We had a chance to catch up with the amazing gospel recording artist Keondra Lockett and ask her about her musical journey, her response to the pandemic and its affects on the industry and what’s coming up next in her career.
ARTSOUL: Keyondra, you are such a force to be reckoned with–a powerhouse vocalist, skillful writer and a positive role model for young girls of color! Was this always your dream? How did you get your start in the industry?
KEYONDRA: Thank you so much! Honestly, things just progressed into where they are now. My life really confirms the scripture that says “For I know the plans I have for you” says the LORD (Jeremiah 29:11). My start in music was with 2x Stellar Award Nominee and female gospel group, Zie’l.
ARTSOUL: Who have your influences been for songwriting and your singing style?
KEYONDRA: My top 5 vocal inspirations are: Karen Clark Sheard, Kim Burrell, Miley Cyrus, Brandy, and Billie Holiday. Everything I write is from my experiences so I’d like to say, I influence myself in songwriting.
ARTSOUL: Many young artists often struggle with deciding which genre of music to pursue. Did you experience this struggle or did you always know you wanted to be a gospel artist?
KEYONDRA: My mom wouldn’t go for me singing secular music lol. But the healthy alternative, to me anyways, was urban gospel music. It’s always been my favorite type of gospel music. But truly, I’ve only wanted to sing gospel music. I felt it was part of my purpose. That may be deep for some, but that’s real.
ARTSOUL: You released your amazing song “Trouble Won’t Last” right at the start of the pandemic. The lyrics and melodic production instantly bring the listener to a place of refreshing in the midst of such a scary time. What was your vision for this song? How has music helped you during the effects of COVID-19?
KEYONDRA: What’s crazy is that I wrote that song as a testimony of God healing me vocally, that was the vision. But of course, it speaks to all troubles. The music most definitely came at the right time. Happily and sadly, TWL has pushed and propelled me as an artist but it troubles me at times how my success in this moment feeds off the woes of this world issue. But I’m so grateful that it’s encouraging the body and touching so many lives. That’s what music should do, it’s really helped me during this time to be pointed to God. Gospel music that is.
ARTSOUL: Speaking of COVID-19, so many artists have been struggling to stay creative with so many live events canceled. What’s been some of your favorite ways to stay creative and in touch in community during nationwide shut-downs?
KEYONDRA: I’ve always been taught to have many irons on the fire. So where my creativity may not be as seen or felt musically right now, I have other things like being an entrepreneur that keep me busy. My company that I share with my sister and mom, Jolie Noire, is an elevated leisure wear line. It keeps me going none stop. Pre pandemic, I was working on my EP coming soon.
ARTSOUL: We continue to celebrate your amazing accomplishment of a toy doll deal with The Kenya Doll brand in 2016! In light of the crucial racial climate in America today, what have you been doing to reinforce that black girl empowerment we’ve come to expect from you? Have you found it challenging being a black woman in this industry? If so, what have you done to maintain a positive outlook?
KEYONDRA: My brand, Jolie Noire which means Pretty Black in French, is in existence to affirm and validate black girls and women. So yes, I’m certainly reinforcing black girl empowerment. Will never stop that. It can be very challenging but knowing of the customers love and support keeps us going. That work isn’t music related but it’s yet apart of who I am.
In music, we see many other races celebrated and lifted based on color alone, and given the opportunity to soar. It’s really interesting but, I see with consistency and drive and maybe taking a bit longer, that it’s not necessarily people that keep your boat going. It’s God through you. That’s my positive outlook.
ARTSOUL: There has been a very controversial discussion going on regarding “cancel culture.” As a public figure and believer, what are your thoughts on this strategy? Do you think there is an effective way to deal with injustices done and mistakes made by people in the public eye?
KEYONDRA: The cancel culture has a spirit of the “I AM God” complex resting heavily on it! “I said it, and I ain’t taking it back” -Nene Leaks Lol It’s so true though. For a human to feel they have that much power to end a person, suggests a lot about that individual. If you feel the need to not support a celebrity or public figure etc. based on something they’ve done, just don’t support them. But to round up all the troops, if you will, and destroy that person and no mercy be given, is just wrong. I believe in righteously judging a matter, but I also believe in giving a couple chances too. That’s what God does.
ARTSOUL: Looking ahead to your upcoming projects, what artists/producers are you looking forward to collaborating with one day? Is there a different style you’d ever consider trying if you have the opportunity to experiment?
