Monday, August 26, 2013

Rebellious Soul: Q & A with K. Michelle

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 2:06 PM


The outspoken and emotional personality that K. Michelle has become known for on the VH1 reality series "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" filters into the music on her debut album, Rebellious Soul.

The R&B songstress’ project, which dropped Aug. 13th on Atlantic Records, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. Rebellious Soul also reached No. 1 on both its Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top R&B Albums charts. The album sold 72,000 units in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Composed of eleven songs, Rebellious Soul serves as a musical therapy session for K. Michelle. On the album’s first track “My Life,” which features labelmate Meek Mill, she aggressively opens up about the struggles she experienced in her past and how that has lead to her adopting a candid persona.

Songs like the piano-driven ballad “I Don’t Like Me” reveals K. Michelle in a depressed state because the guy she cares for desires nothing more than sex from her. She discloses the love she shares for her son on “A Mother’s Prayer,” while on “When I Get A Man” she expresses all the intimate things she’ll provide to the next guy who captures her heart.

K. Michelle talked about her new album, if she’s worried about "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" tarnishing her image as an artist, and why she enjoys using music as a form of therapy.

Follow K. Michelle on Twitter: @kmichelle

A variety of emotions can be heard on Rebellious Soul: from feeling happy to sad to sexy or just fed up about the way things are going. Is it safe to say that you live through your music?

I absolutely write about my life. I don’t want to do it if it’s not about my life. I don’t feel like it’s genuine singing about other things. I like to convey what I’m going through.

What was the best part about creating this album to you?

Getting in there and using it as therapy. The album process was very simple for me. It was just genuine and true to me.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

My favorite song on the album would be “Sometimes.” The reason “Sometimes” is my favorite song is because it has like an Etta James-type of feel. It’s a very old soul type of feel. I absolutely love that song.

In your music, you not only touch on your experiences, but you use that as a way to provide a sense of wisdom to listeners. Where does the desire come from to do that?

If God gives you a gift, you have to use it in a great way. You can’t just go around and do what you want to do. That gift was given to you to help people, and that’s exactly what I do.

What were some things that inspired you when you created Rebellious Soul?

Whatever I was feeling at that time, I wanted to write about it. That’s where the inspiration for the album came.

Similar to the cover art for your mixtapes, 0 F*cks Given and Signed, Sealed, Delivered, the cover art for Rebellious Soul is relatively provocative. What made you go with that cover art for your debut album?

It’s really not even provocative. It’s me in a dress. I wanted it to have a very dark feel, so that’s why it’s the red and the black. It’s very sexy. That’s the feel I wanted it to have.

You’re largely known for your appearances on "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta," and your outspoken personality. Do you think being seen in that light hurts your image as an artist? Or do you think it potentially makes it that much more unique?

Yeah, [I think it makes it more unique], because I tell [listeners] who I am. A lot of artists are fake. They put on this persona, and it’s not relatable. We all get angry. We all have issues. We all are happy and sad and when someone is relatable, you want to see them win and you can relate more to what they’re singing about.

Looking forward, what are your plans as far as music and television goes?

We’re about to go on tour. This single hasn’t even reached its peak yet. It’s in the Top 20. We’re going to aim for Number 1 with the single. I have two more singles off this album. It’s all music for me.

[K. Michelle also has a solo VH1 reality show, "No New Friends," in the works.]

Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?

Thank you. This has been amazing for me and it could not happen without their support. Everybody has been supporting me and has made this an amazing process for me.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Struggles of the Black Race

Posted By on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Photo by Larry Kuzniewski
  • Photo by Larry Kuzniewski

Being a black man in the Southern region of America, a place where slavery and segregation flourished for more than a century, can be quite troublesome at times. I know this firsthand.

