Saturday, August 20, 2011

Afro.Astro Channel Meets Michael A. Gonzales
My talented friend and fellow writer Jake-Ann Jones recently interviewed me for her illmatic blog Afro-Astro.Channel. For hours we rapped about my obsessions with funk, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Black rock, Nina Simone and, of course, writing. Recently I wrote about B. in "Black Polaroids on Planet Pop," an essay published in the Dublin-based magazine One More Robot and I'm currently working on another article about Basquiat to be published in the fall.

My upcoming cover story on the great singer Nina Simone will be published in the upcoming Wax Poetics #48, due sometime before the end of the month.
While it would've been difficult to write about Simone's entire life in a magazine piece, my story "Between the Keys" concentrates on her political and personal transformation from naive country girl to a "rhythmic rebel" after befriending playwright Lorraine Hansberry and the New York City crew of Black intellectuals that included James Baldwin and LeRoi Jones.

In addition, the piece explores the real sisterhood she shared with Hansberry, author of
A Raisin in the Sun, and how their friendship helped shape Simone's music, stage persona and personality. For the story, I interviewed Simone's daughter Lisa Celeste Kelly, who has done tributes to her mother under the name Simone, as well as friends and fans Amiri Barakka, Asha Bandele, David Nathan, Dyana Williams, N'Dambi Blue, Alicia Keys, Mister Mann Friby and others.

I'd like to thank my friends Devin Roberson, Asia Minor, Serena Kim and Tomika Anderson, all who helped guide me on the the road to Simone years ago. While I've written many profiles and essays, this 6,000-word piece has a special place in my personal canon. Big-up to Wax Poetics editors Andre Torres and Brian DiGenti for allowing me the space to do Simone right. In the usual Wax Poetics style, the vintage pictures are simply beautiful.

To access the interview with Gonzo:

For Wax Poetics:

For the Nina Simone website:

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