Welcome to For The People Productions Official website
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Introducing BLESSED; The upcoming serial novel by C. A. Webb with introduction by FTP's own Stanley Clark
Pastor Ezekiel James has enjoyed a historic legacy that is amplified by the remarkable success of his family. For almost 40 years he has been one of the most recognizable faces and names of faith around the world, and that favor seemed to be passed on to his seed, fraternal twins Rebecca and his namesake Ezekiel.
Born with the world seemingly at their feet, Ezekiel continued in the example of his father while Rebecca chose politics, a course that would introduce her to Jeremiah Reynolds. He wants to see a change come to the country. With the support of the James family, Jeremiah would gain influence that leads him to the office of Mayor, Governor and even the White House, becoming the first man of color to become President.
As Reynolds enters his second year in the Oval Office, two wars are waging around the world; however, the United States is more worried abotu a mysterious flue that is targeting the elderly and youth with deadly consequences. When it threatens the younest of the James family and even the First Family, a secret is revealed that threatens to destroy not just the trust of a family but the safety and security of an entire country...
BLESSED. The new serial novel written by C. A. Webb with a special introduction by Stanley Clark.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
ENLISTING IN THE WAR AGAINST ILLITERACY
WHAT'S COMING UP NEXT FOR CONVERSATIONS LIVE! RADIO...
HIP HOP AND BOOKS LITERACY CAMPAIGN RETURNS AND PREPARES FOR 2010!
Over the past six years, Cyrus Webb and Conversations LIVE! Radio have talked to some of the biggest names in arts and entertainment. Now at the end of 2009 and going into Season Seven of the show, they bring their listening audience conversations you don't want to miss...
SUN. DEC. 13, 2009 @ 7p.m. CST (6p.m. CST/4p.m. PT) --- Dr. Neal Hall talks about race, the state of the United States and his new book NIGGER FOR LIFE.
Mon. Dec. 14, 2009 @ 8p.m. EST (7p.m. CST/5p.m. PT) --- Constantine Markides is the host of the first blog-based reality show Fourth Fiction. He talk about the inspiration for the show, and some of the contestants from the first season will join him to share their experience.
Listen to the shows live at www.blogtalkradio.com/conversationslive.
CYRUS WEBB TALKS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE, NOT WHERE YOU'RE FROM
CYRUS WEBB PRESENTS "BOOKS OF INSPIRATION 2009"
CONVERSATIONS BOOK CLUB'S TOP 100 BOOKS OF 2009
It is one of those lists that is a way of recognizing great books and also the authors who write them: Conversations Book Club's "Top 100 Books of 2009". Compiled by Cyrus A. Webb, this is just one way that the literary organization shows why it is one of the best for those looking for best in literature.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
TWS EPISODE 5, PART 1: Cyrus Webb shares parts of his interviews with bestselling author Brenda L. Thomas and Dynah Zale. U. K. Filmmaker Tom Sands shares his commitment to work with The Write Stuff in promoting literacy.
TWS EPISODE 5, PART 2: Watch parts of Webb's interviews with bestselling authors Shelia Lipsey and Daphine Robinson. You will also watch this week's marketing tip by Earl Hall.
TWS EPISODE 5, PART 3: Webb shares parts of his interviews with bestselling authors Jonathan Richardson and Allison Hobbs. There are also commercials from Think It Ink It Publishing and Everybody Wins.
TWS EPISODE 5, PART 4: Webb shares parts of his interviews with bestselling authors Dedra Johnson, Tony Lindsay and C-Murder.
TWS EPISODE 5, PART 5: Author Jeff Rivera shares this week's 60 second writing tip and Cyrus Webb introduces Conversations Book Club's Top 50 Non-Fiction Books of 2009!
TWS EPISODE 5 PART 6: Host Cyrus Webb shares Conversations Book Club's Top 50 Fiction Books of 2009!
TWS EPISODE 5 PART 7: Cyrus Webb talks about the war against illiteracy and summarizes this week's show.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It is a six-part conversation that you will want to watch and share with anyone who finds themselves struggling with those very issues. This show is dedicated to the memory of Izear Roberts, Jr.---the father of producer Stanley Clark---who passed away unexpectantly this week, those who passed away in the horrible incidents in both Texas and Florida as well as their families. It is our hope that all will find something to encourage themselves as we go through our own challenges in life as well...
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
PART ONE: Bestselling authors Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes talk success
PART TWO: Bestselling author Wahida Clark talks about her amazing career
PART THREE: Cyrus Webb talks about the book club designed for sports lovers and introduces books designed with them in mind. He also begins his conversation with author Gary Myers about the events that inspired the book THE CATCH
PART FOUR: The continuation of Webb's discussion with author Gary Myers
PART FIVE: Our literary profile features CBS National Correspondent Byron Pitts
PART SIX: Find out what is coming up next for The Write Stuff and how you can become more involved in our literacy campaign.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Details will be coming soon, however, CLUB CELEBRITY will be the place in the South where everyone feels like a star.
Thanks to Charles Alexander for his help in making this new venture a reality. For more details or information, contact Stanley Clark at 601.559.3463.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
by Stanley Clark with Herschel Dixon
(Part three of our discussion with Cyrus A. Webb.)Part One of our Three-Part Series about Cyrus A. Webb and Conversations
Part Two of our Three-Part Series about Cyrus A. Webb and Conversations
On Friday, July 17, 2009, Cyrus A. Webb-The King of Conversations—will celebrate his 34th birthday. In the past 10 years of his life he has been recognized as an award-winning visual and literary artist, motivational speaker and the founder of one of the largest literary franchises in the United States. With all of his accomplishments he has worked hard to remain humble in the face of his success and careful not to let setbacks, negativity or the natural occurrences of life to distract him from his goals.
