Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Behind-the-Scenes Look at "In Her Words"

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes video, shot by filmmaker Biljana Milenkovic and edited by Khadijah Ali-Coleman, this video gets feedback from the cast about their experience portraying the cultural icons featured and give a glimpse of what's in store at the debut of the show "In Her Words" which debuts Saturday, Feb. 4 at 1pm at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington DC. Visit http://www.theyliveon.wordpress.com for more information.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Wes Felton

Cutting-edge and eclectic, DC-based singer Wes Felton is always bringing something new to the music game. His renowned flavor of innovation and unbridled honesty lead many music listeners to either love or hate him, but the love definitely outweighs the latter. Read more about this innovative artist in a Q & A on SoulTrain.com HERE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Akua Allrich

DC-based vocalist Akua Allrich fuses musical genres to create music that is not easily categorized as jazz, blues, or R&B. Quickly garnering attention on adult contemporary radio stations for her first CD A Peace of Mine (2010) and the single “Hard to Get”, Akua (pronounced Ah-kwee-ah) is moving forward with redefining what soul music is in America.

“My sound is a fusion of styles with its base in jazz, blues, soul and African rhythm,” she says. “I want my music to reflect all of my experiences as an African born in America.”

Read her full interview on SoulTrain.com HERE.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Capital Hip Hop Soul: Princess of Controversy

Princess of Controversy performed in the 2010 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, a Liberated Muse production and we got a glimpse first-hand of how dope PoC rocks the mic. She is a DMV mainstay-- whether she's rocking the mic solo or with her new group DPE-- and this month, she is featured on SoulTrain.com.

Honing her career as an MC, singer, and actress on stages across the country, POC has done everything—from appearing on reality shows to writing plays, including her most recent touring production “ALPHACHICK”. She believes that broadening your horizons as an entertainer helps you develop as an artist and perfect your craft.

“I love being able to share what I do and getting feedback makes me better and stronger,” she says.

Read her interview on SoulTrain.com HERE.

WAMMIE Nominations Announced, Favorites Nominated


While we were dismayed to see that the cabaret and musical theater categories were absent without any prior word they would be removed from the running, waking up this morn to see the listing of nominees for the WAMMIES was inspiring. Kudos to some of our Liberated Muse favorites who recently were nominated this week for Washington Area Music (WAMMIE) awards, including the hip-hop trio Gods'illa who we first witnessed at our 2008 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, hip-hop producer and MC Kokayi who inspired the director of the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, Maceo Thomas to conceive of the idea of the festival, highlighting local talent, soul singer/MC Maimouna Youssef who is managed by Liberated Muse member Diallo Sumbry and local staple Carolyn Malachi who is founder of the organization Smart Chicks. Congrats to you all!

See all nominees HERE.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Southeast Ministry Shines Beacon of Light for Ward 8’s Unemployed Residents

By Khadijah Ali-Coleman

“If you have a job, think of [hiring] a Southeast Ministry student,” Valarie Ashley suggests.
Ashley, executive director of Southeast Ministry—a Ward 8-based nonprofit located on MLK Ave in SE that provides job training and educational services to adults—has led Southeast Ministry since 2009. She has grown the small nonprofit into a community haven that is attracting the attention of both those seeking services and those with services to provide. 

“Our goal is to help those who come to us become better participants in family and community,” Ashley says. Many of those served by Southeast Ministry are often unemployed or underemployed, she adds, so, training them to become employable is a priority.

“For us, underemployed looks like people who are taking anything to earn money—temp work, handyman services—jobs with no future guarantee, no benefits, no guarantee that there will be work tomorrow…many people who have been locked out of the job market for so long.”

Ashley finds that the first step to making folks who come to Southeast Ministry employable usually starts with building basic skills and helping in the area of education. She also finds that teaching from an African-American cultural perspective also helps makes learning relevant to the students. For, she says, “ninety-nine percent of who we serve are African-American.”

