“These days, more and more damning rhetoric is being directed at anyone who belongs to a minority. I’m a minority, not only of the LGBT community, but of race as well.”

He says he wasn’t originally planning to release the song. Raph Solo recorded “Love Lives” on his birthday as a special gift to himself. Ultimately, however, he felt its message was an important one and that it was his duty to let it be heard.

The message is simple: “Love is Love”. It’s a sentiment that entered the mainstream vernacular when Lin-Manuel Miranda passionately declared it during his Orlando tribute at the 2016 Tony Awards, however, Solo has expressed similar feelings in many of his songs, including “Glass of Wine,” his hit track from 2013.

“People’s attitudes towards one another needs to change,” he says. “Too many people speak in the name of God with no divine authority. Who is anyone to judge another human being? Focus on yourself, practice love and work toward being a better person before seeking to change another person. I respect the rights of others to dislike me for who I am and who I love as long as they respect my right to be me and they do not infringe on my freedom and right to love who I want to love.”

Born to Lebanese/Chilean parents on the Gulf of Guinea in Nigeria, West Africa, Raph Solo is a singer, songwriter and music producer. He has released three full-length albums, including last summer’s THE ANONYMOUS ICON, featuring “Star” and “Good Morning London”.

Today, he is a proud gay man in a loving relationship — with an English man from the East Midlands who shares his core values and beliefs — but it wasn’t always that way. Just a few years ago, he fought his feelings for men and even underwent reparative therapy in an attempt to cure himself of his homosexuality. In the end, it was even more damaging to Solo and his self-esteem. “It made me feel like a failure because no matter how hard I tried, I could not change my feelings.”

Along with the release of “Love Lives,” Solo is unveiling a brand new music video that shows a different side to the artist. “I dance a lot in this one! It’s all very tongue-and cheek compared to my previous story-based, cinematic music videos. I hope fans like the choreography and chutzpah.”

In the meantime, Raph Solo is putting the finishing touches on his next full-length album. “I had hoped to get it out this year but it’s not going to be ready in time,” he explains. “I don’t believe in rushing things. It’s a new sound for me so it’s taking a little more time to master but I have faith that the final product will be worth the wait.”

Raph Solo’s “Love Lives” is being released globally through Angel King Musique and will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon as well all other online retail outlets. Its music video is available on YouTube.

 

 

Raph.2550 Raph Solo.Press Pic 2017.0527

By Terry Sartor
From her hometown beginnings in Mexican city Durango to hitting it big on the Atlanta entertainment scene, Alissah Brooks has come a long way baby – even being featured on big-time TV shows such as VH1’s ubiquitous hit Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and the very popular, cutting-edge Teen Wolf series on MTV. Her talent arsenal has indeed become very loaded over the years with varying roles as a singer, dancer, producer, DJ, actress and activist. Of course not resting on her laurels, Alissah’s star is shining even brighter now with the release of her latest single “Dope S**t
(featuring J. Tyler)” on the Big Snow Entertainment music label. Did we mention a very busy performance schedule showcasing her bold brand of performance drama at venues around Atlanta like Jungle, Blake’s and Burkhart’s??! Let’s dive deeper into the fascinating world of Alissah Brooks.

So Alissah, you’ve been on the music entertainment scene for quite some time. How did you initially get your started?

Just going out…I was sneaking out at 16 to Club Rush [on Buford Hwy in Atlanta]. I was just seeing shows and that’s when it all started. I was like I could be that.

What were the shows like there?

The shows were very high energy because you had Pheonix who now has a lot of pull in the scene of Atlanta. Back then was when she first got at the top of her game.

Going back to your Florida days in Panama City, how long were you there?

In Panama City, there was just one club in town and one on the beach. They were rivals and you had to do one or the other. So it was tough doing shows. I was there until 2009. I managed to work my way around through Pensacola, Tallahassee and Orlando.

What was the Orlando scene like? Where were you performing there?

