Post-Pandemic Strategies

Moving Forward Post Pandemic No Going Back To Normal

Looking back to the end of 2019, it was the usual end of the year New Year’s Eve celebrations. Everyone was making their New Years resolutions, planning for 2020. Who would have thought our world would have been hit with such an unexpected deadly disease called the Coronavirus aka Covid 19? Upon the approach of January and February 2020, folks were going about their daily activities, some were experiencing colds or flu-like symptoms but very mild things that everyone thought was just a part of the usual winter season. My husband and I attended a ceremony in Jacksonville, FL to receive our honorary doctorate from St. Thomas Christian University in February — and made it back home safely. Then March 2020 rolled around and “in like the March winds” flowed the airborne pandemic which quickly moved all over the world within a matter of seconds. The whole world was flipped upside down, quarantined and unable to visit, touch or hug their loved ones. Worldwide hospitalizations and deaths ensued; while businesses closed — some permanently. Even the music world came to a screeching halt. Who knew?

During that period of shutdown, many of us realized that something happened to get our attention and we started to strategize. Virtual performances, and opportunities surfaced. The music platform was on somewhat of an even situation for both major and indie artists who shifted into more of an online presence. Churches services, trainers with their exercise routines, social media trainings and a lot other stuff suddently became more “front and center”. This was an aha moment of sorts. There’s no more going back to what we considered “normal’ everyday routines. This was a shaking up and if you think you’re going to go back to the way it was, you’re going to be in limbo and miss the mark big time. God doesn’t want us to stay “normal” and sometimes there comes a situation that “shakes” us up to awaken us who are asleep at the wheel. In the 1999 movie “The Matrix” — the choice came down to the red pill or the blue pill. The red pill was the choice to learn a potentially unsettling or life-changing truth; while choosing the blue pill represented the desire to remain contented in ignorance. Which would you choose?

Sounds of Imani strategized after Gerald’s Covid illness in March 2020. He spent a month in the hospital with blood clots in his legs (caused by Covid) along with breathing problems which forced him to be on oxygen. I refused to let the hospital put him on a ventilator which would have surely been a death sentence. When he came home, through much prayer and faith, he got better. We strategized to see how we could launch our church and music ministries forward respectively. We finished a single track called “Come Praise the Lord” including a music video with youth dancers (which were hard to find during the early part of the pandemic due to shut downs). The youth dancers were from Texas and were delighted to be a part of the music video launch. Our purpose for the song was to uplift people who had been devastated during the pandemic. In addition, we created a short 35 minute film “From Darkness to Light: a c19 Survival Story with the help our videographer friend. Church services and bibles studies continued online until we were able to convene again in person. Through the online services we gained connections with two churches in India and one in Kenya.

So, I ask the question: How did you strategize during the pandemic? Why or why not? What do you feel the pandemic changed all over the world? What changed in the music business for indie artists?

Indie Award Platforms

Do Indie Award Platforms Help Indie Artists Gain Recognition for their Music?

We had to actually sit back and think about this one —  and the answer we came up with is both “yes” and “no”.   Some indie music award platforms not only help music artists in creating a buzz about their music, but are also sincere in helping those artists promote their music while on the platform; then there are others that charge so many fees that the artist is constantly spending money while never gaining any true appreciation for their musical talent.  Indie artists could benefit by doing some research to find out about the various music award platforms available and deciding if it would be feasible to participate.

It would be helpful to make a list of indie music award platforms on an spreadsheet and indicate the pros and cons of each.  In addition, the spreadsheet can include responses or feedback from artists who participated on that platform.  This would be one way the artist can spearhead a fair review to see which platform would be the best.

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From our personal experience we’ve found that every little bit helps when you are an independent music artist.  The awards platforms we’ve participated in so far have sparked an interest in fans on various social media platforms.  Either way,  it’s always good to know that you’ve accomplished something no matter how big or small.   Having your hard work be recognized is still important.

