Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Wrapping-Up the Year of the Snake



2013 Highlights

1. Daedelus 3/8
2. Breathless @ Road to Nightfall with Gabriel Newell & Muddy Soul
3. Dessa  3/20
4. Danny Brown & Killer Mike 3/29
5. Selling my remix to Ian Dougherty
6. Performing with Ishmael Reed
7. RAW Presents Marvel
8. Scoring the dance piece for Palette to Palette
9. Working with Lauryn Elise
10. The Between Beauty & Bedlam experience
11. Seeing/meeting Cody ChesnuTT
12. Whitfield Lovell's installation at TheHunter
13. WOF 6/7
14. Performance at The Hunter over the summer
15. Pacific Rim!
16. Writing The Pulse Spoken-word article
17. Figure Drawing 9/3
18. Big Boi and Killer Mike 9/24
19. Come on in My Kitchen at Barking Legs
20. The CD release show
21. Scoring Tim Hinck's show at Barking Legs
22. Performing in Nashville  & meeting great, loving, creative peeps



Top Albums for 2013

1. K-OS - Black on Blonde
2. Pillowfight - s/t
3. Bilal - A Love Surreal
4. Laura Mvula - Sing to the Moon
5. Talib Kweli - POC
6. Run the Jewels - s/t
7. Bonobo - The North Borders
8. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
9. Dessa - Parts of Speech
10. Nosaj Thing - Home
11. Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost
12. James Blake - Overgrown
13. Pusha T - My Name is My Name
14. Amir Sulaiman - The Opening
15. Iron & Wine - Ghost on Ghost
16. NIN - Hesitation Marks
17. Polica - Shulamith
18. Disclosure - Settle
19. Danny Brown - Old
20. Talib Kweli - Gravitas
21. Qwel & Maker - Beautiful Raw

Links:
Twitter - @ichristian3030

Friday, December 20, 2013

Poems & Progress

 
Greetings Boys and Girls,
 
It’s been a pretty interesting time in the life of yours truly. Aside from playing Santa (and successfully knocking it all out without having to maim anybody in the process), I’ve been keeping busy. I’ve been in talks for some new and exciting projects that I’m hoping will take shape soon, and I’ve also gone back and have been doing some serious editing on my poetry manuscript.
 
For those who don’t know, I released my chapbook Ghosts & Echoes in February of 2009. The book consists of some pieces from my manuscript, and a number of the live poems that have been staples in my sets since around 2003 or 2004. There have been over 100 poems (no jive) written for the project since 2005, but right now, it’s sitting at the 64-page mark, and as of this moment, that’s where it will stay.



 
It’s taken a lot longer than I initially anticipated to reach this point, where I’m comfortable sending it out for first book contests and the like. Each time I would hit a wall, my mantra would be I have more living to do before I can write more. Since I began banging the poems out, my life has changed tremendously over and over again, so it was interesting for me to see the shifting perspective, insight, and honesty in the poems. I’m really proud of the work, and after the last few bits (again, for the moment) are locked down, I look forward to getting a nice big stack of rejection letters for it. lol. It’s the nature of the beast, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve had any to add to my collection. In any case, I would love to find a home for the manuscript at some point in 2014. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

 
Switching gears, as the end of the year approaches, I’ve been reviewing who and where I’ve been over the past twelve months. In many ways, this has been my year of acceptance. Some of my close relationships ended, largely over really petty reasons, and I’ve been okay with that, which has been big for me. I’ve really become a better advocate for myself, my needs, and my actions, and I think I’ve done a good job of establishing boundaries and sticking to them, so if something has to fall apart that isn’t necessarily growing my spirit or bettering me, I’m cool with that.

 
I’m also pleased with the risks I’ve taken. As a result of those risks, I’ve had some extremely cool things happen to me, and some wonderful doors have been opened. I’m really looking forward to taking more chances next year and seeing what happens, and why not? As the kids say, YOLO!

Well gang, that’s all I’ve got right now. Be good, don’t let anyone else’s insecurity, fear, craziness, etc. dim your light, and I’ll talk to you soon.

 
Blessings
 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Landmarks


 
It’s hard to believe that it’s December. The year has buzzed by (it probably feels that way because I’ve been immersed in a project the whole year). In any case, it’s surprising to, basically, be knocking on the door of 2014.

 
For the past few years, December has been a really interesting month. Specifically, the past few have truly left deep impressions on me and cemented a great deal of change in and around my life.

 
Yesterday marked two years since the abrupt collapse of a relationship that really altered my being across the board. The sum of that experience really humbled me and forced me to confront a number of things, both internally and externally.

 


It’s amazing for me to think of just how much different my life has been since then. It also feels weird to know that it really been two full years. It, honestly, feels like it’s been much longer.

 
Switching gears, last December is when I sat down and issued myself a challenge (I’ve been known to enjoy a good challenge or two). That challenge became my debut EP Between Beauty & Bedlam. I, honestly, had no idea what a record with my face, name, production, and voice on it would sound like, but as soon as I committed to the project, things just started falling into place. Almost twelve months exactly (and I’ve said this before), but that decision, as well as this particular project, changed my life for the better.

 
I don’t pretend to know what things will look like for me around this time next year, but I’m excited about continuing on with the momentum that the past few years have given me. I’m enjoying the ride, brothers and sisters!

http://christianjcollier.bandcamp.com/
Twitter - @ichristian3030

 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Weekend


Last weekend was a tremendous amount of fun. I had the honor of collaborating with Mr. Tim Hinck for his latest show. Time is a really interesting individual, and it’s really hard to classify him. He’s a musician, performance artist, and the force behind Chattanooga’s New Dischord Festival.

