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SKINNY TEACHES KIDS AT WONDER SCHOOL HOW TO MAKE MUSIC. FULL STORY BELOW

The Story Behind 'Blue Moon': Why I Disappeared

January 2, 2020

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I've had my bouts with many different things over the course of my lifetime. I'd like to say that I came out victorious in those battles. But before I started working on Blue Moon, I faced one that nearly caused me to lose my life. This was by far one of the toughest obstacles I've ever come across...

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iBLESS Care Packages for the Homeless

December 21, 2019

This holiday season, I chose to forsake the standard traditions that we generally associate with Christmas and trade that notion in for a collaboration with Humankind Ministries. Instead of Christmas shopping, I decided to make care packages for people who are in need, for people who don't have anything, and for the homeless. I've reached a point in my life where I realize that the season of giving is best spent on those who can't do for themselves.

I don't see anything wrong with getting Christmas gifts or giving gifts to family and friends, but I do see something wrong with it if we're not giving to people in need as well. Too often, we drive past them, walk over them, or flat out ignore them. We have the opportunity, at least once a year, to bless them. But far too often, we get distracted by the glittering lights, the gifts, the discounts, the requests from family members, the parties, and decorations, leaving no room to provide for the needy.

Each iBLESS Care Package contained trail mix, granola bars, peanuts, a scarf, gloves, a hat, socks,  chap stick, and most importantly, a Bible, all contained in a backpack. Let's change the way we give.

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Perfect Peace Christian Church: Annual Community Picnic

November 17, 2019

Food on the grill, free car washes, children playing games and going insane in bounce houses; sounds like a family reunion, right? It was actually the Annual Community Picnic hosted by Perfect Peace Christian Church (PPCC). The outreach event served as a means to connect with members of the community while providing them with a completely free experience of food, car washes, and games for children.

All in attendance enjoyed themselves, and my wife and I stayed fairly busy as we volunteered to run the car wash portion of the event. Note to self: Wear car-wash-appropriate shoes next time...

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Meet the Team Behind Blue Moon

November 20, 2019

Blue Moon will likely be considered my best work for a very long time. Hundreds and hundreds of hours went into the creative process. I recorded over 100 songs for this album. Blah, blah, blah!

 

None of this would have mattered if the right songs weren't selected to go on the album.

The amazing individuals pictured above played a major role in the creation of this album. Going through 50 to 100 songs is a tall task for anyone, especially the person who recorded those songs (yes, ear fatigue is a real thing). So I made some calls and arranged a private listening party.

 

Luckily, they were all able to make it. I specifically wanted people of varying backgrounds, demographics, and tastes for music to get an accurate feel for the market. They didn't let me down.

Thanks a million to these outstanding people: (from left to right) Dearlin and Shatona Brown, Brittany Carroll (my wife), Brett Almon Johnson, Jimmy Carroll (my dad), Nate Gunter, Greg Brown, "Bongo" Bobby Thomas, Chris Jones, and Jeff Lunt (not pictured).

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Remembering Kobe Bryant

January 26, 2020

Life often coldly reminds us of its futility. This notion was ever present with the unexpected death of one of our legends: none other than the infamous Kobe Bryant.

When I first saw the news, I wrote it off in disbelief, thinking that it was another prank hosted by the internet. Further research led me to the bitter truth: that Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven others had in fact been killed in a helicopter crash.

I, as well as countless others, took the loss hard. One of my favorite heroes on and off the court had been taken from us all too soon. I recall going upstairs and just sitting in silence, trying to come to terms with the news and paying my respects by pumping the brakes on my day.

Kobe was an inspiration to millions. His life is a testament to hard ward, determination, dedication, discipline, focus, and most importantly, love. He loved his family as well as his fans.

The best thing we can do at this point is remember him for his greatness and impact in various realms, appreciate his life, and use the inspiration he so willingly gave to us all to create our own legacies.

