J Travels: Memphis, Keeping Old Promises

The mural across the street from the Civil Rights Museum. Photo by J. Sylvester.

This year, I really only had one official resolution – to travel outside of the D.C.-area every month. I knew it wouldn’t be easy given how fast a month can go, and how expensive traveling can be. The #majorkey would be planning out, at least, the first 4-5 months of my travels at the beginning of the year. I have some exciting trips ahead; I will make sure to document all of my new experiences here.

It was fitting that I traveled to Memphis first because it was the one trip I’d promised a friend I would make in 2016 that never happened.  I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never ventured to Middle (to me), Southern America, but Memphis definitely had some surprises in store.

Best Time to Visit

Summer. I visited Memphis is late January, and it was as if everyone was hibernating for the winter. I saw very few people on the streets, the tourist attractions were largely vacant and there was a quiet eeriness that hung over the city.

Although I was taken off guard, I could easily imagine how different it is in the summer. Beale street crowded with young people, outdoor concerts, joggers running along the Mississippi River.

The former Lorraine Hotel, now the Civil Rights Museum, at dusk. Photo by J. Sylvester.


  • The first tourist attraction people mention when you talk about Memphis is Graceland. Graceland, Graceland, Graceland. So where did I got 10 minutes after landing? Graceland. But, from the hefty price (start at around $50), to the dated Graceland complex, I was underwhelmed. My suggestion would be to skip it if not for the major renovation they were undergoing while I was there. Hopefully the exhibits I was unable to visit will provide for a much better experience.
  • Now if you want to get your money’s worth, go to the National Civil Right Museum. I can’t say enough good things about it, I only regret that I didn’t allocate 4-5 hours to exploring all that the museum has to offer. You will want to watch every video, listen to every story, read every placard. The one good thing about going during the off-season – I basically had the museum to myself.
  • The duck walk at the Peabody is a whole ‘lotta hoopla for a 5-minute affair, but it was a fun experience. If you go to the show (there are two a day), make sure to check out the rooftop of the hotel which has an amazing view of the city.
The gorgeous view from the Peabody Hotel. Photo by J. Sylvester.


  • Beale Street. When the weather is nice, I’m sure Beale Street is a blast.


  • Central BBQ. My first meal didn’t disappoint. There’s a few locations depending on where you’re staying in the city. Rendezvous is another great option (or so I’ve heard).
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We went to the downtown location, and let me tell you that chicken was fried to perfection.
  • Second Line. If you’re looking for a place a little more upscale, low-key, with great ambience, food, and drinks, head here. Note this restaurant is in midtown so it’s a bit of a trek if you’re staying downtown.
The infamous Peabody Hotel, home of the duck walk. Photo by J. Sylvester.

A Year Defined: Au revoir, 2016!


/twenty sixteen/

  1. a period of 366 days in which I struggled, cried (a lot), lost hope, found some, opened my heart, experienced new cities, made many new friends and collaborators, challenged myself through creative projects and uncomfortable circumstances, and took some exciting steps toward my lofty goals

/twenty seventeen/

  1. a period of 365 days that has me shook. that I don’t feel ready for. that will challenge me in new ways, some of which will be undesired. yet a period in which I will prevail over the hurdles that have plagued me for nearly two years. a period in which I will rediscover purpose in my work. in which I will build on the relationships I forged in 2016. in which I will travel more domestically and internationally. in which I will put my mental, physical, and emotional health first.

Thank you to all of my family, friends, and readers who continue to support ayminor.com, may you all have a blessed 2017! 

J Quote: 60 Seconds with Candice Nicole of Candice Nicole PR

Candice Nicole, owner of pr boutique Candice Nicole Public Relations, poses with recording artist Von Vargas as she receives an award for her contributions to the music and entertainment space. Find a full recap of In My Own Lane here. Photo via @kelvinjstudios.


J Events: Baltimore Recording Artist Hosts “In My Own Lane,” an Event for Creatives Who “Fit Out”


On Friday, October 21, Baltimore recording artist and producer Von Vargas hosted an event for local creatives who are paving their own way in the music and arts space.

Ever since growing up on the Westside of Baltimore, Vargas (né Von Smith) has always felt he was in his own lane—choosing the arts over the pressure to conform to the conventions of his urban environment. As he has grown as an artist, producer, DJ, host, and creative services professional, he has looked to use his platform to inspire others to continue down their own creative path, whether it be in public relations, arts education, or music production.

Von Vargas. Photo via @KelvinJStudios.

“Being in the industry for years, I’ve seen dope artists who don’t fit the ‘norm,’ so they may not get the same exposure given to the next artist…” Vargas said. “I feel it’s my duty to advocate for artists who create fearlessly, contrary to the norm.”

The 3-hour, curated event included performances from two artists personally selected by Vargas, “Philadelphia’s own” Japhia Life and “Grammy-Nominated” singer Carolyn Malachi.

Japhia Life. Photo via @KelvinJStudios

Japhia Life, who continues to defy the label of “Christian rapper,” performed a short set featuring songs from his latest release “The Profit.”

Malachi, accompanied solely by a bassist, showed her range, fusing soul, R&B, jazz, spoken word, and hip-hop into her titillating set. She treated event attendees to her latest single “Blowing Smoke” which will be featured on her upcoming album “RISE [STORY 1].”

Carolyn Malachi. Photo via @KelvinJStudios

Vargas ended the night with a live band performing songs from his 2016 release “Metropolis Binocular,” as well as a few other surprises from his catalog. Among them, the event anthem “Fit Out,” a testament to the importance of staying true to oneself, even if that means going against the grain.

At the event, three dynamic, creative professionals were honored for their contributions to the music, arts, and entertainment space: music producer Wendel Patrick, PR maven Candice Mackel of Candice Nicole Public Relations, and artist Rufus Roundtree. Mackel and Roundtree were in attendance to receive their awards and impart inspiring words.

The event, which was held at the Motor House in Baltimore, was sponsored by Applebees, Lobe’ Dangle, LTH Accounting Services, Liam Flynn’s Ale House, and Kelvin J Studios.

J Events: Serene Management Launch Party

Serene Management co-founders, NiaEvents and MegThePlanner welcome guests to their launch party. Photo via @_royal_eye.

I had so much fun last Thursday at The MUSEUM attending the launch party for Serene Management. Serene co-founders NiaEvents and MegThePlanner brought out all the stops to make sure guests remember who to call for their event planning, management, and artists development needs.

I could get used to the red carpet life!

  The event kicked off with red carpet photos and interviews with Alexis Janai, followed by performances from indie artist C.ME, Instagram dancing sensation YvngSwag, R&B singer JusPaul and poet Nathan Tyrese.

 The icing on the cake – guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and an open bar featuring Julian Wines throughout the night as we mixed and mingled. Sounds were curated by 93.9’s DJ Gemini.