Saturday, November 28, 2015


“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Links to Excellence – Turning “The Worst” into a Finer Transformation

                                       Courtesy of the Artists Representative - Blue Note Records

Arranging this popular tune, The Robert Glasper Trio creates a jazzy serene sound on their latest Covered album, recorded live at Capitol Studios.  
                                         Robert Glasper – piano, Vicente Archer – bass, Damion Reid – drums.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Authorial Wisdom

“There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension.” 

                                                                          ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Links to Excellence – Whiplash: The Score

The movie’s intense story of a musician’s impassioned desire to become the greatest and his instructor’s radical techniques to push his students to supreme performance makes one appreciate the accompanying soundtrack, which equally steals the show.

                                                       Varèse Sarabande/Whiplash

Friday, July 24, 2015

Meshell’s Music to Simone

The gift that Nina Simone gave is a voice-spirit that lives on autonomously and continues to revive itself through films, soundtracks, and album tributes.

Meshell Ndegeocello’s, Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, exemplifies the Simone Renaissance Era with a vocal restaging of songs on this 2012 album tribute.

Known as a singer/songwriter, bass player and multi-Grammy nominated artist, what ranks above Meshell’s titles is a distinction that permeates her work and explains how a bold standard like “Four Women,” can shift to a gentler assertion and hold its own.

Cementing a three-year lead on the resurgence of Simone’s recordings, Ndegeocello speaks with me about her 10th album, being called a genius, and the film she’s currently scoring.

Interiors of Man:  Many singers have performed renditions of Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” mirroring the same emotional intensity that Simone brought to the song.  Your rendition on Pour Une Âme Souveraine, is softer but striking, sans the anger and deviates with a silent ending, adding more.  You indicated on NPR that in doing this, the song captures a universal audience. 

Meshell Ndegeocello:  The silence is a way to acknowledge all who have experienced the effects of their color and sexism. Sometimes what you leave out is the strongest message.

IOM:   You also mentioned in the interview that you’d like people to learn from Simone’s life.  What’s the most valuable lesson you hope others will gain? 

MN:  As a musician, I hope other musicians can see the effect of one’s choices, for good or bad. A lot of a career can be because of the industry but it’s important to see and acknowledge the consequences of our own decisions, accommodations, resistance.  I also hope people learn from her dedication to music and to social activism. And sadly to also see the effects of alcohol, drugs and mental health issues - all brought on by many factors.

IOM:   The word bitter seems to serve you in a paradoxical way, that is, you made an album entitled Bitter that’s enthrallingly tender; and on your website you host a Q&A on Bitter, alluding that you’re not upset about Bitter being overlooked for best album, but you’d rather focus on creating more music.  It seems that extracting or diluting the aggression and bitterness from a song i.e., “Four Women,” and replacing it with a tender tone gives rise to some of your best art.

MN: Thank you.  It’s wish fulfillment really - I wish it were as easy in life to replace painful experiences by a beautiful melody but I try to remind myself of the possibilities with the music, if nothing else.

IOM:  The Huff Post has described you as a genius.  Where do you find the [cynosure] of genius whether it’s in your work or another’s? 

MN:  I honestly don’t entertain these topics; when i listen to music or take in another art I truly give in to the act of experience.  I am not a theorist, it’s flattering, but I reserve that adjective for Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Nina Simone, Tiya Miles & Ornette Coleman.

IOM:  Where are you now in your musical journey, and do you foresee your next project?

MN:  I have been presented with the opportunity to record for the label that has allowed me great freedom, but if I make an instrumental project the budget is much lower than if I make a vocal recording and that fascinates me. I find myself just enjoying listening to records and at this moment I am scoring an incredible documentary about a young man’s experience of migrating to Grenada. I am also having an inner dialog about the American experience and how it can lead some to leave and seek the warmth of other suns. I suppose the same thing can be said of genres, no?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Links to Excellence – Burns on Jazz

Approaching its 15th year release, Ken Burns’ Jazz is a masterful documentary on a musical art form with compelling glimpses into the lives of America’s most venerated Jazz figures.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Words from a Blues Legend

“I don't care for the music when they're talking bad about women because I think women are God's greatest gift to the planet …”
                                                                                                        – B.B. King

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Johnny Temple Shares Akashic’s Most Inspiring Moments

Photo Credit: Randy Martinez
Courtesy of Akashic Books

This interview on literature with Akashic Books Founder, Johnny Temple, is one of the most encouraging interviews I’ve conducted throughout my writing career.  Before approaching Temple after attending the 19th Annual Story Festival of Writers Week and hearing him share a moving story that’s detailed here, I’d been pondering the tragedy in one allowing their dreams to die under an establishment of rejections while the haunting belief in the art created screams to be born.  Often, I think about several well-known artists whose dreams were accomplished through independent pursuits and self-belief or, after someone revived their belief when countless rejections seized hope.  

To the degree that Akashic has salvaged the voices of amazing writers and brought great stories to literature, this independent press has been equally rewarded by such writers as Temple shares in this interview.

