Page 1









STAFF PUBLISHER Willie Stewart / Atlanta, GA VICE PRESIDENT / CREATIVE ART DIRECTOR Derek Payne / Columbus, OH VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA Kimberly Cross / Charlotte, NC DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL NETWORK MARKETING & WEB DEVELOPMENT Lukeither Willingham / Atlanta, GA DIRECTOR OF CREATIVE SERVICES & BRANDING Lacie Williams / Atlanta, GA MEDIA ART DIRECTOR / CHARLOTTE NORTH CAROLINA Kevin Douglas / Charlotte, NC DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Kenneth Prophet / Atlanta, GA DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC RELATIONS Glenda “ China” Scott / Atlanta, GA MANAGING EDITOR Melody Edwards / Atlanta, GA COPY EDITOR Kimberly Coleman / Charlotte, NC Anika Chandler / Columbus, OH MEDIA ASSISTANT CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA Rhonda Burris / Charlotte, NC FREELANCE WRITERS Tina Williams / Atlanta, GA Camela Douglas / Dayton, OH Shernita Wiggins –Wynder / Atlanta, GA Beverly Hill Shelley / Atlanta, GA J.B Jatez / Durham, NC Kimberly Cross /Charlotte, NC Monica Teasley / Atlanta, GA Brandi Dawson / Columbus GA Nigel Hood / Charlotte, NC Ebony Moore / Charlotte. NC CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Linda Amerson / Arlington, TX Monica Teasley / Atlanta, GA Camela Douglas / Dayton, OH PHOTOGRAPHY J. Carter Photography / Atlanta, GA Rodney Adams /Atlanta, GA




Kimberly Kimberly Cross Cross Vice President of Operations-Charlotte, NC

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Media Group, LLC


itting at my first “formal” business luncheon at age 22—I was scared to death that I would possibly forget what fork to use first at this $1,000 a plate fundraiser for the Donors Forum, Chicago. I tried my best to think back to table “etiquette” that my siblings and I were taught as children—you know, when families still had a standing date everyday at 7pm that you dare not miss, or be late! The daily occasion when all the people in one household would eat at a common table, using real dishes and real utensils—with no cell phones, electronics or interruptions! Then and only then did I realize I was blessed to have a family that taught me the “basic proper” skills –that would allow me to make it through these two hours—without embarrassing my boss or myself. So as you see, twenty years ago, I thought that etiquette was all about forks and knives – “please” and “thank you’s.” but, as an adult, I see etiquette encompasses so much more and I realize that as society changes—the rules of etiquette are forced to change as well! As with anything else, when dealing with human behavior, we must seek out subject matter experts who are keeping up with societal trends and know what “to do…and not to do!” Since my transition to Charlotte— I have found such an expert in Ms. Ebony A. Moore, founder and CEO of Miss Ebony’s School of Etiquette. Ms. Ebony A. Moore (Ms Ebony) is etiquette extraordinaire. From training tiny tots to coaching NFL greats, Ms.


Ebony has made it her business to keep her clients in front of the etiquette learning curve. She has successfully made her mark here in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community and is seeking to expand her reach throughout the nation. Because T2T magazine is committed to helping people build long lasting meaningful personal and business relationships and exposing greatness from within—it is only fitting that we invite Ms. Ebony A. Moore on board to help our readers with “trending” relevant etiquette tips. We hope you enjoy what we find as a valuable addition to the team –and encourage your feedback! It is no secret, we have shifted from a generation where children are learning more from “real”ity television than “real” parents. As we embark upon another year, maybe our corporate resolution should not be about what we desire to lose (weight or dead relationships) or what we can afford to gain (riches and sixpack abs), however it is my hope that with Ms. Ebony’s help, we will all strive to get back to the basics where proper etiquette is a norm and not an option— and effective communication, mutual respect, occasional “cell phone free zones” at family dinners are on our weekly agendas. ■ To find out more about Ms. Ebony’s School for Etiquette or to follow her on social media please visit www.missebonys.com












he Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1912, as the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and adopted its current name in 1950. The conference is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is governed by a Board of twelve Presidents and Chancellors representing institutions from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and comprised of both private and public colleges and universities.

The CIAA is one of America’s oldest athletic conferences, producing championships annually in the following sports: Men’s and Women’s Cross Country; Volleyball; Football; Men’s and Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track; Men’s and Women’s Basketball; Women’s Bowling; Men’s and Women’s Tennis; Golf; Baseball and Softball. The CIAA tournament is a cultural experience offering events appealing to a diverse demographic of both alumni and fans, to include educational programming, community engagement, Fan Fest, Super Saturday, step-shows, concerts, and most importantly, 22 action-packed basketball games. Academic success is a staple of the conference. The CIAA recognizes the academic achievements of its student-athletes annually by naming its top student-athletes to the Commissioner’s All-Academic Team. The conference also recognizes the Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for studentathletes who have excelled on the field and in the classroom.■ Institutions in the CIAA include: BOWIE STATE, CHOWAN, ELIZABETH CITY STATE, FAYETTEVILLE STATE, JOHNSON C. SMITH, THE LINCOLN, LIVINGSTONE,SAINT AUGUSTINE'S, SHAW, VIRGINIA STATE, VIRGINIA UNION, and WINSTON-SALEM STATE








JOURNEY TO THE TOURNEY Her competent peers and previous leadership at great institutions have equipped her to manage, lead, and execute effectively for the last 3 years. This is a “dream position,” says McWilliams—“to be afforded an opportunity to be in a leadership role within an organization that is heavily male dominated.” McWilliams has not, and will not, allow the fact that she is a woman and a minority intimidate her; therefore, she, and those around her, feel she has what it takes to truly make a difference. “This is a role that matches all of my core values and culminates all of my professional experiences over the past 24 years,” says the commissioner. As McWilliams uses her current position to help transform and move the conference into a stable future, she also uses it to serve others, lead others, and “do what I love the most…make strides and make a difference, by creating valuable pathways and experiences for the conference constituents—the CIAA student-athletes.” It is not by happenstance that McWilliams mentions “students” first, because she and all the conference institutional leaders foster the culture of being a student first, while enhancing their campus experience by being part of one of the 16 collegiate sports teams. Since the move to Charlotte, McWilliams has not only focused on previous partners like Coca-Cola, Food Lion, Nationwide, Russell, and Toyota, but has been finding ways to understand and engage additional partnerships to help bring new corporate players to the table. It is her goal to further engage companies with CIAA buy-in well beyond the tournament week in February. She is “thankful” for the city’s welcoming and embracing attitude toward their presence, and hopes to grow the economic impact, which currently stands at about 55 million. “Make it Yours” – is the NCAA D2 branding statement. Being very intentional, the CIAA has developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan to expose not only their basketball program, but all 16 of their sports offered on campuses. “Daily we seek to tell the stories, and show the value and return of investment of our conference,” says McWilliams. “The use of social media and the internet has been effective in heightening the exposure and making the conference more attractive to top-tiered students, athletes, coaches and faculty.” As a woman, and an avid sports fanatic, it was refreshing to learn more about the commissioner. From this interview, I gathered valuable insight on the direction of the conference and the excitement that is brewing due to the upcoming tournament. Her being a Colorado native and all—I could not help but to take the conversation with the commissioner off the grid a bit to get her Super Bowl 50 prediction, and her thoughts on her “now home” team winning. “As long as they are not playing the Broncos, I am a Panther fan! I must say, since and prior JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

to moving to Charlotte, I quickly became a Hornets and Panther fan. I love the vibe in this city regarding sports and entertainment; it’s the world I live in, says the Charlotte transplant. “All I can say is we could not have moved to Charlotte at a better time to be part of this energetic growing community. Go Panthers!!!” Making sure to put a caveat in her statement, the commissioner says although she lives here NOW she does have some loyalty to the “orange crush”—and definitely has gear for both the Broncos and the Panthers. When someone is as knowledgeable and passionate about a subject matter, it’s easy to go on and on, but I knew my time was drawing near, so I ended asking –‘What does success look like when it comes to CIAA tournament week?’ “It’s simple,” she responded, “increased attendance, a sold out arena, competitive games, and full occupancy in the CIAA official hotels.” McWilliams also stated that she would like to see increased community impact with partners like SAMARITAN'S Feet, Project Life, Charlotte Mecklenburg School system, Novant Health, and local businesses who all have played major roles in engaging the community during tournament week. “I want the CIAA to always be known to celebrate tradition, showcase Division II student-athletes, highlight our legends and leaders, and to make an impact in the community.” Many have experienced CIAA for years and I am sure previous attendees will side with the Commissioner when she says, “…no one in the country does it like the CIAA!” The conference is proud of the national exposure and celebration of the rich history tournament week for its student-athletes. CIAA week has a proven niche for creating a positive atmosphere that provides a once in a lifetime experience, and brings attendees back, year after year. Whether you attended a CIAA school or not, you are sure to walk away proud, for the CIAA is one of the oldest and most diverse HBCU conferences in the country. This is a conference where some of the best of the best athletes, entrepreneurs, and educators are bred. The CIAA brand and history are strong and deep-rooted. Member institutions, communities and families alike, all take pride in who they are and where they are going. The CIAA is focused on graduating well-balanced student-athletes and future alumni. Though the tournament provides much visibility and exposure, it is deeper and broader in providing opportunities for over 3,000 student-athletes in this Conference for all 16 championships. “We are thrilled to be part of the Charlotte community and look forward to the opportunity to partner to bring other sporting events and meetings to this great city” says McWilliams. “It is a perfect time and a match for the CIAA to be in its new home and we are grateful for the support we have received from the Charlotte community over the past 11 years. We are just getting started; the best is yet to come!” ■


Dr. Ronald L. Carter 13th President of Johnson C. Smith University


n July of 2008, Dr. Ronald L. Carter, a native of High Point, North Carolina, became the 13th President of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Carter has an impressive resume –having served students and universities for more than 30 years prior to him coming aboard. He brings community leadership, academic administration, planning and budget management, all key skills necessary to successfully run great institutions of higher learning. As a graduate of Morehouse College, Dr. Carter understands the importance and rich heritage that goes along with attending an HBCU. He is highly respected among staff and students,–and his legacy at the Charlotte institution will live on for years to come. His vision and leadership will ensure that Johnson C. Smith University continues to grow and evolve in the forefront of HBCUs and in the brand of new urban universities. With JCSU being a permanent fixture in Charlotte, Dr. Carter stays active in many local boards and auxiliaries which include: the Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Partnership, Duke Mansion/The Lee Institute, Opera Carolina, Mint Museum, Council for Children’s Rights, Fifth Third Bank Affiliate Board, North Carolina Council of Independent Colleges, Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, 100 Black Men of Charlotte, Association of Governing Boards and the United Negro College Fund. Dr. Carter is extremely proud of the school’s success in sports, while keeping up with the intellectual rigor in classrooms and research labs. He often boasts of his excitement for the number of student athletes that actually go on to receive degrees, with some even graduating with honors, which embodies the league’s concept of having “student-athletes,” and not the reverse. As the tournament approaches, Dr. Carter and others at the University are anticipating bringing home a win to CHARLOTTE,” especially since they can be regarded as having “home court” advantage! With the Hornets having a relatively solid season, and now the Panthers having a record-breaking season and Super Bowl bound, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are anticipating being strong contenders in this year’s tournament.■






housands of alumni and fans travel from

across the United States to attend the CIAA tournament, making it one of the largest basketball tournaments in our country. The CIAA is a celebration of history, academics and athletic excellence. In other words, PEOPLE COME TO PARTY! With that being said, here are eight etiquette rules that we should adhere to in order to ensure that we are all able to co -exist safely and happily in the Queen City during this most anticipated week of the year. Remember, most of us are visitors, and as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This surely applies in the New South!

