I've had my eyes on Words Beats and Life for years and finally made a commitment to attend a WBL event! This weekend I attended The Words Beats and Life Hip Hop Festival. The festival ran Nov 1-6, and was packed with free Performances, Workshops, Discussions and Ciphers, Yoga a Creative Economy Job Fair, Photography Contest, Chess Tournament and a hands on DJ Masterclass with DJ Premier. DJ Premier paid tribute to the late great GURU on the ones and twos Saturday night live on JFK Center Millennium Stage. I was able to attend the Festival all day Saturday. I linked with leaders in non profit organization, met the amazingly beautiful and exceedingly talented choreographer/dancer, ROCKAFELLA, Life The Grio along with the boys of Chess and Community (one of the boys found my lost iPhone that afternoon) and Monique Johnson, Founder of Children of The Light Inc., to name a few. It was truly my pleasure to be amongst such positive influencers, youth from diverse communities and likeminded artistic individuals. Shoutout to Words Beats and Life Inc. for the impactful change they are making to inspire and empower the youth within the DMV community and beyond!
From the decor, to the dynamic Hip Hop Speaker, to the performances and my God the beautiful black and brown people in attendance, The 3rd Annual Speak Life Tour Awards Gala was indeed a spectacular night to remember.
I had the esteemed privilege of interviewing the Speak Life Tour Sponsors, Artists, and Attendees of the event. Their stories and encouraging words of praise solidified the powerful and impactful work that The Speak Life Tour has done and is doing to penetrate, elevate and inspire the minds of the black youth in our communities. The night was filled with performances from the talented and beautiful Melanin Reigns, RICKOCHET Dance Group, Song and Liturcical Dance via STAR, poetry by Epiphany Words, Singer Brandon Gatewood and many other Speak Life Tour Artists.
Hip Hop Motivational Speaker Carl Michel spoke an intense word filled with positivity and purpose. His words inspired us to stay focused on accomplishing our goals, live out our dreams, love ourselves first, to honor God and in turn honor the God within us.
All this was done with influential lyrical references from Kendrick Lamar, Nas, KRS ONE and Carl dropped a few bars of his own.
The night would have been amiss without a tribute to Founder and Creator of The Speak Life Tour, Catherine Trotter. Her tireless efforts, sleepless nights and persistence have blossomed into what we now know as THE SPEAK LIFE TOUR. The Artists, sponsors, friends and attendees gave their deepest expressions with gifts and words of thanks for THE SPEAK LIFE TOUR and praise for Catherine's influence on each of their lives. She left us with words of insightful words wisdom. "Never give up on your dreams, follow your calling, push forward and be all that you are called to be."
I had a wonderful time at the Speak Life Tour 3rd Annual Gala and look forward to what's in store for 2017 and beyond!
THE SUNPEOPLE FESTIVAL
Friends and family came together to share positive energy, love, light and spiritual power this past scorching hot Saturday in NE DC. At The SunPeople Festival I experienced the power of Acu spiraling Reiki & Tapping, received a reading from a spiritual worker and connected with many other spiritual beings. Festivities included liturgical dancing, drumming and vocal performances, and vendors, breathing classes, touch therapy, holistic living information sessions, healthy food tasting and DJ Monty kept the party going with his Afro Soul music vibes!
The vendors of the event and the sponsoring organization came together and discussed how we could further spread the message of Holistic/Spiritual Health and Wellness with the community in Ward 7. Many expressed their concern about the major disconnects that exist between black folks in the community and free resource centers like Riverside Healthy Living Center, and in Washington DC as a whole.
One vendor expressed:
“Ward 7 doesn’t know what Ward 6 or 5 is doing of what services they have to offer, we have to do better with getting information directly to the people and with coming together as a whole”
Our charge is to continue to organize informational and spiritually empowering events like The Sunpeople Festival but to also bridge the gap between old and young. Do more community based, foot to pavement street work. Get from behind office doors and office desks and talk to the people in our community, know them by name. It’s not the only solution but it is a great place to start.
