Lizzloves's Blog

Spreading love and sisterhood…

LizzLoves Janelle Monaé on Essence’s Cover April 9, 2013

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Photo courtesy of Essence

If you haven’t peeped it yet, you HAVE to see this month’s Essence cover girl…the super-talented singer, Janelle Monaé. As a fan for about 4 years now, it’s been so great for me to see such an incredible artist getting the shine she deserves.

I’ve never read any press on her before, so I was intrigued to learn more about her in the article by Lola Ogunnaike in the May 2013 issue. I was delighted by Janelle’s quirkiness and creativity, but also by her grace and humility. It was also refreshing to hear how she sees her fame as an opportunity to share a positive message with young women and girls.

One thing you may notice about Ms. Monaé is her unique sense of style. She rocks strictly black and white, mostly in the form of suits or cleverly coupled pants and blouses. “I’ve never wanted to look like anybody else. I made a decision to be unique and now it’s part of my DNA,” she says. Her sharp look aside, this style is more than a fashion choice. She sees the way she presents herself as conscious decision. She wants to:

 “…redefine what it means to be sexy and what it means to be a woman. Showing my skin is not what makes me sexy. I like skirts and dresses just like everyone else, but I had a message I needed to put out there. It was up to me to show people and young girls there was another way.”

She says that her next album, Electric Lady, is a very personal work. With the authenticity, Monaé also sees her music as an opportunity to flex the power and influence of being yourself and sticking to your beliefs:

“You’ve got to do the hard work, do and say the things that you aren’t seeing [and hearing]. If there isn’t a voice for young African-American women with your same morals and values, then you have to do it.”

Thank you, Janelle, for being an original and providing a positive role model for young women!

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LizzLoves Janet Jackson’s True You May 10, 2011

Janet Jackson on her Number Ones tour

I got an email from a concert ticket service the other day that gave me a heads up about Janet Jackson coming to New Jersey in August for her Number Ones tour. My fingers instantly got itchy to go buy a ticket to the show, but the thing is…I just saw her show in March!!

But, listen, Janet put on such an incredible performance, that I would see it at LEAST two more times if I had the funds.

I have been following, and loving, Janet since I was about 9 years old. I can remember when my friend Jessica lent me the Control album…on cassette. I almost didn’t give it back! I loved singing and dancing along to her music, and soon enough, I began to want to BE her. I idolized her and even dressed like her (yes, including a key on one of my hoop earrings!).

I remember feeling so affirmed and validated when I watched Janet dance her butt off in the “Pleasure Principle” video, flipping off boxes and giving a sexy scowl. But while I loved her moves, what really spoke to me in that video was Janet’s physique. She had a real body, slightly thick and athletic, not super skinny like lots of celebs. She made me feel like, despite my chubbiness, I could not only be pretty but, maybe,  even a superstar.

So, on my recent high after seeing Janet bring the house down in Connecticut, I ran to the library and got her new book, True You. I was shocked to find out that, all the time I was loving her throughout the years, Janet could barely look at herself in a mirror because she didn’t like what she saw. It wasn’t until recently that Miss Jackson came to love and accept her whole self. In True You, she traces her journey to happiness and self-awareness.

Janet was not only candid–she was even raw at times. Her humility reminded me that, just like all of us, she too has internal struggles. Her honesty is beautiful. She laid her heart on the line to speak to young girls and women everywhere who are fighting to find peace with their bodies, looks and overall self-esteem.

Thank you, Janet, for sharing your journey with us…

“I am loved, I’m valued, and I’m capable of achieving balance in my life…I can be happy with who I am, not what I should be, or what I might have been, or what someone tells me I must be…”–Janet Jackson, True You


 

LizzLoves Fly Girl Fest May 6, 2011

NYC ladies, oyeme…listen up! If you heart hip-hop, door-knocker earrings and pink AF1’s , and your soul thrives on social justice and artistic expression, tonight’s Fly Girl Fest 2011 is where you should be!

Brought to you by leaders, JLove Calderon and Wanda Vazquez, Fly Girl Fest will feature musical and artistic presentations from young women, students at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice.

This is NOT your average community event or talent show. It’s much more! These ladies have been guided and mentored by professionals to not only display their talents in a polished presentation, but to rise up as up-and-coming youth leaders. As an added bonus, dope spinstress DJ Chela will be on the 1’s and 2’s between sets.

Put ya’ hands together for these chicas. Thank you for stepping up as the leadership of tomorrow, and spreading the message of girl power and sisterhood!

So head out to Brooklyn tonight (6-8 pm @ El Puente, suggested donation = $3) for this moving event!

Read more about last year’s Fly Girl Fest here.

 

LizzLoves Esperanza Spalding February 15, 2011

Just a quickie post…

 

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the buzz about jazz singer Esperanza Spalding winning the Grammy for Best New Artist. Now, I can’t claim to have been up on her before that night, but, on a personal note, it always gives me a charge to see an underdog come out on top…especially when she’s a young, talented woman of color.