In October, he and I met to talk a little bit about his most recent project, and he told me that he intended to leave the soundscape up to me. I left our meeting feeling like a) I’d known him for a long time, and b) we should’ve been working together years ago.

 



For the bulk of last week, we rehearsed, and it was an interesting challenge to see what was happening in the scenes and interpret it into a complimentary musical piece in real time. Tim gave me a few distinctions to work with in the two acts, and once I had an idea of the scope of the action, I sketched out my own parameters for what I wanted to strive for with the sound. I wanted things to sound moody, slightly off from time to time because the occasional wrong note engages the ear differently than when everything works, and I wanted things to constantly be evolving.

I didn’t map anything out prior to the show. There were a few things I wanted to throw in as far as texture or rhythm was concerned, but I wanted everything to take place in the moment and to ebb and flow with the action. In many ways, this was the natural progression for what I started doing with my Vacant Outlet Tour last year.

Honestly, it felt amazing to be playing music again. Prior to 2009, I played a lot of guitar and worked with a few experimental rock projects. The show served as a return to form for me (granted, with a few extra tools at my disposal in my setup), and an introduction for several people to that side of me. A good number of people had no idea that I played any instruments, so it was a lot of fun to indoctrinate them a little bit.  

 
I told one of my best friends that if I could swing the time commitment, I would love to be in a band again. I also realized just how blessed I’ve been to exist in such creative spaces this year. Each opportunity that I’ve been fortunate to take has really taught me more about myself. As clichéd (and corny) as this is going to sound, art has truly saved my life and continues to do so. It also makes my life pretty enjoyable, too. I’m excited to see what opportunities will come after this. I’m also hopeful that Tim and I will be collaborating on more projects in the near future. We shall see!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Release




Hey ladies and gents,

 
It’s hard to believe that a week has already passed since my release party for Between Beauty & Bedlam. It was such a powerful night for me, and I was TRULY thankful for everybody who came out.

 
When I woke up that day, I was in a really odd mood. I felt a little emotionally exhausted as well as a number of other things. I mentioned before that during rehearsal for the show, it kind of dawned on me just how personal the material on the EP is. A lot of memories got brought back to the surface and I, to a large degree, forced myself to relive some of those emotions. Fortunately though, I got some spiritual feeding and insight and was able to right the ship and get on the right track by the early afternoon.

 

When we got started at the show, Marcus Ellsworth set things off right. He also almost made me cry. He told the crowd how much I’ve supported and encouraged him over the years, and it really resonated with me. I had to shake myself out of it though because if I got teary in that moment, I would’ve been a mess for the remainder of the night.

 
When the time came for me to take the stage, everything felt right. We kicked things off with Here, Home, and as soon as the first words started coming out of my mouth, everything fell into place. I looked out into the audience and saw someone crying, and I knew that it was going to be a special experience.

 
I had the honor of sharing the stage with Jessica Nunn, my good friend Detroit Nick, and an incredible young singer named Zowie Boyd, and I was really satisfied with how we brought the record to life. Plus, the energy onstage was amazing. I was really privileged to have such positive and easy people to work with. It truly makes a huge difference.

 
At the end of the night, I was fortunate to talk to most of the people who attended. Several people told me that they cried at different parts of the show, and that really touched me. I’m really excited by the potential that this record, its stories, its emotional truth and execution, etc. have. I’m incredibly proud and humbled that it’s already started to connect with people, and I look forward to where it takes me. When I left Barking Legs, I really felt vindicated as an artist. I felt like this was the project I was meant to make at this point in my life, and that is an AMAZING feeling.

 
Blessings

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Last Week pt. 1


 
What an exhausting and incredible week last week was! I was really fortunate to participate in the “Come on in My Kitchen” show at Barking Legs Theater. The show featured amazing dances, food and drink, and poetry. We ran for three consecutive nights, and it seemed like each night, the audience grew increasingly more responsive.

 
I had the honor of leading the show off each night, and it was tremendous fun to set the tone for the night. I was asked by Ann Law to do my poem Worlds (which you can find in my chapbook Ghosts & Echoes that is available in my merch section), and because I’m easy to work with, I quickly agreed. Worlds is a really interesting poem for me. It begins in a pretty provocative manner before completely shifting. I wrote the piece back in 2008 on my back while recovering from a foot surgery, and, over the years, it has become a poem that I seldom have the opportunity to perform anymore, so it was a lot of fun to break it back out.

 

It was a real treat to be able to live in that creative space for three nights. I loved every moment of it, and it was really inspiring to see how everything came together each night with grace, sass, and heart. If I had the opportunity to do the show again, I’d leap at it in a heartbeat.

 
WUTC’s Around & About ran a story on me last Friday, and it came out great. I sat down with Michael Miller, and we talked about my EP, some of the stories behind the pieces on the record, and a range of other things. If you’d like to give it a listen, you can check it out here: http://wutc.org/post/poet-collier-steps-studio-between-beauty-bedlam

 
Part 2 is coming next!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Places


 
Greetings Ladies & Gents,

 
I have been rehearsing pretty heavy for my release show for my debut EP Between Beauty & Bedlam this Sunday (https://www.facebook.com/events/733674449978074/ ). Just last night, we rehearsed as a band, and it was a beautiful experience. The energy was amazing, and I’m really excited to translate it on the stage on Sunday. When I got home after practice, I started thinking though.

