Friday, November 27, 2009

ME! ME! ME! Newsletter "Brilliant Retarded Genius"

ME! ME! ME! The Cassendre Xavier Newsletter
The Brilliant Retarded Genius ediccione, if you will. (As it were.)
[Bio: Cassendre Xavier is a multi-media artist who coined the term “renaissance negresse” in 2002. Known mostly as a recording artist and author, she is the founder and director of Philadelphia’s annual Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est. 2003).]
Table of Contents
A) Greeting
1) Soundtrack
2) Upcoming Appearances (including the Rupert Wates / Metropolitan Room – NYC Show on December 2nd)
3) New Writing
4) What My Friends (& Associates) Are Up To
5) I Make Stuff
Z) Farewell Blessing

Contents of Table

A) Greeting
Hello! I’m very happy to be writing to you again. First, let me clarify yet again that I am not living in New York City. I moved to NYC on New Year’s Day of 2008, and returned to Philly on November 15th, 2008. I’ve been back ever since. Also, in addition to my pseudonym Amethyste Rah, which I created to express my spiritual side, I also have another, new name, Amrita Waterfalls, which I am using to express my um, how you say, more “sensual” side, if you will. More on that in future newsletters. You might not be ready yet, heh-heh. Gotta ease ya into it :-)
Anyway, so what can I tell you? My life has been very busy and overwhelming these last few months. It seems there’s never enough time to get even ¼ of the things I need done, and I’m constantly falling short and/or behind. Still, there’s always hope for improvement, as I focus on the temporary nature of all things, crises and time crunches included.
I’ve also been feeling my age lately (40). People in their 20s are “kids” to me, none of the new songs on the radio are by anyone I know, and just the fact that I’m still talking about “the radio” and have no idea what gadgets are used for music listening these days is a sign. When I have time, I’ll start hangin’ out with a bunch of teens and figure out what’s what :-)
My guy and I were taking in a little entertainment the other night and I said, “All these people are so young!” He said, “They’re not young---we’re old!” I was like, “No we’re not!” (He’s 53.) Then he said, “They could be your grandkids!” I was like, “No, they couldn’t!” But he was like, “If you’re 16 and you have a baby, and your child had a kid,” and I had to just stop him right there. I said, “My mom had me when she was 22, I’ve never had kids, and to me, 20-ish or older is when you have kids.” Of course he’s right. Lots of people have kids at 16 or younger, and I am perfectly decrepit enough to be a grandmother at the young and fruitful age of 40. Bastard. But where was I?
I’ve been very aware of my weaknesses, lately, as well as my strengths. Author/finance expert Robert Kiyosaki says we all have genius in us. He calls it a “genie in us”. I think we all have areas where we are absolutely brilliant – where noone can touch us, where we totally shine like no other. Then we have areas where we are total dumb asses. I shine gloriously in all such areas.
I can type fast and sound really good on the phone and can produce an event anywhere anytime not even knowing anyone, I’m tremendously resourceful and can create an office, meal, and living space with superficial scraps. I am a queen of manifesting at lightening speed, and I’m super positive all the time. I’m highly intelligent and present very well as soon as I open my mouth. That’s the brilliant genius side. Then there’s the gloriously unabashed retarded side. That side is bad at math and has a terrible sense of direction and can’t drive and is a bad listener and can’t finish one project before starting another and is depressed for weeks at a time and is highly challenged in many other areas.
I’m really glad I can embrace both my brilliant genius and totally retarded sides. I’m okay with the fact that I can write a book a week (it seems) or record a new album every year, but I can’t seem to do the standard basics that keep people with much less ability seemingly gainfully employed year to year. In recognizing my weaknesses, I can start to address them.

1) Soundtrack
This is some of the music I listened to while writing this ediccione, if you will. (As it were.)
Amber - Sexual (li da di) 1999
Princess - Say I'm Your Number One
Princess - After The Love Has Gone 1985
Joyce Sims - Come Into My Life
Chuck Mangione – Give It All You Got
Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out

I also went to, created a free account, and listened to “radio” by some of my favorite artists: Amos Lee, Sade, Bob Marley, Jon Mayer, etc.

2) Upcoming Appearances (including the Rupert Wates / Metropolitan Room – NYC Show on December 2nd)
Saturday 11/28/2009 9:00PM 21+ No cover.