Growing at the Root
In just the past two years, Southeast Ministry has helped hundreds of adults earn their GED and build employable skills while attracting donors and community partners who offer valuable opportunities to Southeast Ministry clients as well. One participant, Melissa Moon, a local mom participating in Southeast Ministry’s GED classes is appreciative of all of the organization’s offerings.

“I’m trying to get my GED to better my life and my children’s lives and Southeast Ministry is doing a great job,” says Moon. “With the help of my teacher Ashley [Luttmer], I’ve been getting helped in things like percentages and algebra, things I didn’t do so well or understand in school.”

Valarie Ashley admits that she is grateful that Southeast Ministry continues to thrive and be available to provide services to adults like Moon despite the current financial troubles in the US and the specific issues communities like DC’s Ward 7 and Ward 8 face. She attributes Southeast Ministry’s longevity to the community partnerships she’s formed with other organizations in the city. One partnership with the nonprofit organization Byte Back provides technology training to adults and has been a recent success of Southeast Ministry.

“The partnership with the nonprofit Byte Back allows us to add that technology component to our services which is so necessary,” Ashley says. “So many people are afraid of computers, so at intake, we make people get an email address to begin the process of being familiar with computers.” Ashley laughs as she admits that the next step, after having clients set up an email account, is actually conditioning them to begin using their new email address to communicate.

“It’s all about training. We have to train people to check their email.”

Another partnership, this one with DC Public Schools, allows students to enroll in an External Diploma Program which allows them to take high school level courses and earn a high school diploma. For the first time, three Southeast Ministry participants graduated from the External Diploma Program this past summer.

Ashley, who has worked for larger nonprofits like Covenant House and Goodwill during her earlier career explains that building partnerships is one of the most important thing a smaller nonprofit can do to stay relevant and responsive to the needs of those served.

“I’ve come from someplace big, but when you’re with someplace big, opportunities come to you , so the question now becomes, how do I find resources as a very small nonprofit so I can provide quality programming to the people who come here because we do have the good fortune of being right here on the avenue.”

What she and her staff have done is scour the city and create networks with other nonprofits and businesses to lessen the difficulties those coming to Southeast Ministry will face. One example is the service integration partnership established with Brighter Day Ministries, located across the street from Southeast Ministry. To support Southeast Ministry clients who may have difficulties finding food or having clothes appropriate for a job interview, Southeast Ministry staff can refer a client to Brighter Day Ministries to receive fresh food rations or clean and appropriate clothing to wear for the job while Brighter Day Ministries can refer clients to Southeast Ministry for adult education classes and job training.

But, sometimes, community offerings walk right up to the front door.

When Gifts Come Knocking
“So, this is the best story,” Ashley begins.  “So, one day I get a call from our office manager saying that there are two men downstairs that say that they’re from the government and they say they can save us money on our energy bills. And, as they’re coming up, I’m like, ‘Who is this trying to scam me,’ but, it was real.”

These two men were from the District’s Department of the Environment, knocking on doors to inform nonprofits about a weatherization grant which would provide efficiency assistance in the form of replacing windows, insulating the attic, changing light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, and bleeding radiators.  After a 17-page energy audit and confirmation from Ashley to begin work, contractors renovated Southeast Ministry in a matter of months.

“We have this space that is more comfortable to have and windows that we can actually look out of now. We knew that our building was meager before, but not how meager it actually was. We didn’t realize how inefficient the building really was,” Ashley says.

With the new building renovation, comes a renewed spirit that Southeast Ministry definitely plays an integral part in the larger landscape of Washington DC. Ashley confirms that the goodwill shown Southeast Ministry only strengthens her resolve to stay focused on serving those who are most at-risk of being passed over for employment.

“At the end of the day, I don’t have a problem asking for things if it makes the difference between someone getting a job and not having one.”

