DC| 04.04.14 Emerging Jazz Singer and HU Student LeNaiya Blackwell Live in Concert at Columbia Station

Naiya Flyer

We shared Le’Naiya Blackwell story just a few short months ago, now she has met her goal and it is concert time! On her behalf we want to thank everyone who read our article and were led to contribute to her success. Grab your tickets and a smile and meet us down at Columbia Station this Friday.

 

By Any Means Necessary: Howard University Student Resorts to Crowd-funding her Education

lbLe’Naiya Blackwell is a second semester sophomore originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania trying desperately to return to Howard University. The first of 3 children, and a first generation college student, it was never even a thought that she would one day be pursuing higher education. In a phone conversation she described the conditions afflicting her family and other people around Pittsburgh.

“My Mother has MS and was battling cervical cancer for much of my childhood so when we had money most of it would go towards making sure we had a mom still around. Growing up there were happy times, but I’ve lived everywhere in Pittsburgh… from the Hill District, Hazelwood, Homewood, the Northside, North View Heights, the Burrows… literally everywhere. I grew up in these communities; where only 5% of people living under the poverty line even thought about college, much less planned ahead. When you’re eating ketchup sandwiches, what money do you have to save for college?”
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Le'Naiya B.

In 2010, Blackwell began her college career at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Struggling to find her passion, for two years she studied visual and performing arts. Throughout those years, Blackwell realized she really had an appetite for music and wanted an in-depth understanding of Jazz. She researched different programs and came across Howard University’s Jazz Studies program and decided that was the best option for her.

In the fall of 2012 she auditioned for the program and was accepted. The first year and a half at Howard was “filled with so much bliss” recounted the now Jazz soloist. Blackwell attributes her maturation of musical knowledge of famous Jazz singers and even the development of her confidence as an artist to the program. In her time at Howard, Blackwell has done exceptionally well. She was accepted into the SAASY Jazz ensemble in which she was afforded the opportunity to tour through cities like Chicago and Detroit. As a result, she was even able to meet Reverend Jessie Jackson and Opal Staples, daughter of one of the Staples Sisters.

With help from the Trio scholars program, grants; need-based scholarships and working, Blackwell was doing fine in funding her college career. Unfortunately, even with filling out scholarship/grant applications and daily trips to the financial aid office, taking out loans, and working sometimes two jobs at once, all while being a full-time student, she was not able to come up with enough money to stay in school. Therefore, she has started a campaign to raise the remaining 3,065 dollars. Many people have been attacking her on social media asking “why doesn’t she just quit going to college… Why is she begging for money?” She has even received hurtful comments from ignorant and arrogant people not empathetic to her struggle. However, with an upbeat spirit she is determined to push on towards her dreams of graduating from Howard University, building a career as a Jazz singer and one day owning a children’s art center.

The Curvy Girl’s Style Guide To Howard Homecoming: Looking Back At It

Recap

Howard homecoming 2013 was as billed, #Epic, so epic infact I needed a week to recoup before this recap. I’ve always been one to let things flow when it came to homecoming planning, but this year I was more tactical. I’m telling you, I had thee best laid plans, all of which quickly went out the window on the first day of homecoming (hey, it happens) [shoulder shrug]. There were a lot of last minute nixes but you know I still came, saw and turned up (hair flip). I managed to cover 2 out of 3 of the main homecoming essentials: major networking and ratchet affair. I was gifted tickets to the sold-out Yard fest (a Howard homecoming must) but ultimately skipped it and got my life via Instagram pictures and videos. Although i missed yard fest homecoming was still dope; not bad Howard, not bad. Let’s look back at it shall we. Here’s a recap of  HU ‘s Homecoming 2013 from the curvy side:

What I Wore:

I’ve been going through an all black everything faze as of late and homecoming was no exception. I shopped for color but ultimately black seemed more chic especially after I had drastically changed my hair a couple days before. I went back to black.

Dress Nahs Dress Yeahs

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Side Note :What I would have worn on the Yard, something similar to the look I had on in my first post (remixed of course).

