The Healing Powers of Maxwell

Like most music lovers looking to be redeemed from the underwhelming, uninspiring sounds that dominate most of Top 40 FM stations, I viewed the release of Maxwell’s BLACKsummers’night as the return of the savior of soul ready to deliver us from the oversexed, over-auto tune buffoonery that is in heavy rotation.  It had been eight years since he had released an album and seven years since he performed live. In the music industry a disappearance that spans that long usually signifies a death sentence as the record label, media and public are on to the next “it” vocalist.  But music that possesses a true voice can never fade away into the sunset.    His 2008 performance at the BET Awards cemented his resurrection, complete with a new sophisticated look that made his fans fall in love with shy singer from Brooklyn all over again.

So imagine my surprise when I thought my ticket to Maxwell’s June 26 performance at Madison Square Garden would go to waste as I began to suffer the effects of food poisoning.    Weak but willing I had nothing but sheer determination to fuel me as I made my way to the Garden.  My sickly condition was quickly rectified as Maxwell took the stage for a smorgasbord of music for my soul.  Maxwell gave me and the audience a black summers’ night filled with sensual energy and unabashed emotion, which spilled over into tears as Maxwell tried to explain how surreal his musical journey has been.  “I come from humble beginnings,” he stated as wiped tears from his eyes. 

As a performer Maxwell delivered with more dedication than the mailman – every song seemed to be right on time.  He took charge of the band, an awesome group of players, with the same hip shaking male bravado as James Brown.  Singing all the audience’s favorite material and channeling the soul singers of the past, Maxwell’s vocal delivery was a sexy, sanctifying sermon that ran the gamut of emotions.  One moment I was raising my hand to the sky in recognition of his testimony (fighting my own tears) the next moment I was gyrating in my seat.  Like a preacher Maxwell seemed to be singing to each audience member individually reaching down to the core of our souls.  He literally sang my pain away and gave the most intimate performance I have ever seen at such a large venue.   His show is a testament to supremacy of good music.  Maxwell made magic on stage with a live band, background singers and himself.  Whether a baby or a great memory was made, the exchange of energy that circulated in the Garden last Saturday left everyone rejuvenated.

Besides leaving his heart and soul on the stage, Maxwell donated a dollar from every ticket sold to charity, helping to heal souls on stage and off.  The power music has to stir emotion and restore the soul is undeniable; those with the ability to reach others with sound know that music is a gift.  Music has the capacity to open minds, repair hearts and cure food poisoning; it also has the power to fill the soul with love.  Hopefully the love Maxwell gave and received on June 26 will inspire him to thrill his audience with the next two installments of the trilogy that started with BLACKsummers’night and encourage him to never stay away that long again.

Remembering Michael Jackson – One Year Later


June 25th marks the one year anniversary of the death of “The King of Pop.”  There were various celebrations in New York City and around the nation.  Today was the first time in a very long time that I could listen to Michael’s music and truly enjoy it without feeling some sadness about his untimely passing.  Today, I remembered the world’s greatest entertainer by watching his videos.  Michael was not just a singer but he was also a phenomenal dancer and was made for era of music videos.  But while I enjoyed the music and reminisced on the influence it had on my life, I also thought of his three young children.  Children that no longer have their father to give them hugs at bedtime or will share the milestones of their life that are sure to come.  I thought of his mother and how she had to bury her son, which is a task no mother is prepared to do.  I also thought of his siblings.  To lose a brother or sister is one of the most surreal experiences, nothing is the same afterwards.  F.A.M.E NYC prays for all the members of the Jackson family.

To commemorate the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing F.A.M.E NYC would like to share our favorite Michael Jackson videos.  Love and energy never dies and through his music the “King” will always reign.






The Shadow behind Fences

Jim Bono, a character in the play Fences, reminds the audience that fences are built to keep people out, but they can also be used to keep folks in. Within all us resides a shadow, an entity that houses our fears, doubts, anger, resentment, etc. It is our nature not to want to face the darkest part of ourselves. By not acknowledging our shadows we build a fence around it which only allows the shadow to remain and fester. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson once stated, “Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.”

