without a second thought about who they step on in their pursuit. Terrell Durham seeks to expose and destroy this corruption, and his It all started when he met Christoph Shortly thereafter Danny was dealter ego Aceblade is born. Aceblade Hollers in 2008. He and Danny ployed to Iraq, but he didn’t let that does not have any superpowers. shared similar interest in movies hinder his creativity. He spent most Trained in the martial arts, his skill and a love for comic books. From of his free time overseas developing is using whatever he has access to. there Christoph told Danny about a the character of Aceblade, fashioning “Anything with a sharp edge he can comic book character that he created new characters to give him purpose use,” swords serving as his weapon in high school. That character was and creating story lines. Danny of choice. Danny has affectionately Terrell Durham, a simple man who, remembers, “It became a lot more dubbed Aceblade “a broke batman,” tired of greed and violence flourishthan I originally thought it was going in lieu of fancy gadgets and cars he ing in his city, becomes Aceblade a to be.” Danny followed wherever his resourcefully uses his wit and ingevigilante hero. Aceblade was God’s ideas took him and five years later nuity to protect the city. kick to Danny, “That night when I The Aceblade, both chapter novel went home I couldn’t get it off my and multi-series comic book, has Why choose an everyday man turned mind. I just started writing and then come to life. vigilante over an enhanced superone thing turned into another thing.” hero? “We wanted to show that you Christoph gave Danny permission to The story is set in Vegas City, a mec- don’t need to be superhuman, you

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delve into the story of Aceblade and explore the life and experiences of Terrell Durham. Having no real writing experience, once Danny started, he couldn’t stop.

Danny Quick with Stan Lee co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, and many other fictional characters.

don’t have to have powers or super strength or be able to fly to be able to do what you think is right,” Danny explains. “He doesn’t follow the rules that everyone says he should follow, he does what he thinks is right. He always does what his heart tells him is the right thing to do. And I think that is an important thing in our society. Yes we all need to follow the laws, but we all need to have our own goals and our ideals that we stick to.” This good vs. evil premise emerges as the main theme of The Aceblade, in an effort to highlight the capability within each person to join in the fight against evil. With the creation of both a novel and a comic book, Danny hopes his message will reach more demographics, both novel readers and comic book lovers alike. The novel is focused on content, to give Aceblade depth and uncover his backstory. The comic book supplements the novel with vivid colorful images, giving readers a visual emotional connection to the characters. The first comic book will be a 4 to 5 part series that will coincide with only the first chapter of the novel. This use of two mediums highlights the cleverness of The Aceblade’s

Danny Quick with his lovely Wife

creators, ensuring nothing but success for the new hero. Danny credits all of his success to God. “God gave me this talent and this opportunity for a reason. God makes everything fall into place.” With God’s help, Danny assembled the perfect team of artists to help turn his visions into reality. He hopes to have books printed in time for the North Carolina Comic Convention in November. Danny’s last word’s to aspiring artists, “Consistently just keep doing it. Whatever you are passionate about, keep doing it and it will develop. If just a couple people enjoy it, then it was worthwhile. God gave me the gift of writing stories so they could help people in some way.” God is leading you in the direction you are meant to go. When that kick comes, run in the direction it hurled you.

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Discover

Consistency is the Key Tight Cut Barber Shop

Edward “Oodie” Crawford (above) is a master barber that has been in the game for about 19 years. Ootie as he is known in the community, started cutting hair in 1995. Edward attended Triad Barber school in WinstonSalem, N.C. in 1996. He attended barber school fulltime and graduated within nine months. Edward had positive role models while he was attending Triad Barber School. Mrs. Mary, who was one of the instructors at the school, was a mother figure to Edward. When Edward graduated from Triad Barber School, he received his first barber position with Ernie Heron at VIP Barbershop. Ernie was originally from Trenton, N.J. Ernie was a mentor to Edward during his beginning stages of cutting hair. VIP Barbershop helped Edward get his name out there. Edward stayed with Ernie for about four years. His clients were growing and he was ready to build his own barbershop. April 1, 2002, Tight Cut Barbershop was born. Edward had his first barbershop on Washington Street in High Point,

