#AJFF2019 Opening Night Ceremony


Alas, the commencement to the 19th Annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival had arrived! And I know I say it often, but #AJFF is my absolute favorite film festival here in Atlanta! Every year I attend, I leave out totally impacted by all of the staff members serving so attentively from beginning to end and more importantly, the opening film selection. Prior to the start of the opening night film, SHOELACES, we were blessed to attend the Pre-Screening Gala in the elegantly large galleria space at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. That night, there was a slew of delicious tastings from local food artisans and restaurants. Among these were,

Baroque Culinary Services

C. Ellet’s Steakhouse

Cafe Sunflower

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Chai Yo Modern Thai

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse

For All Occasions & More

Il Giallo Osteria & Bar

Imperial Fez Moroccan Restaurant

Kaiser’s Chophouse

Secreto Souther Kitchen & Bar

South City Kitchen Vinings

Watershed on Peachtree

Zafron Restaurant

28 Whole Gluten Free Bakery

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Da Vinci’s Donuts

Tiff’s Treats Cookie Delivery

For the opening film selection, we watched  SHOELACES which is a very heart-warming film! Nominated for 8 Israeli Awards including Best Film, SHOELACES is a brilliant dramedy about an aging mechanic with major health issues including kidney failure who finds himself taking custody of his special-needs son that he abandoned as a child. The story unravels as the two face a series of very difficult challenges with having to learn each other while at the same time, dealing with their own physical and emotional struggles. Eventually, their relationship is beautifully restored as they learn to depend on one another and ultimately, forgive one another as they equally forgive themselves. There is a lot to be learned through this film and what we see in the end is, with practice and perseverance, we can work through the most difficult of situations and master them as efficiently as tying our shoelaces!

For more information about the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, please visit www.ajff.org.

The 19th Annual Atlanta Film Festival


The 19th Annual Film Festival is set to kick off beginning next Wednesday, February 6 through Tuesday Feb 26, 2019. Opening night, film lovers and patrons of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) will view the Israeli dramedy called “Shoelaces”. This film is a story about the relationship between an aging mechanic and his full-energy special-needs son that he abandoned. The film provides a very realistic depiction of special-needs people, but in a way that is humorous and nature-sensible. Along with this film, the Atlanta Film Festival will present 180 screenings, with “an international collection of 76 films from 24 countries, at various Atlanta venues including Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, Regal Perimeter Pointe, Regal Atlantic Station, UA Tara Cinemas and The Woodruff Arts Center.

Since my first involvement with AJFF many years ago, I have grown to love and respect the overall AJFF experience and the great effort they put into bringing together such a host of gifted filmmakers, actors and creatives of the Jewish community. This is an event not be missed!

For more information and tickets, please visit www.ajff.org.

*Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Jewish Film Festival


Why He Sings - Josiah Martin’s Testimony


The first time I heard Josiah Martin sing was at the 2017 LIVE Recording of Lawrence Flowers & Intercession’s Champion album in Atlanta. We were in a moment of raw worship bliss when Josiah came up for the next selection. Appearing to be in discomfort, he carefully mounted the platform steps, making his way to the mic to minister the amazing song entitled “Hey Hey God” alongside Lawrence Flowers and the team. Suddenly, the atmosphere changed as we found ourselves broken and willing to surrender all in the presence of God. From that night, I found myself captivated by this man’s selfless spirit and transparency as he helped usher us in a place of fervently crying out to God to be made whole. To date, I still have this whole album on repeat and always seem to get stuck on the “Hey Hey God” track. I knew from that night, that I would need to meet Josiah personally, to learn more about his story and the price he has paid to carry such an anointing that we are so privileged to partake of.

Recently, I got a chance to sit down with Josiah in an intimate setting and interview him further about his personal journey. Josiah Martin, more commonly known as “Jojo”, has a story to tell and a Faithful God to glorify!

