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Grown Enough to understand that Integrity is not everything, it’s the only thing

Posted on October 20th, 2014 by

It’s not just what you do that makes you Grown, it’s how you do it. We’ve talked about spirit here before, if the spirit is right that you can best be certain that it’s being guided by integrity. There are always shortcuts, workarounds and the like but if they are used in a manner that is duplicitous it might get you there quicker but you won’t stay and people will not only not remember you they will actually choose to forget you.

Make a choice, we’ve all be given that right. When you are truly Grown you err on the side of integrity(what is the right thing to do in this situation that I currently find myself). The same holds true for music. Popularity and integrity at one time shared the same space all but for a brief moment. There’s a difference between vulgar and provocative and the culture has moved to accept the vulgar because it doesn’t require accountability in the way that being a provocateur does. Not only should the musical message contain integrity but the sonic landscape that supports the story should be guided by integrity. I’m not advocating for complexity or an elitist musical vision, but be true to the musical art form that you choose to work in. If the music requires a certain level of ability then seek that out, don’t seek to lower the culture, seek to raise yourself up. Get to know Integrity she’s a great and Grown friend to have.

About Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a musician/social critic whose creative output runs the gamut from provocative to entertaining. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music(Jazz Studies Emphasis) with a minor in African American Studies. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ivan was involved with The Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, VA.

You Make The Call: Tamar Braxton: “Let Me Know” feat. Future

Posted on October 20th, 2014 by

Check out “Let Me Know” by Tamar Braxton featuring Future. We’re on the fence about this one, because she hit us so hard in the head (in a good way) with “Love and War” (the single). But we don’t wanna be stuck in the past and not every song can be a roaring ballad so, Grown Folks, you make the call. Is it hot or not? Does Future enhance the track or did Ms. Braxton not need any help dot com?


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

Now Playing: D’Angelo: “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine”

Posted on October 19th, 2014 by

Dig it.


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

New Music: fDeluxe (The Band Formerly Known as The Family) Drops AM Static Album Today

Posted on October 18th, 2014 by


fDeluxe, the band formerly known as The Family (remember “Screams of Passion?) drops a new album of funky covers today called AM Static .

From The Press Release:

Minneapolis funk veterans fDeluxe, the band described by The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, as “one of his favourite groups of all time”, drop their new album AM Static on October 18, 2014. Funded by the group’s loyal fanbase via a successful PledgeMusic campaign ‘AM Static’ was produced by longtime collaborator Oliver Leiber who also serves as lead guitarist in the band’s acclaimed live show.

“I’m really proud of this record” says co-founder St. Paul Peterson. “I hope that you like listening to these re-imagined covers as much as we liked making them.”

AM Static pays homage to many of the artists that helped mould the band’s sound and includes unique fD’up versions of cuts such as Betty Davis’ If I’m In Luck I Might Just Get Picked Up’, Deep Purple’s ‘Hush, PJ Harvey’s ‘We Float’, Eric Carmen’s ‘All By Myself’ (complimented by some amazing programming/keyboard work from Nine Inch Nails’ Danny Lohner) and The Stones’ ‘Miss You’.

fDeluxe will follow this release with the concert album Live & Tight As A Funk Fiend’s Fix, featuring tracks from The Family and Gaslight albums, and a re-issue of Eric Leeds’ Now & Again (plus bonus track) on October 31, 2014.


1. Fight The Power
2. Baby Love
3. Hush
4. We Float
5. Come Together
6. Maybe Your Baby
7. All By Myself
8. Miss You
9. If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up
10. Who Is He (And What Is He To You)

Follow fDeluxe on Facebook


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

How Grown? Grown Enough to Read More Books Than Blogs

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by


Yes, the irony. I know. But seriously, always consider the source. There are some great blogs out here and terrible books and vice-versa. The Grown Folks Challenge is to always interrogate the source and to have more than one source of information, like oh I don’t know try several reputable sources. But more important than that is the realization that what we take in always comes out, sometimes at the least opportune moment. So if all of your opinions are formed by the less than reputable blogs with their link-bait and gotcha journalism, then your interactions both online and off will begin to reflect those inputs. Don’t believe me? Just monitor any of your social media feeds and you will see the verbatim reciters of misinformation society well represented.

But when you’re Grown, you take a different approach. You know the looks like, walks like, talks like all to well. You know what and who you’re dealing with because you spent more time reflecting that posting, that’s what happens when you read… the good stuff. Hopefully, we are able to provide you with the good stuff here and we’re also Grown enough and friendly enough to tell you that as soon as you’ve finished reading this go grab a great book and some great music because we’ve got even more growing to do, together.

About Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a musician/social critic whose creative output runs the gamut from provocative to entertaining. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music(Jazz Studies Emphasis) with a minor in African American Studies. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ivan was involved with The Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, VA.

New Music: Timothy Bloom: “Stand in the Way (Of MY LOVE)”

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by

GFMites! Want you to get your eyes and ears on some newness from L.A. based crooner Timothy Bloom. With a cameo from the great Herbie Hancock, a catchy and evocative musical hook and a visually enticing mini-drama how could one lose? Well Timothy Bloom is definitely not losing and displays many of the reasons why he has been recognized by VH-1 as one of their Artists “You Oughta Know”.

Timothy Bloom is out on tour now!


About GFM

Part of the GFM staff, interested in joining? contact [at] grownfolksmusic [dot] com

GFM Spotlight Interview: Steven Russell Harts (of TROOP) Talks New Solo Project, TROOP Reunited and Today’s Music Industry

Posted on October 17th, 2014 by

The Wedding Singer

Steven Russell Harts, lead singer of the group TROOP– yes Grown Folks, that TROOP– took time out to talk with Grown Folks Music. We chopped it up about his current solo album The Wedding Singer and the remix of the first single, “Shelter Deluxe” (Listen to it here). We also talked about the current situation that R&B music finds itself in, TROOP’s recent episode on the TV One series Unsung, and the return of TROOP. Read the interview below and enjoy.

GFM: Let’s jump right, in. You have a solo project out (called) The Wedding Singer. The first single is “Shelter”. Before we get into the album, can we talk about the “Shelter Deluxe” remix that you have going with that all-star lineup? How in the world did you get all these people? You’ve got… and let me make sure I’m correct… and (you can) correct me if I’m wrong… you’ve got Joe Little from the Rude Boys. You have one of my hometown favorites, Mr. Keith Washington. You have the silky and smooth Howard Hewett. You’ve have one of my favorite people in the entire world, Mr. Al B. Sure! and you have Elliott Yamin and let me just say, he goes in on this remix. He is one of the most underrated voices out today, but that’s a discussion for another time. How in the world did you make this thing happen?

SRH: You know, I just feel like R&B is in a state of emergency in a certain fashion. So, I’ve just been trying to come up with ways that I could do whatever I could to bring some interest and make R&B interesting. I just called up a bunch of my friends and asked them if they would help me do this remix– this idea that I had to do like a “Secret Garden” with this song “Shelter”– because I think “Shelter” is such a good song for women. They agreed. They all came in and me and Al B. got together and figured out the parts and it turned into magic.

GFM: You mean you didn’t do your parts remotely? You mean you got all of these brothers in one studio to do the remix?

SRH: Oh no, no. It was only a couple of people here at the same time. But, I got everybody to be down and come and participate… yeah.

GFM: So going back to the album overall–The Wedding Singer. Listening to the songs, they do sound a bit like a soundtrack to a wedding. Tell us about the feel of the album and the meaning behind the title of the album.

SRH: Well I wanted it to be… like you said.. I wanted it to be a soundtrack to love. Discovering love… remembering love.. making a decision about being in love. I wanted it to be all those things under one umbrella. The title actually came from my brother. He always teases me about, “If I could sing man, I would be singing at everybody’s wedding. People get married everyday.” (laughs) He’s on me about doing certain stuff. We were playing pool one day and he was playing a bunch of my music and he said, “This is my album right here. This is the wedding singer.” That’s how it happened. I went and put a bunch of good songs together that I thought would fit the purpose and that’s how I got the album.

GFM: Those of us… or those out there who haven’t seen TROOP’s Unsung episode should know that you haven’t been sitting inactive after the years that TROOP disbanded. Can you talk about the work that you continued to do in the music industry and with whom– some of the artists that you’ve worked with?

