P / P Essay – An Open Letter to Mother Abbey Lincoln

Photo credit: Enid Farber

Editor’s Note: I am a young writer. I’ll see my 33rd year in October. Recently, I became inspired by a few pieces that I’ve written about artists that have passed away, artists who mean something to me. While working on a piece about Ms. Jeanne Lee (January 25, 1939 – October 25, 2000), I read that jazz singer, Abbey Lincoln was one of her biggest influences. Reading that made me stop and reflect. Ms. Lincoln is not only an influence of mine, but a spirit guide. I recently wrote about African American, folk singer, Odetta here on P / P who I called…or wrote out to for guidance as an elder. 

In this instance, I realized Ms. Jeanne Lee and I ha(d)ve something in common when it comes to our admiration for Abbey Lincoln. Ms. Lee, Odetta and Ms. Lincoln are all relatively unknown jazz musicians in mainstream America. Their quiet, powerful souls didn’t ask for much and didn’t get much at the end of their lives. I believe they deserve more. 

All I have to do is tilt my head a few degrees at this very moment to see my vintage vinyl of Ms. Lincoln’s 1981 album “Golden Lady” watching over me. This is not about religion, superstition or ideology. This is about lineage, connection and realizing that these women were not alone, even if they were lost in history. They make me feel like I am not alone either.

Golden Lady – Track List

1. Sophisticated Lady
2. Golden Lady
3. Painted Lady On The Stage
4. Throw It Away
5. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
6. Caged Bird

Continue reading


P / P Essay: Dear Elder Odetta

Photo Credit: Odetta: A powerful woman of the 60s

Dear Elder Odetta,

I need your guidance.

Much like the days when I needed James’, Angela’s, Toni’s and my grandmother’s guidance and strength. Today, I specifically need you. I need you and your guitar songs. My guitar was my best friend for so long. Now, I need an elder’s acoustic guitar.

Old spirituals and work songs that you sang and recorded course through my bloodline – my tiny blue veins running through my faint, seemingly thin skin. Right now, to me, my skin looks like paper. It looks like paper thin, pale African American skin. No, not that colorism paleness, but tiny blue veins residing under a soft layer of flesh that needs more sun. My veins intertwine with muscles, arteries and small bones and move my blood to my heart. 

My elder, my ancestor, Odetta – I ask for your wisdom and prayers. And if you can spare one song, even just a rhythm and one chorus, you can send it to me and we can write the song together. I’ll add a hook and a chorus, and you can write the bridge and final chorus? Oh, that would be a dream. It would be healing.

Elder Odetta, your wisdom, your prayer and a song is requested because I need your help. I recently asked elder (Romare) Bearden in my thoughts and in my writing a short time ago for help to learn how to survive through the hard times. Continue reading

P / P Essay: Toni Morrison’s Self-Regard and Women’s History Month


Photo Credit: forgotten

Hmm, The Source of Self-Regard. With respect to my trans and female identified sisters, I was born a girl child. My DNA mixed and combined from my parent’s connection birthed body. It just happened to be what Earthlings call “a girl.”

I have no desire to go on about what a woman is or how I own this body that was circumstantially delivered into this realm in Baltimore City in 1986. I am more concerned with my spirit. I am more interested in my consciousness. My body will continue to change just as it has since the day I was born.

Self-regard, what Merriam-Webster describes as the “consideration of oneself or one’s own interests…” I personally like google’s description, “regard or consideration for oneself; self-respect,” is something I don’t think about consciously, but in my subconscious it defines the way I walk, stand, speak, interact and the decisions I make. I mean, there are many different circumstances that determine that, but I was inspired just by seeing the title of your new book.


Today is the first day of Women’s History Month. This history or Herstory of again, a circumstantial body defined by beings long ago is recognized, if not celebrated today beginning today and throughout the month of March. Am I proud to be a woman? I don’t know. Like I mentioned, I don’t think about it much. It does not define me, but our stories, particularly Black women’s stories fascinate, excite and inspire me. Continue reading

P / P Master Class Three: Affordable Hacks When Investing In Your Writing Career

Now that we’ve gotten passed lesson one and two which covered Time Management and Surviving Rejection, I still believe before we get to actively searching for jobs, pitching stories and writing proposals, it’s good to make sure we know how to make small investments in our home office and career to have the tools needed to have a stable foundation for your career.

