I’ve been doing a few sketches and pencil drawings of late. Witnessing continuous media headlines of war, fighting ,death, shootings of unarmed civilians by police and most recently the beheading of an American journalist, I could only express my thoughts on paper. The attached image I’ve chosen to share is entitled “Peace Right Now!”
It is estimated that over 160 million people have died in wars from the 20th and early 21st Centuries alone. Enough is enough! The image represents a truce; a coming together of both sides of each war, fought in the name of religion, race, ethnicity and political perspectives. The handshake is the action to signify this change, the bleeding heart represents the heartbreak felt by millions of loved ones, family and innocent people caught in the crossfire of war. The love heart represents the healing and on wall behind are listings of the many life changing wars fought all over the world.
RIP Robin Williams. My condolences to his family. Alongside the late Richard Pryor, he was one of the funniest and gifted comedians I grew up with and a very talented actor. A sad and reflective week. A significant one because it makes me think about people I’ve known and the amount of time we give to others to find out what’s going on in their lives. Too often we’re in our shells, oblivious to others. Most of us focus on our lives trying our best to exist or, worst still, focus on impressing the wrong people, particularly in the virtual world of Facebook etc instead of creating a real life with real relationships. I think William’s passing illustrates the fact that success and material wealth cannot itself guarantee happiness or replace that constant need for sincere selfless human support and communication. Suicide is a permanent solution for what may be temporary or avoidable situations as he alluded to in one of his films. There are thousands like him in dire need of support without his fame, popularity or fortune. Perhaps his passing will be the catalyst for making society further aware of the severity of depression, the stigma of mental health issues in general and need for us all to be vigilant with those we know. Statistically, around one in three people suffer mental health and depression. Look after yourselves.. and each other!
I’m a featured artists the RAW:Brooklyn event entitled Scope this September 25th at Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Banker St, Brooklyn. Further details to come!
It’s always great to see people moving forward personally and professionally. One person I’ve come to admire and respect is Kerys Nathan. I’ve blogged about her before as an entertainment industry director, choreographer, vocal coach, performance coach and photographer. Kerys now launches her second motivational book entitled ‘Phenomenal Woman.’ The book is for every woman on a mission to achieve her dreams, working from the inside out and executing, as the title suggests, a ‘phenomenal’ journey of personal growth in all areas of life. Launching the book this month and preparing for several sold out workshops, I caught up with this particular phenomenal woman to ask her a few questions about the book and moving forward.
So what is a phenomenal woman?
A phenomenal woman to my mind is a woman who is in touch with her inner self and what she needs out of life. She is comfortable with herself and takes action towards achieving all that she desires. She does it in a classy, intelligent, memorable way. She is a positive human being, who not only looks after her own needs but sets out to help others. A phenomenal woman is therefore greatly beneficial to her family, community and the world around her.
This type of woman has a mindset that allows her to navigate the world with compassion, strength and an unbending willingness to try! She is someone who leads well by example and therefore inspires and motivates those that she comes into contact with – she is in harmony with herself and others. A phenomenal woman makes the best of herself inside and out because she truly values the unique person that she is and knows that her physical and emotional presence makes an impact; one that she will be remembered for. She therefore aims to make a good impression. A phenomenal woman also continuously works to improve in all areas of her life because she knows wholeheartedly that she is worth the commitment. She is someone who makes the best of her life no matter what the circumstances. The beautiful thing about that is we therefore all have the ability to be phenomenal.
Is this publication for a particular demographic background?
The book was primarily written with women in mind and is certainly aimed at that demographic, but many of the personal growth concepts and missions I put forward in the book are applicable to everyone. However, I have found that many men are also very interested in the female specific concepts I talk about in the book. J When I invited comment from the guys to put into the book, I was happy with the great response I received.
What motivated you to write this book?
I guess I am always motivated to write this type of book, because I love affirmations and personal growth concepts. I like to create meaning from circumstance and ‘paint it with words’ if you like. As I do with my poetry, the book is designed to move you to a deeper and therefore greater level of thinking. If you want to live a phenomenal life, it all starts with the mind and the vision you create for yourself so I look into what I call ‘vision control,’ mastering the mind and the concept of ‘knowledge is power,’ as my books starting point to achieving a better life. I also of course wanted to celebrate womanhood because I think we are fabulous after all. We are all phenomenal but sometimes we get lost in other things and forget that along the way.
