Issue No.1 March 31, 2000

IGNITE ~ Something New
HOT GIRLZ ~ Jill Scott, Amel Larrieux & Heather Headley
ISM ~ Kirikou and The Sorceress, & Fallen Leaves
ESOTERIC ~ Minority Women Less Likely To Exercise
CHICA TO CHICA ~ Flower Power


intro and overview

On this the last day of Women's History month, I welcome you to the first e-dition of The Hotness, an e-newsletter that celebrates the creativity, ingenuity and straight-up flava of women of color. The Hotness is a reflection of the world we live in as women who are health conscious, politically on point and media savvy. Featuring exclusive interviews, music, film and book reviews, editorials and tech news, The Hotness is for everyone interested in knowing which HOT GIRLZ are bringing something new and exciting to the table of American Culture.

Nicole Moore, Editor


inspired, creative and groundbreaking


Jill Scott

Ever since The Roots released "You Got Me", folks have been wondering who is this "Jilly from Philly" that wrote that smoothed out, breathe and stop hook: "If you are worried bout where (stop), I been or who I saw or (stop)"? On June 6th this singing lyricist answers that question with the release of "Who is Jill Scott?," her debut record on Hidden Beach Records. (Yep, that's Michael Jordan's label). Jill Scott is a 27 year old poet that like most children born under Aries, she has more professions than the Milky Way has stars. She appeared in the Canadian production of "RENT", hosts her own open mic showcase, "Words and Sounds," for local poets and mc's, and has been busy recording songs for a number of film soundtracks including, "The Wood" and "In Too Deep". She's often accused of being an Erykah Badu wannabe. Although their sound does spring from the same river, Jill flows into a far more distant land. From listening to "Who Is Jill Scott?," it is it clear that she can be passionately rugged like Chaka ("Gettin' In The Way": "You keep lying to my man and girlfriend I'm going to take you out in the middle of the street and whoop your tail for all it's worth-- $5.99 or something like that.") and gentle like Sarah Vaughan ("Do You Remember").

theHotness: What inspires you to write the type of songs you create?

Jill Scott: LESSONS. All the lessons inspire me. What hurt, what felt just right, what broke my heart or made me laugh till I almost peed, what made me go "ohhhh". The lessons of a human, womb-man, African- American lost and found, a lover, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a student of life. I believe life is the ultimate gift and I enjoy investigating and sharing.

tH: What about life in Philly shaped who is Jill Scott today?

JS: Growing up in Philly did a great deal for me. I remember all the neighborhood guys rhyming on the corners, beat boxing. I listened to the way the words were put together. It was exciting. It was everyday. The Philly Sound was huge (and still is by the way). Lots of real instrumentation in the music. Patti LaBelle, Gamble and Huff, Teddy Pendergrass. We had soul singers. Power 99 with Lady B., WDAS. Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff on the radio and at my high school parties. These are the memories I hold dear.

tH:What's the story behind the "You Got Me" hook?

JS: The hook was very simple. I liked it instantly and decided to tell the brothas what was going on. We all know that sistas are moving and shaking more now than ever. We are educated and educating. We are CEO's and doctors and mothers. We are rockin' it from all directions and brothers may feel lost or left out of the equation because there is so much on our plates. I wanted my brothas to know that no matter what, we are still down, now more than ever.

tH: How does this album reflect your inspirations, musically and otherwise?

JS: Freedom and love have always been my truest inspirations. Finding them, losing them, regaining them, the lessons in them. There's all kinds of love and things to appreciate. The thump of the drum, the sigh of the horn, the bell in a voice, the honesty of a lyric, the diversity of an individual, the child in all of us, sex. This album reflects freedom and love because there
are no brackets. It goes from Go Go to Classical tones to poetry, to Jazz, to honest to God Soul, to a cool ride on a hot day to damn you hurt me and I love you now and forever. The human spirit and emotions are wonderful things to behold. That is what an artist does. We pay attention to life. This album "Who is Jill Scott" is the beginning so please enjoy. I made this for you.

For more about "Jilly from Philly" go to


Amel Larrieux

Upon entering the Brooklyn based studio, the scent of jasmine incense encircles my head and suddenly I feel as though I am walking through a sacred space. African instruments hang on the walls and in every corner there are gray milk crates filled with jazz and funk records. I can spot the edges of a rare Alice Coltrane album peering out from the crate closest to the couch. It is there that the former lead singer and co-writer of soul, R&B duo Groove Theory sits. With the recent release of her solo debut record "Infinite Possibilities," this devoted wife, mother of two, ethnic clothing designer, and former dancer is ready to perform and show people she's more than just another pretty face. So what if Lauryn Hill and Sade have both been there and done that? Amel Larrieux at 26 years old could care less about the hype. Besides, as she tells it, this is her calling and there can never be too many preachers at Sunday revival.