To volunteer, donate and learn more about Southeast Ministry, visit www.southeastministrydc.org or call 202-562-2636

Liberated Muse partners with nonprofits throughout the Washington DC area on arts projects and workshops. Southeast Ministry has been a partner with Liberated Muse since 2009.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No LiberatedMuse.com Today

Wikipedia and hundreds, if not thousands, of other notable online brands have entered into an all-day shut-down-- a black-out-- in the name of advocacy for consumer rights.
The shutdown -- which started at midnight Tuesday ET -- is protesting two bills aimed at cracking down on online piracy, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) introduced in the House of Representatives, and the Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs. 
These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010.
The good news is that the numbers are wrong — as this post by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez explains. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology,” which is polite government-speak for “these figures were made up out of thin air.” (From the website Freakanomics)

READ HERE How SOPA will impact you as an artist selling things commercially online if the act is enacted.
In solidarity, the LiberatedMuse.com member network will be shutting down today as well, resuming normal operations on Thursday, Jan. 19.
This bill, if passed, will make it dramatically difficult for independent artists to use the internet in their best interest to garner fans, sell their music and the like.

If you have any questions, please contact us at LiberatedMuseProductions@gmail.com

In solidarity,

Khadijah "Moon" Ali-Coleman
Liberated Muse

Monday, January 9, 2012

Top 5 Anticipated Album Drops in 2012

Janet Jackson
In the past few years, since her last CD release in 2008, Janet Jackson has done a lot. For starters, she brushed off her acting chops and breezed into thespian duties as lead in a string of Tyler Perry movies. Add that to her new role as published author—releasing  a New York Times bestseller, True You-- an intimate look sharing her personal journey toward loving herself-- and you have one successful sense of momentum already. But, the youngest Jackson hasn’t just stopped there. At the end of 2011, there she was-- the new spokesperson for the weigh t loss company Nutrisystem while still in the midst of her national tour performing her number one hits. With this flurry of activity, are we at all surprised that she has planned a new untitled-yet album drop rumored to be released sometime this summer? We’re not. Here’s hoping that Janet brings us something fresh yet reminiscent of what we’ve always loved about her—sweet, touching ballads and upbeat dance grooves. But, seriously, if she flips it on us and brings us something totally different, it’s her right. At 46, Janet is still wowing us with her talent and has already proven herself to be an iconic entertainer, blazing the trails for numerous artists who have unmistakably been influenced by her style.
Brandy has had a some hits and misses in recent years and, for a while, it looked like her career may have come to an early end. However, overcoming numerous challenges—from baby-daddy drama and a fatal car accident to ensuing legal issues and reality show doldrums, Brandy seems to have regained her mojo and surrounded herself with those able to push her towards what we love to see her do—music. It is exciting to learn that after signing with RCA in 2011, Brandy is slated to drop her sixth album this Spring. Her last CD, Human, was released in 2008, to low fanfare, so here’s hoping her new project marks the come-back for this multi-talented artist who has already re-ignited her acting career simultaneously, recently becoming part of the cast of the BET series “The Game”.  

Recently losing to Rihanna her top title of fastest solo act to earn twenty top ten hits while having Lady Gaga almost instantaneously cop her image and target audience, Madonna has been left with a lot of work to do to stay relevant in today’s digital world. Far from the 80’s music industry she started in, singing blue-eyed soul tunes like “Borderline” and “Holiday”, or the 90’s that marked the heyday of her pop career, Madonna will drop new music this year where album sales are unforgiving to artists who aren’t everywhere every second. But, really, is anyone worried? Madonna is the Queen of Reinvention and there is no surprise that it has been rumored that her new CD will be an eclectic mix of hip-hop, soul, dance and rock, compared by some to the singer Kelis' last drop Acapella. Madonna’s single “Gimme All Your Love” off of the unreleased upcoming album was leaked last year to the chagrin of the Madonna camp, but fans of 80’s pop are giving it thumbs-up with its pumping electronic beats and almost-girly vocals. With the buzz indicating that the record will be next level, you can’t help but be curious to see what’s in store. Her CD is slated for a February 2012 drop.