Fences is an intricate, dynamic story about baseball, marriage, family, infidelity and redemption, but mostly it is about the shadow that walks with us. Troy Maxson is a man that walks in his shadow, even if he does not know it. He is a man that is resentful about the hand he is forced to play in life. As a sanitation worker he provides a life for his family, but if the prejudices of the day had not prevailed Troy would have been a star baseball player in the major leagues. He has a wife, Rose, that willing to stick by him through the mundane disappointments life has hurled at them, but he desires more. He owns a home courtesy of the money his brother receives from the military after a brain injury suffered during the war. He harbors contempt for his father for the way he was treated, but does not realize how he imitates his father’s behavior. He has two sons. Lyons, the elder son who was not raised with him, has a strained connection with Troy. His youngest son, by Rose, only wants his father’s love and approval, but for Troy young, willful Corey may be his greatest test and he keeps striking out as he threatens to transfuse his bitterness to his son.

Denzel Washington is beyond brilliant in the role of Troy. Until one has witnessed Denzel Washington on stage, one can not truly fathom the talent that is inherent in this actor. Troy has all the characteristics of a certified, Grade A bastard, but Denzel Washington’s portrayal of this complex individual still compels the audience to like him and feel empathy for him. Viola Davis is sensational as Rose. Her performance turns a housewife into a heroine. Hollywood has yet to tap into the depth that this actress has to offer, whether on stage or screen her talent shines as bright as the morning sun and is as rare as a blue moon. Mykelti Williamson’s portrayal of Gabriel, Troy’s brother, is Bubba Gump on steroids – he is compelling and comical. Chris Chalk plays the rebellious Corey, Russell Hornsby plays Lyons and Stephen McKinley Henderson plays Jim Bono, Troy’s lifelong friend, all deliver pinch hits and bunts in their commanding performances.

The star power and expertise of this cast can only be compared to skill walking around in the New York Yankees’ locker room. Even Steinbrenner could not buy a better cast. Kenny Leon’s direction and the cast’s performances combine to be a Josh Gibson, cracked-bat home run out of the venue with the hardware to prove it. This revival of Fences garnered three Tony awards including Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Denzel Washington and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Viola Davis.


 The Cort Theatre could barely contain the energy on stage. I viewed the play from the last row of the balcony and I was on the edge of my seat leering at the stage through the entire production. When Gabriel blows his horn in the final scene signifying that a deceased Troy had made it to heaven, it felt that the audience had been redeemed along with him. This revival of Fences is the second trip of play to Broadway since its first Tony award-winning incarnation in 1987. Surely August Wilson’s presence must shadow all the actors on stage while they bring his material to back to life. There may not be any crying in baseball, but there is room to run the gamut of emotion in this production. No fence is big enough to hold this play.

Photos:  Joan Marcus,

Georgia on My Mind

No, not the state down yonder famous for its peaches, I am thinking about another place.  The place I am thinking of is located on 89A East Houston Street.  Georgia Beauty is a quaint, very organic beauty boutique and salon that is truly a world on to itself. 

Once passing through the threshold a visitor no longer feels as if they are stepping into a store, instead the intimate aesthetic gives off the aura of single woman’s bedroom or loft space.  The deconstructed walls, aged paint, artwork, heart-shaped washing station and large photo collage give the space a hip, artistic vibe that is still very feminine.  The products and accessories displayed on the walls and throughout the store are not in bulk so the consumer could never feel overwhelmed.  As you walk down the aisle smelling the testers of candles, lotions and creams and touching the belts, bags and other accessories you almost feel as if you are becoming a peeping Tom – touching the products of the woman who lives there, perhaps Georgia.

The concept for this half salon, half beauty store is the brainchild of Jodie Patterson and Kiara Ellozy and is truly a family affair.  Jodie Patterson has worked in the fashion and entertainment industries for 10 years.  Kiara Ellozy started working in the finance industry on Wall Street 15 years ago and holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  Besides being co-owners of Georgia Beauty, they are also in-laws.  Georgia is the name of Kiara’s niece and several members of the family are also investors.  The beauty products and accessories sold at Georgia Beauty come from all over the globe, are chemical free and personally selected by Jodie and Kiara. 

I visited Georgia Beauty for the first time last Friday for an event they were hosting in conjunction with Models International.  But FAMERS I must say it will not be my last.  Georgia Beauty has personality and provides its patrons with a chic, cozy experience.  It is a departure from beauty stores and salons that seem more like pseudo glam factories than a place women would frequent to feel beautiful or collect the items that make them feel beautiful.  Georgia Beauty has everything a woman is looking for when pending their hard earned recession dollars – exclusivity, femininity and class.

