Tag Archives: Style

R&B Lives…Charles Bradley

R&B isn’t quite dead yet!

Charles Bradley on long road to becoming the “screaming eagle of soul”

Success was a long-time coming for singer Charles Bradley, who was born in 1948 but released his debut album just five years ago. His experiences during those 60-plus years make for quite a story — fitting for a soul man strongly influenced by the late James Brown, reports “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason.

Early in his late-blooming career, Bradley’s backing band gave him a nickname: The “screaming eagle of soul.”

The “screaming eagle” got his inspiration from the “Godfather.” Bradley was a teenager in 1962 when his sister took him to the Apollo in Harlem to see James Brown perform.

“That’s what started it ’cause I always liked the blues, but see, James Brown is the one who put rhythm in the blues. And that’s what made it funky,” Bradley said. “And I said, ‘Now that’s what I want to be.'”

But through his first five decades, Bradley drifted between jobs. He worked as a short order cook in Maine, at a hospital for the mentally ill in New York, and much more.

“Jesus, I can’t count because I was like anywhere, anyone was going to give me a job that made me keep going. I hitchhiked to Ketchikan, Alaska,” Bradley said.

Bradley was in his fifties when he finally landed back in Brooklyn. In 2011, he was doing a James Brown tribute show in Essence Bar in Brooklyn when he was spotted by Daptone Records, who paired him with producer Tom Brennick.

“He said, ‘You do James Brown. You’re good at James Brown. Now we want to see you do you,'” Bradley recalled.

Brennick wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“Tom kept drilling me and I thought he was one of the evilest persons in this world. And he said, ‘No, you can hit that note’ and I said, ‘Tom you trying to burn my throat out, you know?’ And he said, ‘Charles, do it again.'”

But with that, Bradley gained something he did not know he had.

At age 62, Bradley finally got his break when Daptone released his debut album in 2011. The small Brooklyn label had had success with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings ,who’d also played on the Grammy-winning Amy Winehouse album, “Back to Black.”

The age wasn’t a concern for Neal Sugarman, co-founder of the label. In fact, the reaction surpassed all expectations.

“People were responding to it. And it was – it was amazing,” Sugarman said.

Bradley pours himself into every performance. Last year, he even went on stage the night he lost his beloved mother, which he called the “hardest thing I’ve ever did in my life.”

“If I didn’t, I think I really, truly would have hurt myself. I couldn’t take no more and I was looking anywhere I could go to get this pain out of me,” Bradley said.

He thinks of her, he said, whenever he sings the title track of his new album, a cover of the black Sabbath song, “Changes.”

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Posted by on April 9, 2016 in Music, From Way Back When to Now


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Obama And Misty Copeland Have a Talk

Misty Copeland quite simply is the best Ballerina in America right now, and perhaps the world. To reach that pinnacle with the American Ballet, she had to overcome a lot of obstacles beyond that of just having the physical and artistic talent including race and body image. Ballet dancers at this level also are incredible athletes, at the level of he most demanding professional sports.

Growing up, I thought that Ballet, like the Opera and Classical Music were things for old white people…Until I got to see the Bolshoi perform in Moscow in their heyday in the early 70’s. The beauty and artistic form was breathtaking. In those days, the old communist government began training the dancers in state schools at 3 years old. Those that survived the brutal regimen were quite simply miles better than anything else in the world in the dance form.

BTx3 is saving his pennies for that ultimate trip to NY to see Hamilton and Misty.

Misty Copeland And President Obama Sit Down To Talk About Race

The two discussed activism, body image, gender and success.

On Feb. 29, President Barack Obama and ballerina Misty Copeland sat down with Time reporter Maya Rhodan to talk about race, gender and success in their respective careers.

While one currently resides at the White House and the other can often be found rehearsing in the storied halls of the American Ballet Theatre, they’ve encountered similar setbacks and triumphs, whether they’re talking about the body image ideals of classical ballet or the way social media is used by political activists today.

This week, Essence Magazine is running a three-part video series that gives a peek inside the White House Cabinet room, where the interview took place. The clips show Copeland, a member of the presidential Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and Obama discussing Black Girl Magic, Black Lives Matter, and the realities of raising two African American women today.

