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publisher’s note

Ten Seconds or less



n case you are one of the rare ones now connecting to the SOTAC circuit, you have just picked up the hottest Art, Style and Culture Magazine in the area! Once a year, the SOTAC team dedicates a special section of the publication called The Limelight, to indie music artists on the rise. So get ready to embrace this year's line up! I don't know about you but I get so excited to hear new music. However, I am the worst person to listen to a new CD with. I give a track about 10 seconds at best, to get my attention before I switch to the next track. Something tells me I'm not the only one who does that… I'm a firm believer that everything and everyone must have an elevator pitch. You know, that certain je ne sais quoi that ensures you get your point across as clearly and succinctly as possible. The term was coined from the premise that many of the most important decisions are made within the span



of an elevator ride. Generally speaking that is all the time you may ever have to get someone’s attention. With the right pitch, you can win over the people you need to bring your idea to life. Without it, you won't. For instance, SOTAC literally had less than 10 seconds to catch your eye. If you're reading this, then the pitched worked! (Kudos to Marlon who designed a great cover!) Bottom line, whether you're selling an idea, project, artwork, music or yourself, you have to come strong and do it fast. With that being said, I'm proud to present a diverse selection of music that passed the SOTAC team’s elevator pitch test. This year the team handpicked some of the hottest indie music artists to share with you like rising pop, jazz and soul singer, John West, Christian Reggae artist, Sherwin Gardner and the one and only DJ Chela (yes guys, a female turntable wizard!) to name a few. A special thanks to the musical experts at Urbana City Spa and Tea Bar who weighed in on the compilation of the Top 20 International Albums. Email me at and let me know if our musical selections passed your test. But don’t just stop at the pages of The Limelight; the very best in Art, Style & Culture awaits you inside!


Insight: In art, art is what the artist says it is. Opinions as to the quality of the finished product may vary, but there's no way to say it's not art or music.

PRINTER Minors Printing

You are reading the 12th issue of SOTAC (State of the Arts & Culture) Magazine, our 3rd Annual Music Issue. Enjoy! Prosper,

Debony S. Burrowes Publisher/Editorial Director

SOTAC, Volume 3 Issue 11

EDITORIAL Maeonis Burrowes, Copy Editor


Content Editors Gregory Gallagher, Craig Brandon Stephenson


Contributing Writers Rita Blaze, Cindy Dobbs, Neil "Champion" Hamilton, Gordy Hoffman, Alan Gray, Sheena Metal, Maree Morris, DJ Parallax


ART James Greene, Art Director, Illustrator Xavier Grier, Illustrator Marlon Turpin, Cover Design Alex Long, Ad Design

6 QC SOL New Pathways for Art: The NC

Photographers Champion Eye Photography Nico Photography GoldenBoy Photography Draco Photography NC Image Zone Kawai Matthews (Air Philosophy)

Museum Expansion

12 MENU Let's Eat! Japonais-Hot Chicago Eatery

SALES & MARKETING Alex Long, Direct Marketing Manager Erin Dunn, Sales & Marketing Consultant Tamara Walker, Public Relations

12 25

INTERNS Essence Caleb Denise Gregory

18 COLLAGE Charlotte's Own TJ Reddy- Artist, Activist & Author

28 SPECIAL FEATURE The Limelight:John West, Hot Import Albums, & Artists to Watch in 2007


Subscriptions Subscribe online at


Advertising Call: 888.461.0141 or Email: ON THE COVER: Design by Marlon Turpin, Photography by Kawai Matthews (Air Philosophy), Model: John West SOTAC Magazine is published quarterly by DSB Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be repro duced, stored in any kind of retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photo copying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publish er. For editorial reprints, please contact us at:


Soulful Fashions With a Glamorous Twist


46 EXCHANGE New Orleans: Calling Her Children Home

52 REEL TO REEL You are the Box Office Smash: The Personal Screenplay



* Letters to the Editor...

It's perfect. You brought Charlotte to a Brooklyn, New York gal. I've never been to North Carolina and SOTAC surely brought it to me. I am truly glad I am able to peek into your world while I'm here in New York.

SOTAC deserves as much as power it can get. We artists need SOTAC to have [more] faith about the art progress in this part of the world. I believe it is possible !! Jonay Diaz Charlotte, NC

I was taken by the article in which Nikki Giovanni was interviewed. I was in awe at how the article made me feel like I was listening to her every response. It was very intimate and spoke to me as the reader. She is an awesome asset to the literary world and partly in my motivational realm. I have so many others. Thank you for that article. My purpose to write has been confirmed I eagerly look forward to more issues and can't wait to see what the pages hold. Keep up the wonderful job and persevere in all that you do. Pascalle Brooklyn, NY Great work! Truly a work of art Eddy Orlando, FL

* Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.

Sure wish we knew what you were thinking... We want to hear from you! Send all of your questions, opinions, suggestions and thoughts to: Letters to the editor:

SOTAC Magazine 10612-D Providence Road, Ste. 307 Charlotte, N.C. 28277


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spokenword SK Netcafe Every 1st & 2nd Tuesday 1425 Elizabeth Avenue 704.334.1523 Wine-Up Every Tuesday & Thursday 3306 N. Davidson Street 704.372.2633 Main Street Rag’s Poets’ Night at Owen’s Bagel & Deli Shop Every last Friday 2041 South Blvd. 704.333.5385

Queen's Cup Steeplechase Be a part of the Queen's Cup Steeplechase in Brooklandwood April 28th. Call 704-843-7070 or visit

Art and Soul of South End Don't miss the two-day Art and Soul of South End Festival located in Historic South End on Camden Road. April 28th & 29th. Call 704-332-2227 for details. Or log on to

SignalFest 2007 SignalFest 2007 (Signal - The Southeast Electronic Music Festival) is a three-day event taking place from Thurs d ay, April 26 through Saturday, April 28. SignalFest will have music performances at many different venues each night—as well as daytime performances, after parties, workshops, and panel discussions. Visit for details. 6 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

PGA Wachovia Championship 2007 Don't miss a great week of professional golf with the PGA Wachovia Championship 2007 April 30May 6 at the Quail Hollow Club. Call 800-945-0777 for tickets or log on to

For Ella-A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald Enjoy Patti Austin performing live with with AlbertG e o rge Schram, conducting at the Charlotte Symphony Pops, May 11th and 12th at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Call 704-972-2000 or log on to

Joyfest with Fred Hammond One-day music festival featuring live in concert the best in Gospel Music on May 26th at Carowinds. Combo festival ticket includes a full day's admission

to the park, waterpark and performances by Fred Hammond, Israel and New Breed, Tye Tribbett, and Three Bridges. Group discounts are available. Picnic packages are available. Call 704-522-6500 or log on to

Center City Alive After Five Center City Alive After Five is back for another year of great music, drinks, food and your friends! Join us each Thursday (April 26-August 30) at the Wachovia Atrium and Plaza in Uptown as we welcome back some of your old favorites and introduce you to new favorites! Call 704-339-0100.