As a woman of a certain age myself and, after a few seriously bad episodes in my own life, I got to thinking what would happen if I put myself first for a minute, celebrated my uniqueness and focused on how to be the best version of myself regardless of what was going on around me? As a motivational coach for the last 14 years, It seemed like a great idea and made sense to me so I took my own journey and discovered it was so much fun that I had to write a book about it. I enjoyed all my missions and still have a lovely long list of things I’d like to achieve next. Now, I can share my coaching ideas and stories with everyone because of the book. That is phenomenal and a great blessing.
Has your experience in the arts and entertainment industries made it easier to write this book?
Not particularly, I have always written. I feel therefore I write. I guess my being a performance coach to many artists and students over the years helped some but I only became a coach in the entertainment industry because I felt a deep need to help people become the absolute best versions of themselves. I love to motivate and guide people to reach every dream and goal. I continue to do this on a weekly basis with my students – it is something I am totally passionate about.
You pay reference to being fashionable, charming and creative. How important do you feel these qualities are to evolve as a person?
Creativity is the centre of my world and the place where everything I ever do evolves from. I write about imagination in the book and how when we go back to that place of creative thinking, that childlike imagination, we find that everything is possible. Creative thinking leads us to strategies that can improve our lives dramatically. Art truly is life, in any form, it allows us to breathe, feel, experience, express and therefore grow again and again. This is our personal evolution.
With regards to charm, I am a woman who believes that a little bit of old-fashioned charm is the key to accessing the things we want. It also attracts the right kind of people to us. I mean nobody wants to deal with or attract rude or un-charming people do they? Manners and respect are everything in my book and yes they certainly do get you places as I talk about in chapter 12. True ladies and gentleman have manners, and I think it’s time we went back to that place of old-fashioned values sometimes.
The idea of fashion in the book is a play on words i.e. ‘fashion yourself a life’ – meaning create the kind of life you want for you. My analogy is this: create your pattern, cut it out and then wear your creation with pride – create yourself a beautiful life! It is also a physical reference to a so many women having a passion for clothes and shoes. I love dressing well or creatively and am launching a fashion label next year, so I bring in the notion of dressing to give the right impression, as we all know people are often judged by what they choose to wear. So as I ask in the book, ‘what kind of woman are you and what kind of impression do you want to make? You will be remembered for it. First impressions often stick.
What is the House of Divinity?
The House of Divinity is the spiritual home; the place a person lives when they are at one with themselves. A divine space that centres who you are. I believe women are divine spiritually and physically and through continued personal growth and meditation, they will remain in the ‘House of divinity.’ Again, it is a play on words and a nod to all the divine fashion houses, i.e. ‘The House of Chanel/Dior.’ In this book, I am inviting all the ladies into ‘The House of Divinity’ – The home of the fabulously phenomenal woman.
Book titles connote many things to different people so what has been the reaction so far, particularly from feminists and men?
The reaction so far has been quite wonderful. Ladies have embraced the concept of the title and are ready to ‘phenomenalize’ along with me. The book includes everyone from the old-fashioned femme fatale to the modern day feminist (I sit in both of those camps) so I haven’t had any negative reactions from women at all. As for the men, well they are just either excited to see these phenomenal women or are already embracing them. Fabulous!
You’re set to write a follow up publication entitled ‘Phenomenal Man.’ Some men may question your motives and authority to write such a book. Can you explain your reasons for doing so?
I certainly do not believe that being a woman gives me less authority to write about men. I have dated, learned from and experienced men and feel that is authority enough to deliver the words of wisdom that can and will benefit their lives. I believe that if you feel and experience, you therefore have the right to express that in whatever artistic way you choose. I can also tell them what women ‘really’ want! J
My motive here with this second book, is purely to deliver the same service to men as I have for women. We as women look for phenomenal men in our lives and I am lucky enough to have been brought up by one. It is by my fathers’ and brothers’ behavior that I am able to judge the standard of behavior I wish to connect in a husband. I totally believe in the old-fashioned gentleman and still believe he exists, contrary to many women’s belief sadly.
Phenomenal Man will be written with two concepts in mind – firstly as a personal growth and motivational tool for men who want to improve and become the best versions of themselves and secondly, to deliver the kind of information guys want from a female perspective. I currently read a blog for women that is written by a man and I love it! I actually find it extremely useful, as it not only gives me motivation, but also clear guidance on how many guys actually think. To a woman this is invaluable. I hope to do the same for the guys in my book. And of course, like the first book, I am celebrating the phenomenal man – the gentleman. He too is worthy and that should be recognized.
What else should we expect from the pen of Kerys Nathan?
