Monday, February 28, 2011

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Afi Soul (@afi_soul1) Balances Singing & Mommy-ing

Afi Soul in 2008 in the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest
In 2008, soul singer Afi Soul graced the stage of Capital Hip Hop Soul Festival in Washington DC's Marvin Gaye park, coming to our event with an already lengthy and successful career under her belt. Today, she is the proud mama of three girls-- an 11 year-old and a set of 8 year-old twins, with her first baby boy on the way. She talked with us about her career and her new baby on the way in an interview you can read below. Read the continuation of the interview on

Liberated Muse.: Afi, congratulations on your new addition who is about to join the family. Being a mom and a busy indie artist can’t be easy. How have you balanced your work as an artist with being mom?

Afi Soul: Thank you! I tell you it isn’t easy. Sometimes I just have to make a choice on what is the  most important thing in front of me.  Sometimes I’ve had to pull outta gigs  because someone had a asthma attack or a fever. Bottom line is I do what I do because I love it but the most important thing is that I do it for my kids to have a better life, you know? To not struggle anymore. One time last Summer I was on  my way to Soul Sistahs Juke Joint in ATL and one of my babies has an attack. I had to pause! I was like ok my baby gotta be right before I leave. I got her straight and then missed the plane! I ended up having to just put out for another ticket to get there. I try my best to keep my word with where I agree to be. You know your word is all you have in this business.

Liberated Muse: Afi, you just released a new video from your 2008 release Lovely and this CD has seen some longevity that’s rare nowadays. Tell us about this single and video.

Afi Soul: Whew, yes, it’s still selling online people are still ordering it and getting the downloads, too. I’m blessed because it seems that every day I get online on one of my pages, someone else has discovered me and wants to know more!  The video is for the single “Sorry, Gotta Go”. It is basically a song about a woman reclaiming herself and her reality. You know, we as women, when we are truly loving somebody, we makes sacrifices. We hold it down, we change the diapers and bring home the bacon– you know I’m a veggie so it would be soy. (laughs) And, when he just takes it all for granted, never really stepping up, I get tired. Two years of this is too much.

The video was done with a lot of effort of a lot of folks who just believe  in me and wanted to see it happen. It wasn’t easy. We had to change crews in the middle of the shoot because it was stretching out, and imposing of people’s time. My sister, Malkia Lydia, who is an indie film/maker and producer and my god brother Obi Holly who is also an indie producer and actually used to work with BET’s “Rap City” did a lot to make it all come together. I used one of my friend’s house for the shoot, and another friend’s studio while my manager Lamar Lee-Kane brought us to his street block to shoot, too. There were definitely many resources to make it happen–it was a communal effort. Even my babies were in it.

Read the rest of the interview on

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Liberated Muse Productions Supports Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day

SWAN Day/Support Women Artists Now Day is a new international holiday that celebrates women artists. It is an annual event taking place on the last Saturday of March (Women’s History Month) and the surrounding weeks.

The official date of the Fourth International SWAN Day is Saturday, March 26, 2011, and it will also be celebrated throughout the months of March and April.

By focusing attention on the work of women artists, SWAN Day helps people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives.

Liberated Muse Productions presents a Spring Preview of the musical stage play Running: AMOK on Saturday, March 26, 2011 on SWAN Day at the Oxon Hill Branch of the Prince George’s County Public Library System in Oxon Hill, MD.
Get Your Tickets for the Spring Preview Today!
Click Here to Get Your FREE Tickets
Watch a video highlight of Running: AMOK HERE

Monday, February 21, 2011

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Meet Mahoganee (@Mahoganee)

Southern-born singer Mahoganee is a known name around parts of Washington DC, known for her diva-fly outfits and her passionate work within the community as a motivational speaker and mentor to young girls in numerous programs throughout the Washington DC area. Mahoganee has performed in venues across the world, and Liberated Muse was lucky to have had Mahoganee participate in many of our events as a performer, featured in our Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest in 2009.

When she moved back south in 2010, many of us in the Washington DC were devastated to learn that she was no longer in our immediate midst. But, her work as a community activist and international singer continues. She is currently on tour, promoting her second CD The Chrysalis Stage and has been featured on numerous projects of other artists, including One Common Folk's recent CD compilation, Voices of a Movement: Volume I.

In our fourth Q & A for our Capital Hip Hop Soul series, Mahoganee shares with us a little about herself, including what her triumphs are and how music can make the world a better place. Read and be sure to leave a comment below.

Liberated Muse: You have been performing for some time now as an independent artist, undaunted by the challenges some indie artists encounter. What do you say contributes to your success as an indie artist? 
Mahoganee: I contribute my success to an unwilling desire to never give up. Never take no for an answer. There's always another way, you just have to find that person willing to help you to get to it. Never burn your bridges as you may have to cross them on your way to eating a slice of humble pie. Most importantly my family, they keep me humble, and are always there to support me. 