Here are 11 of the best quotes from the interview:

On the Power Of Athleticism

“As a father of two daughters, seeing how images of strong athletic accomplished women carry over, and encouraging them in sports and dance and how they move physically, it turns out that every study shows that young girls who are involved in sports, dance, athletics end up having more confidence generally.” —Barack Obama

On Humility

“For all the blessings and privileges and responsibilities that I’ve gotten, I’m just representing a huge cross section of people who are talented and capable and supported me getting to where I came from.” — BO

On Race

“A lot of what I’ve experienced has not always been to my face, or it’s been very subtle. But it’s in a way that I know what’s going on and I feel it deep inside of me. And I, being the only African American in almost every environment in terms of classical ballet, it weighs on you and it wears on you after a while […] I think that being African American has definitely been a huge obstacle for me. But it’s also allowed me to have this fire inside of me that I don’t know if I would have or have had if I weren’t in this field.” — Misty Copeland

On the Future of Ballet

“I think that being in this position and showing that I can execute and do all of these things, that it’s possible to have any skin complexion, to have a healthy body image for the ballerina body. I think it’s given me more of a voice. And it’s I think forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet. It’s really forcing that conversation to be had.” — MC

On Black Girl Magic

“To use social media to have a positive impact on our generation is huge […] to have movements like Black Girl Magic, I think it couldn’t be more positive for a young black girl to see that it’s okay to be yourself, it’s okay to not have to transform and look like what you may see on the cover of a lot of magazines. That you are beautiful, that it’s possible to succeed in any field that you want to, looking the way that you do.” — MC

On Social Media

“Well social media obviously is the way in which young people are receiving information in general. So the power of young activists to help shape color and politics through things like Black Lives Matter, which I think is hugely important. And when I think about the journey I’ve traveled, there’s no doubt that young African America, Latino, Asian, LGBT youth, they have more role models. They have more folks that they can immediately identify with.” — BO

On Mentorship

“I hope that there are young men of color who are looking at me and saying, I can aspire to be the president, or a senator, or a community organizer and make change in my neighborhoods. But if they are locked out of opportunity, and in neighborhoods where even if I’m on television, there are no men in their neighborhoods who’ve got jobs that are able to support a family, then you’ve still got problems.” — BO

On Opportunity

“You know, being the only African American at this level in American Ballet Theatre, I feel like people are looking at me, and it’s my responsibility for me to do whatever I can to provide these opportunities in communities to be able to educate them. And if that means having a program just for black dancers to allow them to have the same opportunity that generations and generations of white dancers have had, it’s necessary.” — MC

On Teaching Kids about Race

“You know, I mean I think about this now as a parent. Michelle and I are having a lot of conversations around the dinner table. And for me, what I always try to transmit to my kids is that issues of race, discrimination, tragic history of slavery and Jim Crow, all those things are real. And you have to understand them and you have to be knowledgeable about them. And recognize that they didn’t stop overnight. Certainly not just when I was elected.” — BO

On Divisions

“Part of what I think successful social movements have involved is having a certain righteous anger about injustices being done to you, but also understanding that people who are on the other side of this, they’ve got their own history and their own circumstances. And you have to understand that, and you have to recognize that each of us has some good and some bad in is. And that’s not an excuse, but what it does do is it gives us an opportunity then to have a conversation and to reach across the divide.” — BO

On Education

“Well, you know, I spend most of my time thinking about institutions. And there’s no doubt, even though it’s a cliché that the single biggest difference we can make is making sure that our kids get a good education. We can do a lot to keep the economy moving forward, we can do a lot to make sure that we’re enforcing our nondiscrimination laws. We can do a lot more to open up people’s perspective about who belongs where. And press to make sure that we have more women CEOs, and more African American film directors. And more Latino police officers. And all those things are important. But the foundation that all this depends is making sure that on the front end, when these little babies are born and start to get curious about the world and are like sponges, that we are giving them the kind of education and the nurturing that they need. So that they’re off to a good start. And that involves an imaginative leap, a moral leap on the part of the society as a whole that says every kid should get a genuine opportunity and we’re willing to put money behind it, and we’re willing to invest in that to break cycles of poverty.” —  BO

Misty performing solo

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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Giant Negros


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Dress for Success?

The Nehru Suit. Apparently some manufacturers are still trying to bring them back.