KEYONDRA: I have had the opportunity to experiment with country sounds. I’ve been in talks with an amazing producer friend about doing a gospel country album. So, think my Billboard Top 15 single Try to the 10th power on an album. That’s my country music style. I’d love to collaborate with PJ Morton one day. His approach to music/songwriting is dope.
ARTSOUL: What can we expect to see/hear from you coming up?
KEYONDRA: I have an EP that I’m getting prepped and ready to release called Cornerstone and a collaboration with 112’s Q Parker set to release later this year. I’m excited for you guys to hear it!
Find out more about Keyondra Lockett and everything she’s creating at https://www.keyondralockett.com.
South Side Chicago Teacher Makes it To American Idol!
Another season of American Idol is back! The first episode premieres this Sunday on Valentines Day. Among this year’s contestants is Jason Warrior, a golden talent from Chicago’s South side.
Warrior grew up in the Roseland community on the South Side of Chicago. He now spends his time giving back to the youth in the city where he serves as a teacher. In addition to teaching, Jason says that music has always been his calling.
“As with many singers, I grew up in the church, that’s where I was based out of, and even part of the group the Soul Children of Chicago,” Warrior said. “I kind of knew at a point, especially at 6 years old, I was just so involved, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Jason has competed on other TV talent shows, so this isn’t his first rodeo so to speak, but it is his first time making it to the iconic American Idol stage. He recently spoke to ABC7News where he admitted to being nervous this time around, but says the judges made him feel at ease.
“The moment those judges opened up their mouths and they began to speak to me, it’s as if everything that was bothering you every bit of nervousness just went away. We’re in a room together and we just want to hear you sing, come and share your gift with us. It felt so wonderful,” he said.
Warrior says it’s his goal to change the world through music. American Idol just might be the platform to help him continue to do that just!
If you’re new to Jason Warrior’s music, scroll down to catch a sample of his powerful voice!
Remember to tune in to ABC 7 this Sunday at 7pm CST to watch the season debut of American Idol. Then, of course…don’t forget to VOTE!
SAMPLE JASON WARRIOR’S MUSIC HERE:
Follow Jason on social media to keep up with his progress:
“Holy Yogi” Merges Movement Along With Scripture & Meditation to Create a New Experience in Worship.
2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. Dealing with a pandemic, the unrest of racial injustice and hardships of every kind, this year has caused trauma and stress that many of us have struggled to manage. All too often as Christians we think self care is limited to prayer and devotional, maybe fasting if your problems are “extra big.” But what if there’s more that can be done to help us unwind and de-stress? Is God in favor of us incorporating meditation and other holistic methods? Is there a way to incorporate scripture and a true focus on God along with meditation in a manner that doesn’t go against our faith?
We caught up with Certified Spiritual Lifestyle Coach Devin Joyner to discuss the new services she’s offering clients at Journey to Peace. She explains to us how she is making this work.
ARTSOUL: Devin, you are doing some ground breaking work bringing faith and meditation together. How did you first get introduced to meditation?
DEVIN: Meditation was introduced to me by my Pastors. It was a great revelation that when we meditate on the word of God, we are drawing close to Him the author and finisher of our faith. The very thing that we battle with and grow in daily. To meditate on the word is to gain new life in the giver of life.
ARTSOUL: You’ve been quoted saying, “I admit I put God in a box by believing that I couldn’t encounter Him through a modality like Yoga.” What changed your mind? Was it difficult to break through the traditional mindset?
DEVIN: I felt peace about trying it after all the chaos and stresses of the pandemic. I was so moved by the worship experience, I continued to take the class my job was offering for free. I believe it took something like Covid to hit for me to break the traditional mindset because I was so stuck on what I had heard about Yoga. But after actually stepping into it, I was now open to receive the truth about it and how it is simply an avenue like prayer or dance to enter into worship and communion with Jesus. If it wasn’t for something to bring me to my knees I wouldn’t have humbled my myself to set aside my preconceived perception of it. I’m glad I let go and let God enter in this way because now I can advocate for others to do the same.
ARTSOUL: Yoga and meditation have been considered taboo in the church at large. How have people responded to your pursuit of bringing your faith and meditation together?
DEVIN: Mostly people had been silent when I first began to advertise it. I think they are just watching to see how it evolves. I think people want to see consistency if they are going to go on a journey with you no matter what it is in life. I just recently made a post on Facebook announcing my certification date and there was a great response of congratulations, I’ve only had 3 people outright challenge the idea with questions or their opinions which I welcome because I love pointing people to the real truth about how it has been around longer then even the Hindu religion which is what most people connect it to as a reason not to partake.
