I recently got the opportunity to do an interview on 91.7 WVXUwith Mark Perzel, host of “Cincinnati Edition.” The focus of the interview was Elementz Urban Arts Center and our progress in changing the lives of inner city youth through urban arts. This was my first time being featured on Public Radio and my first time in the studio’s of WVXU.
When it comes to Radio, WVXU is pretty much all I listen to now a days so it was a pleasure for me to be able to tell the story of Elementz with Mark.
“GAME NIGHT” WITH FAMILY AND NEIGHBORS IN HOLLEYDALE
The other night my step mother and father-in-law hosted “Game Night” in their home in Holleydale, Cincinnati. ”Game Night” consists of family, friends and neighbors coming together to play a variety of board and card games in order to socialize. The kids are usually playing Nintendo Wii while all the adults are upstairs competitively playing games Spaids & Scrabble.
I had to make a post about this because I’ve never seen any thing like this hosted in someone’s home. The entire house was packed with people like it was a recreation center or hangout spot. I spoke to the founder of Game Night about why this gathering was established and she said that it started years ago so that family and friends would stay connected and so that her children and other family members children would have something to do that would keep them away from the streets.
I was very impressed by everyone’s friendliness, and to see everyone having clean fun. Folks were playing very competitively but there wasn’t any swearing, gambling, or arguing amongst each other. Although a few of the sisters did get roused up a little while discussing the validity of a few words in scrabble. When I think of the word “community” these are the type of functions that I think of. Families and neighbors knowing each other and staying connected to one another.
Recently I helped organize two seperate meetings with members of what I call “Team Elementz” which consists of the staff and board of Elementz. Both of these meetings were equally important to me as I felt the need for the various members of our team to bond and renew our passion for Elementz in this new year of 2013.
My agenda for the staff meeting was set with the intention of creating a stronger bond between new & veteran staff members by having food catered from a local soul found restaurant called Rasheeda’s and allowing for everyone to break bread and socialize. Following the dinner staff discussed what some of their passions were outside of Elementz, and shared their individual ideas of “what Elementz is today.” Our arts instructors then shared their future plans and goals for their programs in 2013.
On a separate evening myself and others from Elementz’ board of directors gathered for a meeting in the home of our board president, Peter Block. For additional facilitation of this meeting I worked with Senior Learning Facilitator, Liz Kitchell, who also happens to be the wife of our board secretary, Fred Neurohr. Our night started with a wonderful dinner prepared by Peter and several board members. Afterwards me and my fellow co-director, Tom Kent, laid out our vision for Elementz in 2013. This was followed by breaking out into small groups to brainstorm ways that we all could contribute to a shared vision, possible ideas for Elementz events in the new year and ways to further connect Elementz to the community.
After both meetings we took group pictures of both the Elementz staff and board for this first time in the history of Elementz. Its truly a pleasure for me to work with a dynamic team that is passionate about serving urban youth. We all are very optimistic about the future of Elementz and ready to work together towards having a successful year.
The photography was taken by my wife, Nazeerah Abdullah, and arabic calligraphy in the 2nd picture of the video was created by Isa Abdul Wali. The calligrapy is from one of the most renowned chapters of The Qur’anentitled, Surah Ikhlaas, which is a short declaration of the absolute oneness of God.
The Elementz Digital Newsletterfor Fall of 2012 is finally here. The team and I have put together another entertaining and informational video to give our supporters an inside look at a few of Elementz most recent great stories. Elementz personality, R. Streetz, hosts the entire video which focuses on the following stories:
Elementz Moves to New Location & Hosts Welcome Reception
Focus on the S.T.A.R.S. program merging into Elementz
The Pass the Mic Hip Hop Concert at the 20th Century Theater
City Officials invite S.T.A.R.S. artists to perform live R&B and Hip Hop on Fountain Square
CityBeat Feature Article on Abdullah’s Album & Artistry
I recently was the feature artist in the Music Section of the Cincinnati CityBeat in an article called “Pastime Paradise“ where I discussed my instrumental album Journey: The Sound of Life, and the influences that helped shape my ear for production. I am especially pleased to have had the opportunity to talk about my artistry on an established media platform in Cincy such as the CityBeat and to have had it written by one of our city’s most talented journalists, Mildred Fallen. This article came roughly a year after I had been featured in another established newspaper in Cincy called the Cincinnati Enquirer in an article which focused on me being one of Cincy’s “Emerging African American Leaders.”