Went out on one of those computer board “dates” the other day to a lunch with a woman I had met online. Since it was lunch, and a workday – I wore what I normally wear to work… Which is business casual, with the usual attached company badge. The restaurant was a strip mall joint – nothing fancy. The woman in question made a snide comment about my “not dressing up”. In her occupation as an educator, I guess she had never been exposed to the tech world. I gave up explaining what I do a long time ago to non-technical people – leaning towards the “something with computers” amorphism.

I do have and sometimes wear suits in appropriate situations, and in my collection of 10-15, they range from Jos A Banks to Anderson & Sheppard bespoke – typically chosen on the basis of the old business adage – “slightly out dress your customer”. Ergo don’t wear a $10,000 Rubinacci to a meet and greet with your Government clients (wear you Banks), while it is the low end in some boardrooms. The nice thing about Rubinacci is they don’t put their label inside the suit, unless you ask. If you know the fabric look and feel of a high quality suit, you can figure it out (from across the street) even if you don’t know the maker. I have had a few knowledgeable women surreptitiously actually check the label inside the jacket.

Have a friend who was a marketer in the Music Industry years ago. Don’t know if anyone remembers Nehru suits, but they were a big fad back in the early 70’s. My friend flew up o NYC to the Garment district and had a set of 5 made. The problem being after one summer they promptly “went out of style”, leaving him with a closet of expensive unwearable suits.

And about the lady who complained? Needless to say it was a one-dater.

Oh no! Not the Polo shirts!

Polo shirt debate: Dating deal-breaker or still in style?

Love it or hate it, the polo shirt has cemented its role in fashion and pop culture — evoking images of WASPy jocks, prep school suck-ups, Best Buy employees and old-moneyed yacht owners across America.

Ralph Lauren, who helped propel the silhouette from a practical sport shirt (worn by tennis, golf and polo players alike), to an everyday wardrobe staple, is retiring from his Polo-branded empire this year. And as sad as it is to see the fashion legend hang his equestrian-inspired hat, I say it’s time to retire the polo shirt with him.

I know I’m not the only one who finds this casual take on the collared shirt to be a bit offensive. Maybe not as bad as sneakers with dress pants or baggy pants worn low enough to show your boxers … but about as offensive as a single item of men’s clothing can be.

The polo wearer has been made fun of on TV (Blake’s triple polo in “Wet Hot American Summer,” we’re looking at you) and in the movies (Steve Carell’s character in “The 40-Year Old Version” sports a polo shirt in all of the movie posters. As does his pre-makeover character in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” See a pattern here?). And the ’80s popped-collar polo will forever be seen as the ultimate in obnoxious yuppie styling.

Furthermore, a writer for Real Simple magazine recently cited the polo shirt as a dating dealbreaker — until she discovered that her own personal McDreamy had a closet full of them. But you can always change the way your man dresses, right?

Well, maybe not. My cousin and her fiancé approached me the other day, just as I was about to head to the airport for a flight home. “We need your opinion,” my cousin explained. As I prepared to dole out wedding advice, I was surprised to hear her ask, “What do you think of Robert’s shirt? Can you explain to him that he can’t wear these polo shirts anymore, please?”

While the middle of their relationship is quite literally the last place I want to be, I couldn’t help but (silently) agree with my cousin. Polo shirts belong back in the frat house or exclusively on the golf course, polo field or tennis court where their practical nature can be put to good use. So, unless you are literally picking up a mallet, tennis racket or golf club right now, delve deeper in your closet and find something else to wear. Polo shirts may be the uniform of choice for The Sport of Kings (aka, horse racing), but it’s unacceptable for a family dinner, the office or Sunday brunch.


Posted by on October 19, 2015 in and the Single Life


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Trevor Noah – I Wanted to be Black

South African Comedian Trevor Noah, who is scheduled to take over for Jon Stewart on Comedy Central Sept 23rd…

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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Michelle Obama – She’s Just…Cool!

Eatonville, dedicated to Zora Neale Hurston

Folks living in the DC area know about Michelle’s visits to the local eateries. No content to just hit the high end, like Citronelle (now sadly departed) or Komi – she is known to visit the new, medium priced, and trendy.

It’s a lot more classy than hitting Ben’ Chili Bowl, a DC institution – she has developed a culinary following among the “in the know” in DC. And introduced a number of places like Eatonville (A restaurant dedicated to Zora Neale Hurston) to a wider audience.