Etiquette Rule #1: GRATUITY Make sure you tip your service providers appropriately! 15% should be the minimum tip that you give anyone for their services. Remember, last year, the CIAA tournament generated well over $40 million in revenue! Imagine the difficult job servers have trying to ensure you receive great customer service when there are thousands of people pulling at them at any given hour. They are only human and doing their best!

Etiquette Rule #2: ALCOHOL Public intoxication is an embarrassment, especially for my ladies! Please be mindful of the number of drinks you consume and the manner in which you carry yourself. Ladies, be careful who you accept drinks from. If you don’t know the person, always accompany them to the bar and get your drink directly from the bartender. Never let a stranger bring you a drink!

Etiquette Rule #3: ATTIRE Please dress accordingly. I wish I could stop right there, but I can’t. If you are forty, dress like you’re forty. And that goes for ladies and gentlemen. If it’s cold outside, dress like its cold outside. Showing large amounts of skin and clothes that are too small only brings negative attention to you. As I stated earlier, the CIAA is a celebration of excellence. Therefore, BE EXCELLENT!

Etiquette Rule #4: COMMON COURTESY When out and about, always remember to use “Please and Thank You,” practice patience, and be aware of your tone and volume. If there is a mistake or you are dissatisfied, the establishment will work hard to correct it. Getting an attitude or being unnecessarily loud or rude is only going to make matters worse. Remember, this is a basketball tourna-


ment, made up largely of historically Black institutions, which draws a predominately African-American crowd…the last thing WE need is negative press about our conflict resolution skills or the lack thereof. Let’s be loud when it’s appropriate, like at GAMES and PARTIES - not at RESTAURANTS and in hotel lobbies.

Etiquette Rule #5: MANNERS Gentlemen, please remember, CHILVARY IS NOT DEAD! It’s ok to open doors, get up and let a lady sit down, or even let a lady get in front of you in the line. You never know who that lady is and your small act of kindness will take you very far! Ladies, if you want to be treated like a Lady, act like one!

Etiquette Rule #6: TRANSPORTATION Consider using the city’s public transportation system i.e.: train or bus. Also, consider Uber or carpooling. This would really help with parking and overall traffic flow. However, if you do drive, leave at least an hour to an hour and a half prior to the time you need to arrive at your destination. Traffic will be thick and move slow. When driving uptown, SLOW DOWN, PAY ATTENTION, and TURN DOWN YOUR MUSIC in your car. Make sure you use proper signals when changing lanes and don’t have a heart attack if someone cuts you off. And definitely don’t exchange words with anyone if their driving does not hold up to your standards.

Etiquette Rule 7: LAW ENFORCEMENT Our local law enforcement is here to keep us safe. Remember that. Please be on your best behavior when dealing with law enforcement. If they ask you to move, MOVE. And do so without a whole lot of conversation. They have an extremely hard job to do. Let them do so without any extra drama from you. It’s also OK and totally appropriate to thank them for their hard work and service!

Etiquette Rule #8: KNOWLEDGE Know the history of the CIAA. Remember why you are here. There are many who came before us, blazing paths for us to have an education. As we celebrate, let’s remember the struggle and the sacrifices others made for us to be here. Let’s celebrate with class, integrity and PARTY WITH A PURPOSE! Be safe out here in these “Panther Streets”...because the streets are watching, and so is Ms. Ebony! Have a BLAST...I know I will! Go RAMS!!! ■



CIAA Etiquette Tips





hen we see the black lion and blue logo we automa t i c a l l y think food, for its a recognizable household brand for many, especially for those families here in the Carolinas. But, what many folks don’t know, is that although this company’s singular mission is food, its focus is on more than the bottom line. Food Lion truly cares about the communities in which they serve. This is definitely evident as the company returns once again as a “major contributor and brand behind” this year’s Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournament, hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina. Benny Smith, Food Lion’s Manager of Media and Community Relations, tells us that he is truly excited to continue the twenty-two year partnership with the CIAA, and this strategic alliance is one that supports the company’s commitment to education, both men and women’s athletics, and diversity and inclusion. Food Lion contributes more than dollars and cents to the CIAA. They have already employed several conference alumni in their stores, and placed 19 CIAA graduates in their Retail Management Training Program, a program in which Smith himself participated as a candidate - proof positive that being a strong corporate citizen in the community is vital, and strategic alliances create opportunities and greater cultural


Food Lion President Meg Ham and Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr.

awareness among their associates and customers. Since 2003, Food Lion has donated more than $4 million towards scholarships to CIAA schools, which has been instrumental in many student-athletes having the opportunity to afford attendance. “We are committed to help solve hunger today,” says Smith. “We believe no one should have to choose between dinner or rent, and gasoline or groceries. Together with our customers, associates and partners, we can create a better tomorrow by uniting to eliminate the choices families are forced to make when they are hungry.” In support of this initiative, Food Lion continues to build upon their longstanding heritage of low prices and convenient locations to serve their customers and communities in close proximity of their stores. Food Lion Feeds, another community initiative, will unveil a new food pantry this year at Winston-Salem State University, a CIAA school. This pantry is an addition to school pantries the company opened last year at Johnson C. Smith University and Livingstone College. So, as you enjoy a week of great basketball, networking and festivities, please join us in saluting Food Lion, one of the instrumental brands behind the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. ■




HOMETOWN: Harvey, IL SCHOOL: St. Augustine’s MASCOT: Falcon Graduation: Class C/O 1992

By Kimberly Cross



anelle Brydie was only 17, when she decided to take the journey to become a college freshman. This proved to be a true walk into the unexpected, and the prospect of being almost 800 miles away from her parents was more than scary! Not knowing what college life would bring, Brydie left the comfort of her suburban Chicago home, to attend St. Augustine’s University (St. Aug) in Raleigh, North Carolina—one of the 12 CIAA schools. Brydie remembered watching the movie “School Daze,” and the television show “A Different World,” and wondered if this was going to be anything close to her experience on a historically black college campus. Although her father also attended St. Aug, there wasn’t much he could tell her about the campus, professors, or the town, because he had been out of college for over 20 years. (George Brydie ’68) It didn’t take long for this Falcon to get acclimated to campus life and the four years seemed to “fly by,” exclaims Brydie. “During my time there (St. Aug), I saw myself transform from a quiet homebody, to a confident college grad, ready for the world! I believe being at an HBCU helped me to value education, and appreciate the support that comes with attending a school that is truly committed to your success,” says Brydie. Being far away from home didn’t seem very far, for long. The person who looked forward to coming home all the time… began looking forward to spending her summers in the south. St. Aug became Brydie’s home away from home, and going home every chance she got became a thing of the past. “Everyone on campus, from the dorm directors to my college professors, made this transition easy,” Janelle explains. During her time at St. Aug, Brydie was blessed to not only be a student … but a student-athlete. She was a member of the women’s softball team when they won the CIAA Championship in 1991— a definite proud moment for this former Lady Falcon. Brydie went on to complete her studies, earning a degree in Accounting; but, she soon realized that she yearned to follow in her father’s footsteps, and become an elementary school teacher. So, not long after graduation, she attended Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, until she obtained her teaching credentials. “Twenty-one years ago I found a new career in teaching and today I am still an educator,” says Brydie. She missed the south and always vowed to return one day. That day happened recently when she relocated to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, where she is now teaching for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) as a 5th grade teacher—and could not be happier! “I have taught grades K-8, but found my true love is 5th and 6th grades, exactly what I am doing now.” Brydie has found herself teaching in some of the most challenging school districts in the nation, but has definitely been up for the challenge every time. She always finds herself keeping busy taking leadership positions, coaching, and helping to devise curriculum to meet statenational standards. A mother, sister, loyal friend and mentor, Brydie attributes much of her success to her parents, and her HBCU education. Having a dad who graduated from an HBCU, a sister and brother who attended Tennessee State University, and a son who is now a junior at Paine College, she is definitely a strong advocate for HBCU’s.■






Nigel Gideon Hood



More Under the “HOOD” than Meets the Eye Rapper│Songwriter│Illustrator│Radio Promoter│Show Organizer By Kimberly Cross


hen I asked this young man to describe himself in one word –he instantly said, “BUSY! Stick and move, stick and move…that’s my motto." This was Nigel Hood as he talked about his attitude and work ethic—a young man who definitely has his plate full in Charlotte, but even so, can't sit still. As a successful rapper, songwriter, illustrator, radio promoter and show organizer, Nigel can now add Trendsetters to Trendsetters Media Group to his resume, as one of the newest contributing writers on the Charlotte team. Nigel Gideon Hood (Nige), a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been making big waves with his music, brand and leadership in the hip-hop and arts community. "I've been creating my whole life. My parents kept me in acting classes at the Charlotte Children's Theater, and took me to hear the Charlotte Symphony all the time.” Being enrolled in art classes at the Afro-American Culture Center (now The Harvey Gantt Cultural Center in Charlotte), was just one of the experiences that introduced Nige, at an early age, to the power and importance of art in his community. As a child, he knew he wanted to play an active role in this culture, and has not looked back since. Nige is the founder of University of North Carolina Charlotte’s (UNCC) Cypher—which is a program developed to foster creative expression through freestyle rapping, on campus every Thursday. Additionally, he is the brainchild behind a concept called The Clash—a concert series that brings rock bands and hip -hop artists together on the same stage. This series, that kickedoff in January 2016, is bringing together music lovers of all backgrounds "under one roof in fellowship" and fun. "This is what I love to do…I love making people feel good,” Nige states. “I love entertaining people who have worked hard or been in class all day long.” The Clash is really achieving that. The concept was so well received, that it is now being adopted in other cities including Durham, North Carolina. Now, if his face looks familiar—it may be because Nige recently starred in an independent film –Charlotte Bound (Black Forest Films) –which premiered at the 2015 Charlotte Black Film Festival. His role as Trey (an aspiring rapper) allowed him to pull inspiration from his real life experiences, for he is currently working diligently to take his own rapping career to another level! "I guess I didn't have to pretend much," the artist jokes with a smile. "Seriously, I had a great time working on that film and I learned a lot. After seeing the process first hand, I’ve gained so much respect for the directors, crews and actors.” Nige also mentioned his admiration for the films director Adrian Jackson— @Black4estfilms. Marrying his love for music to his aspirations of making enJANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

tertainment his life, Nige recently started working as a promotions and marketing assistant for Radio One’s 92.7,THE BLOCK – Charlotte’s newest hip-hop channel. “It keeps me busy—whew…it really keeps me real busy,” says Hood. He realizes that he is not made to be chained to a desk—and working a random job that “doesn’t seem to be in my master plan, wont work. I believe one should work a job that taps into their true calling and purpose…and I truly believe, music is mine.” "As a kid, I'd listen to old music my parents played like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Parliament Funkadelic. I wanted to make music like them. So, I've always had my own way about doing my thing.” After he was introduced to rap in middle school, he decided that was the lane he wanted to pursue, although he wanted to keep his “flavor” – “distinct and groovy!” During his senior year of high school, Nige put together his first mixtape, which he believes garnered him popularity among his peers. Through this experience he learned what it takes to be successful in this business, and that was work – “hard work!” Nige and fellow rapper Quent Young began establishing a name for themselves in the business by promoting and coordinating concerts, while students at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, NC. Since then, he has graduated with a degree in history. These activities, as well as other initiatives, have afforded Nige the opportunity to open for Kendrick Lamar at NCCU’s homecoming. Now that Nige has returned back to where it all began— Charlotte, he is using his valuable experiences at NCCU to help with his mission of becoming a successful musician, and he is well on his way. His desire is to be known as a trailblazer in the music industry, and Nige describes his genre as “FOLK RAP,” attributing it to some of the music he listened to as a child – Motown, Jackie Wilson, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He tells us he wants to continue to pen songs that are about the pursuit to happiness—songs that are “simple, catchy and make you feel good.” So you see, this up and coming Trendsetter and newest member of the T2T staff is staying real busy and has found his niche in many areas. Make sure to follow him on social media and check out some of his music including: “Return of the Nasty,” “Breakfast,” “Fired on Friday” (produced by Krazy Figz) and “Medicine. ” We are excited to welcome him to the team and know that he will continue to blaze the trail with new music, creative ways to mix genres of great music, and bring some fresh ideas to the Charlotte team. ■






