Eternal Learner

NotepadFake it until make it or nah? Since I started this website in March and even months prior to that when I’d think about how I presented myself to you guys, I wrestled with how much of an expert I’d sell myself to be. Would I be the “Oh shucks, I’m just hoping to turn a little ol’ magazine journalist-turned-documentarian dream into a reality” guy or brazenly careen into this crowded raceway of video storytellers like I’m a 10-year vet’ in this shit (that somehow you’d never heard of? The idea’s kind of laughable in hindsight).

I picked and tried to play it somewhere in the middle—fronting like I’m an awesome documentarian for talents/companies I’d like to work with/be commissioned by whilst creating a relatable forum for folks to say, “Hey, this newbie Brad is getting better. I’m going to stick around a bit longer.” It makes no sense to be posing like I’m where I want to be when there are visual rookie mistakes in one too many of my pieces or the sound in my clips can at times be a little too damn airy/roomy because I don’t have broadcast-level microphones yet. Essentially, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m working my way towards that. That’s my story.

Big talk is easy, but as the great (I’m exaggerating) MC Breed said in ’91, “there ain’t no future in yo frontin.” And after getting feedback from a couple of friends, I think it’d be better to include you all in my journey to becoming a quality video producer/documentarian/ visual whateverist. My Voyage to Excellence, if you will. Ha!

So it’s time to share! I’m gonna be using the For Students category and tag to talk about and highlight people, tech, instructional videos, and such that help me through my growing pains and improve the pieces I’m slinging. I hope they help and inspire you like they do me. I’m an eternal learner. And I’d be a massive jerk to not pass along nuggets and gems to y’all as I study and improve.

Peace to ya. Talk soon.


Profiles: Jenna Andrews

Jenna Andrews in her TriBeCa HomeWhen your homie’s going through a tough time and there’s not a damn thing you can do to help, you do basically the only thing you can: listen. Jenna Andrews has been my buddy for years now. As a friend I rooted for her as she geared up for what should have been her debut album on Def Jam Records. She had “Tumbling Down,” her single that she wrote alongside Jeremih in 2010. Label head L.A. Reid was a fan, though left in 2011. Her 2012 Kiss and Run EP—good, but haphazardly released by Def Jam —followed and fell on deaf ears.

And then things got quiet at the office. Without her own strong fanbase and essentially no advocates at Def Jam, our dinners became bummer sessions full of wine and readily expressed worries. Jenna would wonder aloud about when her album would come out (it never did), how the hell she’d get out of her deal, and what her next move would be once she backstroked out of an ocean’s worth of release papers to freedom.

Thankfully, as she sings on her song “Desperado” in my latest profile piece above, she’s a fighter. In 2013 she officially parted ways with Island Def Jam and began her career, in earnest, as a bonafide songwriter. Jenna’s been winning with it so far, thanks to collaborations with R&B vets like Tamia and Marsha Ambrosius, pop stars like Jessie J and newbies like Tori Kelly and Toronto duo Majid Jordan (all links to songs she’s written).

Spending time with Jenna at her TriBeCa home in New York City, it’s clear she’s in better spirits. Positive energy and success do that. Watch the video to find out how she’s come this far and see why country group The Band Perry might make her a go-to songwriter by year’s end. From the looks of how she’s dancing in this here Instagram post, the music’s jammin’.

Jenna can be found here on Twitter and there on Instagram.

Profiles: Bridget Kelly

Bridget Kelly at Manhattan College

If there’s one thing being in the music business as a journalist or simply roaming New York City streets for nearly eight years now as a resident has taught me, it’s that there are so many talented people in this world. Waiting for the L train at the Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn always means catching a song or two from a guitarist, plucking and wailing for lunch money—if not selling a CD. They’re almost always good, certainly worth pulling out my iPod earbuds to steal a listen before I’m off to the next stop. The transit gems are endless. And then there are umpteen other acts publicists and record labels pitch to me over emails or at events daily, with double the skill. But the odds are against them.

About four years ago a publicist from Roc Nation—Jay Z’s then management company (and now also a full-fledged record label)—asked that I come to see a fledgling star: Bridget Kelly. A bunch of editors, bloggers and industry types were invited to their Sony Records hub to listen to her Every Girl EP. It was promising, featuring songs like the Frank Ocean-penned “Thinkin Bout You” (he’d eventually keep it as his own) and others that showcased her vocal prowess. The combo of skill and that good ol’ “…and Jay Z likes her!” endorsement seemed like an easy sell. She’d even been the lone lady on Jay’s Blueprint 3 tour, the nightly highlight being that she could blow like Alicia Keys during “Empire State of Mind.” Thousands saw her sing every evening they saw arguably (it’s a dumb argument, by the way) the greatest rapper of our time rhyme on arena stages. You’d assume she blew up, right? Nah. She has not. Yet.

Last week (April 24), I met up with Bridget at Smash Studios in New York City, rehearsing for a concert. Kelly’s no longer on Roc Nation, but she’s trucking along nonetheless. NYC’s littered with dreamers who will never achieve theirs. It’s a chilling truth. Bridget’s hanging on to hers tight, though. After things with the Roc crumbled, she regrouped as a confident independent artist and now she’s working on her debut album, All or Nothing. It’s a project helmed by her small, efficient team and production duo Da Internz, who have crafted hits for Rihanna, Big Sean and more. The ones she belted out during rehearsal, then the following day at Manhattan College for a packed gym of newly converted believers are both hearty and emotional, exploring all facets of love—whether she’s happily in it or singing about breaking someone else’s spirits (”Really Meant to Love You”).

I picked Bridget as a subject, because I’m a fan. Here’s hoping that even more people get to hear what she has to offer and that her dreams are fully realized. When I see people with her kind of talent and drive, I hope they never park.

Bridget can be found here on Twitter and there on Instagram.