I was in the Metro West area and back then it just seemed like a movie to me…like watching a scene of Queer as Folk. I did talent nights at Parliament House and guest spots at Southern Nights and at Pulse.

How did you work your way up to here in Atlanta from Orlando?

I grew up in Gainesville. So I’m from this area and would see my friends when I visit. The transition to Atlanta was just easy because I already knew everyone. I got my way in through the people I already knew and just worked my way around.

Where were some of the first places that you started performing in Atlanta?

The first place that I worked at was Chaparral. It’s called Club Rush now. It was an amateur night. Back then the Friday nights were very, very busy with a lot people that you were performing in front of. Of course Blake’s, Burkhart’s and Jungle have been consistent.

How would you describe your performance style?

I would be the girl you see in a music video. I like to be up to date with fashion. I love anything old school too like 90’s mixed with the club scene.

Where is your favorite place to perform in Atlanta?

If it is a bar, I would say Burkhart’s because of the energy. I’ve been there for almost 6 years now. I love the energy. It is 360. As far as a stage goes, I would have to say Jungle.

You were part of the all girl trans group Secret Girls. What was that like?

It was a learning experience. You have four girls that are different in every way and all have insecurities and flaws. You put that all together and the diva comes out to play. We grew a lot in the short time that we were together because we had different opinions. The group was in its early stages. I’m glad that I got to be a part of it, but decided that maybe it was not for me. I started on my first single and wanted all of my attention focused on that.

Your new song with Atlanta rapper J. Tyler is fierce! Where did the idea come from to do it and how did you bring it to fruition?

I was driving down the street and my producer [Ryan Snow] sent it to me. He thought that [“Dope S**t” ] would be great for me. I gave it a shot and fell in love with it. Me and J.Tyler had been talking about doing something together music-wise for a long time. So that transpired into this song.

You also directed the video. When did you get into video production?

I did that when I was in high school. It’s something that I was just so fascinated with. I was obsessed with the TV show “Making the Video” on MTV. When I saw all that goes into a video and all of the preparation, that excited me. Ever since then, I was like I want to try video production. I taught myself how to do it. I didn’t go to any school for it and I’ve been doing it ever since.

What about your other club banger “I’m That Girl”, how did that one come about?

That one just happened. I heard the beat and I kept saying “I’m that girl who makes the beat go boom” over and over again. I sat down with J. Tyler who helped me co-write it. We went back and forth on some ideas. I wanted to tell people what I like and what I like to bring to the party. As soon as J. Tyler said “I like high heels six inches” my ears stood up. That was the beginning of it. Our creative collaboration spiraled from there. My producer added on accents here and there. It was a collaboration between all three of us.

Today’s dance music scene is rapidly evolving with different genres emerging and existing ones evolving. As an artist yourself on the dance music scene, how would you categorize or describe your particular sound?

It’s pop-driven with a hip-hop flair. I’ve always been attracted to hip-hop and the sound of it. But pop music has always held a special place in pop culture. I would say hip-hop pop if you will with a little twist.

Who are some musical artists that inspire you?

Debbie Deb is one of my favorites. “When I Hear Music” and all that was just brilliant to me back in the day. It always stuck to me throughout the years. Another one was Salt-N-Pepa. That was one of my first tapes that I ever had when I was in third grade. I liked to listen to that kind of stuff. Of course Britney Spears.

Performance is obviously a big part of how you present yourself and your music. How would you describe your performance style?

I would describe it as controlled. I like to control every beat…every movement. I like to go through a story-line if you will starting off slow and then going through a build-up and then to a full out thing. I like to give my audience a variation of attention.  There are moments when you have to pause and acknowledge the audience and then moments when you show out. If I go 90 the whole time, I can’t give the audience any attention. I’m very engaging with everyone. I like to acknowledge everyone to make sure that we’re all present and enjoying the moment.

You’re a DJ too?

I’m a DJ myself and understand that rush you get when DJing.

How does the rush of DJing compare to when you’re performing one of your songs live?

