Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good News

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of miles, microphones, and late nights (they keep getting later). I’ve met a lot of people from drastically different backgrounds. I’ve also had the opportunity to follow my passion and talent, and to work to breathe more and more life into what has been a dream since my teens.

There has been a lot of sweat (literally), a lot of sore throats, a lot of frustration, fatigue, and sacrifice, but looking back at what this year and the past ten have given me, I’m thankful. I have both learned and experienced so much.

I made mention before that this has been the year I needed to have. I’ve been so tremendously fortunate with all of the great things that have happened. I’ve also had to survive some pretty low points. I really feel that all of the positive and the negative has made me significantly stronger. I know what I can weather. I know what’s essential to me. I know where I want my life to go, even if I don’t know the exact steps to get there at this time.

In 2005, I started writing all of these poems about my life. They dealt with things I’d lived through, people I’ve met, people I’ve loved, people who aren’t breathing anymore, etc. I had it in my mind to make it a manuscript, just because that’s how the pieces were emerging from me.

I’ve been living and laboring over the poems over the years, and, recently, I’ve been banging poems out with renewed vigor. It feels like I’ve come full circle. I’ve been on such a creative high for the past three weeks or so. It’s refreshing, to be honest.

One of my creative goals for 2012 is to finish the manuscript. I really feel that that’s going to happen, and that, too, is refreshing. It’s a little bit scary, too. It means that the next phase of the process will officially be on, and that I’ll be that much closer to bringing yet another dream to fruition. We’ll see what happens. Either way it goes, friends, I’m excited about the future. I can honestly say that writing these poems has made my life and my appreciation of it better. How could I not consider that a success in itself?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Albums of 2011

Once again, it’s that time of year to release my top albums of 2011. I listened to a lot of great stuff, and a good deal of it really resonated. Feel free to disagree with these choices, agree, or (if you’re unfamiliar with something), check it out. Without any further ado, here we go:

     Top Albums of 2011

  1. TV on the Radio – 9 Types of Light

  1. Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R.

  1. Elzhi – Elmatic

  1. Saul Williams – Volcanic Sunlight

  1. Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming

  1. Adele – 21

  1. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX – We’re New Here

  1. Phonte – Charity Starts at Home

  1. Evidence – Cats & Dogs

  1. Ian Kamau – One Day Soon

  1. Common – The Dreamer/The Believer

  1. Childish Gambino – CAMP

  1. The Roots – Undun

     Older Albums I Discovered & Loved  

  1. E-40 – My Ghetto Report Card
  2. Me’shell Ndegeocello – Comfort Woman

Highlights of 2011

We’ve reached the point in the year where I take it all into consideration and list all of the things that were personal highlights. I really feel like 2011 was the year that I needed to have, and I know that I’ve grown immensely. I feel like I’m a better writer, a better performer, a more respected creative force, etc. I definitely stepped my game up this year, and I’m legitimately anxious to see what 2012 has in store (and, no, I’m not talking about the end of days). So, here we go!

Highlights of 2011 (in no particular order)

  1. Winning poetry slams
  2. Winning the C.A.F.E grant for MANIFEST
  3. Judging the Black Ink poetry competition
  4. Building MANIFEST into a more noticeable brand
  5. Performing at The Hunter Art Museum
  6. Winning an open-mic challenge at The Camp House
  7. Performing in Chattitup
  8. The Speakeasy dinner in March
  9. Being a part of Jazz at The Hunter in April
  10. Performing in Hazz in the Hall
  11. Being featured on IndieFeed
  12. Performing in the Aretha Franklin Tribue at The Bessie Smith Hall
  13. Participating in the Roswell poetry slam
  14. Performing at the Java Monkey Café
  15. Strange Bedfellows 2 and 4
  16. Having the opportunity to be interviewed several times on WPLZ
  17. The MANIFEST Presents collaboration at Create Here
  18. Performing in Emily Kate Boyd’s birthday show
  19. Being a finalist for the YPAC Artist of the Year Award
  20. Seeing Sing Mahalia Sing
  21. Celebrating ten years of being a performer
  22. Performing in the Getting to Zero AIDS awareness program

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Voices of Hope Videos

I stated a few entries ago how moving and dynamic the Voices of Hope collaborative show with MANIFEST and TheCreativeUnderground was. Well, I’ve got VIDEO. You can see and hear for yourselves. Here’s a good bit of the show. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Getting to Zero

Hey Everybody,

Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in the Getting to Zero: A Midwinter Night of Music, Poetry, and Candles program. It was SUCH a tremendous honor just to be there, let alone touch the stage and perform. My throat was on the rough side, but I managed to do enough with it (hot tea, no talking, yadda yadda) beforehand to keep it in decent shape for when my time came to get on the microphone.

