Interview With Legendary Artist Dionne Warwick!

Dionne-White TopDionne Warwick embodies staying power. The legendary songstress, philanthropist, author, and entrepreneur has been active in her career for 56+ years. Yes, you read that correctly. She has 56 Billboard hits to her name and has sold beyond 100 million records. The Recording Academy recently awarded her with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Special Merit Awards, which precedes the Grammys. Did we mention Ms. Warwick has 5 Grammys to her name? With nearly 40 studio albums, she will release her newest one, She’s Back, this Spring.

“I’m in love with it, I really am,” Ms. Warwick shared with So Booking Cool about She’s Back, which is produced by her son, longtime producer and singer, Damon Elliot. “I’ve said that about maybe four or five of my projects, and I’ve done many. But this one is very, very special.” The “Walk on By Singer” added that she had a wonderful time recording the LP in the studio and was delighted to collaborate with some of current R&B’s favorites, Musiq Soulchild and Kenny Lattimore.

The lead single from She’s Back is a remake of her classic record “What the World Needs Now is Love,” which will release March 1. Listen to the interview to hear about Ms. Warwick’s motivation for the single; her forthcoming biopic; her thoughts on awards or “rewards” (her terminology); whether she’ll’ write another book; her perspective on artists getting a degree in music, and more! For more information visit Ms. Warwick’s official website.

DIONNE BOOKS
Ms. Warwick’s books

Bonus quote from our interview with Ms. Warwick.

 “I don’t call them awards, I call them rewards. It’s what you receive for doing something that merits it. I think anyone who receives an accolade, especially from their peers, it’s a very, very important reward for doing something good.”

Until “What the World Needs Now is Love” is released, enjoy Ms. Warwick performing some of her hits.

Interview With Brent Kinetz and Terence Mickey, the Co-Directors of “1 Billion Orgasms”!

1 billion

1 Billion Orgasms is more than a documentary about sexual intercourse. It is about one following one’s dream, entrepreneurship, and perseverance among other things.  “What Aaron’s story really represents is to some extent, is a reflection for all of us to think about what are our hopes and dreams? What do they mean to us and why are we really pursuing them?” co-director Brent Kinetz said when he and co-director Terence Mickey appeared on So Booking Cool. “We [Brent and Terence] weren’t looking to make a movie about a squirt watch as Aaron calls it or about female ejaculation; we were really just intrigued by: how does one individual become so singularly committed to bringing this out into the world?”

BRENT AND TERENCE
From left to right, Brent Kinetz and Terence Mickey

The movie follows Aaron Headley, a middle-aged engineer who invents and patents a product to fulfill his obsession and overall self-worth. The invention? A watch that triggers female ejaculation, in which Headley hopes will make him responsible for one billion orgasms. Check out the interview to learn more about the film, what entrepreneurs can learn from watching it, what they learned about making their first feature film, how the movie connects to the #MeToo movement and politics, and more! For more information, visit the documentary’s official website.

Interview With Elaine Halligan, Author of “My Child’s Different”!

Author PhotoBeing a parent is one of, if not, the hardest job one can have. Parenting expert of more than a decade, Elaine Halligan, had it even harder as the mother of a “different” kid. The director of The Parenting Practice shares her compelling journey of raising her son Sam and the difficulties they faced in her book My Child’s Different: The Lessons Learned from One Family’s Struggle to Unlock Their Son’s Potential. By age seven, Sam, had been expelled from three schools. In addition to acquiring a bad rep, Sam was diagnosed with various conditions.

Through it all, no matter how trying these times were, Halligan and her family were resilient. Halligan went from getting backlash from other parents to getting praise from them for opening up about her experience.

Cover-art.jpg“This book seems to be helping a lot of parents,” Halligan said. “And people are writing to say, ‘just thank you for having the courage to write your story.”

The author also confessed to being very nervous about publishing My Child’s Different. As for Sam, Halligan waited until he turned twenty-one to write her book and made sure he was comfortable with her revealing their journey. “The message that’s coming through from people is just ‘thank you for giving us hope and optimism. So yeah, I think it was worth doing.” Listen to the interview to learn more about Halligan and her family, Halligan’s insight on parenting, her advice for how to raise a child’s self-esteem, Sam’s thoughts on My Child’s Different, and more. For more information, visit The Parent Practice.