What do you think?  Feel free to share your comments.

By soundsofimani Posted in Music

Sounds of Imani Wins Two Prayze Factor Awards!

Contemporary Gospel Recording Artist Wins First Music Award!!!

ImageContemporary gospel recording artist Sounds of Imani was nominated for a Prayze Factor award in October 2013.  The Prayze Factor is an awards platform based in Atlanta, GA that recognizes the work of contemporary gospel recording artists locally, nationally and across the globe.  Pastor Gerald Ervin commented, “When I first found out that we were nominated, I couldn’t believe it.  I wondered who nominated us?  Praise God for them —  whoever they are.”

Following the initial nomination, a couple of voting rounds had to be completed; and Sounds of Imani did just that with the support of family, Facebook friends and a host of international supporters.  Lady Carol stated, “I never knew we had so many supporters that loved our music.  I was totally surprised”.  In 2014, Sounds of Imani won first place in two music categories:  Praise & Worship Duo/Group and Urban Contemporary Gospel Duo/Group with approximately 290,000 votes in each respective category.

The last round was the Grand Finals.  There was a lot of work to be done to secure votes during this round.   Sounds of Imani kept pushing and never gave up; and their fans continued to show support.  Although the duo didn’t win the Grand Finals, they made fifth place with the next highest score to the MVP Finalist earning the Spotlight Grand Finalist position.   Winners of the Grand Finals are as follows:  Grand Champion, gospel rapper CAPA; First place,  Choir Boy Cam; Second place Jake Hughes, MVP Demetrice Everett, drummer; and yes fifth place — yours truly — Sounds of Imani!

Excitement filled the air as all Grand Finalists participated in the Prayze Factor Red Carpet Awards ceremony.   Performances by gospel recording artists such as Donald Malloy, from the New Jersey Mass Choir, and Stephen Steward were truly anointed.  In addition, a training class taught by Carlos & Liz Merriweather on the music business were  both informative and enlightening.

ImageOn Saturday April 25, 2014, Sounds of Imani accepted two Prayze Factor Awards at the Prayze Factor Awards Red Carpet Event.  A host of Grand Finalists participated in a collaboration song that was the highlight of the evening.  Sounds of Imani is truly grateful for such a wonderful awards platform which has helped to build up the fan base of many contemporary gospel recording artists.   The event hosted by Pastor Theresa Jordan, and Christopher Williams proved to be a wonderful success giving independent artists the opportunity to participate in more gospel music events.  The 2014 Prayze Factor Tour has been scheduled making numerous tour stops across the nation and abroad.

Sounds of Imani had the opportunity to meet other national artists and develop new friendships.  In addition, the Grand Champion CAPA has asked Sounds of Imani to collaborate on a song with him.  This is just one of many examples of how people can work together and accomplish great things.

The gospel duo, Pastors Gerald & Carol have also received  good news that will launch their music ministry forward during such a time as this.  Not only are they wonderful music artists and worshipers, they are also pastors of Acclaim Ministries International affiliated with the World Harvest Ministerial Alliance, Pastor Rod Parsley.  Sounds of Imani has a heart for the community and continue to host various community events through their nonprofit outreach ministry.

Sounds of Imani has two new new singles which have been released on March 25, 2014, on their indie label, Heaven-Wings Records. “Must Be An Angel” and “It’s Alright” were written by Gerald & Carol Ervin, and co-writer/producer Daron Steward.  Two new music videos also accompany the two singles produced by Heaven-Wings Records.  All music is available in various digital Internet music stores.   Sounds of Imani is available for marriage retreats, weddings, conferences, seminars, concerts and more!   To book this artist for your next event email at cjay@soi-music.net.