 
Several years ago, a lady asked me what I did creatively. I was performing a great deal at the time, and I told her that I pretty much took myself apart and put myself back together again in front of an audience. A lot of my life ends up in my work in a number of ways, so I relive a lot of good and bad times whenever I’m working my way through a set.

 
With the different pieces and tones that we, as a band, hit on last night, it really took me deeper into the material, which is both great and kind of difficult. During a recent radio interview, I said that when I perform, my goal is to recapture the emotion of whatever I was either going through while composing a piece, or, if it’s something directly rooted in my life, the emotional truth from a particular experience. I definitely visited some interesting places last night. Surprisingly, it just took a little bit longer than I anticipated to shake myself out of them. It happens though.

 
Anyway, I’ll be performing in a show that runs the 7th, 8th, and 9th at Barking Legs called Come on in My Kitchen. It’s going to be a great deal of fun, and will definitely inject a healthy dose of the provocative into the bloodstream of Chattanooga. For info on the show, you can visit here: http://barkinglegs.org/event/details/come-on-in-my-kitchen/  

 
Lastly, a huge THANK YOU to everybody who has supported my record so far. It’s been selling well, and the response has been amazing. Mr. Richard Winham from WUTC has been playing Walk off the EP a good bit, which I’m immensely thankful for. I keep saying that this whole project is an experience, and it truly is. I’m having a blast letting everything develop and taking it as it comes.
 
If you’re interested in streaming the record and/or downloading it, you can do so here: http://christianjcollier.bandcamp.com/
If you’d like a physical CD mailed your way, you can purchase it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/christianjcollier
 
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully, I’ll see you at some point at Barking Legs over the course of the next four days!
 
Blessings
 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another Year Older, A Few Days Wiser


Digital Version of Between Beauty & Bedlam

CD Version of Between Beauty & Bedlam

 
Greetings,
 
Ladies and gents, Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian turned thirty this past week. My birthday was a fun, interesting day. It had a good bit of activity, but also a decent period of reflection. I was the recipient of a great deal of love, and I truly FELT it, and that’s been something that I’ve not always been able to do, even though I’m fully aware that at all times of the day, I live in the hearts of numerous people. It was definitely a blessing to be aware of it though and truly in the moment.
 
I spent a significant part of last week on the road to perform. On Tuesday, I made my way to Nashville with absolutely no expectations on how it would go. Over the past few years, I have been booked for AT LEAST five shows in Nashville, and they all fell through on either the promoter’s or the venue’s side. Since I had some free time though, I decided just to head up on my own accord and check things out.
 
This particular poetry night took place at Logue’s Black Raven Tavern, which is a horror fan’s utopia. There are all of these classic horror movie posters adorning the walls, and there even was a life-sized Cthulu perched right next to the microphone.



  
One of the things that I love is being able to sit back and just really immerse myself in everyone else’s works. I love hearing their voices and traveling where they’re taking me to. I imagine I have a huge smile stuck on my face.
 
When my time at the microphone came, everybody was really open, which was great. I told everyone that night that I was being spoiled, because I got treated to free coffee (which was definitely needed), sold a bit of merch, networked, and even ended up with some pretty tasty free popcorn at the end of the night. I was really glad that I made the decision to get on the road and check out the ‘ville. I’m really interested in seeing what else is going on in the city, too. It’s largely been a mystery on the poetic side of the equation for me for a while.
 
On Thursday night, I made the drive down to Atlanta for the Urban Grind open-mic. I’m such a fan of the energy there. It’s extraordinarily vibrant, and I was actually fortunate enough to get a SEAT this time around. lol. Again, I was treated to a wonderful array of voices and poems.
 
Switching gears, I had the opportunity to go on the air with WUTC’s Richard Winham on Wednesday, and we had a fantastic conversation. He played a few tracks from Between Beauty & Bedlam, and we got to converse about how the project came about, etc.
 
When we were almost done with the interview, during a music break, Richard told me that he enjoys my EP a great deal, but some of the other people who work at the station reviewed the record, and have deemed half of it “inappropriate” to play. That really blew my mind, and I asked him why. This allowed us to patch back in on the air and talk a little bit about the issue, which I really enjoyed. Apparently, the main discrepancy was with my piece Acceptance, which uses the n-word in it just once. The poem is based on a true occurrence in my life where, when I was in my teens, I had a crush on a girl and she liked me, too, but her parents were racist. Her father actually called me a nigger and told me never to call the house again.
 
I told Richard (and whoever was listening) this and said that I understood how it could make some of the WUTC audience uncomfortable, but it first had to make me feel uncomfortable. It’s rooted in reality. Richard said that there had been an interesting discussion at the station on whether or not to play the piece, and I asked him to please keep in the loop and let me know what decision they come to.
 
Afterwards, I learned that the other people who reviewed the EP won’t play Night Watch because it’s about loving the survivor of a sexual assault and also won’t play Declaration because it’s (apparently) too sensual, even though there’s nothing that violates the FCC list of words you can’t say on the radio. I respect where they’re coming from as a station, but it was just really surprising. I’m not complaining at all. I knew that making the record that I made was going to be an experience and there would be a good number of conversations that would have to take place to provide context for some things, explain the adventure of bringing it to fruition, etc. This is just one step along the way. Plus, I have a few more interviews lined up with WUTC where I think we’ll have a better opportunity to expound on some of what we got to dialogue about last week, and that, in itself, is a blessing. I’m appreciative of the opportunity.
 
Well gang, I’ve talked your eyes out enough. Be good, spread love, and don’t be strangers!
 
Blessings

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It’s Here!