What I Did:

Thursday- Fashion Show

Fashion Show

My homecoming kicked off on Thursday when I lucked up and was again gifted free tickets to the sold-out fashion show from another alumni. The Howard University Homecoming Fashion Show is always a must see event and never disappoints. After all Howard is known just as much for it’s students sense of fashion as it is for its academics. This years theme was “Tempus: Eden to Exodus”. It seemed as though “Yeezus” was Omni present as the production music mostly consisted of songs off Kanye West’s “Yeezus” album and Watch the Throne. The production was impressive and in three words gave glamour, hood and creativity all nicely combination. I loved it.! A Howard Fashion show is not your average fashion show and my friend and I had it up.

The show featured local and national designers including Chasity Sereal, Lillie Designs, My M Collection, Cherry Verick, 2 African Girls, Kachi Designs, Andre Redou, AV3, Blackbird Jeans, Yandy Band Clothing, Kingdom, Arrogant Apparel, Ruckage Design Co., J. Cheikh and Nene L.A. Shiro.

Friday: The Park with Trey Songz/Café Asia with Wocka Flocka

Cafe Asia

After a long day I decided to skip the lines at Yard fest and started pre-gaming for my date with Trey Songz, okay not literally but he hosted the party at The Park that went from a dinner theme to a full on turn up. Like Trey, it was a young and sexy affair. Early the next morning I somehow ended up at Café Asia [against my will] but I have to say, I have no complaints. I haven’t had that type of night in forever. The rundown is too much for this post but let’s just say sometimes random decisions make for the most fun. I ultimately ended up dropping it low, shoes off, partying in a black cocktail dress side by side  with Teyanna Taylor like Minions. And I am not mad, it was fun!

Saturday –The W Hotel’s POV Lounge Heineken’s “Friends + Family” event hosted by Lance Gross.

Me and Susan

It took me most of Saturday to recoup from Friday night and earlier that morning. I realized I’m not in undergrad anymore but I wasn’t going to miss this function. It was my networking night. I had been invited to this intimate party sponsored by Heineken and hosted by Howard Alumni and actor Lance Gross. It was basically an industry party Mack Wilds and Kenny Burns were in attendance, as well. But ultimately I wanted to meet Susan Morgan, fellow Howard Alumni friend of a friend, and one of the coordinators of the party who also invited me sight unseen. Not planned but I went to this party alone and had to “Carrie Bradshaw” it, something I have never done, so yes things fall apart but then they come back together. The party was dope, not what you would expect from an industry party. The scenery was great, the young and beautiful partied it up on the balcony overlooking the White House as Ace Hood played in the background (lol) . Apparently everyone woke up in a new Bugatti. I networked, with a few Howard OG’s. and ran into a couple people I graduated with who are also out here on the come up.

Sunday-Turndown

Turndown

After 3 nights of back to back partying and work, I was beat, I had planned to go to brunch at Barcode on Sunday but my body was like, “no brunch for you”, and I listened, but I still put my face on and wore my dress that I would have worn and chatted with friends over drinks via the phone, lol.

Homecoming complete.

But wait girl, how was your homecoming ?!?

XoXo,

Valita

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VaVa doll (bka Valita) is a guest contributor, emerging Full figured Fashion blogger and stylist residing in the DC metro area.

The Curvy Girl’s Style Guide To Howard Homecoming.

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Singing, “I’ll always love my alma mater cause she’s my favorite girl”.

Hello all I’m Valita bka VaVa. I’m a curvy girl and I’ll be your residential Howard Girl/guest blogger this week.

Fall brings in a new season and with a new season comes new fashion and of course Homecomings! At HBCU’s it’s all about fashion and celebration during Homecoming. Everyone knows the Queen B of all Homecomings is Howard University’s homecoming. Said to the be the biggest homecoming on the East Coast [HBCU or Non]. In keeping with it’s legend this years Howard homecoming theme is “Epic.”

