Sunday, March 21, 2010

Herschel Dixon: Pulling His Own Weight In The Fight Against Obesity

by Cyrus Webb

The journey of Herschel Dixon is one that men and women across the world can relate to in some way.

Growing up, sports were more than just a hobby for the Cuba, Alabama native. Beginning at the age of four, he had found something he not only enjoyed but was good at. Growing up in Aurora, IL, he did well in school academically, but by the age of 12 or 13, he was already thinking of making football his profession in life. He trained hard, lifting weights and tried to take care of himself inside and out.

In high school Herschel was at the top of his game in football as a member of the Waubonsie Valley Warriors with numerous scholarships and college opportunities at his feet. By his junior year attending college at Western Kentucky his battle with his weight led to depression and threatened to derail his hopes for the future. But the worst was yet to come.

Herschel would not see his dream of playing ball professionally come to light. Though he left college,he didn't leave behind the eating habits that he had picked up. "Fast food was my biggest weakness," he confesses. "I looked at food as my way of escaping my problems instead of dealing with what was really bothering me."

By 2009, he found himelf married with two children and at a dangerous weight of over 380 pounds. It was at that point Herschel looked at his life and knew that he had to make a change. "I love my family with all my heart," he says, "I knew that if I kept on the path I was on, that I wouldn't be here for them in the future."

In August 2009, Herschel began to take steps that would change his life. After weighing his options, he decided to undergo the gastric band procedure, but he knew that was only a fraction of the equation. In order for him to make a real difference in his life, he was going to have to change his lifestyle as well---and that included what he put in his body.

Exercise, dietary supplements like Optimum Nutrition and making healther choices when it came to food became part of a new routine for Dixon. It also brought about a new mindset as well. "I look at food as something I have to do," he says. "I understand it's not my friend."

Eight months later and after losing over 80 pounds, Herschel may not be playing professional football, but he is making the most of each day. The 31-year old is hosting his own weekly radio show called "Herschel D's Weekly Sports Wrap-Up" and is a supporter of literacy programs like The Write Stuff and even has his own project in the works called Read Or Die.

Success looks different to him now. It's not about a big contract or even fame. "Success for me is about being the best husband, father and individual that I can be," Herschel says. "I want others to be able to look at me and what I've done and say that I encouraged them in their own fight. If I can help others, then that is all I could ever ask for."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recording artist/author Jacki-O releases excerpts from RELENTLESS

As national recording artist/author Jacki-O prepares to host events in Mississippi as part of the Hip Hop and Books literacy campaign during the month of April 2010, she is also excited to be sharing her story with others in anticipation of the release of her autobiography RELENTLESS.

Fans of her music and even her novel GROWN & GANGSTA will surely enjoy this in-depth look at her personal life and in the music world: the drama, sex scandals, beefs, extortion rumors and her take on the music business as a whole from the female artist perspective. RELENTLESS will take you into it all.

And now, here are excerpts from the forthcoming book RELENTLESS:

My life as an entertainer and individual has changed so much over the past five or so years. I feel less trusting of people because of what I have had to deal with. One of the biggest lessons I have had to learn is that it's difficult to do business with people if you have an emotional attachment to them: friends and family are the worst people to work with. They never seem to work as hard or be as loyal. It's hard to get into business with some people, period.

I've become emotionally torn in many ways. There are many lessons that have to be learned, and some of them I have had to learn the hard way. If you are going to make it in this business, you have to learn not to wear your heart on your sleeve. It's just that simple. If you let it, it will tear you apart. Believe me, this business can make you or break you if you're not careful.

Financially you hate to look at what you have to spend to get noticed,but it takes money to attract money and to look like money and attract money you gotta be willing to spend. See its different when you look at it from an artist's perspective.You just wanna spend and ball-outta control.There was no limit to the things i bought.From eighty thousand dollar Mercedes Benzes to ninety five hundred dollar Birkin bags. Its the the high you get when wealthy people look at you. They look at you different when you go into expensive restaurants and high end boutiques. You feel accepted and they feel less threatened.It feels like a sense of accomplishment and success. Success felt good. But when you are business woman you have to be smart... think of things. Know what's important and whats not.You don't get many opportunities twice, so you have to make wiser decisions and do what you can to stay out there.