When an 8 year-old demo of D’Angelo’s cover of the Soundgarden song “Black Hole Sun” circulated this past month, fans of the neo-soul innovator went wild attempting to snag a download of the muffled demo. The rumor is that he will be dropping new music this year, an album tentatively called James River. But, the rumor mill said the same thing in 2010 and in 2011. Will this be the year our dreams will come true and we will get new music from this elusive talent who hasn’t dropped anything new in the last twelve years since his classic album Voodoo. We’ll see. Battling more than a decade of challenges—from arrests to legal issues, we are glad to see some concrete evidence that D’Angelo, at long last, will be coming back to the forefront.

Janelle Monae
What were you doing when you found out about Janelle Monae? Chances are, her appearance and subsequent performance blew your mind. Her image defies convention. Her 2010 release ArchAndroid was epic. Putting a new spin on the idea of a concept album, Janelle Monae brought flavor and flair to the music scene that hadn’t been rejuvenated by anyone so innovative since Michael Jackson gave us his moonwalk and Thriller in the 80’s. Janelle Monae and her signature pompadour, signed by Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, was everywhere in 2010—making late night talk show rounds and touring tirelessly to promote her full-length masterpiece. And then, in 2011, the momentum seemed to slacken a bit and before mid-year, we were scratching our heads wondering, “Where is Janelle?” It is very obvious when this pint-sized tuxedo-garbed powerhouse is missing from the scene, even when her popular song “Tightrope” was snagged by Target to promote their wares. But, no worries. She’s been touring relentlessly, even pausing to perform for the President this past Fall. So, how has she found time to pause and record music for her follow-up? Who knows, but let’s keep fingers crossed that it’s the real deal. We can’t get enough of this new star.

Read HERE for the original post on SoulTrain.com

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Liberated Muse Founder Selected for 2012 Top Forty UNDER 40 Award

Liberated Muse is pleased to announce that founder Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman has been recognized by The Prince George's County Social Innovation Fund inaugural  ‘Forty UNDER 40 -Prince George's County 2012’ list. The list recognizes county residents who have made exceptional contributions in Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Health and Fitness, Public Service, and Science.  Khadijah was recognized for her work in the Arts and Humanities.

Khadijah Ali-Coleman, a performance artist, creativity coach, and playwright is founder of the online space LiberatedMuse.com that boasts a membership of over 700 members from across the world. Since 2008, Liberated Muse, has produced numerous events, including the annual Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest, Khadijah’s play “Running: AMOK” which debuted in the 5th annual Capital Fringe Fest, and the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul. Her latest theatrical production “In Her Words”, highlights the art and activism of artists Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Zora Neale Hurston and Lucille Clifton, sponsored by the DC Public Library system.

Khadijah is Associate Director of the arts-based nonprofit One Common Unity and adjunct faculty in the Communication Studies & Theater department at Northern Virginia Community College.

About the Forty UNDER 40 Award

Launched in September of this year, nominations were widely accepted from individuals and organizations from throughout the region. A review panel, consisting of representatives from the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, EnVision Prince George’s, and the Human Services Coalition of Prince George’s County carefully reviewed each nomination in order to select the impressive cohort which includes PG County School Board member Edward Burroughs III, Lil So So founder Risikat Odeyi, and PG County Literacy Council Executive Director Taneika Taylor Tukan. The Awardees were assessed based on character, dedication to given field, risk-taking and innovation, and contributions to Prince George’s County and the broader community. You can find The List at http://innovateprincegeorges.org/forty-under-40-prince-georges/.

An Awards Reception will be held on January31, 2012 at The Howard Zinn Room – Busboys and Poets, Hyattsville, Maryland. Tickets can be purchased at www.fortyunderforty.eventbrite.com.

For more information or to inquire about event sponsorship and advertisement opportunities, contact the Prince George's County Innovation Fund at fortyunderforty@innovateprincegeorges.org or on 301-996-0792.