Music Notes: Support Independent Music

Being a lifelong music lover, I must admit that I never thought much about independent music and independent artists until the past year or so. In my mind, I always defined indie music as a genre of “alternative” or “non-mainstream” music. I thought of indie artists as folks who sold their music out of the trunk of the car. Well, ignorance is NOT bliss, and thankfully I have come to realize not only the definition of, but the absolute value of independent music. If you’ve been following This and That With Calandra, especially the Music Notes section, you will know the love affair I have had with music since childhood. My life’s soundtrack has included the genres of R&B, soul, hip-hop, gospel, jazz and more. You may also have read my re-introduction into the downtempo chill genre through Mr. Fresh’s Sunday Soundtrack Podcast. It is through this particular venue that I have been most exposed to several gifted and talented independent artists, including Mr. Fresh himself.

Wikipedia defines independent, or “indie,” music as “a term used to describe independence from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, and an autonomous, Do-it-Yourself approach to recording and publishing.” Any conversation regarding the demise of pure music, regardless of genre, usually comes down to money and business, the main functions which drive the music industry. It seems that the music itself is considered secondary. This has been disheartening to this musical purist, who for many years relied on “classic” selections within her favorite genres in order to be musically entertained. Now, having been exposed to such wonderful indie music – new and fresh music – I feel surrounded by others who share a passion for music and who have chosen to express their musical gifts apart from the major label machines of the music industry.

Having said all that, This and That With Calandra: Music Notes is dedicated to supporting indie music by introducing our audience to a number of these talented artists, through interviews and links to their music. So look out for our indie artist spotlights and more!

(31WriteNow Challenge Day 23)

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Challenges

ChallengesThe past few years have been a real mind stretch for me. Leading a new major project at work, stepping up my blogging game and building a business with new partners have me doing things I have never done before. I always say that I love a challenge, even though I am usually terrified when first faced with one! But in July, the rubber really hit the road and I went way out on a limb. I had been toying with the idea of podcasting, but I knew I did not have the audio equipment I needed…so I thought. Thanks to fellow blogger and podcaster Ray Garraud, I learned that for the level of podcasting I wanted to do, I needed very few tools. Ray, along with friend to This and That With Calandra, Mr. Fresh, also introduced me to AudioMo, an annual month-long challenge to create daily audio posts, linking each one to Twitter via hashtag #AudioMo. I downloaded and learned to use a few new apps and podcasting services, and on July 4, I officially joined the challenge and completed 27 of 31 days of audio posts as part of AudioMo, even meeting a few new folks along the way (big shout out to johnmill79 of A Blind Man’s Journey!)

I was quite proud of the fact that I actually found something to talk about every day, and I knew that my podcasting days had just begun! And then on July 31, something interesting happened – I found another challenge! One of my favorite bloggers, Luvvie Ajayi, was hosting her annual 31WriteNow Challenge, which was a blog post each day for the month of August. I knew that I was destined for it! And my podcasting friends Ray and John decided to join me! Clearly, writing has been much more of a daily challenge, but if I could do something I had never done before for a whole month, then I should be able to tackle writing – I mean, I already have a blog, right? LOL

But for me, nothing is ever just that simple. I am reminded of other challenges I have faced in life. I have learned to be self-forgiving when my initial reaction is a fearful one. That’s just human nature. The challenge of a challenge is to not remain fearful, but to turn that fear into energy to rise to the challenge! There’s no greater joy than to feel you have successfully ventured into unknown territory. Greater still is the knowledge that each challenge met brings more peace of mind and erodes some of the fear I experience at the onset of the next challenge.

So…are you ready for your next challenge?

(31WriteNow Challenge Day 18)

Coming Summer 2013 – AfterSix Productions to Release “What Love Is”

A6PI have been waiting a LONG time to make this announcement. Finally, AfterSix Productions (A6P) will be blessing us with the long-awaited release What Love Is, a collection of smooth grooves and tight vocals centered around love and relationships.

