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Lucia Brawley
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Lucia received a BA in English from Harvard University (where she won the Jonathan Levy Prize for Most Promising Actor) and an MFA in Acting from the Yale School of Drama.

As an actress, she played Karen Jimeno in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center; starred in two films in Hungary, including as the title character in Lora (Best Foreign Film, Philadelphia Independent Film Festival); appeared in numerous television series and performed in productions by many of America’s foremost theater artists.

A vocal advocate for arts education, Ms. Brawley's writing on the subject has been cited in California State Senate hearings and on arts advocacy sites around the country. In June 2009, the Yale School of music invited her to deliver the keynote address at their biennial Music Educators Symposium. She also contributed to Americans for the Arts ArtsBLOG.

Ms. Brawley is one of the founding members of Obamawood, a Los Angeles grassroots group, that grew from 4 to almost 2,000 members, helping to win its congressional district for Obama in the California primary, at 61.4%, tying for the largest margin in the state.

Lucia Brawley recently moved with her two baby girls and her husband, Derrick Ashong, to Miami, where she balances family life with real estate, acting and writing.

Entries by Lucia Brawley

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Trying to Hold Mercury

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 11:39 AM

This piece, I originally wrote for NoTofu.com, the online presence of the up-and-coming avant-garde print magazine, NO TOFU. It went live on NoTofu.com this morning. Here it is again, with a few small edits I added. Thank you to those who belong to or are connected to the...

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The Color of David: Raising Brown Kids in America

(38) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 9:53 AM

I zoomed around the bend with our double stroller, excited to show my girls, three and one, the Baby Jesus sleeping in his manger, surrounded by Mary, Joseph and the wise men on Alhambra Circle in Coral Gables, Miami. I should have expected it, but was nonetheless surprised to find...

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Sktchy: Tech Turns the Heat Up on Art

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 11:39 AM

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"There is a local context for this app," says Sktchy founder, Jordan Melnick, a 29-year-old Miami native and journalist by trade. Sktchy the app sprang from a local blog Melnick co-founded with a partner in September of 2010, called Beached Miami, covering...

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Mr. & Mrs.: Winning the War With Words

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 1:10 AM

Mr. & Mrs. -- the explosive new album by Mississippi-born rapper/producer Jonathan Whitfield, a.k.a. Swisha, and the marble-eyed Jamaican rapper/poet Nadirah X -- embodies what Whitfield calls, "being in the foxhole with somebody and knowing they got your back." Indeed, the husband-wife team have fought a spiritual, artistic, social and professional war side by side and they hope that this album, an expression of that struggle, breaks them through to the victory they have been seeking for so long.

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Photo: Krystia Royes

With its driving beats, hard-hitting, heartfelt, intelligent lyrics, rousing instrumentation, and propulsive samples, Mr. & Mrs. conveys the artists' busting-at-the-seams impatience with a system, a music industry, a society that stands in the way of genuine self-expression, innovation, originality and soul.

Their stylish, snarling video of the single "On Everything" boasts, "I put it on everything." In other words, "No matter what anyone tries to say or do to demoralize me, everything I do, I make it hot." Masterfully shot, directed and edited for a mere $32 by accomplished video director Shane McLafferty, who has also made videos for acts like Neon Trees, Super Heavy, Stevie Nicks and Mick Jagger, the "On Everything" video simultaneously captures the glamour and the underbelly of Los Angeles, where Swisha and Nadirah live. They battle the "circus freaks" arbitrating who gets to the top in the music business, the cowering conformists who dare not take a chance on an exciting new act that breaks the mold. Nadirah calls the demand for ringtone-type music, "a taste for processed cheese."

