Thursday, April 24, 2008

Anniversary Celebration: Yes, there were rose petals!

What a Difference a Rose Makes!

All week, I have been getting calls and emails from girlfriends and distant associates alike: "Roses petals? Did they really sprinkle rose petals at your feet, April?" That was just the beginning.

When Mo and Maritri finished performing "NORMAL" (which has become the official song for independents), I made my way backstage. That was my self-directed cue to close out the show. I was ready with my special shout outs. I knew something had shifted in the program, though, when Saddi Khali (the host) said,

"April, I'm not going to bring you on as we planned. Mo asked if he could do that. ?"

"Cool. That's fine." I had a feeling that something might be going down. Saddi was giving me this knowing look that said "Gurl, you about to be hooked up!"

It gets a little blurry after that, LOL! I do remember, however, that my head was spinning and I was tingling with pure happiness! A packed stage, the crowded house...Joe's Pub was filled with, as Tulani Kinard said to me later, a positive "circular energy." All night, the vibe was honey-sweet!

As golden as it was, I was overwhelmed. I've been a public speaker all my adult life and ironically, I don't get jitters before I speak. I always get nervous afterwards. (I know...its weird but true). So the fact that I was trembling before I began my acknowledgements was yet another indicator of how different this night was. In native Yoruba language, I stumbled through giving thanks to God, my ancestors, and went on to thank my mother (who flew in from Atlanta just to join in on the celebration), my father, my brother, the "A" Team, our clients, and so on.

When I finished, Mo took over the show and wouldn't let me leave the stage. He took great care to "introduce" or "re-introduce" me to the them a peak into my activism over the past 20+ years. I may be wrong on the order here, but the next thing I recall, flowers were being presented from Mo. Then I saw "my guys" (my beloved male clients) needling through mic stands and guitar amps trying to get in on the presentation. Byron, I swear, went from the back of Joe's Pub to the stage in nano seconds. I turned around and there was Kevin, leaning on the piano like "Gurl, you about to get hooked up!"

So Mo is singing all these wonderful praises about me and the company like he and I haven't been getting on each other's nerves for the past few weeks, LOL! But I'm taking it all in (practicing how to accept, not deflect my blessings). Then Mo tells "the guys" to help him spread red and white petals at my feet, as a gesture of respect. They oblige and you could hear the loving sighs from the audience. I, on the other hand, was trying not to topple over. While in the moment, I couldn't tell that there was more.

To Be Delivered Daily
Mo continued to talk of how I work around the clock and how I don't take enough time for myself (that applies to probably 99% of the people reading this blog, for sure!). I do get very involved in work and most days I forget to eat. And I work 18 - 20 hours a day every day. My body's clock doesn't require much sleep (which is an asset when you grind like most independents do). Knowing my flow, my fellow workaholics Esther Armah, Mo Beasley, Kevin Powell, Jelani Cobb (who couldn't be there), and Byron Hurt came up with a different kind of "intervention." They all conspired to gift me with a personal chef! Yes, they secured the services of a personal chef who will cook meals for me...and the meals will be delivered to my home/office Monday through Friday for the entire month of May!

Say Yes to "Bright Moments"
I share my excitement here not to brag or be self-indulgent about a week-old event, but to access the brighter moments of life. As I said from the stage, every day that we wake up we are engaged in a war on some level. Women are fighting against men and mentalities steeped in fear and hate. People who are poor (the phrase "poor people" is so condescending and prescriptive) are fighting against "fat cats." People of color are fighting against racism. Same gender-loving communities are fighting against homophobes. I could go on. I share these moments, though, because we need more marks in the "W" column. We need to promote our victories, especially since we live in a society that doesn't respect good news. While we resist and combat and challenge the things that destroy love, we must also create and share the good news. They are good for the soul.

Thank You!
The only way I know how to respond to such a glory-filled night is to say THANK YOU with all my heart and soul. May all blessings for me and my company go right back to you. Your good vibrations have elevated us to another level and we are accountable! My mother always says "Every rung gets higher and higher!" and I am working diligently to live up to the honors placed upon me and the company. We are flawed and full of shortcomings and I can be slow as hell in returning emails and phone calls (there are lots and lots of those). But we're committed to making qualitative improvements...all day every day. Everyday, we strive to do what we do more powerfully.

A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to Mo, Jelani, Byron, and Kevin. Behind your great act of kindness, there is great symbolism. Women, and Black women in particular, REALLY need to see men lifting us up. As you know, we are bombarded with how much men, including our brothers, beat us up to tear us down. You all counter that mentality every day and we honor you for that.

Another SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to Esther. You are the epitome of a powerful woman and you uphold sisterhood so beautifully. I honor you and Thank God for the whirlwind that you are. New York has not been the same since you arrived!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Camille Yarbrough Honored at Anniversary Celebration (Good Morning Ship Mates!!)