Greetings, ladies and gents. It’s been far too long since last I blogged. Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian’s been sick for over a month, but it looks like I’m FINALLY approaching the end of being ill. It’s just in the nick of time, too, because I am overly enthused to announce that Between Beauty & Bedlam, my debut EP is OUT NOW! Actually, it’s been available for a little bit over a week, and so far, everything’s been going well. I’m a proud man, and I’ve really been overjoyed at the response thus far.

Making this record has truly been an experience. It could very well be a cliché, but I truly feel that bringing it to fruition made me a better man. I learned a great deal over the past ten months, felt even more, and I sincerely hope that the project resonates with you... and gets you moving your tails a little bit.

If you're interested in purchasing a CD, I've got some options for you. I can either send one your way, or you can go here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/christianjcollier    

For those of you who are mp3-oriented, you can both stream and purchase the record here: http://christianjcollier.bandcamp.com/

Also, I booked the release party for the record a few days ago. We’re going to be getting down on November 10th at Barking Legs Theater, and if you’re reading this right now, consider yourself to be invited. Doors open at 6 and we’ll get going at 7. Admission is $10. Come on out for a good time. I’ve got something very special lined up for you. If you missed the performance at The Hunter over the summer, we’ve got you covered this time around. I guarantee satisfaction!

Well, that’s all that I’ve got for you right now. I’ll be in touch before too long… I promise! Be good, let me know what you think of my record, and I’ll see you when I see you.

Blessings

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Goings On


Greetings,

I’ve been on the sick side for the past week. Historically, whenever I’m under the weather, something bad happens and I also get really contemplative. This time around, the former hasn’t happened, but the latter has definitely been in effect.



I’m not much of a fan of downtime (big surprise, eh?). I enjoy being active, creating, working, etc. Really, it took me getting sick to realize that I am exhausted. Part of it is because I’m recovering, but I’m also kind of emotionally exhausted. I’ve started taking a few steps back from things and a few people in order to recharge. I came to the conclusion that I need to refocus my energies for the time being, and I’ve been mapping out how to make that happen. Wish Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian luck!



Switching gears, the last bit of biz for Between Beauty & Bedlam has been completed! That means that the construction phase is DONE! The next phase (introducing you fine people to the record, performing it, etc.) is almost ready to begin. This entire process has been a true journey, and one that has taught me a great deal about myself. I’ve learned just how resourceful I can be, how much hustle I’ve got, etc. I’ve even picked up a few new tools.

I’m really looking forward to making the live experience of the record come to fruition. I’ve got some pretty cool ideas in mind, so hopefully in a month or less, I’ll have the opportunity to kick out the jams for you. They’re certainly not going to kick themselves out!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now, brothers and sisters. Be good, be good to each other, and I’ll be in touch before too long. As my mentor would say, love, peace, and hair grease!
 
Blessings

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Almost There


Greetings, ladies and gents. I hope that all has been well with you. I’m getting over a cold, but I’m alright. As I write this, I’m listening to the speeches from today’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Fifty years. It’s so easy to forget that only a generation or two separates all of us from a completely different American landscape. The fact that I can share laughter, love, etc. with friends from all over the economic and cultural spectrum is not lost on me. It’s something that I’m thankful for, and I know that the price for that exchange has been paid with blood. We still have so far to go though, but it’s amazing to look back and see what strides have been made to get us this far.



I am SO anxious because within a week, I’ll be sending everything off to have my record manufactured! We are almost at the finish line, and I’m pleased, nervous, excited, etc. to be so close to Between Beauty & Bedlam being out. It’s wild for me to think that the majority of the year has been spent bringing this thing to fruition. It’s clichéd to say, but there’s been a great deal of sacrifice, sweat, and faith to make this project happen, and there’s just a little ways to go!

 



As I’ve been waiting on the last few bits of EP biz to get finished, I’ve been keeping busy (big surprise there, eh?). I’ve been doing some remixes, shopping beats to rappers, developing a few programs, etc. I’m really excited about what the next few months hold. There’s so much potential and so many things that I wish I could blab about right now, but, I shall spare you for the time being. Mua ha ha!

Switching gears, I’m very pleased to be sharing the stage on September 6th with Ms. Janelle Jackson, who comes to us by way of the great state of TX. We’re performing in an event about eliciting social change. I’m always interested in hearing what comes out of Janelle’s mouth, so I’m definitely looking forward to the evening.

Well gang, that’s all I’ve got for now! Stay up, stay loose, and I shall be in touch in the near future!
 
Blessings

Saturday, August 17, 2013

One Week


Greetings,

This past weekend was such an experience. I had the opportunity to be around family (some of which I hadn’t seen in years) and just being in an environment where everyone was happy and reflective truly touched me. It was a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the moment and the people I’ve loved most of my life.

 



I wrote on here before about the passing of my friend Cynthia. On Sunday, a tribute was held for her and her family, and I was asked to perform. I was out of town all weekend, and ended up getting back pretty much just in time to jump on the microphone, so there wasn’t much prep time. In fact, I was fighting an asthma attack when I arrived.

Last Friday night, the thought hit me to try to perform my Nina Simone piece for the occasion. When I performed at The Hunter in July, Nikki Ellis, who is an amazing singer collaborated with me on the poem, so I asked her if she was interested and available to do it at the event. Fortunately, she said yes.

It was really heavy to be inside the room and seeing so many people grieving. Before we took the stage, I heard a number of testimonials of how Cynthia had impacted people’s lives. I was both touched and really happy to hear that.

Eventually, our time came and I still couldn’t breathe very well. However, when we started the piece, everything came together.