"I feel like music does (move) me more than anything else. It's totally spiritual and driven by a sense of devotion, a sense of giving something good and uplifting to the listener," she says as she puts her hand over her heart. "I know that I only want to bring inspiration, love and good things to other people, and it's just now that I'm starting to learn who I am. So "Infinite Possibilities" is for me to remind myself: you've got to live what you write."

When this doe-eyed Muslim was 17, and a student at the Performing Arts High School in Philadelphia she discovered the best way to express herself was through songwriting. "I had this voice and I didn't know what to do with it, but I felt so good when I sang, especially when I sang my own songs. Then I realized all the people I looked up to were all singers and songwriters like Stevie Wonder, Sade, Sting and Jimi Hendrix."

Back then Amel wore long, black African dresses and big gelees to cover her locked hair. She admits that she was more outspoken about race and power and that she felt a need to conform to a certain ideal to express her politics. "I kept my hair covered for 3 years. I was reading Angela Davis and Assata Shakur and was full of that fire. (She begins singing one of her old songs.) 'If they say you're not beautiful, say yes I am! Oh my people are so down trodden.' (She breaks down laughing.) But the funny thing is that it was just a cliché." She leans forward and reckons, "A song has to be something that you don't think about as much. You have to channel the energy at that moment and write that piece of you. I believed that I had to write songs (strictly) about my people and for my people."

"Infinite Possibilities" features an amalgam of songs ranging from the invigorating lead single "Get Up," that summons the 'down trodden' to their feet, to "Down",a smoked-out joint that sways like Ella Fitzgerald and thumps like Roni Size, to "Sweet Misery" which she admits is based on pure fiction -- "A young woman in church has a crush on the choir director, but he's married. So she just sits there on Sundays, staring at him, wondering 'what if'."

So don't be fooled because Amel, who confesses to being a closet Lil' Kim fan, is still full of that fire. She may not be the instant combustion she was five or ten years ago, but now that she's doing for self you can best believe a flame or two will be sparked.

For more on Amel go to

~ N. Moore


Heather Headley

Tim Rice and Elton John's new Disney musical, "Aida," is based on Verdi's famous 1871 opera set in ancient Egypt about a love triangle involving Amneris, Radames and the Nubian princess-slave, Aida. Heather Headley who was born in Trinidad and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana plays Aida.

Heather, 25, looks as regal in person as she does as the princess onstage. Tall and slim, her hair cropped closer than that of a raw Marine recruit, she walks into a room as though there's a crown on her head.

Heather has been singing in church choirs since age 2, so she drifted naturally into musical theater while a student at Northwestern University. Four years ago, she auditioned for "Ragtime" in Canada, and was hired as Audra McDonald's understudy during its pre-Broadway tour, going on "about 30 times" for the star. "I had hair then," Heather says with a chuckle, moving her hand over the little that's left. The hair went when she was signed to appear in the Broadway production of "The Lion King" in 1998. She played Nala, the young lion's wife. "We had to cut our hair so the masks would fit over our faces," Heather says with a laugh.

Now, she's in another Disney production -- Aida. "Aida has changed a lot since it began, but I know it has been made better."

Because of the rigorous demands the show makes on her and her fellow cast members, Heather is on a very strict regimen to keep herself and her voice in shape. "I hate going to the gym, so I do a lot of swimming. I don't talk until at least 4 in the afternoon, and I try not to speak after the show at all. It's a tight discipline, but it's necessary," Heather admits. "I'm not married. My boyfriend at the moment is 'Aida' "and sometimes I feel like a battered wife."

For more on Heather Headley go to

~ Patricia O'Haire, NY Daily News 03.12.00




music, books, film, tv and websites


Kirikou and The Sorceress

For years I have yearned to see black women in an animated film. Not as lions, nor as hyenas, but as humans, cartoon flesh and bones. Not only did Michel Ocelot's "Kirikou and the Sorceress" fulfill this need for me, it did so with the grace and maturity that "real life" films lack. The tale of Kirikou is a simple one: He is a child wise beyond his years, speaking from
his mother's womb, who becomes obsessed with the Evil Sorceress who has deprived his village of water and men. Using his quick wit, tiny body, and innocent curiosity, Kirikou releases his village from the Sorceress's curse, saves the Sorceress from her own personal evil, and becomes the most dazzling man I've ever seen (yes, my attraction ignores the whole human/cartoon taboo-- watch "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" for reference). The realistic portrayal of the African village and its people, supported by an amazing score by Youssou N'Dour gave me hope about the future of animation. "Kirikou and the Sorceress" is only distributed in 2 theaters in New York City, but is slated to be released nationwide shortly. Find it. Support it. Don't believe the "Trois" hype, spend your money on Kirikou and say up yours to Disney and Dreamworks.

~ Bahia Ramos

Chai Time, a leading South Asian online community, recently obtained an investment of $25 million from eVentures India (with participation by RAFNet Ventures). eVentures India is a partnership between SOFTBANK CORP., ePartners, and PK Mittal of the Ispat Group that identifies and helps grow promising India-centric Internet ventures globally as well as facilitates market expansion into India by established Internet companies.

