Search This Blog

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chatting with Charlotte's jazz diva, Tammy Greene

Jazz is a dying art to some, but not the Jazz Diva, Tammy Greene. If you've been to a jazzy affair in the Queen City and had a good time, you probably owe Greene a hand clap of thanks. Greene spoke with me about her quest to make Charlotte a jazzier place.

What made you decide to make Charlotte a jazzier place? 

Jazz music is a passion for me. with all that goes on around me, its the one thing that makes me happy when i hear it.  I have always been a music lover, specifically jazz.  In my hometown of Philadelphia, a person could find live music happening 7 days a week!  when i moved to Charlotte in 1997, there weren't many options for live jazz.  In 1997, my 2 sons moved here with me, so I did not have time to go out and explore the music scene.  In 2005, while working for The Vanguard Group (which is how I relocated here) two of my co-workers mentioned that thy were going to open a jazz restaurant offering dinner and live music.  I though, here's my chance!  I asked could I book the entertainment, and the rest is history!

I began booking local, regional and national artists from Pieces Of A Dream to Jean Luc Ponty!  When The Jazz Cafe decided to change their concept, i still received calls from artists asking to play in Charlotte and jazz fans who wondered, "where will we go to enjoy live music? So, I began looking for other venues to host jazz events and also started the Carolina Jazz Friends, a meetup group to keep jazz lovers informed about event happenings. The Carolina jazz Friends is the largest "jazz" meetup group in the world!(according to  Many of the people who follow my shows are smooth/contemporary jazz lovers, so most people think that I only love smooth jazz.  As much as I enjoy smooth jazz, I am a traditional jazz lover at heart. 

         Who are some of your favorite jazz artists –classic and contemporary?

       Whoa, so many favorites!  For classic and modern jazz, my favorites are John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal , Teri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride, Robert Glasper.. whew, too many to name! My favorite smooth/contemporary artists are, Norman Brown, Alex Bugnon, Gerald Albright, The Rippingtons, The Yellowjackets, Fourplay, again, too many to name!

               Tell the readers about your radio show.
     What’s interesting is that I come from a radio family as three out of five brothers are in the radio industry in Philadelphia, but i never thought i would be the fourth member of the family on the air!  Some of the feedback I received from jazz lovers was the concern of not being able to listen to jazz on the radio 24/7 in the Charlotte area.  Yes, there were jazz stations and shows on the airwaves at one time, but eventually went away.  My brother introduced me to Cathis Hall who is the General Manager of Gaston College radio.  I expressed interest in doing a jazz radio show, but mentioned that I did not have experience.  She told me that all DJ's were volunteers and that I had to go through a six-week class to "possibly" fill in for other DJ's, but she could not promise a jazz show.  After a couple of months of begging a pleading, she decided to give jazz a shot.  That was four years ago!!!!  Now, Jerry L has a smooth jazz show on each night from 9-11 p.m. Monday -Thursday, and I come in two Sundays a month for the Jazz Cafe radio show on Sundays from 9 a.m. - noon.   I play more classic to modern jazz on that show.  WSGE allows us to play more of our local artist like, Jon Thornton, Queens Collective, Ron Brendle along with some of our local smooth jazz artists like Innertwyned, Shableek and Buff Dillard.

         When’s the Queen City’s next jazz event?
       I have so many great things coming in the fall.  The 4th annual Carolina jazz concert series starts August 12th with Peter White, Keiko Matsui will be here in September 29th, and Richard Elliott on December 8th.  An event that I’m really excited about is an upcoming "big band" jazz series.  I’m REALLY excited about that.  I’m partnering with my good friend, Bassist John Brown who is the Director of Jazz studies at Duke University, and The Jazz Arts Initiative.  We have some GREAT guest artists coming in for the series!

          How can jazz fans keep up with you? 

           Most people keep up with me via my website which is 
           or on Facebook at“The Jazz diva.”

Friday, July 20, 2012

My May, 2013 release

I know next May seems like a long time from now. But that's the release date of my next book. I'm excited. Now comes the task of naming this book.
I've always had a slight problem coming up with titles. Unlike playwrights, I think authors go story first, title last. I learned this tidbit about playwrights from listening to Victoria Christopher Murray's Destiny's Divas book chat on Thursday. :)

Want to know what my May release is going to be about? Check it out:


Crystal Hughes is mad as hell

No one is going to tear down the farmland that’s been in her family since the turn of the century—certainly not multimillion dollar Welco Industries. And until Welco's president meets with her, Crystal will wage a fiery one woman protest to prove it! But when he finally appears, Douglas Wellington III is far from the elderly curmudgeon she expected...