I first introduced you to What Love Is back in March 2012 (Read Mr. Fresh and The Sunday Soundtrack) when I wrote about Mr. Fresh, one half of the A6P team. DBassist rounds out this talented duo of musicians and music producers.

Aside from the music itself, I appreciate the title of the release. Instead of exploring the question “What Is Love?” the project gives us a bold statement of the answer. In other words, it’s time to stop seeking and start embracing the answer to the question. According to Mr. Fresh, the release counters the “forlorn, negative” messages of today’s love songs and brings a “positive and uplifting” voice to the project.

That’s all I have to say about What Love Is…for now! Check out A6P on Facebook, Twitter (@a6productions), and YouTube, where you can find promos and teasers like the ones below. I hope to sit down with these two masters of music production for an interview that I will gladly share with the This and That crew. And of course, we will spotlight What Love Is with a full review after its release. Summer 2013 – find out What…Love…Is…

I can’t wait!

Giving the Gift of Independent Music

This year, I have enjoyed my personal journey into independent music. This and That With Calandra has vowed to support and share with our readers independent music and its artists. So I felt it only fitting to encourage you to support independent music – give yourself (and others) the gift of independent music. If you are a true audiophile, you can’t possibly be satisfied with what’s currently being offered to us in the form of commercial music. And if you are like me, you often tire of just listening to ‘classic’ forms of music (classic jazz, classic R & B, old school hip-hop, etc.), and you can’t afford to ignore indie music. And by the way, if you aren’t sure what indie music really is, please check out my post Supporting Independent Music.

So here it is, my 2012 Holiday Gift Guide to Independent Music.

Jua Howard (http://juasmusic.com) – I had the pleasure of interviewing this amazing vocalist in August 2012 (hear the interview). He has an amazing voice that covers multiple genres – from R & B, to modern jazz, to American Standards. He is currently working on his sophomore album and we will have him back on This and That With Calandra upon its release.

Ahmed Sirour (http://ahmedisthemusic.bandcamp.com) – Ahmed Sirour was featured in TTWC’s first Independent Artist Spotlight back in the summer (read it here). This talented artist has worked with many accomplished artists, and remixed popular songs by Robert Glasper, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. His latest release is The After 2AM Sessions LP, and it is FIYAH!

Cross Country Collective (C3) – C3 is Trel Robinson (Keyboards), Todd Kelley (Drum Programming) and Doug Ramsay (a.k.a. Mr. Fresh of the Sunday Soundtrack Podcast, Lead Guitar). This is a unique group of three musicians who live on three different coasts (Bay Area, Houston and Washington D.C.). Contempojazzsoulhop is a 5-selection EP that you need to add to your digital library. Find it at http://crosscountrycollective.bandcamp.com/album/contempojazzsoulhop.

Soma FM (http://somafm.com) – Soma FM is a San Francisco-based internet radio station, offering “over 20 unique channels of listener-supported, commercial-free, underground/alternative radio. My favorite channel, Groove Salad, offers “a nicely chilled plate of ambient/downtempo beats and grooves.” There is also an iPhone app, so you can listen to Soma on-the-go. This is definitely my go-to station when I need to chill.

The Sunday Soundtrack Podcast on Vibesnscribes.com – Y’all know this is my absolute favorite podcast, right?. Wrote a little post about it…like to read it? Here it goes…Music Notes: Mr. Fresh and The Sunday Soundtrack Podcast. The site has over 2 years of archived podcasts, featuring independent artists specializing in downtempo, ambient, chill music. More required listening when I need to relax.

Greg Banks (http://gregbanksmusic.com) – I had the pleasure of meeting this new artist at an event I co-hosted in January 2012. Beside being a talented singer/songwriter, he is also a model, actor and down-to-earth Southern gentleman. Look for an upcoming TTWC Independent Artist Spotlight on this New Orleans native. His self-titled debut is available on iTunes, and there are other singles on his site as well.