To learn more about Georgia Beauty visit

 Photos:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor and

F.A.M.E NYC Model Profile

Models International Model:  Pavel

“Be yourself no matter what they say,” a lyric penned by Sting for his 1988 classic “Englishmen in New York.”  I’m sure some of the same feelings of seclusion and assimilation Sting expressed in his song may have been felt by Pavel Pisotski as he first navigated around the streets of Manhattan.   The 19-year-old native of Russia signed with Models International six months ago.   “It’s not a small town; it has about two million people,” Pavel says about his hometown.  “It’s close to the Black Sea so it’s a very popular tourist area.”

Modeling was not a dream he harbored while growing up in Russia, in fact young Pavel had “no idea” what he wanted to do when he grew up.  “I was trying to finish high school,” he says.  But with fresh chiseled looks, an infectious smile and personality, it would not be long before the fashion industry would find him.  He was originally discovered by another agency at 15 while attending a party in Las Vegas with his parents.  “I didn’t know what to do,” Pavel recalls about his first go see.  “It is hard the first time you do anything, but I got over it.”

Pavel said booking his first job was the highlight of his career thus far and recalled being painted in black for the client.  He has spent the last four years honing his craft, and as the first male signed to Models International Men’s Division, Pavel is just as comfortable in front of the camera as he is on the runway.  “I enjoy taking pictures,” he says.    In the future Pavel would love to transition his career over to acting.  “I’m from Russia, so I would like to do some Russian roles, he states.  Pavel is a young man with convictions that has not forgotten where he has come from.  Whether posing for an edgy editorial shot, walking the runway or speaking Russian in a film, he will be doing it with class.

1.       Tell me your favorite memory from high school.

My senior year I got in trouble.  I was stuck in traffic and decided to drive on a half sidewalk to get to work.  I pulled off and didn’t see the cop.  But I guess I didn’t get in trouble because the cop was fascinated with my last name.  He let me go and told me to be careful.

2.       Describe the perfect first date.

It should be simple because I’m a simple guy.  I don’t really like short relationships.  I like to stick to one person, that’s how I am, that’s how I’ve been raised.

3.       Boxers, Briefs, Boxer/Briefs or Commando?

Boxer/Briefs are more comfortable.

4.       Describe your grooming techniques.

Changing my hair depending on what I’m wearing.

5.       Favorite Drink

Iced Tea

6.       Favorite Designer

Calvin Klein

7.       Sex on the first date or wait until the time is right

Wait until the time is right

8.       The one item that has to go into your luggage

My laptop for sure.

9.       Paris, Milan or Tokyo?

Paris, I love French.

10.   Give us a model secret

I stand my hair up to look taller.


Photos courtesy of G Studios NYC and Models International

The Second Coming of LaTonya Blige

On a cool spring evening I made my way uptown to the Sugar Bar, located on West 72nd Street, for a listening party of a new artist.  But in reality, this was no ordinary new artist.   The listening party held in the restaurant owned by the iconic Ashford & Simpson was for LaTonya Blige, sister to Mary J. Blige the queen of hip hop /soul music. 

Most people would believe that for LaTonya the stakes are high.  She is following in the footsteps of her sister whose pioneering career paved the way for most R&B/hip hop divas in the game today.  If the project is not successful, she will be raked over the coals by the media.  But LaTonya is no stranger to the music industry. The Yonkers native has helped to co-manage, sing background vocals, co-write and co-produced songs for her sister as well as write and co-write songs for Mariah Carey and Faith Evans, all while balancing a family. 

As I watched LaTonya become humbled by the love and support she received on stage by family, friends and other guests, it became abundantly clear that the new incarnation of LaTonya Bilge in the music business is not about individual glory, it is about the love of music and the love she has for the most high.

Shortly after her listening party, I had the opportunity to ask LaTonya a few questions about her new music and singing with her sister.

1.   In the quest to get their material heard, most artists forget that music is a business.  How did the years co-managing your sister help you as you prepared to step into the spotlight?

I came from a music background. My father had his own band and my mother sang occasionally with him.  Working with my sister allowed me to take it to another level. I am a writer first, and then had my own publishing company. This showed me business perspectives as well.

2.   Has there ever been a time that you questioned pursuing singing as a career?

Yes, because it was everyone’s vision at some point, but not the [right] time for me. Now is the time I felt [like] pursuing singing.