Prayze Factor Awards     Heaven-Wings Logo

By soundsofimani Posted in Music

Indie Music and Film: New Culture

Years ago, we can remember watching major films such as “Casablanca”, “Gone with the Wind”, “The Godfather” (I, II, & III), “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Superman”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Star Wars”, “Rocky”, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, “Transformers”, and “Die Hard” to name a few.  Yes, there are many more  (to numerous to name for sure); but we know you get the idea.   In addition, major films presented wonderful opportunities for major actors like Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Shia Lebouf , Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart,  Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, etc.  However, the indie film scene is presented with much more difficult, but not impossible, tasks to overcome.  Issues such as lower budgets, lack of financial support or investors,  etc.  In a recent blog by Truly Free Film, the blogger discusses what he feels are the three biggest problems in the indie film business.  He lists problems such as: mindset, infrastructure, and content.  The blogger also discusses how to make better films, as well as taking a look at various issues and actions to resolve them.  See his blog at:

http://trulyfreefilm.hopeforfilm.com/2010/10/what-are-the-biggest-3-problems-in-the-indie-film-community-today.html

In yet another blog by the Rain Dance Film Festival, Elliott Grove discusses seven challenges that the indie film industry faces.   He identifies these challenges as:

  • Digital revolution producing more product than buyers
  • Online distribution commonplace
  • Storytelling techniques, ideas and creativity
  • Difference in cinema distribution
  • Public Funding (budget cuts)
  • Lack of Development Funding (here this presents weak story lines)
  • Social media

Elliott’s blog may be viewed at:  http://www.raindance.org/7-challenges-facing-independent-filmmakers/

Today, there are numerous opportunities for indie film makers and indie music artists whose songs are being featured in many indie films.  Although there are still many challenges, we believe that the indie film and music industry is on the brink of a new culture.  Even though there is great access to the Internet, yet promotion and finance are very crucial to indie film makers.  Take a look at the Rain Dance Film Festival acknowledgment and discussion of an indie film called “The Machine”.

Here’s some food for thought:  What type of challenges confront African-American and other minority indie film makers?  Please feel free to comment.

Sounds of Imani Talks about Vision and Motivation

Sounds of Imani is an indie contemporary gospel recording artist in Detroit, Michigan (USA) whose musical harmony brings joy, healing and inspiration to listeners of all ages.  Imani is an African word meaning faith and this artist definitely lives up to its name.  Sounds of Imani was formed in 1996 out of a vision to provide the music world with a distinct sound of excellence and quality musical expertise; as well as to develop and create positive, uplifting, and encouraging music.  Gerald & Carol, the versatile husband and wife team  (along with their band) thank God for longevity and total submission to biblical principles.

This artist has continued to remain focused on pursuing the goals they have set forth.   Maintaining a self-contained unit certainly isn’t easy but Sounds of Imani realizes that working with a unit of individuals prompts commitment, respect, and loyalty (extremely important).   Sounds of Imani has worked with various musicians over a period of time and is still going strong with longtime backing musicians of  many years.

When we think about the term “vision” we consider its meaning to be somewhat centered around “strategic forecasting”.  Although it has not yet come to pass,  people can still plan with the expectation of it coming to pass.  Sound familiar?  Faith is defined as being “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV – Hebrews 11:1).  In other words, faith is the foundation on which all our hopes for the future are built; the evidence of things not seen means that our faith in action shows we are not driven by what currently appears before us.  Without faith we would limit ourselves to a narrow minded concept of what we see with a “worldly” or  “carnal sight”.

But what about motivation?  Simply this,  “I know it’s going to happen, therefore I’m going to do all that I can to prepare myself for the fulfillment of that vision”.  We must be ready to walk in the door once the door opens.  Another great passage of scripture also states, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak; though it tarry wait for it, because it will surely come” (KJV – Habakkuk 2:3)

What do you suppose keeps indie music artists going?  What motivates them?  Should you be a visionary?  What does it take to reach the goals you have set?  Do you encourage or inspire other music artists?

Take a look at the interview below and let us know what you think.