Acoustic Lounge @ Buckets Bar & Grill
3749 Midvale Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19129-1743
(215) 849-1222
[Hosted by Marc Lancaster and featuring George O’Brian]

Wednesday 12/2/09 9:45PM
With Rupert Wates, performing a song from his forthcoming album "Joe's Café", on which I will be one of the soloists.
"Rupert Wates and friends perform songs from his forthcoming album 'Joe's Cafe'.
Based on true stories, the songs evoke the experience of ordinary American people
from the dust bowl to the present day"

The Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd St Betw. 5th & 6th Ave. - New York, NY 10010 – (212) 206- 0440
Tickets are $10 + 2 drink minimum. Info/to order:
To read an article featuring Rupert discussing “Joe’s Café”, visit
More about Rupert:

For more of my upcoming appearances, please visit

3) New Writing
Expecting the Universe’s Elevator
Dodson & Ross / With Pleasure Newsletter

(More writing excerpts at

4) What My Friends (& Associates) Are Up To
Wilson Gil & the Willful Sinners (Americana band) are puttin’ their thang down in Berlin, Germany and there-aboots. Check their schedule at
Kiebpoli (kay-po-lee) Calnek, blacK*acrobat, actress, performer, is teaching ROPE classes.
Monica McIntyre (cellist/composer/vocalist/lyricist) is gearing up for a national tour and accepting requests for house concerts.
Martina Plag, puppeteer, is growing Stadium Praxis,
Laureen Griffin, artist, is creating and teaching,
Aziza Kinteh, poet, is performing and hosting a monthly reading series
Roia Rafieyan is a music therapist and singer-songwriter performing shows, making people laughing and keeping a journal at her website
Susana Mayer, PhD is the salonniere and muse of the Erotic Literary Salon
Poets Angel Hogan, Ebony Malaika Collier, and Stephanie Durann are all performing locally and post their events on Facebook. Find them among my friends list at

5) I Make Stuff
I don’t know why I even bother posting this because the last time someone ordered a CD from me online or by mail, I was the age of the people I now call “kids”. Just kiddin’, it hasn’t been that long, but it has been a long ass time. I do “move product”, however, in person, although that’s been less and less with this constipated economy.
I’m not really upset, because I know things come and go, and one season of abundance often becomes a season of scarcity, and then back again – the pendulum swings.
Some of us independent musical artists may be experiencing severe difficulties in generating interest in our work, and the subsequent sales of our products, but there’s a new age dawning – one of information sharing and many, many creative ways of making art and making a living.
I feel that as long as we remain focused on what we started doing this for in the first place, as our intentions become clearer and more true, and as we become more joyful in our work, we free up the energies to support us. Basically if I did what I’m doing, I’ll be doing it right and attracting the right people and elements to make it grow.
I’m glad to know I have a future in art. I feel like a newbie, although I’ve been doing this for 18 years. The playing field has changed. With technology and this Aquarian Age, I’m starting anew. I need to. Things are really bad financially for many, many people, and as much as some of us are focusing on joy and abundance, there is still the so-called reality of scarcity and lack to be dealt with. And as long as this dry spell is here, it’s time to focus on truth and joy as motivation to work. If you’re not going to be making a lot of money anyway, then it’s the perfect time to make sure you’re enjoying yourself and being of the most service. Ironically, that’s when the pieces will fall in place, answers will come, and solutions will be found.
If you’re an artist struggling to make ends meet or to promote your work to a wider audience, hang in there, stay truthful, and most of all, enjoy yourself! Let the work be its own reward and it will pleasantly surprise you.
Oh, and here’s my
Product Order Form
You know, just to read and enjoy the words :-)

Z) Farewell Blessing
May you be surrounded by love all ways.
May you know the strength of your potential.
May you remain present in the present.
May you stay focused in joy.
May you often have good-feeling thoughts.
May your dreams and wishes all come true (or something better), surpassing all your expectations, and may it be for the good of all.

Joyfully and flawfully,
Cassendre Xavier
(aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
renaissance negresse

Copyright © 2009 by Cassendre Xavier. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rupert Wates On Building “Joe’s Café”

[I’m thrilled to be one of the musicians involved in this very special project, which will be recorded in February and performed live for the first time next Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009. Below is more information about Rupert and the album.]

