Guest Post! Black Singer Tops UK Classical Charts by Gillian King of The London Chronicler

 I have a few things that I love in life – of course one of those things is beauty, I am an avid reader, but music is also a passion of mine!  Music is such an intrinsic part of me it is very much a part of my identity.
I am a singer (purely an amateur mind you…I have no desire to make an appearance on a TV talent show any time soon!),  and I have sung for as long as I can remember, starting in church, but I also sang at school and college.  I have had the privilege to have sung many genres, from Gospel (see image!) to Rock, Motown to Jazz, and thus developed a love  for all types of music and I have a wide-ranging, eclectic taste.  One genre that I adore is Classical.  I discovered the beauty of classical music whilst I was a student.  It is truly emotive and has the ability to move you deeply.
When I heard that Noah Stewart was announced as the  first Black artist to top the Official  UK Classical Album Chart on Monday, I was over the moon! His album also entered the Official  UK Album charts at number 14!

OK...OK...his voice IS amazing, but I have to admit that he is also VERY pleasant the eye 🙂

Of course, music should not see colour,  but it would be naive to say that the world of classical music and opera is not seen to be associated with a certain class and culture and to not acknowledge that few people of colour have been able to penetrate its ‘glass ceiling’  to the reach the pinnacle on the stage or in the studio.   This has never been an issue for me, but I was buoyed to see that here in the UK, slowly but surely, we are making progress and having a presence in all areas of society.
I was going to blog about this incredibly talented artist….but my good friend and fellow blogger.  The London Chronicler, is an excellent writer and is equally passionate about the genre, so here is her reflection on Noah’s historic achievement….
…. oh yes, and go buy his album too!
 ************

Black Singer Tops UK Classical Charts by The London Chronicler

Noah Stewart - Image from classicfm.co.uk

Noah Stewart - Image from classicfm.co.uk

I was browsing through my twitter feed the other day when I suddenly spotted a retweet from the Royal Opera House (Yes, I follow them as I love opera and all things classical, I’m out of the closet!). The retweet was from an up and coming black tenor announcing that his debut album, Noah, had reached  number one on the classical charts.  The Royal Opera House, where he has just finished his debut performance in Judith Weir’s Misfortune, promptly tweeted their congratulations, which is how I got to hear about it!

It was very exciting! I had seen him on Gabby Logan’s Channel 5, morning show and enjoyed his interview with Gabby, covering his childhood in Harlem New York and his love of music. He was charming, well-spoken, intelligent and erudite. He also performed an impromptu song, an excerpt from the album and was excellent, just like any other tenor.

So I kept asking myself, why did it make the headlines that a black singer topped the classical charts?

I’m not the only one to ask this question.  Many of the commentators on the Telegraph’s online piece on Noah, seemed to imply the same thing.  My son, when I shared a tweet from Radio 4 from their interview with him, where he said he had been told he couldn’t sing opera because he was black, was baffled as to why anyone would say that.

I tried to explain it by asserting that people generally stuck to stereotypes they are familiar with, and since there were generally hardly any black people in opera, I thought the advisers were probably only trying to be helpful, telling him to stick to a genre he was ‘more likely’ to be successful in.

Not terribly satisfied with my analysis, I asked myself another question, why aren’t there more black people in Opera, it can’t be all discrimination. Afterall, Noah got there in the end and has managed to play Carnegie Hall, the Royal Opera House and a number one debut album by the age of 33. No mean feat for anyone.

My experience of mainstream middle class, white activities in Britain is that black people don’t venture into that arena too often, and if they do, as soon as there is the slightest hint of criticism or resistance, we retreat, wondering if we really have the right to be there in the first place.

My own ‘mixed heritage’ background frequently causes me to deny parts of myself that are ‘too white’ for black company.  So it is only now in my forties, that I feel confident enough to indulge my passion for classical music. I was once in a gospel choir, where we sang Handel’s Messiah for Christmas. When I shared the story about the King standing up in awe of the Halleluyah Chorus, creating the tradition of standing when it’s played, a story that I thought was common knowledge, I did get a few funny looks.

My parents exposed me to an eclectic array of music when I was growing up in the sixties and as a result, there is only a very small part of any genre of music that I don’t enjoy. Now that there is a Black man in opera, no doubt I’ll make more of an effort to go and see one! (I’ve always wanted to see Puccini’s Madam Butterfly.)

I would suggest that it’s okay to be who you are, do what you do and be the best you can be at it and nothing or no one can stop you. That’s probably why Noah made the headlines, the fact that he overcame many obstacles, some of it has to be said, his own biased expectations, to achieve his dream.