I truly felt honored to have been able to celebrate Cynthia’s spirit. Also, I’m happy that so many people came out to show their love and support. I honestly believe that she was in that hall with us, and I hope that we made her happy.

Switching gears, last night, I performed with some phenomenal poets in Dalton, GA. It was SUCH big fun. In a way, it kind of was like a poetic family reunion. Most of the acts were people I’ve known and performed with for at least four years.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got for now, brothers and sisters. Be good, stay dry, and I’ll be in touch before too long!
 

Blessings

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Goings On




Ladies and gents, we are now in the month of August (I’m sure you’ve noticed by now though). July really seemed to fly by, but it was a pretty pleasant time for the most part in my life (and, hopefully, in yours as well). Let’s talk shop!




 
I’m dangerously close to having the last few things squared away for the EP. If everything goes according to plan, Between Beauty & Bedlam will be available by the end of this month! I’m so excited to be this close to the finish line. I’ll finally be able to stop telling people about the record and can transition to letting them hear it for themselves. Soon!

 
I’ve been cooking up new music lately, too. This time of the year tends to be when I kick out the jams on the production front, so if I do decide to pursue making a full-length album, I should have some pretty interesting material to work with (literally). I’ve also wanted to shop more beats around, so I’ve got a wealth of stuff to circulate.

 
Switching gears, on August 16th, I’ll be making my performing return to Dalton, GA. I’ve performed in Dalton on a few occasions before, and it’s always made for an interesting affair. I’ll be rocking out alongside some uber-talented artists, so if you’re in or around the area, feel free to bring yourselves out to Dalton’s Creative Arts Guild. I believe we’re running from 7 to 11.

 
As always, music has been playing an integral role in my life. Here’s a list of some artists you should check out if you’re not familiar with their work:

 
  1. Nosaj Thing
  2. Free the Robots
  3. Ta-Ku
  4. Teebs
  5. Mono/Poly
 
Well, that’s about all I’ve got for right now. Be on the lookout for news regarding my EP’s release and the performances that’ll be accompanying it. Also, my Spoken Word Rockstar shirts have been selling well. If you’d like to purchase one, or even a few, contact me or just place your order in my Products section, and I’ve got you covered. Until next time, be good, boys and girls.
 

Blessings

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Remembrance


This past Saturday, I learned that a friend of mine died in a car crash while returning from a concert in Nashville. Initially, I was shocked, and then about an hour or so later, the grief set in, followed by a number of questions. I couldn’t stop thinking about her kids and wondering if they were alright, etc. It was surreal.

My friend’s name was Cynthia, and she was instrumental in allowing my Speakeasy open-mic to move in to the spot she bartended and booked shows at. We immediately indoctrinated her into the fold, and she quickly became Speakeasy family. After a while, I gave her a microphone to keep behind the bar, and we’d go back and forth throughout the night each week. I started calling her Big Mama, and it was a very fitting nickname, because for friends and family, she was immensely loving and generous.

Over the years, our paths kind of diverted a little bit when Speakeasy left the bar she worked at. If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’ve committed more into following my art and the opportunities that it has afforded me. During that time, Cynthia became a staunch advocate for autism awareness. She’s been instrumental in putting on a number of fundraisers for the cause, and I was extremely proud of her for pursuing her passion.

What is so troubling about losing her is the timing. Less than two weeks ago, she celebrated her anniversary. The day after she passed, an event called Pints for Autism III took place that she’d played a vital role in bringing to fruition. She and I, during our last conversation, had made tentative plans to see each other there.

Last Thursday, I performed at The Hunter, and one of the poems in my set is called How We Celebrate. It’s about celebrating Hip-Hop culture, but also about celebrating yourself. I told the audience that another day isn’t promised, and with that in mind, it’s vital to celebrate the things and people that we have in our lives while we have them. I had no idea that that statement would hit home so hard in only a matter of days. None of us ever really do though, do we?

I, like many others, am extremely saddened by her passing and the manner by which it occurred. However, I am elated to have known her, to have made her smile, laugh, and to have had her touch my life. I never once had a bad time with Cynthia. She’s a tremendous spirit, and I couldn’t be more pleased by the woman that she was.

 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Making Sense of the Senseless




What a week. What a day! I’ve been gearing up for my performance at The Hunter this coming Thursday, and everything has been coming along incredibly. Earlier today, I met with an immensely talented and skilled violinist who’ll be performing at the show to rehearse, and it was the last piece of the puzzle. I genuinely feel in my heart of hearts that my special guests and I are going to bring something resonant and unique to the table. I’ve been energized all day as a result.

 

However, like MANY out there, things changed when I watched the Zimmerman verdict. I felt supremely disappointed, and I had to get out and try to do something to take my mind off of the situation… even if it was just for a few hours.

There are so many issues at the heart of the situation involving the incident, the trial, and, now, the verdict. As a Black male, particularly one who just so happens to live in The South, I’ve experienced stereotyping, profiling, etc. I still experience it, and, more than likely, always will. I also had a police officer pull a gun on me in Tampa, FL… while I was driving my brother-in-law around for some pizza by the slice.

I think my immediate disappointment was that what motivated George Zimmerman’s actions can also motivate something to happen to me, people in my family, and many other people, simply based on the clothes we wear, our skin, and where we end up going or being. The stigma of being a Black male is so strong that even our children are at risk, because their existence somehow is a threat… still, in 2013.

Earlier in the week, I bought a Raiders hat at a Foot Locker. Now, I haven’t even stepped foot inside a Foot Locker in years (I probably had hair the last time that happened, and I’ve been bald for over four years). The bulk of the attire they have for sale there is the same attire that white kids, Black kids, Lil’ Wayne, etc. wear. It's all pretty common in this day and age. It’s also the same attire that was referred to as “thug wear” by Geraldo. Go figure.