So buckle up! —

Originally from Monterey, California, raised in the church with both parents who pastored, the 5th son of 5 boys + 1 girl, Jojo began his first Minister of Music position at 17. Not to mention, Jojo has toured and sang in the company of several renowned artists including Fred Hammond, James Fortune, PJ Morton, Judith Hill, Josh Groban, Kirk Franklin, Kierra Sheard and more. Subsequently, while on the road performing, around the age of 21 years old, Jojo found out that both of his kidney’s were functioning at mere 15% and that he would be diagnosed with severe kidney disease. Although Jojo was told that he should start dialysis immediately after being rushed to the hospital, the attending doctor advised him that he could leave only if he started to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist). Henceforth, under the care of Atlanta’s Dr. Frita Fisher who is also a person of faith, she put Jojo on a strict dietary regiment encouraging him that with their combined faith in God, he could go an additional 6 months before beginning dialysis.

Successfully, at the termination of the 6 months around the Summer of 2013, Jojo began a stringent peritoneal dialysis where he would do dialysis at home 7 days a week, 9 hours at night. Jojo explains how this process totally changed his lifestyle especially with the fact that he was still traveling a lot in concert and would sometimes not get in til late at night to begin treatment. As a result, excess fluid began to build up during times he was unable to get the full 9 hours of dialysis which caused him to become even more ill. Eventually, switching to hemodialysis, Jojo shares that this form of dialysis treatment proved more effective and allowed him to do more unhindered. This led to more ministry and music engagements where Jojo could travel and still consistently go on dialysis while in these different cities.


5 years on this path, Fast Forward to 2017, Jojo receives a call that they had found him a kidney from a living donor! In the beginning, he was told that they did not know who the match was, but that he would soon find out. Later, during a Morehouse/Spelman Gospel event, Jojo met Singer Britni Ruff that night and the two would end up becoming good friends. After years of conversing and meeting up at Benihana, it was not until the day that Jojo was preparing for surgery that he gets a surprise visit in the hospital from Britni. He asks Britni why she was had arrived so early assuming that she was only there to support and she responds, “Surprise”! Britni would be Josiah Martin’s donor candidate! This enthralling moment for Jojo was the culmination of years trusting in God, pressing through the agony of physical pain and deaths, to believe for a miracle of which this one exceeded his expectation. Frankly speaking, this is the sort of thing we should expect to happen for those who believe in the impossible!  And I believe that the posture he had taken all those years to still worship God in spite of, to minister to His people and cry out unashamedly for God’s mercy, makes moments like these possible for us all.

When asked about his determination and where he gets that from, Josiah shares that his older brother died in 2009 of kidney failure and how he and his brother were the only two in the family battling kidney disease. With the family being so fearful that this could also become Jojo’s fate, he says that his brother’s passing had the opposite effect on him. Jojo was determined! Not only did he feel it necessary to fight through it, but he says that he was even more determined to make God smile through it. This attitude, I believe carried a lot of weight in giving Jojo the strength to endure such a serious infirmity for so many years.

Beforehand, In 2016, during a Kirk Franklin concert in Jacksonville, Florida, Jojo tells us about the time that forever changed his life when he made a declaration in the presence of God to “run on”. Kirk handed the mic to feeble Josiah to lead in a spontaneous song called “He Intercedes for Me”. Not knowing the words, but following Kirk’s lead, Jojo sung from his heart. Jojo says that he found himself crying tears of joy and anger, both of which would become a petition and anthem for his life. The video was posted on Youtube and has had an innumerous amount of views since. Jojo says that he is still responding to emails and hits from the Youtube post from people who had given up on God, some who had stopped praying and who too were suffering in silence simply needing a touch from The Master.

This has given Josiah a deeper sense of purpose and he understands that his pain was never for him alone, but for the purpose of helping other people get through; to those both inside and outside of the church. Currently, Josiah Martin is excited to announce that his album (which was put on hold many years ago due to his illness) is scheduled to be released sometime this Spring. The album is produced by none other than PJ Morton. Also, he tells us he is collaborating with another 20 - 30 worship leaders in delegated cities to host “A Night of Refreshing” where his aim is to have an array of anointed worshipers pour out and to be poured back into. Josiah says that this is especially important in 2019 as God wants ministry coming by way of the minstrels and psalmists to be both relevant and effective.

For updates on Jojo Martin, be sure to follow his IG via www.instagram.com/jojosvoice.

