moment sublime, smile
compose dog day sunlit gaze
tick! time is tender
— ava wood
A friend’s mom had her send me the link below, after hearing an interview on NPR with two young jazz musicians. Here’s her note to my friend:
For the first time I heard Valaida Snow’s name mentioned on All Things Considered today June 3 at about the 4:50 mark. Valaida is named for her as I recall. Send this on to Valaida; she might enjoy it… it’s a brief mention but interesting.
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a musician single out and mention a Valaida Snow song, so this was a treat. Listen.
“For me, choosing songs that were maybe written in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s — I choose them because they’re good songs.“ — Cecile McLorin Salvant, 23-year-old jazz vocalist
- What’s In A Name (valaida.com)
- Authentic Early Jazz, From A 23-Year-Old ‘WomanChild’ (wnyc.org)
- Jazz: Cecile McLorin Salvant (thoughtsofasapiosexual.wordpress.com)
- A DIY Guide To The History Of Women In Jazz (wnyc.org)
Abundant home-state pride spurred me to instigate a friendly photo-fueled feud via my Twitter feed. The conflict centered on the prettiest and best-est springtimes ever: New Jersey vs. North Carolina. Having spent eight spring seasons in the Garden State, I give props to the beauty that blossoms there once winter ends. But that was precisely the problem. Winters in Jersey were so harsh and long, the thaw melted into and chilled most of the spring months. I prefer springs that arrive on time, or better yet early and then linger. After eight fun-filled years, I quit my Jersey Girl stint and returned home, again a true-blue Carolina Girl.
Pride is among the deadly sins, and my competitive drive is no virtue either. That said, I set out to advance my stance in the online “feud.” Painstaking finesse aided my quest for the most verdurous visions of spring’s breathtaking essence. Then the perfect moment arose and I plucked it. At the height of the fairest season in the Tarheel State, an invitation from my green-thumbed sister, who’s on the Charlotte Garden Club board, to the annual member picnic in the celebrated gardens of Wing Haven.
Here’s a fountain of iPhone photos from that magnificent May day, which makes a convincing case about North Carolina’s springtime supremacy. Good thing Jersey Guys Sidney and Brian are such good sports.
If I had Aladdin‘s lamp for only a day,
I’d make a wish and here’s what I’d say:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.
From the song “Carolina in the Morning”
dazed by days of prose
april comes showering poems
state reversed by verse
April is National Poetry Month! I’ve always had a thing for poetry—reading it, hearing it, writing it and savoring it. So, I am forever grateful that Giving Back opened a new opportunity for me to evoke and express my poetical alter ego…my own “Sasha Fierce”…my bolder voice that I (sometimes) call Ava Wood.
“When you reframe something, you must first deconstruct what was once there. That can be excruciating, when that something is you.” — quote from my recent TEDx Talk with Charles Thomas
Friday was a phenomenal day. Charles and I co-presented at TEDxCharlotte to a sold-out audience of 500. The experience was exhilarating. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a local forum for presentation, innovation, connection, discussion and inspiration.
For months, I worked with Charles to isolate a single idea (worth spreading) from our shared experience creating Giving Back. We would meet for an hour or two, once or twice a week since December, to engage in stream-of-consciousness exploration of our aspirations, struggles, achievements, questions, fears, yearning and learning, catalyzed by our book project. In retrospect it might seem unsurprising, but the idea we finally landed on surprised us both. Exploring idea after idea took us full circle, leading us right back to the one on which our book was built: the power of reframing. Reframing an issue. Reframing images. Reframing ideas. Reframing identity.
We then invested time poring over videos of TED and TEDx Talks and determining how best to weaving a narrative with threads from our respective personal stories where “reframing” was central. Each of us had many stories to choose from, some from experiences around the book and some from our lives before and after the book. Narrowing to three or four vignette stories was difficult. Once we found our stories, we focused on finding words and sequencing phrases to convey a compelling message. As co-presenters, we also worked to braid our storytelling with coherence. Along the way, the presentation’s title emerged: A Picture Reframed.
A guiding force during the months-long process was our presentation coach, Lou Solomon of Interact. Lou develops leaders and builds business through authentic communication. Once Charles and I sketched out our talk, Lou, and her colleague Patrick Sheehan, advised us how best to reach our goal of delivering an extraordinary presentation that could move and inspire people. They videotaped our practice sessions, even the raw, early ones, and then together we would watch and critique the presentation. Though videos intimidated me at first, I soon learned their value. My cringing and self-criticism eventually gave way to constructive self-critique.
I learned how strengthening a presentation is much like editing and refining a written piece. Both require more time, effort, introspection, honesty and practice than most people are willing to commit. My confidence as a presenter grew through the experience with Lou and Patrick.
With some input from Candice Langston (our TEDxCharlotte presentation coach), more practice and an onsite rehearsal at Silver Hammer Studios a week prior to the big event (not to mention 15+ months of polishing our presentation style while on the road promoting our book), Charles and I felt well prepared for February 15th.
You can take a look at the culmination of our most recent collaboration as soon as the video is released. I will, of course, share it with you. Count on it!
P.S. In the meantime, here’s a 2-minute video that offers an overview of TEDxCharlotte 2013.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a local forum for presentation, innovation, connection, discussion and inspiration. Today, from 10 am to 4 pm, you can follow live-blogging from the event via Facebook and Twitter. The main hashtag is #TEDxCLT and the one for GBP is #GivingBack. Think good thoughts for us, particularly around 10::40 today, when we’re slated to hit the stage.
We’ll be sure to share the video of our TEDx Talk as soon as it’s released!
Here’s your invitation!
We’re Bringing ‘Giving Back’ at Poor Richard’s Book Shoppe is a free and family-friendly gathering, centered on Black Philanthropy. The evening of the 23rd will include:
- Book talk with the author and photographer of “Giving Back”
- Readings from members of New Generation of African American Philanthropists
- Q&A and audience engagement about the book’s themes and messages
- Celebration of culture and history #BHM
- Book signing
- And more!
Poor Richard’s, a family-operated business in uptown Charlotte, is a full-service, independent bookstore and multi-cultural venue.
New Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP-Charlotte), a CIN giving circle, comprises member-donors who pursue a mission “to promote philanthropy—the giving of time, talent and treasure—among African Americans in the Charlotte region, with the goal of enhancing the quality of life within our communities.”
We’re aiming to do for philanthropy what Justin does for sexy. Well…we’re certainly trying.
After a year, we finally carved out time to complete this short film and just posted it to YouTube yesterday. Watch. Enjoy. Share.