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Israel, Jordan, & Egypt Trip

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or whatever platform you listen to podcasts on.

Click here to listen The past two weeks in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt have been a spiritual and emotional awakening and a breath of fresh air for me. Seeing The Middle East and North Africa for myself has been amazing. The pandemic and life itself have been a LOT to deal with, so this trip has been a relaxing reset. I have traveled overseas before years ago while I was in college I studied abroad in various Italian cities and have vacationed in London, England, Paris, France, and Athens and Santorini, Greece. Yet, this trip just feels different to my soul and was my first international trip since 2016! Also, my mother traveled back in the 80’s to Israel and other places and my maternal grandmother traveled years ago to the Holy Land too, so it’s in my blood to explore!

At the Pyramids of Giza in Giza, Egypt

I went by myself with the Go-Ahead travel group,(click the underlined link for more info.) which consists of various cultures and types of people from across the U.S.A. The tour company also has payment plans and take care of everything like flights, tours, local tour guides and translators, security,and transportation for you and was worth it to me! I was also happy I went with a travel group and not alone because it was a LOT of pick pocketers and people that prey on tourists, so I am grateful for the local tour guides and the security we had on the charter bus in The Middle East/North Africa. Also, to see the touristy sites be prepared to wake up early or go earlier in the day when it’s cooler and less crowds or research the better time of year to go. This is a major factor for a religious region with different holidays. Seeing places that I’ve only read about in The Bible or National Geographic or heard about from Westernized media has been very eye opening.

The Temple of Hercules at the Citadel Ruins in Amman, Jordan

Traveling and learning more about the three Abrahamic Religions✝️☪️🔯(Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and this Holy Land for myself has expanded my mindset on religion and spirituality. The people in Jordan were so kind, yet very curious about me and some Jordanian teens and small children came up to me out of curiosity and intrigue wanting to take pictures and interact with a darker skinned Black American like me.

Young Jordanian teens who asked me to take selfies with them.

I felt like a celebrity or something with all the stares in Amman and Aqaba, Jordan. The culture here in the Middle East & North Africa is different. Not as many people were looking down at devices all day as much and actually talk to one another or make do with so much less and women dress much more conservatively in beautiful fabrics and coverings (hijabs)and have beautiful eye brows and makeup. Some of the Jewish men in Israel wear yamakas on their head. There is internet-WiFi at the hotels I stayed in, but not many English speaking options to watch and very censored and dubbed media outlets. In Israel the people primarily speak Hebrew, English, and other languages. In Jordan and Egypt, the people primarily speak Arabic and English and other languages too. So far the top highlights so far of my trip have been in Israel floating in The Dead Sea with no swimming or floating device!

Relaxing and floating in the Dead Sea.

I can swim and love the water, but The Dead Sea is so salty and the pull of gravity below sea level literally makes you float on your back and the sea salt water and oil makes your skin feel like you have been at the spa! So cool! Then riding on camels in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan was amazing. The scenery literally looks like a screen saver or movie set, but this is nature! This is real life! I had to pinch myself and after taking so many pictures put my phone up and just absorb the environment. I am in amazement with the people of the Bedouin tribe with NO GPS and being in the middle of the desert with no lights etc. they navigate the land by camels and star gazing and looking at the mountains.

In the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan.

Reminiscent of the wisemen in The Bible Story of the Nativity of men following the stars to find Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to give them gold, franksense, and mur. Also, the camel’s hide feels like soft carpet! As a believer of Jesus seeing the places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and going to the places where Jesus walked and performed miracles was chillingly moving. Going to the Western/Wailing Wall to say a prayer and put a prayer in the wall in Israel was powerful and going to the Garden of Gathsemene where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified gave me chills.

At the Wailing Wall in Israel where the men and the women are separated on different sides and have to dress more conservative.

I was also in awe seeing the pyramids and sphinx in Giza, Egypt and The Nile River and I immediately thought of Moses and the book of Exodus in the Bible and the film “The Prince of Egypt.”

The Nile River In Egypt
Kissing the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt

The ancient ruins and wonders of the world have stood the test of time! I also thought of Michael Jackson’s Egyptian themed “Remember the Time” music videos. Also, it was eye opening going to the Holocaust Museum and memorial in Israel. It was heart breaking seeing the remnants of such evil. Out of respect I did not take pictures inside of the Holocaust Museum.

The outside of The Holocaust Museum in Israel.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

It was also interesting and so beautiful looking at the ancient places, architecture, and ancient ruins in Jarash, Jordan or Al-Khazneh (the treasury) in Petra, Jorda, which was also featured in “The Indiana Jones” Movie series and have stood the test of time. Also seeing the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples ate At The Last Supper and where King David was buried in was intriguing too.

Al-Khazneh (The Treasury)
Petra, Jordan

Going through the border control to leave Israel and enter Jordan and seeing the walls that divide the Holy lands and the political, religious, and repercussions it has on the people in the area were eye-opening. In Israel, young men and young women must join the military at 18 and it was interesting seeing them patrol the streets and holy sites with rifles. Whereas in Jordan and Egypt I didn’t see as many weapons just a greater police presence. In Israel, Jordan, and Egypt there really aren’t a lot of pork food options due to the religious aspects of the area.

Modern sculpture known as the Statue of Faith, made of Galilee stone, stands at the top of Abrasha Park in the Old City of Jaffa on Tel Aviv, Israel
Fresh fruit form the market!

However the grilled lamb, fish, chicken, hummus, pita bread, potatoes, rice, fruit, and vegetables were so fresh and good and people drink lots of hot tea. I don’t think there are the same preservatives there are in the food as in the USA.

Egyptian kabobs, rice, and fries
Sunset in Aqaba, Jordan

Also, the time change is about 6-7hours difference. So when it’s afternoon or evening here it’s early morning or middle of the day or night back home in the USA. Soccer and Basketball are major international sports so it was cool seeing people enjoy that. There is so much more I can say, but overall this has been a trip of a lifetime. I will forever cherish these moments. Thank you, God!

The manger of Jesus in Bethlehem
The Garden of Gathsemene in Israel where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified.
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Old School Playlist

Click here to listen on Apple Music and listen on Spotify by clicking the link below. Also available on Tidal.

Whitney Houston, Teena Marie, Patrice Rushen, and Minnie Riperton
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Sampled Songs Playlist

Kanye West sampled Chaka Khan’s 1984 hit R&B ballad “Through The Fire” on his 2004 hit “Through The Wire” off “The College Dropout” album. I think sampled songs are generation gap connectors and a way to introduce older songs to younger generations. It’s also a way for newer artists to pay homage to the great artists before them. SAMPLED SONGS Playlist Links below. What’s your favorite sampled song? Check the playlist below on Spotify. Apple Music users click here and Tidal users click here.

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Freshman Year (HBCU) Advice

My classmates and I at graduation in 2013. I am standing on the far right.

In 2009, I graduated from a small private predominately white high school and in 2013 I graduated from a historically black college, Fort Valley State University. These two totally “different worlds” and school experiences have shaped who I am and who I am becoming. I wanted to share my knowledge of being a former student leader for freshman year students. Listen or watch the podcast below and check out the list of advice below. Do you have any advice you’d give a new college student?

Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Anchor
Watch on The As-I-Amber Podcast now on YouTube

ADVICE FOR FRESHMAN YEAR:
1. Establish rules and communicate early on with your roommate(s). Y’all don’t have to be best friends, but you live together now so respect people’s things and have boundaries.
2. Please be yourself and talk to people you don’t already know.
3. If you’re feeling down and need someone to talk to go seek out your university’s infirmary and seek free counseling if available.
4. I know it’s a new environment, but try not to go home every weekend and try not to stay in your dorm all day.
5. If you have a car make sure to get a parking decal asap!
6. If you have a car make sure you’re not being used by others who won’t even give you gas money or say thank you for giving them a ride.
7. There’s pros and cons to everything. In my opinion if you’re not a morning person don’t take an 8 A.M. class or maybe you are a morning person, so take the class and get it over with and have the rest of the day to yourself.
8. Check out websites like Chegg and Google other book rental sites before going to the bookstore.
9. When dealing with advisors, professors, financial aid, etc. make a copy of everything they give you. Keep your receipts and emails!
10. Figure out what campus activities or clubs fit your personality.
11. If you are interested in a historically black fraternity or sorority do not tell everybody. Focus on your grades and community service.
12. Be careful about what you post on social media. There is life after college and future employers look at that.
13. If you have an online class or have to upload an assignment online upload it early because sometimes depending on where you are or what time of day it is the WiFi won’t be as strong.
14. If you don’t understand something or need extra help seek out a tutor and go to your professor during their office hours to ask questions or get clarity on something you didn’t understand during the lecture.
15. Try to call or text your parent(s) at least once every few weeks and not only when you need or want something.
16. Focus on your required classes before permanently choosing a major. So if you choose to change majors you won’t lose so many credits.
17. Talk to your academic advisor. This person is vital in helping you know what classes you need to take in order to graduate on time.
18. Go to class and try your best to sit up front and take notes.
19. Get a part time job. It’s nice to have money in your pockets and good to have work experience.
20. Take advantage of free things your campus may offer.
21. Invest in a good umbrella and get some rain boots because when it rains on campus at FVSU it poured down!
22. I know the cafeteria has various food options, but try to eat healthy when you can. Don’t forget to try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
23. Get involved in the community and city your college is in.
24. Go to the library and study there.

25. Study Hard, but Play Hard. Enjoy your college years and cherish the moments!

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The Beyoncé Bracket & Playlist

I finally finished The Beyoncé Bracket. I didn’t create this game. I just found it on social media and filled it out. As a member of The Beyhive, 🐝 I found this bracket’s song selections were kind of difficult to choose from, and certain songs on the bracket are better performed live in concert versus just listening to in your headphones. I’m excited about The Renaissance album era! The new album drops 7/29/22!

There is also different energy on stage when Beyoncè is performing on tour alone versus performing with Jay-Z. I’ve also provided a blank copy of the bracket, so you all can play too. Click the link below to listen to my favorite songs on my Beyoncé Playlist on Spotify and click here for the Beyoncé Playlist on Apple Music and here for the playlist on Tidal.

This bracket game is similar to the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament bracket instead of teams it’s songs. Out of the categories given you pick the song out of the two that you like more and that song advances to another round with other songs. Kind of like 2 basketball teams play a game and the winner moves on to the next level game and competes with other teams. It’s fun! Let’s play!

What are your favorite solo Beyoncé albums so far?

My Beyoncé CD collection
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Gospel Samples in Hip Hop

Many secular rappers have sampled Gospel music in their songs. Here’s a playlist I curated of some of those featured songs. See below for Spotify and click here for Apple Music and here for Tidal Music.

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What moving away taught me.

I moved away from my hometown in Columbus, Georgia for a job in South Carolina back in August of 2019. If you would have told me that a global pandemic would happen 7 months later and that by the end of the year I would be back in my home state due to the office closing and then becoming a caregiver for my Dad I probably wouldn’t believe ya! However, there is nothing like having an opportunity, getting out of your comfort zone, and moving to a different city with no close friends or family there. Whew Chile! It’s been an emotional journey. These past two years have shown me how to stop relying on myself so much and to rely on God more, and trust His plan and not my own. Starting a new job position in the middle of August 2019 and also having to quickly find a nice affordable apartment and moving all within a two-week time span, to meeting new people, making new friends, and adjusting to life in a new city and state, then moving back has been a lot. On top of all this back in October of 2019 I was in a car accident that totaled my car. I was fortunate enough to walk away without any physical trauma, and I was able to quickly get another vehicle. Praise God!

I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit closer to God and am becoming an even stronger person that is blossoming into more. Sometimes it takes going elsewhere to really see what you’re capable of. It makes you more appreciative of certain things that “home” offers like never having to use a GPS device or always having somebody nearby if an emergency happens and oddly you see who really is your “friend” when you are away in a different phase of life. I also see how certain people are your friends for reasons, seasons, and life times.

Thank God for technology like text messages and video chat apps like iPhone’s FaceTime and the “old school” phone call. Sometimes living in a different city is a fresh start for better and more opportunities and a new chapter in the book of life for lots of people. I’ve never been afraid to explore or go on adventures, but it’s a difference between visiting a place for a short time for a vacation versus living there for a while.

Exploring South Carolina at a butterfly release event and a real butterfly landed on me. I also happened to be wearing a butterfly shirt too!🦋 A literal symbol of change and metamorphosis.

In 2009, I went to college in-state at Fort Valley State University, which is only an hour away from my hometown. While I was a senior in college I studied abroad through a scholarship award in various Italian cities. After graduating from undergrad I’ve traveled to different U.S. cities and European cities and not speak the language, but to up and leave everything I know to go elsewhere has been exciting, scary, lonely, and fulfilling all at once. Living in a smaller city like Columbus, GA all my life things were in my comfort zone.

I am not bashing my hometown or the people there because it’s helped in shaping who I am and who I am becoming. In my opinion, sometimes certain cities lack certain industries or scenes for people of certain age brackets, and more or better opportunities sometimes exist elsewhere. Of course, if all you do is go home and to work and never do any activities outside of that or try to go places or participate in things that interest you then ANY city you’re in will be boring or easy to complain about.
There are pros and cons to anything in life, and so many creative, talented, smart individuals from smaller cities and towns leave because they may feel limited or want better for themselves or maybe they’re tired of running into the same people they had middle school math with at the grocery store or the same people running and doing the same things all the time.

The South Carolina State House

You get my drift. Overall moving so far has been beneficial for me and I would recommend anyone whoever has a good opportunity to move. I know it’s scary, but life is so much bigger than your town and you can always visit or move back. So many people live in regret, but you only get one life. Never forget or be ashamed of where you come from and as The Notorious B.I.G. said: “Stay far from timid, only make moves when your heart’s in it and live the phrase sky’s the limit.”

Exploring South Carolina back in September at The Jubilee Cultural Festival where I met author-actress, Karyn Parsons, who played “Hilary Banks” on the ‘90’s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
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“Aaliyah” Album Revisited

I often think about where triple threat singer, dancer, and actress, Aaliyah would be in 2022 if she were still alive. Even though it’s been twenty one years since her death and final album she is still so relevant. There’s no doubt about it that Aaliyah had a major impact on millennials and her legacy for us ’80’s and ’90’s babies is unforgettable. From her signature sleek and straight hair and swoop, shades, leather outfits, ombre hair, makeup, music videos and Tommy Hilfiger outfits, to her dancing and acting she was a standout and admired star whose influence can even be seen in various Pop and R&B artists today. Everyone from Normani, Tink, Drake, Jeezy, and Chris Brown have sampled her.

Back on July 7, 2001, I was just 10-years-old and excited about Aaliyah’s self-titled third album dropping. I use to watch 106 & Park with hosts Free and AJ on BET faithfully as a young tween and Aaliyah was on the show promoting her album. I also remember MTV had a show called “Diary” where they would go behind-the-scenes with certain artists and I couldn’t wait for Aaliyah’s episode to air.

  • The 106 & Park Aaliyah Interview is available to watch here)
  • The MTV Diary episode is currently available to watch here)
Aaliyah at her album release signing at FYE Music Store. July 2001. Photo courtesy of fanpop.com

Anyway, I really wanted Aaliyah’s CD, but I remember my mom said that it was “too grown” for me to get. Little did we know it would be her final album and she would pass weeks later in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the sensual single “Rock the Boat.”