Interview With RJ Young, Author of “Let It Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey into Guns”!

rj young 3RJ Young was not fond of guns, but that changed when he was determined to build a bond with his then white wife’s father, a gun enthusiast. Young became fixated with guns, and eventually became an NRA-certified pistol instructor. The unique and riveting journey to understanding and experiencing gun culture in America as a black man is tackled in Young’s debut, Let It Bang: A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey into Guns (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). “There are people who say ‘hey, I’ve never thought about it this way. I still believe what I believe, but I appreciate you giving me your perspective,’” the YouTuber said to So Booking Cool when asked about the response to his memoir.

let it bang“There are other folks who have seen the cover of the book and decided that they know what it’s about. And then there are folks who are pushed to consider it, and it makes them very uncomfortable, and it makes them examine the way in which they walk through the world…mostly what I’m asking folks to do is examine the way the walk through the world and what influence they have that they may not have even considered until recently.”

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Young, including his upcoming radio show, Fight Me with RJ Young, which was spawned from his hit YouTube channel, in which he gives his commentary on the Oklahoma Sooners to tens of thousands on a daily basis. Young also discusses the time Natural Light Beer awarded him with $40,000 for one of his videos; his thoughts on higher learning; whether he would write another book; his advice for YouTubers and more. Fore more information, visit his channel.

fightmewithrj

 

Interview With Afro-Pop Singer FATi!

fatiSome people prefer to keep their goals private. Recording artist FATi is one of those people. Despite having musical ties in her family (she is related to jazz singer Senabella aka The Bronzeville Diva and her (FATi) great-grandmother was a respected jazz artist during the 1940s), FATi chose not to disclose her musical aspirations. The reason is simple: she wanted to protect her dreams. “When something is dear to your heart, when you believe that it’s something that God gave you, you have to keep things a secret,” she told So Booking Cool.

“Sometimes you have certain people that talk you out of things and will put little hints your ear, so you’ve got to protect what God gave you. I just wanted things to be a big surprise…and then what if I did say I was coming out with a song and didn’t?”

But things have worked out for FATi and her family is proud. The Liberian-born singer released her debut single “L.O.V.E. Love,” (produced by 2B onthebeat) which has gained momentum on YouTube with nearly 100,000 views; and she continues to thrive in Ghana; she recently had a showcase and is gearing up for another one in the states; her second single “Queen” is slated for release in February, along with her debut EP.

Mr. Angelo Ellerbee, founder and president of Double XXPosure Media Relations, who chatted with us a few months ago, is excited for the world to be introduced to FATi, who he deems one of music’s most exciting young artists of today. “I have no doubt that her music, beauty, and personal style will create a sensation here in the United States, as it has across the African Continent, in no time at all,” the PR guru said.

Listen to the interview to learn about the African songstress, her thoughts on what makes a good artist; artists having a relationship with their fans; her musical influences (Beyoncé, is one of them); her love for African and Caribbean music and more! For more information, visit FATi on social media.

Review: Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story by Candace Toft

off-the-ropes-coverOFF THE ROPES: THE RON LYLE STORY, Candace Toft. Hamilcar Publications, $27.95 (214p) ISBN-13: 978-1949590012
Publication date: Oct. 31, 2018

What you learn from a book is what really dictates its value. What the book reveals. What the book confronts. What the book asserts. Off the Ropes: The Ron Lyle Story, is the definitive biography about one of boxing’s “the most known and unknown” (homage to Three Six Mafia) heavyweight, Ron Lyle. At a time when the heavyweight division was inarguably at its height—the 1970s—Ron Lyle was unquestionably the most feared and avoided heavyweight. He has had more fights cancelled due to excuses by his opponents than any top-tier fighter in history.

Muhammad Ali only agreed to fight Ron Lyle after he (Lyle) lost to an unheralded heavyweight named Jimmy Young. Joe Frazier and Ken Norton wanted no part of Lyle. George Foreman agreed to fight him only AFTER losing his title to Muhammad Ali in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” which was fought in Kinshasa, Zaire. Jerry Quarry was only willing to fight Lyle a second time when offered a king’s ransom. Of course, as he got older, there were more suitors, (i.e., Jerry Cooney et al), however, Lyle was still a threat to any heavyweight because of his extreme punching power. Earnie Shavers, who is considered by most boxing experts to be the hardest punching fighter in history, declared that no one hit him harder than Lyle.