I am pretty sure I have written that I usually work from my home office. I work also on site when I am teaching or in meetings. I also have some newsroom experience. But whether you are looking for a staff position or a sustainable full time freelance/contract career, an office is an office. It’s great to be organized where ever you are.


Photo Source: Source: The Writing Cooperative

Make sure your office is mobile.

It’s a great idea to invest in a backpack, a decent laptop bag or large purse so you can carry your laptop and other tools in order to be able to write and take notes wherever you go. You can work or write on a train or plan while traveling at a coffee shop or in offsite meetings.

Building your home office and library.

Once again, whether you want to have a full time freelance writing career or a staff position, I can promise you, you will be getting emails and edits back from your employers and editors after regular work hours. My advice is to have a designated place for your books and desk so you can work on projects from home.

Why having a collection of books is the most important thing you need as a writer or creative person.

Reading is the basis of success to writing, point blank. There’s no way around it. Having non-fiction books on history, writing, biographies of successful people, best seller books on business book and marketing, books on topics of your personal interest and studies gives you an important set of references besides just using Google. I know we are in the digital age and you may find yourself working on more digital platforms, but writing and creative work will always be an intellectual, vulnerable, fast paced career. Continue reading

P / P Bookmark Reads – Diverse Articles for the Eclectic Reader


I always promise to send friends and family articles, books I’ve read and music I’ve listened to during lively conversations about art and life. I try to go through my bookshelves and music and remember links of articles I’ve forgotten the title of to share on the weekends. All this rummaging and forgetting made me realize, I should probably find a way to organize all the things I like and promise to share.

This caused me to create a “Bookmarked Reads” category in my email folders so I don’t have to rack my brain. There are maybe 30 articles in that folder right now, but here are nine that I think are important to share.





By: Sarah Kerson and Nate Chinen

Women In Jazz? For Artemis, It’s Bigger Than A Cause



Essence Special Report

Essence Special Report: Sex Trafficking In The Black Community

Written By: Donna M. Owens



Ram Dass Blog

The Consciousness of Saints

Written By: Ram Dass



Pitchfork Review

Michael O’Shea Michael O’Shea

Written By: Andy Beta

ppbookmark 4

Photo: ALLCHIVAL • 1982

_________________________ Continue reading

P/ P Essay: Black History Month Begins Today

Today, Black History Month begins.

In our inner circles and connective conversations, particularly with Black men, the answer to the simple question, “Are you Martin or are you Malcolm?” will shape an African American’s life in relation to how they navigate systemic racism.

I personally like to think of myself as Coretta Scott King. Until writing this piece, I did not feel it appropriate to begin to associate parts of myself that connect with Betty Shabazz (Betty X). But it made me think, maybe I have attributes of both women within me. I learned a lot about her as Mrs. King was an active feminist, she was always available to me in that we had that connection, which I consider to be an important part of my identity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if an African American answered the Martin and Malcolm question with, “I’m a little of both.” But those who truly know themselves know if they are water (Martin) or Fire (Malcolm). We know ourselves pretty well as our natures are easy to access on a primal level. Continue reading

P / P Influencers: Laiona Michelle – A Connection Through Fate & Failure


Laiona Michelle as Nina Simone for the new play she wrote and stars in “Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical,” which opens at opens at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., Jan. 29, 2019 and runs until Feb. 24.

I met actress and playwright, Laiona Michelle out of fate and failure. I interviewed her a few weeks ago for New York Amsterdam News.  When I went to transcribe the recording of our interview, I realized my recording device malfunctioned and I lost our original interview. As a journalist, losing your interview recording is pretty embarrassing. I had to admit my mistake to her publicist and my editor and humbly re-ask for an interview with Laiona to make sure we got her story published in time to promote the opening of her new play. She was kind enough to oblige.

The second interview was early on a Saturday morning and our conversation was much more light-hearted and fun because we were, at that point, familiar with one another because of our first interview. She was incredibly inspiring, intelligent and kind.

Laiona spoke about her new upcoming play which she wrote and stars in, Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical:

The show is speaking to all the little girl blues out there in the world. The ones that have the desire to do something that may appear to be unreachable. I know when I was a little girl, I was always drawn to Shakespeare. I remember going to see my first Shakespeare play, which was Romeo and Juliet, and I saw that Romeo was a Black male. I was so shocked. I thought, “I didn’t know we could talk like that.” I thought it seemed so far from me, and I became more attracted to [theater].