Of all the projects he has lent his name and abilities to, it seems that the Conversations brand with its radio and television shows, bi-monthly magazine, newspaper columns and most recently his book clubs has been the highlight of his life thus far.
By 2008 he had become known to literary organizations and authors across the country and even gained the respect of entertainment news outlets such as MTV and VH1. Conversations with C. A. Webb the radio show became known as Conversations LIVE! Radio in June 2008 when it moved from just being carried by one radio station to join forces with the popular internet radio service Blog Talk Radio.
“It was important for me not to deny the fact that people all over the world were listening to what I had to say,” says Webb. With each interview and discussion his audience grew. Conversations LIVE! Radio was respected for not only what it did but how it treated each of its guests. No matter how bad Webb may have wanted an interview, no one appeared on the show that Webb hadn’t personally researched or was familiar with their work. “That’s the only way I can be respectful to my listeners as well as the guest,” Webb explains. “Our show is a conversation: a real back-and-forth. That means I have to know them.”
Such professionalism has garnered him exclusive interviews. To date his is the only radio show to interview the entire cast of the hit VH1 reality show I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY. He also coordinated with MTV in getting exclusive interviews from cast members of 50 CENT: The Money & The Power. Fans of popular television shows such as Noah’s Arc and Project Runway? Cast members of both have also had their turns on Conversations LIVE! Radio. In 2009 even national recording artists Donnie Klang of Bad Boy Records and "The People's Champ" Paul Wall have made appearances on the show, introducing new music during the live broadcasts.
Truth be told, there are very few guests that Webb wants to interview that haven’t been a part of his show. “I’m not trying to be cocky or arrogant when I say this,” he remarks, “but I can count the number of guests I have reached out to for an interview that haven’t come on the show.” When asked who he would like to talk with, Webb is quick to answer. “In the literary world it would be authors like Thomas Harris, Stephen King, Hill Harper, Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz. In entertainment, I would love to talk with P. Diddy, 50 Cent, Miley Cyrus and even Taylor Swift. Then, of course, there is Alicia Keys, Fergie, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: all of whom have made a name for themselves outside of entertainment. There’s still time, though,” he adds with a smile in his voice. “I’m not going anywhere.”
And it is that confidence that has caused some around Webb to love him for what he is doing in the world or love to hate on him.
CONVERSATIONS AND CONTROVERSY
When we first talked with him about his detractors, it seemed as though Cyrus was trying to be politically correct. When we revisited the subject this time, we were able to see another side of not just his personality but his rationale for the life he lives.
“I get so sick and tired of these dream-killers who have nothing better to do with their time,” Cyrus exclaimed when asked how he deals with the criticism that seems to follow him. “I mean, really. What are they doing with their lives that make them feel like they have any right to judge my motives or what I do. Show me how they are working to improve their community and give back. They are the ones who are all talk and no action.”
The latest controversy seemed to come from some of those who Webb once called friends or associates who seemed to turn on him during his last projects. Some have even gone back and referenced the two events he was a part of in 2005 and 2006 to show that he’s not capable of successfully doing what he sets out to do. This is a criticism that the young man doesn’t digest quietly.
“For some people they will always go back to those two events that happened a few years ago to try and throw dirt on my name and the work I am doing,” Webb said. “My response to that would be what about what I’ve done today, yesterday last week, last month or last year? Over the past 10 years I have done more than people two or three times my age. My record speaks for itself. Every time they have to backtrack to previous events to try and discredit me, it shows them for what they are: mangy little junkyard dogs that are too lazy to build their own legacies so they have to attach their names to someone else’s.”
“Mangy little junkyard dogs?” When asked if he wanted to rephrase that remark, Webb didn’t even consider it. “I call it like I see it,” he said. “They are snapping at those who are busy doing something so they have to do something, and that something for them is attack.”
The newest endeavor Webb added to his growing achievements is called The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign (http://www.thewritestufftv.com). The idea came to him during one of his regular visit to Cici’s Pizza in his hometown of Brandon, Mississippi.
“The Write Stuff was created to serve two purposes,” says Webb. “First it is going to be a means to show the world why it is importance to encourage reading and it will also give aspiring writers an opportunity to compete for a book deal and the tools to be successful.” The most visible aspect of the campaign, The Write Stuff Reality Show, is America’s first literary reality show that will be seen through Youtube (see http://www.youtube.com/thewritestufftv) and select television stations throughout the country.”
To make sure that the show had something for everyone, Cyrus said that he thought he had the perfect mixture of individuals working on the project to ensure its success. What happened instead was he saw the motivations of some that were a part of the project were less than pure.
Webb described it this way: “It never ceases to amaze me how people will leech off of projects they believe to be the next big thing, but they don’t want to do the work it takes,” He then added. “I work at least 14 hours a day if not more. I don’t intend for everyone around me to do the same, but if you are going to take the credit for some of my work’s success, you should at least be a part of the work.”
Aside from The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign, in July 2009 Cyrus is also launching 3 new book clubs and bringing back his popular weekly open mic night in Rankin County (MS). These will be held at Cici’s Pizza in Brandon, MS, and details can be found at www.conversationsatcicis.com.
Even Conversations LIVE! Radio will be changing in the near future. “I am bringing in new hosts for Conversations, and it will feature different perspectives as well as interests.”
CONVERSATIONS AND POLITICS
Webb is also going to be holding more of his thought-provoking panel discussions beginning in July 2009. Forums dealing with the Obama administration’s impact on the Hip Hop community as well as addressing the issue of Racial Pride have been scheduled, leaving some to speculate that he might be positioning himself as a voice on the political scene.
“I don’t have an interest in entering the world of politics,” Cyrus says. “I believe that my strength is in bringing people together to have conversations about issues, not to try and sway people’s opinions or even use my platform to express my own interests.”
