Monday, October 12, 2015

Entrepreneur & 'Startup U' TV Personality Sequoia B. Talks About Her Move from the Entertainment Industry to Silicon Valley

Luc-Richard Photography
I participated in another media press conference call to learn more about Sequoia B (last name Blodgett) who is currently the entrepreneur-in-residence on the ABC Family's reality series, Startup U.  It's kind of like Celebrity Apprentice and she's the Ivanka Trump.  The show isn't a created reality show, but based on Draper University, a school for blossoming entrepreneurs, founded by billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper.

In addition, Sequoia just launched her new company 7AM, an online marketplace for personal development.but instead of a created reality show,  Prior to that, Blodgett was a senior video producer for Clear Channel’s ad agency, Creative Services Group for 9 years.  She was also signed to several production companies where she worked with multiple mainstream artists like K. Michelle, Diggy Simmons, Day26, and Justin Bieber, directed commercials, and shot fashion photography.

In May of last year, Sequoia became very sick and was hospitalized.  With time to reflect and evaluate her life, she decided she had to make the best of her life and focus on developing her legacy.  Sequoia finally got better and began to follow her passion to start a business on self-help, life coaching, and personal development.  She then found out about Draper University where she received a partial scholarship, and not only completed the program but was the only student to receive financial backing from Draper.

During the discussion, Sequoia B provided insight on the Silicon Valley culture.  She said it's all about uplifting the next person and creating an ecosystem.  They believe in paying it forward, whereas in the entertainment industry, Seqouia said, is more like a crabs in the barrel, every man for himself situation.  She added that Tim taught her failure wasn't a negative thing. Instead of being a stigma, failure is praised and means you're seasoned and you've done well.

MusicLife:  As a woman of color in the business world, what is one obstacle you've encountered through your professional career?

Sequoia B:  It's such a huge topic in Silicon Valley, women and minorities and how to penetrate them in tech and in the entertainment industry that was a huge topic as well of the way women were objectified. In terms of the music video industry, I did not have an issue on a professional level. When I came on, there were so few woman that artists were dying to have that perspective, especially female artists.  On a personal level, you have to be cognizant of what people's intentions are.  I had to learn very quickly how to navigate that industry.  On the tech side, for me personally, I haven't had a bad experience.  To me, it's always been an advantage because they're less of us.

MusicLife:  With music directors like Hype Williams and I know you've worked with Ray Kay and others, most of them have a signature technique or visual that represents their trademark. What would be your signature trademark?

Sequoia B:  My signature trademark, which is very interesting because it was just kinda given to me after sitting under Ray Kay and other directors watching their work.  My trademark is just very young, vibrant, and bright looking.  Any time you saw a visual come from me, it had that very bright, poppy feel to it.  Ray Kay's feel is a little bit gloss, high fashion and so what I did I kind of took that color palette that he used a lot and incorporated it into my feel which is more narrative driven.  It's more like what would see in a film, it's very colorful and intense.

Check out Sequoia B's music videos here.  Click here for a sneak peek of the Season Finale of Startup U which airs this Thursday, October 15 at 5pm EST on ABC Family Network and tweet along with Sequoia using the hashtag #StartupU.  Wanna know more about Sequoia B, check out her website and follow her on Twitter @SequoiaB

Friday, October 9, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Target Commercials Give Ol Skool Songs a Modern Reboot

I rarely watch commercials (I'm addicted to the DVR), but recently while watching live TV, I saw the latest Target commercial play a remake of my favorite 80s songs from my childhood I Can't Wait by Nu Shooz to promote the return of plaid.  The vocals were by electronic Pop group Icona Pop and it was produced by Questlove.  Check it out below.

Now, I'll be the first one to say that sometimes ol skool songs need to be left alone in fear that the result could be a musical disaster.  However, I just love how Quest put a modern twist to the song as it re-introduces this ol skool hit to the younger generation of TV watchers.  It might even lead some to discover and appreciate the original.  These reboots are all for Target's fall TargetStyle Campaign. Questlove has done several others as well:

Tori Kelly was even added to the mix remaking the The Jacksons' classic ABC.  The commercial also included dancers Maddie Ziegler (from Dance Moms and the Sia videos), Asia Monet Ray (Dance Moms), and internet sensations Heaven and Aidan Prince Xiong, who also appeared on Ellen.