ARTSOUL: It’s typical for Christians to struggle with stress and anxiety although our mantra is “too blessed to be stressed.” How can mediation and Holy Yoga help?
DEVIN: Meditation and Holy Yoga is drawing the promises of God of peace, joy and everlasting love to you as a child of God. Most Christians forget to continuously renew their minds and begin to focus on the issues and world around them instead of clinging to Gods word and promises of peace and joy unspeakable. Meditation and Holy Yoga are to strengthen mind, body and spirit. What better way to weave the word of God into everything area of your life! That is what Jesus desires from us, to walk with us in everyday life. This is what worship is to Him. When we meet with Him in this way we can’t help but experience the manifestation of His word tangibly.
Meditation and Holy Yoga is drawing the promises of God of peace, joy and everlasting love to you as a child of God.Devin Joyner
ARTSOUL: What was the moment in 2020 that led you to finally take the step and pursue your passion and gift to help people discover the peace of God through Yoga and meditation?
DEVIN: My job offered free Holy Yoga sessions to help relieve stress and I just thought well it has to be good if God is in it. My last job was a Christian organization and I trusted the resources they offered us. I think it helped me put my guard down and I was won over by it!
ARTSOUL: Many Christians hear Yoga and think tight pants, stretching and chakras. How is Holy Yoga different?
DEVIN: Holy Yoga is simply put the weaving of the word of God! You come as you are just as God wants us to come to Him, we move our bodies into different stretches, poses and positions that connect to the word and what our bodies need. It’s just like life. We go through seasons of ups and downs. Our positions even in moments at the alter could go from a prostrate position with our face on the floor or our hands extended up in praise. These are Godly movements mentioned throughout the word that we bring to life on our mats. Now chakras are something that we learn about in Holy Yoga to know how to relate to clients or people who know the usual practice of Yoga and be able to speak to them and explain which areas of the anatomy that we may be focusing on in our session or practice. This is also biblical to become all things to all people. Just being able to connect and understand their world view, we are allowing them to encounter God. If explained properly, you can relate their past experiences with yoga to Holy Yoga.
ARTSOUL: What type of classes/sessions do you offer? What can participants expect to gain?
DEVIN: I offer group guided meditation sessions as well as private sessions. This is joining together the word and movement to meet God on our mats. Participants can expect to be led into God’s presence and to experience the peace much needed in this time of despair and grief. My goal is to remind participants that there is purpose even in hard times. In His presence, we are strengthened and restored to go back out into the world and lead them to the only One who can get us through these trying times. Private sessions are catered to the individual needs but group sessions are more of a virtual group /corporate experience. I’m excited to be leading sessions for a Teen Creatives Conference December 30-31 teaching the youth how to direct their emotions through dance /movement and meditation.
ARTSOUL: What’s next for Journey To Peace? What can we expect to see in 2021?
DEVIN: Next Year is when I begin to officially offer Holy Yoga on my site. I hope to continue to be invited to platforms like this so I can begin to change the perspectives of people especially in the Christian community but also allow non-believers to experience Christ in this way.
Find out more about Devin and Journey to Peace by visiting https://www.journeytopeace.co. All who use code ArtSoul in notes after booking a Saturday Morning Meditation Session will get a private one on one session virtual session catered specifically to their needs for free.
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Author Kenyatta Scott Is Doing More Than Selling Books. She’s Making A Difference!
Reading is fundamental and for Kenyatta Scott, every reading experience becomes a moment to teach.
Reading is fundamental and for Kenyatta Scott, every reading experience becomes a moment to teach. In addition to being the Founder and CEO of Let’s Talk, Incorporated where she operates as a Speech Therapy Consultant, Scott is a children’s book author. Her first book, Violet Finds A Dollar debuted in 2017 and has opened the door for more opportunities for Scott to make an impact on the youth in Chicagoland and beyond. In conjunction with her Violet Book series, Scott has started The Violet foundation to support high quality early childhood education for all children. ArtSoul had a moment to speak with her about her recent endeavors. Check out her inspiring story here…
1) ARTSOUL: What can you tell us about your book series? Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
KENYATTA: The Violet Book Series is a morally based book series that builds self-esteem, in children. The series also works to combat the mass stereotype that fathers are not present in communities of children of color, by having Violet and Derek learning all of their life lessons, in each book, from their Dad! Everything Violet, as I tend to call anything I do with the name Violet attached to it, is my life’s work and purpose for being here on Earth. I love being able to teach children and connect families through the bright colors, vivid storytelling, and reading comprehension questions that are in the back of each book. The books are all connected by way of the family dynamic, the representation of a blended family unit, with Dad teaching little Violet and Derek in each one. The life lessons and moral values differ from book to book.