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Achieve

Story by: LaSheik Calhoun

a couple of years. As business continued to grow, Edward found a bigger space on Greensboro Street in High Point, N.C. He stayed there for about two years. Finally Edward settled at Eastpoint Plaza in High Point, N.C. He started with a five year lease, but extended it for another five years. Tight Cut is well known in High Point, N.C. Edward has also expanded. He opened a second location in Greensboro, N.C. The Greensboro, N.C. location has six chairs and 4 barbers currently. There are a total of ten barbers in both Tight Cut locations. Tight Cut has serviced prominent leaders in North Carolina. Clients include Bruce Davis-County Commissioner. Celebrities have also been serviced by Tight Cut. They include Ricky Roundtree, Ronnie Laws, Christopher Williams and Mary Mary. Tight Cut recently participated in National Night Out at High Point University. There were 500 children in attendance at the event. Tight Cut put in plenty of time and dedication to give the children haircuts. Tight Cut Barbershop received recognition in the High Point Enterprise from participating in National Night Out. Edward and Tight Cut Barbershop are gaining more exposure. A third location in Kernersville, N.C. is in the works for Tight Cut. Edward has words of advice for future entrepreneurs. He says to stay consistent on whatever path you choose to go. Edward also recognizes his wife, Marsha “Juicy” Crawford. She stuck by him when he wanted to give up. A great support system is important to any business owner. Definitely support Edward Crawford at his various Tight Cut locations. He has talent, expertise and longevity. Edward Crawford is the personal barber of Derek Palmer, Coowner of Simply Elevate Magazine. Invest in a quality haircut by Tight Cut Barbershop. The name says it all.

N.C. Edward’s barbershop was next door to a good friend of his, John Williamson’s, convenience store. John told Edward that he would do well opening Tight Cut next door to him. Historical figures, who have been in the building, include Martin Luther King Jr. and James Brown. Edward saw that the building had history and was a cultural landmark. Within a year, Edward moved Tight Cut to another location on Green Street in High Point, N.C. He leased a building from Leroy McIntyre. Edward stayed in that building for

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BlessedIAm

BlessedIAm had a gift for writing that was evident when she was a young child. She began by reading stories to her family. The stories were letters that were scribbled on folded paper. When she was about seven years old and able to form words and sentenc-

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es, BlessedIAm began writing poetry. Poetry was a form of therapy for her. Poetry was a outlet for BlessedIAm to express herself. In 2005, BlessedIAm wrote a poem named “I’m a Soldier”. She wrote the poem in five minutes and also memorized

Story by LaSheik Calhoun Book Cover by: Derek Palmer (pictured below)

it word for word. God had a purpose for BlessedIAm through her poetry. It was a passion and purpose for her to share it with others. Also in 2005, BlessedIAm received some profound words of encouragement from a woman named Mary Zabo. BlessedIAm was a caretaker for Ms. Zabo, who was 88 years old at the time. BlessedIAm shared her poem with Ms. Zabo. Ms. Zabo thought that BlessedIAm had plagerized the poem. She was blown away by the poem. BlessedIAm assured her that she had written the poem. She even offered to write a poem right there on the spot. She wrote the poem in about five minutes. The poem was comparing and contrasting herself and Ms. Zabo. BlessedIAm believed that she and Ms. Zabo were similar in strength and determination. Ms. Zabo lost one of her legs. She was told that she would never walk again. Ms. Zabo did indeed walk again. BlessedIAm and Ms. Zabo also shared the same birthday on April 1st. When BlessedIAm finished the poem and read it to Ms. Zabo, she was amazed by the gift of poetry that BlessedIAm had. BlessedIAm thought that everyone wrote poetry and that it wasn’t a special gift. Ms. Zabo assured her that everyone does not possess the gift of poetry. She told BlessedIAm that what she had was definitely a gift. Ms. Zabo bought Blessed I Am a gift. It was a book of poetry by a young twelve year old boy. The young author had passed away at that age. The poetry was written in crayon. Ms. Zabo gave Blessed I Am the gift and told her that she could do it. She could be a writer. BlessedIAm realized that she truly had a gift for poetry. BlessedIAm didn’t share her poetry with anyone after Mary Zabo until she met Jerry Holt. In 2007, BlessedIAm met Jerry Holt, who was a radio personality at the time. She