Elena Madden & James Couper New Works Opening reception is on June 1st, from 6-9 p.m. at Center of the Earth Gallery. Call 704-375-5756 or log on to

Main Street Rag’s Poets’ Night Every 2nd Tuesday Barnes & Noble Birkdale Shopping Village, 8725 Townley Road, Huntersville 704.895.8855 Open Mike at Tea Rex Teahouse Every 1st Friday 2102 South Blvd 704.371.4440 Jackson’s Java Every 2nd Thursday 8544 University City Blvd. 704.548.1133 Poetry Sharing at Barnes & Noble Arboretum Every 1st Tuesdy 704.341.9365 Did we miss a spot?


ustin BUA, the artist who created one of the best-selling college dorm posters, "The DJ,"--and who is widely recognized as one of Hip-Hop's most compelling visual artists of all time--has produced an unprecedented visual journey into the urban landscape of the past 30 years. From the birth of HipHop, emcees, and graffiti artists; to deejays, street poets and ball players, BUA's The Beat of Urban Art (HarperCollins Publishers) takes readers into a masterfully illustrated New York City of the 1970s and 1980s as experienced by the artist's heroes and the underdogs of that era. Accompanied by sketches, studies, and explanations of how his most famous paintings were created, this extraordinary oeuvre documents the artist's turbulent youth in the underground worlds of the urban jungle to showcase landmark moments in the nation's cultural history.

“Somethin’s Going on”

BUA's art, boasting one of the most diverse and enthusiastic fan bases in the world, is straight from the streets where the Hip-Hop movement was born; as such, the book's visual documentation of this movement speaks to a global generation to whom the urban landscape of the past 30 years is the most important cultural influence. His vibrant, widely recognizable style, accompanied by his explosive autobiographical narrative and distinct storytelling style, self-titled "Distorted Urban Realism," has captivated the hearts and minds of some of the century's most compelling public figures; among his most enthusiastic collectors and fans: Eva Longoria, Bill Clinton, Robert De Niro, Will Smith, Alicia Silverstone, Christina Ricci, Mark Wahlberg and Whoppi Goldberg. As his diverse and energetic fan base demonstrates, there is no limit to the appeal of an artist who can make his world--however marginalized--accessible and real with single, iconic images.



T N o rth Carolin a M u s e um of Art to Become N at i o n ’s La rg e st By Cindy Dobbs 10 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

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the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh, NC will soon be known as the nation’s l a rgest art museum park. Construction began in December on a new 127,000 square foot building that will house the museum’s permanent collection of more than 5,000 objects spanning from ancient Egypt to the present.

“Other amenities include walking paths, new gardens, bike trails, ecological projects, outdoor galleries and site-specific commissioned works.”

Noted architect Thomas Phifer of Thomas Phifer and Partners, New York designed the building that is slated to open to the public in 2009. Some of the building’s unique features will

Stone building, located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road, in 1983.

include two levels - one above ground for permanent collections, galleries and public spaces and one below ground for back-of-house functions.

center for temporary exhibitions, collections management, education, a d m i n i s t ration and storage. A sub-grade connection will link the two buildings, Bahus said.

Other amenities include walking paths, new gardens, bike trails, ecological projects, outdoor galleries and site-specific commissioned works. “We alwa ys knew we would need more space eve n t u a l ly,” said Je n n i fer Bahus, NCMA C o m mu n i c ations Manager. “It’s providing us with much needed space, and it will be a great home for our permanent collection.” The museum opened in 1947 after the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $1 million in state funds for the purchase of works of art, making North Carolina the first state in the nation to use public funds to buy a collection of art. The collection moved into the Edward Durrell

The Stone building will be transformed into a

“The NCMA permanent collection is an asset of the state, so it’s really nice to be able to put it in a new building,” Bahus said. Museum hours are Tu e s d ay – Thursday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Monday. Admission is free. For more information call (919) 839-NCMA (6262), or visit the NCMA’s web site at




By Alan Gray


Japonais restaurant of Chicago is a collaboration of art and food, an experience more than a place to eat. Japonais is an exceptional, casual to elegant Japanese restaurant, located on the Chicago River at 600 West Chicago Avenue.

Executive Chefs Jun Ichikawa and Gene Kato offer contemporary Japanese Cuisine & Sushi for lunch and dinner. Japonais is a delight to the palate and to your eyes. Food presentation is exquisite with most dishes served on oversized white porcelain plates. Drinks include cocktails and a large selection of sake, plus an impressive reasonably priced wine list that complements the cuisine. Designed by Jeffrey Beers, Japonais features an elaborate European interior, which adds to the elegance of the Japanese cuisine. The restaurant consists of several large rooms, each having its own unique ambience and a sense of intimacy.

The Red Dining Room is characterized by a dramatic palette of deep red and gold that contrasts a neutral crème-resin sushi bar that reflects traditional Japanese culture. The dining tables are covered with white cloths complimented by red patent leather chairs. Looking over to the sushi bar, you see red textured glass hanging over it. 12 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

The Green Dining Room offers a more serene setting with lower seating and a very relaxed feel. A large square velvet ottoman that seats up to 32 people is the focal point, with an immense floral arrangement rising up from its center. A large brick and slate fireplace runs along one wall and a communal table on a raised platform runs along another wall. The center staircase leads down to the Riverwalk Cafe with outdoor seating and a lounge that offers specialty cocktails and light appetizers. The full-service bar is back-lit, and has a maple top and a brushed gold base, matched with lime green vinyl and mahogany bar stools. Low-level orange and silver sofas, tables and ottomans throughout the room surround a large eggplant-colored column centerpiece. The music is lively. Lounge and bar are open until 1 a.m., 2 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and 3 a.m. Saturday. Dress code is Business Casual. If you are busy or don't know the area, valet parking is available, but street parking and a public parking lot are easily accessible and public transit is nearby on Chicago Avenue. Prices range from $31 to $50. Reservations can be made by email: or phone 312 822-9600 - but walk-ins are accepted. The restaurant is wheelchair accessible. Japonais is definitely an experience to be savored. SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 13

ED BRA D L EY: Journalist Extraordinaire

W A Ticket to Preview Bradley’s Journey

“My formula for success

Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award, Paul White Award from Radio and Television Directo r s Association, and Lifetime Achievement Award, Journalist Ed Bradley proved to the world to be a phenomenon for the entertainment/broadcasting industry. when he began working as a cartoonist for several publications. Later, while studying at the Arts Students League, Bearden met German artist George Grosz, who encouraged him to incorporate social and political commentary in his ar

has three elements; the

Facts about Bradley

Before discussing Bradley’s contributions to the world of journalism, it behooves you to know that he … • Worked for WDAS-FM radio for free as a disc jockey, keeping jazz in rotation. • Paved the way for journalists to come by serving as the first network correspondent for the White House from 1976 to 1978. • Ranked second to Walter Conkrite in adeptness as a journalist in a 1995 TV Guide poll. • Sported a diamond stud; it was his signature look. • Played defensive end and center while attending college. • Pranked by Georgie Woods, Bradley was forced to speedily read aticker tape which was set on fire.

And What Do They Call You? Butch Tiny Daddy Teddy 5th Neville Brother

How Ya’ Like Them Apples? Pioneer Journalist Bringing Forth Fruits Having graduated from Cheyney State College with an Education degree, Bradley taught as a 6th grade teacher at William B. Mann Elementary, a school in Philadelphia.

-Denise Gregory 16 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

He is best-known for his reporting done on CBS "60 Minutes" where he showed compassion for people in need, hence a documentary that focused on people living with brain cancer, "A New Lease on Life," and

talent you’re given, the hard work you do to get better at whatever it is that you do, and a certain amount of luck.” "The Catholic Church on Trial" which addressed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. In addition, he landed an exclusive interview with Okalahoma City Bomber Tim McVeigh. In 1973, he experienced war first-hand at the Saigon bureau inCambodia; wounded, he witnessed a soldier murdered. In 1979, he reported on the boat people of South China Sea of Malaysia and aidedthem with delivering messages to their missing family members. He also received the Peabody Award for his report on African AIDS. Bradley was a patron to performing arts, particularly jazz, for he was known as the "5th Neville brother." He was granted the opportunity to perform with them. Journalist and Philanthropist, Bradley made a lasting connection with mankind. He was a field journalist who brought attention to sociopolitical issues around the globe. In all of his efforts, he was persistent in getting vital information, so that the story might tell itself. Viewers were able to construct their own perception; an opinion wasn’t fed to them. On November 9, 2006 Bradley died of leukemia. He will be remembered as man of strength and integrity. SOTAC pays homage to Ed Bradley in his recent passing. Be Inspired.