The inside of Aaliyah’s self-titled album.

I remember MTV News and the radio announced that the singer passed and I just couldn’t believe it. I was so hurt about the death of someone I had never even met. My Dad eventually purchased the CD for me and said it was a classic and would be a collectible and he was right. It took years, but Aaliyah’s musical catalog is now available on streaming sites. I’m not sure of the all the legalities or exact reasons why Blackground Records and Aaliyah’s Estate have issues when it comes to royalties etc., but at least younger and older generations can now listen and have access to her music.

My Aaliyah CD- Collection

I was re-listening to Aaliyah’s self-titled album through my 2022 adult ears and it just resonated and hit different! There are so many tracks in her musical catalog that could’ve been singles and sound like they came out recently instead of years ago. The self-titled genre bending album combined, Rock on tracks like “I Can Be” and “What If”, Flamenco on songs like “Read Between The Lines”, Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop, with lead singles “We Need a Resolution” and “More Than A Woman”, and spoke of a young woman in her early 20’s singing about pleasure “Rock The Boat”, pain and abuse “Never No More” and “I Refuse”, relationships and life lessons and love on “Those Were The Days”, “Extra Smooth”, “U Got Nerve”, “I Care 4 U”and “Try Again”. That album template is now the norm, but was ground-breaking for a 20-something young woman in 2001 to combine different moods and genres. One line that always stuck out to me was the lyric “Speak your heart don’t bite your tongue. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t misuse it.”- Aaliyah “We Need a Resolution” feat. Timbaland. I feel like every track and lyric had a purpose or mood that was fitting.

One underrated track in my opinion was the electronic and futuristic sounding “LOOSE RAP”, which is the second track on Aaliyah’s self-titled album. Produced by Key Beats and written by the late Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, who also penned other songs in Aaliyah’s musical catalog, is a fusion of experimental synthesized beats, ad-libs, and echoes. “We got something for all the fools it ain’t just rhythm and blues.” Aaliyah declared that her musical sound and image were not just limited to an R&B music box that speaks of her unique sound, image, and artistry.

Back in 2001, Aaliyah was not only singing and dancing, but she started to branch out into different musical genres on her third album and acted in films such as “Queen of the Damned” and “Romeo Must Die.” Aaliyah and Static Major may have passed on, but their presence left a mark and the duo sure didn’t lose our attention in loose rap. Throughout the song Static Major and Aaliyah declare their annoyance, confidence, and competitive nature in various aspects of life, love, and the music and entertainment industry.

In the introduction, Aaliyah’s voice echoes “I’m sick and tired of the loose rap” while Static Major states, ”For the ’01 I know you can come better come better than that so you can kill all your loose rap.” On the Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes segment on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” Aaliyah said that her name is Arabic “meaning the highest most exalted one.. the best and I really wanted that name to carry the project.” From the origins of her name to the album’s title, and the third verse on “loose rap”: ”If you just quit trying to compete, yeah, No telling what you could be, might even be doper than me…I doubt it.” Aaliyah addresses her adversaries and exudes a confidence and self-assuredness, talent, and an incomparable uniqueness to the point where her influence and impact are still present in music and fashion decades later.

Aaliyah Interview on the I Care 4 U DVD

Additionally, on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” there is an “Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes” segment where Aaliyah gives her opinion on certain tracks off her third album. In regards to this particular song she stated, “I love it so much because if you listen to it this is how I listen to it how I take this song it tells three different stories and it’s just really about people come up to you with a whole lotta smack and weak rap and it’s like I don’t wanna hear any of your loose rap.” The first verse whether it be a guy or girl being a little bit jealous of you and you saying I know what you talk smack behind my back but I don’t care because I know you’re just speaking “loose rap.” The second verse is about a guy coming to me 

kickin’ game tryna be my guy and I’m like your game is a lil’ weak, but I might give you a chance even though you’re kicking loose rap, and the third verse speaks about my crew, Tim and everybody all of us and the music we make our creativity and people being a little bit jealous of that and really trying not to feel it but it’s okay because everything you say is just loose rap so it tells 3 different stories and I think it’s really just hot.” The song is one of those tracks that isn’t wrapped up in yesteryear. Twenty-one years later this song and the rest of the album still sounds current and wrapped and layered with synths that can ride the waves of time.

Me in my Aaliyah T-Shirt I got off Etsy.
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Usher

Some people on Twitter started a debate about which R&B singer is better? Chris Brown or Usher? In my opinion vocally Usher is the winner! He’s been a star since he was a teenager in the 90’s til now in 2021. Usher performed on stage with Michael Jackson and helped pave the way for other male R&B stars like Chris Brown. I think Chris Brown is a great performer and dancer, but recently I haven’t heard him sing without auto tune. Longevity, dance moves, and good music clearly makes Mr. Usher Raymond the winner! Click the link below to here the Usher Playlist on Spotify and click here for Apple Music and here for Tidal.

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Janet Jackson Jamz

In honor of #JanetJackson’s documentary on Lifetime, and her ESSENCE Fest performance I curated a playlist of some of her hit songs. Apple Music users click here for the playlist. Tidal users click here and Spotify users click below for the playlist and podcast episode of my concert review of Janet’s 2017 #StateoftheWorldTour.

Janet Jackson 2017 concert review.

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BET Awards 2022 #BlackMusicMonth

Listen to The As-I-Amber Podcast on Apple Music, Spotify, and other podcast platforms and watch below on YouTube.

photo source: BET
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Michael Jackson Playlist

Today marks 13 years since Michael Jackson passed away. I’ll never forget when I heard the news on the radio as I was picking up my brother from baseball practice and all the pop and r&b stations started playing Michael Jackson’s 🎶 catalog. I had a chance to write about Michael’s song “Stranger in Moscow” from the HIStory album. Click here to read it. What are some of your favorite Michael Jackson songs or albums?

Check out my Michael Jackson playlist available below on Spotify and click here for Apple Music.

Spotify Users:

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Black Women in House Music

House music has been around for years, but often times the powerhouse voices singing the songs have been forgotten about. In honor of June being #BlackMusicMonth here’s a playlist featuring House Music from Black women.

Click below for Spotify and here for Apple Music and here for Tidal.

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Father’s Day Playlist

This playlist is dedicated to all the fathers and father figures in our lives. Click below to listen on Spotify and click here to listen on Apple Music and Click here for Tidal music.

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Stevie Wonder Playlist

Living legend, Stevie Wonder, is a musical genius in my opinion. Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite songs of his. Click below to listen on Spotify and click here to listen on Apple Music click here for Tidal.

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Hype Williams Videos

In honor of #BlackMusicMonth on the latest As-I-Amber Podcast episode Ocean and I discuss legendary music producer Mr. Hype Williams. Listen on below Spotify, Apple Podcasts, & Youtube. What’s your favorite Hype Williams video?

Mo Money Mo Problems- Mase, BIGGIE, and Puffy
BELLY movie intro
California Love – 2Pac feat Dr. Dre
Missy Elliott “The Rain”
One More Chance- Biggie
Check Up On It- Beyoncé
Rock the Boat- Aaliyah
Sittin’ Up In My Room – Brandy
No Scrubs- TLC
Diamonds- Kanye West
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What Yeezy Taught Us…

Amber and special guest, Solomon, discuss their complex relationship with producer-rapper, Kanye West. Click here to listen. Also, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, and whatever other podcast platforms you listen to. Also, check out the “Jeen-Yuhs” Kanye documentary on Netflix. It chronicles the makings of Kanye’s first album and behind-the-scenes footage of Kanye and his late mother Professor Donda West. I highly recommend watching it. It’s very interesting to see everything Kanye went through in the early 2000’s to see the person he is now.