Liberated Muse: How do you define your sound? How do you think your audience describes your sound?  
Mahoganee: I define my sound as "Lauryn Hill with a twist of Minnie Ripperton and a cup of Janis Joplin.  I think my audience will describe my new sound as a big Southern pot of the best gumbo you ever had.

Liberated Muse: If you couldn't sing tomorrow and you had to change careers, what would you turn your efforts toward?  
Mahoganee: I can't imagine not being able to sing but if I had to I would teach others about what to do as an artist in the beginning stages of your career with regards to an online presence as well as finding places to perform on your own. I'm also a blogger, organic coffee distributor, songwriter, philanthropist and I've just started a CANcer Campaign (C) IAMToo. As long as I am working for myself being an entrepreneur I'm happy. 

Liberated Muse:
Name three artists you would love to work with and tell us why.  
Mahoganee: Lenny Kravitz- because he absolutely rocks on stage and plays a guitar like no other. I love guitars so having the opportunity to perform with him on one of my songs or his would definitely rock my world.  Michael Buble'- because he sings like an angel and croons like crazy.  Donny Hathaway- because he was a musical genius & I would just relish in the moment of being able to learn from him. His voice is like liquid diamonds oozing down your body while floating. Simply Amazing.

Liberated Muse:  How do you think music can change the world for the better? 
Mahoganee: I think music can and has changed the world. Quincy Jones stated that Hip Hip has such an influence on our society today that it can change the educational system in one day by infusing it into their lyrics. That's a powerful statement and I believe that what we listen to within our music is in our psyche whether we realize it or not so if your child is constantly listening to Beethoven then they will appreciate classical music, if he or she listens to Gucci Mane or Lil Wayne then they will be influenced by this also. We must feed our intellect as well as our bodies and do the same for our children.  Music is the one thing that will always bring everyone together. 

Liberated Muse: Tell us something that probably few people know about you.  
Mahoganee: I think few people know that I have been performing for 20 years and I despise beans (all kinds, pinto, green, red, etc)  *laughs*

Visit Mahoganee on Facebook here to get up to date info on her new projects, current tour stops and other online profiles.

-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Singer Gloria Ry'ann (@GloriaRyann)

The third featured artist in our Capital Hip Hop Soul series is the beautiful and very talented singer Gloria Ry'ann. Gloria came into our radar in 2009 when noted photographer Stevie Robinson, a music aficionado and host of her own music radio show,  began sharing exclusive photos and singles from Gloria's performances in New York, creating a buzz about this budding new artist that was unstoppable. In a relatively short span of time and without a full CD out yet, Gloria has already amassed a strong following of fans who are highly anticipating the release of her yet-to-be titled project that is set to drop this year. With a voice heralded as being the "next Minnie Ripperton" and a sensual delivery that has attracted the amour of many a love-struck fan, Gloria shares in our Q & A a few things that we probably wouldn't have expected, but are happy to learn about. Be sure to look out for part two of this interview on at the end of February.

Liberated Muse: How do you respond to the comparisons to the legendary Minnie Ripperton?

Gloria Ry’ann: Wow!! Such an honor to be compared to one of the greatest
singers ever!!! I still can't believe that I can be compared to possibly
the 8th wonder of the world. She is now and will always be a musical icon that I aspire to. I am forever humble and grateful.

Liberated Muse: What feeling do you want listeners to take from your

Gloria Ry’ann: Music is part of one’s soul. My music is honest! My music can heal and it's very vulnerable and open. I want people to hear me--the real
person singing to their souls!

Liberated Muse: If you couldn't sing tomorrow and you had to change careers, what would you turn your efforts toward?

Gloria Ry’ann: I have often thought of that, I see myself assisting those who are less fortunate than me. There are so many troubled youth and broken hearts and spirits in this world. People need to be embraced and loved. I see myself working with inner city youths.

Liberated Muse: Name three artists you would love to work with and tell
us why.

Gloria Ry’ann: Maxwell—[he has] dynamic energy, a phenomenal entertainer, fantastic smile. He lives his music! Quincy Jones--a living legend. He has worked with the greats from Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Sarah Vaughan, Jay-Z, Ella Fitzgerald-- just to name a few. The musical genius that he is and the wisdom he possesses, it would be pinnacle of my life. Prince-- he could help to bring out the colors of my voice. I believe he understands my artistry and the lessons of music he could impart. I would be eager to be his student. It would be an honor.

Liberated Muse: How do you think music can change the world for the better?

Gloria Ry’ann: I love this question, Music is a language, it has no boundaries and it is truly a uniting force. Music has a way of touching people, soothing entertaining and healing. I am blessed to be in a profession that possesses so many attributes.

Liberated Muse: Tell us something that probably few people know about you.