This interactive shows all the spots she with local friends, or with her husband have hit. Let him have his burgers – Michelle has become a star!

Michelle Obama, total hipster, dines at edgy Maketto on H Street

Hey, isn’t that… first lady Michelle Obama, hanging at hipster haunt Maketto on H Street, NE on Monday night?

FLOTUS was celebrating a pal’s birthday with a group of friends, a tipster reports. Maketto, a retail market (sample wares: culty Japanese sneakers and obscure magazines) combined with a Taiwanese and Cambodian-influenced eatery, is a far cry from the usual white-tablecloth spots one might expect to find a first lady. Obama, though, has sought out some of Washington’s trendier spots, in addition to dining at its finer tables.

And it wasn’t the first First Family foray to the H Street corridor: the Obamas have visited Smith Commons and Boundary Road along the once-gritty strip.

Have to admit, she has hit a number of my favorites, but she had missed Boss Shepherd’s – named after one of town’s most famous (and occasionally infamous for having work crews build roads all night to avoid Union bosses and opposition) politicians (at least before Marion Barry). Great food, and excellent staff! But she beat my little culinary group to Boundary Road and Makketo!

President and Michelle Obama at Boundary Road Restaurant.

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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Going Out in Style in Ghana

Picking a coffin in Ghana for that deceased loved on is a bit more complex than “Do you want the wood one, or the brass handles?”

Funerals are one of the most important events in Ghanaian society. Frederick Nnoma-Addison, a D.C.-based journalist who comes from the West African country, says funerals in Ghana are considered an investment in the memory of the deceased. “Yes, there is mourning, but we also reflect his or her good life, and celebrate,” he told Seth Doane. 

And while a funeral lasts just a few hours, since eternity is, well, eternity, it’s important to spend it in style.


Check this out! For the ful set – follow the link above.

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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Africa


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Elle Magazine…The Obamas are “black-geosie”?

I’m not sure this one falls into the “incredibly racist” category… I think it just falls into “incredibly ignorant”. Is this fashion editor truly stupid enough to belive the back heads of Fortune 500 Companies, and Senior Executives go to work in baggy jeans and baseball caps turned sideways? And at a time when at any moment at least some of the top designers and supermodels in the Fashion industry are black folks? Get real!

Barack and Michelle Looking Great (and Presidential)

French Elle Writer Says Incredibly Racist Things About Black People

French Elle writer Nathalie Dolivo is so happy about black people! She’s thrilled that they’ve finally learned to dress well! Yes, after generations mired in baggy pants and rap music and such, they finally have Barackand Michelle Obama to look to. Thanks, Obamas! You’re stylish black people and now other black people can be stylish, too.

See how racist that was? We’re paraphrasing, but it’s not far off from what Dolivo actually said:

In this America led for the first time a black president, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged to its codes [of] streetwear … But if in 2012 the “black-geoisie” has integrated all the white codes, it does not [do so] literally. [There] is always a classic twist, with a bourgeois ethnic reference (a batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace, a ‘créole de rappeur’) that recalls the roots.

So, thanks to the Obamas, black people can dress like white people, with an “ethnic” spin. Like a turban!

That excerpt is from a post written by Dolivo for French Elle called (wait for it) “Black Fashion Power,” which manages to cram an insulting misappropriation into even just the title! There are some amazingly stupidthoughts on display in Dolivo’s post (why did we need to coin the term black-geosie?) but perhaps the most insulting is the suggestion that black people need to be taught by example. That before the Obamas, they were just toiling in their streetwear, waiting to be led.

One French Elle commenter (via NYMag) distilled the insult of Dolivo’s nonsense beautifully:

“How, in 2012, in a France where there are at least three million blacks and mixed people, can you write such nonsense? You are too kind when you write that in 2012 we have incorporated the white codes … what do you think, in 2011, we dressed in hay and burlap bags?”

We’re hoping sometimes things get lost in translation, but–as was the case with that Rihanna “nigga bitch” debacle a month ago–we’re betting this has more to do with racism, which isn’t uncommon in the fashion industry. Anyway, we’ll let you know when Dolivo issues her apology (/announces her resignation?). Expect phrases like “deeply regret” or “never intended to hurt.”

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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in The Post-Racial Life


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