My “Kanye Rant” lol

I do NOT like or agree with Kanye West’s current political beliefs or like everything he says or does. Yet, I cannot deny the man is musically gifted and over the years has produced such good music. Can y’all believe it’s been 17 years since Kanye’s debut album “The College Dropout” was released?!

I remember when I first heard the song “Through The Wire” at a leadership conference in middle school. The speaker was talking about overcoming obstacles and how this new producer, Kanye West, recorded his album with his jaw wired shut after surviving a car accident. I remember everybody rocking Polo T-Shirts and backpacks and teddy bears. I remember HBCU bands playing Kanye’s ”All of the Lights” during football games.

Kanye has always been outspoken: from his comments about former President George Bush and how black people were negatively impacted by Hurricane Katrina to him interrupting singer, Taylor Swift’s award acceptance at the 2009 MTV VMA’s to say Beyoncé had the better music video. Many question how Kanye went from being the socially conscious rapper with songs like “All Falls Down“, “Jesus Walks“, and “Heard ‘Em Say” and making appearances on “Def Poetry Jam” and fast forward to present day to Kanye making more controversial statements like saying slavery was a choice and being a supporter of Trump, who has spoken so negatively about so many marginalized groups to include Black and Brown people who happen to have been some of Kanye’s day one fans.

In my opinion, it is difficult to support an artist who praises a political figure that you don’t support, has questionable antics, and who has actions that contradict everything they write or talk about.

Check out a young Kanye on “Def Poetry Jam” circa 2004.

Also, Check out Kanye’s mom, the late Donda West’s book “Raising Kanye“, it’s quite interesting.

Sigh, I enjoy(ed) Kanye’s older music and I can’t deny his talent. I know that artists and people evolve, and I wish him well, but I miss the “old” Kanye West circa 2004-2011. Maybe I get nostalgic because those were my teenage and college years. However, I really am concerned about Kanye’s mental health since the passing of his mother, Professor Donda West, and I am hoping he is getting counseling or treatment. I just feel like “The Current Kanye” is in a trance or alternate universe compared to 17 years ago, yet like his debut album’s ad-lib echoed, “WAKE UP MR. WEST!” Your original fans miss ya! Kanye recently dropped a Gospel type album titled “Jesus is King” featuring his Gospel choir from his “Sunday Service” music concerts. Who am I to say if Kanye’s relationship with Jesus or God is genuine or a marketing tactic? Maybe turning to religion is a source of comfort for him. Who are we to judge?

Anyway, enough Kanye ranting, but what’s your favorite Kanye West song, album, or moment? Click below to listen to the Spotify playlist and click here to listen to the playlist on Apple Music.

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Quincy Jones #BlackMusicMonth

Amber and radio legend, Ms. Queen Rasheeda Ali, discuss legendary music producer Mr. Quincy Jones. Click here to listen to the podcast episode. Click here for the Apple Music Playlist and below for Spotify.

Watch below!

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My Hair, My Choice

I like the choice of wearing my hair in different styles. Most of the time it’s because I get bored easily and other times I don’t feel like doing my thick hair or permanently having my hair look the same. Some say “it’s just hair”, but to me, it’s not. Haircare is a multi-million-dollar industry and hair is sensitive and controversial topic. Even comedian, Chris Rock, did a documentary back in 2009 called “Good Hair” about black women and their relationship with natural hair, hair straighteners, and weaves. I have noticed how some people treat others differently based off of their hair texture, hair color, hair length and hair style. I have also been treated differently or receive more or less attention depending on how my hair looks.

More recently film maker, Matthew A. Cherry’s , animated short film “Hair Love” about a black father styling his daughter’s natural hair won an Academy Award. More and more black people are embracing their natural curls and coils. However not every person, workplace, or environment is as accepting. The state of California is one of the first states to ban discrimination based off of ones natural hair, with The Crown Act, but other places have currently not followed suit. Recently I’ve read dozens of articles on how some people have been suspended from schools, sports teams, fired from jobs and even told they would not be able to walk at graduation ceremonies, not because of the content of their character, but simply because of their hair texture, hair color, or hair style preference. Why are we judging someone solely off their natural hair and not their character?

In our society depending on the community or culture hair that is straighter or wavier or long is considered ‘good’ and anything that is not like that is considered ‘bad’.  I had relaxers (chemical hair straightening) for 14 years of my life and at age 19 I decided to stop getting relaxers and “go natural” (stopped using chemical straightening). I decided to go natural because the stylist I had been going to moved and I was away in college in another city and didn’t feel like experimenting with any more different stylists who said they did relaxers, but ended up damaging people’s hair. I was also curious how my natural hair looked because I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have relaxers. I also did not want to cut all my hair off so I transitioned by getting weaves and braids.  IMG_0856

I have now been relaxer free for 12 years. I get my hair blown out and flat ironed and I sometimes wear it un-straightened. One thing that I’ve noticed is that my natural hair is healthier and thicker than it was when I was getting relaxers.  I still like to wear braids and weaves simply because I think they’re pretty and less maintenance, especially when exercising. There is nothing wrong with wanting versatility in hair. Just because you choose to wear your natural hair chemical free, just because you choose to get relaxers, just because you choose not to wear weave does not make you better or less than. How do you know someone isn’t battling an illness or dealing with hair loss? Not everyone that wears their hair straight or weaved is bald or hates themselves.  I find it interesting that whenever I have my hair in a certain style I attract certain people or get more or less attention. I often wonder why this is. I wonder if people think about that when they’re speaking to a person. Whatever happened to style preference and upkeep? What if you want your hair straight today and curly next week? What if you want length and don’t have the patience to wait until it grows a certain length? What if you want to have short hair without actually cutting your own hair? All I want to say is let’s focus not only on hair style, but what’s underneath, like our hair health and spiritual health.

Here is the Apple Music Playlist for Hair & Self Care and Spotify playlist below.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5yYxskT0n2wixFXoTqRrtF?si=BS86ddF2RXScHatTXYfeUw

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Prince Playlist

It has six years since the legendary musician, Prince, passed away. He may be gone, but his music and legacy continues to live on. Here is a playlist with some of my favorite songs of his. Click below for the Spotify Playlist, Click the underline for the playlist on Apple Music, and Click the underline for the playlist on Tidal.

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Babyface & Kem Concert Review & Playlist

Babyface and Kem, the band, background vocalists, and dancers were amazing! Babyface has hits for days and Kem was pretty sharp too! #TheFullCircleTour (ATL) Apple Music Playlist here and Spotify playlist and podcast episode below and on www.anchor.fm/asiamber

Spotify Podcast Episode also available on Apple Podcasts & Other platforms.

Listen to my podcast for a review

The Full Circle concert at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Babyface and his band were amazing!
Kem and his band were great too!
MC Comedian Sherri Shepherd
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2022 Grammys Predictions

Amber gives her predictions before the Grammys air tonight.

Podcast Episode and Spotify Playlist below Apple Music playlist here.

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Culture Experience: Atlanta

BIGGIE voice: “It was all a dream I use to read WORD Up Magazines.”

June of 2021 I visited The Culture Experience in Atlanta, GA, which is a nostalgic photo exhibit taking you back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s! I found out about the exhibit via social media. If you’re in your late 20’s and older you’ll really appreciate the exhibit that takes you back to your younger years of VHS tapes, dial up Internet, landline telephones, and CD players!