Straight from the Artist:



am inspired by the work of Andy Warhol and the

“Desert Dress”

Pop Art Movement. My work incorporates photography and collage, along with ideas and images from popular culture. To a certain extent, each painting is a self portrait. I usually begin a piece by looking at my own reflection. I think of the external or materiality echoed in ture my internal world; for instance, my feelings, anxieties, pleasures, desires, and frustrations.

watching my younger brother suffer with autism, I used my first solo art show Muse as a fundraiser for

The art that I create is not only about my

Thoughtful House Center for Children. My subse-

inner/outer world but also about how this reflection

quent exhibits have served as platforms to bring aware-

of myself in the world, can be used as a narrative for

ness to the power of the visual arts in my community.

dialogue. For instance, how do my experience s

Recently, I worked collaboratively with Grammy win-

through art celebrate human differences and com-

ner Erykah Badu to help raise funds and awareness for

monalities? How do my experiences through art

B.L.I.N.D a nonprofit organization.

speak to others? What kinds of pleasures, anxieties, or discoveries does my art work create? I have discovered that I could use my passion for

“Action Heroine”


my reflection, while at the same time attempt to cap-

I feel that art is a catalyst for dialogue and a way to seek connections with those who wish to be in conversation with others through art.

“Sex and the City”

painting to help elevate my community. After

“Untitled” 18 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007


collage Foust Studio 704.525.7989

Discovery Place 704.372.6261

Green Rice Designs & Gallery 704.344.0300

Levine Museum of the New South 704.333.1887

Harris Holt Gallery 704.373.9090 Hart-Witzen Gallery 704.334.1177 Hidell Brooks Gallery 704.334.7302 Historic South End Artist Alley 704.377.9770

GALLERIES Afro-American Cultural Center 704.374.1565 Article 704.376.5881 Atmosphere 704.376.3030 Atherton Mill Interiors Marketplace 704.377.6226 Art Institute of Charlotte Gallery 704.357.8020

Hodges Taylor Gallery 704.334.3799 House of Africa 704.376.6160 J Richards Gallery 704.554.1881

Mint Museum of Craft & Design 704.337.2000 Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden 704.825.4490

PERFORMANCE Actor’s Theatre 704.342.2251 Afro-American Cultural Center 401 N. Myers St. 704.374.1565 Carolina Voices 704.374.1564

Jerald Melberg Gallery 704.365.3000

Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra 704.846.2788

Joie Lassiter Gallery 704.373.1464

Charlotte Repertory Theatre 704.333.8587

Blue Pony Gallery 704.334.9390

The Light Factory 704.333.9755

Breathe-Artspace 704.869.1799

McColl Center for Visual Art 704.332.5535

Center of the Earth Gallery 704.375.5756

NoDa Artist Network 704.358.4210

Christa Faut Gallery 704.892.5312

Studio I 704.458.2338

Cuvee Wine & Art Gallery 704.332.5548


Farvan International Inc. 704.375.1424

Charlotte Museum of History 704.568.1774


Mint Museums of Art 704.337.2000

Neighborhood Theatre 704.358.9298 North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center 704.333.1598 North Carolina Dance Theatre 704.372.0101 or 704.372.1000 Off Tryon Theatre Company 704.375.2826 Opera Carolina 704.343.9516 or 704.332.7177 Spirit Square 704.348.5823 Theatre Charlotte 704.334.9128 or 704.376.3777 Visulite Theatre 704.358.9200 Das Maultier Art Gallery 704.333.0277 Elderart Gallery 704.370.6337

Charlotte Symphony 704.972.2000 Children’s Theatre of Charlotte 704.376.3774 or 704.376.5745 Community School of the Arts 704.377.4187 Great Aunt Stella Center 704.339.0125 Manor Theatre 704.334.2727 The Moving Poets 704-372-1000










SOTAC profiles artist, author, activist TJ Reddy SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 23



“Day in the Life of a School”

“There are ways to become conscious and educate others on consciousness. My paintings are as reflective as marching on the street or carrying banners.”


alking into what used to be a storage space, I witnessed first hand TJ Reddy's creative co rner, a shed turned studio, where his West African Masks provide him inspiration to paint, design gigantic murals for public buildings, and compose high-energy, abstract pieces made up of blocks and splattered paint. We were standing in a tight space, almost shoulder-to-shoulder. Immediately the wo o d , carved mask caught my attention. And we got to talkin'... SOTAC: I see that you have West African Masks hanging on your walls. Tell me about that? 24 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

Reddy: These masks are used as an influence. The sculptural elements are exhibited in my work. My work…it's highly textural and twodimensional. You see, I paint on the edges of my board. The masks represent the embodiment of the spirit, mind and temple. The head [houses] the consciousness. In many African masks, the forehead protrudes out, portraying the source for a creative spirit. Without the mind, there is no reference to God or a higher being that anyone [might] recognize. My paintings are very face oriented. Then, suddenly, I watched Reddy's tall, slim, dark fig -

ure search feverishly for his most treasured paintings...

the more intense his demeanor became.

R: These are my daughters. Each year I paint portraits of them for them. I am very connected to my daughters. My children were taught Kwanzaa at a very early age, and in the images, lie elements of Kwanzaa.

R: My other friend … of East Orange, NJ, died of Leukemia. Harold Parks. He was also supportive. His spirit lives with me.

Reddy pointed to several posterb o a rd sized paintings of women sur rounded by vege tation and fruit. He focuses main ly on their heads and faces. The natural habitat is saturated with high-intensity colors. You can find the greenest of greens, remind ing me of Frida Kahlo paintings.

In addition to being an artist, Reddy is a published author and activist. His biography men tions his imprison ment as a result of participating in the Civil Rights Movement.

S: How does your artwork created in the 60s-70s relate to your work as a Civil Rights Activist? R: Well…no one has ever asked me that question before. I've never not considered myself a creative S: Is Frida Kahlo person. In referan inspiration? ence to creativity, I believe that [surR: Frida…is figvival] is part of the urative. Sure. She deals with same process. There are ways to i c o n o g r a p h y. become conscious Now Diego is the man! Most and educate oth“The Child as an Open Book - Collection” ers on consciousof my influness. ences relate to the African Diaspora, the My paintings are as reflective as marching Jamaican Renaissance, and the Harlem Renaissance. Aaron Douglas is at the top of my on the street or carrying banners. The painting remains after the march is over. The art of the list of influential artists of the Harlem experience remains. Renaissance. Bennie Andrews, my mentor and friend, encouraged me to paint through his letters. He would tell me: “Don’t give up or let othReddy holds a Bachelors of History and a Masters of ers dissuade you from your vision.” Education from UNC-Charlotte. He is a program develop The more Reddy discussed his close friends who also served as personal advocates and believers of his art,

ment consultant for ArtsReach and is currently workin on a community project for the NoDa District. For more informa tion on TJ Reddy, visit his web site, SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 25


Media Players,


Big on features, more for your money: (Archos 604, Creative Zen Vision W | $300 - $350)

and small


Having trouble finding which portable player is right for you? With so many available, that is no surprise. More popular products tend to win in advertising while other devices may better fit your budget or lifestyle. These less known quality devices may be what you need to be tech savvy.

small in size and price (Sony NW-E005, Archos 104 | $100 - $150)

The Archos 104 has a battery life of up to 13 hrs. It has a 4GB hard drive and the dimensions are 3.6" x 1.7" x 0.5". While the Archos 104 has a 1.5 inch full color display to view photos, the Sony NW-E005 has an FM tuner. These players are focused on audio and are very portable.