As I tell you my story, I want you to know that I am as strong as I portray to be. Sometimes you fall down,dust yourself off and get back up. Depending on the person, some people stay down and lay down, I'm not the latter. People will try to keep you down in fear of you passing them in this rat-race. Because of who they think you are and what they think you have,they will use you and eat off of you until there is nothing left on the bone. A lot of things try to penetrate me,and a lot of it does, that's only because i am not a robot.I am a real person with real feelings.You just cant let them know it. At no point can you be derailed from your dreams, you can't allow people inside your emotional zone.Once i realized that people fed off my emotions, i stopped letting them in. That helped and it hurt because now the wall i had built to keep out the pain also kept out the joy.


Record companies want to spend as less as possible unless you have a strong following. And when i say strong, i mean Lady Gaga strong.Female artists have to be just as good as the boys in the game, if not better. Nowadays things are digital, so you have to make sure to stay relevant, or you're going to miss out. I put albums out on the Internet and make sure I keep the streets supplied with my music. In entertainment, people want to follow a chick that's fly. They don't care how bad she can spit. They want to see you looking good. That puts a lot of pressure on an artist, especially when the label wont do things for you not knowing if they will be able to recoup the money thats being spent.When money got tight with music,Thank GOD i kept my hustle.

Guys will come on to you in hopes of putting another notch on their belt.Ive entertained a few,but they were almost identical with the last.I wish i had a love story to tell you about how some guy in this business said all the right things and how much i was in love with another artist, but sorry i cant. In fact the guys that i did have personal interest with either were clones of other artists or were too full of themselves to keep me interested.So I always try to keep it business but somehow it always seems to turn into something else. Take this situation for example,really popular platinum selling rapper that has made a name for himself in the business who non apologetically often raps about drugs,asked for my number from my body guard.Me seeing this as a way to possibly get on a few songs and work with him, i agree to have my body guard give it to him. After what seemed to be a few innocent conversations about the industry, he then agreed to meet with me to listen to my music.I must admit,i was a bit excited. Not groupie excited, but really anxious.This could be a break for me.I was smart enough to not to meet him alone because in this business you just never know.So i took along a few people that was on my team including my body guard.He had a show in a small city about 2 1/2 hours away from Miami ,and 2 1/2 hours was nowhere to drive, especially to meet with a fellow artist that could possibly put me back on.When we got there, at his request, we met at his hotel. Since his entourage was large he had several rooms and it took a minute to find out which room he was actually in. When he did come out he seemed nervous and irritated so i decided to get straight to the point before i missed my opportunity to chop it up with him about my music.He knew my story or at least he thought he did, and started talking briefly about the whole Poe Boy mess i had been in, and because i didn't want to have him focus on the negative i decided now was the time to pull out my mp3's of my latest project.That's when things took a turn.I had been misled. He never wanted to hear any of my music, but i should have figured that out when he asked my body guard to stay outside the room.He had led me there for one purpose and one purpose only.SEX...

Not everyone that is trying to be around you is there to really help you.Some to share the shine and some just want to see what they can get from you. Take me for instance.I wanted to put out an album independently for my fans,just to let them know I was still here. I have been putting out mix-tapes since I left TVT/Poe Boy Ent

Because I have so much music, I wanted to make sure that I was getting the most out of it. A lot of it, I was just giving away on the streets for free. There were some who said I was crazy for putting all that music out there. I had someone approach me saying they wanted to offer me an independent deal. The deal was only for a 1 album mixtape,in which he would distribute it,but what I needed was an major album budget to get back out there.

This guy lets just call him (D.W.) had a long list of things he said he could do: promoting, getting me on the radio... None of it happened and things got nasty.I mean the only thing he kept his word on, was paying me all of the 12,000 dollars we agreed on for the mixtape.I did get that however, my first mind told me something wasn't right.He initially said we would do it as a mixtape and we did paperwork on it for a mixtape. However after he saw the amount of press i started getting from the mix-tape he started to promote it as an album..Red flags went up, before we could go back and redo our mixtape deal he started putting out the album without my knowledge. It was embarrassing for me, because I know what it takes to be successful. An artist needs proper promotion, good music and a strong team.. I had to find out from someone else that my mixtape was now being called an album and it was out on the Internet in stores and being sold!