3.   What events inspired you to want to sing gospel music?

I was asked to write a song for an artist to a track.  For some reason I couldn’t write R&B lyrics, inspirational was what flowed. My original plan was to do a compilation album. I wanted many artists to participate, such as Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, etc.  I let my sister listen to the songs and she asked me, “Why aren’t you doing this as your own album?” 

4.   You have sung background for your sister Mary and also co-written songs with her.  How did it feel working with your sister on your songs?

Nice, we always had good chemistry together.

5.   What do you say when people compare you to your sister Mary?  

There is no comparison. My sister has been in this industry [over] 20 years crafting her talent and I’m brand new.

6.   You had a listening party at the Sugar Bar.  Describe your feelings as you sang for your family, friends and Ashford and Simpson.

Wonderful, the love and support from family and friends can’t be measured.

7.   What would you like your fans and people listening to your songs for the first time to take away from your music?

To view it simply as music [and] not to categorize, listen to the words in the song and hopefully it will help my listeners.



2010 Tony Awards

Segregation and rock ‘n’ roll triumphed over corrupt government regimes and Afrobeat, men wearing wigs toppled Sondheim, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis swung and hit a homerun past the fences and Red is the new color of the Great White Way.  If you are confused about what I was just referring to, then you missed the live broadcast of the 2010 Tony Awards on CBS.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/

The stars of Broadway and Hollywood filled Radio City Music Hall while fans in Manhattan braved a downpour to watch a live simulcast of the event in Times Square.  Sean Hayes did not disappoint, the Promises, Promises star and Tony nominee was just as enjoyable as the host of the Tony’s as he is on stage at the Broadway Theatre.  The show opened with Sean Hayes tickling the ivories singing “Blue Suede Shoes” with Levi Kreis (Tony Award winner for Best Performance by a Featured Actor) and the cast of Million Dollar Quartet; he also accompanied fellow cast mate Kristen Chenoweth as she sang “I Say a Little Prayer.”  The casts of Come Fly With Me, Fela!, La Cage Aux Folles and Everyday Rapture provided audiences at Radio City and at home with a small glimpse of why they were nominated and the opening number closed with the Green Day and the cast of American Idiot having stars like Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas and Will and Jada Smith clapping to their punk rock masterpiece. 


Photo: J. Countess/

Although Fela! and La Cage Aux Folles accumulated 11 nominations, each only walked away with three awards.  Bill T. Jones won for Best Choreography for Fela! and the musical centering on the Afrobeat pioneer/activist also won Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Costume Design of a Musical.   La Cage Aux Folles won Best Direction of a Musical, Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Douglas Hodge.  Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for A Little Night Music and Katie Finneran won Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the hysterical Marge MacDougall in Promises, PromisesAmerican Idiot won for Best Scenic Design of a Musical and Best Lighting Design of a Musical, but it was Memphis that took home the Tony for Best Musical as well as Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre.


Photo: J. Countess/

The Tony Awards were seeing Red literally; the play won the most awards of the evening including Best Play, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Eddie Redmayne, Best Direction of a Play, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Play.  The revival of August Wilson’s Fences won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Denzel Washington and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Viola Davis.  The beauty and talent of Scarlett Johansson lent itself well to the stage and garnered her Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Tony for her performance in A View from the Bridge


Photo: J. Countess/

The main feature of any award show is the performances and the Tony Awards provide the best of any award show.  Audiences were wowed by performances casts of Memphis, Million Dollar Quartet, American Idiot and Fela!  Catherine Zeta-Jones delivered a powerful performance of the Sondheim standard “Send in the Clowns” and brought her husband, Michael Douglas, to tears.  This year marked the 64th anniversary of the Tony Awards and with it being a year away from the age of retirement I can confidently say that I see no departure any time soon.  Exciting and provocative shows like Next Fall, American Idiot and Fela! are breathing new life into Broadway and changing the ideas of what a production can do, and revivals like Fences, La Cage Aux Folles and A View from the Bridge show why a classic stage production has staying power.  Although Manhattan is battling through one of the worst global economic periods on record, Broadway proves why humans will always crave drama and a little night (or matinee) music. 