This isn't a new strategy for Target as they created instrumental versions of songs, similar to the 'Classroom Instruments' segments on The Tonight Show, for their 2013 campaign:

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Recap Report: 10/5/15

The Recap Report:  A feature post that highlights interesting music news collected from the music streets you might have missed

Kendrick Lamar to Perform With National Symphony at Kennedy Center - Kendrick follows in Nas' footsteps with symphonic album performance.

Nicki Minaj Comedy Gets Series Commitment at ABC Family - Minaj will executive produce and appear in new show.

10 Janet Jackson Music Video Scenes That Made Our Jaws Drop - Did your favorite video make the list?

Gladys Knight on Rocky Past With Diana Ross: ‘I Never Held It Against Her’ - Knight talks about the past fued with Diana.

Carly Rae Jepsen Lands Iconic Role in Fox's 'Grease: Live' - See who else is in the live show.

Lady Gaga and Nile Rodgers update Chic's 'I Need Your Love' in Tom Ford promo

Keep an Ear: QT Jazz

Keep an Ear: A feature post that presents up and coming artists you should keep an ear out for.

Photo credit: Rod at Photo Magic Studios
I had the pleasure of participating on another press conference call interview with up and coming artist QT Jazz. She's a 19-year-old triple threat--a singer, dancer, and actress, who many are comparing to Janet Jackson and Ciara.  She started in the music industry singing and acting at the age of 3.  Being around her mother, who did business management for artists like Xscape, Tamar Braxton, and The Braxtons, allowed QT to get a backstage pass to the music business.  She also grew up around Tiny (her best friend is Tiny's daughter Zonnique) and Kandi and gained much insight that she has applied to her own career.

QT's resume includes opening for and performing with the likes of Monica, B.o.B, and NE-YO, and singing the National Anthem at a Cleveland Cavs game.  She's done several remixes to classic R&B songs from the 90s such as Aaliyah's At Your Best and Xscape's Understanding.  QT Jazz has also released singles like Tornado and Heels, Bags that represent her sound she labels pop/R&B as well as "commercial" or universal that can be utilized and played around the world.

She has recently started to write more, taking her past experiences and expressing the emotions from it into a song.  QT mentioned that no matter how many times she listens to music from Tori Kelly, Frank Ocean, and J. Cole, she's always left with a message, a different feeling, or meaning to the song. She hopes the same happens to those who listens to the music she creates.  I asked QT how she defined her music life and what music meant to her.  She answered by saying that the music she creates is her expression, whereas listening to music is therapeutic as it has the ability to relate to things she goes through or helps her cope with situations.

QT Jazz continues to build her brand with the help of her family, which includes her mother, a brother who is a producer, and her sister who is a hairstylist.  It doesn't stop at music though, QT holds the title of Sprite POUR Reporter and Coke Representative and she has her own lip gloss collection.

Record Label:  Unsigned
Origin: Atlanta, GA
Debut Album: In the works
Similar Sound/If You Like: Sevyn Streeter, Danity Kane, Jhen√© Aiko

Learn more about QT on her website as well as follow her via social media: YouTube and Twitter.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Release Friday: 10/2/15

Janet Jackson - Unbreakable


Preview album here

Tamar Braxton - Calling All Lovers

Calling All Lovers (Deluxe Edition)

Preview album here

See what upcoming albums will drop on our New Album Releases page

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Joe Jonas Serves Funky Pop Song 'Cake By the Ocean' with New Band DNCE

Tuesday night while I was getting ready for bed, I happened to turn on the TV to catch Joe Jonas perform with his new band DNCE this song called Cake By the Ocean.  I'll get to the random title in a minute. . . but that performance was EVERYTHING to me!  They brought back that energy and vibe that No Doubt and Red Hot Chill Peppers gave in the 90s.  It provided this infectious groove that makes you want to dance . . .looks like they already representing the band name well.

Besides lead vocals by Jonas, the rest of the band includes Jin Joo, guitarist; Cole Whittle, bassist/keyboardist and Jack Lawless, drummer who also played during the Jonas Brothers era.

Okay, now to explain the title of the song. . .blame it on being lost in translation.  It was really supposed to be 'sex on the beach' like the drink but the Swedish producers Robin Fredrikson and Mattias Larsson kept confusing it with 'cake by the ocean', so they just went with it.


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