In celebration of its 25th year, the recent Chicago tour stop of The Black Women’s Expo definitely did not disappoint. Complete with wall to wall businesses, seminars and celebrity appearances, the event highlighted the best and the brightest in all facets of life: health, fashion, beauty, community awareness and entertainment.
Held at the historic McCormick Place Convention Center and sponsored by BET Her, BET Network’s African-American women-focused cable channel, festivities kicked off into high gear on the first day with special conversations that focused on the health and wellness of Black women and their families. Subjects included how to deal with personal trauma, money management and even how to cope with being and/or becoming a caregiver.
“This was a great event with helpful workshops; a networking experience. It was nice to meet new sisters and exchange experiences and stories. It presented opportunities for Black companies to exhibit their products, some of which I wasn’t aware of,” said Jiles Taylor-George, a medical professional who attended the Black Women’s Expo for the first time.
Another particular topic that peaked the interest of many was fifty and fabulous and how to merge ahead while reinventing yourself in the process, a seminar that featured comedienne, actress and author Kim Coles, who offered sound advice and comedic banter. In her new book, “Open Your G.I.F.T.S. Vol. 2”, Coles openly talks about her career, the challenges she faced and how she was able to turn her setbacks into stepping stones.
“The key is to accept every age and every stage. You are excellent and perfectly made,” Coles reminded audience participants while telling personal accounts of working in Hollywood, hitting all time highs and lows that makes her the down to earth, relatable superstar you wouldn’t mind having a cup of coffee with.
“Her message was a needed one for Black women who often care for everyone else and deprive themselves of their own self-care. Overcoming her challenges encouraged everyone in that room. That seminar was like a cool glass of iced tea on a hot summer day,” said Taylor-George.
Coles’ seminar was titled ‘Fabulously Ageless – A Conversation with Kim Coles’, which was a very delightful up close and personal experience with the television and comedy veteran that made everyone in the room ponder about what their motivation is in becoming successful, and the next steps they needed to take in order to hit the ground running. “The acronym for my book, I definitely live by on a daily basis….it’s who I am. G – Be gracious. I –be intentional about goals and your passion in life. F – forgive others, which is the cure for you from what others have done or said to and about you. T – triumph over your defeats. S – self care. You are important to you and must take care of yourself in order to be a good caregiver to others,” Coles explained with a genuine, encouraging smile.
DJ Sundance, Chicago’s Tightest Female DJ, also facilitated an amazing seminar entitled ‘She the DJ 101’, in which she spoke on being a Chicago based female DJ in the game and explained how to become an entrepreneur within your own right. “It goes way beyond your love for music. You need to understand the digital world. You have to learn the engineering and technology that goes along with this. Music is constantly changing, technology always changes, you have to change with it… and the key is practicing,” she said.
In today’s society where social media and phones with cameras are running the world, she stressed the need to utilize all of this to your advantage if you have dreams of becoming a female DJ. “This (holding a cell phone) can make or break careers. Every time you wanna practice, turn it on. When you suck, turn it on. When you killin’, turn it on. Be creative when choosing your name, but live up to it. And never let anyone tell you that you’re too young, or you’re too old to do this. There is no such thing. The minute someone tells you, ‘whatchu doing that for’… CANCEL them. Don’t listen to the naysayers. I remember when I had a boyfriend who said that to me… and this was my boyfriend! There is room for female DJs. Don’t BS it, do it. I’m waitin’ on y’all. The time is now. Get on social media and get a free email address… all of that is free—market yourself and allow people to know who you are. It’s a rush for me to make you all dance,” she emphasized.
DJ Sundance also stressed the importance of being on time and showing up, no matter what is going on within the moment. “I don’t care if your hair is all over your head and your eyelashes are falling off. Show up and be there ON TIME ALWAYS. I remember once when I lost out on a $1,000 gig all because I was 15 minutes late, and I couldn’t be mad. It was all on me. You must maintain professionalism,” she said.
On the main stage, guests were treated to three multi-talented R&B/Soul vocalists: Glenn Jones, J. Brown and Eric Benét. Jones, who was just recently featured on the Emmy award winning hit TVOne series ‘UnSung’, took everyone down memory lane performing his hits, ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and ‘I’ve Been Searching,’ both were definite crowd pleasers.
“I have a brand new album coming out in the summer called ‘Love By Design.’ it’s a full album of great R&B. And I am still working with my foundation ‘The Love Jones Foundation’ and have some upcoming dates in Europe and Africa. I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Jones said with a smile.
In addition to Chicago, the Black Women’s Expo tour also will make stops in:
- Atlanta: September 14 – 15 at Georgia International Convention Center
- Dallas: June 15 – 16 at Fair Park
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