ENJOY THESE PHOTOS FROM THE SUNPEOPLE FESTIVAL
BUSBOYS AND POETS 5TH & K
What is an entrepreneur? Knowing what it is, is one thing but believing and being a black women entrepreneur is another. We all have heard stories pertaining to the great success of women entrepreneurs like Oprah, Cathy Hughes and Madame CJ Walker ... just to name a few. What do all these women have in common? They, my friends, had a dream, an idea, a purpose that was so important to them to manifest and share with the world. Failure was second nature to them. Oprah has said many times “You must accept, not fear failure.” It is a part of the process. They took a leap of faith and went for it! If you want to make your dream a reality you must GO FOR IT! Creating the life you desire, building a brand / business, becoming and Entrepreneur is a process, not a race.
My business mentor says in order to succeed as an Entrepreneur you must invest in yourself. You must show up in places and spaces where entrepreneurs/business minded people are in order to build and make connections. Over my Spring Break I attended The UManagement, LLC First Annual EntrepreneuHER Women’s Brunch, held at Busboys and Poets, 5th and K, Washington DC. This meeting of the minds was birthed through UManagement, Sr. Publicist, Founder and CEO, and former Bowie State University SGA President, Milan Mobley. When I received an invitation to speak as a panelist, honestly, I thought my brand is thriving, but my business is still in the development stage! What could I possibly contribute to this panel?
Let me tell you, I had much to contribute in the panel discussion. Questions from the women in attendance included what are some of the hardships / benefits of working for yourself? Where do you see your business in 5-10 years and what tips would you give an aspiring entrepreneur? Surely I had insight in these areas and I wanted to answer every question. I learned so much from the other women on the panel and connected with like-minded businesswomen who were in attendance. Many of whom were interested in learning more about and contributing to the vision of IAM.
I connected with many like-minded entrepreneurs and gained valuable insight from other amazing women like, Ryan Kelly, an amazing Artist (who was live painting at the event) who hipped me to RAW ARTISTS and suggested I become a member in order to showcase my art and jewelry. I linked up with Founder and CEO, Tatum Harrison of the Queen Academy whose mission and vision mirrors IAM. We've already made plans to build and brainstorm. I was invited to another Women’s brunch and Kayla, Founder of Bossup asked me if I would agree to be featured on her blog. I produced some income through my IAM INSPIRATIONAL BRACELETS and button sales. I left this event charged up knowing IAM moving in the right direction even though I have so much further to go. I felt and IAM empowered knowing my mission and vision for IAM is clearer, accessible and functional. It’s been almost two years coming, IAM so excited about the future, I can barely contain myself. To think IAM was just an IDEA I had five years ago. To see that IDEA birthed into a reality is truly a great success. Thank you Milan for believing in my mission and vision. Thank you to all the amazing panelists and great women in attendance. We are BLACK EXCELLENCE.
Sperry Park 23rd Annual Unity Day
Hundreds of Buffalo residents, including city officials, WPGC, Buffalo PD and the Buffalo Fire Department gathered together this Saturday for the 23rd Annual Sperry Park Unity Day. The Unity Day was filled with free food, giveaways, performances from local talent, face painting, horseback riding, dancing and feautured the 3rd Annual Prude Classic, sponsored by Im Livin B.
Sperry Park Annual Unity Day with its 23 years of success is a testament to the positive, uplifting and unifying power of the African American community resonating around the entire city of Buffalo.
Sperry Park 23rd Annual Unity Day Sponsors
Mayor Byron Brown
Common Council Darius Pridgen and the Ellicott District
Assembly Woman Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Erie County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams
The African American Cultural Center
The Larkin Development Group
The White Family
The Sperry Park C.A.O.
BURCHFIELD PENNEY ART CENTER, BUFFALO STATE COLLEGE
Candidates pictured from left to right: Sharon M. Belton-Cottman, Lamone Gibson, Ulysees O. Wingo Sr.
Buffalo, NY Primary Elections for Common Council will take place on September 10, 2015. Debates were held for Masten and Fillmore District yesterday at the beautiful Burchfield Penney Art Center, located on Buffalo State College Campus.
The debate was sponsored in part by Burchfield Art Center along with the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists. Candidates present for the Masten District included Sharon M. Belton-Cottman, Lamone Gibson and Ulysees O. Wingo Sr.