For me issues of race can be summed up perfectly by a quote from Professor Patricia Williams, an American law scholar and proponent of critical race theory, who gave theBBC’s Reith lectures,

‘What a world it would be if we could all wake up and see all of ourselves reflected in the world – not merely in a territorial sense, but with a kind of non-exclusive entitlement that grants not so much possession as investment. A peculiarly anachronistic notion of investment, I suppose, at once both ancient and futuristic; an investment that envisions each of us in each other.’

This of course is an ideal, but I think it’s one that we would all do well to aspire to.


New Pin Board! Black Beauty and Style in the mainstream UK Media

Another day, another idea for a Pinterest board!

As an increasing number of black models are being used for the beauty and fashion features in the mainstream British glossy magazines, I have decided to capture these images over the remainder of the year.  Follow this board here!

As well as featuring vetran supermodels such as Naomi Campbell  and newer faces such as Leomie Anderson, I will also pin the press features that depict a positive representation of the modern Black British woman – women like myself, who are educated, professional and wish to make a valuable contribution to the British society – as unfortunatly such coverage is still few and far between.

I have added this pin to my  board which was featured  recently in InStyle magazine’s SS12 Get Smart Workwear Special supplement.  ‘How real women Get Smart’ was the title of the feature and it showcased 4 professional women and their working wardrobes.  It was great to see Paulette Stephens, an interior design consultant, included in the group.  I am looking forward to showcasing more women such as this!

Is there anyone missing?   Do let me know!


Guest Post – Event | Gidore Multi-Textures Hair Workshop with Felicia Leatherwood – The Inside Story by Fiona Onanuga of Love Your Tresses

I really love London!  There is SO much to do and see in this fabulous city.

An event that I reall wanted to atted was the Gidore Multi-Texture Hair Workshop that took place last Saturday, however I was unable to attend.  I didn’t want my lovely subbies and followers to miss out on what I knew was going to be an awesomeevent, so I asked Fiona of the brilliant blog, Love Your Tresses to write a guest post for me!

Here it is!

Enjoy!

The Saturday ‘Multi-Textures Hair Workshop’ hosted by Gidore was superb to say the least. It was my first large-scale UK hair event, and I definitely left feeling even more inspired and encouraged to strive on with my healthy hair journey and transition.
Highlights of course were many! For one, I got to meet the effortlessy beautiful Lukwesa Burak, founder of Gidore and our favourite face of Sky news, as well as finally meeting Pelumi of Care For Your Hair, Akua of SheaButterCottage, Miss Laila J of Fusion of Cultures, Crystal of United KinKdom and Joycelyn of Afrocenchix – a fantastic group of women who have and continue to make progressive steps in encouraging healthy haircare practices in the UK. It was also lovely meeting some LYT Blog readers [whoop whoop]! My younger sister trodded along and it made my day knowing that she genuinely enjoyed it!
The main part of the workshop was taken and led remarkably by natural hair specialist & celeb stylist Felicia Leatherwood, who despite having spent most of the past few weeks on planes, still shared her chunk of hair knowledge with smiles. She discussed hair topics spanning from how to wash hair, right down to the pros and cons of weave wearing and child haircare. What I enjoyed most was the fact that we were reminded over and over again of how much versatility there is with natural hair care and that most importantly, however you chose to wear your hair, you should do so with ‘loving yourself’ as the focal point. The second half of the event was taken by Jane Carter and KeraCare who gave demos on how to use their products- the queues to buy some of the demoed products were ridiculous!
As for note taking, here are some of the interesting points I picked up…
* Good way to trial which conditioner works best for you is to part hair in 4 sections and try
4 different conditioners per section, and see how your hair feels afterwards
* Soap residue from facial washes can cause issues with your hairline. Check that your
face has been rinsed thoroughly after washing
* Avoid any products containing Phylates  whoopsie I mean Phytates, they manipulate hormone levels in females
As for my hair, you will see in the pictures below that I wore an oddly messy bun! My curly bantu knot up do completely backfired on me so this was the last minute fix I decided to sport.
All in all the event was fantastic and definitely needs to take place again. There is so much to learn and unlearn with regards to everyday hair practices, and this truly was a learning experience. Thank you Gidore for your hard work and efforts in making this possible! Oh and of course for our yummy goody bags from your sponsors too!
Miss Leatherwood in action and the buzz in the hall!
Jane Carter and KeraCare product and styling demos
Moi and the beautiful Laila & Joycelyn
After many months of talking I finally got to meet Pelumi!
Crystal [such a sweetheart] & Fiona
Isn’t her fro so spicy! Wunmi of Woman in the Jungle
Any thoughts Nubians? Laila & Kaila – stunning as ever
Kulchicbeauty – a friend of a friend newly discovered!
Made my day finally meeting Akua from SheaButterCottage
Joycelyn, Ayo & I
Photo owned by naturalselectionblog
Photo owned by naturalselectionblog
Goodies!
For future hair events check out Gidore and Loving Your Hair With Natural Care 

The Brit Pack – my Favourite Black British Beauty and Fashion Bloggers!