Interiors of Man:  Since founding Akashic Books, you have attracted a list of renowned writers from various ethnicities. How has your study of Black Culture informed the growth of Akashic, along with being a bass guitarist for an indie band whose influences range from Rock to Reggae?

Johnny Temple:  When I was a kid I read books but wasn’t a particularly voracious reader. I didn’t become passionate about books until I went to college and read Native Son by Richard Wright. That novel and others I was taught, like Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, helped shape my interest in literature. And then I read Toni Morrison and my life as a reader changed forever. Being a musician has of course influenced my literary interests. Toni Morrison and Bob Marley are two of the cornerstones of my aesthetic tendencies.

IOM:  Attending last month’s “Writing to Publishing” panel discussion presented by Columbia College Chicago, you emphasized the importance of a writer’s character when considering new clients.  After character assessment, what essentials do you and your staff look for in deciding to publish an author’s work?

JT:  Before questions of character is the quality of the author’s work.  The most important factor, by far, is the caliber of the writing and the integrity of the work itself.

IOM:  What makes an independent press special is its autonomy to make decisions focused more on artistic value than commercialism, which facilitates the discovery of distinguished writers who are often overlooked, as in the case of Marlon James, who as you stated, was about to give up when you met him in Jamaica.  Please share this inspiring story with Interiors and the rewards in rescuing a great writer from obscurity.

JT:  I first met Marlon James at a Calabash Writers Workshop in Kingston, Jamaica. A few weeks earlier Marlon had connected with Kaylie Jones, an Akashic author and writing teacher, who was leading a workshop for the Calabash Writers Workshop. Kaylie urged me to check out Marlon’s manuscript and I did, and I was both smitten and shocked by the writing. John Crow’s Devil is a phenomenal and brutal allegory set in a small village in 1950s rural Jamaica. When Kaylie and I met Marlon he was despairing, collecting a pile of rejection letters from literary agents and publishers in New York City and elsewhere. He had literally deleted his novel from his hard drive. Fortunately, we caught him in time and he was able to un-delete John Crow’s Devil, which Akashic then published to rave reviews and prestigious award nominations. Marlon’s latest novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, published by Riverhead, has taken the mainstream literary world by storm, with truly outstanding review coverage. Marlon is also teaching at Macalester College in Minnesota now. So his life has changed significantly from when we first crossed paths in Jamaica, as has mine.

IOM:  Any more discover and rescue missions for Akashic?

JT:  Marlon found and rescued us, as have a lot of other wonderful authors. I once received a manila envelope in the mail from Chris Abani containing the pages of his otherworldly and masterful novella Becoming Abigail. (This story also traces back to Calabash and Jamaica.) Bernice L. McFadden found Akashic at the Harlem Book Fair and rescued us with her novel Glorious, and then Gathering of Waters, along with three other earlier novels of hers that we’ve reissued, including Loving Donovan, for which Terry McMillan very generously wrote a new introduction. Akashic Books is defined by these novels and the others that constitute our list.


 For a complete list on Akashic’s authors and titles visit, 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Links to Excellence – Light Speaks to the National Endowment For The Arts

Photo Credit: Michael Childers
Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan

Encouraging Arts Education is incumbent upon strong voices lending their platform to keeping arts alive in schools and communities across the nation.

More than an educational elective, the Arts is a prerequisite to imparting cultural appreciation and transforming creative minds into mastered artists.

Here in this Links to Excellence series, Award-winning Actor, Judith Light, shares with the NEA how arts education has defined her life, and its significance to the service of others.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Roitfeld on Fashion

“Fashion can’t matter more than the individual.  It’s better to be told ‘you’re beautiful tonight,’ rather than being asked, ‘who are you wearing?’”

                                                                            –  Carine Roitfeld, Mademoiselle C

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Morrison's Address

There are some creations that are immutably prophetic.  Songs, books, speeches, observations. Precisely, the Creators of the works themselves.

Among the examples I’d consider such as Shakespeare’s Tomorrow, and Gaye’s, concept album, Toni Morrison's Nobel Lecture in Literature Address is a stunning model that marks recent events.  Presented to the Swedish Academy on December 7, 1993, this timeless lecture “autopsyizes” language down to its wounds on society; its healing abilities; and its maintenance of humanity, contingent on the choices we have made and will make with the language that is in our hands.  When I heard the audio edition of this lecture, I gathered from it the way in which language as anything else, beautiful and meaningful can fall and become dead if handled irresponsibly.

Addressing the dark side of language that oppresses and incites violence, the timeliness and timelessness of this lecture has been manifested by youth’s irreverent outbursts on public transits, schoolyards, and malls requiring shutdowns, to physical unrests across the nation.  The words in this speech are timelessly echoed, as unfortunate wars are provoked with instigative language stirring raids and riots decade after decade.      

After the address, enchantingly told as a story – allowing sage and youth to assert their views – it was the accountability offered to both that I found most tender in lieu of blaming the youth.  From it, I deemed a need for elders to share their historical struggles with young to groom consciousness.      

Monday, January 26, 2015

Links to Excellence – Chris Botti in Boston

Courtesy of The Colomby Group

Proving that excellence is never dated, Botti brings sound to passion with Lucia Micarelli in this superlative performance.