Debate topics included:
Gentrification and its affects or lack thereof within the District
BMHA state of residencies, security, availability
Buffalo Police Department appointment of African American officers, current state of connection, sensitivity, reliability
and overall presence of Police within the District
Recourses for Senior Citizens
Truancy amongst African American Inner City Students
Community based Wrap Around Services for Inner City Youth
State/Government/City Regulations, Grants, Initiatives and other government allocated funds for the District
Overall representation of District
Learn more about the Candidates and their positions on the issues here:
Sharon M. Belton-Cottman
Committee To Elect Sharon Masten District Council Member
Lamone Mr-Stoptheviolence Gibson
Ulysees O. Wingo Sr
Ulysees O. Wingo Sr
Learn more about the Buffalo, NY 2015 Common Council Debate Sponsors here:
Buffalo Association of Black Journalists
Burchfield Penny Art Center
I love my HBCU! Students came out today for the Hype Fest Day Carnival! There was free food, free henna, music and more!! I thought I would catch a couple people in action + next time I will have somebody...anybody snap my pic. GO BULLDOGS!!!
So, I have recently embraced my love for spoken word, poetry, writing in rhyme, being a true lyricsist...whatever you want to call it. Split This Rock, the parent oraganization of the DC Youth Slam Team whom I admire and follow on Facebook, hosted a free writing workshop last week with Pages Matam. Long story extremely short, I went to the workshop, had an aweome time, learned some exceptionally dope writing techniques and was now a VIP Guest at the 2015 DC Youth Grand Slam Finals...
Whew, Imagine saying all that really fast in a poem...on a stage.
Finals took place at Arena Stage, SW, Washington DC. When I arrived I was greeted by Pages and escrted to the packed Arena full of avid listeners, fans, friends, moms and fellow poets waiting patiently on the Slam to start. I have never been to a Youth Poetry Slam and had no idea what to expect…
“are the young poets allowed to say bad words?”
“will someone say something that will make me question my entire existence?”
"are they going to say lakesha lee, come up on stage and bless the mic?"
I know everything is not always about me...but really, it is, lol..
Again, back to the Poetry Slam. When I say I was in awe of these young people...If you were at this Poetry Slam and did not leave inspired by the poetic story telling + enlightening genius of these eloquent poets, you have no heart + no soul. I was there to bear witness to the unbothered + unapologetic nature of these young talented DC youth, truly an awesome Saturday evening...by the way, that means a lot for me, my Saturdays are GOLDEN.
Chillin front row with Gayle Danley on my right...Pages Matam on my left...STARDOM.
BUSBOYS AND POETS BROOKLAND
Randi: Do you do spoken word, are you into poetry?
Me: (dressed in all black head to toe, giving all of goth winged eyeliner with matte black lipstick)
Yes…yes, I do…why did you think to ask me that, is it how I’m dressed?
Randi: No…, it wasn’t that at all, it’s your energy.
I have been telling myself and a few select others that I have poetry written that I want to perform Open Mic style.
This is what happens when you speak into the Universe...
This was the invitation to the fulfillment of my dream to perform my poetry before a live audience and accept my gift as a poetress. It was like Randi had a meeting with the universe and said, today is the day for Lakesha Lee to walk into her destiny, to receive what it is she asks for. Lets see if she answers the call...I did. Randi, (Randi Gloss of Gloss Rags and Counting Tees) told me about her upcoming event, Letters to our Lost Blood, a commemorative poetry performance. I gladly accepted the invitation and was overwhelmed by feelings of “o shoot, this is really about to happen”. I am walking in the path of my destiny and following the path to my dreams, my dreams…doing the things I want to do. I’ve been writing lyrics, poetry since I was 15.
My motivational speeches are in written and performed in poetic form and I’ve recently written a speech in book form (so foreal I wrote a book)…I’m not new to this im true to this. However, you know that awesome thing you do really well, but don’t claim it, or share it, or label it as other or say...
etc...etc…or maybe it’s just me?
No, I know I’m not alone because I’ve heard it so many times from other people saying they do this or that but "not really." IAM WAAAY over the “not really” phase, it don’t do nothing but HOLD YOU BACK!!! Be clear about who you are and what you do. Do this and the universe will present you with opportunity. Just make sure your ready when you get the call…and if your not ready, get ready, get moving, get active…do that thing that you “really do” until you do it really well.
NOW...WATCH ME PERFORM DEAR RENISHA!!!