The whole business with the guy was messed up. I never got a letter of direction saying how I wanted my money to come to me and not him. He had really sold me on this big idea of what he could do for me and the music, but in the end it was more trouble for me than anything else. Because he had done such sloppy work,the mixtape/album flopped! In the end, I was alone again trying to make things happen.I must say, i was kinda glad i had given him pre-released mixtape music. After all, isn't that what he first said we were doing?

By me doing other things like attending to my personal life and not having the help I needed, some things suffered.Websites,office duties and simple things like calling djs to ask for support,all started going bad. I decided somebody is going to hear my music one way or another. The majors weren't dealing with me, and some of the minors weren't paying me any attention because of my last situation.

I had to put in a lot of work all by myself: doing interviews, booking shows and promoting. I had bought a couple of promotional vans and had them wrapped, and it was time to hit the pavement. It wasn't the way I wanted to come back out, but I had to do what I had to do. .I work hard and everybody knows it. What bothers me is when people in the industry say all these good things about me and my music, but at the end of the day it is the "every man for himself" mentality. Alot are intimidated by a strong, talented female rapper, and because of that we suffer a lot as women in the business.

Look for RELENTLESS to be released later in 2010. For interviews,more information about the book, Jacki-o's involvment with literacy and other projects, contact Cyrus Webb at or 601.896.5616.

Monday, March 15, 2010

(March 15, 2010) News From Shadow Play Entertainment

Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to give you this week's important news stories:

Cyrus Webb, President of Shadow Play Entertainment, is quoted in a new article by The Entreprenette Gazzette discussing the pros and cons of having celebrities endorse your product or services. See here:

Recently Shadow play Entertainment discovered that it's online edition of its radio program, Conversations LIVE!, was chosen as one of's top 200 shows of 2009! Thanks to all of our loyal listeners,some tens of thousands across the world, for your support. We are committed to bringing you the very best of the arts, entertainment and current events on the radio, and with your help we will continue to do so.

Resident Chef Bruce Tretter, host of "Quick & Easy Cooking Tips" on Conversations LIVE! Radio, has a new recipe featured by The Beauty Bean's popular website. Take a look at this delicious dish here:

Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to welcome two new authors to its growing public relations family: Rita B. Davis (OVERWHELMED) and Andre Johnson (YEARNING FOR CONTROL). Find out more information about each client at

(Sat. March 20, 2010)Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to be hosting bestselling author Electa Rome Parks in events in Jackson and Pearl, Mississippi. See for details.

(Fri. March 26th & Sat. March 27, 2010) Shadow Play Entertainment is pleased to be hosting author/media personality Herndon Davis in events in Jackson and Pearl, Mississippi. See for details.

(Sat. April 3, 2010) Shadow Play Entertainment welcomes author Rita B. Davis to discuss her book OVERWHELMED with Conversations Book Club at Appetizers Restaurant (3000 Hwy 80 E * Pearl, MS) from 6-8p.m.

(April 15-17, 2010) Shadow Play Entertainment will be hosting national recording artist/author Jacki-O and authors Mr. Mean Mug and Jermnine Demouchtte in events centered around its Hip Hop and Books Literacy Campaign in Mississippi. Find details here:

For details on any of the above, contact Cyrus Webb at, 601.896.5616 or visit

Sunday, March 14, 2010

(Sun. March 14, 2010) Conversations Visit with Author Andre Johnson: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

(Sunday, March 14, 2010) Shadow Play Entertainment and Conversations Book Club wish to thank everyone who came out to support author Andre Johnson in his discussion at Appetizers Restaurant in Pearl, MS on Saturday, March 13, 2010.

Though we had been introduced to the Mississippi author some time ago, this was the first time he had spoken to the group about what it has been like for him to live with Bipolar Disorder, the effect it has had on his family and friends, and what he hopes people get from his book YEARNING FOR CONTROL.