At one time it may have been possible for the young entrepreneur to stay out of the political fray, but with his forums in 2008 openly questioning why they vote the way they do landed Webb on the opposite side of the camera. He was interviewed by Crystal Hilliard of Mississippi’s ABC affiliate about his feelings about then candidate Barack Obama and his run for President. He raised eyebrows when he admitted during the interview that he was not voting for Obama.
“That was something I didn’t intend on getting into,” Webb admits. Through his journey in public life he assumed most would accept that through the causes and decisions he had made that politically his views were right-of-center. Having to actually voice his beliefs, however, proved more difficult for him. “I don’t think that is my place. I understand that people are interested in what I personally think about issues, but I don’t want them to feel as though I believe my convictions should be theirs. Just weeks before Obama was elected, Webb’s political views were made nationally known through the USA Today newspaper.
“A reporter from USA Today was covering my panel discussion about why blacks were so in lock-step with Obama,” he explained. “I wanted to dissect if it was because of his polices or just because of his skin color. Afterwards the reporter asked me some questions about my own feelings about Obama, and it just went from there.” Since then, he has made it more of a mission to report and analyze stories instead of becoming a part of them. “I don’t want how I personally feel about someone or something to in itself turn people on or off. I want them to hear both sides and make their own decision. In the end, that is what Conversations is all about.”
Whether it’s an expanded role in arts and entertainment or something more ambitious, it is clear that no matter what Webb decides to do in the future, the sky is definitely the limit. “I don’t look for a finish line,” he says. “I am, however, always looking for the next thing I can do to best use my skills. Who knows what direction I will go in next.”
To keep up with Cyrus A. Webb, visit www.cyruswebb.com.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
For more information, contact Stanley Clark at 601.559.3463.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The TRU Story of How Conversations Partnered with Platinum-selling Recording Artist /Bestselling author C-Murder
by Herschel Dixon with Stanley Clark of For The People Productions
Part Two of For The People Productions' Three-Part Series Celebrating The Six Years of Success of Cyrus A. Webb's Conversations Brand. Missed part one of our three part interview with Cyrus A. Webb? Visit this link: http://forthepeopleproductions.blogspot.com/2009/06/king-of-conversations-celebrates-six.html
I got a call from Cyrus on the afternoon of Monday, June 1, 2009 telling me that he was on hold to talk with Martha Stewart on her radio show. That’s right: Martha Stewart. And as you can imagine he was excited. I didn’t know it at the time, but he had seen a tweet from Martha on Twitter inviting people to call into her show during her “Ask Martha” segment. That was all he needed.
That is the Cyrus Webb I have gotten to know over the past decade since we first met. He sees something that he wants, and he goes after it with no thought of what can’t be done. The word “No” doesn’t exist in his world, at least not when directed towards him. Obstacles just mean “Not right now.”
The month he was celebrating as the six year anniversary of his Conversations Brand is really a celebration of the growth Webb has experienced not only within himself and his audience, but the number of walls he has brought down because of just wanting to bring people together to promote the very best of themselves.
I have heard Cyrus joke with people that he has a split personality: the everyday Cyrus Webb and the more public alter ego C. A. Webb. I believe at some point that might just be true. From what I have seen, however, over the years it has been hard to tell when one ends and the other begins.
“I run my life just like one runs a political campaign,” he says. “My typical day begins between 4-5:30a.m. 7 days a week with a very deliberate routine. I get dressed, put on the water for my coffee and check email before updating my websites and going through my daily schedule.” That’s right: a schedule. Before going to bed each day he makes a list of things he knows he wants to get done when the next day begins. “The list may change some throughout the day,” he admits. “Some things are added or even moved to the following day, but there is an effort made to make each day count.”
Failure to best utilize the hours he is given can sometime lead to a side of Webb that is not as flattering as the calm persona he likes to show. He is a control freak. This is not something I have heard, but something I have seen firsthand over the time since we met. Cyrus Webb does not like for outside forces to sway him in any way. Time is precious, and he doesn’t like to waste any of what he is given. “I have a saying that I tweet everyday,” he says. “It’s very simple: ‘YESTERDAY is gone. TOMORROW is not promised. All you have is TODAY.’ That is not just true of me, but everyone.”
For Cyrus time is not just money, but a priceless resource that can’t be wasted. It seems that is the reason why he has done his best to make his brand, especially Conversations, something that is not limited to one group.
“One of the things that frustrates me the most is people assuming things about me and what I do based on what they think they know or what they see,” Webb says. During this conversation on the phone he paused as though trying to make sure he made his point the best way possible. “I am a young black male, but this doesn’t mean everything I do is based on my age or my race. My world is so much bigger than black and white. I don’t see this argument having to be made by those who are my white counterparts and friends. I don’t want to be put in a box.”
(Photo above courtesy of Jackson Advocate Newspaper)
As Webb continued to grow Conversations, it became clear that his vision was not going to be a one note. From the radio or television shows to the magazine and then to the book clubs, there was something for every group. What impressed me the most about the way the brand was constructed, was the fact that Cyrus had an invested interest in every aspect. He researches every guest, reads every book and personally writes them an electronic Thank You note afterwards. “It’s called Conversations,” he says, “so it stands to reason that I would have to be personally involved with every aspect of it. In order for all of these parts to work, I have to know what I’m talking about, especially if it is something that takes me out of my comfort level.”
This became clear in December 2006, just a couple of months after Conversations Book Club was formed and began operating. A friend of Webb’s told him about a book called Death Around The Corner by rapper Corey “C-Murder” Miller, Founder of TRU Records and TRU Publishing.
“I hadn’t heard of the book,” Webb says, “and I honestly knew very little about C-Murder at the time. I dismissed the idea of reading it, because I didn’t think there would be anything that would interest me or those I was serving through Conversations. “
Webb went on about his business and had forgotten about the book and its author until another friend asked him about it. “’You have to read this book,’ they said to me. Trusting them, I went to Wal-Mart, purchased the book and read it.”