Top Photo:  Dimitrios Kambouris/

Getting Ruggy With It, the 2010 Odegard Awards

We walk, roll, lay, play and spill things on it.  But I bet you had no idea awards were given for it.  Just like art and furniture, a rug provides a room with a distinct personality.  The innovators that help design the wool, cotton, chenille, leather and rubber coverings that we lay on our floors were acknowledged on June 7 at the Odegard Awards.

The Odegard Award for Excellence in Rug Design recognizes outstanding achievement in the area of original student rug design. The competition was created to show student designers how combining modern designs with traditional hand knotting techniques can increase awareness and respect for the legacy of textile and carpet weaving.  The ceremony was held at the Museum of Arts and Design, at 2 Columbus Circle.  The eleven winning designs will be showcased in the design galleries of various universities across the U.S. during a tour that runs from August 2010 through May 2011.

The 2010 Winners are as follows:

Gold – Alice Serres, University of Georgia

Silver – Rebeccah Hardman, Utah State University

Bronze – Lindsey Brown, Utah State University

Calvin Tsao Jury Award – Martha Rex, Utah State University

David Revere McFadden Jury Award – Tracey Darragh, Western Kentucky University

Holly Hotchner Jury Award – Abby Savage, Utah State University

Jack Lenor Larsen Award – Cassandra Carter, Utah State University

Mary McFadden Jury Award – Emily Kozik, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Michele Oka Doner Jury Award – Nicole Martin, Florida State University

Stephanie Odegard Jury Award – Abby Savage, Utah State University

Stephen Burks Jury Award – Chelsea Bush, Syracuse University

First prize winner Alice Serres received a 6’ x 9’ hand woven carpet of her design and Odegard will include the design in their current carpet line for up to three years.  She may also be available for a two-month paid internship with Odegard in one of their showrooms.

Photos:  Katherine Kostreva


View the Tony Awards in the Heart of Manhattan

If the five boroughs are the veins of New York City, than Times Square is the heart.  It moves at a pace of 200 bpm and carries the electricity of a bolt of lightning.  For the first time the Tony Awards will allow viewers to be able to watch the stars of Broadway on Broadway.  The 64th Annual Tony Awards will be simulcast live to Times Square on Sunday, June 13th.  This event is a collaboration between the Tony Awards, iXP Corporation and Times Square Alliance.  The simulcast will air on a Clear Channel Spectacolor HD Screen.  In addition to the live simulcast of NY1’s pre-show On STAGE’s Red Carpet to the TONY’s, the Times Square simulcast will feature special guests throughout the evening, including a special appearance by Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child.  The simulcast starts at 5:30 p.m. in Duffy Square and seats 1,000.  FAMERS go to Times Square and be a part of Tony history.

The Roots of House Music Are Alive at Cielo

Wednesday has been considered “hump day” ever since the 40 hour work week was invented.  But for those of us who live to rejoice under strobe lights while the sounds of House music filters from the speakers and fills the atmosphere, Wednesday has taken on another moniker.  Wednesday is a night that is all about Roots.

One of my greatest moments while working as the Entertainment and Lifestyle editor at Caribbean Posh Magazine was interviewing Louie Vega and his wife Anane.  Louie is one of the architects of House music and a living legend.  His DJing and mixes have provided the soundtrack to my life and many other house heads’ lives around the world, and have been responsible for baby powder residue littering the floors of many venues. 

For those of us who live and breathe this music and culture, it is more of a creed than a lifestyle choice.  When I wrote my article about the Grammy winning DJ/producer, I dubbed him an archbishop because that is simply what he is.  Every leader must have a home base and in New York City Louie’s resident house is Cielo, located on 18 Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District.  The weekly Wednesday night party known as Roots is the seed of Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge of Blaze, another House music legend and high priest in his own right.  During its six years, quite an epic feat for an underground party, the stems of Roots have grown to become one of New York City’s staple parties.

Because House music is so engrained in the fiber of their beings, Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge provide the patrons of Cielo with sermons that are sure to guarantee a perspiration drenched t-shirt, aching bodies and refreshed souls.  When Louie is traveling, Kevin holds the party down solo.  Even Anane and Antonello Coghe (Nulu Music) spin on occasion. 

House music is not a genre readily found on top 40 FM.  It does not sell out arena sized venues and because it does not appeal to the masses, the future of my culture and its music is always in a precarious state.  Parties like Roots ensure that New York City, the cradle of House Music, will continue to have a voice as the underground dance scene moves into the next decade of the new millennium.

 Photos:  F.A.M.E NYC Editor