Jac Photographic http://www.jacphotographic.com/ Tue, 27 Apr 2021 02:28:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.1 http://www.jacphotographic.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/jacphotographic-icon-70x70.png Jac Photographic http://www.jacphotographic.com/ 32 32 Enter 10 Historic and Private Galveston Homes – This Special Tour Takes You http://www.jacphotographic.com/enter-10-historic-and-private-galveston-homes-this-special-tour-takes-you/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/enter-10-historic-and-private-galveston-homes-this-special-tour-takes-you/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 00:53:16 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/enter-10-historic-and-private-galveston-homes-this-special-tour-takes-you/

FFrom grand mansions to the cutest of cottages, the Galveston Historic Foundation showcases the island’s wide range of architectural styles at the 47th Annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour, which takes place May 1-2 and May 8-9. May from 10 a.m. at 18 o’clock.

“The range of homes is truly exciting, showcasing a range of Galveston’s best residential architecture,” the foundationDwayne Jones executive director said in a statement. “From small to large, the homes tell great stories of island life and showcase a variety of ways to restore and rehabilitate our great architectural assets.

“As we celebrate our 150th anniversary and with the support of owners who are opening stunning homes, we look forward to this year’s tour and a number of unprecedented special events.

The beauty of this historic tour is that it opens the doors to otherwise private homes, inaccessible to the public.

The oldest dwelling on the tour, Bondies-Robertson House, was built in 1877 with additions and modifications from 1886 to 1904. One of the new properties to be featured on the tour is the charming William and Edna Crawford House , one of three specification four-room cottages built in 1913 as affordable housing.

Now considered a beach bungalow, this 1913 four-room cottage was one of three affordable units built by the Galveston Suburban Improvement Company. (Photo by Koby Brown Photography)

Perhaps the most fascinating home on the tour is the League-Kempner House from 1893, designed by architect Nicholas J. Clayton with additions and modifications by Birdsall Briscoe in 1920. Recently purchased of one estate, the 7,800 square foot new owner home undergoes extensive work to remedy decades of deferred maintenance and neglect. It is expected to be a spectacle once the renovations are complete.

More details on the tour and related events and ticket reservations at $ 40 are available here.

Not on the tour is the iconic Episcopal palace at 1402 Broadway which is in the hands of the foundation and can be visited separately while the decorated, eye-catching Villa Ashton houses the Galveston Island Visitors Center. It is not open for tours, but can be booked for special events.


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St. Paul School District cancels in-person events; shows continue in suburban schools – Twin Cities http://www.jacphotographic.com/st-paul-school-district-cancels-in-person-events-shows-continue-in-suburban-schools-twin-cities/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/st-paul-school-district-cancels-in-person-events-shows-continue-in-suburban-schools-twin-cities/#respond Tue, 27 Apr 2021 00:28:34 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/st-paul-school-district-cancels-in-person-events-shows-continue-in-suburban-schools-twin-cities/

St. Paul’s public schools are canceling in-person events again this spring as the district tries to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to an internal email.

Year-end concerts, plays and gatherings will not take place, not even outdoors, Highland Park High School principal Winston Tucker told his staff in an email on Saturday, relaying information about a Friday meeting of school district principals.

“Obviously this is due to Covid and the need to minimize exposure,” he wrote.

The message did not deal with the graduation ceremony. However, the district previously said in-person launch ceremonies will be held in June, albeit in smaller groups than usual and with social distancing and masks required.

District spokesman Kevin Burns said Monday he had no information to share about the decision.

The district has not publicly announced the cancellation of events in person, but parents are already pushing back.

Sue Gustad, a theater host at Highland Park and mother of a senior student, said the district was making the decision “easy and arbitrary.” She is frustrated that they do not give groups the opportunity to explain how they can mitigate the risk of the disease spreading during the events.

“I’m not saying everything is moving forward,” she said. “It’s about taking the attitude of how can we move forward with the COVID protocols that are state-approved in place and give the kids something a year old.”

School sports teams will continue to compete, Tucker wrote, as they are governed by the Minnesota State High School League.

Gustad said she didn’t see the logic behind the move.

“When the district seems to stand up for sport and nothing else, it just seems like they’re sending the message that kids who aren’t athletes don’t matter,” she said.

Gustad said his daughter and others would miss the prom, senior awards ceremonies and senior parties at their schools.

“It’s going to turn out badly with the students,” she said.

After 13 months of distance learning, most of the college and high school students in St. Paul returned to their schools for in-person classes on April 14.

The district of Saint-Paul has not yet had a coronavirus epidemic while the school was in session. However, much of the recent coronavirus cases in Minnesota involve school-aged children, and state health officials have expressed concern about outbreaks among youth sports teams.

Current health guidelines generally limit large indoor events to a maximum capacity of 50%, and customers and workers are required to keep six feet apart and wear a face mask unless eating or drinking.

THE SHOWS GO ELSEWHERE

Neighboring school districts are taking a more liberal approach to in-person events this spring.

Anoka-Hennepin, the largest in the state, hosts balls that meet state health guidelines, spokesman Jim Skelly said. They also allow for in-person events in smaller groups than usual, including concerts, plays, and senior awards ceremonies.

“The district has made it a goal to host as many in-person events as possible for students and families this spring,” Skelly said, adding that a disease mitigation plan was in place for each event. .

Likewise, Mounds View hosts a variety of in-person events on the advice of the state.

North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale will have an in-person ball, senior plays and awards, and outdoor graduation ceremonies, but a spokesperson was unaware of the status of the concerts.

Schools in Southern Washington County have already hosted balls and other in-person events this spring and will continue to do so following state guidelines for major events, spokesman Pepe Barton said. Some activities are taking place outdoors this year.