The book changed his life. It told the story of a young boy named Daquan who because of internal and external forces became a part of a world that eventually destroyed him. Within the storyline was also a compelling story of relationships and the power of dreaming big. Though fiction, C-Murder had written his family into the book and allowed the main character to learn from the mistakes and decisions that they had made. There was even a supernatural aspect to the book which showed the range and skill of the author.
“As soon as I finished it the first time,” Webb says, “I knew three things: 1) I would be reading it again, 2) I would be scheduling it for a discussion through Conversations Book Club and 3) I wanted to interview the author.” Webb found out quickly that the first two things would be a great deal easier than the third.
“What I knew about C-Murder was that he rapped, that’s about it,” Webb admits. After reading the book, however, he discovered more that had been written about the author as well as about some of the legal woes he had experienced. This didn’t change the way Cyrus felt about the project at all. “I know firsthand that not everything written or said about you or that you are accused of is the whole story.” After searching the internet, Webb found C-Murder’s Myspace page and wrote him. To his surprise within 24 hours, he had a reply.
Death Around The Corner was published by Kensington Publishing, one of the country's leading publishers. It kicked off the Street Lit imprint Vibe Books, and tens of thousands had been sold directly from C-Murder's personal Myspace page.
Going into 2007 C-Murder and Webb communicated regularly. “I found out that he was on house arrest and not able to travel, however, he was open to doing an interview with me,” Webb relates. Through Conversations Book Club book lovers and interested parties came to meetings at the Medgar Evers Library and later the Richard Wright Library, Waldenbooks Metrocenter and Barnes & Noble Bookstore to listen to discussions with authors (either via telephone or in-person) as well as ask their own questions. All events were free to the public, and Webb promoted each event to groups he thought would be interested in that week’s particular guest author.
When C-Murder was scheduled for an interview/discussion via telephone to discuss his book, Webb promoted it on Myspace to those in the Hip Hop community and to recording artists that he knew. He also made flyers. The day of the discussion, over 80% of those in attendance were in the music business, and even the state of Mississippi’s largest daily newspaper, the Clarion Ledger, was there. Webb’s sense of success was overwhelming.
“What other reading group is able to bring these groups together and attract the press,” Webb says with an obvious smile in his voice. Those in attendance had heard about the discussion, went out and bought the book and actually had questions. “I knew then that I had to get C-Murder to Mississippi for a visit. What he did by writing this book was going to have far-reaching effects for not only the urban community, but unite groups that otherwise would not be together.”
It was in talking about C-Murder and his plan to host the author that the more aggressive side of Cyrus Webb appears. Remember, he was talking about hosting an author who was on house arrest awaiting to be re-tried for murder and was seen by some as not the best of influences. But this is not what Cyrus saw when he looked at Corey “C-Murder” Miller and the book he had written. He saw someone that young people in urban communities would listen to about the life they were living and who could encourage them to do something that those like Webb might not be able to do: He could let them know it was okay to read.
As 2007 went on, Conversations Book Club picked up steam and garnered attention from the press as well as respected authors across the country. Through this channel Webb was also able to conduct interviews with authors that were personal favorites of his, including Andrew Neiderman (author of The Devil’s Advocate/ghostwriter for the V. C. Andrews franchise), John Saul (author of Comes The Blind Fury), Stuart Woods, Evie Rhodes and countless others. With each event more attention was brought to various genres and authors, and it became clear that Conversations Book Club was going to be a force that could not be denied.
It was the clout of his growing brand that made Cyrus believe if anyone could host C-Murder in events it would be his organization. “I try not to think of my business or Conversations as just me,” admits Webb, “but I understand that for some I AM Conversations because of being the face of the brand.” When it came to Operation: C-Murder, it was that fact which would bring the mission to fulfillment.
“I talked with C-Murder about his coming to Mississippi, and he was excited about the idea,” Cyrus says. Since the book had been released in late 2006, he had only been able to do one event, and that was in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. “A book needs publicity to survive, however, the one thing Cee wasn’t able to do is actively promote his project. He had the name recognition, and that helps a lot, but people needed to hear the story.”
Cyrus also knew that his discussing the book would add a different dimension. “No one would expect me to be with C-Murder, let along endorsing his book.” But endorse the book is exactly what Cyrus Webb did: on his website, at events—wherever he could. During the summer of 2007, Conversations Book Club was named “Outstanding Program” by the Jackson-Hinds Library System in Mississippi. Webb decided to use the results of his brand and his own name recognition to move forward with his plan to bring C-Murder to Mississippi. “I contacted Cee’s lawyer, telling him what I wanted to do. He said it was a long shot, but told me to write the judge with my request as well as what my plans were for the trip.”
After that, the only thing to do was wait. The wait, however, wasn’t long. C-Murder contacted Webb in late September 2007 telling him that the visit had been approved. “Though I had gone through all of that to try and make it happen, I was a little surprised that it actually did happen,” Cyrus said to me. At times I believe he feigns modesty so not to appear cocky or over-confident. With the C-Murder project, though, I do believe he was genuinely surprised at what his brand had accomplished.
Now that the trip was a go, Webb went about making the schedule for his special guest. “One thing I don’t think people know is that Conversations Book Club is truly like no other book club out there,” he tells me before going forward. “Conversations doesn’t charge any membership fees or require anything financial from its guests. I absorb all costs when they happen, and since it is a co-ed group of people from all over, there is no board or staff to take care of logistics. All of that goes through me.” And no matter how tiresome that sounds, I don’t think that Cyrus would have had it any other way.