 L*A*W* (http://planet12law.com) – Brooklyn native, Lawrence “L*A*W*” Worrell, is a multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist rapper/singer/songwriter/producer, dancer, writer, husband, father…and the list goes on. He is the grandson of the late Sam “Bluzman” Taylor of the funk group BT Express. Another down-to-earth brother, L*A*W* released his album, Tha Planet 12 Syndrome, earlier this year. His music – a mixture of hip-hop, R&B, and funk – is a tribute to his musical family’s roots. This young man stays true to the classics with the eclectic blend of a true audiophile.

So there you have it…Oprah has her annual “Favorite Things,” I have This and That With Calandra’s Gift of Independent Music. Click, download, listen and enjoy!

Giving Thanks: 2012

Around this time last year, I posted a blog entitled, Giving Thanks. As I said last year, I can’t wait for one day of the year to give thanks, just like I can’t wait for New Year’s to make resolutions. But in this season of giving thanks, I have to stop and say a few words to the This and That With Calandra massive!

First of all, I am especially thankful for my family, my job and my health. This year, I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given through this blog, such as writing a weekly column for the online magazine, MortarNBrique, and being invited to participate in the 10th Annual Women’s Business Leadership Conference and sit on the Women’s Business Committee of the National Minority Business Council (read about it here). I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful friends this year, and become closer to others I met previously through social media. 2012 was a year of transformation for TTWC, as we ventured into the world of independent music, where I was allowed to act upon my love for music by writing about it more and starting the Independent Artist Spotlight. Many thanks to Ahmed Sirour and Jua Howard for gracing TTWC with interviews. These are the first of two talented musicians we will continue to highlight here at TTWC. And I am grateful to friends Mr. Fresh and K. Parker for hooking a Sistah up! Many thanks to all the great musicians I have met this year, who have exposed me to so much beautiful music in 2012.

My best friend and I formed SGF Events and hosted a few beauty events, most recently partnering with Ginger Ormond of Make Beauty Your Business to co- host our first of many “Cocktails and Class” beauty events in the Maryland area. Look for our next event on December 15, 2012 in Laurel, MD! We will also be announcing a new beauty business venture in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Every day, I wake up and thank God for the blessings of my life. And to my This and That With Calandra family – thank you, thank you, thank you for ALL of your support! Many thanks to the 152 subscribers to the TTWC page on Facebook, especially the last 20+ who joined our family over the past week alone.

Wishing you and your families and Happy Thanksgiving!

Music Notes: Support Independent Music

Being a lifelong music lover, I must admit that I never thought much about independent music and independent artists until the past year or so. In my mind, I always defined indie music as a genre of “alternative” or “non-mainstream” music. I thought of indie artists as folks who sold their music out of the trunk of the car. Well, ignorance is NOT bliss, and thankfully I have come to realize not only the definition of, but the absolute value of independent music. If you’ve been following This and That With Calandra, especially the Music Notes section, you will know the love affair I have had with music since childhood. My life’s soundtrack has included the genres of R&B, soul, hip-hop, gospel, jazz and more. You may also have read my re-introduction into the downtempo chill genre through Mr. Fresh’s Sunday Soundtrack Podcast. It is through this particular venue that I have been most exposed to several gifted and talented independent artists, including Mr. Fresh himself.

Wikipedia defines independent, or “indie,” music as “a term used to describe independence from major commercial record labels or their subsidiaries, and an autonomous, Do-it-Yourself approach to recording and publishing.” Any conversation regarding the demise of pure music, regardless of genre, usually comes down to money and business, the main functions which drive the music industry. It seems that the music itself is considered secondary. This has been disheartening to this musical purist, who for many years relied on “classic” selections within her favorite genres in order to be musically entertained. Now, having been exposed to such wonderful indie music – new and fresh music – I feel surrounded by others who share a passion for music and who have chosen to express their musical gifts apart from the major label machines of the music industry.

Having said all that, This and That With Calandra: Music Notes is about to step into the world of indie music by introducing our audience to a number of these talented artists, through interviews and links to their music. So look out for our upcoming indie artist spotlights and more!