Sophisticated Sunday

Natasha1Natasha T. Brown is an author, activist and award-winning communicator. Born in Chicago, IL and raised in Prince Georges County, Maryland. If you’re a loyal OnStage reader, you will remember Natasha’s “Sophisticated Sunday” column, which published from 2012 to 2014.

Natasha founded Think Brown INK (TBI Branding) in 2009. Through TBI, she has created several community initiatives and worked with clients and partners to share their stories and increase their social impact through the implementation of philanthropic initiatives and media campaigns. Natasha is the creator of the SmileNATIONWIDE #12MonthsOfService Cause Communications community, and a 2015 “40 Under 40” honoree in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Natashas newest work, her book “10 Blessings of Betrayal” will be released on Valentines Day.

…Now, for the return of “Sophisticated Sunday” with an exclusive peak into the mind of Natasha T. Brown, a thinker, builder, lover and author:

OnStage: Tell us about “10 Blessings of Betrayal”. Why did you write it, and who is the audience its intended for?


By Natasha T. Brown

Browse the DC Digital Museum, and you’ll surely find historic gems of Washington that you may not have known existed. This web-based archive powered by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC documents the most interesting grant projects of DC culture created by residents. The DCDM will inspire self-reflection of your own passion projects, just by learning more about Washington, DC’s lesser-known history and niche communities, such as:

  • Historic “Testimonies from Military Road School Alumni,” who tell the story of the school in the Brightwood neighborhood of Northwest;

  • DC’s growing urban agriculture community is documented by several gardeners who were selected for a project that tells its oral history; and

  • “African-American Pioneer Muslimahs in Washington DC,” is a documentary film that uses oral history to examine the lives of African-American Muslim women in Washington, DC primarily during the 1940's and 50's.

There is an interesting collection for humanities enthusiasts in the DC Digital Museum, and 2014 presents a new opportunity for creative types throughout the city.

The Humanities Council wants to fund your passion.

Wonderland Cool Tour's Reesa Renee

By Natasha T. Brown

From spectacular lighting and production, an eclectic performance lineup down to the headliner, iTunes Charting “Neo-Hip” Soul Singer Reesa Renee, the Wonderland Cool Tour Finale presented by Sports Zone Elite on Friday, August 23, gave attendees at The Fillmore in downtown Silver Spring a never-before-seen festival-style concert inclusive of soul, pop, R&B, hip-hop, rock-n-roll and indie rock!

“This event is one of the most artistic and professional events I’ve seen in at least 15 years coming out the DC Metropolitan area! It was put together so gracefully and I am proud to have witnessed this new cultural movement. DC has truly evolved a new Renaissance and is a leading factor with such unique artists as Reesa Renee and her team. Phenomenal Work!” said Actress/Host TuLuv Price. 

“The Wonderland Cool Tour was amazing! No indie artist from the DMV has done it that big before! Congrats Reesa Renee and team because it was phenomenal,” said 368 artist Visto.

picture of Cathy Hughes“It’s interesting how God arranges your schedule. When you’re helping someone else, you never run out of time, when you’re just interested in helping yourself, time is real short.”

 – Cathy Hughes

Her family values, undeniable work ethic, struggles and strengths have long been documented. In this interview, Cathy Hughes, the founder of Radio One and TV One, talks deeper about those who have influenced her and provides a perspective of D.C. that is often forgotten – our regality. She is considered one of the greatest media and entertainment professionals of our generation, having struggled through homelessness to own the most influential media commodity in American urban culture. This week for Sophisticated Sunday, I spoke with Ms. Hughes about the lessons she’s learned, and her thoughts about giving, the entertainment industry and her overwhelming love for Washington, DC.  This was truly one of the most sophisticated conversations I’ve had, and it’s my pleasure to share these jewels from Cathy Hughes with you…

What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned about life and your industry?

Hughes: I think that one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is that you have to be very careful with what you share with your loved ones when you go through hard times. So often they will distract you from your goals because they care about you, but they don’t want to see you struggle. My mother begged me to get a government job, when I was sleeping in a sleeping bag in the radio station. She loved me.  She wasn’t happy seeing me suffer, and I was complaining to her. She wanted me to have future security. But my future security depended on my current initiative.

Hang in there, and just guard what you share with them. You figure that it’s your mama, it’s your boyfriend, and it’s your best girl. And you should be able to tell them anything, but that’s not the case. They’ll give you bad advice and it will change your course.

I read that when Radio One turned 30 in 2010, instead of having a big anniversary party, you paid 1,800 members of your staff to volunteer at various organizations in the community. Why did you do that and what are the causes that are most dear to you?

Hughes: When we turned 25 I had a massive birthday party. It was on the Washington Post’s front page, Best Party Ever had in DC. I had Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Jay-Z; I had Eddie Levert, and Beyonce was my headliner. When it was all over, I looked at how much money I had spent: the hotel, the caterer, the music…

When I [Radio One] turned 30 five years later, it was a totally different economy. People were struggling. People were getting laid off, so it wasn’t the time to be celebrating. It was the time to roll up your sleeves and help other people, and that’s what we did.

It changed my organization and many of my staff. Many of my people today are still working with the organizations that they signed up to help. They got bitten by the help someone else bug.

It’s interesting how God arranges your schedule. When you’re helping someone else, you never run out of time, when you’re just interested in helping yourself, time is real short.

When you concentrate on yourself, you don’t get the same type of reaction from the universe and you don’t get the same type of assistance from God. The agencies that we helped during that week of service ended up benefiting, but who ended up benefiting the most are my staff members.

By Natasha T. Brown

This week we continue Sophisticated Sunday’s Black Music Month series. Many people are unaware of the various talented and accomplished artists that started on stage right here in D.C. It’s my pleasure to spotlight a homegrown musician,picture of Chooky Caldwell Antone “Chooky” Caldwell for the 2nd Black Music Month installment. “Chooky” just released a new album, Subject 2 Change, which he discusses in detail below.

 World–renowned Bassist Antone “Chooky” Caldwell was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and bred to be a musician since birth. Members of both sides of his family were involved in music and his parents brought him a different instrument each year for Christmas. The multi-talented musician now plays seven instruments – bass and lead guitars, piano, drums,sousaphone, trombone and organ.

“With each instrument, I take on a different character, all with the same personality – me. It’s like having seven best friends, and one just presents a different facet than the others do,” he explained.

Twenty years into his successful music career as a multi-instrumentalist, respected bassist, Billboard charting and Grammy-nominated producer and engineer, anyone can tell that Chooky was born for a life of music. His live sets captivate audiences with a 17-piece instrumental and vocal arrangement. His albums place the artist in various musical roles, and he’s collaborated with a long-list of legendary artists including Macy Gray, Sisqo of the group Dru Hill, Snoop Dogg, Mariah Carey, The Pussycat Dolls, Rahsaan Patterson, London based recording artist, Ali, and Gospel recording artists Andrae’ Crouch, and Shirley Caesar. Most notably, Chooky engineered and produced Jazz Saxophonist Ski Johnson's album New Beginnings, which topped at #1 on the Billboard charts in the Contemporary Jazz category for three solid weeks.  In addition to music chartings and positive reviews, Chooky received two Grammy nominations in 2009 for his work as producer and engineer on New Beginnings.

Chooky just released his latest album, Subject 2 Change, which debuted last week with two sold-out shows at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. On the day that we spoke, Chooky had also just graduated from Seminary and was preparing for a show that same evening with Mint Condition at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore. Below Chooky discusses his work and the strong influence other black music greats have had on his career.

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