Ode to Robin

Robin Williams. For those of us born during the 1980s, he was as much a household name as Sesame Street. Although he was a comic genius and a phenomenal actor, I was always especially impressed with what he was able to do with his voice. My parents were stricter than most so as a young child, I often wasn’t allowed to watch the films and shows he starred in. Because of that, I ended up listening from hallways or other rooms (they never said I couldn’t “listen”!) and it became a game for me to guess which voice was his. Robin was far too talented so I almost always lost but it was the most enjoyable losing experience of my childhood.

Like all of his fans, news of his death was shocking to me. Hearing that he committed suicide struck an even deeper chord. It’s always difficult to accept death but Robin brought so much joy and laughter into our world that it seems like he violated an unspoken rule by moving on without warning. The more thought I gave the situation, the more unfair it seemed that he fell into such a dark place despite the bright light that shone through him. This led me to dig deeper into his story so I could attempt to understand this tragedy. I heard and read everything from “he was tormented by demons who possessed him while he performed and wouldn’t leave once the curtains fell” to the all too common struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, infidelity, loneliness, etc. In the end, I realized that understanding what he actually went through was impossible. All that matters now is a beloved man and quite possibly the most creative force of our era is no longer…and all because of suffering so heavy that it seemed like it could never be resolved.

There’s a song on our upcoming album called Resolve Me and its message is quite appropriate for this topic. The song is basically broken into two pieces. The first piece describes the factors that cause us to be stuck in an unhappy place. Some of these factors include habitually chasing unhealthy desires and embracing poor perspectives of our circumstances. The second half of the song is written from a place of awareness of where these choices are leading us and who we are inadvertently becoming. With that awareness, we can seek the truth and implement it by embarking upon the journey of letting go of the past, discovering, taking responsibility for and loving who we are each and every day and then making the decisions that are truly in our best interests. While we all hope that adopting a new mindset will lead to a change in our circumstances, what happens externally is ultimately out of our control. It may be cliche but all that we can control is how we react to whatever happens. Fortunately, choosing a brighter perspective means we are more likely to see the message and humor in situations that previously would have made us sad or angry. And if we can learn to find the light in life’s darker times, we’ll ultimately be more joyful and at peace.

One last note about Resolve Me. It’s by far our most demanding song to perform. Its melodies, rhythms and lyrics are exceedingly difficult. When we perform it flawlessly, it leaves everyone who hears it feeling vulnerable, convicted and ready to take an honest look in the mirror and deal with their issues. But when our performance of it isn’t quite right, it leaves us feeling haunted and incomplete. This is ironic for several reasons but most of all because it’s so hard to perfect that it’s the last absolute last song we choose to perform whenever we are asked to perform some of our original music…

It’s difficult to find the proper words to end a somber post like this but first we would like to say thank you to Robin Williams. We can’t begin to express how thankful we are for captivating, entertaining and inspiring us all. You will always be missed and may you rest in peace. To those of us that are still here, may we all encourage each other to look inside ourselves, love all that we see, good or bad and accept the daily task of repeatedly solving ourselves. It’s tremendously hard work that may never truly be complete but the reward is well worth the effort.

 

eL

Robin

Implications…

Here’s a little something for those of you who can’t sleep at night because you’re dying to hear some of our original music. We recently had the pleasure of performing as part of The Belletrix Exhibit at Raw Space NYC in Harlem. All of the artwork in this video was from the exhibit and it’s set to the first song from our debut album, “Effloresce”. Hopefully this will be enough to hold you over while we finish up our masterpiece…and we say that with much humility of course.