That means Curvy girls you can’t show up and not show out. Homecoming is about reminiscing with your old friends, seeing and being seen, partying and most importatly, NETWORKING.

Festivities officially start Wednesday (today: 10/23). So, if you’re a Curvy girl new to this homecoming thing, in need of a refresher or you simply just want a style reference; no worries I’m here to get you together right quick.

Day 1: Let’s Get Organized with the 3 Essential items to have in your wardrobe

This first post is for my last minute ladies. Maybe you’re flying in to DC tonight or even tomorrow and your still unsure about those pieces in your suitcase. More than likely you’re going to go to a minimum of three functions, if nothing else you have to make sure you have these three essentials:

Curvy Girl’s Style Guide:

1. Grown and Sexy-perfect for networking functions; cocktail or sheath dress. Emphasis on keeping it classy.

2.Party Girl Garb-ratchet night; eye catcher, body con, or dramatic statement dress. Accessories make all the difference.

3. Wild Card Look-yard fest; think festival style but be prepared for the unpredictable DC weather. Yard fest is the one day for outlandish attire, blatant trends and just about anything goes is encouraged. So bring your creativity out to play.Keep in mind that you’re a Curvy Girl and standing out isn’t an option, it’s a given… better yet a MUST!

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Didn’t have time to order anything or couldn’t find that perfect vintage piece, didn’t want to take the chance on a shipping delay with ASOS Curve, no problem I got you. Drop your bags wherever you’re staying and spend that first morning at these area shops, that are both debit card and curve friendly.

Stores and Locations:

Fashion to Figure

The Mall at Prince George’s

3500 East West Highway

Hyattysville,Maryland 20782

Forever 21

1025 F St. NW Washington,DC 20004

Nordstrom

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City

1400 S Hayes St. Arlington,VA 22202

Dots

10 Audrey Lane Oxon Hill, Maryland

I’m also letting you shop with me as I look for my own last minute fashion pieces to bring together my looks. I’ll update you on what I chose through out this week.

Ready, set, do it!

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Stay tuned for personal shopping with me…

XOXO,

Valita

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VaVa doll (bka Valita) is a guest contributor, emerging Full figured Fashion blogger and stylist residing in the DC metro area.

Designer Watch: Must see brand spotted at the 2013 @DCFashionWeek Eco Friendly Fashion Show @SimplyL3ve

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MICHELLE GIBSON

As a May 2013 graduate from Howard University, Michelle Gibson is an optimist, romantic, and lover of nature, eager to follow her dreams of combining creativity and business. Her first milestones included presenting the Simply L3ve Spring/Summer 2014 Collection on the runways of NY Fashion Week 2013 and DC Fashion Week 2013, and the launch of the Simply L3ve e-store in February 2013.

EMERGING DESIGNER WATCH:

The DC metro area has so much talent to choose from but this radiant gem exudes power, elegance, sophistication, and a little something..[‘je ne sais quoi’].. extra special. All those elements are reflected in her designs, which come together to provide neat and graceful compositions. Behind every whimsical skirt or pastel printed top; you are carried away and likely to fall simply in l3ve with her brand. Look out for this queen on the rise! She may soon be threading behind the stitches of Tracy Reese in dressing our future First lady. -Carleta Fearon

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We were fortunate to finally have met this young emerging designer. She is a true Street Intellectual following her passion and putting out products that she believes in. Michelle Gibson is a self made renaissance woman; she cuts, trims, sews and dyes her own eco friendly pieces to bring forth marvelous collections for the everyday modern woman. Proving that true passion can drive you to accomplish your wildest dreams, Michelle is fresh off of New York fashion week! Just a little over 2 weeks ago she displayed her garments in an eco-chic runway show in midtown Manhattan. We are happy and enthused to share in her achievement. Not only is she a budding new designer, she is a woman about her business. Single handily etching out her empire as she inspires every woman to not only be chic but conscious of nature and the environment. Keep up with her progress by following her on SimplyL3ve.com
Simply L3ve SS14 Collection

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