Written by Shernita Wiggins-Wynder

onroe County High School student, Justice NyJessica “Cookie” Patrick, is a junior and lives in the “Literary Capital of Alabama,” Monroeville. She was recently inspired to write a children’s book entitled, Extraordinary. When she was 11, she began conceptualizing writing this book because of the bullying that was going on in her school and the rise in bullying among other schools across the country. Justice experienced kids picking on her because of the differences she possessed. This sparked the idea of encouraging other students to believe that not being like others meant that you are “extraordinary,” so embrace it. The book is about a ten year old girl named Kasey Flowers who overcomes the stigma of not “fitting in” with the kids at her school and people in her community. Kasey is learning how to love who she is and be confident in her differences while helping others to do the same. She finds her strength in God and her Mother and Grandmother’s wisdom, which she demonstrates to her classmates. Kasey loves flowers and it has become her signature when identifying with those who find her intriguing or comforting. Grandma, “Mama Bee,” always encouraged me to be myself too! Don’t be afraid of going beyond the usual, and be EXTRAORDINARY, Kasey. Patrick reached out to family friend, Shernita Wynder who helped Justice to materialize her dream through Wynder’s self-publishing company, Car’mel-Velocity Pennation Publishing. Patrick’s parents, Tim and Tammy Patrick, Aunts Sharon McCrary and Regina Stallworth, Uncle Moses Dailey, guidance of Actor/Professor Dr. Tommie Tonea Stewart, and friend Claudette Lamar all pitched in to support her endeavors. Patrick is active in her school, community, and church. She is involved in the Drama Club, Beta Club and Delta Gems, but is undecided about what she wants to pursue, because of the many talents she possess. Her strength in God was instilled through her church, Morning Star Baptist Church in Beatrice, Alabama, where she is active in the choir, junior usher board, and Red Circle. Patrick is weighing her options for college with the following: Alabama State University and University of Alabama (Theater or PreLaw); Tuskegee University (English or Pre-Law); Spellman in Atlanta, or Fisk in Tennessee. But, no matter what college she selects, this “young and trendy” teen will be involved with helping other children to overcome the stigmas of bullying, and trying to deter others from becoming or remaining a bully, with her book and speaking engagements promoting the message of “Be Yourself, go BEYOND the usual, and be EXTRAORDINARY!”■ You can purchase Patrick’s book from FaceBook: JusticePatrickAuthor and follow her on Twitter: @JusticeP



The Soulful Sounds of

Ashia-Chanel By Kimberly Coleman


he soulful sounds of India Arie is what one may think of when they hear Ashia-Chanel. Inspired by skillful talents such as Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott, Ashia has a unique sound. Her genre of music can be classified as a mix of pop, soul, and R&B. But, her message is inspired by Jesus’ desire for His people to be reconciled to His Father. Ashia has always loved music. As a child, she was a member of the church choir. She played the trumpet for more than 8 years, and was a member of the marching band throughout middle and high school. As a senior in high school, she had her first “real” moment on the stage when she landed a solo in the Spring musical. However, it wasn’t until her freshman year of college, that Ashia-Chanel tapped into her true passion for music. She immediately started writing songs, and taking vocal lessons. It was during this time that she became inspired to learn to play another instrument. So she began teaching herself how to play the guitar. Throughout college, she sang at various venues, booked local gigs, and became a praise and worship leader at her church. Ashia-Chanel graduated from college in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Since then, she has continued singing and writing her own music. Her music is very unique, in that it touches the souls of her audiences. She writes with such passion and conviction, and her lyrics are fitting for listeners of all ages. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

As proud as she was of graduating from college, Ashia’s proudest moment was releasing her first single titled “Handmade Handbag”. When asked about her inspiration for writing this song, she said, Moments before writing this song, I was reminded of how God is in control. Even when we try to fit all of our dreams into our own plan and force His hand, He proves to be sovereign. I was trying to create my future instead of allowing my future to be shaped by God. ‘Handmade Handbag’ is a metaphor of the danger that happens when we try to force our plans to be reality. It’s like ‘a handmade handbag ripping at the seams...every single edge has been frayed.’ “Handmade Handbag” was released in July 2015. It is available on iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, and Amazon Music. Ashia-Chanel is excited about her future in music. After the release of her first single, she is ready to pursue her music fulltime and chase her dreams of becoming a national recording artist! ■ Follow Ashia-Chanel Twitter: http://twitter.com/AshiaChanel Instagram: http://Instagram.com/ashia_chanel Facebook: http://Facebook.com/AshiaChanel SnapChat: Ashia_Chanel


“When you have a God-given gift and He has a plan for your life…nothing, and I mean nothing, can stop it from shining.”



AHREE: Please Don’t Kill Her VIBE By Kimberly Cross


urely this is the testament of our “young and trending—up and coming” singer songwriter, Ahree. This 15-year old Charlottean, born Arianna Onoh, has overcome the odds of surviving a myriad of hospitalizations and a lifethreatening illness that could have paralyzed her dreams to become America’s next teen sensation! Because of her many bouts with health challenges, Ahree spent a lot of her childhood indoors, and that is when she says her love affair with music began. “It (music) became my best friend,” says Ahree. “I learned at an early age that music had the power to heal and soothe, and that is exactly what I want my music to do for my listeners.” Her Momager (mom/manager) has always been amazed at her daughter’s gift, and would often ask, “Ahree …how do you know that song?”— interrupting her, as she passionately sung along with the oldies but goodies. “I don’t know mom,” Ahree would reply, ”…I just do?” Therefore, this mom seeing early, what others can see now, kept her daughter involved in schools and programs that would only further develop her talent. From local church choirs to Charlotte’s Piedmont School of Music, Ahree remained focused and committed to pursuing a career in the arts. From a young age, Ahree’s performances would leave audiences in awe and many in tears, for her spiritual roots and soulful tone were unbelievable. Her genre can be defined as R&B, Neo-Soul…with a

dash of jazz. But, her tone, confidence and soul can be compared to that of Phyllis Hyman, Jill Scott, Adele and Nina Simone. Since the release of her first single, “That Makes Me,” Ahree has been extremely busy making waves proving that she has what it takes to be a force in this industry. Being crowned winner in many local competitions and showcasing her talent wherever possible, she has gained a humble confidence and a fan-base that is supporting her as she feverously pursues her dreams. Since joining forces with Ira Parker, of Maximus Music Records, Ahree has managed to complete a full project, titling the song VIBE as her first single, scheduled to be released in March of this year. Ahree has already proven that she has what it takes to rise above adversity, and her soothing, yet captivating, voice will further show that this honor roll student has what it takes to navigate the path to musical greatness. Be sure to follow Ahree on social media, and check her out on her fan page for upcoming events and accomplishments. She is definitely one to keep on the radar! “Life hands us many challenges and set backs, but music offers the ability to heal, soothe, and even escape if need be, and that’s exactly what I want my music to do for my listeners” – Ahree ■



Unstoppable NFL and NBA Alopecia Trendsetters By Dr. Linda Amerson


ave you ever looked in the mirror, and noticed a patch of your hair was suddenly gone? You are not alone. In spite of unwelcomed alopecia adversities, you too can become a Trendsetter. This article will provide education on a condition which affects 10% of the American population… alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia universalis. Globally, the stats are much higher, and contributing causes vary per individual. Alopecia areata is an unpredictable, non-contagious, autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out in round or oval patches. The word alopecia comes from the Greek word alopecia and means “loss of hair.” Areata, is derived from the Latin word meaning “occurring in patches.” This disease affects approximately 5 million Americans; however, I will not exclude cultures on a global scale. There is no way to predict who might be affected with alopecia areata. Some people who lose scalp hair due to alopecia areata find that their hair regrows spontaneously in a relatively short time, while for others this condition progresses, and they continue to have additional patchy bald spots, losing all scalp hair, which is known as alopecia totalis. This condition progresses to alopecia universalis which affects the scalp and other body parts. Few people will deny that having alopecia areata affects them psychologically. It can also result in social trauma for millions of men, women and children, affecting daily social situations and personal interactions. Often, it is how coworkers, friends and/or family members react to alopecia areata, that is the most crucial factor in how well a person copes. So PLEASE use caution WITH YOUR WORDS when you say “It’s only Hair,” or “Just get a Wig,” or “Hair loss is ONLY a Cosmetic Problem.” Put yourself in this person’s shoes. Losing hair can be devastating! I suggest you always be complimentary to this individual by letting them know that you care about them, how their happiness is important to you, and how you will support them through this challenging time; and, if this applies, tell them You Love Them! Furthermore, you could emphasize how their “Inner Beauty Shines more than their Outer Beauty to You!” This can be a very powerful statement, when said with meaning. Charlie Alexander Villanueva is the Son of Roberto Villanueva and Doris Mejia. He is an NBA player who is in his second season playing for the Dallas Mavericks. Charlie previously played for the Detroit Pistons. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Villanueva, Charlie was first drafted at the age of 20, and is a first-generation American Latino (his parents are from the Dominican Republic). His alopecia began at the age of 10, and he suffers from Alopecia Universalis. He is the spokesperson for the National Alopecia


Areata Foundation (NAAF). Charlie won the NBA’s Community Assist Award in February 2006 for his work with the Charlie’s Angels on the Road program, which conducts pregame meet and greets in visiting NBA arenas with people affected by Alopecia Areata. In addition, Charlie shined as a Trendsetter, starting the Charlie Villanueva Foundation (CVF), which serves as a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating bullying. CVF supports organizations that maintain programs which provide guidance in creating non-violent solutions to challenges and problems associated with bullying. Follow #3 of the Dallas Mavericks on the basketball courts. The onset of alopecia areata may include one or more of the following triggers:


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Extensive Mental Stress Genetic Predisposition Family Death Environmental triggers Autoimmunity Abnormal keratinocytes Shock and Sudden Extreme Stress Physical Trauma Local Skin Injury Pregnancy/Hormones Allergies Chemicals Rubber Plant Work Environment Viral/bacterial Infection Domestic Violence

Ryan Shazier is a 23-year old linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the son of Reverend Vernon and Shawn Shazier. He previously played for Ohio State University. This 6’1, 237 pound player, has a speed of 4.36 in the 40-yard dash. Fast! Ryan was affected with alopecia at the age of 5. He first had round patches which progressed to alopecia universalis. His parents helped him through his challenging times of scalp injections from the dermatologist, and coping with name calling throughout his childhood. Yes, kids are cruel when they do not understand the medical condition which contributes to alopecia. According to Jeremy Fowler, an ESPN staff writer, ‘Ryan’s hair would fall out in patches, which kids in the stands at his football games would notice when he took off his helmet. The laughing and taunting was clearly audible to his parents. He was called patchy, patch, cue ball, and other harsh names.