This labor day weekend I spent my time with extended family many of whom I haven’t seen in years. It was a joy to see everyone still healthy, and to see the next generation of children in our family. Of course the food was excellent!
As a Muslim our religion teaches that keeping ties to family is of the utmost importance. The Prophet Muhammad (May God’s peace be upon him) is reported to have said “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship” [Bukhari]
I thank Almighty God for giving me the inclination to stay connected to my family despite how busy my life has become. I also am thankful to God for allowing my elders to see our children come into the world. I can’t thank God enough!
(Pictured above is Me, Infinit Evol, Inf’s Mom, Inf’s son Christian)
This past Final Friday 8/31 my partner in rhyme, Infinit Evol, came in town from NY for a family reunion. He made time to visit me and tour Elementz for the first time. It was a blessing to have reconnected with Inf as I haven’t seen him in 5 years. Although we stay in touch by phone and online its nothing like seeing your kinfolk in person. I also had the pleasure of meeting Infinit’s mother and son for the first time.
Its been a little over a week since the Holy month of Ramadan began. This is my eighth year of fasting since I became a Muslim in the summer of 2005. For those that do not know fasting is an essential part of the Islamic faith and thus Muslims are required to fast once a year during Ramadan from just before dawn until sunset. During our fast we refrain from food, drink and sexual relations with one’s spouse (if married). Muslims are also encouraged to practice controlling their anger, and straying away things that would be distracting from one’s fast like TV, music, & entertainment. Ramadan is a month that carries so much benefit for the one who sincerely fasts and does good deeds solely for the pleasure of Allah. The reward for our deeds are multiplied numerously and the result of a successful fast is that one develops excellent habits that carry on beyond Ramadan. These habits may include a more healthy diet, becoming more generous, and most importantly performing more acts of worship which all, ultimately lead to having a closer relationship with Almighty Allah.
Last year I experienced the best Ramadan to date and it was because I set goals for myself, which helped me to maintain a strong spiritual program and increase my level of worship gradually throughout the month. I also remember being inspired by the news that my wife and I would have our first child. Last year’s fast was such an inspiring experience for me that I even wrote a journal entry called My Ramadan 2011which can be read by clicking here.
It is our belief that Allah began to reveal the Holy Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (Gods Peace be Upon him) during the holy month of Ramadan.
Thus Muslims are encouraged to spend much of their time engaged in reading, understanding and memorizing the Qur’an during Ramadan. This is a picture of me reading one of my favorite chapters of the Qur’an entitled “Ya Sin.”
I pray that Allah (God) allows for our community and Muslim nation (Ummah) to have a successful month of fasting by which we receive benefit in this life and in the hereafter. I also pray that our fasting benefits not only the Muslim nation but also the entire world.
Since we are upon Ramadan this year I thought that I’d share a journal entry that I wrote in 2011 about my journey through last years month of fasting. Its a bit lengthy but it is a testament to how inspired I was feeling throughout the month. I intend to have an even better month of fasting this year and pray that Allah accepts my efforts.
In recent days different people have asked me how my Ramadan/fasting has been and because of that I wanted to write a journal focused on my experience with Ramadan this year in 2011. Hopefully this will shed some light on what a Muslim does during Ramadan besides fast from food and drink from dawn until sunset.
I went into this Ramadan having mixed feelings of doubt and hope because of where I was at with my spiritual practices. Prior to Ramadan my spiritual practices consisted of making the 5 daily prayers, making the morning prayers(Fajr) and night prayer (Isha) regularly at the Mosque, making the extra prayers that Prophet Muhammad (May Gods Peace be upon him - PBUH) prayed before and after each of the 5 prayers, reading the Qu’ran daily and eating less throughout each day to prepare for the fast that was ahead of me. On a typical day I would eat one meal generally around 12 PM and I wouldn’t eat or drink anything until the sun went down and I would do this with the intention of being prepared for Ramadan and to stay in a state of spiritual purity (wudu) throughout the day. I had finished reading the entire Qur’an just before Ramadan which I had started shortly after last years Ramadan. On a daily basis I was also reading chapters (Sura’s) of the Qur’an such as Sura Ya Sin, Sura Al-Waqiah, Sura Ar-Rahman, Sura As-Sadja which Allah (God) had allowed me memorize over the last few years. These practices of prayer, reading, and restraint from food & drink had me feeling good about my upcoming fast.