Nana Camille Yarbrough is a living legend amongst us! She is a soul singer; a poet; a dancer; an actress of film, television, and theater; a television talk show host; a radio host; a children's book author; a mentor; an activist; and much more. All that work can be summarized in one true statement: She is our GRIOT!

Nana is our storyteller and cultural compass. Her wisdom and unflinching principles are beyond comparison. For years, I have listened and learned from her as she has spoken of the historical and spirit-filled role of the artist in our community. She has schooled me on the battles that Black artists have waged in an effort to maintain a sense of dignity about their work. She has given me backstory on the cultural arts instiutions, the movers and shakers and players in New York City with a perspective that only a wise woman can share. I have literally been at her feet, trying to fully digest the life lessons that she so freely shares.

Because I have been embraced by her, I wanted to uplift her in a simple but special way. Nana Camille is the first-time receipiant of AKILA WORKSONGS' Founder's Award. Starting with Nana (via our 15th anniversary celebration last week), we will honor a creative soul that we feel best represents the essence of arts and activism. I believe that most who know her would agree that Nana epitomizes that essence.

We have worked with Nana officially and unofficially for the past 8 years or so. In fact, the first show that we produced at Joe's Pub was a LIVE CD Recording for Nana back in the lat 90's. Funny how things come full circle. We are officially back with Nana Camille, working to administer some of her business and communications needs. If you want to contact her through us, connect with her Account Manager THYSHA SHABAZZ at 718.756.8501 (office) or 646.410.0246 (office 2). You can also send an email to

To learn more about Nana Camille, go to or visit her (soon to be upgraded) MySpace page at

We love you Nana! Thank you for loving us more than you love yourself!

Family Forever...


Anniversary Celebration: Elsa Lathan and Kerry DeBruce

From Friday night, I have some really wonderful examples of just how much of a dingbat I can be. First, I forgot to put in the program that ELSA LATHAN (of Footprints Communications, Inc.) is AKILA alumni too! Not only is Elsa a dear friend from my HU days, but she is a tireless and highly effective communications specialists. She is the PR whiz behind Eric Roberson (dang...another Howardite!). Most people that pay attention to contemporary independent music from soulful artists have at least heard of Eric, if they are not die hard fans (and most of us are). That's thanks to Elsa. She and I have worked on the HU hip hop conference, a bunch of fatherhood work, the Stori James project, and other projects. While she's not hands on with AKILA any longer, we mutually support of each other's work to this day. Big shout out to ELSA! (gurl, thanks for the card and that generous donation to Artists For Life...alright now!).

And to top that ...I was so out of my head Friday night that I stood right in front of Kerry DeBruce and didn't register her face for like 50 million seconds! How wack is that?!?! Not only was I walking around without my glasses nor my contacts that night, but I was having an outer body experience for the whole two hours! I'm sure there's someone I didn't "see" cuz I was so out of my head that night. Sorry!

But let me tell you what's so hot about Kerry: If it weren't for the flier and special logo that she created for AKILA WORKSONGS, I don't know if people would have been as "pulled in" to our celebration. People call me a PR and marketing whiz, but really and truly, it's the people around me. Packaging matters! Take the time and save the dollars to market your work as best you can. It will pay off! I know that your budget may not allow you to present your work with all the bells and whistles that you'd like, so do what you can. Your best foot forward will make a lasting impression and it compels people to take you seriously!

Thanks to Kevin Powell for introducing me to Kerry in 2004. And thanks to Kerry for putting up with me during the design and implementation of our anniversary collateral material (there's more for ya'll to see). Since working with her, I've referred her to a few satisfied clients such as Mo Beasley, the Kwanzaa Collective, Byron Hurt, and others. She's the one, ya'll! Check her work at or


The Most Glorious Night Ever! A Re-Cap of our Anniversary Celebration...

from Put On BLAST!
Monday, April 21, 2008
8:000 am

Some of you might remember Terry McMillian's second book Disappearing Acts (1989). It was the love story of record when I was in college and I devoured it in two days. There is a part - and I may be sketchy on the details - where Zora and Franklin make love for the first time. Everything went right that night and they connected in ways that powerfully transcended the physical realm. Zora rested in her lover's arms in a state of "sweet bliss." While contemplating her own happiness she also had selfless thoughts about her women friends. She wished they could experience this kind of lovin' for themselves. The notion here is that what was good to her and for her should be shared…not kept for herself. She was overjoyed and wanted her friends to experience that bliss as profoundly as she did.

The analogy may be awkward and may not be the sharpest one I could make, but it still reflects my feelings about Friday night’s anniversary celebration at Joe’s Pub. It was absolutely the most glorious, re-affirming, and positively humbling night of my personal and professional life! I wished all my loved ones (family and business) could have been there. It was AMAZING!