With loving parents, and the confidence that came from excelling in football, Shazier has earned new nicknames – ‘playmaker, first-rounder, potential Steelers star.’ Ryan, a Trendsetter, formed Creative Artists Agency, which is an excellent platform to help kids cope with alopecia. Follow #50 on the football fields. Because alopecia areata affects people’s lives so dramatically, many people will do almost anything, and try everything on the market to re-grow their hair. In many cases, re-growing their hair becomes the focus of their lives. For others, the most important issue is to look normal, and they purchase hairpieces, wigs, hair weaves, hats, and scarves to avoid social embarrassment. Between 7% to 66% of people with alopecia areata also have aberrant nail formation. The most common finding is nail pitting. Several other nail abnormalities such as longitudinal ridging, brittle nails, spotting of the lunulae, koilonychias, onycholysis, and onychomadesis have been reported. Nail abnormalities can precede, follow, or occur concurrently with alopecia areata. There are support groups and websites such as NAAF, National Alopecia Areata Foundation –■ www.alopeciaareata.com, and Alopecia World at www.alopeciaworld.com, available to assist people who suffer with these conditions. For additional questions and information, contact Dr. Linda Amerson at (817) 265-8854 or www.hairandscalpessentials.com. Listen to our weekly radio show Ask the Hair & Scalp Doctor Radio Show on Wednesdays from 11am-12pm on www.DfwiRadio.com





Life is a War Camela L. Douglass, M.S. ED.


ife is a war filled with many battles, but you can’t get the two confused. War is the absence of peace, measured by its duration, and characterized by extreme aggression and destruction. A war can go on for years, composed of small battles that can make or break even the greatest of nations. It must be understood that each battle is only a small part of war. In life, you will experience victories and defeats, all of which will help you become a better fighter. The key is to never lose sight of the end game—to win the war. I’ve been admonished over and over again to “pick my battles” carefully. The wiser I get, the more I realize that this long time advice holds an enormous amount of weight in determining my next move. I’ve fought many battles that were not worth fighting, while I have had others that required me to fight tooth and nail until I won. Ironically speaking, I’m a lover not a fighter. Yet in the same breath I can honestly admit that it’s really the other way around. The truth is, as much as I love – I fight. The more passionate I am about a battle, I am compelled to fight even harder. I find that this relationship is contingent upon the love that I have developed for myself. The more I love myself, the more I fight for myself. I would be deceiving myself and others if I were to say that I’m an undefeated fighter. I can openly admit that I’ve experienced plenty of losses. There were moments when I felt defeated, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

only to reflect and realize that it wasn’t my opponent that was stronger, but it was my lack of preparedness and strategy that caused me to experience defeat. Yes, I’ve had some pretty crafty and strategic opponents, however, they never beat me—I beat myself. The blame game is not fun, especially when the fingers end up pointing back at you. In any battle, you want to send your best soldiers to fight to ensure dominance and defeat over your opponent. In the war of life, you are that soldier. True soldiers fight until death. True soldiers don’t give up at the sight of defeat. True Soldiers identify their strengths and enlist the help of other soldiers in their weakness to hold them up when they’re down. I challenge you to become that true soldier. Prepare for the fight. Obtain the proper training and education needed to respond versus reacting to what your opponent brings to the battle. Produce a strategy that will guarantee a sense of strength in your weakness. Most importantly, whether you win or lose, be ok with knowing that you fight because you love yourself enough to withstand the war. Camela L. Douglass, M.S. ED. is a professional trainer and educator in Columbus, Ohio. She is the C.E.O. of Mo Better Me and travels internationally to promote healthy lifestyles.■


Should College Athletes Be Paid?


ollege sports are a booming business. The question is, “Who benefits from the money made from team sports played at the collegiate level?” It is not the players. College athletes, regardless of their skill levels, are not allowed to benefit monetarily from their talents in anyway, including through endorsements and incentives. Many student athletes’ names and likenesses are used in popular video games and other valuable merchandise that support and promote the schools’ agendas. Capitalism is one of the hallmarks of our country. Student athletes bring genuine value to the marketplace; however, they


are not compensated for their efforts. There are pros and cons to paying college athletes, but the fundamental questions seem to be these three: “Who benefits from athletes’ performance? Is their lack of monetary compensation fair? How do we decide?”

Arguments in Favor of “Pay for Play” Student athletes, just as professional athletes, put their health and wellbeing on the line with each game they play. Football is generally considered the most dangerous college sport. However, student athletes are injured in all sports as they perform not only for college fans, but also for major league scouts. When a student athlete is injured, he or she will more than likely lose the chance to play professionally. Thus, some compensation while the athletes are playing at the collegiate level would benefit them, and this JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

Arguments Against Pay for Play:

seems fair. What might happen if colleges and universities decided to pay for play? Schools attended by star players might attract even more standout players. That would benefit the school. Compensation might give the student incentive not to go Pro immediately after high school (which is common in baseball and basketball). Rather, the athlete might choose to go to college, develop his or her talent more fully, and become more mature. This arrangement would benefit both the school and the athlete. The centerpiece of the college sports business is the student athletes who play. The revenue from ticket sales, merchandising, video games, and more is made off the backs of the athletes. They, therefore, should benefit from the schools’ profits. Compensation seems fair.


Title IX is a federal law that applies to student athletes. Under Title IX, any increase in the value of student athletic scholarships that covers living expenses, applies to both male and female athletes. To continue to receive federal funding, schools must treat male and female athletic programs equally. Following Title IX would strain schools’ budgets. Furthermore, the schools would have to determine what each player is paid. Not all student athletes play at the same level. Furthermore, certain sports generate more income than others. Female sports have typically generated less money for their schools than their male counterparts. Therefore, female athletes would likely receive less pay than male athletes. Since certain sports, for example men’s football and basketball, are usually the programs that generate the most revenue, where would that leave the athletes that play less popular male sports? Moreover, where would that leave female athletes? These are a few of the tough questions that must be answered with respect to Pay for Play in college sports. Schools often reinvest the income generated from college sports in many important school programs. Having to pay players could affect the schools’ budgets, other programs might suffer, and the overall quality of the schools’ programs could be negatively affected. Additionally, smaller schools and conferences would be at a decidedly significant disadvantage because they may simply be unable to generate as much money as the larger schools or conferences. The question regarding college athlete Pay for Play boils down to this: “Can schools be fair to student athletes, and at the same time, maintain the integrity of their educational programs?”■ The Ask Attorney Mo column answers legal questions in simple terms, providing readers with insight and direction. I would like to make perfectly clear, however, that these responses are generic in nature and may not apply to your circumstances. This Column is designed for general information only and nothing in it should be construed as formal legal advice, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship, or provide any guarantee, warranty or prediction about future results. You should always contact an attorney for any legal issue that arises, even those that seem simple to you. For more information, visit teasleylawgroup.com or follow Attorney Mo @teasleylawgroup. Attorney Mo can be reached at 404-377-5512. Mention this column and receive a free half hour assessment of your issue.


If you don’t like something, CHANGE IT, if you can’t change it…change your ATTITUDE!— Dr. Maya Angelou





A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE …Can anything good come out of Nazareth? This was Nathanael’s question after Philip ran to tell him of his encounter with Jesus, who had just arrived in Galilee from Nazareth, and personally invited Philip to follow him. “Come and see,” said Philip. (John 1:46 ESV). When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He called him a man “in whom there is no deceit!”


he beautiful thing about this is…although we may question where someone is from, who they are around, or what they look like, it will always be Christ who will see “the best in us.” This is the foundation of the story behind Dr. Lawrence and Shernita Wynder. If you knew their beginnings, then you would understand their ending. The astonishing thing about both of them is that they have crossed each other’s path several times, but didn’t realize their destiny until God revealed it in one divine moment. They were both residents of Pensacola, Florida when they were children, and lived only minutes away from each other. They lived in the same cities at some point in their life, and after working together in a high school in Alabama, they ended up reconnecting, finding love, and a second chance at happiness. Most would say that their story seemed common; but, to them, it was definitely “uniquely-devised” by the hands of God, because He allowed them to be seconds from each other at all times. Their daughters share the same name and similar middle names--his daughter, Tia Danielle, and her daughter, Tia Janielle, and sons, Stephon, CJ, granddaughters, Zalayvia, Zamora and Camrynn complete their family. Two failed marriages each, they’d almost given up on finding their soul mate, but maintained their faith. I was determined not to settle anymore for less than God’s best for me and it paid off. I couldn’t have asked for someone any better, we fit together perfectly…for us, in everything. God granted me my request and I am humbled and ready for our second chance. We are not perfect, but we were perfected for each other and it’s changed the way we see life.—Shernita Dr. Wynder stated, I was impressed when I worked with her at Wilcox Central, because of how the kids took to her, even the most troubled ones… and how she never complained when the principal kept asking her to teach in

classrooms where teachers were leaving. But, she was married at the time, and for me that was “off-limits,” so we became good friends, speaking of ministry and our ability to use it to help the children there. I didn’t know she was from Pensacola and she wasn’t aware I was also. Our friendship was built on shared purpose. So when our paths crossed again, I knew it was fate. Dr. Wynder is the Apostle/Founder of Empowerment Christian Center International Ministries. Former employee of Emory University, Atlanta; he’s taught in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. He presently teaches Religious Studies at Pensacola State and Mathematics at ITT Tech. He has BA/MA degrees in Religious Studies (University West Florida-UWF), MA in Mathematics (Xavier University), Education Specialist Degree and doctorate in Education Administration (UWF). Dr. Lawrence Wynder is a skilled musician and published author of three books: "When the Problem Is Me," "I Live Because He Spoke a Living Word into My Dead Situation" and "Beyond Walls." Shernita Wynder is a Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine, Senior Freelance Writer whose drive propelled her into the media circuit in Atlanta, opening doors to integrate the skills she possessed. As an ordained Evangelist, she’s been in ministry for seven years, speaking at numerous women conferences and seminars, now Co-Pastor of ECC. She feels their past pitfalls, trials, and triumphs have prepared them for their call. She has over 20 years combined experience in education, creative design, technical/creative writing, and advanced technology skills: A.S. in Secondary Education (Alabama Southern Community College); B.S.-Art Education (Auburn Univ. of Montgomery); MA - Technology Integration; and, earning an EDD- Instructional Technology and Distance Education (Nova Southeastern Univ.) She is the Editor/Publisher of her own companies, Car'melCONTINUED ON PAGE 69