Joining the conversation were his beautiful wife and mother who shared their own experiences, even addressing the stigma that some feel when it comes to dealing with the subject of mental illness. One of the points made at the discussion was the importance of having a conversation about the subject and dealing with it directly instead of trying to sweep it under the rug.

Before the night ended, Conversations had the pleasure of being joined by fellow Mississippi author Rita B. Davis. She will be hosted in her own discussion at Appetizers on Sat. April 3, 2010 to discus her book OVERWHELMED.

Look for Conversations Book Club President Cyrus Webb and author Andre Johnson to hold a special discussion in April 2010 about those affected directly and indirectly with mental illness. In the meantime, to learn more about Andre, visit and click on the link that takes you to his radio interview with Webb on Conversations LIVE! Radio.

To stay abreast of upcoming author visits and events, visit

(Sun. March 14, 2010) Singing Sensation Abraham McDonald on Conversations LIVE! Radio

He stole the heart of Oprah and others during a televised talent competition on her show, but Abraham McDonald's love of music was born love before that moment. Now several months later and a new member of the Island Def Jam family, singing sensation Abraham McDonald talks to Cyrus Webb on Conversations LIVE! Radio about the journey, introduces a song that inspires him and tells the world what's next for him. Joinng Webb will be Gail Ambeau, host of "Fashion Forward" and Stanley Clark of For The People Productions. Listen to the conversation live at this link: or through the switchboard @ 1.347.426.3645.

At 30 min. past the hour, Chef Bruce Tretter will give you a recap of this week's Quick & Easy Cooking Tip.

At 45 min. past the hour, Herschel Dixon of "Herschel D's Weekly Sports Wrap-Up" will let you know what's going on in sports.

Missed the live show or any other episode of Conversations LIVE! Radio? Visit to catch up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

R&B Artist Bertell: "Goin' Hard" On His Career

R&B ARTIST BERTELL: "Goin' Hard" On His Career

by Cyrus Webb*

He's been down, but it would be a mistake to ever count Houston, Texas native Bertell out.

Though there have been false starts to his career and some disappointments along the way, the rising R&B star is poised to make a statement with his debut album GOIN' HARD (to be released in 2010 by Capitol Records) and a commitment to being the best at what he does. To him, though, it doesn't feel like work. "I love to sing and perform," he said to me in a recent interview on Conversations LIVE! Radio. "It's like the way you feel about doing what you do. I'm loving every minute of it."

The journey has not been easy, but talking with Bertell, you get the sense that it has only strengthened his resolve. "I just never gave up on my dream," he says. "I knew if this is what I wanted to do, that I was going to have to experience the ups and the downs of the business." Right now just feels like everything is falling into place for him.

Preparing for the release of his own album, Bertell has been touring with others, sharing the ticket with artists he himself enjoys listening to such as like R. Kelly, Trey Songz and an artist from my home state of Mississippi: Bobby Valentino. "It's been all love," he says. "I respect them and their music, and artists like Bobby V. and Trey have shown me nothing but support." Such opportunties have allowed him to share music that will be on his debut album such as the blazing single "I Beat It Up" which has gotten national attention along with the video debuting on

"GOIN' HARD will show all dimensions of my voice," says Bertell. There is a little something for everybody, including the single "I'm Trying", which means a great deal to him. The song allows him to tell listeners a little bit about his journey and what his goals are in the industry and with his career as an entertainer. It is his hope that even though people might be drawn to some of the racy lyrics and the driving beats, that he will be remembered the most for his voice.

Already Bertell has been out meeting fans at events scheduled across the country to promote the single and the upcoming album. Though the hours are long, he will readily tell you there is nothing else he would rather be doing with his time.

What advice does Bartell have for aspiring artists like himself or anyone pursuing a dream? "Don't give up. If this is what you want, don't let anything stop you."

Find out more about Bertell at

* Cyrus Webb is the host of Conversations LIVE! Radio and a contributing writer for Hype Magazine, S.T.I.L.L. Magazine and CRUNK Magazine.

