Indie Soul Stage: Usha Tyson stars in ‘Ms. Brown’

— Usha Tyson has been successful in the Baltimore theater scene performing in stage plays from local writers and directors. The last couple of years she has been part of “Humdadao” a play produced and written by Baltimore’s very own Donnie Manuel, where she played lead character Tara.

“I really had a great time with ‘Humdadao.’ The cast was great. The script was fun and the one thing I loved about being in that play, was the fact that it was clean. No cussing or profanity. Everyone could come and see that show,” says Tyson. It was because of that experience that she chose to work with Manuel again in a one woman show based on Ms. Brown, one of the characters from “Humdadao.”

“Ms. Brown is a trip. She’s a little out there but she means no harm and in a lot of ways she has a lot of wisdom. The challenge for me was being up to that role, doing this one person, or one woman performance, remembering lines, and engaging the audience. The first time I was really nervous and not sure what to expect. The more I did it, I was able to get comfortable and really bring her to life,” states Tyson.

What’s next for the up and coming actress? “Well I am in Atlanta now looking to expand on my acting. Hopefully we can do a tour with Ms. Brown. I will be between ATL and B-More doing shows.”

If you have not had the chance to see Usha Tyson perform, friend her on Facebook, to see where she will be performing next and to catch the next performance of “Ms. Brown.”

Indie Soul Music: Tori Kelly

If you caught the 2015 BET Music Awards Show a few weeks ago when the show paid tribute to Smokey Robinson, the stage opened up with a female vocalist standing on the stage with her guitar. The first thing everyone on social media and at home said was, “Who is this white girl?” Then she opened her mouth and stole the show. Her name is Tori Kelly and you better get used to it. By the way, her father is half Jamaican/half Puerto Rican and her mother is Irish and German.

She is one of these YouTube sensations so she already had a huge following. She also appeared on American Idol and was not chosen, but that has not stopped her. Her CD, “Unstoppable Smile” was released in June of this year. Kelly is co-executive producer/writer and by listening to the music you can tell she put a lot of herself into the album. Her words, music, and voice are deep. She sings with so much passion. The vibe is very old school, spiritual, and more importantly she gets back to the basics of being in love and showing its okay to be vulnerable.

Check out the songs: “Should Have Been Us” and “Where I Belong.” She added some hip-hop flavor to her acoustic soul mix with help from Daye Jack (Expensive Love) and LLCool J (California Lovers). It’s the song with Ed Sheeran, “I Was Made For Loving You,” that is an instant classic. If you want to really know who Tori Kelly is, just listen to the song “Unbreakable Smile,” the title track and she will tell you who she is. It’s refreshing, just like her music. Rated G for good, no wait, great music!

Indie Soul Spotlight: J. Anthony Brown

The one and only “take no prisoners” comedian, J. Anthony Brown recently performed at the Baltimore Comedy Club to make audiences laugh and to announce his new radio show called appropriately the “J. Anthony Brown Radio Show.”

The syndicated radio show debuted the weekend of June 6, 2015, and can be heard in more than 10 markets, including Houston, Texas, Tampa, Florida and the US Virgin Islands.

The show can also be heard via the I-Heart Radio app at the Accelerated Radio Network at Don’t worry, Brown, is not leaving the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” so you will continue to hear him crack you up every morning, but now you get more of him on the weekends.

Just like the entrepreneurs we feature here with Indie Soul, Brown understands what it is like to try and get your brand to the public. For 30 years Brown has been on the grind, showcasing his brand of comedy to the masses and helping other comedians along the way. With more than three decades of comedy under his belt,

Brown is also the only African American owner and operator of a comedy club in Los Angeles. His club, The J. Spot, offers live comedy featuring some of your favorite comics from Comedy Central, “Def Comedy Jam,” and “Comic View,” including such headliners as Don DC Curry, Earthquake, George Wallace, Sommore, Sheryl Underwood and Faizon Love.

Much love to funnyman J. Anthony Brown for stopping through Baltimore and satisfying crowds with great fun and entertainment! Support J. Anthony Brown and find out more about the funny man at and on YouTube:

Black Music Month celebration

Event producer and media personalit Kevin Lei is the creator and executive producer of The Platform: A Black Music Month Event. In 2012, Kevin Lei produced his first show in Baltimore for Black Music Month honoring “The Godmother of R&B” Lil Mo’. Each year, Lei has continued to bring awareness and attention to Black Music Month by acknowledging the accomplishments of artists and performers alike.

The Platform: A Black Music Month Event is one of the leading events in the city of Baltimore in celebration of Black Music Month. The show brings together performers and honorees from all genres of music to create an unforgettable experience.