Tall, lean, and fabulous, Douglas is in for a surprise of his own. Crystal's cafe au lait beauty takes his breath away. Still, if she had any sense, she'd realize his project will save the impoverished community. With battle lines drawn, Crystal issues Douglas a challenge: spend one week on the land he wants to destroy. He agrees, if only to be alone with her. But when nature takes over amid North Carolina’s lush countryside, these two warriors just may discover what happens to even the best laid plans...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot M.A.M.A. Land: Summer Lovin'

Hot M.A.M.A. Land: Summer Lovin': Hello Romance Reader.  I'm Cheris Hodges . As I sit here watching the temperatures rise; I can't help but think about summertime and why...

Visit me in Hot M.A.M.A Land today!

I'm bringing the heat today on the web's hottest blog featuring Multicultural Authors of The Mid-Atlantic.
Or, Hot M.A.M.A Land .
And when I say I'm bringing the heat, I mean it. My blog is about this heat wave and why we're more apt to give it up in the summer.
I know you're interested! Tune in at noon.

Meet and greet video

Want to see part of the inspiration for Recipe For Desire? Click here and read "The Homeless Diaries."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Midlands/Low Country Weekend

I've been complaining about not getting my summer glow. I've been spending hours and hours in the house working on two books--who has time for sunbathing? Well in the last 48 hours, I got some good old South Carolina sun and that sun kissed look I crave. Yay! But that's not even the best part of my weekend. Let's start with Saturday in Columbia, S.C. -- The Midlands.
Latoya Morris Guider. Photo by Sheryl Montgomery
Photo by Sheryl Montgomery
Photo by Sheryl Montgomery
LaToya Morris Guider hosted a meet and greet for me. And let me tell you, Miss Lady did her thing! Toya is a member of the SistaFriends Book Club, an avid reader, and an all around cool person. You can tell that from one conversation with her. And you know cool people have cool friends. I can't thank Toya and everyone who came out to the Columbia meet and greet on Saturday.
Photo by Sheryl Montgomery
And because Devon -- my hero from  Recipe For Desire -- was so into chocolate, Toya created a chocolate buffet. YUM! We all just sat down and had a good time talking and eating some delectable sweets that Devon would've approved of wholeheartedly. I have to admit, I'm still surprised that people actually want to hear what I have to say. I'm humbled and happy that folks enjoy reading my books and having a meet and greet is one of the highlights of my writing career! So, thanks again to Toya for rolling out the chocolate carpet and hosting me. Then it was off the South Carolina low country. I'm sure my mom and dad are getting a kick out of this. I remember a vacation we took when I was a teenager. I didn't enjoy my stay in Charleston then. I kinda felt as if I was invading on a romantic weekend with my parents. Charleston is a romantic city (So, yes, you can expect a book set in Charleston soon). It was a fun research trip that gave me my sun kiss! Awesome!!
Night time on Folly Beach

Pretty Pink Beach House


Downtown Charleston

This face, I'm about to get some Starbucks! In Columbia on my way back to Charlotte.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Michele Grant asks: Do Black People Have Trust Issues?

Author and blogger, Michele Grant isn't just one of my favorite writers (have you read Sweet Little Lies and Heard It All Before), but she's an Investigation Discovery addict just like me. So on Wednesday she watched the newly launched "Love Gone Wrong Wednesdays."

The new show, titled Dates From Hell, prompted Grant to ask--on her BougieLand blog -- "Do Black Folks have trust issues?"