I know this entry is a ramble. It’s very difficult to try to make sense out of the senseless. I have no clue what the rest of George Zimmerman’s life will be like, or how long people will be celebrating the verdict. All I have is hope. It is the hope that we will do better as a society and as a collective people. I hope that this, the Paula issue, and whatever comes next truly affords us the opportunity to really address and confront RACE to enable us to reach a better place. Here’s for hoping.

Blessings

Monday, July 1, 2013

Welcome to July


Welcome to July! We’re officially seven months in, and it’s been quite the journey thus far. The past several weeks have been really interesting on my end. Let’s jump into the goings on!

First, I am VERY PROUD to say that the recording of my debut EP is complete! Everything that I am waiting for now (and it’s very little) is on the legal and technical side of the coin, but things are coming along. I’m extremely antsy though and I want you fine people to hear the record. I’m eager to get the baby out there, but I’m being patient while wrapping up the last bit of business. If you enjoyed Night Watch, I promise that you’ll love the rest of the material.

 
Next, I’ve been thinking about making more music. I have a few ideas cooked up, so we’ll see what

happens. Everything on Between Beauty & Bedlam came about in a really organic fashion, so I’m

not too keen on trying to force anything, but I would love to bang out a few more songs.

Oh, ladies and gents, my T-SHIRTS arrived last week, and they are OFFICIALLY for sale. If you’re a poet, storyteller, hipster, etc., I’ll have you stylin’ as you attack your day. If you’re interested in buying one, feel free to comment or e-mail me at thespeakeasypoetry@gmail.com and I’ll promptly get in touch with you.

Let’s see. On the 18th of this month, I will be returning to The Hunter museum to perform. The Hunter is a beautiful establishment and is definitely one of my favorite places to rock out. I’ve been bouncing some ideas around for my set, and if things work out, I’ll have some phenomenal people helping to create something special. There’ll be poetry, there’ll be some sonic exploration and improvisation, and more. I can’t give away everything, can I?

Tomorrow night, I’m hosting a Speakeasy session at a place called Planet Altered, and I’m really excited. I’ve gushed about Speakeasy for years, but, honestly, it helped make me the man and artist that I am today. I love the community and the creative connection, and being able to facilitate that is an honor. Plus, every time that I get to make it happen, it always feels like a special time.

Well, that’s about it for now, brothers and sisters. Be good, stay cool, and I’ll be blogging again before too long.

Blessings 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good Times


Greetings Ladies & Gents,

I’m late with this, but welcome to June! It’s been a busy month, but a good one thus far. Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian cannot complain! Let me tell you a little bit about what’s been going down.

The good people from RAW made a wonderful video of yours truly. When I performed in Atlanta on April 20th, we did a little interview before the show started. That was captured as well as a performance of my poem How We Celebrate, which includes a display of my incredible beatboxing abilities (j/k). You can check it out below!

video
 
Switching gears, for many moons now, I’ve been alluding to my EP and having something that you fine folks can sink your teeth into from it. Well, I uploaded one of the songs to Soundcloud on Monday, and the response has been fantastic. I had a conversation with a woman today about it who really connected with it, and it was interesting to have that dialogue.

The song is called Night Watch, and it features the lovely and uber-talented Rachel Kelly from the band As Isaac (they have a new record out that you should be checking out!!!) on background vocals. When I heard the final mix of the song, EXACTLY how I initially intended it to sound, honestly, I wept. I produced the song, as well as wrote and performed the poem on it, but Rachel’s voice really makes the piece whole. She truly blessed me and my record.

You good people can check the song out here, and if you enjoy it and/or connect with it, please share it. Also, know that the rest of my record will be available SOON! Check it out!

Well gang, that’s about all I’ve got to report right now. Stay up, and I’ll be blogging again before too long.

Blessings

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Biz


Greetings,

Since last I wrote, I celebrated my second birthday. In the long-long ago when weed was grass, I performed my first poem in public, and that experience really helped to define my life. I remember that I invited this chick from high school that I had a years-long crush on out to hear it with the hopes that I would woo her through the word. However, she didn’t show up. I didn’t get the girl, but I got the artistic life, so Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian cannot complain.

In other news, I provided another musical score for a dance piece in April. I was commissioned to sample some things, which I really haven’t done in ages, so it was interesting to come to the table with some fresh ideas on how to flip some chants and a familiar song for you fine folks. I also made some original pieces, too. The process was REALLY fast, so I wasn’t sure of how everything flowed, but having had the opportunity to watch the video below, I’m pretty proud of what I cooked up. Plus, seeing what Elizabeth Longphre, who choreographed the dance, and co. were able to do with it really made me appreciate it in a different light.


Well, that’s all I’ve got for now, brothers and sisters. Second mixes for my record Between Beauty & Bedlam are coming soon, which means that I’ll FINALLY have something to debut from the EP in the near future! Dun, dun, dunnnn.


Blessings

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life is Good



Ladies and Gentlemen, I've been listening to the first mixes of my record. I’m glad that there are no big things to change, and I’m really hoping to have everything knocked out and ready to go by next month. We shall see if the universe cooperates with me.

That aside, I’ve been collaborating with a lovely and very skilled dancer for months now. I’ve been using my Vacant Outlet Tour setup to provide music while she moves. The whole thing is improvised, which has been a great challenge and tremendous fun.