The Sony NW-E005 is the smaller of the two, both in storage and size. It's much like a thumb drive with 2GB of storage with an LCD display. Boasting up to 28 hrs playtime and a 3 minute per hour quick charge, its battery life is one of the largest on the market.

Both of these models have 30GB of storage, play & record audio, play video, show photos and are about 5" x 3" x 0.90". The Archos 604 also records video and reads PDF files. It has a battery life of up to 16 hrs for music and 5 hours for video with a USB host interface to transfer files directly from other devices.

The Creative Zen Vision W syncs with MS Outlook and has a built in FM tuner. The battery life is up to 13 hrs for audio and 4.5 for video and it has a Compact Flash slot for transferring files without a computer.

These devices are a sample of what is out there to find. Many make the mistake of looking for one device that does it all. In the end it's better to find devices that are complementary. Information about these products can be found on arc h o s . c o m , , and

sotac’s special tribute to music


Thievery Corporation Sherwin Gardner DJ Chela Parallel Shakti 28 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007


limelight H o w w o u ld you describe

y our m us i c ?

…laid-back, smooth, soulful tunes about all our lives – the ups and downs…and ultimately, how to put all the pieces together. Because so much of my music is based around my voice and a guitar, Iʼd say my music has a simple, roots feel.


y our songwriting

p ro c e s s .

I try to sit down almost every day with my guitar. Sometimes I hear a vocal riff in my head, sometimes Iʼm just messing around on the guitar when two chords together just strike me. Thatʼs the biggest thing…subtle, emotional moments that can be created by the right notes or chords. Thatʼs the heart of my music at least. I write a lot, and a lot of it isnʼt that great, but I just keep plugging away at the strings, and now and then, I think I have a new song. I take that to the studio and it goes from there.

John West i rst a nd f o r emost, can you t el l o u r r e a de r s e xactly w ho J o h n W est i s a nd w h at h i s m u si c i s a b ou t ? Well, Iʼm a soulful, thoughtful singer/songwriter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana in a quick eight words or so! But as far as my sound, my message, my story I come from a family of educators, community activists, plus my brother is a great cook! My family isnʼt very musical, but their livesʼ work have truly inspired my music and my worldview…Iʼm a former cartoonist. I actually went to school for visual art but my deeper passion has always been music. Iʼve taught music in hospitals, cartoon workshops in middle schools and continue to substitute teach from time to time in Los Angeles. Before moving to LA in 2005, I spent four years living in Chicago immersed in the spoken word scene. I feel comfortable onstage with just myself and my guitar or you can throw in a cello player or an MC – or maybe a horn trio...I like to consider my music soulful without being soul music, catchy without being pop, jazzy without being jazz…

W hat are s o me of t h e g oo d m e m or i e s that c ome to m i n d w hen y ou t h i nk o f the vital r o l e m usic has p l a y e d in y o u r c h i l d ho o d? 30 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

... Iʼd like to say I had that ʻAlmost Famousʼ moment when you get a whole box of all the essential records, but it didnʼt happen! Instead, I cluelessy listened to what was around and picked up what I could. And on the weekends, my sister and I cleaned the house and jammed out to her old tapes. However, another influence of mine was a childhood friend and jazz drummer, Simon Lott, who had released his first album by the end of high school. He introduced me to a lot of that jazz mentality – both the lushness of old Blue Note to the craziness of avant-garde. He currently plays with, among others, Charlie Hunter, an amazing jazz guitarist.

S o, b e s i des Simon L o tt w h o / what a r e your m u si cal i n fl u e n c es ? I love the soft beautiful sounds of Nick Drake, Mazzy Star, Cat Stevens, and Coldplay. I canʼt get enough of that old Blue Note jazz sound...I particularly love this one guitar player, Grant Green. His solos always sounded like melodies youʼd want to sing…On the soul end, I canʼt get enough of the greats – Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Bill Withers. I also love more of the current artists like DʼAngelo, Lauryn Hill, Badu, and Jill Scott. Their music is personal, honest, and grooving...

Are y o u c on c erned about too much about y o u r s e l f?

r e v ea l i n g

Iʼve dealt with so many of my demons in the past four years. Itʼs been hard, and there are still things inside myself that I struggle with everyday. But the beautiful struggle, as Talib Kwali calls it, is just that because we ALL struggle! If we can share our stories and insights with each other then we wonʼt have to all separately feel so dysfunctional. Rather, weʼre all beautifully human… but now Iʼm ripping off Ms. Scott…The point being, anything I can reveal about myself that makes other people feel more comfortable in their own skin, thatʼs a blessing to be shared.

W hat are s o me o f the b i g g es t o b s t a cles you've f a c ed trying to break into the b u s i ne s s ? Iʼve had a lot of lucky breaks – I met a great management team after being in LA for only four months. Seriously, I couldnʼt be in better hands. Good people with serious experience. But the hardest thing is patience. Even when things are going really well, it all happens in spurts. Nothing progresses for weeks, then BANG – you have to be ready to move. Itʼs exciting but exhausting, feeling like youʼre never quite ʻworkingʼ but that youʼre always on the clock.

I n a search f o r f a m e, many m u si c i a ns often lose s i g ht of their m usic a nd i t s m e s sa g e. How d o you s t ay g r o u n de d a nd not lose s ight of w hat y o u o v e r a l l goal is?

All I want is for my music to make some people feel a little better, a little less stressed, maybe a little more empathetic for the world around them. I write about the emotional and personal struggles in my own life. I write to relax my own soul. When I get messages from people saying my music made them cry, wow – I know Iʼm doing something right. We ultimately change the world not just by the things we say but by the example we set. If people can feel some of my energy and be inspired to create or to investigate or just to let go a little bit, then thatʼs a beautiful thing.

I'd like y ou to think about your develo p ment as a ne w artist in the context o f the I n t e r n e t . D i s c u ss the ways t h e Web has a l l ow e d you to d i s t r i b ut e your music a nd market y o u r se l f t o build new f a ns . Itʼs the perfect time to be developing as a new artist, because the Internet – Myspace in particular, offers so much opportunity for ambition and talent. MySpace connected me to people who ended up connecting me to my management team. By offering an explosively popular and efficient new way to connect, network, and share music – MySpace has given anyone with good tunes a chance to get listened to by people from everywhere. Coupled with iTunes, thereʼs bound to be musicians that can make a living and grow a fan base with the Internet alone. I love being able to hear from fans as far away as Nigeria or as close as down the street. Itʼs good to let people know whatʼs going on in my life, not just as a musician but also as a person. Iʼve seen my daily plays grow from 50 a day to 200 to 1000 to 2000… itʼs a real encouraging thing to feel your music growing. As my audience continues to grow, I see the Internet being a big part of how I communicate with fans and promote shows.