Before Bhana Grover, founder and CEO of Niche Media, launched Chai Time business was conducted on a shoestring budget. Grover who was designing South Asian-based children's epics for CD-ROM distribution, got turned down by traditional sources of money. "Niche Media was a female-run start-up in a male high-tech world," Grover told a Philadelphia paper in a 1996 interview. The series of culturally diverse tales, Sticky Stories, proved successful in the end but for Grover and creative talent at Niche Media, the difficulties of CD-ROM distribution hampered their vision. They were not bringing in enough capital or reaching enough people.

Around the same time Grover had begun to create a niche market, "I went online and there was nothing that was very consumer friendly for South Asians," says Grover who was born in New Delhi, India, into an Indian and Persian family. "Nothing had the colors and vibrancy of South Asia. So I wrote a business plan to create a community for South Asians."

Launched in May 1999,, which gets approximately one million visitors per month, is a virtual gathering place for South Asians to debate issues, download music, shop and build community ties. Like chai, a heady brew of black tea, cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, milk and honey, the South Asian community is a diverse diaspora that encompasses places such as the U.K., North America, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,Bangladesh, Nepal, Fiji, Uganda, South Africa, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. Grover says, "Chai Time is an online community for South Asians, by South Asians. We take what's happening in our culture--the vibrancy, the college life, the weddings, the neurosity, what we [talk about] over a cup of chai, and we put it online."

~ Vinita Srivastava


Fallen Leaves
by Adeline Yen Mah

Set against a backdrop of changing political times and the collision of the East and West, Falling Leaves describes the true and complicated story of Adeline Yen Mah's survival of an abusive childhood at the hands of her father and stepmother.

Adeline was thought to be the bearer of ill luck because her mother died two weeks after giving birth to her. It seemed that she would never be forgiven, which leads Adeline to spend her entire life trying to prove her worth. "All I knew was that I wished above all else to please my father. To gain his acceptance. To be loved. To have him say to me, just once in my life, 'Well done Adeline! We're proud of you.'"

Like Toni Morrison's haunting child Beloved, Adeline forces her family to confront their own ghosts and accept their own shortcomings. Through Adeline's search for respect and acceptance we discover that person inside of us whom we can trust, the person who is the best thing we are -- our own best friend.

~ Stephanie Mohorn




media bits and news bytes


Minority Women Less Likely To Exercise

Physical activity varies substantially among American women of different races, US researchers report. Overall, minority women are less likely to engage in exercise than white women are, but this picture changes when other types of physical activity, such as housework and occupational activity, are taken into account.




expressing ourselves


Flower Power

The social significance of receiving flowers for women is a seriously twisted, intrinsic affair of the heart. Getting a dozen roses can to lead an indescribable jonesin' feelin' that makes your insides feel like hot buttered grits. And not getting a dozen roses can lead to a downward spiral of distrust, insecurity and to a slew of manic Waiting To Exhale memoirs.

I remember when this guy I was dating gave me one yellow rose to cheer me up. I just knew that this here was the honey I was suppose to marry because that one flower made me feel like he was a true romantic who cared about my needs-- a sensitive brother. However, while I was listening to "Ain't Nobody" and hanging the now dried yellow bud over my bed, my Romeo was getting his groove thang on with another woman. Needless to say, I wasn't the only one hanging dead yellow roses in my bedroom.

Then there are the weddings and that beleaguered moment of Truth where all the single women gather to catch the bride's bouquet. I always feel like I'm playing basketball and everyone's posting-up trying to box-out and get that missed free throw shot. Women are talking shit about how it's their turn to tie the knot so "this bouquet is mine." Reaching over the back and in turn getting ribbed as the bouquet flies in the air, I watch my girls dressed in silk and linen scramble on the floor as they try to recover the loose ball--err, bouquet.

And I won't even delve into my teenage puppy-love sagas of picking petals trying To decide whether the basketball camp counselor loved me or he loved me not. It's almost mystical how we can be swayed, swooned and shook by just a bundle of blossoms. No matter how much Oprah and Ally McBeal I watch, clearly the countless episodes Of Young and The Restless where "Mr. Right" always met his woman with roses has made me more than a little anxious to have my own Shemar Moore with daisies in hand.

I've had a lot of negotiating to do around creating vibrant, loving, passionate relationships san fleurs. So for starters, I began buying myself lilies and sunflowers. Not only did that eliminate any ensuing drama over a pocket full of posies (or the lack thereof), but it also made me feel inspired and strong (in that "I'm a woman; I'm a backbone," type of way). Then I really got excited and purchased flower scented candles and jars of rose petal dust. Before I knew it, I had forgotten about that yellow rosebud and was happy and in love, just chillin' in my homemade, fragrant bliss thinking Shemar does not know what he is missing.

~ Nicole Moore







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