If this is freedom, then freedom ain’t free!— Gladys & Jamie Scott


uring the holiday season, families gather and create lasting memories. The smell of Momma’s or Grandma’s aromatic cooking filters through the air, and promises of fulfilling conversation, catching up on all the gossip, and listening to the family comedian

follows. On December 24, 1993, Gladys and Jamie Scott…or the “Scott Sisters,” started their holiday celebrating two births… Christ, and their dad, James Rasco, and ended it unexpectedly in mayhem. The Christmas season would not hold the same meaning ever again. Days earlier, an innocent trip to a local store, turned out to be a devastating nightmare, in a county (Scott) that in a twisted fate, bared their last name. Those old enough to remember, can recall the outrage that followed as two African-American women barely in their adult


life were given “double-life” sentences. In the wake of the injustices that are spreading rampantly through the nation, this is not surprising. However, even today, a double-life sentence does not seem fair to the crime for which they were convicted…Armed Robbery, and no one was hurt. Gladys and Jamie Scott didn’t stand a chance in southern Forest, Mississippi - mainly due to hidden circumstances that led up to their downfall. Painted as cold-blooded criminals who “allegedly” plotted a robbery with three young boys, these women were dealt a hand you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Yet, their adversary would become the very entity Americans hoped to be their protector…the judicial system. “Innocent until proven guilty” took on new meaning with these sisters, because it was never present from the beginning. If you are not familiar with them, just Google “Scott Sisters,” and you will be flooded with links sharing their story, in


one form or another. Recently, the sisters set out to tell their own detailed story in the fall of 2015 in their book, The Scott Sisters: Revealing the Truth, Exposing Injustice and Trusting God. It’s been 22 years and a lot has transpired. They served 16 life-altering years for a crime in which they maintain their innocence. They were released in unprecedented circumstances (from the outpouring of supporters), because of Jamie’s need for a kidney transplant. Their biggest advocate, their mother Evelyn Rasco, passed away after years of fighting for their release. But, what many have NOT come to know…is the “story-behind-the-story.” Paroled on January 7, 2011, what most would consider a blessing, is a reoccurring curse behind invisible walls. Now, 5 years free from the dreary, cold, torturous, house of pain that was home for those gut-wrenching years, imprisonment of the worst kind is ever-present—lifetime parole. Gladys and Jamie must pay $52 monthly for parole, have curfew, get permission to travel, and be tested for drugs. In addition, they are subjected to surprise visits from a parole officer, and custody of the children they were snatched from when they were babies, is limited. Even if they were guilty, a double life or a lifetime of parole is extremely harsh for two women with no priors for a mere $11-$200. Their story eerily mimics the 1931 Alabama case of the “Scottsboro Boys” with false imprisonment, poor legal representation, coerced testimony, and conviction of innocent lives based on the lies of their White accusers. The questions remain: What happened to warrant such sentencing? Why did the State release them on lifetime parole? What are they hiding? Why won’t they pardon them? Many of these inquiries can be found in their book. One particularly obvious notion, is the good ‘ole boy justice that occurred when their father, James Rasco refused to comply with local law enforcement; and, the questioning of Jamie and Gladys on their father’s life and connections with his night club dealings at the time of their arrest. Several red flags appear in their book. Their father ran a night club, Sugar Hill, with illegal alcohol, which in those days was overlooked by greasing the palms of certain officials. An excerpt states the following: “Daddy’s behind-the-scene connections led to a few special requests from some high-powered officials in Scott County. These officials wanted a piece of Daddy’s profits…they wanted a cut.” Another thing that raises an eyebrow, is the fact that both in their book and in a 2010 article in the Jackson Free Press by Ward Schaefer, discrepancies have been discovered in both evidence and alleged testimonies by witnesses, including the boys involved, either dispelling their guilt or supporting their innocence. Yet, the State of Mississippi’s Governor still has not seen fit to give them a pardon. Although, they still find themselves struggling with the judicial scars in the wake of all that has happened, their faith, the love of family, their Pastor, and those who still believe in them have provided comfort. Nevertheless, Jamie and Gladys will not rest until they can live as any other humans in this land we call, “The Land of the Free.” For them, it’s not just enough to be outside prison walls as they are--because they are continuously serving time for a crime they didn’t commit. They want SUPREME JUSTICE…they want a PARDON. Then, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

they can continue to build on the life that God has granted them and help others with their testimony in the process. Today, Gladys Scott, a pillar of strength and still her “sister’s keeper,” works for a local attorney in Pensacola, Florida, and recently purchased a new home. Jamie Scott, humble but determined, is in school working on her degree, and still waiting on her kidney transplant as she endures dialysis weekly. They speak to organizations, youth, and ministries about their book and the life story they are still waiting to close the chapter on entitled, “Free At Last.”■ You can follow them on FaceBook: Scott Sisters to see updates for where you can purchase the book.






“Don’t worry about who

believes in your dream, as long as you believe in your dream, it can happen.”— Roger Bond





hustler is considered an entrepreneur who is determined to succeed and goes hard after what he WANTS. Grinding suggests someone who diligently goes after goals in order to meet them. So what would you consider a grustler? My take would be, anyone who’s determined not to take “No” for an answer regardless of how many times it has been said because—YES, is all they know. Waking up each day, is another chance to make their dreams happen, even if they have to create NEW dreams, to get to them. Roger Bond, of the CirocBoyBond brand fits the grustler definition. Raised straight outta the streets of Harlem, New York, Roger was part of the Security detail for Brand Mogul and Entertainer, Sean “Diddy” Combs. The “Global Grustler” himself. Roger served him faithfully until he was faced with his ultimate challenge, diabetes, which left him unable to continue his job to the best of his ability. This led to the shift in Roger’s next venture. …me and the Boss had to sit down and determine my next step. What was God going to do next? There were several things offered, but the one thing that stood out to me was CirocBoyz, CirocNight, and CirocLife. I had been doing this the last 15 years with Mr. Combs and who better to show that life, but me? Roger made the decision to expand the brand his mentor and friend had developed, and under the tutelage of Sean Combs he gravitated to the South. He moved to Atlanta because the city was watching New York closely. Diddy was making waves with CirocBoyz like Flex, ProStyle and QuickSilver, so the market for guys that didn’t make it to that level, Roger coined himself the Gladiator who would get them there. With the work ethic of his mentor, boss, and friend, Roger set out to make ground breaking trends utilizing gifts and skills from years of observation, lessons-learned, and determination. …one of the things that Puff said to us was, “I know yall not complaining about staying up. If I can make a million dollars a day, staying up, I know that yall can stay up.” And that stuck in my head. I said if the boss is up then we shouldn’t complain about being up. It also showed me that in order to stay a step ahead of people, you got to be up when they are sleep. I sleep when the competition sleeps, so I can be up when they are up. I don’t want nothing getting past me. Mr. Combs taught me you can never have enough. He wasn’t just talking about money, but knowledge too. This man read books and watched three TV’s at one time. This were just some of the habits he had to make sure that he was always one step


ahead of the next person in the game. He instilled in me how to grind. He showed me how to live, and to be the person that I am today. From those lessons, I have the confidence to own a room when I walk into it. Mr. Combs shared the mentality that when you walk into a room, act like you deserve to be there, no matter where you’re from. Regardless of how much knowledge or education somebody else had in the marketing business, when I walk into a room, I own it because I wouldn’t be here if God didn’t want me here. Roger’s motivation is the people. People are the things that I’m gonna introduce. Not the celebrities, but the ones who actually purchase the spirits and support the brand. I get to introduce people that others have not heard of because I’m trying to change brothers and sisters, no matter the city, no matter the state. People ask how can I be CirocBoy South when I’m from New York? I respond, ‘Because I don’t allow myself to be in a box.’ I don’t care what promoter may feel he has a city locked down, when I set my mind to something and remove the limits off what people say, I get a crowd of over 800 people against the odds. Roger also inspires the youth and makes himself accessible to them. Encouraging them to achieve more than just looking at the “honeys-and-the-money.” I tell the youth you gotta believe. When they ask about how I am able to take pictures with billionaires and celebs, I let them know it doesn’t matter about your background, and it’s never too late. Don’t worry about who believes in your dream, as long as you believe in your dream, it can happen. These kids need to know it’s real out there and to look for positive role models. I learned humility from watching Russell Simmons sit six hours on a plane with his legs crossed, never moving while meditating. His words of encouragement made me humble and thankful for the things I’ve been given. If you contact Roger Bond for a project, don’t be offended if he doesn’t say what you want him to, instead, expect him to tell you what is best for your ideas based on his experience and the direction of “his” brand. Just because I may not like your idea, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I’m just one person. I am a professional and there is an order to things. I have to answer to protocol, too. Roger’s concepts are clear, he’s on a mission and he won’t stop until he has achieved his own team at the next level and with his wife of 17 years, Lesha, who keeps him “level-headed,” he will get there!■


“Settle on Success”



Stefani McDade Morrow Author| Educational Consultant|Speaker|Radio Host|Passionpreneur

“Settle on Success” www.stefanimorrow.com By: Tina Williams


rincipal turned passionpreneur is the phrase that comes to mind when anyone speaks of Stefani McDade Morrow’s life. She is a native of Dallas, Texas, and first-generation college graduate who has always sought to defy the odds. For 17 years, she built a stellar reputation in public education as a classroom teacher and campus administrator. In 2007, she married the love of her life and started a family in 2010. With a new sense of priority and a desire to focus on family, Morrow made the decision to leave the demands of the principalship behind to recreate herself for a new audience. Her gifts of teaching, speaking, training and coaching are now used to instruct and inspire others in creating a more fulfilled existence. Newly added to her ever growing list of works of passion, is author. After months of gleaning inspiration from the works of world-renowned motivator Les Brown, Morrow discovered her greatness and decided to self-publish her first book. Her debut project, From the Principal’s Desk: 21 Lessons in Passionprenuership, is a compilation of life lessons learned, mostly while making the leap from principal to passionpreneur. Her primary passion is equipping others with the practical tools needed to tap into their hidden potential, while sharing their unique experiences to create value for others. This is her sole inspiration for penning her book. Morrow has been nominated to receive the prestigious “Henri Award” at the 2015 Christian Literary Awards bestowed by Joy and Company, for her outstanding literary work, From the Principal’s Desk, in the motivational category after only 5 months in publication. Morrow launched Settle on Success Radio on Tha Afterparty Radio (www.thaafterparty.com/side-a-shows) in October 2015. This extension of her signature brand is a motivational radio talk show designed to provide inspiration, information and instruction to listeners desiring to change the course of their lives, and take ownership for their results. Every week,


listeners from near and far can tune in to hear candid and compelling stories of triumph over tragedy, and opportunity in spite of opposition and pain, to profit from a wide array of guests ranging from highly sought-after thought leaders to unheralded entrepreneurs. Above all else, Morrow’s desire is to see people empowered to create a life of significance. She and her husband, Gene, are the founders of Villa Morrow Empowerment Group. This Dallas-Fort Worth based personal development and training company, where she serves as Chief Executive Officer, was founded to equip others to transcend their challenges to design a life worth living. In an effort to expand her reach and broaden her impact in the personal development arena, Morrow is studying to become a credentialed Accountability Coach. Her coaching practice will be expertly designed to help clients gain the clarity, confidence and courage needed to build their own dream. Morrow is also the founder of Gathering of the Giraffes, an empowerment network for women in business and aspiring entrepreneurs. She is a member of the International Association of Entrepreneurs and Professionals, Women Speakers Association, International Women’s Leadership Association, Female Entrepreneur Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce. The Morrows are the parents of two amazing children, Madison Giselle and Mason Gentry, who fuel their drive and commitment in creating a life of meaning. Her home, which she affectionately calls Villa Morrow, is in Midlothian, Texas and happens to be her favorite place!■ Books are available at AMAZON and www.stefanimorrow.com Connect with Stefani on Social Media Facebook~Instagram~Twitter~Periscope @settleonsuccess




Written by Shernita Wiggins-Wynder

“Society has hyper-sexualized us, we are an intellectually passionate people who love, and do so sensually.”


aptivating, enchanting, enticing, seducing…these are just a few words that describe the images of notable international photographer, James C. Lewis of Atlanta, Georgia. Most have come to know him for Naked Black Justice, African Kings, Yoruba African Orishas, Icons of the Bible, Emancipation Degradation, and now, his quickly acclaimed seductive Noire Erotica series. After a few moments of speaking to this highly sought after professional photographer, I assessed that he is living in his moment, all while operating in his passion…CREATING thought-provoking imagery. During this interview, I got a glimpse into the succulent confines of James Lewis’ mind. My goal…to determine what sparks his unconventional controversial pieces that compel an opinion to either love or hate them. This Art Institute of Atlanta graduate holds no punches when it comes to defending his reasoning behind the arousing questions seen in his projects. We need to have this conversation in America. Racism is not a figment of our imagination. People need to understand the difference between racism and prejudice. Lewis is the CEO and Creative Directing Photographer of Noire3000|N3K Photo Studios. He specializes in professional photography, graphic design and illustration. His studio offers hair, make-up and wardrobe styling to fit the specialized needs of his clients. Although he provides what some would deem as the “usual” things necessary for creating “graphic dreams”…his works are anything BUT that! This artist was considered a child prodigy when he was 2 years old as his creative talents of singing and drawing manifested. So, it’s no wonder that as an adult, James’ ingenious mindset has evolved into designs that have caused both intriguing insights and outrage. One of the most controversial series is the Naked Black Justice Campaign where Lewis’ models are adorned with verbiage like “Once bound by chains, now chained by choice,” or