Which Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are on my hot list?

I took inspiration from my recent post that showcased the leading Black beauty bloggers from the US and thought that I would start a Pinterest board to collate my fav Black British bloggers – we to are doing some fabulous things right here in the UK!

I have really gotten into Pinterest – it is such an easy way to document your thoughts, ideas and aspirations to create a visual feast that is a reflection of the very essence of who you are!  What fun it will be to look back at your boards in 1, 5 or 10 years time!  It will be a montage of your evolution as a person and a snapshot of the history of your presence here on this earth!  If you are not on  Pinterest request an invite!  If you are on Pinterest follow me!

So which bloggers am I loving right now??  Check out my board to find out!

Who should join the list? Do let me know who your favorite Black British beauty and fashion bloggers are too!

If you are on Pinterest, happy pinning! Leave your Pinterest address in the comment box below and I will be sure to follow!


Product Review: Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer

I am just LOVING this weather!  Spring has certainly sprung and as the temperature soars one often considers adapting their make-up routine.  Wearing a full face of foundation can become uncomfortable and you may want to opt for a lighter option such as a tinted moisturiser.

I tested the cult tinted moisteriser by Laura Merceir last week.

Laura Mercier - the creator of the 'flawless face'

The Laura Mercier brand has garnered a loyal and fervent following.  Mercier is a leading makeup artist and is famous for creating the ‘flawless’ face and counts Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Julia Roberts as faithful clients.  She created the brand in 1996 and the Tinted Moisturizer  (n.b. I will only spell moisturizer with a ‘z; when referring specifically to the product – sorry – being pedantic!!) soon became one of the best sellers and has won a plethora of industry awards.

To be honest, I have never worn a tinted moisturisers, as I crave coverage and believed that tinted moisturisers would not provide the level of coverage I desired, however there are those days when I do not want to or need to wear a full coverage foundation, thus I thought it was about time I gave one a try! A quality tinted moistiriser would be a great alternative.

I  have tried other products from the Laura Mercier range and I really rate the quality so, what did I think of the Tinted Moisturizer?

Colour Match

There are 4 shades in the range that would be suitable for darker skin tones; Caramel, Tan, Walnut and Mocha.  Walnut and Mocha are the latest shades to join the range.

The formulation has a yellow undertone – and not the usual oragny undertone that darker liquid foundations tend to have and as a result it was a PERFECT match for me!!

🙂

It blended in well and literally dissaperared into my skin.  As I have mentioned in my previous product review posts, I usually wear MAC’s Studio Fix compact in NW45, so if this is your shade, you should find that Mocha will work for you.

Now you see it...

...now you don't!

Colour Match :10/10

Coverage and Wear

The product is available in two versions, the original and an oil-free version – which is what I opted for and which comes in the brown tube (featured above).  As I reserched more about this product I came to understand that the formulation is buildable and could provide additional coverage, should that be the finish that you desired.  Though I was some what  skeptical of this claim,  I was blown away with the performance of this product!  It is quite thick in texture- which was unexpected – but this means that a little goes a long, long way – which is good news – because at £33, it is not the cheapest of  bases on the market, but I am sure that the 40 ml tube would last for AGES!!

I applied the moisturiser with my fingers and was able to build up the coverage as needed, without it looking cakey or uneven.  The coverage was excellent – akin to that of a foundation…it really would be a credible option for the summer months as it is lightweight and felt undetectable.

The moisturiser dries to give a dewy finish, so I did feel the need to dab on a little sheer powder, but once set, it did not budge!  The quality of this product is beyond marvelous and with a SPF of 20 it really is the all-in one, convenient product for a speedy, yet flawless finish!

Coverage and Wear: 9/10

Marketing Support

The campaign for the new darker shades that were to added to the Laura Mercier range actually caught my attention last year and I featured the ad in my blog post ‘Model Behaviour‘.  I love the strapline; ‘flawless has many faces’.

Niche brands such as Laura Mercier tend not to spend lavishly on advertising, but I have seen the ad in a recent issue of Marie Claire magazine.  There is a limited amount of visibility in store and online, but I feel the brand is still very much a beauty aficionado’s secret!

I hope that this post will encourage more women, especially women of colour, to try this brilliant brand!

Marketing 8/10

Where can you buy this wonderful product?