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Totally Crazy Ways Bad Weather Affects Your Body, Doctors Say http://www.jacphotographic.com/totally-crazy-ways-bad-weather-affects-your-body-doctors-say/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/totally-crazy-ways-bad-weather-affects-your-body-doctors-say/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 18:30:09 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/totally-crazy-ways-bad-weather-affects-your-body-doctors-say/

It’s an age-old question that every squeaky-kneed grandfather claims to know the answer to: Can inclement weather really be detected by our stiff, aging bodies? Turns out the answer is a resounding yes – and you don’t have to be a senior to experience it. To find out about some of the totally weird ways that bad weather affects your body, read on, as we’ve included at least a few here. And for more amazing facts about your body, see here to find out what walking on a treadmill does to your body, experts say.

iStock

It’s not just an old wives story: bad weather can cause headaches. In fact, in 2015, Japanese researchers found that headache drug sales were directly correlated with drops in barometric pressure, which occurs before very bad weather conditions. In a new article for The Conversation, Amanda Ellison, Ph.D, professor of neuroscience at Durham University, explains how it works.

“There are two mechanisms of action here,” she writes. “One is related to the sinuses – the four small air-filled cavities in the bones of the face. Just as people’s ears ‘pop’ when air pressure changes, changes in air pressure can create an imbalance. sinus pressure causing inflammation and pain. feels different depending on the sinus most affected, ranging from pain in the forehead, pain between and behind the eyes, pain in the face or a headache more diffuse in the front or back of the head. individual structure of your head. “

For what it’s worth, Ellison suggests chewing gum as a home remedy. “[It] can help equalize the pressure in your sinuses through your mouth, nose, and Eustachian tube (which runs from your middle ear to your throat and is very important for equalizing pressure) – and can prevent a headache from pressure. “

Female doctor checks pregnant woman with stethoscope
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According to a seven-year study conducted by Japanese doctors and published in the journal Archives of gynecology and obstetrics, there is a link between a sudden drop in air pressure and water breakdown in pregnant women, also what she calls a “spontaneous” delivery. “A causal relationship was noted between the number of fetal membrane rupture, childbirth and barometric pressure, suggesting that low barometric pressure induces fetal membrane rupture and childbirth,” the study concludes.

brain fog
Shutterstock

The sinuses aren’t the only part of your body affected by a drop in pressure that triggers weather headaches. “The other way that headaches occur is related to how changes in pressure alter blood flow in the cerebrovascular system – which controls the flow of blood around your head,” Ellison writes. “Blood is highly toxic to neurons, so it is very important that the blood is separated from the brain. The blood vessels in the cerebrovascular system have receptors that activate if the blood vessels widen too much, acting as an early warning system that something is not. absolutely right. We perceive this activation as pain. “

Senior man sitting on sofa in living room at home and touching his knee with pain.
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Yes, that’s right: people can have an “old ticker” that predicts a storm. As Jaspal Singh, MD, of the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Comprehensive Spine Care in New York, explained: The New York Times, our joints react to changes in atmospheric pressure.

“At normal or higher pressure, when the atmosphere is heavier, it pushes against us from the outside, preventing the tissues in our body from expanding,” explains the NY Times. “But as the air pressure drops – as it does before wet, rainy, or snowy weather – bodily tissues have more room to expand. When they do, they can push against our joints, causing some people, especially those with injuries or arthritis, to feel aches and pains. “To learn more about your body, don’t miss The Surprising Ways Diet Soda Affects Your Body, according to experts.


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Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop http://www.jacphotographic.com/ladies-first-31-female-rappers-who-changed-hip-hop/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/ladies-first-31-female-rappers-who-changed-hip-hop/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:27:00 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1914

Day 31: Lauryn Hill
There’s no moment quite like when listening Lauryn Hill’s vocal prowess on the Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly.” Every listen takes your breath away. Longtime collaborator, Pras, describes each moment as an awakening. While we patiently wait for a new effort from Ms. Hill, and as she overcomes adversaries and allegations, we bittersweetly listen to her past work as a member of the Fugees and her classic album, “The Miseducation” of Lauryn Hill.” Read on as Pras shares memories of the singer-songwriter.

Beginnings
Pras: “I met Lauryn Hill back in 1988/89. My mom had me go live with my uncle to get a better education in the suburbs than in the hood. I met this girl named Marcy. This is the story about the Fugees: I had this vision of me in theses two girl. I still have this vision. Marcy told me, ‘I know this girl. She might be a little younger than us.’ I was a sophomore at the time. She says, ‘She’s still in the eighth grade.’ I said, ‘Eight grade? Cot damn.’ She’s like, ‘But no, you have to meet this girl. She just came off the Apollo but don’t hold that against her.’ She didn’t win the Apollo. Back in those days, when something came on television you had to catch it in that moment. So she thought I saw the Apollo, I hadn’t. I was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I went to a part of Jersey where she lived [and] met her.” Are you looking for cam girls?

“She was this young girl. She had this innocence about her, but it was genuine. You can tell she was a beast; She was that girl that was emerged with talent. She wasn’t rapping back then. She didn’t even know how to rap. She was just a singer. She had all this knowledge.”

“After I met her, right on the spot I decided, ‘She’s the one right there. Let’s make it happen.’ She said, ‘I love the opportunity but before I can say yes, I would like for you to meet my mom and her dad.’ I think she was only 11-years-old. I got it. Her parents were very welcoming. I told her parents, ‘I’m going to make your daughter a star.’ I felt like it was magic.”