On Thursday, October 10, 2007, C-Murder and Cyrus Webb met in person for the first time. The next couple of days, Webb guided the recording artist/author through over a dozen events and in the process over 200 books were sold, including at a special visit at Hinds Community College in Utica, MS. The weekend was like nothing Webb had experienced before. At each stop there was a media frenzy, including coverage by Fox News, the Associated Press, Times Picayune, Clarion Ledger, The Mississippi Link, Jackson Advocate, NBC affiliate WLBT Channel 3, ABC’s affiliate WAPT Channel 16 and others. Because he was under a gag order, Miller was unable to do interviews. Webb spoke on his behalf and on the behalf of the visit. He was also allowed to be the first person in five years to do a television interview with Miller which was taped for Conversations.
“The press coverage was incredible, but at the end of the day what stood out to me the most was how so many people gave Miller a second look and were willing to give his book a chance. I shared with them how the book had affected me after I had originally wrote it off, and people were willing to trust me.”
At the end of the visit there was some talk about what Miller was accused of and if it was appropriate for Webb to not only be associating himself with the embattled artist/author but bring him into schools as well. One thing that was discovered—something that Webb had not publicly discussed—was the letter he had written to the judge to ask for the visit. The Times Picayune broke that aspect of the story, and some in Mississippi thought that only added to the view of Webb’s thinking he could just present a reasonable argument, smile and do whatever he wanted. “That was a chance we all took,” Webb says, “but it was a chance that I was willing to take, and I don’t in any way regret it.”
That chance for the most part seemed to have paid off. The visit led to Webb forming the C. U. T. Society, with C.U.T. standing for Conversations Urban Teen Society with books geared at the Hip Hop generation. The first book it read and discussed? Death Around The Corner.
The relationship between Webb and Miller grew in 2008 when a chapter of Conversations Book Club was started in New Orleans, LA. In January 2008, Death Around The Corner was the first book the group discussed, and the meeting was covered by MTV News, Times Picayune, Get The Daily Online News and even The Chicago Tribune. At that first meeting there were over 40 who attended, all but five were young men.
The two then arranged a series of discussions called “Tru Conversations” online where they would take callers from across the country about Death Around The Corner and C-Murder’s message for the youth.
The last public event that the two did together was in May 2008 with Webb’s Hip Hop and Books project which allowed recording artists to come together and promote reading among their fans. Through Miller, Webb also gained a sense of street credibility that he has used in order to continue his project geared toward the urban community.
“I owe my success in that area to C-Murder and those who allowed me into their inner circles to help tell their story,” says Webb. If not for the backing of individuals like C-Murder it would have been nearly impossible for him to penetrate the urban community--especially the Hip Hop generation--with his mission of encouraging reading. A similar relationship was formed in 2008 with rapper/author Jacki-O who had Cyrus coordinate the tour for her debut novel Grown & Gangsta (published by C-Murder's TRU Publishing).
After Hip Hop and Books ended for the year, Webb used his newfound relationship with the urban community to host quarterly discussions based on issues in books they could relate too. He hosted panels featuring community leaders, those in the hip hop community and even ministers. They were free to the public and individuals of all ages and races attended. One of the last discussions was even covered by reporter Chris Joyner for USA Today.
By the end of the summer in 2008, Webb was ready to get back to what had begun Conversations in the first place: radio. But times had changed quickly. With the national attention he had garnered since taking off 2007 to focus on his book clubs, being on one radio station was not going to be enough. Webb also knew that what he had done to encourage reading and promote authors was preparing to be taken to the next level as well.
Little did he realize, though, that having a routine dinner at Cici’s Pizza in Brandon, MS in October 2008 would end up taking his life and his literary clout to a level far beyond his wildest dreams.
NOTE: On Monday, July 6, 2009 we will conclude our three-part series with what Cyrus A. Webb is doing now and where Conversations is headed in the future.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
By Stanley Clark with Herschel Dixon
(NOTE: This is Part One in a three-part series of our interview with For The People Productions' Chief of Staff and Conversations founder Cyrus A. Webb about the creation of his omnimedia organization and his reflection from the past six years. In what is by far his most revealing interview to date, he addresses his beginnings in the spotlight, some of the challenges and controversies he has overcome and what is next in his growing organization.)
On Monday, June 1, 2009 Mississippi native Cyrus A. Webb aka C. A. Webb marked six years since he had packaged his love of thoughtful discussions into what would become known as The Conversations Brand. What began in 2003 as a radio show called Conversations with C. A. Webb talking with the movers and shakers in his home state has expanded into a national platform where people in the all areas of the arts and entertainment world can be united with their fans and supporters through a radio and television show, magazine, forums and book clubs—lots of book clubs. Under Webb, Conversations has been talked and written about in regional newspapers and magazines such as The Clarion Ledger, The Record, Mckinney Courier, Hype Magazine, and Times Picayune and in national outlets such as The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, MTV, VH1, USA Today and more.
Since its inception, literally hundreds of guests have talked with the host and his audience and tens of thousands have tuned in to the conversations. By 2008, Webb’s Conversations Book Club was considered one of the leading literary reading groups, boasting 10 chapters in five states covering all genres, cultural backgrounds and interests. To date the book club has arguably hosted more authors than any other in the country. In 2008, Webb was honored to have his radio show, Conversations LIVE! Radio (formerly "Conversations with C. A. Webb), be considered the “It” place for some of the biggest names on television, getting exclusive interviews that were not found anywhere else!
“I knew that God had blessed me with gifts,” says Webb,33. “I just wasn’t sure to what extent those gifts would be utilized.” Before 2003 Webb was mainly known as a spoken word and visual artist as well as someone who shared his talent with the youth, but from an early age those around him knew there was more to come. “I go back and read some of the articles where those I’ve worked with talk about me and it seems almost surreal,” he says. “Who would have known that my mission to be heard would lead to this?”
Considering his beginnings, Webb’s success would automatically seem unlikely. His father died when he was young, and his relationship with his step-father was not one that has always been smooth. “I was only 6 when he came into our lives,” Webb recounts, “and I didn’t like him. I’m not sure exactly why. I mean, he wasn’t perfect, but neither were my younger brother and I. I think a lot of it was that I felt he was trying to fill a place that wasn’t his.” Today Webb and his step-father are closer. “He has been great to my mother, and even for me. When I host events that are local, I can look for him to either try to attend or make sure to ask how they went.”