It’s a different rush. When you’re DJing, you hope that it doesn’t come out on the wrong beat. You worry about the music. In a performance, you have to worry about not only if the music skips but also if my costume is falling apart, the floor being slippery or my hair falling out of place. I’m so worried about a million things that it gives me a different type of adrenaline to be able to do that. Sometimes I tell people that I just black out. I don’t even remember performing. It’s a different rush for me. I have to literally push myself out into my number.

Your TV and movie resume has become quite impressive boasting features in MTV’s popular Teen Wolf, VH1’s very rowdy Love & Hip Hop Atlanta – one of my personal faves – as well as Tyler Perry’s hit movie Good Deeds.

How did all of that come about?

When I did those projects, it was all word of mouth. Casting directors came to the clubs. They asked around. It just all happened. It was just directed to me. I never once auditioned for anything. I was asked to do it and I did it. To me, it was another show. It felt consistent with my career and what I like to do.

LGBT activism has been a big part of who you are. Why has that been so important to you?

A situation happened to me where I was denied entry into a club. For the most part, that sparked my interest in being more active in activism. Raising money. Standing up. Marching with someone. You can’t just sit back and watch. At least that’s how I feel about myself. I have to somehow be involved in trying to spread the word.

What else is up next for you?

We’re trying to get the second single out and finish the album. I’ve been working on an EP and trying to put it all together. I want to make a party album. That’s what I want to do.

“Dope S**t (feat. J. Tyler)”AB2
by Alissah Brooks is out now iTunes. www.alissahbrooks.com

BY CHARLES D. DUNST

LeslieHeaderI Leslie Jordan will be cracking up West Midtown with his new one-man show “Straight Outta Chattanooga” for one night only on April 1st. The Emmy-award winning actor and comedian has written his best show yet and he’s eager to share it with Atlanta. “It’s going to be at Le Fais do-do,” Jordan told FENUXE Magazine in a recent interview, “and it’s going to be a really fun show.”

Similar to Jordan’s other one man shows, “Straight Outta Chattanooga” is largely autobiographical, but he’s edgier and as blunt as ever. From side splitting, behind-the scenes stories about Lady Gaga and Jessica Lange to his own connection to Tupac, Jordan is bringing his juiciest stories to Atlanta.

But where did the name “Straight Outta Chattanooga” come from? Jordan chuckled when we asked him that question and explained that he opens the show with that very story. “I live in Tupac’s old apartment,” he replied. “I’m sitting in it right now in Hollywood, California. I’d heard for years that he lived in this building. There was a girl upstairs who would say, ‘Oh, he lived in my apartment. I still get his mail.’ But I was like, ‘Bitch, you don’t get his mail! He’s been dead a long time.’ And so I went and checked.”

Jordan knows that Tupac will be the first story, but from there on only he knows where the show will go. Jordan has been touring this show around the country, however, his shows aren’t carbon copies of each other. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any of my one person shows,” Jordan said, “but it’s hard to keep me on task. And, honey, I’ve got so many new stories in my show.”

One topic that is bound to come up is Jordan’s latest recurring guest starring role on American Horror Story: Roanoke. Jordan is incredibly proud of the character he brought to life in Roanoke. “I’ve got the best part ever, ever, ever,” Jordan shared, “I think I’m going to win an Emmy. My part was so beautifully constructed for a guest star. Hopefully they’ll give an Emmy for Best Guest Star. We’ll see. I play this crazy psychic and I get murdered three times. I’m evil. It is the biggest part that I have had in my career.”

In a rare somber moment during the interview he continued, “I’m always the funny guy who comes in with a zinger but this is not that at all. I’m a real integral part of the [“Roanoke”] story. Cuba Gooding, Jr. hits me on the head with a chair and calls me a piece of shit. Angelas Basset goes ghetto on me and pulls a gun and puts it in my mouth. Kathy Bates disembowels me.”