The Making of “Blunted on Reality”
“We were young kids. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing. We felt like we wanted to do something that can inspire people. It came from the love of the art. I grew up listening to pop-rock because that’s what my mom let us listen openly. I was familiar with soul but I didn’t listen. That, soul, I learned from Lauryn Hill. If you went to her house, she had a room full of vinyls of classic soul music. When we got to making the first album, I felt like I was back in school. She gave me this new appreciation for music. We were all learning from each other. The first album [was] eh. But the experience was great. We were able to build incredible showmanship.”

The Making of “The Score”
“‘The Score’ [is] probably one of the most incredible experiences [of] my life. It was hateful, it was happiness, it was sadness, it was bitterness, it was lust… it was everything. Summer of ’95 was considered a record breaking summer in New York; One of the hottest summer in New York. You mix that with us being so broke… It was hard to just find $1.75 to buy fried rice. When we’d get a little bit of extra money we’d go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and get some biscuits; That was our highlight. Lauryn Hill lived in the suburbs. She’d drive her mom’s car to come get us. We all believed: ‘This is gonna pop!’ But you don’t know, you just had to believe.”

“Killing Me Softly”
“You know how you’ll find something but it doesn’t necessarily mean you discovered it? I heard her sing it for the first in the studio, but I never truly heard her sing it until two or three experiences. There’s been two or three experiences in my life and it sounded differently [each time]. It’s like seeing or hearing something and your third eye opens.”

“I’ll put it like this: Adam and Eve, from the bible, were running around the Garden of Eden naked. They didn’t know they were naked until they ate the food of knowledge; Some interpret that as the first time they had sex. They were naked all this time. That’s what happened when I really first heard her sing it. I became aware. I remember standing on the stage, playing the keys and she sung the first line. I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s what that is?’ I felt that each time, but there are moments [where] it was more heightened then others.”

“One day, she came to a show two hours late. We were in Eden [Park]. London don’t play that shit. The crowd was pissed. There was 200,000 people pissed. The crowd was looking at us like, ‘You fucking clowns.’ That girl started singing ‘Killing Me Softly’? By the end of the show, it was Kumbaya. Everyone was happy. Life was beautiful. It was that impactful.”

“Ready Or Not”
“At one point, the group had disbanded. She had left the group at this point and we didn’t know what we were going to do. She calls me and says, ‘Listen, I’m going to come down to the studio and I’m going to lay down a reference for you guys, a hook. I give you permission to use my hook, my voice, but I don’t want to be a part of this group anymore.’ I said, ‘Fair enough. No problem.’ She said, ‘Make sure certain people are not around when I’m there.’ I said, ‘No problem.’ She’s laying the reference for ‘Ready Or Not’ and then she goes into the bridge and she’s crying. I see her crying. She stops and says, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and leaves. A couple months later she re-joins the group. She said, ‘Let’s do ‘Ready or Not’ again ’cause I was crying. It was emotional.’ She goes in the studio to do ‘Ready Or Not’ again. She was in there five hours doing the hook. Every hit is incredible. But we go back and say, ‘There’s something about that reference. I don’t know if we can touch that.’ We end up keeping the reference. That’s what the world has come to hear. There’s something about that record… That’s magic.”

Troubles
“Things were just happening: One minute we were broken up [then] the next minute we were back together. It was ‘Was I stupid for leaving college?’ It was ‘Where’s my future? What happens when it doesn’t work?’ It was ‘Should I go back to school and figure out my life?'”

“Here’s the thing, we were on the road. Back in the day record companies put you on the road and said, ‘Go figure it out.’ We were so poor so we had to share a room together. So imagine three individuals in one room for most of the year. It was that… It was a combination of a lot of things. You want to make your parents proud. Then you had elements of outsiders trying to divide what we had. [There were] people who wanted to make themselves more important. I was always trying to keep peace ’cause I was looking at the bigger picture. I knew there was magic there. But, there are elements in life that you can’t control.”

“When you capture a moment that brought a form of euphoria to everyone, you want to keep that but then there are unforeseen variables that get in that you can’t control. Without having to talk to them, I know they all feel the same way. Sometimes you go to a place you can’t return to.”

“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”
“I’d stop by her house or her in the studio. I heard bits and pieces, then I heard the final produce before it came out, before it was deliver dot record company. It was different from The Fugees, it was a departure but more a distinction. It was incredible. I could’t believe what I was hearing.”

“A lot of artists need whatever it is that they need to [create]. Lauryn Hill needs love. And, love doesn’t necessarily romantic love. She needs to be inspired. She’s inspired by love.”

“Her best is right around the corner. I don’t even think she’s tapped into what she’s [capable of]. She’s tapped into maybe only 30% of her. I witnessed it.”

NEXT: Foxy Brown

“Foxy”

Day 30: Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown turned heads the minute she stepped on to the scene at 15-years-old. She’s influenced other rappers – male and female – with her vicious rhymes. Below, a handful of artists who’ve collaborated with Foxy Brown speak on her artistry and accomplishments.

Teddy Riley: “She’s paved a way for a lot of female rappers, especially those who were young and had no direction. She carved out a path. Foxy played a big part in rap. I’m proud to be a part of her success. I hope she comes and does something because people miss Foxy Brown.”

“It (‘Get Me Home’) was supposed to be a remix but when she added to it I decided to make it an actual song. She doesn’t know this but I only charged her a $1 for the song. When Lyor [Cohen] and Russell Simmons came down to Virginia they pulled me into a room and asked, ‘What are you gonna charge us for this? This is a smash.’ I told them to wait until we got it done first but they wanted to talk about it now. I said, ‘You and Lyor but $0.50 each.’ They thought it was a joke. I wanted to show them that the best thing can come out of something that’s free or something that’s pretty much free.”