Gloria Ry’ann: There are many things that you would find amusing about me. I am actually a comedian at heart. I look for opportunities to help people feel good. I love laughter and I make a mean banana pudding.....wink*

Stay tuned for PART TWO of the Gloria Ry'ann interview on later this month.

You can listen to Gloria's music on Reverbnation, Facebook, MySpace & Twitter

-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

Khadijah is a writer based in the Washington DC metro area. Visit her online at

Friday, February 4, 2011

Liberated Muse Co-Founder Receives "Woman of Power" Recognition

(l to r) writers Jaye Hunnie, Shani Elliot, and Khadijah Ali-Coleman, with singer Quineice

Last night, eMedia recognized seven women for it's acclaimed "Woman of Power" distinction. Liberated Muse's Khadijah "Moon" Ali-Coleman was among the awardees. During the last night's Woman of Power Networking Happy Hour at Eden's Lounge in Baltimore, MD, Moon, along with Tarsha Beavers, Genvieve Wilson, Wendy McIntyre, Monifa Jackson, LaShella Miller and Patricia Fitzhugh were recognized by their peers for their work as community leaders making a difference in the lives of those around them. Other past awardees were in the house in celebration, including photographer Stevie Robinson, media professional Shani Elliot, innkeeper Janice Orr, make-up artist Catonya Lester, visionary Ujimma Masani, and event planner Lydia Murray.

"Woman of Power" is an award and event produced by eMedia, led by Eric Stewart. To learn more about the event, to nominate a woman for the award or to sponsor the event, contact Stewart

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cupid's Hunt Podcast 2011

Valentine's Day is approaching and this year, will participate once more in the Cupid's Hunt Podcast consortium. Music producer Hook of will be putting the podcast together with us and we are looking forward to it. (Check out what our playlist included last year). Here is a list of sites besides us that will be participating:
1. TGrundy - Rhythms In Black Satin (
2. Mr. Fresh - Vibes and Scribes (
3. Nikki - Soulrific Podcast Show (
4. Fave - Friday Favecast (
5. Jason - Radio BSOTS (
6. DarrenKeith - My Love For Music (
7. EJ Flavors - Old School Wednesday (
8. KB - JustSayKB (
9. Todd "BigLa" Kelley - Flowink (
10. Jolene - The Night Shift (
11. DJDiva - The Mixtress (
12. Anji Bee - The Chillcast (
13. Vincent - Fufu Stew (
14. Ron- SmoothSilk - SmoothSilk1 (
15. Sista Suga - (
16. Paul Eversley - (
17. DJ GrantLOVE - (

So, what is the Cupid's Hunt Podcast consortium, you ask?  Cupid's Hunt is the premiere online collaboration event where DJ and podcasters from all over the Internet release loved-themed music mixes all on the same day: Valentine's Day! Do you want to join and do a podcast for your own blog? Click here for more info.

Are there songs you'd like to hear on the Liberated Muse podcast? Post your ideas on our page here.

Are there songs you'd like to hear on the Liberated Muse podcast? Post your ideas on our page here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Music Man Zach Cutler (@zachcutler)

If you are a nightlife purveyor of soul in Washington DC, you most likely have enjoyed an artist or two or three who is accompanied by musician extraordinaire Zachary Cutler. Zach is probably the most well-known soul guitarist in the Nation's Capital, not only known for his amazing skills as an accompanist, able to rock an acoustic or full band set-up-- but also appreciated for his studio work as a musician, writer and creative collaborator with many of our favorite acts. Check out this recent Q & A with him as part of our Capital Hip Hop Soul blog series.

Liberated Muse: Hi Zach! You are one of the more well-known musicians in the nation's capital who is often seen accompanying some of the more popular singers getting stage time around town. Tell us about how you got started performing with some of the talented folk here in the DMV.

Zach Cutler: Being able to work with so many amazing artists in the DC area is a blessing! We are such a talented city, and the soul scene has come so far in the years I've been here. When I graduated from Oberlin College with a music degree in 1999, I moved to DC because my brother lived here at the time, and I dug the vibe of the city. I was directing an after-school program, and needing to play some music, so I answered an ad in the City Paper for a band who were looking for a guitarist that could play blues, soul, rock, and funk. That band ended up being Moya, which was Mikuak Rai's project. Mikuak was hosting BarNun back then, and the U street scene had a great vibe of young artists really inspired to take back the city. During those years in Moya, I worked with a lot of folks who were still coming up, and we really all saw how important it was to build a musical family.

