Saturday (11/17/07) I was assigned to photograph the 6th Urban Organic Music Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). When I heard about the event 2 weeks ago I got excited a) because Amp Fiddler was hosting and b) because Roy Ayers was the featured act (one of my favorite jazz musicians).
The Urban Organic Music Festival features great music workshops for those wanting to break into the business, a concert that has an eclectic mix of hot new R&B/Neo-soul (what’s really new with soul) acts from across the country and always tops it off with a cherry by having a music heavyweight on the bill like my new friend Roy Ayers. Bottom line is this event is a must do for any serious music fan; it attracted online R&B maven Honey Soul, who I kicked it with briefly.
My evening at the MOCAD started around 8pm and like most events, the coordinators were happy to see me, gave me my press kit and let me in to do my thing.
So now I am up in the spot and the crowd was already thick, luckily I was able to get in some quick photos of many of the artist before they went on (talk about busy!).
As the hours went past and the who’s who of Detroit showed up, I grew exhausted longing for a 15-minute nap (I was vending Quench Essentials yesterday in 2 locations from 9am-730pm) but that was not going to happen. Between taking performance photos and kicking it with friends, I got occasional adrenaline rushes that got me to 10pm when Roy Ayers entered the building. Here is shot of Anthony David and it is one of my favorites from the evening.
Now that Roy was in the spot, backstage took on a different tone. Everyone was excited and enjoyed the vibe that this living legend was giving off.
After things slowed down, I was able to kick it one on one with Roy (guess who was ultra excited). This was a moment that I had been hoping for and I had my questions ready to go.
First I asked Roy, what was on his mind when he wrote “Kwajilori” (one of my absolute favorite songs). When I finished asking the questions, he chuckled and said that he did not write it. His bass player at the time wrote the song and when he heard it the 1st time, he knew that it had to be recorded. I told him that Kwajilori also makes me smile and feel good about life and he said that was the point; then we both laughed.
Secondly, I said “Roy, I love “Brand New Feeling because it gets me in the mood”, we again both laughed. I then said, excuse my French and no disrespect intended at all but………. when the vocalist (Merry Clayton) sings, it sounds like she is fucking, she sounds so very sensual: Roy, what was going on during that time. He was like man if you only knew! He said that “she sang like she knew how to do it” and again, more laughing.
Before we parted ways, I let him know one more time how his work influences me and always gets me singing and feeling great. Usually at events I do not get photographs of myself because I trust no one with my camera and last night was no exception. So I was like, Roy, lets take a picture. He was like how, no one is around then I said, I got this and did my thing. He was like, man you are BAD! Minutes later he was on stage.
Although Roy’s set was 4 songs long, it lasted for over an hour and he set it off!!! He started with “We Live in Brooklyn,” which sent the large crowd of fans out of control with excitement. He then smoothly transitioned to “Searching” and the crowd started singing. Once he neared the end of “Searching,” he asked the crowd what they wanted to hear then an unanimous thunder of the word SUNSHINE flew back at Roy, seconds later it was on and poppin’. This version of “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” lasted about 30 minutes and included improv duets with most of the artists that performed that evening including Amp Fiddler, Monica Blair, YahZarah aKa Purple St. James, Melissa Young, Alison Crockett, and Profit (a new Detroit based rapper, who really got the crown hype). I mean this performance was an orgasm for the ear!
The evening wrapped with a dance favorite “Runaway”. I think most of the crowd including me was up shaking their thang and singing the hook (doo be doo, run, run, run – doo be doo, run, run, run – doo be doo, run, run, run).
After the concert was over, Amp Fiddler announced the after party location and people started to file out. I said fuck that, I need to sit down before I passed the fuck out, eat & take my ass home. I made it home about 2am totally drained of energy but glowing thinking about the time that I spent with one of my idols.
Oh I forgot to mention that Roy asked for my card and I excitedly gave it to him. I hope he hits me up, how cool would that be???
Yesterday, I was contacted by Drake Phifer, the founder of Urban Organic because he stumbled across this post & loved the photos. We did a little business & he will be forwarding many of my photos to Fusicology & Detroit’s Ambassador magazine. Guess whose geeked???