According to the website http://www.cultureexperienceatl.com, “Culture Experience is an interactive photo exhibit that highlights moments in history, community, nostalgia, and pop culture in ATLANTA! From the late-’90s iconic SO SO DEF Billboard to the historic celebration of HBCU Homecoming, this interactive photo exhibit takes you on an expansive journey through more than 20 milestone moments. Unlike other photo popups, we customize each exhibit for each city. This means that we are always new, always fresh, and always tailored “For The Culture.” Atlanta, GA has the perfect mix of pop-culture and heritage.”

“Good Burger” and “All That” were my favorite things to watch on Nickelodeon in the 90’s!

I really enjoyed myself and am happy I went on a Sunday afternoon when it was not crowded. Less people and fewer germs= a great time!

So So Def! I was too young to attend Freak-Nik in ATL.

My best friend since college and I and a total of three other people were at the exhibit and we felt like we had the place to ourselves and weren’t rushed because it was hardly anyone else there at the time of day we selected. Tickets have to be pre-purchased online and are around $29 per adult. For more information please check out their website or Instagram page @cultureexperience_atl.

MARTIN voice, “Waaazzzup wazzzup wazzzup”!!!

Also, the people that work there are friendly and even if you go alone they can help take pictures. We were there for about an hour visiting the exhibit which is located near the West End near two historically black schools, Spelman College and Morehouse College. Check the exhibit out while it’s still in the city.

BET’s 106 & Park Set!!!!
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Travel and Concert Ticket Tips

I still daydream about being in Greece and 🏊🏾‍♀️ swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, eating authentic gyros, and seeing history. I feel blessed to have had these experiences and want to share some travel tips. ***FYI- Some of these tips were applicable before the 2020 pandemic.

Santorini, Greece Summer 2016
  • Have an open mind and be open to trying new foods and experiences.
    • Ask, research, and Google various legitimate travel groups and payment plan programs where you can pay 💰 for your trip in installments.
  • For concerts sign up to your favorite artists fan club website or use certain entertainment credit cards because they usually offer presale codes or preferred seating.
  • If you travel within the U.S. frequently invest in TSA pre-check, so you can skip and don’t have to stand in the lines as long as others. It’s $85, but last five years.
    • Get a passport from your local post office at least 3 months before your trip. If you already have one make sure it’s not close to expiring because you may need to renew it.
    • Understand the culture and customs and laws of the place you’re traveling to. What you can do in the USA you may not be able to do in whatever country and what’s considered “normal” in the USA may be “abnormal” overseas and vice-versa.
    • Get a visa depending on what country you’re traveling to.
    • Know where the U.S. Embassy is and sign up for their alerts etc.
    • Google or watch YouTube videos of common phrases, courtesy, and sayings in the country.
    • If you’re in college go to your foreign language department or ask about study abroad programs and scholarship requirements.
    • Have an up to date shot/vaccination record.
    • For safety purposes do NOT post your exact location on social media until AFTER you get back.
    • Travel off season. If somewhere is crowded or more expensive in the summer try going during another part of the year.
    • Call your bank and credit card provider to let them know you’ll be out of the country.
    • Call your cell phone company to establish an international phone plan.
  • For more information click here to listen to “The As-I-Amber Podcast” on Spotify and Apple Podcasts by clicking here.
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#BrownSkinGirls

On “The As-I-Amber Podcast” “Brown Skin Girls” episode I am discussing the subject of colorism with two other millennial age Black women. Click here to find a platform to listen or go to http://www.anchor.fm/asiamber or listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts search under “As-I-Amber.”

Listen on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.
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Melanated Rock Songs

I love all genres of music, and have created a playlist of Rock influenced songs from and inspired by Black artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, and more!

Playlist available below on Spotify. Click here for Apple Music and click here for Tidal.

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My Favorite Halftime Performances!

Super Bowl 56 is coming up on Sunday, February 13, 2022. The Rams and The Bengals will be playing against one another at So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles, California, but as a music and pop culture lover I am more excited about the half-time show! This year’s halftime lineup is scheduled to include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and Dr. Dre. This should be interesting! It got me thinking about previous halftime performances and here are my Top 6.

Prince’s 2007 Halftime performance! He was literally playing “Purple Rain” as it just so happened to literally be raining! Click here to watch the performance.

Photo from Google Images

Michael Jackson’s Halftime performance back in 1993 circa the Dangerous album era. It really was a mini concert from the King of Pop. People were passing out at the sight of MJ! Click here to watch on YouTube.

Photo from Google Images

Janet Jackson’s Halftime performance back in 2004. Despite the infamous wardrobe malfunction Ms. Jackson and her dancers hit every 8-count. Click here to watch on YouTube.

Photo from Google Images

Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay got in “formation” during the 2016 halftime show. Click here to watch.

Photo from Google Images

Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child reunited for the 2013 halftime show and literally shut it down! The lights in the arena went out after the epic performance causing a 33 minute blackout. Click here to watch!

Photo from Google Images

**Update** The Super Bowl 2022 halftime show was epic! I enjoyed it and the set design was awesome as well as the performances! It was a nice surprise to see Anderson.Paak on the drums and 50 cent make an appearance. Mary J.’s thigh high boots were everything and Kendrick and Eminem, Dr.Dre, and Snoop Dogg were great too! Click here to watch!

Photo from Google Images

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Whitney Houston: We Will Always Love You!

Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut album from 1985 is still a classic. Whitney’s voice was everything! It has been 10 years since the singer-actress passed away. Whitney didn’t have to distract audiences with flamboyant sets, dance routines, and costumes she just sang. It’s very rare that a performer can just rely on vocals and personality to emotionally captivate an audience in song and film. Whitney, like lots of other people had her share of struggles, just displayed on camera. It’s bittersweet, because she was on a comeback. However, Whitney’s legacy will most definitely be her vocal range and ability to sing every genre from Gospel to Pop. People forget that “I Will Always Love You” was a country song, written and originally performed by country star, Dolly Parton and “I’m Every Woman” was originally performed by R&B diva, Chaka Khan .Whitney paid respect to other female vocalists, but her version of the song is what people of a certain age usually think of first. I will always remember where I was when I found out about the deaths of Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, and now Whitney Houston. I remember being at a college basketball game and everyone started looking at their phones thinking it was a cruel internet joke, but it wasn’t. I remember going to my dorm room and crying on the phone to my momma and watching CNN and going on YouTube to listen to her musical catalog.

Whitney’s debut on vinyl from my Daddy’s vinyl record collection.

When I was little my mother use to play Whitney’s music on cassette tape in the car all the time! I think their impact is different for various people, but I grew up listening to their music, singing their music around the house, and watching them on award shows and movies in the 90s. For young black girls growing up in the 90s, we didn’t have “Princess and the Frog”. “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”; starring Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as “ The Fairy Godmother” was a “big deal”! Whitney Houston paved the way for other solo artists like Brandy, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Monica. There will never be another “Whitney Houston”, she will be forever missed by her family, friends, and fans.

Check out Singer Jade Novah’s Tribute. – Click here

Apple Music Playlist Click here:

Spotify Playlist below.

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Chill Mix II

Here’s a playlist of some of my favorite songs from various older and newer R&B/Pop artists.

This playlist is also available below on Spotify; on Apple Music (click here) and on Tidal (click here).

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That time I met Ms. Susan L. Taylor.

Happy Birthday to the legendary Ms. Susan L. Taylor. Years ago I had the opportunity to meet the former editor-in-chief of ESSENCE magazine, Susan L. Taylor, at my alma mater, Fort Valley State University. She was so kind and spoke about the importance of mentoring and taking care of  your mind, body, and soul. The other day I was going through some old emails and stumbled across the notes I wrote down years ago when she spoke and I felt like sharing them with you all because they are still relevant today.