Another aspect that makes Webb’s journey seem impossible is that he made the decision in high school not to go to college. “That was hard for my family to understand and took some time for them to accept,” he says. “I am not going to sit here and say that I always made the right decisions, but I wanted to follow my heart.” There would be some things that would test Webb during that time, however, in the end he stayed true to what he thought was right. Incidentally, for the past 7 years he has spoken at colleges about the importance of following one’s dreams.
”I don’t tell them to follow my path or that my path is right for them,” Webb insists, “but I do tell them how important it is to make each day count.” It is that lesson that would become the underlying message of Conversations.
By 2003 Webb had been written about in various publications and covered on television in Mississippi for the past 4 years, talking about his personal story of dealing with his own demons and using that to help others through his poetry and artwork as well as his visits to schools and with community groups. He was told of an opportunity to have his own 1/2 hour show on WMPR 90.1 FM in Jackson, MS for a reasonable price. It was an interesting opportunity, he thought. “You could pay the fee for the time slot and basically run it the way you wanted to.” Webb also saw it as a way to branch out to a larger audience because the station reached 4 states on the radio dial and was heard live online. “It was a big opportunity, and I saw it as a way to branch out and see what happened.” He was 27 years old.
The first show was called “Let’s Talk”, and Webb admitted he was a nervous wreck. “I had this whole script written out,” he says with a laugh. “I took it as a way to tell the listeners about me, what I did and what I hoped the show was able to accomplish. Remember, this was a 30 minute show, and because I was reading so fast because of nervousness, I was done in about 15 minutes.” Webb knew he had to do something, so he asked those listening to call in and tell him what they wanted to talk about. At first there was nothing, and then a call came in from his friend Angela “Urban Rose” Sarton, an artist who lived in Biloxi, Mississippi. She had been listening and called in to tell Cyrus congratulations on the show.
What happened next, would set the stage for what would become Conversations.
“After thanking her for calling in,” Webb recounts, “I then told her to tell the listeners about herself and about the art she created.” The back and forth went on, and that completed his first show. “I knew from then on that it was important to have guests that others could relate to and feel as though they not only knew but wanted to know more about.”
“Let’s Talk” became “Conversations with C. A. Webb” and with the name change also went the script. “I could tell that as long as I knew about the person I was talking to, I didn’t need to try and read a script. A conversation is real. I wanted my show to be real.”
The show quickly grew a following. “Over the next two years I was able to introduce not only Mississippi but listeners all over the world to guests that were making a difference,” says Webb. “We had all ages, races and backgrounds on: visual artists, poets and spoken word artists on the program as well as ministers and those who were working with non-profits. As the show went on, recording artists got involved, even breaking their music first on my show.” Such artists include Duane Scott, Martha Simpson, The Patrick Smith Band and Tim Collins. “Conversations was for everyone,” he said, but it was obvious that it was his style that kept guests coming and his listeners tuning in.
The fee Webb paid for the time on the radio station was simply an investment, because before long he was having advertisers come to him, paying to have their businesses, services and events mentioned on the show. The opportunity then became a means of revenue as well. “I wish I could take credit for the show’s success,” Webb says. “The gratitude definitely goes to God. I am just using the gift he has given me.”
Webb was asked about expanding that gift on television in 2004. “I found out that you could basically get a paid programming block of airtime on television as well,” he says, “and so I went to the ABC affiliate in Jackson and pitched my idea. The price for a Sunday morning show was reasonable, so I went to my advertisers and before I knew it ‘Conversations with C. A. Webb’ was then on television.”
Before long it became clear that people outside the state of Mississippi were seeing Webb as a viable force. “I began getting letters and emails from publicists wanting to have their clients on my program when they had events going on or were going to be in the Mississippi area,” Webb says. The first author to be on both Webb’s radio and television show was bestselling author Brandon Massey in 2004. “He was so down to earth and approachable. It was after his visit that I began to really see how what I was being allowed to do was making a difference.”
The author and Webb have kept in touch and are friends to this day.
Among other things, “Conversations with C. A. Webb” also became a forum to discuss topics that were in the news. Webb hosted discussions on everything from how to build your Brand, the effect of sex, drugs and violence in entertainment as well as addressing issues of faith.
In 2005, however, the television version of Conversations took Webb into the political arena. Something that he has tried hard to remain neutral in. “I believe that what Conversations represented was not my personal feelings, but the thoughts and ideals of my guests. Whether I agreed with them or not, it was my responsibility to let my guests express themselves.”
That year was an election year for Jackson, Mississippi’s mayor, and Webb decided that he was going to invite the Mayoral candidates on his show and film the interviews in front of an audience. He reached out to the camps of the three (3) major candidates. Mayor Harvey Johnson(D) and Rick Whitlow(R) agreed to come on and talk about their ideals. Democratic candidate Frank Melton(D) declined the offer.
“I was nervous,” Webb relates, “but I was nervous with every interview. In fact, I still am, but I had done my homework on them, and was fair to them both. The interviews were done separately, and I believe in the end, the audience got to see another side of them.” That year Mayor Johnson would lose to Frank Melton. (Note: Mayor Frank Melton passed away in April 2009 while still in office.)
That same year, Webb began writing columns for The Mississippi Link under Conversations as well, focusing on his guests and some of the topics the shows would focus on. Now on radio, television and in print, Webb wanted to his influence to help others in more public ways such as contests and awards shows. And it was with that decision that he was taught the hard way that all that glitters is not gold.
Though Webb had been riding a way of positive energy and press for almost six years, 2005 and 2006 would prove to hold the first public dents in his armor.