Finding Fela

I recently had the privilege of seeing Finding Fela. The film is directed by Alex Gibney and shows the life of Fela Kuti, his music and the Broadway musical that helped bring his story to the world. Before I get too far into this posting, I have to be honest and admit that I was initially quite skeptical about this documentary. I’m easily annoyed by people who hold onto things for too long and refuse to let them fade away when they’re supposed to. Because I was part of the original cast of the Broadway show from 2009 to 2011, I assumed that the production company may have been milking Fela’s story a little too long. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

After hearing a few testimonials as well as rumors of footage of the original Broadway cast being in the show, I became a bit curious. I then heard from a friend that the MIST Harlem was showing the film and it dawned on me that I couldn’t pick a more ideal theatre for me to see the film. Being a part of the show introduced me to so much in my life including the simple things like helping me afford to move out on my own to my first apartment in Harlem. When coincidences like that line up, I try to see the message they point to. In this case, the obvious message screamed “El, put your preconceived notions to the side and go see the film!” I showed up early the very next day and noticed that it was the film’s Harlem premier (random coincidence?). After a few speeches, the lights dimmed and the film began. Enjoying footage of our cast performing the opening number led to me getting chills of excitement and smiling from ear to ear. I think I even squealed in delight and startled the unlucky souls seated next to me! I did get control of myself and behaved reasonably well for the rest of the film in case you’re wondering. The nostalgic memories faded away as my amazement for all of the things I began to learn about Fela grew. I saw how his experiences with corruption in his country helped to forge his determination and resolve. Watching his music evolve to Afrobeat was equally entrancing. Because he was bold, slightly outrageous and passionate, I’ve always been a huge Fela fan but the film really helped open my eyes to how brave and strong he was in the face of seeminglyFela Thinking insurmountable obstacles. He always found a way to beat the odds and achieve his goals, even when those closest to him, including his family, believed he would fail miserably. The more examples of this the film showed, the more respect I felt for him and the more inspired I became to carry on his mission. Because he allowed his creativity to flow uninhibited by the existing genres of music, he created his own genre that is now studied and revered in addition to becoming the iconic trailblazer whose story continues to touch the souls of everyone who hears it.

While reflecting on some of the film’s messages later that evening, I couldn’t help but think of some of the challenges Acute Inflections faces creating music that is rich but minimalistic, lyrics that are thought stopping and provoking while having the combination remain easily appreciated and understood by those who may not be musically inclined. It’s hard work and it’s taking us a while to perfect but to summarize one of Fela’s messages from the film, “anything one creates to last must be done right.” We want our music to outlive us and the messages that it delivers to speak wholeness to all that are willing to listen.

One more pseudo random coincidence before I end this verbose post. Sadiki and I met because of Fela. He was a huge fan of the show and saw it several times. We officially met for the first time at a Fela Queen Concert I performed in after the show ended on Broadway and we’ve been musically inseparable ever since. Obviously there’s a lot more to the story like me forcing him to end his ten year retirement from playing and demanding that he drive to Philadelphia and retrieve his bass but if I told you everything, you would have no reason to come back and read more of our posts!

To sum this up, Acute Inflections wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Fela and the incredible life that he lived. Thank you Fela Kuti. We fully intend on carrying on your legacy!

PS – And go see the film TODAY!

 

eL

Three Tips to Make Halloween Charity Events Stand Out

Charity events are important social gatherings. Each year, the community gathers to raise funds for worthy causes by holding parties and other income-generating activities. More than just showing how deep your pockets are, attending charity events or fund raisers is a way to show solidarity with the community. When very busy business people, heads of companies, socialites and influencers pause from their hectic schedules to attend your party, you must be sure that the event is nothing but stellar.

A lot of you may be asking, why hold the charity event on halloween? It may seem unusual, but it’s actually a very good idea. With all the festivities and celebrations associated with the occasion, it’s the perfect to get everyone dressed up and happy to become a generous donor. Here are three tips to make it a successful one:

  1. Hold a Masquerade Ball

    Instead of dressing up in creepy costumes, you can make the fundraiser’s theme as masquerade ball. This gives your guest more creative license on their masks and costumes. They can be as bold and daring as they wish, or whimsical and imaginative if they choose to go down that route. The good thing about masquerade balls is that people who don’t like dressing up can simply use a mask. You can prepare several sets at the registration area in case some guests forget to create or bring one.