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Photo: Christine Crokos

Although stunningly beautiful, Nadirah makes a conscious choice not to show cleavage as a music-selling gimmick. She explains, "I consider myself primarily a poet. I am a poetic MC." Having grown up in a Muslim household in the bountiful Jamaican countryside, Nadirah historically has brought her idyllic background to play in lyrical, conscious rhymes, low on profanity. She defied musical expectations, bypassing Jamaican dancehall, for a conscious hip-hop sound that led to her winning "Best New Artist in the Caribbean" and ending up on magazine covers. Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and a multi-platinum music producer discovered her at a show in Jamaica, "Christopher Columbus style," as Nadirah puts it, and began managing her.

Meanwhile, her husband Swisha's story reads like less of a fairy tale. He grew up in violent Clinton, Miss. listening to hardcore East-coast rap, struggling every step of the way, battling in ciphers, developing a more raw, profanity-laden style that he says reflects that "life is not perfect." Swisha explains, "I am spiritual, but I have also always been an advocate of not being overly preachy or holier than thou. There are multiple facets to us as human beings. The profanity comes from frustration with the struggle." Swisha's impact on Nadirah reveals itself in "On Everything," in which she snarls at the camera, curses and declares to the camera, "We gon' end up elevated or we'll end up in an urn."

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Photo: Kori Bundi

This quest for elevation out of the struggle, the balance of the divine and the profane, exhibits itself in moving emotional outcries from Swisha in "On Everything," who speaks of promising his mother "that he would finish," that he would make it as an artist. He raps in "Divine" about how his father, an accomplished pianist, almost died of a stroke and how the miracle of his recovery inspired both the song and a re-invigorated desire to win the battle as an artist. The exquisite piano strokes interlaced with the song and highlighted at the end fly from the fingers of Swisha's father himself. In the same cut Nadirah sings of how she hides the struggle from her own daughter, how she herself is still a "little girl with a dream from Jamaica":

They told me stay patient All you have is time What's written in the stars is given to you by design But I hope I never fade from mine Hope you remember my divine.

On the track, "Know Mi Name," sampling an old Jamaican folk song, "The lyrics say, 'When I was a bad man, killing people, everyone knew my name. Now that I'm spiritual, no one knows me,'" explains Nadirah. With their album Mr. & Mrs., Swisha and Nadirah throw down the gauntlet to the music industry and to our society, daring us to "know the name" of more than gangsta' rappers and ho' slappers, daring us to know the name of spiritual warriors, poets, originals, with the audacity to speak of the divine. Daring us to know the divine within ourselves.

Follow Swish and Nadirah at @officialswish and...

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Citizens United: Ushering America Toward a Feudal Society

(24) Comments | Posted June 12, 2012 | 1:23 PM

The Citizens United decision has catapulted America in a direction that, if left unchecked, will inevitably result in a post-modern brand of feudalism. The worst part is that Americans are actively participating in their own disenfranchisement. When we fall for the billionaires' tactics that skewed Tuesday night's elections,

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Own It, Obama!

(6) Comments | Posted August 15, 2011 | 11:06 PM

You actually heard me, President Obama. You used "Obama Cares," which I've been saying ever since you proposed your historic health care plan and which I coined publicly in my blog last week .

In one of your Midwestern town meetings on Monday, you...

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Open Letter to President Obama Post-S&P's Credit Rating Downgrade

(13) Comments | Posted August 8, 2011 | 1:48 PM

Dear President Obama,

Happy Fiftieth Birthday. As the First Lady said in her birthday email to supporters on Thursday, you're earning every gray hair. You must have great empathy for Atlas these days. And he for you. Only he knows what it is like to be in your position.

Outside...

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10 Reasons for Progressives to Feel Reassured About the Debt Package

(6) Comments | Posted August 2, 2011 | 12:48 PM

1. The debt ceiling is being raised.

2. We will not have another debt ceiling battle in 6 months.

3. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security remain untouched -- which would not even have been the case in President Obama's first proposal.

4. $2.5 trillion in cuts, as opposed to Obama's...

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Stix Bones of Soulfège

(0) Comments | Posted August 18, 2010 | 2:45 AM

I first introduced you to the band Soulfège through its leader -- musician, public speaker, entrepreneur and Oprah Radio host, Derrick Ashong -- in my piece "Oprah and the Voice of a New Generation." Now, I would like to acquaint you with the...