“Just because I was a teen mom, doesn’t mean I failed,” “Freedom is my right, so loose the noose” and NOTHING else. His nude images, though provocative, are tastefully done with black-outs hiding areas of the body, focusing only on the words and various shades of chocolate, caramel, mocha, and creamskinned models. Most of the feedback comes from White people who ask, ‘What is your point in doing this? And I don’t get it.’…My response to them is simply, “It’s not for you to get, it was intended for you to start thinking about these types of situations and to generate dialogue.” Needless to say, I have people talking internationally with featured articles in the Huffington Post, Essence, Jet, Uptown, Rolling Out, and Sister 2 Sister Magazines, as well as, publications in Norway, Africa, the London Times, and on TV in Paris, France. Most of my positive feedback has come from universities and those who understand the struggle--with effective dialogue. When asked what his most fulfilling series is, James quickly states, Icons of the Bible. Why? You ask. For one, he grew up in church with a mother who was an Evangelist and carried out her duties in the form of feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and shut in, and providing for those who were in need, especially around the holidays. She taught James that “the true gift of giving was not about receiving them yourself, but giving to others.” James used various people of color in this series to depict Biblical figures: African, Asian, Native American, West Indies, Polynesian, Middle Eastern, Latino, and African American, no Whites were used…intentionally. White people were outraged that I didn’t use White depictions. They began to state, ‘You mean there weren’t any Whites in the Bible?’ No, there were Whites, just not as many as those of color. My goal was to show Biblical icons in a factual way. Let me give you a history lesson. If you understand the region where the Bible takes place, you would know it was in Middle Eastern Africa. There is no way you could have found pale-faced, blue-eyed, blonde people in that part of the continent. What few people realize is that Pharoah Taharqa was a Nubian King


in modern day Sudan, Ethiopia and THEY were very dark complexioned people. The 25th Dynasty of Pharaohs was ruled by dark-skinned Kings, and the museum in Cairo has every dynasty except this one on display because of this fact. However, they ruled during this and other dynasties mentioned throughout the Bible. No matter how you try to exclude the African presence and influence out of the history books, they will forever be known in the most read and respected literature…the Bible. James’ influence was nourished by his father who had a way of capturing photographic family-time moments and during these times, he allowed James to share in his passion. The end result is that he has found a way to integrate his degree in Visual Communications and Illustration, into his cutting-edge photography. Oh…just in case you were thinking about challenging where he gets his information to support his ideals… DON’T. He is a “history buff” and if he hadn’t been in this field, he would have been a history professor, according to him, because he loves to research. His Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination will be a featured in New York at the Schomburg Center for the Study of Black Culture from September-January 2016. He is one of the featured artists. To find out more about this uniquely enticing multi-faceted individual, visit his website www.noire3000studios.com. He leaves us with this thought; I want people to know that I made a difference in my community through showcasing our culture and the prominently regal dynasty we come from, by reflecting our heritage and pride as a Black People in my works of art.” ■










Chris Burgess: TCB 5400 The New Cheers By Kimberly Cross


hen you think of a local sports bar …you automatically think of hot wings, big screen televisions and cold beer; but, patrons of Charlotte’s TCB 5400 Bar and Grill know that this place offers much more than that. To many, 5400 is their local “Cheers” where they come after work to enjoy great conversation, great food, and drinks with people that “know your name.” To others, it is a place to come on any day of the week to enjoy the variety of activities—from Monday Night Football, Trendsetter Tuesday’s, and for those who love to dance, line dancing classes on Saturday afternoons. The name TCB (Taking Care of Business), is indicative of what owner Chris Burgess stands for. Burgess, a South Carolina native, prides himself on being a strong advocate for the community, and proves that through his many initiatives and business practices. Although his bottom line is important, he welcomes collaboration and service to others, proving he is a person that truly believes in giving back. Just recently, Burgess organized and hosted a toy drive and community buffet during the holiday season. He made sure that families who attended were blessed with a great hot meal (prepared mostly by him), and all children present walked away with a Christmas gift, which in some cases may have been their only gift that year. This spacious establishment offers a full kitchen, many highdefinition televisions, plenty of seating, billiards, and a dance floor— definitely a place you would want to frequent. For those who enjoy the outdoors, 5400 also offers a beautifully decorated deck and patio area for you to enjoy on those beautiful Carolina


nights! Burgess truly knows the business side of running a bar and grill, but he also enjoys the fellowship and comraderie, and the chance to show off his skills in the kitchen. At a recent Customer Appreciation Day, you saw Burgess mingling with the patrons letting them know just how much he appreciated their support and patronage, while bragging that he “cooked the green beans,” everyone was raving about. 5400 will play host to many upcoming CIAA events. This annual basketball tournament held in Charlotte, North Carolina, attracts over 200,000 basketball fans and visitors, which Burgess hopes will bring both local and out-of-town customers to the bar. “I am hoping they will visit and witness all we have to offer and will make this the place to be during the tournament and afterwards.” The momentum for TCB 5400 Bar & Grill is steadily building, as it was recently highlighted on the Celebrity Tailgating Show hosted by actor/celebrity Leon Pridgeon and host/producer Ray High, on the CW Network (WCCBTV, Charlotte). You see, TCB 5400 Bar & Grill has it all, and does it all, and Burgess makes sure of that. So when you are looking for a place to hold your next corporate event or fundraiser, celebrate milestones like birthdays or retirements, or just want to end your week in a friendly environment enjoying great food, great company, and great service, swing by TCB 5400 on Nevin Road - definitely a place where Trendsetters are made—and everyone knows your name!■


C Nathaniel Brown AUTHOR|PHILANTHROPIST| BUSINESSMAN|PUBLISHER| Pioneering the literary world with a mogul vision Written by Shernita Wiggins-Wynder

“…transform, inspire, motivate and empower people to dream bigger, live their dreams and impact their world!”— C Nathaniel Brown


here are many stories that we read where a person overcomes adversity and leap bounds into their success. Some pridefully position themselves on an “untouchable height” or possess a “crab-mentality.” That is not the case with this entrepreneur and author who is determined to soar great distances with those encompassing their own dreams, in tow. C Nathaniel Brown, has a lot to tell, and he is laying it all out on the pages of his books. In a touching interview, he bears all for what has become his passion and purpose. T2T: Share something about yourself not many people know that could inspire them to achieve greater. Brown: All the odds were stacked against me from the time I was a young boy. I grew up in poverty and didn’t have a positive male role model in my life; or, someone close to me that I could look up to and say I want to be like them. Because of that, I struggled in various areas of my life, but I knew that there was something better for me than what I was witnessing at home, in my community, and in my city. So I went out to find it. I became the first male in my family to graduate high school, leave Baltimore, go to college, graduate college, start a business, become a published author, start programs to help others live their dreams, and pursue philanthropic opportunities. And I am far from being done!

T2T: Who is the inspiration behind where you are today? Explain. Brown: God is my inspiration and motivation for who I am and what I do because during negative times in my life when I had nothing or no one and battling depression, He was the only one I could call on and depend on. He let me know that I would never be alone because He loves me. I also have a tremendous amount of drive for my family because God gave them to me. I want to be a blessing to them so they would never have to feel alone or abandoned, as I did. That’s why I am passionate about being there for others. T2T: How many books have you released and what is your advice to aspiring authors? Brown: I have published eight books, including my most recent ones in The Shift Series – Shift Happens Then You Live and The 30-Day Prayer Companion. My personal goal is to help 10,000 writers to get published so my first advice to writers is to write. You don’t have to have everything figured out in the beginning. The key is to get your thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto the page or into the computer. From there, you can build.




2 Feet In by Mitch D.


et all in or stay all the way out! 2 Feet In by Mitch Dunbar, aka PBody, tells his unique life story while breaking down the beginning steps of becoming an artist in the music industry. One of Dayton’s most talked about MC’s, Mitch D. has made a solid name for himself as a rap artist, author, and businessman. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Mitch began writing songs at the age of 14. The grandson of Greg Webster, a founding member and key player of the legendary funk band Ohio Players, Mitch gained insight into music at an early age. While attending the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, his passion for writing was sparked by his exposure to the infamous poet’s work. Mitch was inspired so much, he acquired the name Mitch Dunbar. After seeking advice and wisdom from his grandfather, and studying the work of the infamous poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mitch learned how to develop his voice to capture his listeners. His fiery passion, witty punch-lines, and real life experiences, hold the listener and reader hostage while leaving them wanting to hear more. In his first book 2 Feet In, Mitch D. discusses his challenges in the industry, and events that changed his life. Shot twice in a drug deal gone bad, and losing his brother to murder in the streets of Dayton, Mitch D. overcame a number of obstacles, and vowed to change his life and live on purpose. He took his craft to the next level by writing 2 Feet In, which is an autobiography and self-help read for underground music artists wanting to take their careers to the next level. In the format of 16 of the realest bars, he discusses the dos and don’ts of the industry and challenges readers not to straddle the fence while chasing their dreams. “Coming from the heritage of a music legend, and living the legacy of the great poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, it was only right that I took what I learned and put it into book form to inspire someone else to keep chasing their dreams.” Mitch D.■




TROY SPRY SPRY TROY Teach Me How To Love: Why What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You! By Kimberly Cross


roy Spry is a certified life and relationship coach, and what he calls a REALITY EXPERT! He is known for his honest approach and vulnerable and realistic perspective about dating, relationships, and marriage. His personal journey through dating and marriage combined with his knowledgeable background as a psychology major, along with his experience as a relationship coach, has helped him to bring a fresh and realistic viewpoint. He is giving you some of his deepest insights about common topics and issues that plague dating and relationships today. He wrote this book for anybody who is frustrated or has ever been frustrated while dating or even within his or her own relationship or marriage. Spry wrote this book for anyone who wants to become more empowered in his or her dating and relationship life, and for those who are tired of getting it wrong, but want to get it right. Spry offers a different perspective in this book and lets you know that this is not a “how to” book, but this is a “change your mindset” book. He challenges you to think about the way you’ve approached dating or relationships in the past, and then offers you another way of thinking about it, so that you are more empowered and will have better success. Using unique client stories and personal examples, Spry believes that EVERY person will be able to see themselves in this book and will want to shift their thinking about some of the misperceptions they might have had about dating and relationships. Although there are many relationship and self-help books out there, Spry’s unique writing style keeps you engaged, and his content is so relatable that you will not want to put it down. With chapters like “Be The One,” “Reality Check For Men/Women,” and “Pseudo-Relationships,” Spry challenges you to face yourself, and offers you a new way of thinking about various topics that commonly come up while dating or even in relationships. Spry named the book Teach Me How To Love: Why What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You, because he realized that although we are taught many things in life, the one thing that’s most important tends to be the one we have the least lessons on. That thing is love. He realized people really bought into the “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” phrase, and that it’s what we DON’T know that is killing us when it comes to dating, relationships, and marriage, resulting in so many ending up hurt. Spry’s goal for the book is not that you leave with all of the answers, because he knows he doesn’t have them all, but that you finish with a changed mindset. He wants’ you to self-reflect and to also become empowered, educated, and enthusiastic about all of the great possibilities in love! Spry is starting a Teach Me How To Love series, and with this book, class is officially in session!■