  2. Make it an Auction

    A Halloween auction may is not common but isn’t totally unheard of. With everyone in costumes, it will be more exciting when a bidding war arises. Some people are more bold and adventurous when the crowd doesn’t know who they are. Proceeds from the auction will help support the charity’s projects or activities for the next few months.

  3. Dine in the Dark

    Instead of elaborate, thousand dollar dinners, you can offer your guests a different experience by serving them dinner in the dark. A pitch-black venue evokes mystery and uncertainty. Plus, it has been discovered that when one’s senses are dulled, the other ones kick in and go on overdrive. In short, when your guests are diningat a pitch-black room, their taste buds will be heightened and so will their sense of hearing.

These three scenarios aren’t the easiest to accomplish, but it will certainly make an impact on your guests and donors. Don’t forget the basics, though: good food, great music, and always keep the wine flowing!

5 Things to Remember When Planning a Fund Raiser

Acute Inflections Event

Fundraising events are a popular form of raising money as well as awareness for certain causes or groups. Charity balls or dinners are also considered as social events, and many people can’t wait to receive their invites or e-vites.
If you’re planning a fundraiser or a non-profit event, you must remember that there’s a lot more riding on it than just good reviews. The success of the event assures your charity or group of funding for at least one more year. So plan your event carefully.

Here are a few pointers to help you along:

1. Have a Clear Goal or Purpose

Non profit events don’t always have to be just about raising money. Some events are used as a vehicle to introduce a new project, a personality (like an endorser or benefactor), or introduce the organization to the press and public. Having a clear goal sets the tone for the rest of the planning stages, and gives you a good idea of who to invite as well as where to hold the event.

If it’s a real fundraiser, however, the goal will be to set an amount that needs to be met.

2. Set Your Budget

Know how much you can spend by listing down all of the expenses. Thus should include the cost for invitations, the venue rental, catering, security, décor, food and entertainment. It is extremely important to stay within the budget you’ve set, otherwise you won’t be able to meet the target amount you’re trying to raise. Word of advice though: set aside a little extra money for unforeseen costs or additional charges.

3. Plan Your Guestlist Carefully

The key to a successful fundraiser is having the right mix of people in your event. Are you inviting businessmen? Artists? Parents? Young professionals? It’s up to you to decide who your target audience is, just be sure that these are the people you want to be associated with your project. If it’s a press launch, be sure to invite members of the press, including internet influencers.

4. Envision the Set Up

You can create a mock-up of the venue set up including seating arrangements, buffet set up, and where the stage will be. If there will be dancing involved, make sure that there’s enough space in the ballroom for it. Additionally, the band should be positioned strategically for everyone’s pleasure.

5. Entertainment

Fundraisers are more formal than any ordinary party, so it’s best to hire entertainers who are appropriate for the event. A rock band is definitely out of the question, but a lounge singer or pianist would be tasteful and elegant. For a more contemporary touch, you can hire a jazz duo and have them perform an eclectic selection of R&B songs, Top 40 hits, and some jazz classics.

Here’s a bonus tip: After the party, don’t forget to send thank you cards or an email to all your guests as well as the event volunteers. This is one way of keeping your donors happy, and willing to support you and your organization next year.

The 5 Best Halloween Wedding Ideas

Weddings and Halloween may not seem like an ideal combination. However, today’s modern times have eased up a little on wedding styles and themes. Since some people just love playing dress up, couples who wed in late October, have the option to make their wedding reception a Halloween-themed one.

