The Family That Plays Together
City Paper Online

Some might say it all began at Security Square Mall in the summer of 2001, when The Baltimore Times hosted its annual Uplifting Minds talent show. Sisqó, the flamboyant, red-haired member of the Baltimore-bred R&B group Dru Hill, was in attendance and heard the Featherstone boys sing one of their own songs. They didn’t win first prize, but Sisqó was impressed with their sound and gave them his phone number. When he was slow in getting back to them, tenacious father Lurenda Featherstone took matters in hand. He placed a quick call, leaving a message on the singer’s answering machine: “I heard your last album wasn’t so good–you better call me back if you want a hit.”

Maybe it was Dad’s boldness or his sons’ arresting sound, but Sisqó called right back. “After my husband called him, Sisqó came over to our little house,” says Mom Tegra Featherstone. “I was in the kitchen cooking–my daughter was scared of him and she was hiding under the table. He told us he really liked the song and wanted to record it for his album.” more…

Signature Dish
Black Enterprise

The day before Thanksgiving in 2005, Aricka Westbrooks, 35, CEO of Jive Turkey, was sleeping on a wooden stool, leaning against the wall of her 1,500-square foot store in Brooklyn, New York.  She and her staff were exhausted from frying turkeys 24 hours a day for four days straight.

When Westbrooks finally opened her eyes at 7 a.m., she noticed several faces peeing into her storefront window.  She walked outside to discover a long line of customers-some from as far away as Califormia.  The early birds were lining up to buy Westbrooks’ famous deep-fried turkey for their Thanksgiving dinners. more…

When PBS Had ‘Soul!’
The Root
 On Jan. 28, 1972, red-hot trumpeter Lee Morgan, finally drug-free after battling a debilitating heroin addiction, took to the stage of the groundbreaking PBS show Soul!, hosted by Washington, D.C., native Ellis B. Haizlip. Three weeks later, his common-law wife marched into an East Village club in New York City, called out Morgan’s name as he stood onstage and shot the 33-year-old trumpeter directly in the heart.   Morgan’s appearance on the show, one of his last documented performances, would be included on his album We Remember You, a compilation of live performances. It remains a seminal performance by a seminal musician.   more…

It’s Tricky
Wax Poetics Trip-hop pioneer Tricky is back. But really, to his longtime fans, he never left. When critics were searching for the oppressive beats and dark menace he brought with his 1995 debut, Maxinquaye, true fans knew that to Tricky, life is music and music is experimental. If you’re looking for concepts, or categories, or something linear, you’ve come to the wrong place. Tricky’s latest album, Mixed Race, is a culmination of ambiguity, pure musicianship, and feeling. It’s full of two-to-three-minute snippets of intensity that you want him to stretch out, but he refuses, unless the feeling strikes him. Which, unfortunately, it doesn’t. He says it’s a visual album, much like cinema. “[Mixed Race] reminds me of when I first heard Public Enemy—very visual,” Tricky says by telephone from his home in Paris (he recently moved back east, first to the UK and then to Paris to be near his daughter). “I think this album mirrors new music. It reminds me of Public Enemy.”   more…

Andy Rooney On His Workplace

The Wall Street Journal

— WHO: Andy Rooney, 79-year-old columnist, author and commentator for CBS “60 Minutes.”

— WHERE: 524 W. 57th St. in Manhattan at the news offices of one of the CBS buildings.

— WHAT YOU SEE: Mr. Rooney’s office is not in a separate building from the rest of the “60 Minutes” staff because of his caustic personality. Rather, it stems from his need for independence. He needs time alone to think of ideas for the show while working at his Underwood typewriter that was built in 1919, the same year he was born.