My work was honored and uplifted in ways that were tremendously humbling. At the end of the program, for example, when Mo, Byron, and Kevin sprinkled rose petals at my feet - literally - all I could do was pray to keep from falling face flat on the stage (more on that segment of the show later)!

But truly, I've been “talking up” 2008 since November 2007. Because there are many milestones for me and AKILA this year (more on that later, too), I sent personal messages to my clients, colleagues, and partners in an attempt to plan for a year where we could cross-promote each other’s work, and not clash. I didn’t want to plan anything that would conflict with their own special big ticket items. In some cases, I switched my events in support of others’ plans. I say all that to say that I KNEW grand things were in store for us, starting with a kick off in April (our anniversary month). I was clearing the path to create as much of a harmonious event as I could muster.

What I didn't know, however, was how magical (read: transformative) the celebration was going to be. I had a gut feeling that logistical things were eventually going to work themselves out; that folks would have a good time; and that I would find the dress that I wanted (oh that dress!!), but I surely didn’t expect *EVERYTHING* to fall into place so beautifully! We envisioned (and planned) for a sold out night at Joe's Pub...and we sold out! We envisioned live performances from some of my favorite artists that would blow people away…and that happened too. I also wanted the night to be unifying, encouraging, and worth people’s time and money. Well, all things conspired in our good favor that night, GIVE THANKS!

But bigger than the 200+ people who came out (including those who unfortunately couldn’t in), bigger than the awesome collective of artists that blessed the stage, bigger than after-party that lasted past 3 am (where I danced with giddy abandonment all night long)...bigger than all those things was how highly charged the night was! Moving forward, if there is a moment that gets recalled on what's good about being an artist, an activist, an advocate, a loving human being, a principled business person, than our anniversary celebration will be one of those moments pulled to the fore. And that’s not my euphoria lingering…that’s feedback!

So in the spirit of Zora, allow me to share my joy via my (new) blog (see link below). That way, I can rave about segments of the show and those who came out can comment as well. Soon, we’ll post the media from the event online.

From the bottom of my heart, I give thanks to all those who attended, those who were there in spirit, and those who texted/emailed me in the middle of the program to send their well-wishes even they couldn’t be there. Thanks to those who contributed to Artists For Life, and thanks to Joe’s Pub for being so cooperative and for allowing us to go (waaay) over time. I think they were in shock (and equally moved), LOL!

And thanks to the “A” team for being wonderful (more on them later in the blog). Most importantly, THANK GOD for lovefests and reminding us that work/songs can transform our lives for good!

For more on the night, click HERE or go to [you are already here]. If in the future, you can't remember that, just go to the company website:

your friend, yours in service,
april r. silver

ps - see flier below to get a QUICK GLANCE at what's in store for us over the next few months (details will be on the website shortly).

special logo design by kerry debruce;
photo credit by bruce stansbury

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm So Glad to Be from HOWARD U...

"Making an ASS out of U and ME!"
Well, really...just me, LOL!

My Beloved HU Fam,

This is what happens when you ASSUME...and when you're moving too fast:

An old friend from high school and I re-connected recently. She's been on my Put On BLAST! list for some time now. She's pursuing a doctorate's degree in anthropology and I posted a survey on her behalf...all related to your dissertation. I did it pro bono and she was very grateful.

So we're in touch over the months and she learns of the 15th anniversary of the company. Again, more praises and good vibes from her. She presses me for my street address...she wants to overnight something. I forget to reply and she presses again weeks later. I finally reply on Monday (with apologies). On Tuesday (yesterday), I get a delivery of BEAUTIFUL flowers to my home/office.

I email her at some ungodly hour last night to say THANK YOU and that I would call her at a decent hour to say THANK YOU personally. I wake up this morning to her email reply: "April, you deserve flowers, but those weren't from me. Check the card."

Big duh! I just *knew* they were from her. She's the type that would say "thank you" or "congratulations" with flowers. From whom could they be?

Like an idiot, I check the message card - all AFTER the fact. The flowers were from our own JELANI COBB. The note was a happy anniversary message, plus a thank you for supporting his work over the years. Awwww!! Thanks, Jelani (Imma call you in a few).

Speaking of Jelani, ya'll know he's seeking to be a delegate at the Democratic convention. An email BLAST! is coming today. Be sure to check it out and make any donation you can. Saturday (April 19) is the deadline.

So I just wanted to say "YAY" us! I feel, for the most part, we've done a pretty decent job of sustaining mutually loving friendships, partnerships. I know I made, like many of you, a concrete decision to re-join and collaborate with HU it through the local club, via BRU, etc. And some of us just never lost touch...period.

Hmmm. I'm contemplating a few folks who are gonna get this who I owe calls to, LOL! (read: ras and sheri). Your phone is ringing!


april r. silver
social entrepreneur | activist | writer/editor (coming soon)