Rupert Wates was born in London.
He has been a full time songwriter since 1992 when he signed an exclusive deal with Eaton Music Publishing. He has written songs in all kinds of styles for all kinds of artists. During the Nineties he worked with Jazz singer Liz Fletcher, recording the albums MELLOWMANIA and LIVE IN THE PARK, both released on the Sanctuary label, and BLUE AFTERNOONS on Mainstem.
Moving to Paris in 2001, he developed his skills as a singer and performer and formed his own group. In 2005 he recorded the album SWEET OR BITTER WINE, his first as a solo artist. The album was released on the Mainstem label in autumn 2005.

Since September 2006, Rupert has been based in the USA. His music has found a warm reception in America and in 2007 alone he has been nominated eight times for songwriting awards. Strong melodies, memorable lyrics, nuanced and real emotion - these are the hallmarks of Rupert Wates' music.

'Every cut's a gem, completely absorbing, enthralling, and thus we have a new and unique songwriter-musician already in the first rank...Rupert Wates is an exceedingly rare talent' (Mark Tucker, Folk And Acoustic Music Exchange)

'A writer who makes you think while he entertains...Rupert Wates manages that tricky tightrope with great skill' (Chris Kocher,

'Mines a far richer vein of songwriting than many of his contemporaries' (Jazz Journal)

'A delight to listen to...These are songs crafted with care and imbued with sincerity and conviction' (Rob Quicke, Britsound Radio)
'Truly gripping lyrics with great themes and troubling, witty messages. An inspirational artist' (Leith Radio, 98.8 FM
Rupert writes to the musicians involved in his forthcoming recording and live performance project “Joe’s Café”:
Dear Friends
This message is for everyone who has done me the honor of taking part in my stage-and-studio-spectacular, 'Joe's Cafe'.
We now have a full complement of singers and the sequence of songs will be performed as follows:
PRAYER - (Live version:) JASON EWALD (Studio version:) CRAIG BICKHARDT and VARIOUS

The musicians will be:
Guitar - Rupert Wates
Piano - Bartosz Hadala (live show only)
Percussion - Chris Howard
Bass - Jamie Bishop (live) and Michael Manring (studio)
Violin - Darol Anger (studio only)

The dates are as follows:
Wednesday, December 2 @ 9.45pm: Live show at Metropolitan Room, 34 W 22 St, Manhattan tel 212 206 0440

Friday Feb 5-Sunday Feb 7: Recording at Hard Luck Studios, Commerce St, Red Hook Brooklyn NY

Everyone involved is absolutely first rate and it promises to be a very rewarding experience all round.
I'd like to fill you in about the background to the show. As you all know, it consists of all original songs based on true stories which I've found in anthologies and magazines. Why did I settle on the title of Joe's Cafe? Many reasons. Firstly (for me as for most of us) most of my gigs are in cafes - I've played over a hundred of them this year alone. So to write a show about one of these places, and to imagine the songs which might be performed inside it, was natural to me. Secondly, in thinking about the future of music - which seems quite embattled at times - I feel that small scale events and spaces, like cafes and house concerts, are gaining significance. For me personally, the days of big arenas are long over (if they ever had any validity). From a musical standpoint I prefer the intimacy of smaller venues and find them far more rewarding to play. From the audience's point of view, too, these days when people have less money to spend, music in a more domestic environment - home made music - may be the only live music they can afford to hear. Joe's Cafe is a place where people come, without paying a fortune, to hear music in its most natural form and listen to each other's true stories. Above all the project is, for me, a way to express our solidarity as perfomers and musicians in a pretty tough old world.

There are other, more practical reasons why I developed the project. Whatever venue we play, we all know how difficult it is to get an audience. The fact is that the more performers there are, the bigger the draw we represent - because we can all invite our friends and contacts. This is one more reason why I envisaged an album with a lot of singers! Integral to the plan, and to the success of the project, is that we should all tell as many people as we can about it, in particular the live show at the Metropolitan Room. In this I am truly depending on your help. It’s a privilege for me to put the show together. I'm excited by the prospect of working with you all.

Looking forward very much to working with you.