I w o u ld love to see you p erform l i v e . D o y ou have a n y p l a ns of t ou ring i n t h e near f ut u r e? I was supposed to do a House of Blues tour with Raphael Saadiq in January but it fell through after he got tapped to produce Joss Stoneʼs next album. Hopefully that tour will take place early next year. In either case, I canʼt WAIT to start touring! So many people out there who Iʼd love to share the music with. Interview by Rita Blaze SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 31

limelight dancehall queen Sister Nancy. With the renowned club and record label, acclaimed compilations, legendary live shows, and sales of over one million albums to date -- every single one of them self-produced and independently distributed -- Thievery Corporation are undisputed standard-bearers of electronic music, and among the most adventurous and compelling artists extant.

Theivery Corporat i o n Recording at the Consulate studios in Washington D.C., Thievery Corporation have managed to blossom in the heart of the empire, a city the duo often refer to as 'the real Babylon ." The group is a major presence in a scene legendary for fierce independence, musically and politically from genre-defining pioneers such as Chuck Brown and Fugazi to grassroots organizations such as Positive Force and the Future of Music Coalition. Formed in the summer of 1995 at D.C.'s Eighteenth Street Lounge – the now worldrenowned venue that is still a creative incubator for DC underground music-- Eric and Rob bonded over strong drinks, dub, bossa nova and jazz records, then decided to see what would come of mixing all these in a recording studio. The duo caught the ears of underground DJ's with their first two 12" offerings, "2001 Spliff Odyssey" and "Shaolin Satellite" and with their 1997 debut LP, Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi, they had already begun to define a new genre of electronic music and connect with an international community of like-minded souls. After the warm minimalism of Sounds from the Thievery Hi-fi, Garza and Hilton raised the production value significantly with the highly acclaimed The Mirror Conspiracy, which contained the seminal international hit "Lebanese Blonde," which was featured on the Grammy winning and platinum selling Garden State Soundtrack. Nearly seven years after releasing their first remix album Abductions and Reconstructions Thievery Corporation presented Versions in 2006, a new collection of rare and sublime remixes of songs by The Doors, Sarah McLachlan, Astrud Gilberto, Nouvelle Vague, Wax Poetic with Norah Jones, Anoushka Shankar, and Transglobal Underground among many others. Versions also included a new original track featuring legendary 32 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

S herwin G ar d ne r Although still in his mid-twenties, Sherwin Gardner is already an accomplished Gospel Reggae singer, composer and producer with international acclaim. He is riding a crest of success that is taking him to genuine worldwide recognition. Sherwin's 2002 release of Leaning (Lion of Zion), is arguably responsible for breaking Sherwin on the international charts in both Gospel and the mainstream. Sherwin's second international release Closer produced the No. 1 radio single "He Died For Me (Hamalhamadla)" which spent a staggering 21 weeks at the top spot on numerous Caribbean radio charts. That very same song also earned him Gospel Songwriter of the Year 2004 by the Copyright Organization of Trinidad & Tobago (COTT), the islands' most recognized music industry body. As a producer he has stamped his mark on an impressive list of artists such as Carlene Davis, Chevelle Franklyn, Pierre Sisters, Monty G, Tiko & Gitta, Vanessa Briggs, Shiselon, Spiritual Ninja, Genisa and Jadee. As an artist he has shared the stage with many of today's Gospel greats: Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin,


limelight Yolanda Adams, BeBe Winans, CeCe Winans, Vickie Winans, Ben Tunker, Stitchie, Papa San, TD Jakes and others. Sherwin is now preparing for his fourth international release which promises to bring a fresh sound and drive to his already distinctive musical style. More than just a singer or producer, Sherwin is a young man whose heart is focused on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

a unique style all her own. In both 2005 and 2006, she was nominated for "Best Female Mixtape DJ" at the Justo's Mixtape Awards, as well as being inducted into both Justo Faison's Justo's Mixtape Allstars and the elite allfemale Hip Hop movement the Murda Mamis. Chela has opened up for such artists as Remy Martin, Rah Digga, Talib Kweli, dead prez, Saigon, and KRS ONE. Beyond DJing, Chela is also a visual artist, Reiki master teacher and aspiring fashion designer. With a style and charisma that rivals her DJ skills, backed with a passionate commitment to social justice, Chela is emerging as an unstoppable young star with authenticity, originality and depth.

Facts: • Signed to Studio Z Records in June 2006 • Over 10,000 friends on Myspace growing over 200+ a day. Over 300 plays a day with 3 songs. • Draws 200-500 people a show • “Black Dress” received over 1000 votes as best song on • Played New Yorkʼs MEANY Fest 2004 @ CBGBʼs • Headliner at Continental Tire Bowl over 15,000 attended (JP Sports) • Requests for Parallel music from stations in Italy, Germany, and Sweden • Spin Me Around # 8 out of 3200 on American Idol Underground Charts • Sponsored by Budweiser True Music for Charlotte NC 2004 • 2nd place out of 12 bands at Hard Rock Battle of the Bands (Miami Fl.) 2006 • Opened up for 7 Mary 3,Dishwalla & Athenaeum in Charlotte NC 2006 • Headlined “Come See Me Festival” 2006 Over 4000 attended (Rock Hill, SC) • Performed over 400 shows in the bandʼs history

DJ C h e l a DJ Chela is the DJ for the next generation, representing her values and music with passion. Since her beginnings in 2002, she has performed on three continents, branding her name in everything from radio, clubs, mixtapes, battles and live shows to political activism. Out of her legwork she has birthed a movement all her own: the New Girl Order, embracing the new possibilities for our world when Women's voices have an undeniable and respected presence in Hip Hop and society as a whole. Spending her formative years between Durham , NC and Nicaragua , Chela saw a lot of the world and from a young age dedicated her life to a global movement for social justice. During this time she also became impassioned by music and in '93 learned to play the guitar, writing and performing original songs. In 1998, living in Oberlin, Ohio , she fell in love with DJing. DJ Chela's live sets are a dynamic synthesis of Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, Latin rhythms, Rock and Pop to classic funk and soul, and have secured her gigs everywhere from New York, Miami , DC, Philadelphia, and across the Carolinas , to Caracas, Venezuela . Chela's recent mixtape releases such as "Chela for President" has helped her to establish


Pa r a l le l

-Studio Z Recording Artist

Parallel, a Rock Hill, SC pop-rock band, has a similar style to Matchbox 20 and 3 Doors Down. Parallel has toured the Southeastern United States playing in metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, Columbia, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Greensboro, Miami and Wilmington. Radio coverage in North America & Europe has included songs Black Dress, College Avenue, Wake Me, Spin Me Around, Hello Stranger and Explain. Parallel has hit the stage at the Continental Tire Bowl and the famous CBGBs. Parallel was awarded with a Budweiser True Music Sponsorship in 2004. Members are: Jack Smith, John Cunningham, Wil Plyler, Joe Hamilton and Jason Puccio.

S h ak t i Shakti is the feminine energy that communicates through impulses, sensations and feelings. She awakens your passion with images and sound. Shakti, the groundbreaking Indo-American artist of the millennium captures audiences worldwide with a mainstream fusion of pop, hip-hop, R&B, Bollywood

"I really want people to embrace me for who I am and accept my contribution to music, it comes from my heart," and gypsy flavors that is certain to intoxicate and elevate you to levels never experienced before. Shakti is "the first Indian Hip-Pop Diva" Her selftitled debut contains mellifluous Eastern beats, mixed with melodies reminiscent of Indian 'ragas' and soulful R&B soundscapes that are interwoven with pop and urban grooves. Shakti has been exposed to the best of both worlds making her the perfect icon to represent East West fusion "at home it was traditional Indian music and outside it was kids beat boxing, rapping and breakdancing on cardboard." Motown (Detroit) has added Shakti to its prestigious list of renowned musicians. Shakti was born and raised in America to parents of Indian decent. Starting with "Sapthaswaram", sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa (Indian solfege) at the tender age of seven, she learned Carnatic music, South Indian style, from her grandmother (who also appears on album). Shakti began piano lessons at age eight, and at twelve she studied jazz and contemporary singing styles. She formally studied Western classical voice and eventually opera. Shakti pursued higher education at the esteemed Berklee College of Music; she obtained her Bachelor of Music Degree and went on with a scholarship to The Chicago Musical College and received a Masters in Music Degree. Shakti's new single (TBA) hits radio and retail outlets this summer. The official single release date is scheduled for July 11, 2007, followed by national tour dates and a fall album release. "I really want people to embrace me for who I am and accept my contribution to music, it comes from my heart,"says Shakti.