*Photos Courtesy of Marked by Major & Elite Media


The 2nd Annual Beauty for Ashes Fashion Show


Sunday, October 7th from 4 - 7PM, Pretty Gyrlz Pray Foundation will host its 2nd Annual Beauty for Ashes Fashion Event at Atlanta City Hall! Celebrating its 2nd year of philanthropic fashion, “Beauty for Ashes” is sure to engage its participants both visually and vocally about the need to "empower survivors of sexual abuse and severe trauma". With a slew of very gifted designers, the goal is to showcase fashion in a way that depicts overcoming and confidence utilizing bold designs and relevant fashion trends. Topics such as domestic violence, human sex trafficking and sexual abuse, will be highlighting during the show. The foundation also aims to raise significant funds toward their vision to build the first after school building in the Atlanta area for victims of sexual abuse.

For more information and tix, please visit https://www.pgpfashionshow.com/.


Atlanta History Center's 6th Annual Back On The Farm


Friday, September 14, 2018 at 6PM, one of my all time favorite philanthropic-foodie events took place, The 6th Annual Back on the Farm! My first time covering this event was a few years ago where I was welcomed by Katherine Hoogerwerf (Atlanta History Center’s Director of Development Events) and key members of her staff. Every year, this team so brilliantly brings such an amazing event to life! This year, Executive Chef Kevin Gillespie along with a host of chefs, worked in harmonious collaboration to facilitate an unforgettable meal for it’s guests following the outdoor cocktail reception. The purpose, to “provide support for Smith Family Farm and its unique educational programming that tens of thousands of school children experience each year.” The outdoor reception prior to dinner provided delectable farm-style appetizers by Kevin Gillespie himself, Seni Alabi-Isama of SmoQue Pit BBQ; and Suzanne Vizethann of Buttermilk Kitchen.


Year to Year, participants of Back on the Farm gather on the farm in high anticipation of the evening lighting the farm grounds with smiles and good ole’ fellowship. This is one of those events where you everyone feels like family and you leave feel accomplished and with a full stomach! Most importantly, the event raises significant funds to keep the Smith Family Farm vibrant, take care of the farm animals and continue to provide memorable educational impartation to those who visit. Big thanks to Presenting Sponsor Harry Norman, Realtors for their generous supportThis year’s chairmen were Juliet Asher, Michael Golden, Bianca and Mark Bell.

*Photos Courtesy of Kim Link

Recap from Jeffrey Fashion Cares 2018

2018 Jeffrey Fashion Cares (photo by Ben Rose)

This year's 2018 Jeffrey Fashion Cares was an absolute success as has been throughout the years! Founder, Jeffrey Kalinsky and patrons of this phenomenal event, celebrated 26 years of Jeffrey Fashion Cares Atlanta on Monday, August 27th, 2018 at Phipps Plaza. Jeffrey Fashion Cares is a sold-out fashion show that benefits Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta, the AIDS Fund (AAF) and the Medical University of South Carolina. The runway Monday night showcased Neon looks, Sparkling pieces, Oversize, Plaids and creative blends of Sports looks. As custom, guests and supporters flooded out the elegantly decorated corridors of Phipps Plaza dressed to impress! Prior to the show, we were graced with a wonderful reception and silent auction followed by a live auction and the high-energy, highly anticipated runway show. 

This was an event for the history books! For more information, please visit www.jeffreyfashioncares.com.




Grant Park Summer Shade Festival 2018


This evening from 7 - 10 PM, The Grant Park Conservancy will host the official 135th Birthday Bash in honor of Atlanta’s historic Grant Park. In conjunction with this highly anticipated event, the 16th annual Summer Shade Festival will follow Saturday and Sunday, August 25th - 26th. The Grant Park Sunmer Shade Festival aka #gpssf2018 is a two-day, fun-packed festival showcasing LIVE music all weekend on dual stages, a creative artist market, Kids Zone, 5K run and a dedicated VIP Lounge. The festival is free and open to all ages. Guests can enjoy a variety of food grub from the host of food trucks available and plenty of fun family activities. And yea, be sure to bring a beach towel or chair to relax on the beautiful grassy lawns! 

For more up to date info, visit www.summershadefestival.

* Photos courtesy of Fabio Fernandez & Ryan Purcell