Mr. Rooney sits behind a walnut desk that he made himself in his workshop. A stool he also built is used for the cameraman to sit on when taping him. A sketch of John F. Kennedy sits behind him, given to him by the late Harry Reasoner, a former “60 Minutes” correspondent. Nearby books include “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” as well as copies of his own efforts: “My War,” and “Word for Word.” He also has a copy of “The Collected Work of Keats,” although the volume is actually a faux book where he keeps petty cash for emergencies. Mr. Rooney has three phone lines, and personally answers the one that friends and colleagues are likely to use. The commentator reserves the two others for strangers. He is not particularly interested in talking to them, so his assistant answers those. more…

The Private School Crisis for Black Parents

The Crisis

Eric Singletary didn’t need saving. He was a straight-A student at Kelly Miller Middle School in one of the most neglected wards in northeast Washington, D.C. When his recreation league coach Calvin Woodland, offered him and a few other young people a chance to hang out with George F. Kettle at his riverfront resort house for the weekend, he went. Kettle later became a well-known philanthropist working with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation to offer low-income children the opportunity to go to college. Kettle saw academic promise in Singletary and offered him an opportunity to meet with administrators at Sidwell Friends School, an elite independent private school in northwest Washington. Singletary impressed his interviewers, passed all the required tests and was admitted. Kettle paid his initial tuition.

Upon entering Sidwell, Singletary immediately faced cultural differences. The students lounged intermittently on the carpets by the lockers in between classes. They spoke of “vacationing” overseas for the summer and winter. Many of them drove themselves to school in sports cars rather than taking city buses as Singletary did. more…

More archives: 

Column: Play Action, ESPN, The Magazine

The Root Articles

Freddie Gray Coverage: The Root

Entertainment Coverage: The Root

Okayplayer Articles

Afropunk Articles

Distant Relatives–Interview with Nas and Damian Marley–, Summer, 2010

Education at the Crossroads–Crisis Magazine, Fall, 2009

The Wire–No One Lives Forever–UptownLife.Net, May, 2008

Play Action: Hopkins/Calzaghe–, April, 2008

Play Action: The 80s Are Still Cool If You Ball In DC —, April, 2008

Blind Wrestler Battles Way To Maryland Championship —, March 2008

Dance Dance Evolution — Baltimore Magazine, 2007

Sporting Life–Tackling Football — Heart and Soul Magazine, 2007

Nurture Dreams — Heart and Soul Magazine, 2007

Uptown Restaurant Reviews — 2007

Extraordinary Products in a Growing Market — Black Enterprise, 2007

Jive Turkey — Black Enterprise, 2006

Open Water — Sports Illustrated, 2004

Football Fever — The Washington Post, 2006

Flower Shop — Black Enterprise, 2006

Body Talk — Baltimore Sun, 2005

Afrocentric Signs of the Season — Baltimore Sun, 2005

Gentrification in DC — Crisis Magazine, 2005

The Primm Family — Crisis Magazine, 2005

New African-American Museum in Baltimore — Baltimore Magazine, 2005

Little Melvin on HBO’s “The Wire” — Baltimore Magazine, 2004

Jason Pipoly — The Washington Post, 2004

The Family That Plays Together… — City Paper, 2003

The Believer — City Paper, 2003

Black Soil: Interview with Fidel Castro — City Paper, 2003

There Goes The Neighborhood — City Paper, 2002

Ahead of The Curve — City Paper, 2002

Gray Areas — City Paper, 2002

Drug-Treatment Agency Gives Atlantic City Man Changed Days — Press of Atlantic City, 1999

M.D.s Who Mind Their P’s and Q’s Shouldn’t Misplace Their Modifiers — Wall Street Journal, 1999

This Absecon Creek Waterman Doesn’t Let Life, or Eels, Slip Through His Hands — Press of Atlantic City, 1999

Ruffing It: These Happy Campers Don’t Even Have to Write Home — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Properties from Architects: Frank O.Gehry, Richard Meier, John Belle, Jose Rafael Moneo, and Tadao Ando — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Danny Simmons on His Workspace — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Creating an Oasis in Inner City or Desert — New York Times, 1998

Workspaces: Andy Rooney On His Workspace — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Workspaces: Sheila Bridges On Her Workspace — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Food Fight In Brooklyn — Wall Street Journal, 1998

Jazz Meets Hip-Hop — JazzTimes Magazine, 1998

Help Wanted: Need Big Name, Hoop Dream, Experience Optional — Wall Street Journal, 1997

Workspaces: Ed Koch On His Workspace — Wall Street Journal, 1997