On July 4th I had a day off of work for independence day so me, my wife and my mentee decided to spend the day horse back riding with the Institute of Youth Development and Excellence (IYDE). We attended a rescue stables in Covington, Kentucky named Sunrise Farm that cares for injured horses and other horses that have been put out for various reasons.
Upon arrival we were first trained on how to brush and groom the horses. Afterwards we learned how to walk the horses and then how to straddle them. Finally we left the stables and headed towards the horse training arena. Within the arena we were trained on how to mount the horses and then how to ride them. Once we were all comfortable with starting, stopping and turning the horses we played a team game and went on a trail, both of which required for us to use all the skills that we had learned.
We all had a wonderful time during this outing and didn’t want to stop riding the horses. After this experience with the horses one reflection I had was how our Creator has given us power over such a graceful animal.
Thanks to Bro. Riyad, Bro. Abdul Kabir, Sis. Maryam and everyone from IYDE for organizing such a wonderful outing. The following are pictures from our journey.
A month ago Elementz hosted a listening party for my album, JOURNEY: THE SOUND OF LIFE. A large crowd of family, friends and supporters were in attendance. We used the grill on the rooftime garden for the first time that night and served plates of grilled ginger chicken, cucumber salad, pita bread and hummus which was all catered by Marakech Cafe. As the food was being cooked my release party began with an introduction by my father, Chris Powell and a song performed by renowned singer and song writer, David Scott. From there Domonique Peebles of Elementz newly formed entertainment arm (Elementz Creative Group) introduced me and at that point I gave a presentation on my journey through life and music. My presentation was accompanied with a short documentary that was shot by my partner, Donald Hancock, who is a videographer for CET (PBS Cincinnati). After my presentation DJ Notes and DJ Trentity played my album while everyone enjoyed their food.
Overall I was happy with the way the event went. I am grateful to have had the support of those who were able to attend and purchase my album. I received a lot of positive feedback about my presentation, the food and my music. Music production has been a passion of mines for the last 11 years and I am very hopeful about the opportunities that may lie ahead for me in the world of music.
(The following pictures are from Sunday’s Prayer workshop)
Today sister Sakina Chrome and I facilitated a Prayer Workshop that focused on the basics of the islamic prayer in terms of prepping for prayer, how to pray the different prayers, and when to offer the prayers. This workshop was presented through the Salaam Community Network (SCN), an effort that Sakina, myself and other active Muslims are establishing which will, God willing, be a non profit community space in the near future.
The next effort that were planning is a workshop scheduled for Friday July 13th, 6:30-9:00 PM, for fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan. Follow our efforts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SalaamCommunityNet.
The other night at Elementz we hosted a jam session which featured artists who are scheduled to perform at our upcoming benefit concert called “Pass the Mic”. Before that evening I actually didn’t know most of the artists scheduled to perform but it was cool to meet folks like Spaz Ave, Zay and Trademark Aaron who are our regions emerging urban artists. Of course I got to catch up with my peoples Moxy Monster and Buggs Tha Rockawho will be rocking with us in the Pass the Mic concert as well. Moxy will be performing songs with his crew called “Valley High” while Buggs will most likely be performing music from his recent project entitled “the Wrath of Zeus (conscious but explicit)” which was released through the most well known hip hop sites in the world,Allhiphop.com.
I’ve known both Moxy and Buggs both on a artistic and personal level for a number of years and its great to see them progressing as artists & human beings and to be able to give them a stage to rock on through the Elementz brand. I also passed them a copy of my album JOURNEY: THE SOUND OF LIFE. You never know whats next…..
Be sure to join us all for the Pass the Mic concert on July 12th at the 20th Century Theatre. All proceeds will benefit Elementz. Check out the promo video below and click here to buy tickets