When we think about art, oftentimes when you’re young it feels like it’s unreachable. For Nina, in particular, I picked the title because she always wanted to be known as the first Black classical pianist. She was born a child prodigy, and she recognized [musical] notes as a baby. So, that’s all she wanted, and that was one of her biggest heartbreaks. I think the walkaway for this show is for young people to feel, you can have that, too. Art is for everyone. Whether you want to be a ballerina or in opera, art is colorblind. She lived in a time where, it just wasn’t like that. I think now, the word “inclusion” is everywhere, which is very important.

I’m talking for all those little blue, Brown, Black girls and boys out there, or whoever identifies with wanting something that seems unreachable. -Laiona Michelle

Read my full interview with Laiona at New York Amsterdam News here, where she talks about overcoming the entertainment industries resistance towards Black brilliance and playwrights when she was beginning her career.


P / P Repost: Read Zora Neale Hurston’s Powerful letter to W.E.B Du Bois About Honoring the Ancestors

Written and posted by Because of Them We Can

Zora Neale Hurston was putting on for the culture long before the phrase came into existence. Raised in the culturally affirming environment of Eatonville, Florida (the nation’s first incorporated African American town), she was exposed to Black excellence on a daily basis.

She went on to attend Howard University and later become Barnard College’s first Black graduate. As one of the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance, she used her voice to advocate for the rights and protection of African Americans – as well as challenge her peers.

In doing so, she wrote a letter to fellow luminary W.E.B. Du Bois, the Dean of American Negro Artists, asking him why there wasn’t a cemetery for influential African Americans and challenging him to establish one. See for yourself.



Continue reading

P / P Master Class Lesson Two: Commitment to Surviving Rejection

P / P Master Class is a series of writing advice for aspiring writers.

I know there are some writers that, from the outside, make their careers look easy. But attaining, and more importantly, maintaining a professional writing career, whether it be creative writing, nonfiction or journalism can take decades.

I personally began writing as soon as I learned how to write my letters and structure sentences, around the age of 5 or 6 years old. By the time I was 8, I was filling drugstore spiral notebooks with imaginative short stories. The stories ranged from innocent love stories, to fables to scary vampire tales. Once the internet became accessible to the public (1998 or so), I began blogging and building my own websites that functioned as glossily designed journals where I could digitally share my thoughts and youthful perspective of the world with anyone who wanted to connect with my writing.

Nonetheless, my writing career didn’t begin to gel and open professional doors until 2010 when I created a music blog called, TPR-Mag.com, which covered experimental, shoegaze and underground psych rock music from North America, Asia and Eastern and Western Europe.

Stroke of luck – you can network at any age.

In 2009, I moved into an old, refurbished loft building in Brooklyn, NY filled with dozens of young, ambitious, diverse people who were jump starting their creative arts, fashion design, performance and writing careers. We were a community and threw parties, spending as much time as we could together, bonding, making music and using our live/work spaces to craft and further whatever creative pursuits we were chasing at the time. It was a really fertile (and affordable) time in New York City. My neighbor, Isabela Raygoza (who has gone on to edit for MTV, Audible and is currently a regular writer for Rolling Stone), got a job as music editor for Remezcla.com, the largest English language Latin American culture website in the United States. Isa offered me a job as a writer and I jumped at the chance. Remezcla gave me a name for myself as a popular niche writer who covered underground music in Central and South America.

Respecting your paid opportunities.

When I created TPR-Mag.com (TPR was short for a small record label I started called The Process Records in 2008), I made sure I didn’t cover Latin American music on the blog because I wanted to respect my job at Remezcla. I know that seems like a very simple decision, but respecting the boundaries of your paid work opportunities is incredibly important. Continue reading

P / P Reading List: 10 Books To Help Those Who Are Healing Through Grief

The holiday season can be the hardest time of the year for those who have lost loved ones. I myself, have friends and family who are going through the grieving process and it inspired me to share some information about how to heal consciously, radically, transformationally and through love and patience. We are all living this life together as human beings. At any time, one of us can exit this Earth, leaving the people who love us sad, but able to keep us alive in their hearts and memories.

I hope you all have a happy holiday season and that you have inner peace, peace with your family and the self love to go on and grieve for as long as you need to. It can be a lifelong process. We at Publik / Private are here to encourage your healing in any way we can.



Radical Joy for Hard Times

by Trebbe Johnson . North Atlantic Books

It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand

by Megan Devine. Sounds True; Unabridged edition Continue reading