2) ARTSOUL: What themes do you like to address in your stories?
KENYATTA: I love having the ability to reinforce morals, values, and life lessons, in each book. I believe it is my social responsibility to be cognizant of the messages that I place in society by way of the themes that I address in my stories. I believe that we, as individuals, possess the power to either tear down or build up, and I prefer the latter. I want each child to be able to see themselves reflected, in some way, in each story. I want the children who desire a voice to be heard. I want to tell the story of the little black boy or the little brown girl to share our stories in such a culturally diverse way that others are able to experience and grow through our narrative. Some previous themes that the stories have tackled are: Integrity, Bullying, Being Considerate of Others, and The Importance of Sharing your feelings. Some upcoming themes in unreleased books are: Coping with Loss, Respect for the Special Needs Community, and Good Touch/Bad Touch, to name a few.
3) ARTSOUL: How easy (or difficult) was it for you to transition from being an educator to author? What were you surprised to learn during that process?
KENYATTA: I find that my work between being an educator and an author is interrelated. I worked in daycares and homes, for over 10 years, servicing children and families. Out of that work grew my already present love for children and the desire to give them a voice for their stories to be heard. As I worked in low income areas, mentoring parents, it was apparent that access to quality education should not be available as a luxury but that it, in fact, is a human right. Seamlessly moving between two communities, attending Yale University one day and working in impoverished neighborhoods the next provided me with direct insight into the impacts the lack of quality education has on a community. With The Violet Foundation and other projects I am currently working on, I seek to bridge the gap.
To be honest, the biggest surprises for me, if we can call them that, is the support I receive from the community. Oftentimes, it is the parents who do not have much that are first in line for a new Violet book or t-shirt. They provide verbal encouragement, inviting me to do book readings at their daycares and churches. I can feel their pride. As a result, this strengthens my resolve to provide children and families with access to high quality education. I am committed to doing the work. I am also surprised by the outpouring of love and support that I have received from my team members who consist of contract workers, board members, and, eventually, full time staff. They rally behind me and this work. This push for education at an early childhood level as well as placing the books in the hands of people who can increase its reach. I am humbled even by this interview. You taking the time to write my story that chronicles a whisper in time, immortalized forever on these pages.
4) ARTSOUL: With your background, what research methods have been fruitful for you (in terms of writing your books)?
KENYATTA: Honestly, my process of writing starts with fasting and prayer. Research methods, so to speak, come by way of searching my heart. I may draw inspiration from an old childhood memory that God places on my heart, an article I came across on social media ages ago, or an actual in person encounter while I am out with the books. I have been approached by buying customers who have asked, “Do you have a book about xyz?” If the encounter hangs on in my heart, it is possible that I will write on that subject matter. I have also been approached by other entrepreneurs about collaborative books. I don’t think I use traditional research methods, in the context you may be asking, as other writers. I sincerely desire for my stories to flow from God, through me, and out onto the pages.
5) ARTSOUL: What inspired you to start a foundation? What personal connection do you have to it? What are the goals of your foundation?
KENYATTA: The Violet Foundation, NFP was started from a desire to bridge the gaps in providing families with access to high quality education for their children, by any means necessary. The educational work I do is purely God led. I am operating from a place of obedience as I see the needs of the community. I was granted access to what we traditionally know to be “high quality education” with a peak in my educational opportunities in my attended at Yale University, at the age of 20 years old. That was a transformative time for me. It was my first time away from home and I was surrounded by everything that was foreign to me, at 20 years old. There were constant reminders that I had everything I needed to succeed. I was presented with challenges where I had to rise to meet the opportunity. There I was a little black girl, B student, from the South Side of Chicago, picked up and dropped off in an environment where I could choose to either sink or swim in. Then I returned, back to Chicago, unbeknownst to me that the next few years of my educational and career path would lead me here.