It doesn’t have to be gory and gross. With proper planning, this can turn into an elegant and tasteful affair that people will talk about for months to come. Here are some tips to help you pull it off:

  1. Bring Out the Dark Color Palettes
    No. You don’t have to limit yourself to just orange and black. Contemporary Halloween themes do use a touch of glitter and glam. It’s safe to use jewel tones and pair it with deep reds and blacks. You can also play around with fabrics and textures. Just because it’s dark-themed doesn’t mean it has to be drab and boring.
  2. Try a Mystery Theme
    One way to elevate your Halloween-themed reception is to veer away from common scary themes. Lose the cobwebs and coffins. Instead, play around with backdrops and lights. You can make your venue look sophisticated by making use of a woodsy theme. This will make your guests think that they are walking through a mysterious forest at night. Alternatively, you can go the “whodunit” route and pretend that there’s a murder mystery to solve during the reception.
  3. Make the Bridesmaid Dresses Elegant
    Reds, emeralds, navy blues are alternative colors to black. Your bridesmaids can wear different styles in the same color, or different colors and various styles depending on their preference. You can elevate this theme by adding accessories like lace veils, double stands of pearls, and long, black gloves. If you prefer the goth look, use dark eye and lip makeup. For a modern twist, add sparkle with a glossy lip finish and diamond accessories.
  4. Celebrate Apples
    People naturally associate fall with pumpkins. Most parties or weddings during this time feature pumpkin pies or cakes. But, apples are also big during the fall and they make for good desserts. Instead of the common apple pie though, why not try serving caramel apples? They can be in small bars so guests won’t have a hard time eating them. You can also try mixing apple juice with champagne for an interesting and refreshing cocktail. This can be the signature drink at your reception.
  5. Create Souvenirs
    With this kind of theme, expect long lines at the photo booth. Everyone will want to remember your Halloween-themed party with plenty of souvenir photos. You can have these photos printed on magnets and make them your wedding giveaways. Just ask the guests to choose one photo to turn into a ref magnet so you don’t go over budget.

These are just five basic tips for planning a unique and elegant Halloween-themed reception. Don’t forget to tie in the rest of the wedding essentials such as invitations, flowers and music with the general theme. Plan everything early and make sure all your guests play along. This will be one big celebration to remember!

For booking information, contact Acute Inflections at 800-610-0704!

Throwing a Fabulous Fall Party? Here Are 5 Things to Remember

Celebrating fall with an elegant soiree requires a lot of attention, and time. The golds and browns associated with autumn is a great theme to start with whether you’re throwing a corporate event or a fund raiser. But where you go from there is totally up to what you have planned.
Here are 6 Tips for an amazing autumn party:

  1. 1. Choose the right venue.
  2. The venue is one of the first things you need to consider when planning a party. If you host events like these regularly, you more or less have an idea of the size and location you need. However for most people, they book the venue with a firm idea of how many people are attending.

    Additionally, since this is a party with a Fall theme, it’s also important to consider if your guess will be more comfortable in an outdoor or indoor venue.

  3. 2. Make your set-up WOW.
  4. In a venue or event space, you have to be able to decorate the stage and provide social areas where people can gather and talk. Assigned tables may limit them mingling with other guests. Formal events provide cocktail tables before the actual dinner to facilitate conversations. Choose an elegant backdrop, embellish the lights, and make the room sparkle and shine. Don’t overdo it though.

  5. 3. Feature what’s in season on your menu.
  6. Your menu will highly depend on the profile of the guests you will be having. However, offering the best produce in season will tie up the fall theme. Plan the menu with your caterers and showcase the sweetest pumpkins, carrots, apples and more. For protein, you can geese and turkey prepared in a variety of ways.

    For drinks, you can serve champagne during dinner and have an open cocktail bar during appetizer and after dinner.

  7. 4. Souvenirs or mementos.
  8. Fancy parties need not be boring. For corporate events and parties, make sure you give out small tokens or souvenirs. It can be a paperweight, a card holder, or dainty cupcakes. Having a photo booth is also a great idea. It’s a good thing to give your guests something to remember the evening by.

  9. 5. Elegant and tasteful entertainment.
  10. For formal events, you can have a string quartet or a jazz duo to provide entertainment for the evening. It’s important that the music be tasteful and fitting to the event. However, it is expected that they’d accept some requests from the audience at some point in the evening. While you don’t need to ask for their entire set, you can ask for a general idea of what type of songs or tunes they will be playing.

