2013 In Pictures

With 2013 being the most successful year in my music career, it’s only right that I share the pictures that documented it. Looking back, I released my newest album, ManMade, and had the pleasure of visiting Brooklyn, Baltimore, D.C., Chicago, Richmond, Philly, Pittsburgh, LA, Tucson, Detroit, Vegas, Seattle, Austin, Durham, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Cleveland in support of it – I was even asked to perform on the eight-day Capital Jazz Cruise at the beginning of November. I contributed to the new The Foreign Exchange album Love In Flying Colors with “Listen To The Rain,” and The Reworks with a remix for Phonte’s “Gonna Be A Beautiful Night”. I hung out with Bobbito and Crazy Legs of Rock Steady in NYC, began endorsing Lewitt Audio, released an ode to Sesame Street in the form of the “Count To Five” video, was the subject of my FIRST documentary, and even had a day named after me in Las Vegas.

Things to look out for in 2014…
• Making the music for Black Dynamite – The Animated Series (Season 2) with Fatin “10” Horton
• My very first trip to South Africa with The Foreign Exchange at the end of March + a world tour with +FE
• A brand new single + video from ManMade + more solo dates
• New, original music… Including a collaborative EP with…………………………

…….anyway, thank you, 2013… Here’s to one helluva productive and positive new year in 2014. Cheers!!

Zo!’s Top Five Moments of 2011 – #5 The Co-Signing of “Flight Of The Blackbyrd” by Original Member Of The Blackbyrds, Allan Barnes

Whenever I do a cover of a song, or in this case an original piece that serves as dedication track paying homage a favorite group (The Blackbyrds) and favorite production team (The Mizell Brothers), the way that I judge the finished product is by asking myself, “Do you think that this piece can be presented to the original artist… WITH confidence?” If the answer to that question is a “yes”… I keep it. If I feel otherwise, I will not hesitate to start over or completely scrap something I don’t deem high-quality enough to keep around. With that being said, let’s discuss a phone call I received the afternoon of January 18th while I was in the classroom teaching… I couldn’t get to my phone obviously, so I let it go to voicemail. When I finally had a free minute to check it, I looked and saw that it was saxophonist and original Blackbyrds band member, Allan Barnes who called. Oh damn, word?! Now, I had not talked to him since the summer of 2007 when I went back home to play keys in Detroit’s CityFest with my former band, The Gorilla Funk Mob (ironically, I actually JUST found footage of this performance on YouTube last month). From checking the voice mail, he was giving me a shout letting me know that he was in D.C. for a day or two… Alright, sounds good to me. So, I called him back and we chopped it up about that for a few minutes. Suddenly, it hit me… I need to ask him about hearing “Flight Of the Blackbyrd” from SunStorm!! A friend of mine and GFM drummer, Tate McBroom told me that he played the record for him a few months prior… Being an original Blackbyrd, I was anxious to hear his opinion first-hand…

Me: I’ve been meaning to ask you about this for a minute…. Have you heard the “Flight Of the Blackbyrd” joint?

Allan Barnes: What? Your joint?

Me: Yeah… The one that just came out last year.

AB: Oh yeeeeeeeah!! That’s the SHIT man!!

Me: *Trying my best not to attempt a back flip that I know I can’t execute*

It was probably the shortest and most direct approval I had ever received, but it didn’t lessen how humbled I was, especially being as though the only other song I have ever received praise for from the original artist was my cover of “Star Of the Story” by Heatwave…  Of course as soon as I got off the phone with AB… I passed the positive news along to Phonte.  

Allan’s words came in addition to what happened soon after SunStorm was released in July of 2010. Larry Mizell Jr. tweeted Phonte and I regarding “Flight Of the Blackbyrd” giving the Mizell Family’s approval… (I wish I would have favorited that tweet). Talk about HONORED. You never know who is listening and possibly enjoying your music – particularly when your music is “to” them…