Space NK

John Lewis

House of Fraser


Top Black Beauty Bloggers courtesy of Coco & Creme

I came accross this fabulous post a few days ago, posted by Coco & Creme, a sister blog to the leading US online magazine for the ‘young, contemporary’ women of colour,  Clutch, and I thought I would share it!

Image

Featuring the heavyweight black female bloggers from accross the pond such as Afrobella, Curly Nikki and Scandalous Beauty – follow all of these ladies for the latest news and views on the best hair and beauty buys for the woman of colour.

It is always great to discover what is happening in the States, and I am becoming increasingly  impressed with the quality of the digital content that these entrepreneurial, innovative and enterprising women are creating – such powerful brands and successful businesses!!  Black women in the States have really utilised the web and social media to carve out incredible niches – allowing their voices and opinions to be heard…and shared!

They are a true inspiration and I hope that I will see many more Black British women take to the web and create an identity for themsleves and the women they represent.


Boutique Chic

I love the beauty halls in the major London department stores such as Selfridges, John Lewis Oxford Street, Liberty and Harvey Nicks…the convenience of  being able to purchase all of my favourite brands all under one roof is a boon and the in store theatre, promotions, window displays and the opportunity to discover new, exclusive brands all add to the joy of beauty shopping….

I'm a beauty shopper, looking for some peace...GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

…sometimes, however it is nice to leave the hustle and bustle behind and visit the stand alone boutique of individual brands.

That is exactly what I did over the last weekend – and how lovely it was indeed.

I visited:

Diptyque –  Brook Street, W1

Miller Harris – Bruton Street W1

Although department stores are convenient, they can often feel impersonal, but this was not the case at all with the stores that I visited – I was not just another faceless customer, the staff went above and beyond to make me feel welcomed and valued.  Also, I very much prefer niche fragrances that are unusual and eclectic, so thought it would be a nice change to  take the time to rediscover the beautiful stores that house these creations.

Diptyque

I was actually on my way to Space NK on Brook Street, when I happened upon the Diptyque store.  I had had no idea that this store was located here (which is very unusual for me!!), and was shocked to learn that it had been open for 3 years!  The store is quaint and petite, but is perfectly formed.  I adore the Diptyque range!

Diptyque, Brook Street

The candles are divine and extremely long lasting (my favorite scent is Tubéreuse) and the although the cult fragrance that has amassed a dedicated following  is the fig based Philosykos,  I prefer the  fruity scent of Oyedo.

Sweet and sensual...just like me 😉 !!

The Diptyque consultant was extremely knowledgeable and took her time to introduce us to the latest fragrance, Eau Rose (£60.00) and also demonstrated how could be combined with Philosykos to create a whole new fragrance….which I actually found to be quite appealing .  This was a surprise – as not only am I not Philosylos’  biggest fan, neither do I take to well to rose scented fragrances!  So it goes to show that the staff can play a critical role in assisting you to discover a new experience that you  might have otherwise discounted.

At no time,  did she try to ‘sell’ me any thing (unlike many department store ‘spritzers’ ), but was happy to answer all of my my questions and allow me to peruse the beautiful surroundings at my leisure…pure heaven! I left with a cute sample of the fragrance Do Son, which contains – you guessed it – tuberose! The other ingredients of berries and flowers create a concoction that is sweet, but not saccharine and is perfect for every day wear.

Miller Harris

Ever since I was given a bottle of L’air De Rien over 5 years ago, I have been besotted with the fragrance and the brand behind its creation. I will have to do a separate post on this fragrance because it is SO gorgeous…

The brand’s creator and the nose behind the fragrant offering is Lyn Harris.

Lyn Harris has been working in the fragrance industry for more than twenty years and founded Miller Harris in 2000. She spent five years training in France at one of the highly prestigious schools of the perfume elite in Paris and then Robertet in Grasse.

Lyn in her fragrance laboratory (looks like fun)!

The Mayfair flagship store offers a peaceful retreat from the bustle of Bond street with a Fragrant Tea Room at the rear of the store.   I arrived at the store at about 6.15pm…not realising that the store closed at 6pm!  The door was locked but the lights were still on.

Miller Harris - Bruton Street

As I was peering through the window a member of staff appeared and came to the door.  I expected her to say we are closed and advise me of the opening times for future visits….but no, she opened the door and invited me in!  ‘You have made your way here to see us’ she said and welcomed me as if it was 12 o’clock midday!

NOW THAT IS WHAT I CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!

We chatted about the fragrances and candles and as you can see I didn’t leave empty handed!

It was just so refreshing to receive genuine customer focused  service – to see someone go above and beyond the what was reasonable to expect.

In the word’s of the Mastercard adverts – this is priceless.