  • Sometimes you have to shut up and listen.
  • When you wake up in the morning smile and thank God.
  • Be a lifelong learner. College is about exploring.
  • Be personal and write handwritten thank you notes. Call people and remember birthdays.
  • Be kind to your parents.
  • Fire your inner critic who says what people say.
  • Know how to accept constructive criticism that can help you, not knock you down.
  • Read more books and expand your vocabulary.
  • Watch the company you keep.
  • Learn how to be your own best friend.
  • Your body is a temple: Before you sleep with someone think about them being stuck in your life forever.
  • Someone should love you for who you are.
  • Have a ten minute quiet time. (NO computer, NO music, NO phone)
  • Life is change don’t be an empty vessel.
  • If you do not know your history, you do not know who you are.
  • People judge you on your grammar and speech.
  • Elders need to know when to let young generations take reign.
  • The song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a powerful song with meaning and paved the way for us now. Lets not take it for granted.
  • Everyone is not a Christian or your religion, have tolerance.
  • Anything that is known is knowable.
  • You are a divine original and have a unique life.
  • Everything in magazines and pictures are edited and Photoshopped.
  • Celebrities and models have flaws and problems..
  • Exercise 20 minutes a day, be healthy, not necessarily a certain body size.]
  • Love Yourself first.
  • Have walk on water faith.
  • Mentor to young children in your community and help them with their reading skills.
  • Sometimes you can physically be here, but mentally elsewhere, so take one thing at a time.
  • Every time you are drunk or high you are eroding brain cells.
  • Know who you are and dream big.
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“Lord, I Don’t Want To Die A Christian.” by: Chandrika Phea

On the latest “As-I-Amber” podcast episode Amber talks to author Chandrika Phea about the intriguing book “Lord, I Don’t Want To Die A Christian.” The book can be purchased on here on Amazon and other book stores Click here to listen to the podcast episode available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other platforms.

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The Donna Summer Musical Review + Playlist

Last night my friend Zac and I went to see the theatrical performance of “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” at The River Center in Columbus, Georgia and it was good. This is coming from someone who doesn’t really like musicals, but I liked some of the songs and learning about the life and times of the “Disco Queen.” The musical was about an hour and thirty minutes with no intermission and masks were required for audience members. The cast did a great job singing and portraying the different phases of her life. Also, the stage, set design, and lighting were nice too.

Donna Summer was a groundbreaking Grammy award-winning artist who paved the way for lots of women and broke barriers as a Black woman singing pop, electronic, and house music in the ’70s and ’80s. Born on December 31, 1948, LaDonna Adrian Gaines grew up one of seven children to a schoolteacher and butcher in Boston and sang at church growing up. As a teenager, Donna would skip school to go on auditions and eventually drop out of high school to do theater in New York. She eventually moved to Germany as a young adult to do theater there too and became fluent in the language.

While overseas in Europe Donna started recording demo records. In the 70’s one of the sensual and provocative songs she recorded overseas, “Love To Love You Baby”, became a smash hit at discos in the U.S. and around the world. The song was banned from some radio stations due to the sexual moaning in the song, but it was still a top hit. Eventually, Donna went on to get married and have three daughters and still make hit records like “Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff”, and “She Works Hard for the Money”, which have been used in various films and commercials throughout the years.

The stage at The River Center before the musical started.

Donna battled with depression, domestic violence, racism, sexism, and shady record deals, but found her faith in Jesus Christ to be her solace. In 2012, after battling cancer Donna Summer passed away, but her musical legacy and influence are felt throughout multiple generations. In later years younger artists such as Beyoncé went on to sample the song “Love To Love You Baby” in the 2003 hit single “Naughty Girl.”

Even if you’re not as familiar with Donna Summer’s music you’ve probably heard her songs before and didn’t realize she sang them. If you remember watching the film “Selena” starring Jennifer Lopez Donna Summer’s songs “On the Radio” and “Last Dance” were played in certain scenes in the film. I learned a lot from the musical and I think in the future there should be a Donna Summer biopic and actress-singer, Kelly Rowland, who has a striking resemblance to disco diva, should be cast as Donna.

Kelly Rowland on the left and Donna Summer on the right. They look alike!

In the meantime, if you have a chance to see the musical in a city near you I recommend going! For more information go to https://thedonnasummermusical.com/tour

Check out the Donna Summer playlists I have curated on Spotify & Apple Music below!

I have also created a Donna Summer Spotify playlist below. Click here for the playlist on Apple Music.

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Thirty-Something

January 15th was my Birthday! I feel blessed to share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Founders’ Day. I’m grateful to God for another year of life and for the lessons I’ve learned and am continuing to learn.

Check out www.anchor.fm/asiamber and other platforms to listen to the “As-I-Amber” podcast “30 on 30” episode from last year, where I went more in depth about the life lessons I’ve learned so far and still learning. I never would’ve imagined entering my 31st birthday still in a global pandemic.

I wanted to be on a beach chillin’ with my toes in the sand listening to the ocean waves crash. Instead of being on an island for my winter birthday I went to an exhibit at the museum, got some Hibachi, watched the live stream of the UGA parade, and chilled at home waiting for the snow flurries to fall! The pandemic and life in general, have taught me that things don’t always go our way and that sometimes we make plans, but God laughs.

It seems like yesterday I was a 16-year-old who just got her driver’s license and was on MySpace listening to the girl group, Danity Kane. Now, I’m an official adult that pays bills, has to wear contact/glasses in order to see far away clearly, yet still watches Disney Plus, needs a snack, and a nap to function. The young people on Tik-Tok would call me “old” and older adults call me “young.” I feel in between.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.- Edith Wharton✨🪞💫

In my twenties, I had lots of adventures as well as ups and downs. I gained weight, lost friends, gained friends, and lost weight. I studied abroad and graduated from college, moved back home with my parents, then moved out of state to a city where I knew no one. I worked in photography, applied for numerous jobs, and now work in Corporate America. I traveled the world visiting New York City, Italy, Greece, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. I’ve also gone to numerous concerts seeing Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, Solange, Jazmine Sullivan, Drake, Future, Migos, OutKast, Monica, Erykah Badu, and JoJo perform. I guess you can say I like music and live my life to the fullest.

My travels to Paris, Greece, London, & Italy.
At Beyoncé & Jay Z’s #OnTheRunII Concert in 2018.

I know it is 2022 and this is not an episode of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” set in the 1800s. Yet, depending on your culture or environment in some places when a woman hits her 20’s and early 30’s the majority of her peers in her age bracket have children and are getting married and if you’re not a mommy, fiancé, or wife by a certain age you’re looked at differently.

Currently as an unmarried thirty-something woman with no children I enjoy my freedom to pick up and go without having to consider anyone else, yet sometimes some people peculiarly look at me because of that. There is an unspoken, yet loud sound of the tick-tock of an accomplishment timer and biological clock. We are bombarded with various messages about getting older and what that means regarding fertility or relationship status.

Society tells us what we “should” be doing or accomplishing by a certain time frame. Then in this digital age, it is so easy to compare our lives to what others choose to display on social media and we think that we “should” have accomplished certain milestones by a certain age, and if not you’re somehow “behind” or a failure in life.

But, I’m here to remind you all and myself that God made you a unique individual. Everyone is displaying their highlight reel on social media, but you don’t always know their behind the scenes. Everyone’s life path is different and it does not make you better than or less than if you have achieved or experienced certain things more or less quickly on this journey of life.

Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made. According to Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I feel like a butterfly that has gone through metamorphosis during my 20s and is now breaking from the cocoon to take flight. I’m continuing to live my life like it’s golden and am excited for all the things that God has in store for me. Cheers to this new chapter of life!

Listen on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Becoming | Mrs. Michelle Obama

On this podcast episode I’m discussing Mrs. Michelle Obama’s #Becoming memoir and documentary. This episode is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms. Click here to listen: anchor.fm/asiamber.