These are her words:

I was watching Dates from Hell on @DiscoveryID the other night. Wednesday nights are their "Love Gone Wrong" episodes with Who the Bleep Did I Marry followed by this new Dates from Hell. These are stories where a woman goes out on a date and ends up fighting/running for her life. Grim. Puts my BougieTales of Dating Woe in proper perspective. But anywho... 
The premiere episode Wednesday night was about (in a nutshell) a woman who was vacationing in Rome. On her last night there, she and her friend were at a cafe. The cafe owner introduces them to Marco. Marco was an artist and they visited his studio. Marco invited them out to drinks and they declined. The woman changed her mind and went to meet him without her friend. She and Marco chatted about art, sipped wine, he was charming. He bought her flowers and complimented her. Shortly thereafter he told her about the wonderful view of Rome from the balcony in his apartment. She agreed to go take a look. 
At this point in the story I tweeted that I did not understand a single woman in a foreign country going to a strange man's apartment alone. I'm sorry. I can't fathom the circumstance under which I would ever, ever do that. As you might suspect, the story turned batshit crazy. Marco went uberPsycho literally trying to rape and kill the woman. She had to fling herself off the sixth story balcony and jump across rooftops to escape. She did escape, badly hurt and badly shaken up but a survivor. She is now a victims' advocate.
She also tweeted me to tell me that I shouldn't "victim blame- a woman has a right to trust that she won't be attacked by an animal."
True but um... Okay - first, I don't victim blame. For instance, do I blame Trayvon for wearing a hoodie? No. I agree that sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong evil people crossing their paths. HOWEVER - I do think there are precautions that one should take to avoid the potential for these situations at all costs. She did not appreciate my point of view and directed me to her website for some educational reading. 
From here a firestorm of a debate raged on Twitter - many of the chocolate sisterhood said we just don't get down like that. Marco would have had to drag me to his apartment kicking and screaming to see the view unless I had someone with me, a cell phone in hand and an idea where the closest Polizia station was located. And event hen I may not have gone. Then again, my father was the type to say: "Ain't nothing open after midnight but liquor stores and legs. Act like a lady and be home on time." I was 30 years old and he was still telling me to "act like a lady." Le sigh. I've been brought up to believe that preventative precaution is the way to go in most social situations. [Translated: Men are frequently grab-assy, don't get caught out there] 

Many of the non-black women said it wouldn't be that big of a deal to them. Since the cafe owner introduced Marco, they would assume he was a nice guy and feel comfortable with him. Hmm. I'm not saying black women don't get attacked. I'm saying most of the black folks I know run from danger even if there's only a slight whiff of it. We tend to assume someone is up to no damn good until they've proven otherwise. Is it just me?

There's stuff I just don't do. I don't walk to my car alone at night. I don't jog alone at night. I don't get drunk without a designated driver/watcher/exit strategy. I never go on a date with someone new without letting folks know where I'm going to be and who I'm going to be with. If I'm alone in an elevator with someone I get a hinky vibe from, I get off and wait for the next one. I don't ride in strange people's cars. If I'm at a house I've never been to, I check for the exits. Lookie here, I don't play. I don't know if that's a female thing, a lessons learned thing or a black thing.
Read more here.
Grant's right. She's SO right that I can't think of anything else to add, but keep your third eye open!

Don't forget to get Grant's new novel  Pretty Boy Problems.
July 31, 2012
Responsible, mature, employed...everything Avery Beauregard Montgomery is not. Instead, Beau is a
natural born charmer. He has breezed through life on his dazzling looks, six-pack abs and sparkling personality. But this pretty boy's luck has run out. Fed up with his freeloading and philandering ways, his brother and sister-in-law are turning on the tough love and turning him out of their house. For Beau, that just means moving on to the next...
Beau shows up at his sister's Dallas condo with nowhere else to go and no idea what to do with his life.  Suitcase in hand, he stumbles in to find not his sister but a bathing beauty. Someone super-model gorgeous with attitude, skepticism and no time for trifling pretty boys. Belle, his sister's new business partner, has already claimed the guest room and Beau's imagination. All it takes is one look for Beau to want to do some claiming of his own. Belle rebuffs his advances but offers him not only a job but an opportunity to do something with his life.
Finally, Beau knows who and what he wants. What will it take to get Belle on the same page?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cheris takes an HIV test

In Charlotte, N.C., there are at least 450 people who are HIV positive and don't know it.
It's scary to take an HIV test, even if you've been careful and practice safe sex. The questions that the test administrator asks you will make you think. Did I use a condom the last time I had sex? Is my boyfriend cheating with one of those 450 people who don't know they have HIV?

Putting all of that aside, I took a rapid HIV test today. Here's how it went down:
I pretty much knew my status when I went to take this test. But, according to ABC News, the HIV rate among black women living in some U.S. cities is the same rate as that of some African countries.
"This disease is alive and well in this country," said Dr. Carlos Del Rio, principal investigator for the Atlanta area of the study and professor of medicine and infectious disease at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "But this epidemic is the face of the forgotten people."
There are "hot spots" where the disease thrives in this country, Del Rio said, and most of those areas are some of the most impoverished parts of the United States.
 Find a testing location in your area by clicking here.