You will forever be missed. #mamba4life

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REVIEW: My Thoughts on Kanye's Album Jesus Is King

December 3, 2019

Not many people expected Kanye West to make such a drastic and sudden change to the entire aesthetic of his career (and life), but that change was ever present when he announced that his album Yandhi would be replaced by Jesus Is King.

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Am I Done with Smooth Jazz?

December 17, 2019

If someone came up to me and asked me if I were done making smooth jazz, I'd tell them, "Yes." Before you start throwing tomatoes at me, hear me out.

For one, what is smooth jazz? Or any genre for that matter? A stipulation placed on music by someone who thought it should be given a particular name? When we start placing genres and titles on everything, it can get stale. So I choose to just make good music, regardless of what genre it sounds like.

 

I, like many other artists, get pretty tired of the parameters set up to make a genre distinct or relevant. I listen to many styles of music, but I've never stopped myself and said, "Hey, I'm listening to pop." No, if I like it, I'll listen to it. I don't care if it's classical, hip hop, or jazz. This might just be me, but I try my best not to pay too much attention to genres.

In conclusion, I'm technically done making smooth jazz. I'm more focused on making great music.

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Pumping Iron: Buff Hightower?

November 22, 2019

I've been hitting the gym a lot lately. As a result, I'm bulking up. This is my natural form. It's actually funny that I'm known as "skinny" because even when I was slim, I was never actually skinny.

Will I change my name as a result of this? Definitely not. Even if I weighed 300 pounds, I'd always be known as Skinny Hightower. Buff Hightower does sound pretty cool though! #buffhightower

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Depression: Raising Awareness

February 8, 2020

Let's get one thing straight: Depression is definitely a real thing. Sadly, it doesn't get talked about enough. The fact that it happened to me lets me know that it can happen to anyone. Never in a million years would I imagine that I'd fall victim to it; I'd never suffered from it before, it didn't seem important, I always felt that I was a confident person.

 

But life happens. And sometimes the repercussions of life happening can take us on a downward spiral that can eventually lead us to depression.

 

I'm on a mission to raise awareness of this condition so that others who've suffered from it or are currently suffering from it will realize that they're not alone. That it can happen to the best of us. That there are people around who can help them get through it.

 

I pray that my story and the album that I recorded which helped me get through it will help others as well.

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Wonder School Kids Learn How to Make Music

November 17, 2019

School is great when you're a kid. You get to learn, meet new friends, have recess, eat cafeteria food. But it's not very often that your school provides you with a Macbook armed with Garage Band. The students were learning about the creative aspects of making music.

 

On the last day of the students' projects, the school brought me in to help the kids with things like song structure, basic theory, navigation around a digital audio workstation (DAW), and other cool tips and tricks of the trade. I also provided them feedback in relation to the songs they were creating. I capped the event off by giving them insightful information and general inspiration to help push them through the rest of the school year, and each child and adult in attendance received a copy of Retrospect.

All in all, we had a great time. The students were extremely creative and advanced in their knowledge of music and technology. After working with those children, I now realize that the future of music is in great hands.

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Natural Hair Expo: A Beautiful Community Unites

August 10, 2019

My wife and I attended the Natural Hair Expo in Wichita, KS. I must say that it was certainly a wonderful experience.

Though I was one of very few males in attendance, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My wife is a hair stylist, so it was pretty obvious that an event like this could not be overlooked.

We met many African American businessmen and businesswomen who are making a huge difference in this community. It made me proud and encouraged me to encourage you. Go after your dreams! What's the point of waiting? You may just end up at an expo demonstrating your very own products!

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My View During The Seabreeze Jazz Festival

May 5, 2019

Playing at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival was an awe-inspiring experience. And the view from the suite was the icing on the cake. #grateful

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PHOTO CREDITS: BRIAN HANCOCK, ALFREDO ARANDA, JAMIE SAMPSON, AND BRITTANY CARROLL

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