Jazz is one of the few genres of music that has withstood the test of time, both with listeners and music critics. Colombian-born multi-instrumentalist, Jay Rodriguez, has been composing and performing music consistently for over 40 years. The musician also known as Hernan Ramiro Rodriguez-Sierra, began playing the clarinet at the age of 7 after moving to New York City. He later picked up the alto saxophone and the flute. The musician furthered his instrumental studies with Tito D. Rivera, a famous Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist. He also studied with musicians like Joe Henderson, Phil Woods, and Joe Allard.

By age 15, he was playing lead alto saxophone with Tito Puente, a famed musician, songwriter, and producer.  “I’d be coming home at 6 o’clock in the morning, then going to school. That was my childhood and I don’t regret it,” said Rodriguez on his official website jayrodriguez.com. After spending his high school years in performing arts schools, Rodriguez began making music professionally.

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Just four months after leaving her dream job, Georgia Dawkins celebrated the release of her first book, Everybody Knows: The Power of Being in Position. Although she’d only been the Producer at Sister Circle Live (a daily talk show on mission to inspire and empower black women) for seven months, she knew it was time to move on. “The entire process was just so spiritual. God had been telling me [to leave] for months, but I was afraid,” she told me as cars zipped past the coffeehouse with the same zeal and purpose she had in her eyes. “Afraid of failing. Afraid of being broke and afraid of what people might think,” she explained. But when I saw her again just two weeks later as she sat in front of an excited audience at The Vault Art Gallery on April 22, 2018, reading excerpts from her memoir, there was no fear, failure or poverty to be found. Instead, there was purpose. The very purpose Dawkins has been chasing her entire life.

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Can you imagine walking into a museum and seeing a canopy made of 150,000 Australian native flowers? What about a suspending display of 8,000 flowers hanging from a gallery ceiling, or 30,000 flowers in a Berlin museum to welcome the spring season? Those things may seem extravagant, but that’s because they really are. Rebecca Louise Law is an installation artist based in East London who develops art exhibits with decaying flowers.

“The complexity of flowers as a material fascinated me,” said Law, in a 2016 interview for CNN Style. “I think because they are ephemeral and a challenge, flowers have kept me on my toes. They’re really difficult to work with.”

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How can anyone forget that stunning dress Beyoncé wore at the 2014 Grammy Awards? She looked absolutely gorgeous in her white lace mermaid styled dress. Her dress had a simple flower design that simultaneously added a layer of sexy to her look by exposing her back and elegantly showing off her beautiful complexion and curvaceous shape. It wasn’t a look that most of us could pull off and it wasn’t a gown that just any designer could put together. This one-of-a-kind look is the work of designer and child prodigy, Michael Costello.

Costello was a contestant on season 8 of the popular design competition show, Project Runway. He was also a finalist on Project Runway’s All-Star Season. Unlike most contestants of competition shows, Costello’s fame has exceeded past 15 minutes. Costello is making his mark in the fashion industry and within the next 10 years it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is ranked with fashion kings such as Donatella Versace, Michael Kors and Giorgio Armani.

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If you’re a woman looking for clothes designed to accentuate the female form, Mrs. Susie Cave is someone you should pay attention to. Cave’s collection, The Vampire’s Wife, features many long “flowy” dresses and skirts that emphasize femininity and delicacy. The collection’s name derives from an unfinished novel by Cave’s husband, Nick Cave, front man of the band Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The novel details the relationship between a muse and the creative process, Mrs. Cave is a muse for her husband’s writing.

“Nick wrote a book called Vampire’s Wife that, in the end, he decided not to publish. He said: ‘Well, why don’t you use that as the name?’ The book that Nick was writing, it was sort of about me – not exactly me, but about his idea of me. I don’t know if it’s really who I am exactly, but it kind of works,” Susie Cave said in an interview with fashion blog/shopping website Matchesfashion.com.