On June 30, the celebration of Black Music Month took place at Mood Lounge @347. It was an amazing talent laden group of artists who put on a showcase! Kevin Lei and the Carrollton Group really did put on a classy show! It started kind of late, but it was well worth the wait.

The event was hosted by Crystal L. Bass and Rock Mitchell with performances by Jessica Hall; Therron Fowler; Lia Songbird; Christen B.; Khare Hawkins; Freedom Imani and David Lyve. These artists will be featured in future Indie Soul columns.

The highlight of the night was the presentation of the 2015 Artist Achievement Awards to Maurette Brown Clark and DJ Spen.

According to Lei, “I really wanted a platform to show appreciation for black music. This is a passion of mine and to be able to do something for these artists is what drives me. This truly is a labor of love.” Lei you did one heck of job and I can’t wait for the 2016 awards show. Mark your calendar people. You don’t want to miss this. To see photos from the event, please visit of website: under Indie Soul.

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 443-885-9183 or 410-501-0193 or email: Follow him on Twitter: @lfpindiesoul.

Indie Soul Book and Interview: ‘This Ain’t What You Want’ by Jabar

— When the Baltimore riots happened, I was immediately contacted by author Jabar who told me his book, “This Ain’t What You Want,” would be a great read for adults, but especially our youth of today.

Jabar said he was inspired to write the book out of a desire give back and help young people make educated decisions. The book is the first of a planned series of fiction novels written specifically for young people and the unique challenges they face.

According to Jabar, “Twenty-five hundred people in the U.S. are serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were juveniles and for most, the choices that lead where they are could have been avoided.” “Young people need to be able to closely examine the mistakes of others and books like this will allow them to use that they have learned to navigate life’s obstacles,” he continued. The question becomes, how can such a book be of assistance in the community?

“’This Ain’t What You Want’” can assist our communities because it creates a platform for open and honest dialog between young people and their support system parent’s teachers, counselors, mentors, as well as between young people and their peers. This book and the ones that will follow are consequence oriented and were designed to make kids stop and think with its gritty honesty and no holds barred approach to at-risk behavior.”

Without question this book really delves into the real-life choices black males are forced to make every day. It is definitely a must read for young men also for parents who will find out ways to connect with the young adult in your life. It’s not just a great read but an eye opener.

Indie Soul Music Review: Saun & Starr ‘Look Closer’

Radio is definitely missing out on some great music this summer. Next up for Indie Soul is a review of the debut album debut from some real soul sistas; Saun & Starr.

I was introduced to these sistas when they sang background for the Dap-Kings. I heard them perform and I was blown away. These women can blow. They are like any true indie artist who had to grind to get where they are today. They worked full-time jobs, sang in bands, performed here and there until their chance came perform with the Dap-Kings and the rest is history. Now it’s time for the United States to show these women some love.

Their debut project takes it back with that funk, soul, and love just the way you like it. They have powerful voices and meaningful lyrics. The love song, “If Only” is the track! Saun & Starr lament over missing that one person they now realize that they love. Follow that up with “Anotha Love Like Mine” they flip the script by telling a cheating man he will regret his actions and that he will never find a love like hers. The title track “Look Closer” sets the tone for the CD which is a silky smooth groove that has you bopping your head and smiling. Other favorites include: “Gonna Make Time,” “Your Face Before My Eyes,” and “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.”

For more on Saun and Starr and to purchase the CD, please visit:

Indie Soul: Summer shows to watch

It’s summer time and that means your favorite shows are on hiatus but here is your chance to check out some great shows.

CharmTV-TV25, (Local channel, check your television channel or cable guide for channel listing or watch on demand:, has produced a very intriguing show called “Sandtown-Path Forward” based on the unrest here in Baltimore. If you are interested in making a difference, want to be a part of a movement toward a better Baltimore, or want to hear from the people in that community, you must watch. What many conversations are lacking is actually hearing what the community feels and what they want for the future. You hear the words from Sandtown residents and business owners, without a host or commentary. It’s a great way to let Sandtown speak for itself. We all can learn something and be a part of the healing process. Kudos to TV25.

Mark your calendars for August 5th as NBC debuts two shows that are worth watching but one for sure might be a huge hit for NBC. Indie Soul has been behind the show “Mr. Robinson” since it was announced in 2014. For whatever reason the show was shelved before it even aired but now it gets a new life. The sitcom stars Craig Robinson as a music teacher at a middle school.

Everyone is calling “The Carmichael Show” the new “All in the Family.” The show stars Devine, Lil Rel Howery, Amber West, Jerrod Carmichael and David Alan follows the life of standup comedian Jerrod Carmichael as he navigates through life with his therapist in-training girlfriend and his heavily opinionated family. Kee p your eye on this one. This is sure to be huge as long as NBC doesn’t get a quick trigger finger to cancel.