But, Lyle’s story is so much more than his boxing exploits. He was one of 19 children. His father was a cleric and his mother was devoutly religious. Even though Lyle’s upbringing was strict, his GPS was set to mischief, and then morphed into petty crime. Lyle was convicted of murder, learned to box in prison, served 7 ½ years, became a professional boxer, met a woman—married her—had a child, and pursued becoming heavyweight champion with a level of zeal that would be considered extreme—even for Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.

Like many boxers, Lyle had more “downs” than “ups” and managed to find trouble. However, his devotion to children was second only to his devotion to boxing. We learn that Lyle was charitable, deeply private, overwhelmingly mistrustful, and overburdened with demons. The writer, the late Candace Toft, uses plain language to tell a very complex story. Her writing style allows the reader to gain traction rather than be distracted by language that overreaches. Hall-of-Fame boxing journalist, Al Bernstein, wrote a compelling foreword. Off the Ropes is as good as any boxer-bio/memoir ever written and would be an even better feature film.

Rating: Booking Cool

Rating Scale:
Cool: Decent
So Cool: Good
Booking Cool: Excellent
So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

Review: GuRu by RuPaul

guru_hc

 

GURU, RuPaul. Dey Street Books, $25.99 (208p) ISBN: 9780062862990
Publication date: October 23, 2018

If there is anything RuPaul is more passionate about than being unapologetically fierce, it is probably helping others tap into their fierceness—unapologetically, of course. Now, let’s take it further. It’s great to be fierce and fabulous, but how do you treat others? How do you treat yourself? In his new book, GuRu, RuPaul doesn’t just empower readers to live their best life, he understands that this can effectively be accomplished when people are prompted to take an honest look at themselves and reflect on where their thoughts come from and how much of them are influenced by society. When is the last time you watched, let’s say, a YouTube video and formed your own opinion before looking at the comment section?

GuRu has a plethora of dazzling images that showcase the icon’s versatility in supreme drag queen aesthetics and is an asset to your coffee table. However, it is more than a pretty book with colorful quotes; it is a book that is there whenever you need a reminder that you’re not alone (RuPaul does get personal in the pages), or you need a pick-me-up, and/or a boost of motivation to keep moving forward in life with your head, standards, and heels (if you wear them) high.

Previous book by RuPaul: Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style (It Books, 2010).

Rating: So Cool

Rating Scale:
Cool: Decent
So Cool: Good
Booking Cool: Excellent
So Booking Cool: Masterpiece

Interview With Ben Philippe, Author of “The Field Guide to the North American Teenager”!

ben 2If you are passionate about writing and want to pursue it professionally, you might want to keep certain skills off your resume. Ben Phillippe, author of the forthcoming debut novel, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager (Balzer + Bray, January 9, 2019) is one of many who had jobs that he disliked, but when he removed Microsoft Excel from his resume, he yielded opportunities that were a lot more appealing. “For a while my resume was just a bunch of stuff I knew how to do, but that didn’t make me happy because the only thing that makes me happy is writing,” he explained to So Booking Cool.

“I would get these temp jobs that required a lot of Excel and Microsoft Access because that’s what I was advertising to the world, and then I just started to remove them. They were small jobs–I was living month to month, but I was just doing stuff that was close enough to writing so that I could keep the passion alive.” Phillippe would go on to write for a host of publications including Vanity Fair, Observer, The Guardian, Thrillist, and Playboy, just to name a few. He also has a background in ghostwriting and teaches writing at Barnard College.

FGTNAT - CoverAs for Field Guide, Philippe hopes people will find the book funny. He also feels his character Norris is an underrepresented one in mainstream storytelling.  “Representation is kind of a big thing these days, especially in YA literature, which is great. We see a lot of characters that we wouldn’t normally see, like ten years ago we wouldn’t see characters of color in bestselling books, but I think there’s still the expectation that when you’re reading a story about a black male character, ‘oh no, it’s gonna be sad at the end; oh no, it’s gonna get Precious.”

While Philippe notes that Norris does have stakes and an emotional journey in the book, the story is more about comedy and a young guy’s high school experience. Listen to the interview to learn more about Philippe, The Field Guide to The North American Teenager, creating characters, his insight on ghostwriting, why he loves teaching and how it fuels his writing, who he envisions portraying Norris, his thoughts on the reboot of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and more! For more information visit his official website.

Interview With Romola Hodas, Author of “The Princess of 42nd Street”!