I also was elated to see some of my closest friends and fellow poets in attendance. I was extremely pleased to share the experience with them.

There was a portion in the night where we did a candlelight vigil to remember those who have passed. I really can’t express how it felt to listen to all the names of those who are no longer with us. Words simply can’t do it justice.  

While I was there, I couldn’t help but think about Rae Lewis Thornton. She is a woman who spoke at a Jack and Jill function I was a part of when I was 14, and her story and honesty really had a significant impact on my life. I realized just how much having her speak about her experiences living with AIDS helped to shape different parts of my life and to widen my perspective on the illness as well as the people who have it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rae, you can check her out here:

Well gang, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll be checking in a good bit over the next few days to wrap up things for 2011. All things considered, this has been a PHENOMENAL year for me. I’m extremely thankful.


Monday, December 19, 2011

MANIFEST: Distant Relatives

On January 13th, the MANIFEST arts series will make its 2012 debut at The Camp House (1427 Williams St.). The fifteenth edition of the monthly showcase will feature Dana Rogers and Noah Collins, two of Chattanooga’s most iconic musicians.

Dana Rogers is a female singer-songwriter who has established her own avenue in Chattanooga and beyond. She incorporates a very jazz-influenced sound to her songs and is renowned as one of the city’s most original musicians for her melodic guitar and vocal arrangements.

Noah Collins is a Chattanooga native who is highly regarded for the quality of his songs and unique percussive finger-picking style of playing the guitar. He released his debut album Heart on a Line in 2008 and is currently hard at work on a new project. Recently, Noah has had the honor of playing shows with a number of popular acts including Sister Hazel and Mike Willis.

General admission for MANIFEST: Distant Relatives is $8. The Camp House will open its doors for the event promptly at 8 PM.  For further information on MANIFEST, Christian J. Collier can be reached at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Path with a Heart

We did the MANIFEST and CreativeUnderground show on Friday, and it was amazing for a number of reasons. Over the past week, I’ve been going through an immensely personal time. I’ve slept even less than I normally do (which is a feat), eaten less, and have just been going through the motions of trying to stay on my feet and moving.

Shane and TheCreativeUnderground put on a Holiday performance, but it was far from the typical Holiday standards. The songs were rooted in Gospel, soul, and jazz, and the entire show had a heart. It was truly what I needed to encounter in my life. I’m very honored to have Shane as not only a mentor, but a dear friend. He has helped me over the past year more than he may ever know.

Several months ago, I wrote about changing different aspects of my life. I feel as if I’ve largely been successful in what I’ve set out to do, and I’ve been pleased with the changes that have come thus far. In lieu of my current personal situation, I’ve decided to invest more energy into being a part of events and organizations that have hearts. By that, I mean that I really feel it’s essential for me to immerse myself in things where I stand to learn not only about myself and what kind of man I hope to build myself into, but about compassion, forgiveness, love, and the world immediately around me and at large.

As a result of this goal, I’ll be performing in The Southeast Tennessee Council for HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention’s event called Getting to Zero: A Midwinter Night of Music, Poetry, and Candles on December 20th. It takes place at The Camp House at 5:30. When I was initially asked to be a part of the program, I wasn’t sure if I would feel up to it. I haven’t been in a very centered place and so much of that is essential in just being able to breathe life and authenticity to the piecesa and the stage. However, I realized that this was a golden opportunity for me to be touched and to take a different angle and just allow myself to be open. If you’re out and about on Tuesday, consider yourself welcome to come through.

Well friends, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m not going anywhere. I encourage you fine folks to dig in and keep living and striving to make your lives better. Also, shoot me a line and let me know how you’re currently loving and celebrating yourselves. I can use some new ones to throw into the repertoire.


Friday, December 9, 2011

The Virus, The Reading, The MANIFEST (Oh My)

I managed to get a computer virus on Sunday morning. I wasn’t looking at anything salacious. This is a bit embarrassing, but my computer actually got infected when I clicked on a link to see the new Lady Gaga video. It’s what I get for trying to stay in the realm of pop culture.

Anyway, the reading on Sunday was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the bulk of the authors who read, and it was really cool to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I have Ray Zimmerman to thank for inviting me. Also, I was very happy to see some friendly faces in the audience, and that meant a lot.
I am fully in MANIFEST mode right now, and I’m looking forward to tonight. TheCreativeUnderground will be putting on a SHOW. I’m also equally excited about the opportunity that we have to help underprivileged families and assist them in having some Holiday items. Tonight’s the night, folks! Doors pop open at 8!