Fall parties can be dreamy and fanciful. Well-planned events are not only well-appreciated, they also play a big role in raising funds or generating awareness for various causes. Make your autumn soiree a celebration of life and success!

Unlocking the Evening Party Dress Code

Black Tie affairs

When you’re invited to a corporate event, a benefit, or a gallery opening, do you often wonder what to wear? It’s easy to get lost in the maze of terms (cocktail, semi-formal, black-tie) if you’re someone who did not grow up in these kinds of circles.

But don’t worry, we’ll break everything down for you and get you on the right track to dressing appropriately for social gatherings.

For Women

1. Business Casual and Business Formal

Business casual for women can mean open collar shirts or sweaters teamed with skirts or trousers. No spaghetti straps and tube tops please. Business formal, on the other hand, means a business-style dress, a dress paired with a jacket and high heels. Accessories should be kept to a minimum (no chunky, loud baubles) and some light make-up would do.

2. Festive and Cocktail

Festive is different from themed parties. It does not mean coming in a costume. Some events just want to celebrate an occasion such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, but the dress code pretty much remains the same. Cocktail dresses are shorter than formal dresses and gowns and normally don’t have long sleeves. While most cocktail parties see different versions of the “Little Black Dress”, festive events allow more color. Accessories are welcome in these types of gatherings.

3. Black Tie and White Tie

Black tie gatherings means its time to have your gowns dry cleaned. The bare minimum is an ultra dressy cocktail dress. Otherwise, it’s floor length gowns and some sparkle. High-heels are the norm here as well as tiny clutches. When the invitation indicates white tie, this is even more formal. These could mean formal gowns with trains and bustles and long gowns. Bring out the diamond accessories, or tiaras if you have them. Darker, more dramatic make up and coiffed hair are also must-haves.

For Men

1. Business Casual and Business Formal

It’s actually a little easier for men. Business casual means a dress short or a casual button-down shirt teamed with slacks. Ties are optional but a sport coat or dinner jacket is considered tasteful. Loafers and socks are the bare minimum. For business formal, a conservative tie and a dark business suit is expected. It is also classy to wear a vest and matching dress shoes.

2. Festive and Cocktail

For men, the festive and cocktail gatherings can be differentiated by the tie you choose to wear. Playful and colorful ties are the norm in festive soirees. They can wear light-colored suits or even slacks and a sport coat. Cocktail events on the other hand require dark business suits, dress shirts and shoes and a conservative tie.

3. Black Tie and White Tie

This is where it gets exciting for men. Black tie affairs call for the dapper suits and the slicked hair. Black tuxedo jacket and matching trousers require a formal white shirt, a vest and a bow tie. Team this with black patent shoes and black dress socks. Cuff links, yes. Gloves, no.

White tie events on the other hand, require more pomp and glamour. Men are expected to wear a black dress coat teamed with matching trousers. Interestingly, a single stripe or satin braid is added to the trousers in the US; and two stripes in the UK and Europe. White vest, white bow tie and white or grey gloves complete the look. Finish off with shirt studs and cuffs as well as shiny black patent shoes.

Formal parties do indicate the dress code when they send out the invitations. Be mindful of themes and special instructions (for example: hats or Gatsby theme) so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the unfortunate event that you come to a party under or overdressed, don’t ruin your evening over it. Trust your confidence and personality to carry you through.

How to Have Fun Team Building Sessions During a Corporate Event

Corporate Team Building

Corporate events don’t have to be limited to cocktail parties or elaborate dinners. It can actually be an entire weekend away at a resort or a hotel where the employees can all mingle and interact. You can take advantage of this time to plan short but meaningful team building sessions. These breakout sessions can be done per department in order to focus the goals according to what they need more – communication, scheduling, sales etc.

Here are some things to remember when planning team building sessions:

1. Make It Fun

If it were a strategic planning session, it should have been at the boardroom. But since this activity will take place at a more relaxed atmosphere, it should also be laid back and relaxed. The breakout sessions can be in between rounds of sports or other activities for the day. Start with icebreakers so people will become relaxed.