One of my favorite stories from that era happened when a group of young students from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts booked us to come up with Raheem DeVaughn and perform, and we all piled into a van and drove up 95, played the show, and had a blast. It wasn't until years later, when I was in her band, that I realized that Alison Carney was the student who had booked the show!
One of the greatest things about DC is that we musicians really look out for each other and act as a large musical clan. We make it a point to even book cover band bar gigs so that we can just have some fun times jamming together while making a few bucks. The Sound of the City crew, Section 8, and the rest of us musical mercenaries (especially Mr. Turner on Bass, Aaron Hardin on keys, Robbie McDonald on guitar, Duane Payne on drums, Boogie Greer on percussion) keep each other working, and I count them all as good friends as well.

I wish I could list every artist that I have worked with, because they have all been such great talents. I know I would leave some people out, though....I'm gonna get an angry phone call from someone! But locally I work a lot with Alison Carney, Green Tea, Tamika Jones, Kenny Wesley, W. Ellington Felton, J. Hill, Midian, Jay Hayden....I also have worked as a writer/producer/creative partner with Teisha Marie, Ne'a Posey, Tamara this list is getting out of hand. Sorry y'all! Nationally I have been blessed to work with some great vocalists...people like Yahzarah, N'Dambi, Melanie Fiona, Russell Taylor, Abby Dobson, Geno Young....These are people for whom I have serious respect. Not only are they amazing singers, but their grind and hustle is inspiring!

Liberated Muse: Wow! That list is incredible. What is your musical muse? What inspires you to keep working within the industry?

Zach Cutler: Whew. Well, every time I play feels like my birthday. I always tell people that when you are a professional musician, the pay you earn is really for the time you spend driving and waiting around for sound check. Once you're on stage, it's all pleasure in my book. But the long term satisfaction comes from putting on a great record and feeling that bliss that only good music can provide....the kind where you find yourself cranking your car stereo and playing air drums! I hope somewhere someone plays some air guitar to one of my tunes!

Musically, I've always been a hardcore funkateer. My favorite three musical forces are P-Funk, The Meters, and James Brown. Put them on and I'm a happy dude. But I listen to a bit of everything. As a guitar teacher, my students expose me to new stuff all the time, and it makes me want to dig deeper to see what makes them feel that musical passion. So I find myself listening to these metal bands, or Taylor Swift, and people look at me like I'm crazy!

Liberated Muse: If you couldn't play music tomorrow and you had to change careers, what would you turn your efforts toward?

Zach Cutler: Well, I taught kindergarten and directed an after-school program for almost 8 years, so I do love teaching. In fact, it was a hard choice to give it up to become a full-time musician, but I was struggling being in the clubs at a gig until 3 am, and then facing a room of 25 six-year olds at 7am the next morning! I still give guitar lessons every day, and some of my students are former kindergarteners of mine. It's nice to stay in touch with the kid in me, too.

Liberated Muse: Name three artists you would love to work with and tell us why.
Zach Cutler: I think every soul music sideman would say Prince. He's the only one of my musical heroes who is still at the top of his game 25 years after making the hits that made him famous, and the musicianship in his live show is downright bananas.

The most recent artist who has blown me away is Janelle Monae. I think she's unique and phenomenal, and Nate Wonder produced the hell out of that record with some really organic sounds. I love that the album is impossible to categorize...I couldn't find it in the soul section in the record store; they had filed it under rock. It confuses and challenges people, and I think that's wonderful. Actually, my third choice is the guy whose musical spirit I think most encompasses what I love about music: Maceo Parker. Whenever her plays his alto sax, his tone, phrasing, and energy just overflow with pure *delight*. I mean, anyone who was the major icing on the cake for James Brown, P-Funk, and Prince obviously knows a special secret to soulfulness!

Liberated Muse: How do you think music can change the world for the better?

Zach Cutler: Music is superbly subversive in the best of ways. It can infiltrate a part of our psyche through our ears that we cannot control willingly. There is an awesome book written by a record producer-turned-neuroscientist called This is Your Brain On Music, that essentially states that there are aspects of how our brain processes music that have deep connections to other parts of our brain we associate with our "soul." That makes it a very powerful tool; so powerful I don't quite always understand how it effects me. I will tell you this: music has been an instrumental agent in helping me through every difficult time in my life, and that makes me want to understand it as much as possible. If I can help heal others the way music has healed me, then I will be a happy man.

Liberated Muse: Tell us something that probably few people know about you.

Zach Cutler: Hmmmm. Don't want to expose too many of my secrets! Let's see...When I was in college, I DJ'd an all-funk radio program at a community radio station, and I got to interview several of my heroes then, including Rick James! Rick actually gave a pretty hysterical interview (which I still have on cassette and need to digitally convert...), but he had a stroke only 5 hours after we hung up the phone! He lived for another 5 years after that, but I always felt guilty and responsible for asking the tough question. Don't worry Khadijah....I'm in good health! You won't do me like I did Rick!

Stay up with Zach:

on Twitter @zachcutler
on Gmail
on Facebook

-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman

Khadijah is a writer based in the Washington DC metro area. Visit her online at