NICOYE BANKS: Living His Dream Everyday

by Cyrus Webb*

The city of New Orleans has more than this year's Super Bowl win to be proud of when it comes to success stories. One of its own, model and actor Nicoye Banks is another shining example of what can happen with hard work and the unwavering pursuit of a dream. Banks now stars in the #2 film in the country "Brooklyn's Finest" alongside Wesley Snipes, Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawk. On Friday, March 12, 2010, he will continue the celebration of his career when the thriller "Green Zone" (co-starring Matt Damon) hits theaters nationwide.

"I feel immensely blessed to be able to say that I have 2 films debuting in movie theatres a week apart from each other," says Nicoye. "This is an actor's dream."

Pursuing his own dreams and goals is not the only thing that the talented actor and model is doing everyday. When not working with movies, television, stage plays and family, Nicoye devotes his time to helping and empowering his community, as one of the founding members of the artist collective group called "The Standard", where he serves as Creative Director. Their mission is to serve as a source of inspiration and support and provide a space for individual exploration and discovery nourished by a collective commitment to growth as an artistic community.

Nicoye took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Conversations about his journey, how he remains focused, and what we can expect from him next.

Nicoye, first congrats on your success with Brooklyn's Finest and the upcoming release of Green Zone. If I had told you ten years ago that you would be enjoying such acclaim, would you have believed it?
Yes, I would have believed your statement! From your mouth into the universe, to God's ears, it shall be so.

What has kept you focused on your dream of being successful in the entertainment world?
It is that thing that is in me. It keeps me awake at night. It gives me anxiety when I am away from it, and I left my entire family behind---New York unseen---to elevate my pursuit of a career in this thing I love called acting.

Speaking of dreams, who would you like to work with in the future?
I would like to work with whomever will hire me. Everytime I land a role on stage, tv or film, I believe it is where I am supposed to be. I have absolutely everything to learn from all those who are involved. I am living my dream everytime I am cast.

People are always having to deal with challenges and struggles when they are pursuing their dreams. Can you give some advice on how to not let the lows get you down?
If you do not know what lows are, how can you know what are highs... Lows are a part of it. So, don't look at it as lows. Look at it as a period of transition, a moment of pause to redefine, improve, reflect, and redirect.

With 2010 starting off so well for you, Nicoye, can you give us an idea on what you have in store for your fans during the rest of the year?
I have another TV appearance on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I recently filmed a beautiful short film called Spare Change where I play my first lead, and in the Fall I am returning to the stage again. I am also continuing to work through my company, an artistic collective, The Standard.

A great deal of actors us their time on the screen to get involved in other ventures. Can we expect to see you endorsing a product or putting out an album in the future?
Albums and things---not so much (laughs). Hey, you can count on me to stick to what I know and am good at, but if some products come my way, I will consider that type of expansion.

Thanks for your time, Nicoye. How can your fans keep in contact with you online?
Please follow me on Facebook and my website

There is seemingly no end to what Nicoye Banks can achieve. With his continued focus, drive and determination, he is destined to be on the minds of many as his career continues to blossom. “It matters not how straight the gate, nor how charged with punishment the scroll… I am the master of my fate… I am the captain of my soul”, says Nicoye.

May we all get to a place in our lives where we feel that secure in our own skin and the road that is our destiny.

* Cyrus Webb is the Editor-In-Chief of Conversations Magazine as well as contributing writer for Hype Magazine, Crunk Magazine and S.T.I.L.L. Magazine. You can find out more about him at

Sunday, March 7, 2010

(Sun. March 7, 2010) Authors Ish Major, Rita B. Davis and Andre Johnson on This Webisode of The Write Stuff

Cyrus Webb welcomes you to this edition of The Write Stuff, featuring authors Ish Major, Rita B. Davis and Andre Johnson.

In February 2010, Ish Major made his first visit to Mississippi to promote his book LITTLE WHITE WHYS. Hear what the response has been like and where you can find out additional information.

Cyrus Webb talks with Rita B. Davis about the pain of losing a child, her book OVERWHELMED the the lessons she thinks it imparts.

Watch Andre Johnson, author of YEARNING FOR CONTROL, talk about dealing with bipolar disorder, and what he hopes readers get from his book.

Missed other webisodes from The Write Stuff? Catch up by going to The Write Stuff website here.