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The "Mosque"

(15) Comments | Posted August 16, 2010 | 9:16 PM

If we allow 9/11 to make us abandon the First Amendment's declaration of religious freedom for all, then the terrorists have won. It shocks me that so many Americans are ready and willing to ditch their commitment to the Constitution, demanding the prohibition of the Cordoba House, an Islamic cultural...

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9/11 Responders Bill is Not Controversial -- Illegal Immigrants Were Heroes, Too

(6) Comments | Posted August 13, 2010 | 12:27 AM

By now, many of you have seen Queens and Brooklyn Rep. Anthony Weiner lambaste Republicans, both on the floor of Congress and on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Weiner's beef? Only twelve Republicans voted for what seemed to Democrats a no-brainer, bi-partisan, non-controversial bill to provide 9-years-overdue health...

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Oprah and the Voice of a New Generation

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2009 | 8:01 PM

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"You work and work and fight and struggle and all the time, you're dreaming of this moment when it's all going to happen, when people will listen to your opinions and team up to make your ideas happen. I'm in that moment right now...

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Sanctuary in Harmony: How Music is Saving Lives in LA

(1) Comments | Posted December 3, 2009 | 4:38 AM

REPRINTED FROM THE COMMUNITY MARKETING BLOG-OFF, first published December 2, 2009. Please click on that site and comment there to help me win the contest and draw mass attention to arts education.

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(Photo: Harmony Projects founder Margaret Martin and seventh-grader...

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El Sistema in LA, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2009 | 10:37 PM

REPRINTED FROM THE AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS' ARTS EDUCATION BLOG, SEPTEMBER - 25 - 2009

"We are not robots," declared Susan Siman, whom I described in Part I of this piece as the guest conductor and teacher visiting Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) from Venezuela's ground-breaking network of youth...

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El Sistema in LA

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2009 | 10:33 PM

Reprinted from the Americans for the Arts' Arts Education Blog, September 22, 2009

When Arianna Huffington asked me at an Obama fundraiser to write for her and I drafted my first Huffington Post piece, "President Obama's Arts", I never would have anticipated that a little less than a year...

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Historic Community Marketing Blog-Off

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2009 | 12:26 PM

Between now and December 12, I will be posting blogs as part of the 2nd Community Marketing Blog-Off -- from which I stand to win a great deal of publicity for the work I do supporting arts education. So, please follow my very exciting posts faithfully and help children...

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To Obama with Love: Nothing Less Than a Public Option

(5) Comments | Posted October 24, 2009 | 4:17 PM

Here's a video made by Lyn Goldfarb and Dustin Slaughter of Congressional District 33 North for Change/ Obamawood. In it, volunteers, including me, talk about why a public option at the very least is the only way forward on health care reform.

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Health Care Protesters Arrested in Downtown L.A.

(3) Comments | Posted October 19, 2009 | 1:05 PM

Thanks to Lyn Goldfarb and Carol Newton of CD33 North for Change for this information.

October 15, twelve people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience at Blue Cross Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, protesting the health care insurance profiteering at the expense of providing for the health care...

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Health Care Reform? Yes We Can!

(4) Comments | Posted August 26, 2009 | 5:33 PM

Twelve strangers -- a cross-section of ages, races, professions and tax brackets -- assembled Monday of last week in the lobby of the Westwood office building where Dianne Feinstein has her L.A. headquarters. We were there to share our personal stories with the senator's District Director, Trevor J. Daley, and...

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A Twa Lala -- Play a Song: My Keynote Address at the Music Educators Symposium at the Yale School of Music

(0) Comments | Posted June 29, 2009 | 5:19 PM

On June 10, 2009, it was my great honor to deliver the keynote address at the Yale School of Music's biennial Music Educators Symposium. I got to pay tribute to 51 of the best music educators from public schools around the United States. Dean Robert Blocker,...

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