“sEE PAst PAst thE thE bEAuty” bEAuty” “sEE By Camela L. Douglass, M.S. ED.


eauty is in the eye of the beholder” will forever shape the minds of people concerning what’s beautiful and what is not. Personal experiences and culture control the eye of the beholder, influencing and determining what beauty is and what it should be. However, there is a place beyond beauty where its true meaning resides, offering freedom from culture and creating a personal insight into what beauty truly is. “I AM. WE are. IT is so much deeper…” This is the defining thought process that birthed the production company, See Past the Beauty Entertainment, LLC. See Past the Beauty Entertainment (SPTB) was founded in 2010 in Los Angeles by model and actress, Fiona Chavers. It is a premiere production company specializing in film, video, and special events. “I started SPTB to fulfill my desire to be an honest and respected entertainer in a world filled with producers and directors who could not see past my booty.” After 15 years in the entertainment industry, and after many invites to the director’s couch, Fiona had had enough. All she ever wanted was a fair chance to prove she was creative and talented beyond her beauty. “I felt it was so much deeper than a pretty face and fine tooty, so I buckled down, started SPTB, and began a journey to something beautiful,” exclaims Fiona. “I believe that beauty is an experience and not a label and it is up to us to answer the questions of why something is truly beautiful.” Fiona believes that no matter what you look like, we all have a beautiful story to share; but, it must be shared. “You never know how your story could assist in challenging someone to see past the beauty. True beauty is finding and living in your purpose.” SPTB desires to visually tell those stories of purpose by producing quality entertainment with deeper meaning. Fiona was her first client, producing her very own music video for her song titled Good Boy, Bad Boy. She also wrote and performed the song that was produced by Thr3efourteen, and has launched release events in Beverly Hills, California and in her hometown of Canton, Ohio. Since its birth, SPTB Entertainment has worked with known and unknown artists, small and large brands, and companies. Fiona proclaims, “I want to be a voice to bring others, such as myself, to the forefront through various media without compromising our integrity.” Fiona recently expanded her brand by stepping into the digital world forming FiGi Distribution which provides digital distribution and marketing. SPTB is committed to keeping your story fresh, your brand


relevant, and your business profitable. Whatever the vision, SPTB has the talent and services to make it a reality. Contact Fiona Chavers at sptbent@gmail.com for more information. ■



By Ta'Neika Francisco


Photographer : Anthony Barnes Stylist : Shayla Fite








“God lead me to the right people and protect me from the wrong!—Romeo

Tim “Romeo” Johnson



rowing up, we are taught to dream big, do our best, and if you were brought up in church…let God lead you! Some of us took the advice eventually along the way after a few bumps and bruises, and others grabbed the bull by the horns straight out of the gate. Romeo, as he is known, took the advice to heart and soared to “Superman” heights. Raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Johnson had parents, Arthur Johnson Sr. and Ann Johnson, who were the epitome of “hard workers” instilling faith, respect, and integrity into their four children. My father was a crane operator for U.S. Pipe and my mother worked her way up from a GED to a Registered Nurse. We weren’t rich, but my siblings and I never went without. I participated in


sports and music, and that combination with my upbringing, prepared me for my present career. I learned to respect authority, other’s opinions and viewpoints, and understood each person must be addressed and dealt with according to their individual personality. My first major tour placed 13 musicians with different personalities and opinions on everything in one tour bus. I then realized my upbringing prepared me for this. Johnson’s resume reads like an “entertainer’s dream”… the Official Head Vocal Coach of NBC’s The Voice, Seasons 1-4, Vocal Coach of MTV’s Starmaker, Vocal Coach and Vocal Director of P. Diddy’s Making His Band, Vocal Director and Section Leader for Michael


Jackson’s MJ Forever Tribute in Cardiff, Wales, and Vocal Director for Ne-Yo. Johnson’s musicianship was nurtured under the tutelage and in the company of some of the music greats, like his first tour with Vesta Williams as background vocalist/dancer; and, Ali Woodson’s (former lead vocalist of the Temptations) bass guitarist/background vocalist; tours with Jody Watley; singing duets with Sheena Easton; performing and recording with Jennifer Holiday, David Peaston, M. C. Hammer, Adam Ant and James Ingram being highlights. And, if THAT wasn’t enough to wet your artiste appetite…his next gig encompassed Janet Jackson’s The Janet Tour. He is the first and only vocalist to tour with both Janet and Michael Jackson. He later landed a World Tour with Rashaan Patterson and was background vocalist/bass guitarist for TLC. Romeo’s refined skills enhanced live performances by the band Rufus, the New Jack Swing Reunion Tour featuring Teddy Riley, Guy and Blackstreet; and, a duet performance with Queen Latifah in her Traveling Light Tour led to a national Cover Girl commercial featuring Romeo’s vocals singing the Easy Breezy Beautiful Cover Girl jingle. When asked what legacy he hoped to leave behind for his children and the next generations, he simply stated, I want to follow my father’s lead…I never saw him not work hard to provide for his family. He was a great man with integrity. That…was instilled in me and it makes me want the best for everyone. I have a great career because God orchestrated it for me. I had mentors like Vesta and Ali who took me under their wing and protected me. So I want to do the same for those on my path with music, teaching, mentoring, and encouraging, the way I received it. My legacy will encompass being the vocal and music industry guru and motivator. Today, Romeo is well on his way! He has stepped onto the music scene branding a name for himself, gaining experience, insight and creative leadership skills that have exceeded what he’d hoped for…but as he acknowledged, Being raised in a Christian home, faith in God and integrity were deeply instilled; so, I attribute all of my success and inner peace to trusting GOD and having faith that what is for me--HE will get to me…and what I do not achieve or receive, was not meant for me. There are many opportunities to bow down to money, power, and position but because I know that GOD is in total control, it gives me peace in maintaining my integrity. The simplest lessons are the greatest steps towards our prosperous journey. Knowing your purpose and adhering to Christian values can place you in position to walk alongside people and circumstances you only imagined. Romeo’s celebrity client list includes: Avril Lavigne, El DeBarge, Teddy Riley, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Ester Dean, Cassie, Trey Songz, and Quantico’s leading lady, Priyanka Chopra, to name a few. Creating national and international commercial/radio jingles, vocals on major motion picture soundtracks “The Cookout,” starring Queen Latifah and “Radio” with Cuba Gooding Jr, writing two songs for BET comedy horror movie “Holla,-” working with American Idol, Soul Train Music Awards, BET Awards, BET Walk of Fame for Smokey Robinson, The American Music Awards, appearing on Snoop Dogg’s “Fatherhood,” contracting vocalists and singing for Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman’s after party,


singing on recordings with Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Mack 10 and countless others, are just some of his astounding accomplishments. Recently, Romeo has settled into giving back with his own brand Sangahz, connecting professional background singers with major musical clients. His mentorship includes an appearance on the Dr. Phil Show with former contestant intervention, and as a Professor at University of Southern California Thornton School of Popular Music. His success is best recited in this statement: Tim“Romeo” Johnson is just a good ole southern boy whose family raised him to love God and music and he pursued both! ■ All “one Sangahz” at a time! For more about Romeo or to utilize his services: Email: romeoentllc@aol.com, FaceBook: “Romeo Johnson”, Twitter: @romeoent and Instagram: @officialromeoj.



P The Land: FAU



“'I'm not in a good place." Those words fell from the lips of a convicted heart. "I don't think anyone is. It's difficult to witness constant tragedy and not be affected." Dominique Paramore


hose words fell from the lips of a convicted heart, Dominique Paramore, an actress from Cleveland, Ohio. In a word- she is beautiful. Having just come from a photo shoot, her make-up and hair were perfect. She had a natural southern grace, with an uncommon innocence to her voice. Her squinting eyes sparkled. Her high energy, wide smile, and sweet tone filled the room when she came inside. She was outright bubbly as we greeted one another and made small talk while settling in for this interview. But now, her bubbly personality shifted. Her once wide smile withdrew. Her bright eyes drifted. She looked serious as though confronting a dark grey cloud. "I mean you've seen the meme - Mike Brown - no indictment; Eric Garner - no indictment; Freddie Gray- hung jury; 12-year old Tamir Rice - no indictment. It's hard to be aware of all of this tragedy and stay in a good place mentally and emotionally, especially when you feel you aren't doing your part to interrupt this pattern of injustice." Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice were all unarmed Black Americans who had fatal contact with their local police departments. Dominique spoke passionately about how these reoccurring incidents cause tension between law en-


forcement and urban communities. Her passion grew more intense when she began to speak about the purpose of her new television show, “The Land: FAU,” an edgy modern day police drama, tells the story of an African-American police unit in Cleveland, that is divided because of the different perspectives of its officers. They are having a difficult time functioning as a team, but have been assembled to seize high profile fugitives within the city. The first season will premiere in the fall of 2016 on the central Ohio Bounce TV network. Dominique wrote and is currently directing each episode in this first season. She also serves as the shows female lead alongside co-stars Ryan Martin and Robert Bray. "The Land" is a short name for Cleveland where the show is set and filmed. "FAU" is an acronym for Fugitive Apprehension Unit which speaks to the premise of the new show. Dominique explained that creating this show is her way of doing her part to address the pattern of injustice she sees. "Art is powerful and that power is not maximized if we simply entertain our audience. Our goal with The Land: FAU is to entertain, but also educate and equip our audience


with the information they need to effect the change they want to see in their homes, schools and communities.� The Land: FAU is written to provide socially relevant content that mirrors the real struggles facing urban communities while presenting solutions to directly overcome these struggles. Dominique also plans to use the show as a vehicle to facilitate productive dialogue related to eliminating the tension she sees between many police departments and the urban communities they patrol. Dominique recently had a potentially fatal encounter with two Cleveland police officers. The officers pulled out their guns and pointed them at her, moments after she was pulled over for not having on headlights. "A few times a day I find myself reliving that horrible experience. I still can't believe it. How do you point guns at a person who is unarmed?" Her squinty eyes began to swell. She looked like she had a lot to say so I let her speak. "When police officers use unnecessary aggression or threatening behavior, your natural instinct is to defend yourself by arguing, or save yourself by running. Your natural instinct is not to listen and comply. I keep thinking about all the men that I love - my cousins, my brother, my friends, my acting students..." Dominique teaches acting to gifted youth through her Paramore Acting Academy Program held at The Art Palace in Cleveland. ".... My heart breaks thinking of what might have happened if I had any of their height or stature. How much more suspicious would I look? How much more threatened would the police officers have felt? How much more force would need to be used to


defuse the situation? After one horrible encounter, I feel completely unsafe when I see a police vehicle. I can only imagine the distrust of men and women of color or people living in disadvantaged communities who have experiences like these on a repeated basis. I know several wonderful police officers who I absolutely adore, some of whom are outstanding friends and mentors of mine as we push forward with the production of The Land: FAU. I am not suggesting that all police officers are bad. I am saying with complete certainty that it is impossible to trust an organization to protect you when your life experiences have taught you the organization sees you as a threat. I see both sides; that's why I'm advocating for productive dialogue and action. The Cleveland Police Department (CPD) has outstanding free programs for the community. I see them making an effort to have a more positive presence in the community. These are great building blocks, we just need more action. Not just from the police departments, but the judicial branches around the country as well. I'm optimistic, and I am ready to work. We all are, every member of The Land: FAU family and we invite everyone to join us." For those who are not in the central Ohio area you can check out The Land: FAU this fall on the show's website www.thelandlife.com -Chad V.