“He (Jay Z) gave her insight and had been writing for her for awhile. When she wanted to add more she wanted Jay to help her with it. Him being a part of her writing and him ghostwriting for her on a lot of things introduced her to many people and also made her one of the top rappers.”

[Editor’s Note: Foxy Brown’s camp refutes Teddy Riley’s statement that Jay Z ghostwrote for her.]

Havoc (from Mobb Deep): “Foxy was always passionate for what she did. She wanted to spit a hot rhyme. She wouldn’t just say anything; The bars had to be real hot. She was a little bit more savvy with her lyrics.”

“We had the same management at the time. Chris Lighty had hooked it (‘The Promise’) up. She was real professional and energetic. I made the beat with how I felt at the moment, then I worked up the hook and she laid her verses down.”

Pam (from Total): “Foxy’s voice couldn’t be duplicated and it still can’t be duplicated. You’ve never heard someone like Foxy. She came with it. There’s no one else that killed the game like Foxy.

“‘No One Else’ was fire: Foxy putting it down the way she did, [Lil] Kim coming behind her and then Da Brat finishing it off. We were in the studio when Kim and Brat put it down, but we weren’t there when Foxy put it down.”

Kima (from Total): “I think they (Lil Kim and Foxy Brown) knew they were going to be on the song together.”

Pam: “The elevation of that record was so high. Puffy was the mastermind behind it. Brandy had done something like that [with female rappers], but it was like ‘I Wanna Be Down’ to the 4th power.”

NEXT: Queen Latifah

“Queen”

Day 29: Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah drew the blueprint for successful female MCs/entrepreneurs. While continuing to inspire, the New Jersey native has conquered different arenas in the game such as music, TV and film.

MC Lyte, a legendary female MC and businesswoman herself, has been close friends with Queen Latifah since the beginning of their careers. Below, Lyte shares heartfelt words on their friendship and Queen Latifah’s impact.

“My sister, the Queen, has single handedly changed the way every female MC looks at their business and perhaps more importantly, has no doubt changed the way the world views female MCs and their business potential.

We were so young [and] so bright eyed [when] meeting at the New Music Seminar in NYC. Seems so simple however as I look back, it was that week of hip hop activities that changed our lives forever. 

I absolutely loved it (‘All Hail the Queen’). De La Soul played ‘Princess of the Posse’ for me in a downtown studio prior to it’s release. What a breath of fresh air! Her voice was so strong and her lyrical style was direct and engaging.

[Her] song(‘U.N.I.T.Y’) was extremely impactful for the genre of Hip Hop. To finally hear a strong voice of a positive black woman speaking about uplifting young woman. To date it’s still one of my favorite songs.

From the very beginning of our friendship I understood La to be full of flavor. When we would hang out, she would often breakout into a dialect of some sort or pick up her guitar and start strumming a beautiful tune. She was funny, engaging and brave. She was one of those people who could do so much well. I always felt she would mature into an artist that did it all and she does. She’s definitely an inspiration to everyone who knows her and the millions of fans who support her.

She is the epitome of grace, style and class. I’m happy to say she’s my friend and I am simply indebted to her for being one of my biggest inspirations.

Truly,
Lyte

NEXT: Nicki Minaj

“Nicki”

Day 28: Nicki Minaj
In less than five years, Nicki Minaj has taken over. She’s transcended genres while planting her flag as one of rap’s leading MCs—gender aside—as well as firming her brand as an entrepreneur with a flourishing empire. And for Nicki, paying the cost has no doubt made her a boss.

Beginnings
Nicki Minaj: “I would get on everybody’s nerves [around] the house when singing the Star-Spangled Banner all the time and singing in weird voices. I would make up names for people. I still don’t know why I did that. I remember going to high school, and I decided that I only wanted to  put a ‘B’ in front of people’s name. And I didn’t care what your name was, I thought you should have a ‘B’ in front of your name. It was always there but hip-hop, in the early stages, made me feel I had to suppress [it]. Now I’m like, love it or hate it, this is me.” (2010)

“When I started rapping, people were trying to make me like the typical New York rapper, but I’m not that. No disrespect to New York rappers, but I don’t want people to hear me and know exactly where I’m from. (2010)

“People definitely gave me a hard time… ridiculed, laughed at me, expected and wanted me to fail. It only made me better.” (2011)

DJ Holiday (2011): “Back then, I tended to shy away from female rappers because you don’t know what they’re going to be about, but in the studio Nicki was totally confident. She was writing to beats right in front of me, and there were a million things going on, but Nicki was totally focused. I would look at her with headphones on and think, ‘Damn, that girl is super focused.’ Her musical ideas for ‘Beam Me Up’ blew me away. I knew that with a lot of focus and a push she would become something special.”

Nicki Minaj (2010): “I was rapping on a DVD (“Come Up”). He saw the DVD and said he wanted to meet with me to discuss being a part of Young Money. I always liked him, Juve, B.G.… I never thought when watching their videos that I’d be a part of them.”

“He’s (Lil Wayne) been such a major part of my career, I can’t imagine it without him. He brought that spotlight on me sooner than I could ever imagine… Young Money keeps my street edge. I can’t get to up in the sky [because] then Wayne is like, ‘I need you to be Nick.’ It keeps me grounded and what drew people to me in the first place.”

Birdman: “We were in LA and Wayne came into my room and played me a DVD that  she was on. He was so hyped about it. We were just in awe of her delivery, her swag and her confidence. He flew her in the next day to meet us. When we first saw her, we knew she’d be the female rapper of Young Money. Wayne had been looking for a female rapper to be a part of the team and when he’d seen that it was a wrap. It was how she was saying what she was saying. It inspired me.

Creative Process
Nicki Minaj (2010): “I like to write early in the morning when no one’s up. Like 6’o-clock in morning is when my brain is at its peak. I haven’t been indignated with emails or phone calls or deal with the world yet. That’s my only ritual.”