SRH: At one point in my career I had to make a decision about keeping songs for a future TROOP album… if it happened or not. I decided to send some music around to a few friends at labels and I was able to start my career as a writer/producer. Randy Jackson, from American Idol, actually was the first person that gave me a shot with a group called Jersey Avenue. The song was called “I Wonder Why”. From that, I joined with a couple of buddies of mine, Harvey Mason, Jr. and Damon Thomas. We started The Underdogs. And Jay Valentine… Jay was actually there before me and we all got together and started The Underdogs. From there we produced Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks’ “No Air”, Chris Brown, Charlie Wilson, Ruben Studdard, Katharine McPhee, David Archuleta and Aretha Franklin. I mean I’ve worked with almost everybody that’s anybody, except Rihanna, I haven’t had a chance to meet her. I even had a chance to sit in… when we did Dreamgirls, I worked with Beyonce’, you know just sitting in and watching her do her thing, so that was a privilege. So, I’ve managed to stay pretty busy over the years… got a couple Grammys.

GFM: Oh that’s all… just a couple. (laughs) Just a couple little Grammys. I had no idea you that were part of The Underdogs. Do you continue to work with them?

SRH: Yeah, I work with The Underdogs often. I am on my own now, but I go and write with them all the time, yes.

GFM: Speaking of the Unsung episode, were you satisfied with how TROOP’s story was told?

SRH: I thought it was decent. I thought it was safe. I wish that it would’ve been… you know that was the opportunity for the raw truth to come out and I thought they made it a little safe just for certain members of the group to feel a certain comfort or whatever. So, I think it was cool. I think it was nice. It didn’t get into the depths of why decisions were made. What led to certain decisions… they never did get into that. They just kinda did an overlook of the whole thing, which I think was okay. I think it was cool. I think it served its purpose, yes. But I wish it was more truthful about the relationships and how it went bad amongst the group. They didn’t really tell the truth or get too deep about that.

GFM: What advice if any do you give… if asked… to these young artists coming along about the inner workings of the music industry?

SRH: Well the music industry now is so different. People are creating themselves. You can become an Instagram star now. It’s a totally different game. I would say to somebody pursuing music seriously to make sure they have a great team around them. Get some great representation. Promote yourself and create as much buzz on your own as you possibly can because any label… any representative that you go to is going to be looking at your followers on Instagram, or Facebook, or MySpace– all this stuff. All that matters now. You have to really just build yourself up and try to become who you’re gonna be, because the labels are not gonna create an artist these days. You have to already be who you’re gonna be– already have a following before a label will touch you. I would say just work hard. If you believe in yourself stick to it. Don’t take “no” for an answer and just constantly create new music. And know the business.

GFM: That intrigues me that you say that. I was watching a music documentary,and forgive me for not remembering the title, (but) one of the people interviewed said the same thing you just said. Labels no longer create the artists or invest in the artists to that degree. You already have to come with something– with followers and kind of a package. But with that said, the reason that intrigues me is how do you account for the image that artists seem to be molded into after they’re signed and after stardom comes. The music they’re asked to sing and perform. The lyrics they’re asked to sing and the outfits they’re asked to wear. How do you account for that which seems to be a little bit different than it was before they were signed? The image that seems to be different?

SRH: It depends. I think that’s independently on each camp… on what image they’re trying to portray. You know most people nowadays do what they see. They might see somebody dressing a certain way and try to put a little spin on it. There’s not a lot of originality going on. There’s so many different artists that are out right now that look the same and dress the same. It’s kinda hard to say that it’s just the record label doing that. I think it’s just the record companies pushing… the record company wants what’s hot, so they’re not trying to create a Michael Jackson or believe in a Prince. They don’t have time for that. They don’t have time for you to go from “I Wanna Be Your Lover” to “Purple Rain”. They just don’t have that kind of time. I just think it’s a sign of a times. We’re in an era right now where this period of music… this era of music… it’s just that time where it’s not a lot of extra creativity. Those who do step out of the box as far as work ethic and creativity like a Beyonce’– she stays young and fresh and keeps everything with how the times are, but she works like Tina Turner. She’s the only one that does it and she’s the only Beyonce’. We’re just in that era where everything is the same. We’re not in the era where you’ve got TROOP, New Edition, Ready For The World and Mint Condition. We’re just not in those days anymore. You’re not in the day where you have several production teams doing a bunch of great music. If you do have different production teams, they’re all trying to sound like one producer. It’s one producer’s sound that’s ruling the industry– which is fine for him. I think the heavens have opened up for him so that’s great, but we’re in an industry. We’re in an industry where when you turn on pop radio you hear different songs. You hear different meanings… different looks. You see different videos when you turn to pop television, but when you come to R&B, they’ve crammed up into R&B Hip-Hop, so we’re all just one thing. Hip-Hop can’t breathe without R&B, and R&B can’t be loved as R&B without having some slick, Hip-Hop way to it. I think that train wreck right there is gonna kill R&B, because Hip-Hop’s not going nowhere. Hip-Hop is going to evolve into anything. It has a life of its own. Anything can be Hip-Hop. R&B is what’s really at stake.