Indie Soul: BET Awards Show

By now many of you have seen the BET Awards show where Diddy fell through the floor; Kendrick Lamar ripped the stage; Lil Kim sent the audience into a frenzy; and Smokey Robinson killed the new school with words and showmanship. Could there be more?

If it was up to me, I would like the show to be a more balanced presentation of black culture. It is supposed to be about the celebration of black music and black art, yet it didn’t come across as such. We have skewed so young that we forget about appearances by veteran actors Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, and Denzel Washington. Why not revamp and give a more balanced view of who we are as a people and not just the same ole, same ole!

We forget the other aspects of culture: Jazz, soul, blues, stage, and much more. There is artistry in all that, which we need to celebrate and embrace. If this was the hip-hop awards then yes, by all means, have at it. We are talking Black Entertainment Television. We are talking BET Awards. These past few years we have had a lot to celebrate from the writers to the producers, to directing, casting and so much more. It’s shame that we don’t show it all. Our nominations should reflect that as well, including performances, and not just be about who is popular on social media.

Black is beautiful, bold, conscious and soulful. No matter where it comes from. We are works of art. This one night of the year should capture all of that. This is by no means disrespect to BET. It’s just a plea from someone who is a fan who wants a more balanced view of who we really are.

Indie Soul Book Review: Mayor For Life The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.

This week we review for you, “Mayor For Life The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.” written by Marion Barry Jr. and Omar Tyree. The four-time mayor of Washington, DC tells his shocking and courageous life story, beginning in the cotton fields in Mississippi, to the executive offices of one of the most powerful cities in the world. Known nationally as the disgraced mayor caught on camera smoking crack cocaine in a downtown hotel room with a mistress, Marion Barry Jr. has led a controversial career. This provocative, captivating narrative follows the Civil Rights activist, going back to his Mississippi roots, his Memphis upbringing, and his academic school days, up through his college years and move to Washington, DC, where he became actively involved in Civil Rights, community activism, and bold politics.

I find it incredibly courageous that Barry is brutally honest about who he is as a person, his personal mistakes and how it affected his life from a political and personal standpoint. No matter what one thinks about that one night that cost him plenty, you can’t take away the fact that Marion Barry Jr. is an icon and should be remembered for that. Blacks in the D.C area thrived under his three terms, so much so that the residents of the District voted him into a fourth term after the scandal and after the prison sentence. The people didn’t judge him on his personal issues but on his service for the city.

Marion Barry Jr. passed away on November 23, 2014. Since his passing, D.C. has continued to honor his legacy. A summer youth program that Marion Barry Jr. started has been renamed the Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute and D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, announced the formation of the D.C. Commission to Commemorate and Recognize the Honorable Marion S. Barry Jr.

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 443-885-9183 or 410-501-0193 or email: Follow him on Twitter: @lfpindiesoul.

Indie Soul Music: Slum Village and Hayley Fahey

Back in the day when I was deejay, I would spend hours, not to mention money, listening to and buying music. I was the type of deejay who wanted the newest music first or to introduce a new artist that no one was checking for. It’s the same attitude I have when it comes to the music for this column. This week I have some reviews from Slum Village and Hayley Fahey.


Hayley Fahey: Fahey began following me on Twitter. I always check to see who follows me to see what they are about. Fahey was a joy to discover. Not only is she a talented writer and music lover, checkout her blog here:, she is wonderful music artist. She writes, sings, and plays guitar. Her voice is very soulful and big She reminds me of Joss Stone and Joni Mitchell (incidentally, on Fahey’s Soundcloud, she does a cover of Mitchell tune, “Woodstock” that just blew me away). She definitely delivers that acoustic soul. Check out for yourself, visit:

Slum Village: As one of the most underrated hip-hop groups, these dudes have always been true to who they are and their sound. They never disappoint. They are not flashy or in the running for awards but true to the culture of the music.

Their latest project, “YES,” is another classic just in time for summer. “YES” contains music production by the one and only J-Dilla, (Baltimore’s hip-hop scene, hosts a tribute to J-Dilla every year called B-More Dilla). Slum Village’s “YES,” is by far their best project to date and that’s hard to say since I am a fan of their music. Lyrically these guys have grown in the music scene and their music has grown with them. Outstanding guests on the project include Bilal, Phife Dog, and De La Soul. My favorite tracks include: “Right Back,” “Yes-Yes (Remix),” “Push It Along,” “Tear It Down,” “Too Much” and “We On The Go.” Head to your record store and pick up Slum Village’s “YES” today!