2. Show Videos or Photos of Past Team Building Sessions

It’s always good for employees to see past team building sessions or corporate activities. The older ones will feel nostalgic and proud to have stayed for many years, while the newbies will have something to look forward to. More importantly, it shows how well the company looks after its employees.

3. Listen to the Common Folk

Team building sessions are a good way to listen to what the rank and file have to say. The managers and supervisors are always in control during meetings at the office, so make this a little different. Ask the employees to list down their suggestions for their department, and for the company. It can be about work, or about how the work environment can be improved. The suggestions can be anonymous, since some employees are hesitant to voice out their concerns. This little exercise gives management a chance to get a real pulse of what’s happening in their organization.

4. Use Technology

Spice things up a bit by using social media in the team building activity. You can use Instagram, Twitter, or FaceBook for games. You can also create a twitter hashtag for this corporate event and have everyone upload their photos during sessions and other activities.

5. Good Food and Great Music

Cap the day or weekend activity with a party. Make sure that it’s tasteful and well-planned because it is after all, a company function. For larger groups, hiring a live band or a DJ is a good idea. Make sure that the venue has enough space for dancing if that’s the kind of gathering you like to have. For smaller, more intimate and formal settings, a jazz duo with an eclectic repertoire just might be the thing you need.

Team building sessions are all about communication and building better rapport with your department, or the rest of the company. It allows the management to reconnect with the staff at a personal level while having a little fun and relaxation in the process.

Make cocktail events and corporate functions more memorable with the sultry vocals and upbeat tunes of Acute Inflections. Contact us at 800-610-0704 for booking information!

6 Things to Consider When Planning a Wedding Proposal

Who does not want a romantic proposal? Wedding proposals are intended to express utmost love and affection to one’s partner. The main key to a successful proposal is to keep the focus on the main characters, the couple.

To help you with this, these are 6 things to consider when planning a wedding proposal:

  1. It’s all about her

    There is no such thing as perfect partner or perfect proposal. But you can still make it perfect for your one true love. Make your proposal very intimate and personal. It has to be all about her. You definitely know what will make her smile, so go for it. Design and organize a proposal that is personalized and tailored fit to her wants.

  2. Be yourself.

    Proposals are definitely nerve racking, and it pays to be comfortable and at ease at all times. One of the most effective secrets is to just be yourself the whole time. Sometimes, long speeches will not work. It’s better to just keep it short and sweet. Refrain from memorizing your script, rather speak from your heart. Your genuine message will definitely come through no matter how nervous you are.

  3. Have your family and closest friends around.

    Since this is considered as a special day not only for you and your partner, but for your family and closest friends as well, make sure that you make them a part of this most special day. Send out invitations at least 1 week ahead to give them enough time to arrange their schedules and secure their presence. Make sure to warn them that this is a surprise. It would be a major let down if someone squeals or blabs.

  4. Get someone to take photos or videos.

    A special day like this should be immortalized through photos and videos. Make sure that someone is recording this special event. These memorabilias will be a wonderful reminder of this romantic and intimate part of your marriage.

  5. Make sure that you have your engagement ring ready.

    Among all the things you need to prepare for, getting the perfect wedding ring is the most important one. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, most especially if you are working around a budget. But make sure that you will spend enough time in choosing the best ring for your future wife.

  6. Throw a Party.

    A few days or weeks after the proposal, it would be nice to hold a small gathering for friends and family. You can hold it a hotel or a restaurant to keep it intimate. Just formally make the announcement and ask your guests to save the date for your wedding. Make this gathering more romantic and memorable by inviting Acute Inflections to be your entertainment for the evening.

  7. These are just basic tips for you to consider when planning a wedding proposal for your special someone. Bear in mind that sometimes, the simplest preparations are the sweetest ones. So focus more on what will make your future wife happy and give it your best!

    Contact us at 800-610-0704 for booking information!