Fenuxe_V806CoverJordan’s performance really is fantastic in the “Roanoke” season of American Horror Story. If you haven’t seen it yet you’ll definitely want to binge watch it before his show. If for no other reason, you’ll want to have seen it for his stories about “Ms. Stefani” – also known as Lady Gaga. “Oh, I’m also going to give them all the inside scoop on Ms. Stefani, Jordan said, “she’s a character, Ms. Stefani. You don’t call her Gaga on the set. She’s Stefani. I kind of like that she differentiates that. She’s an actress. She’s not Lady Gaga. She’s Stefani Germanotta.”

Jordan is a natural born storyteller and you can tell that he truly loves what he does. Immediately after whetting our appetite for behind-the-scenes gossip about Gaga, Jordan couldn’t resist giving us a bit more. “I screw Lady Gaga,” he says gleefully, “I screw her! It’s amazing. But, anyway, she’s really a good girl. Now, she does things that she’s not supposed to like when we were out in the woods and she lit a cigarette. The Park Rangers came over immediately. They didn’t know who she was and they told her put it out. She said: ‘Okay, Sir. I will. Look. I’m going to put it out right now. Look.’ Well the bitch turns back and she lit it back up. She’s just a bad girl. But I had no complaints as she rode me and rubbed her p*ssy and howled at the moon. I knew they wouldn’t be able to use half of it. She was supposed to squat on me and cut my throat. She squatted down and started riding me.”

After sharing this story with us Jordan laughed, but then quickly pivoted. “She has a real strong work ethic,” Jordan explained. “I mean, she really wants to do it. But with scheduling sometimes we’d only get her one day an episode so you’ve got to work, work, work, work, work. I kept thinking to myself the first day I worked with her and I even had to ask somebody: ‘are you sure that’s her?’ It didn’t seem like Lady Gaga. But they said: “did you not see her arrive in that Rolls Royce?”

A unique feature of the American Horror Story series is that the principal cast doesn’t change much from season to season. So, will Jordan be in the next season of American Horror Story? “It’s been picked up for three more years,” Jordan said, “I don’t know. They just call. Same way with Will & Grace that’s been picked up for ten episodes. People will ask me if I’m going to be on it. Well, honey, I don’t know. They ain’t ringing my phone yet. I don’t know.”

OK. So we know American Horror Story is still up in the air for next season. But, what is a little more puzzling is how Jordan could return to Will & Grace after his character died. “Yeah, they murdered me” he responded with a laugh, “I flew off the balcony. But then again I could’ve landed on a bus and fell off and had amnesia. Who knows? They just announced the pick up. And, you know, it’s not Netflix. It’s a new thing. It’s Will & Grace ten years later. So I would imagine that they’re hammering out storylines and figuring it out.”

After Jordan’s performance in Roanoke we’d be quite surprised if he weren’t asked to return to American Horror Story. But being asked to return isn’t a guarantee that Jordan will accept the role as he pointed out to us. “I was offered Freak Show and I was all ready to do it. But all of the sudden my manager comes and says, ‘they want you for a reality show.’ I told him I didn’t want to do a reality show. I want to do American Horror Story. He told me: “slow down cowgirl, it’s over in London and they want to lock you in a house. It’s called Celebrity Big Brother.’ I said, ‘no, no, I don’t want to do that!’ But then he said, ‘well they want to pay you a hundred and fifty thousand pounds.’ I said: ‘well, f*ck Ryan Murphy!’

Where does Jordan’s show go after that? We don’t know, but we’re dying to find out. However, he isn’t simply dishing on celebrities. While on stage he weaves together a hilarious show with a large dose of self-deprecating humor and his humorous anecdotes about his career in entertainment. Even if you’ve seen every show that Jordan has ever done, this is one show that you simply will not want to miss.

You can join Leslie Jordan on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Le Fais do-do 1611 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318. The VIP Reception starts at 8PM and the show begins at 9PM. Jordan will be available for an informal meet and greet as well as photos and autographs during the VIP Reception. A portion of the proceeds benefit Ready 4 Hope Atlanta, a leading team for AIDS Walk Atlanta.

 

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