More from Mimi Collins . . .

Basically, she's not a killer but don't push her.

I think I have PTSD from this relationship. When I met Ethan Morris, I was ready to spend the rest of my life with him. Too bad Ethan was ready to spend his life sticking his little -- and I do mean little -- head into every woman who offered him a taste. If I wasn't too cute from prison, I would've put two in the back of his skull when I walked into my townhouse and found him on the sofa with some random plastic broad. God. I. Need. A. Vacation. --Mimi Collins.

It's a reunion, it's a sale. If It Isn't Love is $1.99 until Monday

Attention!! The price has been updated on Amazon! $1.99 until July 16th! 
Order If It Isn't Love from with the coupon code:  MZ95R
Order If It Isn't Love from starting July 12 for $1.99

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Q&A with author Aaron Ashford

South Carolina native Aaron Ashford has always been an avid reader and a closet writer. While he was a student at South Carolina State University, he started writing his first novel. But it wasn't until he started his own counseling service that he decided to follow his dream and become a published author.
His first book, Closure, was released in 2009.
Ashford talked to me about writing and his latest works.

1.       Tell the readers what prompted you to start writing. 

I have always had a love of both reading and writing that goes back to at least third grade or so. It was something that came easy to me, because I am always imagining "what if?" I was prompted to write a novel after I finished college and found time for leisure reading again.  One night, I had some bad insomnia and just started writing and before I knew it characters started getting acquainted with one another, a plot was formed and a resolution was had.

2.       Tell the readers about your Closure series.

Closure was the product of my insomnia.  I wanted to write about an issue that was somewhat controversial such as infidelity, but use male characters (Jason and Kevin) as the lead so that readers could see that men are equally impacted by infidelity; no different than women.  For Jason, infidelity affected him early on and he was never able to truly commit in future relationships.  For Kevin, it was the impact of infidelity through his father and consequently he saw the impact on his mother.  As a married man he decides not to stray and wants to keep his marriage together in spite of obvious signs that his wife has other ideas.  Closure is different for every person and every situation and for these characters it was necessary.  My years as a licensed therapist have taught me that when people are hurt and never heal that they only offer hurt to others disguised as love.  

 3.       Do you plan to write sequels about these characters? 

Initially, I planned a sequel but right now it's not in the works.  Closure was released in 2009 and Getting Closure was released in 2012 which was the re-release that has an epilogue, which picks up when the original ended providing some previously unreleased footage, and a totally redesigned cover, which is on my independent publishing label iWrite Publishing.  It also has the first three chapters of my latest novel In the Moment due out February, 2013.  There are plans for my characters to make appearances in other stories.  

4.       What’s the most rewarding thing for you about being an author? 

For me the most rewarding thing about being an author is developing something inside of my mind, translating it to paper and having other people read it and enjoy themselves.  As a fan of fiction to have a book in print is still overwhelming.  I've had people who I didn't know email me their feedback about the book and how they enjoyed and how much they are looking forward to the next book.  That is such an awesome feeling.

5.       How can readers follow you on social media?

 I'm on Facebook (Aaron Ashford) and Twitter (AaronLAshford), my website is I'm on Myspace as well, but nobody checks that anymore.  I miss Myspace.  

Video blog: Who's your favorite hero?

Make sure you check out the Hot M.A.M.A Land Blog!

And who's your favorite Cheris Hodges Hero?

1. Malik Greene -- Revelations
2. Nathan Wallace -- Cautious Heart
3. Chris Johnson -- A Love of Her Own
4. Calvin Jackson -- Second Chances at Love 
5. Darren Alexander -- The Business of Love 
6. Darius McRae -- Just Can't Get Enough
7. Cleveland Alexander -- More Than He Can Handle 

8. Maurice Goings -- Let's Get It On
 9. James Goings-- Betting On Love 
10. Solomon Crawford -- No Other Lover Will Do
11. Antonio Billups -- His Sexy Bad Habit
12. Devon Harris -- Recipe For Desire
13. Jay Slade/Jason Campbell -- If It Isn't Love
14. Dr. Raymond Thomas -- Too Hot For TV