GFM: Just touching back on what you said about the Instagram star. The age of the Instagram star, the internet star– all of those outlets where you can become a sensation very quickly. Do you think that has also contributed to the death of the R&B male group? The R&B male group is an endangered species. Where have the R&B male groups gone?

SRH: Shoot, I’ll go a little further and say the R&B male group is extinct almost. You see a TGT pop up. You see TROOP is making their way back. It’s extinct because the labels are not interested in it. It’s not about what the female fans or the fans want. It’s about what’s gonna make the quickest buck for today. They don’t care that Silk is still out on the road every weekend and people would love to hear a new song and see a new Silk album, or a new H-Town album. They just don’t care about that. It just doesn’t matter. Groups like us–TROOP and Silk and New Edition– we make our money out on the road doing touring. So the fact that we’ve had hits (means) we don’t have to have new songs. We never have to create another song to be TROOP and to go out and make millions of dollars on the road. We’ve already created them with “Spread My Wings” and “All I Do” and the stuff that we did in the past. So, the record companies… they have to make their money where they can. If it’s a young hot act that sounds like something in the club right now, then let’s go. Let’s go get it. There’s no interest in a male R&B situation.

GFM: That’s unfortunate, because I look at the White (pop) boy bands like The Wanted, One Direction and Five Seconds of Summer and there seems to be an interest in putting together the White (pop) boy bands or male groups, but none with the R&B male group. I think that’s something that’s sorely missed… along with the solo R&B male artist, but that’s a discussion for another time.

GFM: Tell us what’s going on with TROOP. We are reuniting, I hear. We have a single, “Not In A Million Years”. Tell us everything about the TROOP reunion.

SRH: The TROOP reunion is great. Right now we’re performing a lot. Since the Unsung episode, we’ve been working like crazy so we’ve just really been rehearsing and getting our tour life back together, to be honest, while we record between being out of town. It’s going great. Everybody has a bunch of great ideas. We have a new single called “Not In A Million Years. (It’s) just a taste of TROOP– where we left off and where we are now as far as those classic records having not gone anywhere. We still can do that, but the album is gonna be filled with fresh, new music. We’re gonna be in the club this time– we’re bangin’. We’re just gonna do what we’re supposed to do to represent the age that we’re in. We’re not going anywhere, so we don’t have to fight the grain of music that’s going on. We’ve just gotta get with it and do TROOP. Do what TROOP would do today. So, we’re having fun just coming up with the ideas. It’s gonna be amazing.

Connect with Steven Russell Harts
On Twitter – @StevenRusel
On Facebook –
On Instagram – @SteveofTroop

Attend Steven’s Songwriters Social mixer: email
Booking: TROOP or Steven Russell Harts

Connect with TROOP
On Twitter:
On Facebook:


Kimberly Kennedy Charles (DJKKC) is trying to navigate life (in a minivan, no less) as a wife, mother, caregiver to Grandmother and writer in the 'burbs of Atlanta.

How Grown? Grown Enough to Think On My Own

Posted on October 16th, 2014 by


They’re here! In fact, they never go away. The crowd. You know them right? Always fanning the flame of the latest outrage, blowing with the breeze, always on the lookout for the Boogeyman because everything is the Boogeyman’s fault. These are the people that will never admit that the scariest Boogeyman that they will ever face is the one that they see every morning when they look in the mirror. These are the cousin and kin of the kids, mature is physical stature but mentally incredibly immature because they subscribe to whatever the group says and does. That’s not Grown, that’s just easy.

When you think for yourself it’s not easy. It’s not popular, but the journey has never been promised to be easy and the results from the decisions you make as an individual are not always popular. I’m not saying that there’s no benefit to the group or community, but what I am saying is lift your voice and be heard within the community/group and don’t let the group speak for you because sometimes the group gets it wrong.

Make the same choices for the art that you love. Who cares about an “industry” which is another name for a group and the thought is group think which only cares about what profits as opposed to what empowers. If you love something don’t be afraid to show it, you’ll be well within your Grown.

About Ivan Orr

Ivan Orr is a musician/social critic whose creative output runs the gamut from provocative to entertaining. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music(Jazz Studies Emphasis) with a minor in African American Studies. During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ivan was involved with The Music Resource Center in Charlottesville, VA.