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MLK Holiday Field Trip 2017

I share a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so, to celebrate back in 2017 over the MLK holiday weekend my family and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit Dr. King’s Monument and tour the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Visiting Dr. King’s monument was free and is within walking distance to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. On 1964 Independence Way is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial. The address for the memorial references the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The 30-foot statue of Dr. King emerges from two stone boulders as his arms are folded and he looks out. When I saw the statue towering above me in my mind I thought of Dr. King’s words from the “I Have a Dream” speech.  On the side of the statue is a quote from the speech that says, “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” I felt such an array of emotions visiting the museum and seeing Dr. King’s monument. We have come a very long way in the United States, however, we still have some ways to go.

Poet Langston Hughes’ “I, too am America” quote is written on the walls of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The quote is an excellent example of the well-known and unsung Black people who have contributed to American society. The museum’s grand opening was in September 2016 and various celebrities and philanthropists such as: Oprah Winfrey, Bill and Melinda Gates, Denzel Washington, and Robert Wright financially contributed to the building of the museum. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), spent years fighting Congress to make the museum a reality.    In 2003, former President George W. Bush signed the legislation authorizing the National Museum of African American History and Culture to be built.

IMG_2245

The three-tier bronze aluminum building, which was designed by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, sits on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. Admission to the museum is free, but you have to pre-order the timed entry e-tickets by going to the museum’s website at www.nmaahc.si.edu. It takes several hours to tour the entire museum, and if you get hungry from all the walking there is a restaurant located in the museum. The self-guided tour is such an emotional journey, but I recommend all ages and races of people to visit. The basement of the museum starts at The Slave Trade and each level ascends to another time period. These other time periods range from: The Civil War, The Signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, The Era of Legal Segregation, The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Panther Party, African-American Achievements, and music, sports, and pop culture of previous decades, up until The 44th President Barack Obama’s presidency and present day. Overall, the museum is very nice and detailed. My family and I stayed for several hours and still did not absorb everything the building has to offer! I’m pretty sure if I were to visit again I would see things that I didn’t notice the first time. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. my hope is that all people will take time out of their schedules to read and educate themselves on Black history. I’m so appreciative of my ancestors and everything they endured for me to have the privileges I have today as a young Black woman in America.

 

 

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Aaliyah|One In A Million

My Aaliyah CD collection.

I often wonder what singer-actress, Aaliyah, would be doing if she was still here. Can you all believe that it has been  20 years since her untimely death? The twenty-two-year-old died in a plane crash in August of 2001 after filming a music video in the Bahamas for the song, “Rock the Boat”, off of her self-titled third album. Growing up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Aaliyah was one of my favorites. Plus her birthday is the day after mine. Shout out to all the Capricorns!  Anywhoo, there’s no doubt about it that Aaliyah had an impact on millennials and her legacy for us ’80’s and ’90’s babies is unforgettable.  From her signature sleek and straight hair and swoop, shades, makeup, and Tommy Hilfiger outfits, to her dancing and acting she was a standout and admired star whose influence can even be seen in various pop and r&b artists today. Aaliyah’s influence on this current generation is undeniable. Everybody from Normani and Tink to Drake, Jeezy, and Chris Brown have sampled her.

The sole focus of Aaliyah’s legacy shouldn’t be limited to her being an  underage victim of R.Kelly’s because she was so much more than that. Aaliyah was a trailblazing star from her tomboy chic fashion style, to her futuristic sounding music produced by Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Static Major, and her songs on 90’s movie soundtracks such as the animated film “Anastasia” and the comedy “Dr. Dolittle” to her budding acting career in films “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned.” Aaliyah was on the rise.

A picture from the “One In A Million” album/CD sleeve/liner notes.

However, there is a generation that isn’t as familiar with her music because it isn’t easily available. I feel like not having her music easily available is kind of erasing her musical legacy for future generations to listen to or sample. I still happen to have my old Aaliyah CD’s and imported the tracks to my music library on my computer. Aaliyah’s music is currently only available on physical CD, but CD’s are pretty much antiques in 2021 because most people download music from a cloud or streaming service. There have been rumors for years about all her music being in the works to be released for streaming on digital platforms. **UPDATE: Blackground Records is scheduled to release more of her discography on SPOTIFY starting August 20, 2021! I have mixed feelings. As an Aaliyah fan I’m glad the new generation will be able to finally listen to her music, but still find it messed up how Aaliyah, JoJo, Toni Braxton and other Blackground Records artists got treated and aren’t making money off their art being on streaming sites. The record industry and record labels are at times shady! Also, I wonder if someone or a media outlet has ever reached out Aaliyah’s mother or brother and asked them how they feel about her legacy or something, but maybe her family has declined. Who knows.

The self-titled “Aaliyah” CD/album from 2001.
I purchased the t-shirt of Aaliyah on VIBE Magazine from Etsy.

 I liked the self-titled album and the track “Loose Rap” as well as “All I Need” off the posthumous compilation album “I Care 4 U.” Those happen to be underrated favorites of mine. As well as covers of The Isley Brothers songs like “At Your Best (You Are Love)” and “Choosey Lover.” There are so many tracks in her musical catalog that could’ve been singles and sound like they came out recently instead of years ago. I still remember the Summer of 2001 thinking I was so “cool” being 10-years-old watching “106 & Park” with hosts Free and A.J. where Aaliyah promoted her last album. I was so sad when I learned she passed only days later. She accomplished so much in a short time. She really was “One in a Million.” So much talent gone too soon. May her legacy live on!

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Millennial Mix

Get your Jersey Dresses, Air Force Ones, Razor flip phones, and T-Mobile sidekicks out. Your MySpace Playlist is going on another #MillenniumTour soon. Here is a Millennial Millenium Mix playlist taking you back to homeroom and MySpace Top 8 and 106 & Park days. 🎶 Also, available on #AppleMusic under “asiamberjamz.” Click here for the playlist.

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Aaliyah, Brandy, & Monica

Aaliyah, Brandy, and Monica albums are still in heavy rotation years later. It is still crazy because they were teenage solo stars making hits competing with grown folks on the R&B charts and their influence is still felt.

Check out the Spotify playlist below.

We hear the growth, maturity, and development in their voices and lyrical content. Check out the playlist consisting of all 3’s first 3 albums. Click here for Apple Music and Click here for Tidal

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Girl Groups 2000’s

Just a few songs from my favorite girl groups from this decade, the 2000’s. Click below to listen on Spotify and here for Apple Music.

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Top 10 Songs that got me through 2021.

These 10 songs were heavy on my playlist and helped me get through 2021. What songs help you?

Playlist available on Spotify click here, click here for Apple Music, and click here for Tidal.

“Proud”- JoJo

“Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” – Jazmine Sullivan

“Safe Place”- Marie Dahlstrom

“Rose in the Dark”- Cleo Sol

“Show U Off”- Brent Faiyaz

“Bigger”- Beyoncé

“Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”-Stevie Wonder

“Back to Life”- Sunday Service Choir

“Strength Courage & Wisdom”- India.Arie

“Optimistic”- Sounds of Blackness

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Insecure Moments

On the latest podcast episode Amber, Solomon, and Yasmine discuss the series finale and the cultural impact of Issa Rae’s show “Insecure.” Click here to listen or go to www.anchor.fm/asiamber to find a favorite podcast platform to listen on.

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#InsecureHBO Soundtrack

Here’s a playlist consisting of all the music from Seasons 1-5 of the hit series, “Insecure”, by Issa Rae. Click here for Apple Music and Click here for Tidal.

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Jingle Jangle & Christmas Playlist

On this episode Amber discusses the holidays and the 2020 Netflix film, “Jingle Jangle.” Click here to listen (www.anchor.fm/asiamber) Also, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify Podcasts. Don’t forget to check out my Christmas Playlist on Apple Music click here , Spotify, and Tidal . Just click on whatever underlined platform you have and the playlist will be there.