I’ve been stereotyped and discriminated against by some of my white peers over the years. For a significant amount of the experiences, I'm still baffled about the reason why. A number of assumptions could be made, but it truly doesn't matter. It's something that I've come to live with, although I haven't accepted it. However, I have accepted that I can't please everybody, nor will I be liked and embraced by everyone.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that I didn’t write this article to defame any particular ethnic group. I'm simply shedding my thoughts on the black race and what it's like to be part of it.

In America, it's no secret that the black race is viewed as inferior when compared to the white race. At one point and time, the aforementioned claim was supported with blatant acts of racism: blacks severely beaten, shot or lynched for insignificant matters; the inability to vote; and being burdened with separate seating, dining, schooling, and job selection than whites. This changed significantly as the years progressed and segregation was ended. The presence of equality began to appear.

But even in today's time, there's still a sense of inferiority that blacks, and minorities as a whole, face in comparison to their white peers. Although racial prejudice isn't as brazen today as it was decades ago, it's still evident. No longer is this just a black and white issue either.

For blacks, it's refreshing to think our inferiority has diminished over the decades, but with occurrences like the murders of Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis, you can't refrain from worrying about how precious the life of a black person truly is. If you're a young black male, the worry is even greater.

On the contrary, to say I’m completely surprised by the perceptions that people of other races have of blacks would be a lie. From the beliefs that a significant amount of our race is low-class and uneducated to the presumption that we're all freeloaders who depend on support from the government to survive, it doesn’t shock me at all. To read more, click here

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Friday, August 16, 2013

K. Michelle Receives Mayor's Ambassador Award, Expresses Love for Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 5:18 PM


On Friday afternoon, Memphis-bred R&B songtress K. Michelle was presented with the "Mayor’s Ambassador Award” by Mayor A C Wharton. The event took place at City Hall a little after 2 p.m.

"This is an honor. I absolutely love my city," K. Michelle said to a small crowd of press, family, and close friends. "I want to thank everyone. It’s been a struggle and a fight, but I’m just getting started in this business. You have to fight if you want to be a musician. If this is what you want to do, you can never give up on it."

During the event, Wharton emphasized the importance of showing appreciation to successful artists who hail from Memphis.

"We often hear the question, 'What can we do to keep our talent in Memphis? What can we do to get our talent to come back here?'" Wharton said. "The first thing we can do is show them that they’re honored in their own home. Sometimes we just take it for granted, and we really don’t honor our own. I made it a point to reverse that failure. It gives me so much pleasure today to honor one of our own. I proudly give her the Ambassador Award...I say ambassador because this is someone who was raised up here, so she found out what this great city was about. She went to Overton High School. She stayed in Whitehaven, right in the middle of our great city. She is our story. She is the Memphis story. Not only is she keeping that story to herself, everywhere she goes she tells the Memphis story; personifies the Memphis story."

K. Michelle opened up about working with Saving Our Daughters, an organization that empowers young women to overcome past negative experiences so their lives are not shaped by them, during the ceremony. She also touched on her initiative, the Rebel Against Campaign, which also encourages women to rebel against hardships they may have experienced, such as domestic violence and sexual abuse.

"I hope with that campaign and them just watching me be able to defy the odds, [they're encouraged], because people did not think I was ever going to put out an album," K. Michelle said. "And to put out an album and it’s doing amazing, I have a record in the Top 20 on urban radio right now, no one expected any of that from me, and I came from this city — the city of Memphis."

K. Michelle released her debut album, Rebellious Soul, this Tuesday. The album is presently Number 1 on iTunes' R&B/Soul album chart. The album's debut single, “V.S.O.P.,” is currently on Billboard's Top 10 R&B radio chart. K. Michelle obtained national popularity from her appearances on VH1's reality series, Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.

Follow her on Twitter: @kmichelle

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Company Brings Awareness to Child Sex Trafficking at Hotels

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM


More than a century after slavery was abolished, millions of people are still being forced to work against their will. Nearly 21 million people around the world — 5.5 million under the age of 18 — are being trafficked for sexual, occupational, and bodily labor, according to the International Labour Organization's 2012 Estimate of Forced Labour report.