The Perfect Storm By Kimberly Cross


guess one can say S.E.L. (Soulful Emma Louise), sang herself into fame. This hard-working musical diva, known for being a part of music industry royalty collective, and UK soul pioneers Soul II Soul – as well as having two successful releases under her belt. S.E.L is surely “keeping things movin” as she prepares to launch her solo career. Upon her announcement in May, many music lovers are already eager for S.E.L to release her new project that is sure to be filled with modern contemporary British soul. This smart, sophisticated and sexy artist is truly ready to make waves, with the much-anticipated release of her project UK Soul, in February. “This year is going to be amazing,” says her manager Antonio Boyd of Crash Zone Entertainment. “We are ready to share S.E.L’s unique sound and meaningful lyrics, which are sure to please music lovers everywhere. Boyd goes on to explain, “As Executive Producer of UK Soul, I am moved by S.E.L’s passion to


rekindle the deep rooted London R&B sound, and can’t wait to see the impact of the EP on live audiences in the U.S.” S.E.L’s passion for music is deeprooted, and she discovered her love for this art at a very young age. Learning both the piano and violin was just the beginning; she mastered those instruments, and never looked back. After obtaining her degree in music, this classically trained singer soon established a presence in the London soul scene, where she found herself working with industry greats like Alicia Keys, S.O.S. Band, and Jocelyn Brown. Working alongside London’s soul man, Jazzie B, S.E.L has been blessed to establish a solid fan base and reputation as a full-time member of Soul II Soul. Many remember this group from their hit song “Back to Life (However Do You Want Me),” which not only was a chart topper in the UK, but it resulted in the group winning two Grammy’s and several nominations for Brit awards. Now that S.E.L has nurtured and perfected her craft, it is only fitting she release a song called “ELEVATION.” She is ready for everyone to witness its infectious hook and uplifting lyrics—a true representation of what’s to come from this British born singer. Many industry greats have compared S.E.L’s sound with Corrine-Bailey Rae, and others say we need more of her music. Well—wait no more—the true authenticity of UK Soul is coming to the United States and will be here to stay! Make sure to stay connected, for Soulful Emma Louise is ready to “take on the world by a soulful-storm!” ■



T2T: How can someone contact you and what could you do for them? Brown: I can be reached through my personal website at www.cnathanielbrown.com or at our publishing website, www.EX3Books.com and on all social media platforms @cnathanielborwn. I have been dubbed “The Author Maker” and I can help novice writers and seasoned writers get to the next level in their writing career and to publish their writings. Through EX3Books, we offer services that include author coaching to editing to marketing to publishing. T2T: What type of legacy do you want to leave behind? Brown: My personal vision statement is to be an example of Christ in word and deed - to transform, inspire, motivate and empower people to dream bigger, live their dreams and impact their world. I hope that I will be an example for others to pursue their purpose and passions. I also want to be able to impact the world through media and entertainment by providing quality contact that makes a difference. Long after I’m gone, I hope there will be people who are still touched by something I left behind or the people I was able to help along the way. T2T: Describe your life in the run of a day. Use three words that describe you doing this. Brown: My average day consists of writing, author coaching, developing the C. Nathaniel Brown brand, developing the EX3 Books brand, and helping writers publish their books. Three words that best describe me are: Humble, Determined, and Passionate. All three of these traits have enabled me to achieve the majority of my goals, keep me focused on future successes while remembering that the majority of my success is based on helping others achieve success. Brown’s success-story is one of brotherly love and empowerment. His early life and Christian walk has prepared him for greater and he is definitely remaining humble, as his determination positions him to share his passion with the world…while inspiring others to dream!■



Vandell andell Andrew ndrew (Smooth Jazz Saxophonist)


By Tina Williams

ailing from the "Birthplace of Jazz," Vandell Andrew's path to greatness and his purpose in music would not be too hard to find. While studying music at the age of 13, at a local jazz summer camp in the Treme' area of New Orleans, he learned to play the trumpet. After an entire summer of playing the trumpet at the camp, Andrew was approached by one of his teachers who challenged him, by stating that his embouchure (use of facial muscles and shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments), would work better with the saxophone. Being that this influential teacher was the coolest saxophonist in the world, in the eyes of this young, budding jazz musician, Andrew took this challenge as a compliment that his teacher would even consider training him on the saxophone. Soon after cultivating his craft on the alto saxophone, Andrew joined the world renowned St. Augustine "Marching 100" band. This experience afforded him the opportunities of performing at events and parades all over the world. As a member of this prestigious marching band, Andrew was convinced that performing and playing music was what he wanted to do for a living after graduating from high school. Shortly after graduation, Andrew enrolled in classes at Southern University at New Orleans, and studied with the legendary Edward "Kidd" Jordan. After a month of studying with Kidd, the catastrophic devastation of Hurricane Katrina took the city of New Orleans by storm. At the age of 18, and after enduring the life-altering changes brought on by Katrina, Andrew realized that he wanted to seriously pursue a career in music and began to write original compositions. In just a few short years, this decision has led to him sharing the stage with a vast array of artists, from multiple genres of music, and at venues across the United States and Europe. He has also opened and shared the stage with several internationally acclaimed artists and musicians, including Grammy awardwinning jazz saxophonist, Kirk Whalum, and the legendary smooth jazz saxophonist, Tom Braxton. In June of 2011, Andrew released his debut album entitled "Years Later.� This album is a collection of original musical compositions that has been written since he relocated to Texas following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The "Years Later" album, to date, has been getting rave reviews from smooth jazz fans, music lovers, and critics across the world. With the success of this album, Andrew decided to release an up-tempo, five -song EP called "Turn It Up." Since its release, the leading single "Let's Ride" has reached #1 on the Billboard Charts, and has also been nominated for a 2014 Soul Train Award for "Best Contemporary Jazz Performance." "There is soul in this man's playing, far from the antiseptic performances that often tarnish smooth jazz recordings." Allaboutjazz.com Website: Http://VandellMusic.com Facebook: Http://Facebook.com/Vandellmusic Twitter: Http://Twitter.com/VandellAndrew Youtube: Http://Youtube.com/vandell05




Velocity Pennation Publishing and Tree of Life'spirations Press providing services to authors wanting to self -publish. She has three books ready for release from her own collection, "Rise of the Phoenix", "Colors of Me" and "Purposeful Living for Life's Journey Diaries," along with new releases from other authors, The Tree House and The Tree House II (suspense thriller inspired by true accounts) and Extraordinary (an inspirational children’s book). Shernita is a celebrity journalist, visual artist, singer, poet, writer, author, and CEO/ Founder of Trinity Entertainment Productions Media creating video footage for businesses to market products, brand themselves, cover events, and create production of TV shows, film, documentaries, and plays. Dr. Wynder uses his skills in both companies. The Wynders married on August 28, 2015, and are combining their gifts, skills, and experiences to inspire and encourage. Their foundation, Project Educate, will empower, educate and promote leadership and excellence to youth and adults in the communities. "I know God has entrusted me with many gifts not for myself, but for the use in His Kingdom. Therefore, I will utilize each one inside and outside the church. I will invest the Lord's talents to get the return He requires before His return creatively."—Shernita Dr. Wynder shares similar sentiments, “With God as my guide, I have vowed to take the gospel into known and unknown lands, spreading the Good News of Salvation as Christ EMPOWERS me to help others to seek God's face and direction, for their soul salvation. I am a Servant of God, and my wife and I will use our creative gifts for the good of the Kingdom.”■ To learn more about Dr. Lawrence and Shernita Wynder, their ministries, and businesses, view: Empowermentchristiancenterint.org, FaceBook Page: Empowerment Christian Center Int. and Twitter: @ECCintl.




Tres Gilbert aka TresFunk By: Beverly Hill (Shelley)


his is no run of the mill bass player, and you will never hear him toot his own horn! He is Tres Gilbert, aka TresFunk!! He acquired the name TresFunk while recording the Fighting Temptations sound track with R&B songwriting and record production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Ann Nesby (former lead singer of Sounds of Blackness), and her husband Tim Lee, along with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, came up with TresFunk because he was just that FUNKY! Like many musicians, Gilbert’s beginnings started in the church. “My uncle had a choir called IMC (Interdenominational Mass Choir). It had lots of horns and percussion; it was like the group Earth Wind and Fire, but gospel.” Keyboardist William Green, and Vance Taylor would rehearse at Gilbert’s home when he was about 8 or 9 years old. “A guy named Rick Carter came into rehearsal wearing a red Kangol hat, red outfit, ponytail...everything. I remember watching that dude for 3 or 4 hours rehearsing...playing that BASS!! He was amazing to me! Afterwards, I walked up to my mom and told her that I wanted to do that!!” Gilbert’s mom said if he wanted to play the bass, he would have to join


the orchestra...so, that’s what he did! He was in the school orchestra until he was 15-years old. He started with an acoustic upright bass, and then began playing the electric bass. He laughs as he tells me, “If you just turn the upright bass around, it’s the same thing!!” He played in the school’s jazz lab for a few years...turning that upright...sideways! Eventually Gilbert worked at his father’s landscaping business for a few weeks which was long enough to buy his first bass guitar. He says with a chuckle, “I purchased the guitar, amp, and everything for a ‘whopping’ $123.00!” Gilbert has had some really interesting musical accomplishments. He performed at three separate Soul Train Award shows, with tributes that honored Chaka Khan, Anita Baker and Earth Wind and Fire! One of his most memorable was the Earth Wind and Fire tribute. Gilbert recalls, “Verdine was sitting in the audience, and I played his bass-lines. He later came up to me and a couple of the other band members and told me how great we sounded! That was a very electric moment for me!” Gilbert also played on the Love Jones sound track with the Minnie Riperton remake of “Inside My Love” with Trina Broussard. He says that too was an amazing experience for him because at the time he was so young. In addition, after one JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

of the Soul Train Award shows, Bootsy Collins came over and said, “Hey man, can you show me that bass-line?” The momentous events just seemed to continue! On a 2-week gig in Japan with Roberta Flack, during one of her shows, she asked him to come over and sit on the piano stool with her. Her next words were, “What are you doing for the rest of your life? I love how you play!” Wow...now how cool was that? Gilbert has received many compliments regarding how he maintains integrity with the presentation of his music. He doesn't alter it by trying to change anything, instead he authenticates it, making it fresh and new! He says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it...it’s already a hit.” Just like “A Woman’s Gotta Have it” by Bobby Womack, you don’t wanna go messing with the strings and horns by adding stuff, because people already know that song! Bass is a feel instrument. Looking at the notes are not enough...you have to feel them. If you wanna play like Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire, you don’t need to see the notes...you need to FEEL them!! Gilbert is one serious bass player! Just a few of his favorite bassist’s include, Marcus Miller, Larry Graham, John Patitucci, Rick Carter, Andrew Gouche, and without a doubt , Verdine White! To his own credit, Gilbert has four Grammy nominations JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

for CD’s produced for keyboardist Frank McComb, Ann Nesby and Calvin Richardson. He has been the music director for the past 3 years for the Get Down Club’s, Capital Jazz Cruise hosted by jazz musician, Joey Sommerville. It doesn’t stop there, Gilbert is the music director for Bobby Brown, and also played for New Edition for 10 years. His new CD titled Trichotomy was released in June 2015 and was number fourteen locally on Reverbnation! So, as you can see, this is a very talented and sought after bass guitarist! Gilbert says, “Music is about progress not perfection, be progressive. It may not be perfect to you, but it may be perfect to somebody. You have to make your mistakes in order to grow and get better, so keep moving no matter what...keep moving!!”■ www.TresGilbert.com Facebook/Tres Gilbert Facebook/Tres Gilbert Fans








Profile for Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan feb 2016 final  

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan feb 2016 final

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan feb 2016 final  

Trendsetters to Trendsetters Magazine Jan feb 2016 final