asked him if she could recite some poetry on his show. Jerry asked to hear some of her poetry. When BlessedIAm shared her poetry with Jerry Holt, he loved it. Jerry wanted to work with her. In 2008, BlessedIAm had her first stage performance. She performed onstage and received great feedback. BlessedIAm realized the stage wasn’t for her. BlessedIAm underwent two heart surgeries in 2009. When she recovered from the surgeries, BlessedIAm assured God that she would give him all the glory for bringing her through her surgeries. BlessedIAm began performing again in 2011. That year was also very busy and productive for her. BlessedIAm was performing every weekend at outdoor festivals, church events, open mics and coffee houses. BlessedIAm shares her testimonies during her performances. She knows that God gets all the glory by giving her strength to keep going. BlessedIAm wrote her first book in 2012. She gathered her poetry, scriptures and thoughts to create “God Calls Me Blessed”. This book is very personal and inspirational to BlessedIAm. God Calls Me Blessed is a must read. BlessedIAm ensures that the readers will understand more about her and her journey by reading the book. BlessedIAm has a lot in store for her. She has a book launch on September 7, 2013, at 101 Gordon Street in High Point, N.C. from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. She also has a book signing on September 21, 2013 at High Point Library. She also conducts a weekly series for children in Danville, Va. There will also be a book tour in Charleston, S.C. in November 2013. More novels are in the works. The novels are based on each of her testimonies. One novel “Empty to be Filled” will launch on March 31, 2014. BlessedIAm is working towards becoming an established and well known writer. She is definitely establishing a name for herself in North Carolina and surrounding areas. BlessedIAm can be contacted by email at BlessedIAm1111@gmail.com.

BlessedIAm also has a website at www.blessedIam.com. She can also be contacted by telephone at (336) 300-3443. BlessedIAm can be booked to do speaking engagements and other events. She is eager to share her gift with others. Definitely be on the lookout for the launch of “God Calls Me Blessed”. You will surely be blessed by this creative artist.

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Inspiration

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“Do you take this Man…”

Commentary by: Ryan O’Neal

Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? This question has been reserved for the minister to ask a bride in the ceremony of connecting a man and a woman in holy matrimony. As this question is understood and spoken in thousands of different dialects, idioms and interpretations, there has been a marriage of one form or another for almost as long as the human race has existed. Those examples are very different from what we call “Marriage” today, however. Some of the examples we are faced with today are: wife capture, arranged, compassionate, wife purchase, polygamy, and polyandry. In comparison, none of these examples are quite as controversial or publicized as the “Same-Sex” marriage/ union. The first modern day, same sex union was performed in Denmark, though the history books have recorded a union in Egypt between Khunumhotep and Nainkhkhnum as the first male couple in history. In early Africa, the male would marry a youth male in order to pay a “Bride-Price” to the father of the bride; however these marriages would be only of a temporary nature and for the reason of honor and respect to the father of a perspective bride, not of a compassionate or loving nature. In the late 1900’s early 2000’s era, opposing efforts to legalize the ban on same-sex civil marriages between two people of the same gender made the topic one that has been and still is