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In many ways, Kelly Durette’s illustrations look as though they could easily fit among the pages of a fashion or bridal magazine.  The women she draws are exquisite, eyes focused, with hands grazing the curves of their cheeks.  Yet there is one distinct difference between Durette’s women and the ones that often appear on the covers of Vogue — hers are not among the living.  The curls of their hair are held in place by decorative bones, skulls and tissue are exposed by a decaying face, and their lips are cracked with age.  Durette has taken the looks of models and flipped them, emphasizing macabre elements to both challenge and promote the beauty of her subjects.

The Ontario-based, self-taught artist has often had her work categorized in the “Day of the Dead” genre.  Of course, the skulls and balance of bright tones through primary and colored pencils speaks to a certain aesthetic.  But Durette’s focus transcends the popular style by having a particular focus on the anatomy of her subjects. She tells the alternative art magazine Creep Machine, “I have always been fascinated by medical illness, anatomy and what happens to the body after death.   It’s not meant to be creepy, but rather to draw these beautiful women and add a touch of the macabre without losing the overall sexiness.” Consequently, her work generally inspires a realistic feel, as opposed to the painterly qualities of many “Day of the Dead” pieces. Durette’s work literally feels as though its subjects are decaying; the pinks of the muscles can be seen past the paling skin.

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“Musicality in hip-hop is sort of a lost art, and Common always used real musicians. It’s keeping real music alive at a time where most people aren’t.”

-Robert Glasper

Glasper, a rap icon, legendary pianist  and Common’s new group mate  almost perfectly puts into words how some of us fell  in love with the intricacies of our favorite artist’s music, in conjunction with the way they deliver heartfelt lyrics.

Common has always been credited with delivering some of the most soulful and powerful music for the culture. So teaming up with longtime friends and legends in their own rights, Robert Glasper and drumming icon Karriem Riggins, was the perfect way to yet again breathe life into the artistry of rap and hip-hop.

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The talent an actor possesses can be great for a role.  You can get so caught up in an actor’s character that you could very well believe it’s how that person is in real life.  It’s almost as if you don’t expect to see them in anything other than what you consider “the norm.”

Hassan Johnson, most notably known for his role as “Wey-Bee Brice” on The Wire, most certainly fits this scenario.Being in the industry for over 20 years, appearing in movies, music videos, television shows and even modeling, he has a robust resume in the entertainment world.

Johnson always knew he wanted to be on television, he just didn’t know how to achieve his goal.  He first got his start with acting when a high school friend challenged him to go to an open audition in New York, resulting in landing a role to be in Spike Lee’s film, Clockers.

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There are some street artists that have the ability to paint such magnificent murals that you couldn’t imagine the building looking any other way. A mural titled “Mirandas en Transito” which is outside of the museum Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales Museo in Mexicali, is the work of an artist who has such artistic capabilities. This mural features shapes that have the ability to flow with the edges of the building. Fernando Corona possesses a talent where he is able to utilize the shape of the building to animate his murals and give them a natural flow that can’t be found in most two-dimensional art. The mural also features several pairs of black-and-white eyes looking in different directions. The simple color choices in the eyes are contrasted with several yellow, green, purple and orange triangles, which gives the mural a geometric sharpness balanced by the soft lines of the eyes throughout the mural.

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With only seven months of modeling experience, Vivian Eyo-Ephraim has the internet buzzing. As part of a campaign to help promote ASOS 2018 swimwear collection for plus-sized girls, the 20 year old University of East London student posed in a bright yellow bikini for the advertisement

What happened next was nothing short of a dream as social media users from all over the world praised ASOS and Ephraim for positively representing plus-sized women. “I had no idea it would go viral,” she told Refinery29. “But I’m so grateful and excited that so many people all over the world are supporting me.” At 5 feet and 9 inches tall and wearing a size 14 (18 in the UK), Ephraim is living proof that beauty is not determined by size. The outburst of praise she’s received for her brown eyes, black skin, Nigerian accent, 37 inch waist and 49 inch hips is proof that representation matters. Within a matter of months, plus-sized model, actress and everyday woman Vivian Eyo-Ephraim is changing the face of beauty.

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