The goals of the Foundation are pretty simple. They are tied to the educational objectives as a support. Whatever the needs are of the educational structure, that I am currently building out, the foundation will rise to meet them. We definitely need the support of our community, corporations, and leaders so I definitely welcome all email inquiries from those who desire to have a direct impact on the educational structure of children residing in low income neighborhoods. I am creating something unique that many have never experienced before, in local communities, so I encourage and welcome others to be a part of the shift in the narrative. To lean into love.
6) ARTSOUL: Can you share one or two stories about a child who has been impacted by your book series?
KENYATTA: Absolutely! Thank you for asking. The third book in the series, Violet and Derek Go Rollerskating is a book about Bullying and the Importance of Sharing Your Feelings. A parent was given a book for their 4-year-old. She then messaged saying, “Thank you so much for this beautifully written story. I read it to my 4-year-old and went over the questions in the back. To my surprise, as he was answering the questions, he was able to then tell Dad and I about another child who had been bullying him, at his daycare. I don’t think we ever would have known or heard about this happening to him because, I don’t think he even knew what to call it, before reading your book. As a result, I have set up a meeting with his teacher and the other child’s parents. I cannot thank you enough. Your book very well may have saved my child’s life, as we know that children have committed suicide behind being bullied.”
I was speechless when I read that. I thanked God for using me.
Another parent wrote, “Thank you so much for your book, Violet Finds A Dollar. My child previously disliked reading, due to the fact that she was diagnosed with multiple reading disorders. Well, your book, she could not put down! She read and re-reads it over and over again. Thank you for opening my child back up to the love of reading, as she explores stories, and learns. She says, “Violet looks like me” and takes such pride in that. I am also beyond thrilled to report that her reading scores have improved in school. Your book helped to increase my child’s self-esteem. Thank you so much!”
Again, to God be all the glory. To know that The Violet Book Series is having a lasting impact on children, giving them a voice, and encouraging parents means EVERYTHING.
7) ARTSOUL: While we’re currently in quarantine, how can young readers benefit from The Violet Book Series? How can parents and educators benefit from the Foundation?
KENYATTA: Young Readers can benefit from The Violet Book Series by tuning in to the Free weekly LIVE book readings my team put together, for me to do, from the comfort of my own home. As many children are being homeschooled, parents may be looking for various educational activities to keep their child both engaged and learning Monday through Friday. I go LIVE on Facebook and IG every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, reading a portion of the “Book of the Week” and going over reading comprehension questions at the back of each book. The live reading series are called, “Storytime with Violet”. Parents are welcome to tune in, write comments and are encouraged to participate with their children. All readings are scheduled for after nap time, at 3:30pm CST.
8) ARTSOUL: Awesome! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
KENYATTA: The final week, April 20th through the 24th, will consist of The Violet Book Series Book and Apparel Giveaways! Parents and Educators are able to benefit from the Foundation by way of Facebook and IG Lives, that are held Tuesday through Thursday, called, “Creating The Healthy Child.” Various topics are discussed and questions have the opportunity to ask questions. Some subject matter that is discussed is “The Importance of Socialization” and “The Importance of Healthy Nutritional Habits.” Both Facebook and Instagram lives take place on The Violet Book Series’ social media platforms and can be re-watched at a later time and shared. Videos will also be uploaded to the TheVioletTV channel on YouTube.
9) ARTSOUL: What would you personally like to accomplish through all of your Violet entities?
KENYATTA: I personally would like to leave the world better than I found it by way of Everything Violet. My life’s work is interwoven with threads of love for children, community, connection, empowerment and did I mention, love? I desire to see all children have no obstacles in their way when it comes to being given access to high quality education, from an early age, which I believe to be a human right. I want the books to continue to educate and fill children with a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from. I want them to know that their stories deserve to be told. When a child sees a Violet or Derek, the words, “That looks like me” will never get old. As the brand expands, my goal is that children and families everywhere will feel the love behind Violet.
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS AUTHOR:
To find out how you can support The Violet Foundation, NFP, Corporations and Individuals can email: email@example.com
Direct Charitable Contributions the The Violet Foundation, NFP can be made online at http://bit.ly/thevioletfoundation
To purchase The Violet Book Series Books or Clothing Apparel, visit www.thevioletbookseries.com
For mass book orders, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Three book bundles are available for purchase with no delay in shipping.)
To invite Kenyatta Scott to speak, host a workshop, or facilitate 8-12 week programming, for youth, which can be tailored to the needs of the Corporation/Organization, email: email@example.com
To book Self-Publishing Author Consultations, book online at www.kenyattascott.com
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