RomolaHodasHeadshotRomola Hodas is a reminder that we should stop putting time and age limits on our aspirations. At 61-years-old, the author is working on a new business and career in public speaking, a journey she describes as “a lot,” but fun. One of her tricks is telling herself she is 21 and will live past her nineties. As you will note from our interview with Hodas, she champions having a positive outlook on life, especially as someone who’s lived a hard one, as revealed in her new memoir, The Princess of 42nd Street: Surviving My Childhood as the Daughter of Times Square’s King of Porn. Hodas’ father Marty, who passed away four years ago, had an integral part in the formation of 42nd Street, Times Square, which pioneered the American sex industry. This time period of the early 70’s is depicted on the HBO series The Deuce.

The Princess of 42nd Street - Surviving My Childh-largeHodas says the experience of watching the debut season of The Deuce was “surreal.” She’s gone on to become friends with Saul Stein, who portrays her father on the show. Writing about her life and what it was like to be the daughter of a man like Marty Hodas (and her mother) was anything but cathartic for her. She had to relive the abuse from her childhood. “I was just living in hell and it was really hard, and I certainly was drinking a little bit more than I had wanted to, knowing I’d get a handle on it, but it was really hard. I don’t really mind people knowing my story; I really wanted to show people that lots of what we go through, we have a choice,” she told So Booking Cool.

There is an appreciation many seem to have for candidness in general. Hodas is also proud that her book captures her voice, in which she credits writer, producer, and publishing consultant, Elizabeth Ridley. As for what’s next? The New Yorker is working on getting a television deal for The Princess of 42nd Street. Listen to the interview to learn more about Hodas, her upbringing, her publishing experience, her thoughts on The Deuce, child abuse, manifestation, her company Creating Harmony MM, problem drinkers vs. alcoholics, her advice for anyone who desires to start a business, and more! For more information, visit her official website.

Interview With Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, Courtney Young!

courtney youngCourtney Young carefully considers our question: whether it is enough for people to write a manuscript if the thought of doing so crosses their mind. Understandably so, the executive editor at Riverhead Books believes it is different for everyone; in other words (no pun intended), like many things in life, it depends.

“I will say writing a book is a lot of work, and you have to be, especially on the nonfiction side, prepared to go really deep on your subject and on working on the book,” she told So Booking Cool. “Be prepared for it to take years to get to the outcome. It’s not easy and the hardest thing is to commit to a book that your heart isn’t in.”

Young can relate to doing something that her heart wasn’t in. Prior to embarking on her 12-year career in book publishing, she pursued engineering. She was expected to follow in the footsteps of her father and brother. However, Young realized her true passion was in English, prompting her to take it on as her new major. She worried about disappointing her family (and to an extent she did), however, leave it up to a book to become the solution. Her father would later gift her The First Time I Got Paid for It: Writers’ Tales from The Hollywood Trenches by Peter Lefcourt (Editor), Laura J. Shapiro (Editor).

“ ’Well, I guess people can make a living if they’re not engineers, and I assume you’ll be okay,’ “she recalled her father saying. The Detroit native also had a stint working at NASA in California as a technical writer, where she edited proposals and journal articles. She was grateful for the opportunity, but, again, this wasn’t her ideal career. Her vision clear, she relocated to New York City and officially began her publishing career at Penguin Random House’s Portfolio Books, a business imprint. She has not looked back since.

bookpile

Some of Young’s favorite titles she’s edited include the New York Times bestsellers What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North; Spineless by Juli Berwald, just to name a few. Young also discussed some of the forthcoming projects that she is excited about, such as Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (May 2019), who wrote the bestseller, The Sports Gene (she also worked with him previously).

the sports generange bookThe Sports Gene is a really fascinating, wide-ranging book that a lot of people came to, and he found the thing that most people were interested in is this idea of early specialization,” Young said. “The idea that if you want to truly be great at something, especially sports, you have to start early and focus; be kind of like Tiger Woods, and just sort of get ahead of everybody else. And David was turning over all this research that said the opposite, that the people who are actually most successful aside from those few stories like Tiger, are generalists.” In his new book, Epstein presents information on why thinking broadly and having diverse experience and various interest will enable an individual to thrive.

Listen to the full interview to learn more about Young, her insight on what makes a strong editorial team, some of the proudest moments of her career, her insight on book reviews, and the other upcoming projects she looks forward to sharing with the world. Don’t be a stranger, visit Young on her official Twitter.