We’re going to OFFICIALLY be debuting this thing on June 7th at Wide Open Floor. Usually, our intergalactic jams are pretty epic in scope and length, but it’s been interesting to work within a timeframe of eight minutes. We’ve linked up a few times to try it out, and we’ve actually been able to translate everything without a problem. If you bring yourselves to next month’s Wide Open Floor, I promise that we’ll give you something to see and hear. You’ve got Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian’s guarantee!

Switching gears, this past Friday night, I had an unbelievable experience. I met with someone to talk about the layout for my EP, then made my way to The Hunter to hear Mr. Whitfield Lovell speak. He has a new installation at the museum that is PHENOMENAL, and he touched on it, the history of his work, etc. It gave me a good number of things to roll over.

From there, I left for Nightfall, where Cody ChesnuTT was going to be playing. Cody’s The Headphone Masterpiece absolutely helped me get through college (yeah, I said it). When I was in my first year of school in Tampa, I was the only person of color in the writing program (I think I was for all four years, actually). In my second semester, I ended up getting accused of plagiarism by a professor, and Finding Forrester kind of became my life for a little bit.

As fate would have it, Cody made this beautifully human record where he talked about being the only Black guy in a rock band, overcoming adversity, having confidence, flair, etc. and it really resonated with me. That album helped me develop tougher skin and not feel so alone.

So, as the rain was falling downtown, I stood at the front of the stage as Cody and his band came out and kicked out the jams. I sang along to each joint from the new record, and immediately after the show, Cody’s manager came up to me and thanked me for singing along. She said that she was going to hook me up with a copy of the record, have him sign it for me, and that she wanted the two of us to talk for a little bit. Huzzah! I was in another galaxy, brothers and sisters. Could. Not. Believe it.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you lovely peeps today. I shall be in touch soon. In the meantime, stay cool, and if you’re in or around Chattanooga, make sure to pop by The Hunter to check out the Whitfield exhibit. You can thank me later.

Blessings

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Arrival


 
Welcome to the month of May! We’re officially five months into 2013, and I must say that I’m pleased with how this year’s shaken out so far.

I recently submitted a video for a competition about “speaking up” regarding social issues. There’s a nice financial prize for the winner, but I’m really elated for the opportunity to see what other artists from across the map are doing and to share and connect. I LOVE the creative exchange, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

 

For the past few weeks, I’ve received so much insight, wisdom, and affirmation from a number of people. There have been several Come to Jesus meetings, and I, honestly, feel the calmest, clearest, and most open that I’ve felt in several years. It feels great, and I’ve actually experienced a good bit of contentment… which is a strange bird for someone like myself who’s been so accustomed to grinding and working towards something. Who would’ve thought?


It’s really interesting to have arrived at this place, especially when I’ve been working on bringing my debut EP to fruition. When I started actively putting it together, I spent A LOT of time thinking about who and where I’ve been, what I’ve overcome, etc. I won’t say that this kind of meditative process began then, but I really became aware of where I wanted to go in my life, with my art, etc. and I feel that I’ve made some good headway on the journey. Plus, I sincerely feel that my record reflects the trek pretty aptly, and in a funky, funky way (j/k).

That’s all I’ve got for now gang. Stay up!

Blessings

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fortunate


Greetings,

Ladies and gents, Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian is a pretty happy man. Yes, HAPPY! April has really proved to be a wonderfully creative month. Let’s jump into what’s been going down!

I had the honor of performing this past Saturday at RAW Presents MARVEL in Atlanta. It was an absolutely beautiful event that featured bands, visual artists, body painting, fashion, etc. As soon as I reached Terminal West, I was blown away by the sheer scale of the show.

 
For the first time EVER, my aunt, uncle, sister, and brother-in-law got to see me perform… and use some colorful language (for what it’s worth, I used those words with love!). It was really interesting to have had that experience and to expose them to what I’ve done for so long.

Terminal West has become my home away from home. I’ve been there a good number of times this year and have seen some incredible artists take the stage. I’ve been so excited about doing my thing there for a while now, and I’m happy to report that my set went off without a hitch, friends.

About halfway into my first poem, the energy was just AMAZING. It was beautiful. Absolutely. I’m so thankful for how everything shook out.

 
In other news, my debut EP is currently being mixed as I type. My engineer made a post on Facebook that he was really in love with the material (I didn’t even pay or prompt him to say it!). It’s always a good sign when the person who’s responsible for tightening up the sound quality of your project is amped up about it. I’m hoping to have an initial mix in the near future. I’m getting closer and closer to having something to kick your way, boys and girls!

Lastly, there are only a few more days remaining in April’s 30 poems in 30 days challenge. For my writers, poets, and experimenters out there, how has it been? Have you remained steadfast? Let me know! I’ve banged a piece out each day thus far, and I’ve managed to crank out some pretty good stuff.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now, brothers and sisters. Stay up, stay well, and I wish you continued love and light! Until next time.

Blessings

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living the Dream




I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a little while now, but I promise you that I’ve not been slacking! Let me take you through what’s been going down on my end.

On Tuesday, I had the distinct honor and privilege of performing a rendition of Ishmael Reed’s Chattanooga with my dear friend and mentor Shane Morrow (pictured below). This happened right in front of Mr. Reed and his daughter, which was hard enough to wrap my head around. However, during his reading, Ishmael blew my mind by offering a HUGE compliment. He said that he’d initially intended on reading the poem, but didn’t think he could follow it after our take on the piece. Gah!!!

 
It was such a great night. I had the opportunity to meet the man and have him sign an old Black Arts Movement anthology he was featured in for me. By the way, he totally didn’t remember writing the poem in it. Mua ha ha!