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being debated all over the world. Now that Same-Sex” unions have been legalized in parts of the United States, we are finding that they have been recognized in 6 countries throughout the world. Can we agree that we have all come a very long way? …far away from God’s ultimate plan of marriage between a man and a woman! We are besieged by a

we ever stop going wherever it is that we’re going? Let me just say for the record, most true Christians are not judgmental because they know that there is no room for judgments when they aren’t perfect themselves. However, we must all know that while a minister is performing the ceremony of a “Same Sex Union”, something inside of him (or her) has to turn

lifestyle that’s now made legal and publicized on the television, in congress and in our everyday walk of life. While it has been noted, scientifically, that “Gender Confusion” is reported by the American Medial Association and American Psychology Association as a “Psychiatric Disorder of Sexuality”. Those individuals that are considered Gender Confused are noted as enjoying the benefits of a loosening of social restrictions on their actions with today’s compromise of standards. One would most likely ask the further question of…how far will we go, and will

on the light switch of their feelings to let them know that some degree of this ceremony is wrong. God, in his infinite wisdom, made men and women to procreate. Bottom line…two men or two women in a sexual relationship can not procreate. So to be more inquisitive…what could possibly be the reasoning behind two men (or two women) getting married? A union that is blessed by God, officiated by God’s messengers, with instructions coming from God’s book…the Bible. The bible speaks of the immorality of a union of any kind where two of

the people of the same sex is concerned is a direct insult to God. And when we have a minister who proclaims God and God’s name to be omnipotent and sovereign, performs a service that is abstract to what God has said is not of Him in the bible. What, Why and How could you? What could be the thought process? One would say that people have a freedom of speech and the right to chose and do what they want to do. As the views expressed here are of one commentator/ columnist, I agree, however who is at the disadvantage when we compromise our relationship with the God that’s going to bless us with another day to live and allow us the peace we need to sleep at night, open the doors to Heaven or cast us down to Hell. And yeah, Hell does exist… right here on earth for that matter. What do we do, as a society of men and women (because there’s only two of us) that is being overrun and infected by homosexuality, overt sexuality and a barrage of immorality in our everyday walk? Free speech or not, we must take the responsibility of educating our children first! We must make sure that they understand that an alternative lifestyle is adverse to the words of the Bible and goes against the directives, scripture,

and order of God’s word. We should (and this is my own thought) not send the message to the moral majority that it is O.K. to live an alternative lifestyle. Now let me be clear on this commentary and say that my thoughts on this subject are just that…”My Thoughts!” They do not reflect the thoughts of the editor of Simply Elevate Magazine and though I could go on and on about these life ides, I have to make mention of the recent congressional vote to legalize “Same-Sex” Unions, I’m going to leave you with this. “Guilt by Association” is not just a few words that some egghead rattled off one day. It is prevalent in the word of God. So the next time you say…”I’m going to a gender equal wedding, know that even though you are not participating in the wedding, you are participating in the “Ceremony”. God is watching you and who you are surrounding yourself with. Those closets that have held so many gender confused souls for years, are not so full today. They’ve all come out!!! And if you’re not careful, you may find a few articles of clothing in that same closet!!

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Embracing American Kin Story by: It’s family reunion time! We’re having a party! Fire up the grill, and let’s get to eating! Everyone come over to see the new baby! Welcome to the family, the wedding was beautiful! Grandma is turning 85, everyone we are celebrating on Sunday at 1pm! Take a moment to remember the greatness of your family! Picture everyone—where are you all, what is the occasion, who’s cooking? Do you hear the laughter, see the smiles, and remember all the details? Yes, remember! The joy of celebrating family and friends in one which brings great joy to one’s being. Moments with family and friends, add timeless jewels to our treasure box of immeasurably valued memories forever. During these moments we forget about the deadlines that must be meant, the alarm clocking that will sound as a reminder to start the week, the exam or presentation that did not go well, or the chores that need to be completed while running errands all over town. We simply live! Live in the familial timefreeze sharing in an atmosphere of love, fun, and excitement. So much so, that even that one uncle who is always into something is suddenly tolerable and needless to say a pleasure for that pause in time.