Looking for smooth beats, silky, ambient sounds for your inner hipster to chill out to? SOTAC has the answer...SOTAC along with U r bà n a Cityspa & Teabar has assembled an incredible collection of music, our own top 20 international compilation albums for your listening pleasure. Select albums are available for purchase at Urbàna, vi s it them online at for more information.


International Compilation Albums 2


Govinda - Worlds Within



Rendezvous Lounge compiled by Mark Gorbulew


Best of Claude Challe

Café del Mar - Vol. 9

13 14

Bossa 'n Stones

4 5

6 7

French Kiss



Adani & Wolf

Siddharta II 9 Buddha


The Chillout Album -Vol. 3

Femmes de Paris - Vol. 1 19


Chakras from Brazil to Ibiza

Blue Bar - Vol. 2


Bar I


Chill Out in Paris 2 15

Buddha Café


Best of Claude

Best of Hôtel Costes

Café del Mar - Dreams

Cosmopolitan SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 37





" t was the scent of spring she could clearly detect. The rhythm of life was again evolving into a colorful bouquet of sounds, smells and candy for the eye. If that day had a song it would have been that funky beat to her step, the melody she was humming, and could only be illustrated by her glowing smile and vibrant choice of attire. Life was playful and eclectic once again...and so was she.

“She, so Neo Soulful...” Wardrobe Styling: Craig-Brandon Stephenson; Photography: Nico; Make Up: Crystal Clark and Chelsea Kimrey; Hair: Sparkle Hill; Model:Josie of JSD Talent Management


Brocade bolero jacket $159- Jordanos Multicolored Indian halter dress $99- Pura Vida Mother of Pearl glass choker $129- Pura Vida Leather studded pumps $139- Jordanos

Bead fringed cowboy hat $92- Pura Vida Multicolored Indian halter dress $99- Pura Vida Wood beaded halter top $145- Jordanos Rust whip stich hobo bag $295- Jordanos

Gold Indian necklaces (as headbands) $68 ea.- Pura Vida Multicolored satin dress $110- Lotus Tribal bangles $24-36- Pura Vida Stone embellished gold shoes $78- Lotus (if shown)

Multicolored head wrap $68- Pura Vida White leather belt (as necklace) $42- Lotus Cherry charm necklace $24- Lotus Satin bustier top $62 Lotus Silver snake belt (as bracelet) $48- Lotus Floral Handbag $60- Lotus


NEW ORLEANS Calling Her Children Home...

By Gregory B. Gallagher Images courtesy of G. B. Gallagher




o matter what music you might dig, whether it be R&B, Rap, Jazz, Rock & Roll, Blues, or Worldbeat, one fact is undeniable: all North American music owes the City of New Orleans a huge debt. The Big Easy has given birth to the most popular sounds people listen to around the world, with the exception of the European classics and indigenous music. Radio stations, movies, television, websites, and live concerts, owe the existence of their soundtracks to the creativity of the Crescent City. The truth is; New Orleans is the mother of all North American music. Jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden is remembered as the first musician down the path of syncopated improvisation in the late 1800’s. Numerous reports by Jelly Roll Morton, the famous New Orleans pianist, recount hearing Buddy blowing his amazingly loud brass instrument from miles away. "He'd turn his big trumpet toward the city and blow his blues," recalled Jelly Roll, "calling his children home as he used to say. The whole town would know that Buddy Bolden was in the Park, ten or twelve miles from the center of town. He was the blowingest man 48 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

ever lived since Gabriel." Bolden was said to have created his own gumbo of music, mixing together a varied menu of ingredients from ragtime and blues, spicing it with phrases from gospel melodies, and delivering it with the sharp attack of a marching band. His power and distinctive sound was legendary throughout Storyville, the legalized prostitution “District” of New Orleans. Joe “King” Oliver was soon to follow Bolden’s creative spirit, and even raised the bar by excelling at improvisation on his tiny cornet. But it was a little orphan named Louis who would change the entire language of the world’s music forever. Later nicknamed “Satchmo” for his satchel-like mouth, Louis Armstrong was a sideman with the King Oliver band, and went on to connect with the world via a style of music uniquely and distinctly American. Nothing like these sounds had ever been heard before. The musicians who played it and the audiences who listened to it, appeared to become possessed by the sensation of the music’s innovation, rhythm and surprise. Combining elements of the blues, African folk, parade marches, call-and-response work songs,

Caribbean polyrhythms, together with a “swinging” approach to the European song structure, Armstrong was able to ignite passions in audiences from every walk of life, and on every continent. This new music began to expand within the U.S. as well, finding acceptance aboard the riverboats playing the waters northward up the Mississippi River. Juke joints and riverside clubs began popping up, featuring the infectious improvisations of this new school of musical entertainment. Shows expanded to include singers and dancers, creating multi-dimensional “revue” shows that would swing all night. As it became recognized and nurtured in northern cities like Chicago, New York, Detroit, Baltimore and Philadelphia, dialects of the music began to evolve, altering instrumentation and style, and changing the patina of this new American art form. Like a tree shooting off new branches, new schools of Jazz began to sprout quickly. Following in a direct line from New Orleans and Louis Armstrong’s virtuosity, the Big Band Era was born and dancehalls sprang up across mainstream America in the 1920’s. The Jazz Age of the 1930’s ensued contributing the popular Tin Pan Alley repertoire, and from that came the more creative Bebop of the 1940’s, which gave birth to the Cool Jazz sounds of musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock in the 50’s. Around the same time, Rock & Roll was spawned, and as Little Richard, one of the earliest stars of this idiom has said, “Played up-tempo it’s called Rock & Roll, but if you slow it down, this music is really Rhythm & Blues.” Elvis Presley then sparked a musical riot in America, and the gap between white society and the Black American experience was bridged. Suddenly white kids were dancing to a very different beat.