“I listen to beats and whatever emotion the beat ignites, that’s what I write.I write in my notebook, and sometimes come up with ideas in my head. But if it’s stuff that I’m singing, I don’t write it at all. I just record it in the studio.”

“I’m so critical of my own stuff that  I take a lot longer. I psych myself out, thinking it’s not good enough so I wind up doing it over and over. But with features, I let the magic happen and it’s a lot quicker.” (2010)

The Making of “Pink Friday”
Nicki Minaj (2010): “Mixtapes were saying I can rap and the album [was] saying I can make a song – that’s a big difference in the real world.”

“I’m inspired by the beat. When a beat comes on, I am either going to sing on it or rap on it.  To be honest, I was doing it (singing) as a reference for singers. At times when I would do it, people on my team would say, ‘You should leave it. It sounds good.’ I left a lot of [my] vocals on the album because it’s more personal to me and what I’m speaking about. The album happened to be more personal so I didn’t want to get 10 R&B singers on it.”

“I went in really not knowing what it is I wanted to say and I didn’t know if I was going to give all  my different characters life in the album. At one point I was afraid, thinking, ‘Can every one of my characters be on the same album? And if I do that, can this album still be authentic, exciting [and] real?” (2010)

“She (Taylor Swift) was doing a radio interview, and they asked what song she liked. And she asked, ‘Can it be a song that hasn’t came out yet?’ She started rapping ‘Super Bass.’ Then she tweeted that she liked ‘Super Bass’ and all her fans who had never heard of Nicki Minaj went and purchased it. I think after she tweeted that, ‘Super Bass’ climbed up like 80 spots, the same day on iTunes. That’s why people don’t understand why I keep thanking Taylor Swift. This is real.” (2011)

Birdman: “Working with Nicki and watching her work [on ‘Pink Friday’] was magical to me. I wanted to see it all come out of her. I wanted her to do what she wanted to do and tend to that.”

The Making of “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded”
Birdman: “For what she did, to explore that side of music, is hard. It’s not easy. Coming where we come from and where she comes from, I don’t find what she did easy at all. It worked and it did what it ended to do.”

What’s Next?
Birdman: “For the new album, she’s doing what she feels like doing and we’re supporting her. You hear a lot of growth in her music.  She’s coming confident and hard. We expect for this to be one of the biggest [albums] from her. It’s more rap. This album is going to have a little bit of everything but more rap. I am sure some of the team will be on it. She’s still doing her thing, then getting features on it. She’s definitely coming this year. She hasn’t picked a date yet. What she did for Young Money is totally different then what she’s doing for her album. She’s more girlier. ‘Tha Carter V’ will definitely come before Nicki’s [album].”

Lessons Learned
Nicki Minaj (2010): “Life is about growth and I don’t want to remain the same my whole life — I want to be able to change. I have to be true to me — I started seeing different things, going to different places, eating different things. It would be fraudulent to rap the same way and look the same way, because I’m not the same. Period.”

Birdman: “She’s still eager to learn. She never acts like she knows everything. She loves to learn and that’s the thing I respect the most about her.”

NEXT: MIA

“MIA”

Day 27: M.I.A.

M.I.A. stands out with her versatility. The UK artist has curated an impressive four-album catalog by laying down rhymes of real-life, hard hitting issues and events over a range of sonic flavors.

“Kala”
Blaqqstarr: “The first song we did was ‘What I Got.’ Our first conversation was beautiful. We just listened to music, vibes and the next thing you know we started to work. We started working before talking about business details. We were going though a time portal of music. We were listening to tracks from India [and] from different parts of the world and study its elements.”

“We’d work from the studio that was in the back of her house. It was connected to her house. We’d stay days in the studio just exploring sounds. We’d work on music and later decide where they’d go.”

“// / Y /”
M.I.A.: “It really seemed like my world was getting smaller and closing in around me at the same time that things were changing so fast. I couldn’t keep up with it. It was the best year for me because my son was born and the worst year for me seeing so many Tamil people being killed. And then it was the best year for me because I found someone to settle down with, then the worst year because I couldn’t leave [due to visa restrictions] and my mum couldn’t come and see me. My album came out like that because that’s how it was.” (2010)

“When I was like, ‘I want Hype to shoot the video,’ everybody was like, ‘No way-he’s a nightmare!’ But he was amazing to work with… It was interesting to take someone like Hype and mash him up with my aesthetic, just because it’s so far removed. Sometimes when you do that you get some interesting shit, and I think the ‘XXXO’ video is going to be the perfect balance of both worlds.”

Diplo: “We did a record called “Tell Me Why,” and I just knew what she was good at. It wasn’t the same bunch of noise or talking about politics, because that’s stuff people had heard. I wanted her to do something where she was singing and doing something louder, like Animal Collective-style music, because I think that’s where she shines best.” (2010)

“Matangi”
M.I.A.: “I was confused by who to make music for, what to make music for. It was becoming really saturated and predictable. I wanted to break out of it. Suddenly it was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to make this album for Matangi. I found a whole new way of looking at [music] – somebody saying it’s so important they made a goddess for it who protected the meaning of music, the frequencies, the sonics. To learn about that and take it out of the context I’m in, it was pretty dope. It’s making music without treating it as a business or as a game or as a competition.”

“It’s a bit emo in places. I developed a little emo side. Didn’t think it was possible, did you?” (2013)

M.I.A.’s Influence
Rye Rye: “She stepped up out of the box to try different things. I had support from her; it was great to have her backing me. When she brought me along, her fan base rubbed off on me as well. We weren’t afraid to be different. As a brand-new artist, I knew nothing about the industry, I was just trying it out. Working with her pushed me to go forward with it.” (2010)

“M.I.A. was there with me every day from when I started recording my album [‘Go! Pop! Bang!] to when I finished. She was pregnant then, but each day she’d come to the studio to lay the direction and add sounds into songs.”