According to the ILO’s report, 4.5 million of the enslaved workers are victims of forced sexual exploitation — more than 90 percent of them women and girls.

In the U.S., this is an issue that’s becoming highlighted more often in the media, and attacked more aggressively by law enforcement.

In late July, a collaborative effort between 47 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) divisions, more than 3,900 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped rescue 105 sexually exploited children and arrest 159 pimps. Known as "Operation Cross Country," the movement is apart of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which has identified and recovered more than 2,700 sexually exploited children since 2003. The three-day nationwide sweep took place in 76 cities.

One of those working behind the scenes was Nix Conference & Meeting Management, a meeting planning firm based in St. Louis. Since 2012, the organization has been training hotel managers and their employees on ways to identify minor sex trafficking.

“[When] people who are not aware of [child sex trafficking] hear [about] it, you can literally see them take a step backwards,” said Molly Hackett, principal of Nix Conference & Meeting Management. “It’s so hard to wrap your head around it. It just sticks with you and you can’t let it go. You have to keep thinking about it. You try to find more information about it. Some of us having children, that affects who you are when you think about kids who are being picked up over the internet and they think they’re about to have this great life when really they’re about to be trafficked.”

Nix Conference & Meeting Management helped develop a Meeting Planner’s Code of Conduct with End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA). According to the company's website, meeting planners who adopt the Meeting Planner’s Code of Conduct agree to establish an internal social responsibility policy, implement an action plan with objectives and time frames, and report annually.

“We thought that there was so much more we could do as meeting planners,” Hackett said. “We travel internationally. We thought we could bring awareness to this topic and really talk about it everywhere we went. Since then, everywhere we travel we talk about it to sales people, general managers, and management teams while we’re on-site at their properties.”


In Spring 2014, Nix Conference & Meeting Management will launch the “Ignite: Sparking Action Against Sex Trafficking” conference to educate meeting planners, hotel management and business travelers on the lawless trade.

“The conference helps them educate their traveling employees [and] business partners to watch for the signs of this, know what to do when they see it, and how to effectively report it,” Hackett said. “The most effective training has been when people in the training sessions raise their hands and say, ‘this is what I’ve seen,’ and we’re like, ‘Okay, that can be a sign of someone being trafficked. These are the general steps. This is the law enforcement you call. These are the chain events that the management team has set up.’ We really give them tools to do something with that information. They don’t need to intervene themselves. They don’t have to go walk up to the door. They just need to notify the correct management, personnel and authorities.”

Hackett said a potential sign of minor sex trafficking at hotels is room service requests that seem too childlike for the adults traveling in and out. Other signs include minors that are sporting inappropriate makeup, provocative clothing unfit for their age, and appear uncomfortable with their surroundings at the establishment.

The illegal practice of sex trafficking generates up to $32 billion in annual profits, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. This makes it the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world, behind illegal drug distribution and also the fastest growing.

The trafficking of minors sexually is at the cusp of the forbidden trade. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, at least 300,000 American children are sexually trafficked annually.

Informing residential establishments and business travelers of the minor sex trafficking trade isn’t a part of Nix Conference & Meeting Management’s daily stream of business. However, they desire to bring awareness to the issue and help lower its presence.

“It’s something that we feel pretty passionate about, and it’s relatively easy to bring into our regular business model," Hackett said. "It’s part of who we are now. We’ve been doing it a year and a half. I really think that corporations and individuals could diffuse so much about it without having to take too many dramatic steps to build awareness. The first step at combating anything [is] recognizing it’s a problem."

Since 1985, Nix Conference & Meeting Management has managed meetings, conferences, and trade shows on four continents and in 17 countries for associations, religious organizations, businesses and nonprofit organizations. The company books 21,000 room nights a year for clients at more than 50 hotels in the U. S. and internationally. To get additional information on the organization click here.

Read my Memphis Flyer story on Sex Trafficking in the Mid-South: Modern-Day Slavery
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