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Acquilla Semevou McCoy

As Americans we often find ourselves in the hustle and bustle of life. We attempt to work, to relax with family and friends, and gain some personal time while balancing multiple responsibilities. Our lives sometimes become so full of tasks and people that we forget about the simple things that which would improve our lives a hundred-fold. Spending time with family and friends to remind ourselves how much we love, value, and cherish one another. We forget that at any moment we may never see someone after our last conversation, thus making it even more important that an embrace is given, sincere kindness shared, and appreciation shown. We have to simply love each other whenever the moment arises. Every time we wake, the phone rings, texts are exchanged, emails sent, or during a face-to-face encounter. Now this sounds simple…and it really is that easy! We should always be able to express a kind word to those we meet regardless of what the person may have done. We all have areas that could use improvement; through love and acceptance we can embrace our challenges and help each other to get through them. As Americans, we have a pattern of waiting until tragedy hits to recognize that WE ALL ARE FAMILY BECAUSE WE ARE ALL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! Our families are formed of people who share customs, stories, tragedies, victories, and most

times knows our character…while giving a streamline of unconditional love. We see our family as having shared last names, shared people of relation, shared memories, and shared values and experiences which reflect the traditions and customs of generational teachings. The views of confidence that we able to conquer any challenge because we have done it before—you know that you remember a story about how Aunt Marie was able to make it in the winter with no shoes, no job, and three kids after the death of her husband because the family came together. Or when Stevie went off to war because he wanted to be like Dad—a man of integrity, respect, and honor who RISKED HIS LIFE FOR ALL AMERICANS. We risk our lives for family! Every day, we go about our tasks with the idea of improving or saving the lives of other people. These people are our family and we make sure that our performance, actions, and gestures are all reflective of sincere care towards each other.

America! America! Let us never forget Our histories shared through this land How many fell and others provided helping hands When families lost love ones for unjust reasons Where systems formed to make us torn We worked together to restore our homes We toil by day and some by night Playing our roles for America’s heart Beating through the tragedies we suddenly face Embracing each other regardless of race To show that Americans are deeper than hues We are a family Represented by the red, white, and blue

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About Acquilla McCoy

Acquilla McCoy and Son

Acquilla Modling at Fashion Fusion

Acquilla McCoy is a North Carolina native who has taken the gift of teaching to the new levels. She balances being a mother, educator, speaker, published author/writer, and life coach who devotes her efforts towards the assisting others in reaching their greatest potential and support those who are uplifting the community. She does this by attending various charity events and forms of the expressive and performing arts. Writing is one of her first loves and most impactful gifts as it capsulates moments and ideas that can forever be shared. The most recently published work by Ms. McCoy is entitled, The Men We Choose, which is an introspective poetic collection for both women and men. Her style of connecting to others is expressed regularly on The Bigg Chat blog where topics span from personal reflection to business and general thought. She has been interviewed by RTN’s Delano Elwood and in various news journals. Acquilla Semevou McCoy was formally educated at Winston-Salem State University, East Carolina University, and High Point University where she developed as a leader, educator, and speaker to touch the lives of others. She believes that the concept of the village is the reality of community that heals the wounds of the past while building the foundation for future stability and success. For this reason, she has developed Our Efforts United, a community organization, which is currently partnered with The B.A.G.S. Foundation and other businesses in to provide free and reduced educational, financial, wellness, and leadership services to the community with an emphasis on underrepresented populations. While formally serving the community, she embraces her passion for the arts. She is a renowned performer known as Semevou which was bestowed her during 2005 travel to Ghana in a naming ceremony. Her charismatic nature has allowed the gifts of writing, speaking, and performing as an actress, model, and entertainer to be shared amongst the Carolinas. She does everything from her soul which resonates to those who read her expressions or witness her during live performances. Her journey as a business woman allows for regular socialization, one activity that she enjoys amongst cooking, spending time with family, enjoying nature, and having some self-time. This versatile woman is full of surprises and energy creating suspense for what is next in her journey.

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



 

    

“It is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to use the talents the Creator has gifted; we all must share our gifts in every moment of living that is why it is called the present.” “Thank you for receiving the presents of my essence” --Acquilla Semevou McCoy

  

Fall Fall into my arms my love. Let me look into yours eyes and adore you. Let me hold you close to my heart. Fall in love with me as I memorize you and perhaps throughout eternity. Fall with me so our colors of rich browns, orange and even greens become one as we make pure ecstasy.