Blaqqstar: “She’s ineffable; so divine you can’t even put into words. Our energies transcended through music. Every clap [and] every sound, we’d just originally produce through sessions. We didn’t plan any recording.”

NEXT: Lil Kim

“Kim”

Day 26: Lil’ Kim
Lil’ Kim is undeniably one of the best do it. She’s been ahead of the game as a musician and fashion icon, since being introduced to the world by the late Notorious B.I.G in the mid-90s. Currently pregnant with her first child, Lil’ Kim is balancing impending motherhood with time in the studio, making sure to continue on the creative path she’s been on since day one.

Beginnings
“Since I was a little girl, I used to always be the only girl in my group. My family was full of boys. When they needed an extra man to play football, it’d be me filling that space. They didn’t treat me like a sister. They would play with me like I was one of the guys. I was always one of the guys.”

Style Evolution
“I tend to be dubbed as a trendsetter. My style was always different. Before I got into the industry, I was super sexy. I’ve always been super sexy and feminine. Biggie’s partner from the label, Un (Lance ‘Un’ Rivera) knew the essence of being fly. He said, ‘I don’t want to change her image.’ He wanted to make me more sexy and put me in mink coats. They’d spend their own money. My record company didn’t understand a female rapper being sexy. They thought I needed to look like MC Lyte, wear sweat suits and all that.”

The Making of “Hard Core”
“There were a lot of things going on during the making of the album that it became stressful at times: Some personal [and] some business. But it was mostly fun. I got to see something that I created. And I was young, people don’t get it. I came into the industry as a baby. I was 17-years-old. By the time we were signing our contract for Junior M.A.F.I.A., I was barely turning 18. My mom wasn’t really feeling me doing the music thing, and I thought I had to bring her in to sign for me but I literally just turned 18 so I didn’t need her to. I was able to sign my own contract.”

The Making of “The Notorious K.I.M.”
“No, I absolutely didn’t know it leaked. Me and Puffy had our own ideas for the album. At that time, Puff was my manager; He was everything actually. Bad Boy was my label cause Puffy was my manager but you can basically say that Bad Boy and Atlantic [Records] shared me. Atlantic didn’t really want to live up to their part of the deal because they didn’t understand the direction that me and Puffy wanted to go. Me and Puffy had to get creative with a lot of the music. We gave them the first three tracks we wanted to be singles and they said, ‘We don’t want to support our half of it with this.’ Puffy was very credible so I said, ‘Why don’t you think he knows what he’s doing?’ I totally trusted him. But, they kept saying no. We ended up going with ‘No Matter What They Say.’ That definitely wasn’t me and Puff’s choice as the first single. But Puffy is a business man, so we compromised. We knew we had singles but Atlantic didn’t see our vision. I think our word should have meant more but we wanted their support.”

“We met up with Grace Jones in the Bahamas. Puff had this studio home, and he took everyone down there who was working on an album: Mase, me [and] Black Rob. We saw her down there. She knew about me and I couldn’t believe it. She was reciting my raps to me. She was on it. Me and Puffy were like, ‘Let’s put her on something.'”

“Some changes were cause of Atlantic. We didn’t have a lot of clearance issues but we did have some. Puffy did what he was supposed to.”

“The RuPaul song didn’t make it. It was a great song, I loved it. I always represent for my rainbow kids. I think the issues came in at the last minute; It got cleared but it happened last minute. Puff said we should save it for another album. ‘Til this day RuPaul and I are best friends. I’m actually supposed to do his show soon. I was supposed to do it before the bundle of joy came so we decided to wait. Hopefully we can do the song up and use it on his show.”

“Magic Stick” (Song)
“That was one of my favorite records I ever made. That song has a now and then feel. You can play that five or ten years from now. A lot of songs don’t have that. I was blessed to have and be a part of those type of songs. Some people I have great chemistry [with]. I have great chemistry with 50 Cent. I also have great chemistry Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige.”

The Making of “The Naked Truth”
“That album was a bit more personal because of what I was going through. I was a bit more angry. I felt betrayed by so many people at the time. I wanted to get so much aggression out. My record label decided that’s how I should go that route and have it be hard core. But I didn’t totally agree.”

“There’s a song called ‘Kitty Box,’ which was big among my immediate fans and my gay fans but my record label didn’t get it. Me, personally, [thought] that should have been one of my singles. They didn’t get how music was going. ‘Kitty Box’ sounds like a lot of the stuff that’s out now. I was ahead of my time. But again, my record label didn’t get it.”

“We were are all for ‘Lighters Up.’ ‘Lighters Up,’ to me, was so nice. I think if they would’ve pushed more we could have been further. But the record label got comfortable with the name Lil’ Kim selling itself. But I get it, they’re not going to gamble on things they don’t understand.”

“There was pressure, but I breezed through this album faster than other albums cause I had to. I didn’t have time. Puff says I work better under pressure. I guess it’s me taking over when I know I have to. Going into the studio was my relief for everything else that I was going through; I was getting ready to go away.”

“I had discrepancies. I had a couple of other choices for the second single. ‘Kitty Box’ would have been a single when I came home or… It would have been a single. No matter what I was going through, there was no doubt that I was still a sex symbol. ‘Kitty Box’ was a sexy record.”

Incarceration (2005)
“I don’t regret anything in my life. There’s things I wish I would have done differently but I don’t regret how I handled the situation. I don’t regret it. Being who I am, is who I am. At the end of the day, my character is my character. I’m not going to change that for nobody.”