“I don’t consider myself a celebrity,” Webb says. “Yes, I am in the public eye, people know me and I do a lot of things that get attention, but I interview celebrities. That’s not me.”
The view that Cyrus A. Webb has of himself is not the view that others sometimes have of him. There have been accusations that he is on a mission to control the world as he knows it, making the decision of what makes it and what doesn’t. Others have said that Conversations is just another way of making him rich and famous, not to help others. In 2005 and again in 2006, Webb was involved in two events that were meant to recognize talent in the state of Mississippi, however, the end result was a financial loss and accusations that Webb was completely responsible and a fraud.
“That was a hard time for me,” Webb reflects. “I don’t talk a lot about that time, because what hurt me more than what some saw as a failure was how quickly those around me scurried to cover themselves and add insult to injury.” He then pauses and adds: “You know, one thing I haven’t talked a lot about in this interview is my group of friends. The reason is that I have learned that your friends are not always who you think they are. Yes, I was at the head of projects that didn’t go exactly according to plan, but I was hurt, really hurt at how even those around me—who I thought knew me—weren’t there for me. But I was true to myself in the situation. I didn’t go pointing fingers at others. I took responsibility. I stepped up as the leader, and that is what I will always do.”
What did those setbacks teach Webb? “I learned that at the end of the day, you can’t rely on others to step up and do all they can to make things work. You have to be able to shoulder the weight of the burden, not just relish the success. That was a big lesson for me. Look at what celebrities go through everyday. Every move they make is critiqued and analyzed. Some of them are ripped to shreds every week. Surely I could handle a two newspaper articles. And that was all it was: two newspaper articles. I learned something about myself during that time. I could handle not only the praise, but the criticism as well.”
This attitude would prove Webb well as he entered another ambitious endeavor in 2008.
At the end of 2006, Webb was ready to move on to the next phase of his brand. It involved a love of his that had existed since he was a child: His love of books.
“I had experienced success talking with authors on the radio and television shows, and I knew that a book club would be ideal,” Webb says. Finding one he could fit into his program, though, proved to be easier said than done. “It was the funniest thing to me. I did research on book clubs all across the state of Mississippi and there were none that were set up to include men.” What made this extremely odd to him was that the state had the highest illiteracy and high school drop out rate in the country at the time. “I knew that in order for this to work, I had to create my own book club, but it couldn’t just be about a book that was discussed once a month.”
Webb then had an idea. “I reached out to the publicists and authors I had met and asked them how would they feel about being guests during an interactive discussion of their books with readers.” The name of the book club? Conversations. The response was overwhelming. He then reached out to the Medgar Evers Library in Jackson, MS about staying open an hour later twice a week for the discussions to take place. The librarian, Ms. Laura Turner, agreed and the book club began with 3 members, a speaker phone and the author discussing the book with the group. Just one month later, thanks to Tricom Publicity, Webb was hosting New York Times Bestselling author Carl Weber in his first visit to Mississippi for literary events.
“Since that first meeting in November 2006, Conversations Book Club has hosted more authors than 100 authors in actual events, and I’ve held phone discussions through our book club with over 200 since then,” Webb says. “We have something for everyone: groups that read teen books, non-fiction, inspirational... anything you could want. I think that is the draw of the club.” That and all of the events being free to the public and open to other book clubs has truly helped Conversations’ popularity. “We don’t exclude anyone. All are welcome.”
Because of the work put into the book club, Webb took a break from his radio and television shows in 2007 to devote his time primarily to promoting literacy. That year allowed him to bring attention to books that he wanted others to know about, and introduce popular and new authors to audiences they hadn’t been with before. It was also in 2007 when he formed "Conversations with C. A. Webb Magazine", a 32 page bi-monthly opportunity where some of Webb's favorite interviews with movers and shakers could be shared along with columns from guest writers with affordable advertisers. (Today the magazine has about 300 subscribers and in 2008 was renamed "Conversations".)
One of the most talked about and controversial events of 2007 with Webb and his book club was his hosting of platinum-selling recording artist/bestselling author Corey “C-Murder” Miller. Incidentally, this would also open up a new audience for the brand: the hip hop community.
NOTE: Part Two of this exclusive interview will be posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2009.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
"Tray is just the type of individual we need to be part of the face of our movement," says Cyrus A. Webb*, President of Shadow Play Entertainment, host of Conversations LIVE! Radio and Founder of The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign. "He has been living proof of the importance of education and reading, and the success he has enjoyed goes to show what is possible with hard work." Chaney joins Derrick Hargrove and Nikki Shallwani from MTV's 50 Cent: The Money & The Power in supporting the cause of reading.
Tray Chaney has been building his brand since the age of eight, having appeared on Showtime At The Apollo, written the autobiography The Truth You Can't BeTray and starred as Poot in the hit HBO series The Wire. Currently he is working on several projects including his debut album featuring the single Delima with Jazz from Dru Hill.
The Write Stuff Literacy Campaign is a national project geared at bringing awareness to not only reading but areas where extra help is needed in The United States. As part of his relationship with The Write Stuff, Chaney will be one of the most visible aspects of the project's message.
To find our more information about The Write Stuff or Tray Chaney visit http://www.thewritestufftv.com or contact Herschel Dixon at 1.502.994.7852.
* Webb interviewed Tray Chaney for Conversations Magazine as well as Conversations LIVE! Radio. To read the print edition, click here: http://thewritestufftvofficialblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mulit-media-personality-tray-chaney.html . The radio edition of the Tray Chaney interview is here: http://tinyurl.com/dnzezp .
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
At a time when the news is filled with negativity and the troubles that so many are facing, it is always good to hear some good news.
That is what is happening in Vaughn, Mississippi thanks to the hard work of young people such as 17 year old BrieAnn L. Avery. On Sunday, May 17, 2009 she will be honored at the Strangers Home M. B. Church for her dedication to education as well as the example she has been setting in her community.