I am currently finishing one of my long overdue novels, titled ‘Raising Expectation,’ about motherhood, adoption and race. I will then be completing ‘Phenomenal Man.’ I am very excited about this book and am enjoying talking to so many phenomenal guys who have wonderful things to say. We can all learn from this. I will also be embarking on a photographic mission to create a visual book that celebrates phenomenal men and women from all walks of life. It’s a very exciting time.
I wish Kerys the very best with her new book and hope it enriches the lives of others who subscribe to its principles. For further information about Kerys or to purchase a copy of Phenomenal Woman please visit the following link.
This week I’ve been reminded to look out for Article 25’s 10×10 project 2014. 10 x10 is a project which divides an area of London into a 10 x 10 grid, with the resulting squares being allocated to 100 prominent architects, designers and artists, who come together in the summer to create 100 pieces of work, giving 100 perspectives of London.10×10 creates a unique snapshot of London and raises money for Article 25, the UK’s leading architectural and construction aid charity. Details of the 2014 event will be released shortly but here’s last year’s video of what it’s all about. This is definitely a great initiative for a worthy cause.
For further info please visit Article 25
As you know, I like to highlight the talents of some very remarkable people I know or am privileged to meet. A big shout out goes to Charlene Samms, a wonderfully gifted singer and songwriter I’ve known for a number of years. With a long history in music, working with a number of notable artists, I’m excited to see Charlene release her own solo track ‘Free to Fly’. Attending my recent RAW London event, she agreed to a short Blog Q &A and tell us a bit more about her career and aspirations.
Q-The first and obvious question to ask is when did you start singing?
My parents sent me to Barbara Speake Stage School when I was 3 years old because I was always singing so they decided it would be a good idea to channel the energy I had. I was picked to sing my first solo -
Whitney Houston’s ‘Saving All My Love For You’. I was about 4.
Q-Tell me more about Free to Fly and the Circle of Funk?
My boys! Circle of Funk (CoF) are a Bristol / London group of geniuses who specialize in deep and soulful house music. I was introduced to them through a mutual friend and incredibly talented brother Lifford Shillingford. CoF work with so many great artists and have so much going on – they host a weekly radio show on Pressure FM and a monthly night out in south London – search for Circle of Funk on Facebook for full information.
Free to Fly was my first solo release! It’s about a relationship I was in, where we had more downs than ups, more arguments than loving moments. The song was written as if the argument was happening at that point. It expresses what I am saying and my conclusion was to part company – fly away – goodbye! It’s a sad song but set to a wicked beat!
Q-You’re a very talented singer but did you ever have an interest in pursuing a different career?
Thank you! I think singing has always been something I could never put down, but in school I developed a passion for research, so I decided to further my education in that field. I have a degree and masters in social research.
Q-Which artists have been most influential on your career to date and why?
I think growing up in the church has had a profound effect on the type of music I enjoy. Artists like Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, and Fred Hammond feature widely in my playlist to this day. I love Jill Scott because she is amazing – simples! Jilly from Philly is just real.
Q-Which artists have you worked with so far and who would you love to collaborate with?
I have provided backing vocals for DaPaul, Drizabone Soul Family, Juliette Ashby, Lifford, LyricL, Clarion Clarkwoode and Sophia Ripley / SugaSoulSistrin. I am one third of a gospel vocal group called Ellensi. I have performed at Novara Gospel Festival in Italy as part of the ‘Friends’ gospel group. I would love to collaborate with Jill Scott, or anybody else who has a passion for meaningful music.
Q-What does the next year hold for you; what will we see you doing?
I have some more projects in the pipeline. My EP with CoF will be out soon, and I have been in the studio with some other producers.
I wish Charlene the very best. For further info or to check out some soulful funky tracks version please visit
I had an enjoyable weekend at Africa Writes, the Royal African Society’s annual literature and book festival in association with the British Library. The energy and enthusiasm of some reminded me of the George R.R. Martin quote “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” We can undervalue to power of literature and worth it holds in preserving our consciousness.
Launched in 2012, Africa Writes annually showcases established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing. The weekend delivered an exciting and varied programme of book launches, readings, performance and discussions, featuring debut authors alongside acclaimed writers and poets. I’m glad I attended, particularly since I discovered I’m related to one of the guest speakers! The event also highlighted the disturbing challenges many black writers and publishing houses face regarding distributing books where protagonist are people of colour, represented in ways far removed from the negative stereotypes seen in the media.
We talk about equally, living in a progressive and educating society, but this is hampered when black authors and their chosen subjects are marginalized or perceived to be relevant only the minority groups they come from. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of this event, the authors and represented publishing companies despite the challenges. For more info visit Africa Writes website.