Female Rappers vs. The Industry
“I think females make really great music and they need to be acknowledged. We don’t get the acknowledgement that men get. Sometimes we don’t get the acknowledgment that men get and we sell more records. Sometimes we don’t get the same push as male artists.”

Advice from Notorious B.I.G.
“B.I.G. was sure I was good long-term. He wanted me to be the top bitch in the game. He named me Queen Bitch. In the studio he’d show me things about rapping and music. He knew that I idolized him and he’s who I wanted to be. I would watch him in awe. He was so amazing to me to watch: His energy and they way he moved as a big guy. He was very smart; His mom being a teacher probably had something to do with that. B.I.G. is B.I.G.”

What’s Next?
“The baby dictates what days I go to the studio. I did work in the earlier stages of [my pregnancy]. My belly is pretty out there right now, but, I’m still working.”

“Some of my fans want me to make one type of music. I love them, and will always give them what they want but I’m just not going to go back to what’s not going to work right now. Even the way I used to dress, the Lil’ Kim now can’t do that. It’s about reinventing and evolving.”

“One of the best lines from Jay Z, that made me feel him even more is: ‘… Want my old shit, buy my old albums.’ I’m smart enough to know to not fuck with a classic.”

“My new music is not going to be ‘Hard Core.’ It’s going to be sexy, of course. But you can’t do the same beautiful thing twice, the same exact way. Lightning [can] strike twice but it’s not going to be the same design or come at the same place. I just want to be creative.”

NEXT: Remy Ma

“Remy”

Day 25: Remy Ma
In three months, Remy Ma will be freed from a six-year prison stint, and there’s no doubt she’s ready to hit the ground running. The rapper has reconciled with collaborator Fat Joe and is ready to live up to his still-standing belief that she’s “the dopest female rapper ever.”

State of Mind
“I have a new outlook on a lot of things. I’m ready to see the world with these new pair of eyes of mine. Everyone says I’m not missing anything but I think they’re just saying that so I don’t feel bad. I’m excited to get back into the game and make it a little bit more interesting.”

The Making of ‘There’s Something About Remy’ (2006)
“It was easy to make. I was in the studio all the time, wasting money I shouldn’t have. If I would do it again I probably would have saved thousands of dollars. But I was young. So many great producers would come through. People like Ne-Yo, who at the time no one knew who this incredible writer was. I had someone great like Keyshia Cole was working with me. Fat Joe was always in there, supporting; We were having fun. He put out all the stops to make things happen. I was finally getting my chance to show the world who I was. They let me make the music I wanted to how I wanted to make it. I had free range.”

“If I would do it again I’d also make it more polished. I would also wait how they [Terror Squad] wanted me to, in order to make the numbers that it could have. I wanted the album to come out the day of the anniversary of Pun’s passing because that day means so much to me. I’m like, ‘It has to come out this specific day.’ I didn’t want to push it back. I was being stubborn and pushing my weight around cause I had a little leverage then. I should have waited.”

Terror Squad
“That was one of the most fun times of my life. I was young, making music, and traveling… We made one of the biggest records in hip-hop history. I think our issues came from our egos conflicting. [Fat] Joe used to give me advice on what to do and what not to do, but I didn’t listen. He guided me, but I didn’t listen to him. If I would have listened to him then, things would have been different now. If I would have listened to Joe half of the time…You don’t realize it at the time because when you’re young you think you know everything. There was a lot of conflict that could have been avoided. Sometimes when you have hit records out, you let that control your actions and affect your relationships.”

“I just recently spoke to him and we had a wonderful conversation. It started off a little awkward. [Laughs] We’re both like, ‘Just say what you want to say.’ We were both holding on to our egos. ‘Well what do you want to say?’ ‘No what do you want to say?’ We finally let it go. We ended up talking about things I want to do when I get home. He said, ‘I still think you’re the dopest female rapper ever.’ I’m like, ‘Really?!’ [Laughs] When you put egos and pride aside, and be the real people that you are it works out… I told him that when I do go home I’m going to make it my business that we talk more.”

Incarceration (2008-2014)
“You can’t believe everything that people say about someone. I’m a strong believer that things happen for a reason. I’m not the type of person to bring someone down to save myself. I’m always one to take one for the team. Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself to make sure everything else is right. At first when I went through what I went through, people said, ‘Whey didn’t you work out a deal?’ I never took the stand. I let people say what they wanted to say, and I just took the decision. That’s the person I am.”

Pending Reality Show
“That’s when reality shows weren’t as ratchet as they are now. I’ve been getting some calls about it but I’m like, ‘I’m good.’ I am going to be honest, I’m scared of reality TV. That’s one thing that’s not on my list to do when I get out. Once I have my music solidified, then I’ll consider reality TV.”

What’s Next?
“I have so much material that I’ve been working on and so many topics I want to touch on. I’ve grown so much as a woman and as an individual. I know that I can bring something to the table that’s missing. I don’t hear the things that I want to say or have experienced; I don’t hear it in the music that’s out.”

“I’m writing about my own stories but also the stories of the people I’ve come across while in prison. I’m not in jail, I’m in prison. You’d be surprised as to how many women come through here and what they’ve experienced. I’ve encountered people from all over the world.  I’ve always rapped about my struggle and living a hard life but there’s a lot of things that are serious, like gang issues, immigration issues, domestic violence issues… There’s some women in here, 18-year-olds with ambition, who may never see the light of day. I thought I had a hard life, but I’ve now experienced a whole different world. It’s serious. I’m going to put it in my music.”

“I want to show sides of me that I hadn’t showed and tell my story since I left till now, and the stories of others. I can say I have at least 20 books or so of songs.”