 

This Saturday night, I’ll be performing in the Tunnel Arts Festival on Brainerd Rd. I’ll be doing a little something something with a few incredibly talented peers, friends, and MANIFEST collaborators from 2 to 2:30, and then I’ll be performing poetry in an event called The Muse Project after 8 inside the Mocha Restaurant. Admission is $5, so come on out for jazz, poetry, and good times.

The poem I’m doing is called Indigo. It won an award last year through the Origami Poetry Project and pays homage to the incomparable Nina Simone. I have a special guest helping me out on it, and the challenge has been to try to make the poem (which is a page piece) more of a live entity. I’m still tinkering with it in my mind and, more than likely, will be even on the stage. I’m almost certain there’s going to be some improvisational riffing going on, but how fitting for Jazz Appreciation Month, eh?

 

Switching gears, we’re getting closer and closer to April 20th and the RAW Presents MARVEL show in Atlanta! I’m very excited about it. I’m happy to announce that I’m halfway to meeting my ticket quota, and they’re going fast, so if you’d like to purchase one to catch the show or just to support Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian, you can do so here: http://www.rawartists.org/atlanta/marvel/?artist=128773

In other news, I’ve got brand new chapbooks because I was dangerously close to selling out again. So, I’m fully stocked and hoping to get rid of a good number in the near future. Literary hustle, boys and girls!

Tomorrow, the mixing for my EP Between Beauty & Bedlam will begin. I’m very excited to be entering into this stage, and I can’t wait to get the first mix back! I have to stay patient though. What can I say though? I’m anxious!!! I’m really looking forward to welcoming you fine folks into the project, too. We’re getting there though.

Lastly, I’ve thrown a few things on my Soundcloud page. I remixed a poem by Mr. Ian Dougherty last year, and was finally able to send it to him. He loves it, and it will be appearing on his upcoming record, so definitely keep your eyes and ears open for it. You can check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/christian-j-collier/ian-dougherty-diotima

 
Also, I went on a mini-tour in mid-December and managed to record my feature set from Augusta, GA’s M.A.D. Studios. You get jokes, apocalyptic humor, poems, a plug for W. Kamau Bell’s show (which you should all be watching), etc. You can also check that out here: https://soundcloud.com/christian-j-collier/live-at-m-a-d-studios

Well, that’s all I’ve got time for right now. Be good, don’t be afraid to add me on Soundcloud if you’re making noise on there, and I hope to see you out in the near future. Peace!

Blessings

Sunday, March 24, 2013

News!


Greetings Everybody,

So many things have been taking place! Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian has been the good kind of busy for sure. I wanted to take a quick minute out just to mention something that’s coming up.

 
On April 20th, I’ll be performing in an event in Atlanta called RAW: Atlanta Presents MARVEL. It’s a showcase that features a number of working artists in the worlds of fashion, music, the performing arts, etc. I’m really excited about hitting the stage. As it turns out, the show will be at a venue called Terminal West that I’ve now been to about three times to see some INCREDIBLE performances. The last time I was there, I just got lost in the thought of how it will feel to perform on the same stage that some of my heroes and inspirations have.



I would absolutely love to bring some Chattanooga people with me for the experience. I’m responsible for moving 20 tickets, so if you can’t make it to the show and would just like to help support me, I would sincerely appreciate the assistance. Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased online here: http://www.rawartists.org/atlanta/marvel/?artist=128773

If you would like additional information on the show, feel free to contact me.

Blessings

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Getting There (Wherever That Is)


Greetings Folks,

So many things have been going on in Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian Country. Pretty much as soon as I announced that I’d be taking a hiatus from MANIFEST to focus on completing my record, my dance card started filling up with a number of performances and other opportunities. I’m not complaining in the least, it’s just been really interesting.
 

I had the honor and privilege of being a special guest for Gabriel Newell’s performance during The Road to Nightfall competition. That was tremendous fun, the energy was incredible, and it was a really humbling experience. I’m really glad to have known Gabriel over the years and to witness the quality of the band he has. Those brothers kick out the jams.

 

This past Friday night, Ms. Amber Fults and her band WON the whole shebangabang. They’ll be headlining a Nightfall date this year. I’m also so proud to see how much effort they’ve put in, and, at the end of the day, to call them friends. Be on the lookout for when they take the stage at Miller Plaza!

Over the course of this past weekend, I performed in Act II: Mudita and at Jerry Allen’s Poetry & Punchlines show. Both were immensely fun. Act II took place at Barking Legs, and I got to share the stage with multi-instrumentalist Robin Burk, dancer Eliza Luminara, and comedian/actor/storyteller Andy Pyburn. Each of us brought something distinctly different to the stage, and it was really interesting to witness.

At Poetry & Punchlines, it was great to see how the show shaped up. Things kicked off with some improve comedy before I got into my set. This was my first time at Mocha (I know that I’m extremely late), but I really enjoy what they’ve done with the space since it was Melanie’s about ten or so years ago. My set went well, and it was cool to see Tommy Bottoms and Odell perform as well as grab a bit of face time with the both of them after the show.

Switching gears, I’m so excited about hitting the Terminal West stage in Atlanta on April 20th! I would absolutely love to see some Chattanooga faces out there as well as some of my ATLiens in the crowd. I’ve got a few special tricks up my sleeve for the occasion, too. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.rawartists.org/atlanta/marvel/?artist=128773

Well, that’s all I’ve got time for right now. Be good, stay healthy, and I hope to see you in ATL if not before.

Blessings