   

Fall with me and feel the chills that flow up and down our spines as we entwine our bodies as much as it pleases you and me. Fall with me as we go on a journey that leads to the next season of spring and then we can begin a new path of love so, Fall with me. Tammy Morris

  www.simplyelevate.com

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Healing

transformative experience via a wide range of vocal genres.

Through Expressions Of Art! (Part III) During my early youth—and let me be perfectly Frank, even some of my past adulthood-- I experienced several Sunday church services nodding and doping-off before, at times, event-- ually falling asleep—and, perhaps, even snoring a little. Thunderous preaching raining down from the pulpit couldn’t even keep me awake. Actually, it seemed to have had the reverse effect. The louder it got, it seemed, the deeper I dosed. At times like these it was only when a harmonious, melodious voice, of say, a female so-- prano or male alto or low bass would fill the air with an aesthetically pleasing sound quality that I would arouse, stir and began to awaken. It was as if, unintentionally, my ears had been more attuned to the inspiring, melodious singing than it had been to the loud, thunderous preaching. Such songs, accompanied by music and artistically rendered, on days as these, transformed me from a Sunday morning “sleepy head” into an inspired soul “receiving the message through the music.” Truly, art in its many expressions—and especially through music—has the power to awaken, uplift and Transform us all. A neighbor and harmonica enthusiast, Seth Parks, recalls playing his instrument to help transform a dire situition in 2007. “I’d had a collision with an elderly lady and she became very anxious and nervous, sitting in her car,” he said. “While we waited on the police, I took out my harmonica and started playing it for her.” Parks went on to say that this lady began crying softly, as if to his music, and when he asked her if she was okay, she quietly responded, “I feel better.” Jackson Russell, Music Director at Covenant Christian Church of Asheboro, speaking of the transformative power of music began by saying “I believe music is a ‘specific gift from God.’ All of it is a gift from God--how we use it may vary. I can sing a song that may be uplifting but it may not be tied to Christian faith. I don’t judge how others interpret their gift. I respect their gift.” As Russell spoke of what he felt was music’s highest purpose

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Story by: Frank Frontis

I could only envision a sparkling jetliner with the wings of an angel flying joyful loads from earth to the heavenly realm. “Music does two things!” he says emphatically. “One, it brings people together. Two, it serves as a vehicle to bring people closer to God. Music is a vehicle to the Divine realm,” he says, while emphasizing that despite how impressive it may play in our ears and reverberate throughout our hearts and minds music is only a “means to an ends”--not the “Ends” (Divine realm) itself. Cautioning that, of course, all music doesn’t have such lofty aims, Russell clarifies the matter by saying “You can tell the source of music by its fruit--by its outcome, what it does after it brings people together.” If it’s promoting violence, unlawfulness, immorality, etc., he points out that its message, then, of course isn’t of the Divine. In sharing his own personal transformative experience when he’s performing on organ, playing guitar or singing, enthusiastically, Russell says, “There’s an innate glory for the gift! I feel like I get to be who I am. I can open up and say what I want to say [through music]. I release emotionally that way… There’s a moment when you wait to see where it takes you, and there’s a feel of wholeness and unity and a ‘completion of connection’ with others--a feel of ‘mass intimacy’[with them]!” In terms of other examples of the transformative power of music, Russell points to the fol- lowing two scriptures that are most inspiring to him: 1 Samuel 16:23 “...David would play his harp. Saul would relax and feel better, and the evil spirit would go away” and 2 Kings 3:15 “Then Elisha said, ‘Send for someone who can play the harp.’ The harpist began playing, and the Lord gave Elisha this message for Joram...”(both, Contemporary English Version). Songstress/Poetess Brenda Bey (www.vocalxpressions. com) who recently resided in Greensboro before returning to Cleveland, Ohio, encounters elevation and something of a