Listen on Spotify & Apple Podcasts
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Christmas Jamz

Check out my Pop/Soul Christmas playlist on Spotify. Also, available on Apple Music click here and click here for Tidal. The playlist features songs from Destiny’s Child, *NSYNC, Mariah Carey, Donny Hathaway, and other artists.

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The Mariah Carey Bracket & Playlist

I finished The Mariah Carey Bracket. I didn’t create this game. I just found it on social media and filled it out. As a 90’s baby I love Mariah Carey’s music🦋. I found this bracket’s song selections ranged from Mariah’s ballads to her more uptempo songs. I couldn’t narrow it down to just one song because I have so many favorites. Mariah Carey has been singing songs for 30 years and is a talented writer. This bracket game is similar to the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament bracket instead of teams it’s songs. Out of the categories given you pick the song out of the two that you like more and that song advances to another round with other songs. Kind of like 2 basketball teams play a game and the winner moves on to the next level game and competes with other teams. It’s fun! Let’s play! Click the link below to listen to my Mariah Carey playlist on Spotify and click here to listen to it on Apple Music.

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#SquidGame Life Lessons

On the latest episode of “The As-I-Amber Podcast” Amber and Solomon discuss the Netflix series #SquidGame. Click here to listen or go to www.anchor.fm/asiamber this episode is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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Then & Now : 90’s Sitcom Actresses

Before “reality tv” and Instagram models took over our screens these actresses graced our televisions and magazines playing iconic roles from some of our favorite childhood shows. Whether you wanted to be the Pink Power Ranger on the playground or have your hair straightened like “Ashley Banks” these characters left a mark on us 80’s and 90’s babies. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and also see what these actresses are up to now.

  1. “Laura Winslow” was played by actress Kellie Shanygne Williams- Jackson best known for her role as “Steve Urkel’s” neighbor, classmate, and love interest on the ABC sitcom“Family Matters” and is now a wife, mother, producer, speaker, and philanthropist.
  2. “Topanga Lawrence” was the character “Corey Matthew’s” high school girlfriend on the ABC sitcom “Boy Meets World.” The character was played by actress Danielle Fishel. After the series ended she graduated from with a degree in Psychology from Cal State Fulerton and has reprised her role in the Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” and works behind the scenes in tv and is now a wife and mother.
  3. “Ashley Banks” from the NBC sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” played “Cousin Will’s” youngest cousin. She was played by actress and singer Tatyana Ali. After the series ended Tatyana’s 1998 debut album, “Kiss The Sky” went gold. She also graduated from Harvard University with a degree in African-American studies and government. Tatyana still acts, produces, sings, and is also a wife and mother.
  4. “Kimberly Hart/”The Pink Ranger” from FOX Kid’s “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” sitcom was played by actress Amy Jo Johnson. Amy Jo also starred in The Disney Channel Original Movie “Susie Q.” She is now a singer-songwriter and producer-director that lives in Canada.
  5. Zaria Peterson” from Robert Townsend’s WB sitcom “The Parent’Hood” was the oldest and stylish daughter on the show. She always had the best hairstyles! After the series she married and had children and starred in different music videos such as T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” and Reuben Studdard’s “Sorry 2004″ More recently she was the voice of the cartoon character “Roberta Tubbs” on “The Cleveland Show” and is the voice of “Jenny & Kiki Pizza” on the Cartoon Network series “Steven Universe” and made an appearance as “Chantal” on The OWN Series, Queen Sugar”.

6. “Tiffany Warren” the daughter on the NBC Sitcom “In the House” was played by actress and model Maia Campbell. After the series ended Maia went on to be in the music video for Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady” and films like “Trippin” and “Seventeen Again.” More recently Maia appeared on the reality series “Iyanla Fix My Life” a few years ago to get some guidance with her battles with drug addiction, parenting, and mental health issues. Keep her in your prayers.

7. “Hilary Banks“, cousin Will’s at times ditzy, yet fashionable cousin on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was played by actress Karyn Parsons. Karyn went on to be in 90’s films like “Class Act” and “Major Payne.” More recently Karyn is a mother, wife, and now an author of the children’s book “How High The Moon” and creator of “Sweet Blackberry“, a line of animated films about unsung Black heroes.

8. “Kelly Kapowski” the popular high school student from the NBC sitcom “Saved by the Bell” was played by actress Tiffani Theissan. After “Saved by the Bell” ended Tiffani went on to star in “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” and the FOX series “Beverly Hills: 90210.” Tiffani went on to star in the 2020 “Saved by the Bell” Reboot and is the star of the MTV comedy clip food show ‘Deliciousness.

9. “Lisa Turtle” the wealthy and fashionable friend on NBC’s “Saved by the Bell” was played by actress Lark Voorhies. After the series ended Lark made appearances in movies such as “Civil Brand“, “How High“, and “How to be a Player“, more recently she appeared on the Dr. Oz show talking about her issues with her mental health, and will be making appearances on the 2020-2021 reboot of “Saved by the Bell

10. “Denise Huxtable” who was the free spirited rebel character from “The Cosby Show” & “A Different World‘ sitcoms was played by actress Lisa Bonét. After those shows ended Lisa was married to rock star, Lenny Kravitz and had their daughter, actress Zoe Kravitz. After Lisa and Lenny divorced she married actor Jason Mamoa and had two other children. Lisa appeared in 90’s films such as “Enemy of the State“, “Biker Boyz“, and “High Fidelity“, but hasn’t really acted in a while.

Who were your favorites growing up? Comment below.

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Ghosting

On this episode of the “As-I-Amber” podcast special guest, Solomon, and I are discussing “ghosting” and millennial communication. Click here or go to http://www.anchor.fm/asiamber to find a podcast platform to listen. Also, available on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Spotify & Apple Podcasts
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HBCU Homecoming Rules + Playlist

It’s HBCU Homecoming Season! The time of year when historically black college and university alumni from across the country come together to fellowship for the biggest friends and family reunion football game of the season.

I can already smell the food on the grill, see the hugs, hear the band, and see the pageant waves from the homecoming queen and the royal court during the parade, but before you make your homecoming plans here are a few rules for alums:

1. Plan to use your vacation day(s) or plan to be off work so that you can enjoy yourself and recover from the weekend! Pace yourself!

2. Don’t go to people’s tents uninvited and eat their food and drink their drinks when you haven’t been invited to do so or didn’t contribute.

3. Have a place to stay or get a hotel room.

4. Wear comfortable shoes at the tailgate and walking on campus.

5. Drink some water and stay hydrated and know your limits. You’re not 21 any more.

6. Stretch before you go to the party, so you won’t have to utilize an Icy Hot patch the next day after strolling, droppin’ it too low, or dancing too hard.

7. Have a designated driver.

8. Take pictures and make new memories. However be aware that you have a job-career now, so be cautious of what you upload to social media or update your “privacy” settings or “close friends” list.

9. We remember you before the degrees and titles and also how you treated folks years ago. As Dr. Maya Angelou said, “People may forget what you said or did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel” remember that and act accordingly.

10. Get tickets for different events you and your crew plan on going to and have cash for various vendors.

11. Have a portable cell phone charger.

12. Have fun! This is not about work or your career right now.

13. Do NOT pretend like you were a student at that school when you weren’t.

14. Do NOT act like you’re single when you’re not!

15. Last, but certainly not least don’t forget to contribute your time, money, and resources back to your HBCU to impart into future generations.

Follow me on Twitter: @asiamber and let me know what HBCU you represent in the comments below!

Apple Music Playlist

Tidal Playlist