"BrieAnn is one of the success stories of our area," says Essie Queen Young. She has known the young lady all of her life. "Our children don't get enough attention when they are doing something right, but we talk about them all the time when something is wrong. We are glad to show BrieAnn and all young people like her that we care."
This sentiment is mirrored by Stanley Clark, a businessman also from Holmes County who through his PR firm For The People Productions (www.forthepeopleproductions.com) has made it a goal to show the positive side of the world that is sometiimes forgotten. He will be doing a special presentation for Avery during the ceremony. "I have always tried to show the young people in this area that they haven't been forgotten," says Clark. "We are all busy, but our children are the future, and they need to know we are there with them no matter how hard times get."
Clark is also a Asst. Producer on a literary reality show called The Write Stuff that is coming to select markets across the country this summer. The project is aimed at aspiring writers as well as showing how important it is to encourage reading. (see www.thewritestufftv.com). In addition to this, he is working on a nationwide literary tour that will showcase the importance of reading across the country.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Hosted by Cyrus A. Webb, President of Conversations Book Club and host of The Write Stuff Reality Show, each party is designed to allow book lovers to come together for networking, to meet authors from the area as well as to discuss how they can work together to promote reading.
Parties have been scheduled in Little Rock, Memphis, Miami, Atlanta, Raleigh, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Flint, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Washington D. C., New York City and Seattle. Each is free and open to the public, however, those who attend are asked to bring a new or gently used book as a donation that will go to either the Read Across America Project, CityKids Foundation, the Common Ground Foundation, Everybody wins, Adele's Literary Library, Reading Tree or a library in need within that particular city.
These events are sponsored in part by For The People Productions, Hype Magazine, Industry Standard Magazine, Poetic Monthly and Crunk Magazine. Special guests include Derrick Hargrove and Nikki Shallwani from MTV's 50 CENT: The Money & The Power, New York Times Bestselling author Scott Sigler, author Mark Eller and author Richard Emmell.
To find out more about the reading parties, when and where they will be held and the work that The Write Stuff is doing in general, visit http://www.thewritstufftv.com. For more information about the project and how you can get involved, contact Herschel Dixon at 1.502.994.7852 or Cyrus A. Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Boris from I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY to show THE WRITE STUFF contestants what they "Can Do"
The life of twenty-one year old Boris "Can Do" Kuperman has not been the easiest. Finding himself in trouble with the law at an early age, he was able to rise above the negativity aground him and mature into a young man that many young and old can look to for inspiration. In 2008 he was seen nationally as one of thirteen candidates competiting on national television to be the assistant of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs on VH1's I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY. Now in 2009 among the many endeavors he finds himself involved in, Kuperman is lending his support to America's first literary reality show The Write Stuff (http://www.thewritestufftv.com).
"Boris and I were introduced to each other while I WANT TO WORK FOR DIDDY was airing," say Cyrus A. Webb, Creator and Executive Producer of The Write Stuff. He interviewed Boris several times during the show (see http://bloggingiwanttoworkfordiddy.blogspot.com) and the two later worked together on the Hip Hop and Books Literacy Campaign that launched during the summer of 2008. "He is one of those people who you can't help but be impressed with. I'm glad to call him not only an associate but a friend as well."
Since appearing on the hit reality show he has continued networking with movers and shakers across the country. When Webb asked him about working with The Write Stuff, he jumped at the chance. Why? Kuperman answers this way:
"The Write Stuff serves as an innovative and creative alternative to standard reality shows that focus on individual personalities rather than on skill and/or talent. As a participant in a personality-based show, I have up close and personal knowledge of the pitfalls that exist when a houseful of larger than life people gather to compete against each other in a contest based upon personality, appeal, and who might be the most pushy of contenders."
Kuperman will not only be a celebrity judge on the show but a guest during the finale of the show, sharing with the three finalists about his experience on television. "This show will provide the opportunity to dedicated, young writers to obtain a book deal and receive access to the best in the business with regard to improving writing skills and becoming established in the writing profession," he says. "Although the lights and fun of television can be exciting and captivating, finding ones-self in the spotlight of public life can also lead to a quandry of questions with regard to self-fortitude, staying on task, and commitment to one's goals."
He will let the finalists know what to expect when the taping of the show is over and it is seen all over the world on television and the internet. "I believe this is the toughest test of being a reality television show contestant...staying grounded in plans for the future while enjoying the present acclaim of quick celebrity status. While living in the house on my reality show, tempers would frequently fly and unlike minded personalities would often clash. However, ultimately, we all must put ourselves back in the real world of our daily lives and can take the opportunities, lessons, and challenges of reality television with us to serve our lives and the lives of others for the better. I can contribute to the Write Stuff experience by providing the contestants with perceptions and observations of the reality show experience that they will likely not find elsewhere."
Kuperman will be joined by other celebrity guests including New York Times Bestselling authors Steve Berry and Scott Sigler. Additional information about Boris can be found at http://www.myspace.com/toplaw or http://www.boriscando.
To find out more about The Write Stuff Reality Show and how you can join its literacy campaign, visit http://www.thewritestufftv.com.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Also present will be some of the judges of the show as well as some surprise guests that will be on hand to congratulate the cast. The Write Stuff will take you into the lives of 14 aspiring writers as they compete for a book deal and other prizes to show they have what it takes to make it into the world of publishing. The show will be seen online via Youtube and as a Paid Program on select CW Networks worldwide.
The public and press are invited to the Pearl Public Library (2416 Old Brandon Road * Pearl, MS) on Saturday, March 21, 2009 from 2-4p.m. to meet the cast and other members of the show. Admission is free. For details contact Cheryl Pillsbury of AG Press at 1-978-300-5178 or Cyrus A. Webb at email@example.com. Additional information can also be found at http://www.thewritestufftv.com.