This Rock & Roll branch of the American musical continuum split into quasi-branches, the most popular being the English Beat, Disco, Punk, House, Rap, Hip Hop, and Worldbeat. But, as any musicologist would agree, the fundamental elements from these streams of music come directly from the inventions and influence of New Orleans-based musical culture. Following the devastation of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina in 2005, it became obvious that the displaced residents of New Orleans were on their own to rebuild their city and community. The Bush government abandoned them in favor of their own financial interests in the Middle East. While there has been a robust reaction on the part of organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and the National Association of Realtors, who together will have built over 1000 new homes by the end of 2007, there are many groups who are suspiciously absent from rebuilding New Orleans. The popular music industry is a case in point. While individual musicians have stepped up to the plate to help. Names like Ellis and Branford Marsalis, and SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007 49

exchange Harry Connick, Jr., who collectively created the idea of building the Musicians’ Village Project, plus the Dave Matthews Band who have announced a $1.5 Million Dollar Challenge Fund. But the vast majority of the music business stars, agents, and record companies, who have become rich on music originating in New Orleans, are too busy organizing self-serving events like the Grammy Awards. Imagine for a moment, how fast the rebuilding effort of New Orleans would increase if some of the following were to happen: Cancel the Grammy Awards for one year, and earmark the budget for this event for Habitat for Humanity to build new homes for everyone displaced by the storm. Split royalty checks earned by popular North American composers and musicians, and handed out by performance rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI, 50/50 with the City of New Orleans until the rebuild is completed, honoring their undeniable musical legacy. Re-directed all military funding for one year, or until the i n fr astructure and quality of life has returned to New Orleans for all residents. The chances of any of the above mentioned happening are akin to winning the lottery, so it is necessary to consider other options. One of the most powerful movies of our time says it all. The 1992 motion picture “The Power of One” confirms that each individual has a personal choice to make about any issue in this life. When it comes to rebuilding New Orleans, non-residents who would like to contribute on an individual level may reflect on the following. When it is time to take a personal vacation, book a corporate meeting, celebrate a family wedding, anniversary, or to simply visit a beautiful destination you have never been to; consider booking your trip to New Orleans. The hospitality you will enjoy may only be exceeded by the wonder of this musical place, this Mother of North American Music!


Gregory B. Gallagher is a jazz musician, musicologist and photojournalist who has documented the history of jazz in a 15-part documentary series of one-hour radio shows called Universal Jazz. He has worked directly with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Charles Mingus, Lena Horne, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Oscar Peterson, and many other icons of this music. To Learn More:

reel to reel the run seeking a place to feel at home, to a work and sex slave for this town of "good people." As the film fails to slack off, even at the very end, be prepared for a shocker as it is revealed that things are not quite as they previously appeared. The film, shot on a mostly bare stage, experiments with Danish director Lars von Trier's belief in technical minimalism to showcase the story itself, and the outcome is a beautiful, morally gripping story highlighted by honest, brilliant performances.

The Heart Tugger- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Clementine (Kate Winslet- Titanic; Sense and Sensibility), like most women coming out of a tumultuous relationship, is fed up. In fact, she is so frustrated that she's decided to go an unconventional route and actually have her ex-flame Joel (Jim Carrey- Ace Ventura; The Mask) erased from her memory. This exhilarating, prolific, and at times challenging film follows Joel's journey from the discovery and shock of the reality of Clementine's actions, to the decision to reciprocate in kind, only to fight to retain the memories of who he soon realizes is the love of his life. Not a typical love story, this movie takes the viewer through the gamut of emotions. You will laugh, cry, and often times find yourself having a vigorous mental workout while viewing Charlie Kaufman (writer) and Michel Gondry's (director) brilliant work. Eternal Sunshine is not a brainless run of the mill romantic comedy by far! The Moral Examiner- Dogville (2003) Whenever a movie makes you stop and examine your definitions of "good" and "bad," you know you have stumbled upon a powerful film. Dogville does precisely this. When Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives in Dogville as a fugitive fleeing the mafia, the good citizens have to make hard decisions. Do they help this clearly innocent woman by allowing her safe refuge there in exchange for handiwork? Tom (Paul Bettany) convinces them that this is the right thing to do, at least for awhile, until the pressure mounts. The story follows Grace's descent from a woman on 52 SOTAC MAGAZINE • • SPRING 2007

The Uncomfortably Close Thriller- Children of Men (2006) If you are seeking a comfy, movie going experience, a nice warm tub of popcorn and a coke to compliment a heartwarming film, this is not the flick for you. Set in the year 2027, director Alfonso Cuaron's gritty film explores a much too close future where an infertility defect that prevents women from reproducing threatens the very existence of humankind in war torn London. The film follows Theo (Clive Owen), as he fights for human survival on Earth by fighting to protect the one final pregnant citizen, Kee (Claire Hope Ashley). Also contributing outstanding performances are Julianne Moore as Julian, a leader of an underground opposition group, Michael Caine as Jasper, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who turns in an electric performance as a terrorist by the name of Luke. Although set a few years in the future, this film is quite identifiable to viewers of today. With issues facing us such as war and global warming, one feels very close to the drama unfolding in this film, and because of this, perhaps, is moved even more to an overwhelming outpouring of hope. It is almost as if you are witnessing a horrifying newscast from the future. This film thrills and grips on a primal level. The Insightful Documentary- Black Sun- 2005 In 1978, talented French painter and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert was brutally attacked and blinded in New York City. Suddenly without his sight, Montalembert found himself tumbling through a whirlwind of emotions, and while unable to continue his art through the visual mediums he was used to, he emerged instead a world traveler and continued his art through writing. Black Sun is director Maree Morris Gary Tarn’s take on Montalembert’s struggle and artistically illustrates his journey to the choice of a vibrant life over suicide or crippling depression. Not

reel to reel

reel to reel MIDWEST Midwest IFF Chicago, Illinois Monthly film festival every first Tuesday of each month Ohio Independent Film Festival Cleveland, Ohio November 5-12


Plymouth Independent Film Fest Boston, Massachusetts July 19-22

2nd Annual Solstice Film Festival June 21-24 St. Paul Minnesota

6th Annual Great Lakes Independent Film Festival Erie, Pennsylvania September 26th-30th

42nd Chicago International Film Festival Chicago, Illinois October 4-18 33rd Annual Seattle International Festival Seattle, Washington May 24- June 17


Los Angeles Film Fest Los Angeles, California June 21-July 1

International Tribeca Film Festival Tribeca, New York April 25-May 6 Annual Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival: Sci-fi, fantasy, horror Atlanta, Georgia August 31-September 3


Vancouver 26th International Film Festival British Colombia Toronto International Film Festival Toronto, Canada September

Festival De Cannes Paris, France May 16-27 The 24th Avignon Film Festival Avignon, France June 21-24

EAST COAST 5th Annual Independent Film Festival of Boston Boston, Massachusetts April 25-30

5th Nickel Independent Film and Video Festival New Foundland, Canada June

Venice Film Fest Venice, France August 29-September 8 51st Cork Film Festival Cork, Ireland

15th Raindance IFF UK London, England September 26-October 7 Moscow International Film Fest Moscow, Russia June 23-July 2 Sydney Film Fest Sydney, Australia June 8-24 Melbourne International Film Festival Melbourne, Australia July 25-August 12

reel to reel

reel to reel

You are the Box Office Smash:


The Personal Screenplay

ight this very second, in the heart of every struggling, undiscovered screenwriter, in the dark, hidden corner deep within, there is a voice, a clear whisper, saying one thing: You're never gonna figure this out. And this is not referring to the story with its gaping hole, the finale missing a payoff, the hit and miss humor, the flat title. I'm talking about freedom. The freedom to work as a screenwriter. Compensation for a home for family and a life. The resources to wake up and ply your craft and pay the freight, without obstacle. The chance to see your writing made into pictures, to work with the industry's best, to fulfill this goal of professional screenwriter. Hollywood success. Behind this voice is the idea that somehow, some way, you'll find the hero, or the hook, logline or pitch that will punch your golden ticket. If you could only figure out what the studio wants, if you can only get a solid bead to this game, you know you can write and execute. What is the script I should write to get an agent? What is the one that will sell? It's not that I don't know how to write, I know how to write screenplays, I just need to know what they want, even though I think I know what they want, but I don't think I have the idea that they want. Yeah. I'm not gonna figure this out, whispers the voice. Why this uneasiness? Does it originate within ourselves? I don't think so. But where does it come from? The daily obsession with box office grosses? The news


by Gordy Hoffman of the seven figure deals to newbies? The endless procession of boneheadedly conceived franchises-in-waiting arriving in the theatres every Friday? People winning Academy Awards for movies you would not be caught dead writing? Recognizing an idea you came up with years ago on your couch, produced with a $130 million budget drowning in CGI? All these things are but a few of the possible reasons why this seeds unhealthy doubt and confusion in the modern screenwriter. Tracking these forces outside us and beyond our control in an effort to trudge the path to a successful screenwriting career will prove to most to be unproductive and corrosive. Basically, trying to figure out what Hollywood wants will land us in a resentment that makes "giving up" a sane response to the very challenge which used to inspire us. In short, we cannot chase a perceived trend and remember our dreams. You cannot look at the marketplace and find your voice. You can find ideas, trends, and inspiration there, perhaps, but you can find these things driving in traffic as well. But listening to your voice is the key to creating original, compelling stories. Your life is your own story. You have a completely unique thread of experience. By allowing yourself to express these emotional experiences, your screenplay, your story, will be different from any other and powerful, as original as your fingerprint. Why is it powerful? When we have the courage to be specific about what we know about living, we create an authentic world an audience recognizes as the life they

“By allowing yourself to express these emotional experiences, your screenplay, your story, will be different from any other and powerful, as original as your fingerprint.” are living on planet Earth. This connects your audience to your story. This connection is the foundation of the phenomena of story. Why does story mean so much to us? We recognize the triumphs and tragedies of our lives, with all the hilarity and tears. By seeing it, we are validated and it underscores meaning and purpose to living. If we don't use what we've collected in life in our hearts and spirits, then our story loses its authenticity and the connection the audience should make fails. They do not see themselves, and when they leave the theater, they do not call their friends. When people do not call their friends after seeing a movie, the movie bombs. When a writer opens their person to their work, when they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to risk exposure of the secrets of their life story, they take a huge step towards creating a screenplay of substantial value, a screenplay with a greater potential of a large number of tickets sold. This is precisely why art and commerce have remained bedfellows for thousands of years. To look at the relationship between art and commerce as adversarial or incompatible is just plain foolish. Art happens when people invest their spirits in their work without

fear, and story is artful when the writing is truthful and the writer is authentic. And what do we have to be honest about? We can only lie about what we know, and we can only tell the truth about what we know. And that is what has happened to us, our life story. This is what we share. This is not a pitch to write "what you know." This is not about writing stories about where you work or where you live. This is about writing about what you felt. You can imagine characters and worlds and actions and speech you've never personally experienced, but if you remember to infuse your choices with your emotional and spiritual struggles and victories as a human being, your screenplay will be different in the very best sense of the word. The question you have to answer is not what does Hollywood want today. The question is how honest of a writer do you want to be. I guarantee you can write a blockbuster, you can write a box office hit. This will happen when you find an audience. And the correct path to this crowd of people is listening to yourself. If you practice, you will develop an inner ear for who you are and what you know and you will become masterful in loading your work with your fingerprints. Writing is personal work. You are the guitar. You are the box of paint. Give of that and your audience will remember why life is good and they will talk of you. About the Author Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the S u n d a n ce Film Festival for LOVE LIZA, Gordy Hoffman has written and directed three digital shorts for Fox Searchlight. He made his feature directorial debut with his script, A COAT OF SNOW, which world premiered at the 2005 Locarno Intl Film Festival. A professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Gordy is the founder and judge of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. In addition, Gordy acts as a script consultant for screenwriters, offering personalized feedback on their scripts through his consultation service,



(social commentary)*

Hip Hop: Dead or Alive By DJ Parallax


s hip-hop dead? Not just yet. As a deejay I can tell you that it might be a little more difficult to find, but it is still alive, although stagnant. Good music still exists, despite what radio or other media outlets would lead you to believe. Hip-hop music and culture stands at a precarious crossroads, however. If we, as listeners, fans, deejays and rappers, do not introduce different styles and other creative energy into hip-hop, it will ultimately die. Hip-hop partly coexists as a billion-dollar business and as an artform that speaks to the hearts, minds, and souls of many others. In corporate America, using a proven business model and duplicating the efforts resulting from that model so that the profits become evident in the numbers often define success. Corporate America defines success in quantity. Many trends we have seen come and go in cycles over the years serve as business models to record labels, marketing companies, advertisers, etc. Once the numbers diminish, or another successful business model appears, companies adopt new strategies. So gangsta, crunk, trap, snap, hyphy, conscious, backpacker, underground rap (and everything else in between) do not appear as different stylistic expressions in artistic creativity for some people. For much of corporate America


those categories serve as business models. If the model ain’t broke, then the company won’t fix it. What has been killing hip-hop? Well, boredom- an obsession with following one style, one voice, and one idiomatic expression. It is that boredom- a failure to provide other quality alternatives to that one expression that has resulted in the homogenized, monotonous din pumping out of many street corners, radios, and televisions. Public Enemy cofounder Bill Stephney says it best; “large corporations . . . do not cultivate and build anything new (the way Motown’s) Berry Gordy did 40 years ago . . . they’re going to get the easiest thing, the lowest

“So gangsta, crunk, trap, snap, hyphy, conscious, backpacker, underground rap (and everything else in between) do not appear as different stylistic expressions in artistic creativity for some people.” common denominator”. Corporate America seldom cultivates anything new. Hip-hop also has been argued as alive or dead due to the lack of creativity from rap artists and deejays themselves. The original four elements of hip-hop (emceeing, deejaying, breakdancing, graffiti art) are obscured. You’re lucky if you see two out of four-girls gyrating and shaking their butts don’t count as actual dancing. Jay-Z said in a 1998 interview that people are afraid to take chances. Many rappers and deejays-not everybody-but several of them fail to cultivate different music styles that make them stand out from others. Many artists follow trends and gimmicks that rendered someone else successful. Artists are following, not leading, lacking individual identity. How is it we had fewer performers but more identifiable styles in 1989? In 2007 hip-hop has more filling and bland taste instead of less filling, taste(s) great. Regardless of bells and whistles gimmicks (sorry, business models) can never replace substance. You cannot escape the fact that people will eventually lose interest if you don’t have anything of merit to say. To live, hip-hop must find different voices. Originally hailing from both Newark and Piscataway, New Jersey, DJ Parallax currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Most recently he was one of the featured DJs receiving


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in closing

“Spring is nature's way of saying, “Let's party!” -Robin Williams

the unabashed joy in what we do. Know that the entire SOTAC Staff appreciates all of our readers, so thank you for the overwhelming love and support we have received since our 2004 launch. 2007 is proving to be a fantastic year for both SOTAC and our digital arm SOTAC Interactive, so make sure to stay tuned for updates. Remember to stay connected by visiting, and sign up for our bi-weekly E-Updates. Feel free to contact us anytime with comments or questions. I am so thrilled that the weather has broken, and spring is finally in the air. The delicious scents and sounds of the season fill the atmosphere, and I relish the beauty of the blo sso ming tr ees , t he co mfo rta bly co ol breezes and the smiles of those of us who are happy to lay winter to rest, at least until next year. Spring, as I have mentioned before, is about rejuvenation and rebirth— and as usual, we here at SOTAC have continued in our quest to bring our readers something fresh and new with each issue. I sinc erely ho pe yo u a ll enjo ye d o ur 3r d Annual Music Issue, which was a result of a lot of hard work coupled with laughter and


Peace & Blessings,

Executive Creative Director


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