 

Reading up on her, Esperanza, 26, is no joke. Not only does she give respectful and artful nods to her predecessors in her genre, but she has made a modernized name for herself across the globe. According to NPR, she has sold out shows in the US and abroad, opened for Prince and even performed for Barack Obama.

 

I’ve listened to some of her tracks—she rolls with deft licks on her bass, smooth vocals and old-school scatting. Her music is sexy, sultry and inspires a chill-out session at home or at your favorite lounge. I might have to shamelessly jump on the bandwagon and get her album…:)

 

Congratulations, Esperanza!

 

P.S.- Sorry Justin Beiber, better luck next time…you’ve got plenty of time!

 

 

 

 

LizzLoves Black Girls Rock November 8, 2010

I almost forgot to tune into VH1 last night to see Black Girls Rock! Did you see it? If you didn’t, you missed out on a great show where black women and girls from all industries, backgrounds and walks of life were honored for their achievements and the message they pass on to their sisters everywhere.

(*Don’t worry: You can catch the encore broadcast tomorrow (Tuesday) night, on VH1 @ 8 PM, check your local listings)

The honorees included young women who have only just begun to shine but show promise for making indeliable marks on the future of women of color across the globe: One 17-year-old girl from Detroit runs a mobile dance company that encourages young women to stay active and healthy, while another college student has made environmental awareness her mission and even launched a conference that focuses on green initiatives.

Other honorees that you might recognize more easily are:

  • Actress/entrepreneur Raven Symone
  • Legendary actress/activist Ruby Dee
  • Motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant
  • Producer/musician Missy Elliott

 

 

Photo courtesy of BET.com

Another woman who deserves serious props is Beverly Bond, renowned DJ and founder of the original nonprofit organization, Black Girls Rock. Read more about her career and the birth of the organization in this Black Enterprise article.

So, tell me: who are the black women in YOUR life that rock? Share that love with your sistas and let me know! You may see them in a future LizzLoves post!

 

 

 

LizzLoves…Lah Tere September 20, 2010

A few years back, I went to a show at S.O.B’s in New York City for a collection of performances by up and coming hip-hop groups. Having attended many of those types of events, I thought I knew what I was in for, but one group, Rebel Diaz, threw me for a loop.

These Latino MCs not only came correct with beats and vocals, but their bilingual lyrics spoke social justice and human rights. They were like a throwback to the days when all hip-hop had a message.

I love everyone in the crew, but I’ll admit to having a particularly soft spot for the one woman in the trio, Lah Tere (aka Teresita Ayala Nunez). If you’ve never heard or seen her perform, Lah Tere is like old-school Queen Latifah-meets-Mystic-meets-La India all rolled up into one. And like Laila Ali, her delivery packs a serious punch! Her lyrics are personal, yet universal at the same time. From the U.S. streets to the barrios and favelas of Latin America, her words reach out to all those who are oppressed and to those who are fighting for human rights worldwide.

While Lah Tere’s talent for clever & poetic lyrics combined with her lovely vocals on hooks could probably land her a sweet record deal, the rewards she seeks are not what you might think.

Instead of jewels, cars and cash, what enriches La Tere’s life is the ability to be successful as a social activist:  to bring positive messages of change to communities all over the world.

Also check out one of her ventures in girl power, Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, a social justice community-organizing platform that educates and empowers women of color. LT co-founded the organization.

So, gracias, La Tere and Rebel Diaz, for educating the masses and fighting the good fight! Bendeciones!

Check out their latest release, “Libertad,” (video above) to get a taste of what Rebel Diaz brings to the hip-hop table…

 

LizzLoves…Willie Mae Rock Camp August 30, 2010

Cindy Blackman

From the time I was 10 until I was around 18, I played the drums. At my middle school, we didn’t just play the drums, though, we were trained in all sorts of percussion instruments: xylophones, crash cymbals, timpani drums, bells and even castanets and maracas. I really loved it, but what I loved the most is that I was the only girl in my section of the school band…and I got a lot of props from other girls for it. They were impressed that I managed to hold my own in a traditionally male-dominated section.

While I’m sure times have certainly changed, I know that establishing confidence and sisterhood in and through music is still a challenging endeavor. One organization that continues to meet the need of empowering young women through musical expression is the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. They just finished up another successful summer season of bringing hundreds of girls together to find their voices through instruments, voices and even turntables.

Props to Willie Mae for showing girls how to rock out!!! *pumping fist in the air*

Hmm, I wonder if I had stuck with it (kinda hard to do at an all-girls high school), if I could have grown up to be next Cindy Blackman, Lenny Kravitz’ badass girl drummer (see pic above)…? Nah, maybe I’d be more like Sheila E.! I have always wanted to play the congas and timbales…there’s still time 🙂

Sheila E.