In addition to the Inspirational and Blues songs she is well accomplished with, she also harmonizes to Jazz, R&B, Pop and even Broadway tunes. “I feel comfortable singing songs that I know well, that I can interpret clearly and strongly—no matter the genre,” she explains. “I especially like singing ballads—love songs and songs of triumph over the human condition.” When asked how she feels when she’s being inspired by her singing, she replies “I feel like I am doing the best thing I possibly can do on this planet. I am appreciative of the gift in the moment and at times very much awed by it, because there are times that the voice that emanates from me is not mine at all—something else has taken over!” As Bey inspires and transforms her own personal being through the power of her voice, she is ever cognizant of igniting the same experiences in others. “People tell me all the time that my singing touches them deeply and they thank me,” she says. “It doesn’t matter where I am, I hear the same thing. When I sing, it is my intention to communicate with my audience, to touch them with words and feelings, and to have them let go of anything that is binding them, restricting them—to get [them] in touch with their ‘heart center’ and to inspire them to live their purpose.” Calm and well composed in demeanor, Greensboro music player/ appreciator Brenda Root speaks of the life-long developmental and transformative roles of music in her life. Playing piano at age three and violin a few years later, she says “As a child, there were many days I wanted to be outside playing with my friends instead of having to practice for my music lessons. Now I am more appreciative of my musical training. Learning to play piano and violin takes much time and effort. What a beautiful means, however, of fostering such qualities as self-discipline, preserver- ance and patience.” In addition to having helped shaped her into a patient and disciplined seasoned adult, Root also values other benefits through her music. “Playing piano and violin creates a sense of achievement,” she says. “As I became more experienced, the sound of the music was more pleasing not only to me but to others as well. For me, this provided a type of uplifting or trans- formative experience.” Like many others, Root cites her particular choice of worship as being instrumental in fost-ering music appreciation and enrichment, saying “Music is a force in our daily lives. It is our [humankind’s]heritage and it provides us with a means for personal expression. In the Baha’i Faith it is especially praised. The Baha’i writings state that ‘music is a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high.’”

inspires, uplifts and transforms? Barbara Lister-Sink, Director of Salem College’s School Of Music in Winston-Salem, where she also teaches piano, informs us on this. According to Lister-Sink, an internationally acclaimed pianist, a synergy of voice quality, music, lyrics and emotional expression well blended and refined with a high level of sensitivity is what makes for great performances that often take us to soaring heights. Professor Lister-Sink opines that when we’re appreciating what we feel is a wonderful vocal quality, we’re not necessarily hearing talent. “Vocal quality is not talent,” she holds. “What you do with it, how you use it—that’s the talent!” Further, Lister-Sink says “An individual might have the gift of a unique vocal quality but not be musically expressive. Or he or she might be good at musical expression but not have a unique or colorful vocal quality.” When we’re tuning in to a favorite vocalist whose voice is inspiring and moving us, Lister-Sink believes it is because the particular vocalist has a “unique vocal quality that’s appealing and he or she knows how to express it in a way that makes it a ‘servant of the emotional content of the music.’” Lister-Sink refers to such individuals as “talented” and “very sensitive” in their ability to find and connect with the inner source of their art. “They are extraordinarily gifted in knowing how to convey the greatest depth of emotional expression,” she says. “They can plunge into and experience the depth of the emotional content of the music.” With a tone of delight Lister-Sink points to the voice of music legend Barbara Striesand as an example of such artistic achievement. “She’s one of the best!” she says. Lister-Sink is also quite impressed with the voices of legends Luciano Pavarotti (opera) and Diana Ross (Motown). David Byrne (former Talking Heads) said: “We don’t make music—it makes us.” Hopeful-ly, the next time you sing, play or listen to another one of your “great tunes” you’ll better understand the reason it is inspiring, uplifting, transforming—“making you.” ********************** Individuals in this three-part series have portrayed art as being an integral part of their growth, development and uplifting, healing and transformative experiences. Their lives, firmly centered in and enriched by the arts, testify convincingly that our contin-ued involvement in them keeps us on the creative path of Clearing, Healing and Transforming Through Expressions Of Art.

What is it about the make-up of voice and music itself that

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Simply elevate issue 9 september 2013  

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, Ricco Barrino and others.