Very best and many thanks

Rupert W

Dear Friends and Patrons of Joe's Cafe
We're now a week from the Metropolitan show, and the box office tells me there have been quite a few pre-bookings.
If people ask you to describe the material, one cap that fits is to call it melodic art/folk - in the vein of James Taylor, Paul Simon or early Joni Mitchell. If they're curious to hear more of my past writing, you can send them to my websites and But "Joe's Cafe" is more than just a haphazard collection of songs. The idea of the cafe gives the whole thing a kind of unity. Then there's the fact that each song is based on a true story, and they're all going to be sung by twelve different but very special singers.
I'd like to thank everyone once again for all the hard work we've put into this project and I'll look forward very much to seeing you next week.
Very best to all

----------Visit or for more info.--------------

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Turkey & Tofurky Day!

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to take a quick moment to wish you a happy, safe and restful holiday this week, however you spend it, and also I wanted to let you know about two music shows I have coming up in the next 2 weeks. I’ll be performing at Buckets in East Falls this Saturday. Very excited because it’s the “Cheers” bar of my musician friend Will Brock. Check it out (it’s free)!
Saturday 11/28/2009 9:00PM 21+
Acoustic Lounge @ Buckets Bar & Grill
3749 Midvale Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19129-1743
(215) 849-1222

And next Wednesday the 2nd, I’ll be with a whole ton of other musicians with British singer-songwriter Rupert Wates at the esteemed venue the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan. We’re doing the first ever live performance of his forthcoming album “Joe’s Café”. This is a collection of songs written by Rupert and inspired by true stories about New York City and….well, you’ll have to stay tuned for details! We’re expecting lots of our friends and supporters, and I truly hope you’ll be among that number :) Details below!

Wednesday 12/2/09 9:45PM
With Rupert Wates, performing a song from his forthcoming album “Joe’s Café”, on which I will be one of the soloists.
at the Metropolitan Room on W 22nd St in NYC
Tickets are $10 + 2 drink minimum. Info/to order:
More about Rupert:
Yours musically,

Cassendre Xavier

Friday, November 13, 2009

Beware the Black Woman and Her Suitcase

[Philadelphia Gay News, Black/Out column by Cassendre Xavier. Reprinted with permission.]

Because I’m a struggling artist, doing many office-y things, and because I don’t have my own office (yet), I almost always have with me what I like to call my “office on wheels”. This is the standard, government issue suitcase contrapment consisting of some type of tough, nylon material atop a set of four very strong and sturdy **wheelery-type objects.

I’ve noticed lately that some people kind of bump into the suitcase as it rolls behind me, or almost trip on it.
I was walking around center city a couple of weeks ago, when a guy behind me tripped on my suitcase, fell to his non-death, actually making palm-to-concrete contact with the sidewalk. I was most affected by hearing and seeing his mobile phone hit the ground. I felt horrible. I tried to help him up but he must’ve been hitting the gym because he sprang up faster than you could say “Tae-Bo”. Or “Pilates”, or something (I don’t know what you crazy kids are doing these days).

Anyway, he seemed fine, and I left wondering, “How come that guy didn’t see a big ol’ suitcase less than a foot in front of him? Could it be, oh, I dunno, because I’m black and he’s white?” I noticed that when I walked through a crowd of black people, none ever bump into my suitcase. We see each other, because we’re alike. That’s something I’ve fabulously re-coined the “Birds of a Feather” theory. I believe we all recognize, make space for, and usually respect the space of folks who look like, or have something in common with us. Others would say that black people seem to be well aware of, and make space for white people, but I’m trying to write a little humor column here, so let’s get back on track, shall we?

So, I thought back to my days working at a chain bookstore. There was an information center on the first floor which consisted of a series of counters which appeared to have access on the other side only if you felt entitled to use it. I marveled at the demographics of people (women, older folks, people of color), who chose to stay in front of the counter and those (men, business people, dominatrices) who went behind and typed away on the computers as if they owned the joint.

I realized, I could use this to my advantage. I could create a little game out of it. Something I could do whenever something bad happened to Moi at the hands of one of their brethren: I would go, during lunch hour, to a highly congested area and just walk around, rolling my suitcase in a nice, friendly, and figureskatingly attractive weaving pattern, trust my powers of invisibility as a black woman, and just watch them fall like the adorable over privileged dominoes that they are. Wouldst that make Moi a bad person?

*Yes, I know that’s not really word. I like to make words up, okay? Give a gal a little freedom, will ya? Isn’t it enough that I’m black and you don’t see my suitcase already? Sheesh!

**That’s not a word, either, I know. Wow, you never let up, do you?!

(c) Copyright 2008 by Cassendre Xavier. All rights reserved.