“I want people to know that Rem is still Rem. There’s a history of artists that go to jail and when they get home they’re not all that or even do anything. I’m not falling into that category. In my opinion, the only one that did some significant time then came home and went stupid was ‘Pac. That’s what I want to do. I want to come home and make an impact. I feel like my time was cut short and I didn’t get to blossom where I wanted to be in my career.”

“There’s a lot of people I want to work with. I want to definitely work with these MMG guys; I love what they’re doing. I love [Rick] Ross. I fuck with Meek [Mill]. He’s one of my favorites right now. I love everything he puts out. I fuck with French [Montana]. I like Nicki [Minaj]. She’s been doing her thing. I like that YG kid, a lot.  When July comes around, I’m around. That’s my motto: I’m around.”

When She Gets Out…
“I’m going to get my hair done. I’m going to get my nails done. [Laughs] People see me as this rough tomboy. I’m a girly girl. And I’m married! I’m over here married, without my nails done. I’m going to get dolled up. I’ll then knock out a few things [and] lay down some melodies. I’ve written a lot down but I haven’t been producing so I just write and listen to the radio. I think that if I get in to the studio with some of these guys that are out – like Rico Love and DJ Mustard – I’m going to get so lit.” [Laughs]

“After I get dolled up and lay down some records and my voice is out, I want to get away and get my back blown out for like a week. Mess up the hair and make-up that I got done. I have been in prison for a while.” [Laughs]

NEXT: Khia

“Khia”

Day 24: Khia
Twelve years ago, Khia came out with a song that, although it made everyone blush, it was hard to not recite: “My Neck, My Back.” Now, the artist is celebrating her run as an independent artist with her upcoming album, “Love Locs,” out July 4.

The Making of “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)”
“‘My Neck, My Back’ was something I made joking around.  At the time, there was [a] guy in Tampa who had a song called ‘My Neck and My Back,’ and I was like ‘Oh okay. My neck, my back, my pussy and my crack.’ And instantly I thought, ‘Ooh, I’m going to write that.’ It was kind of like a Weird Al moment; I was just joking. And it turned out to be hit in 20 different countries.”

“I had regular people in the video. It wasn’t over the top. I had my hair wrapped and I was getting my feet done. They wanted strippers and models but I said ‘No.’ The song says enough.”

“I was singing directly to men. I want men to know that I’m a female rapper and singer that’s singing for them. It’s not just women per se. It’s not that K. Michelle, Keyshia Cole, Cry me a river type of music. I’m lyrically catering to men.”

“I still perform all over the world with that song. I should put out a remix to that song but I don’t have to because it will never get old. It’s as if it’s new today. It branded me and also created a cult following for me. Some artists won’t be able to creat a classic, and I did my first time out.”

Collaborating with Trick Daddy and Janet Jackson
“I don’t like collaborating with artists. But I love Trick [Daddy]. When he called I was like, ‘No, I’m not gonna do it.’ Too Short and Lil Kim had called and wanted me to get on their songs. Her’s was about pussy or something. When Too $hort called me, his song was like, ‘My nuts, my sack, my dick…’ I was like, ‘What?’ People thought I was some stripper chick and nasty all the time. And, here people come asking me to be on songs when it’s about balls, ass, or pussy. I told Too $hort that I wasn’t doing the song and he got offended. I told Kim I wasn’t doing her song and she got offended. That was ten years ago; There’s no beef. People were approaching me with very vulgar songs. When Trick called it was like, ‘I like Trick! Let me hear it.’ When I heard it it wasn’t that bad. I wrote it in 20-minutes.”

“But when it came down for cross promotion, he did me the same Janet Jackson did me, and didn’t have me in the video. They edited me out for the video. We shot for two days and all of the stuff ended up getting edited out because they didn’t want to share the spotlight. If you call me to be featured on the song, I think we should cross-promote and be able to perform together.  So keep your shit [and] don’t call me.”

“I pretty much had to sue Janet Jackson. I have it in my contract now that I will be a part of cross-promotion, even if it’s just a song. I handled the situation with Janet; It just taught me to have everything written in contracts.”

Her Friendship With Gucci Mane
“I knew Gucci before he was this huge artist. He’d come through a club I had all the time to perform. I got to know him before he changed. The industry has changed him. No one is going to get to know the beautiful side I did. He’s too far gone. I think he was high when he was tweeting; He was speaking the truth. It may be the people he’s around or drugs that he’s on. Sometimes money or environment changes people. I think his team is not good and he doesn’t have any positive reinforcement. I reached out to him a few times, but I haven’t seen him since we did, ‘What They Do,’ [which] was 2008. When he did that he was on some type of drug; I don’t know what he took to trip him out. When we did that song I can tell something was off. Something’s been off since then. If you were to ask me, as a close friend, I don’t think he recovered well when he ended up having to shoot someone… and it wasn’t intentional. I think he was scared for his life and someone ended up getting murdered. I don’t think he’s recovered from that and I don’t think he ever well. It changed him.”

Collaborating with Miley Cyrus
“I love Miley! Her team called me and asked to do the official remix. I’m a fan of hers, so of course I did it. I had a chance to be creative and go in and create a melody. I like creating the melody more than rapping.”

“Who am I to give advice to Miley Cyrus? I was ripping and running around 19, 20-years-old. She knows that the world is controversial and she knows the more crazy things you do the more albums you sell. I think that’s just the route that she’s going.”

What’s Next?
“My album, ‘Love Locs,’ drops on the Fourth of July. I’m celebrating 13-years as an independent artist. It’s half hip-hop and half R&B, this one is a follow-up to ‘Motormouf.’ I’m singing also. It turned out so beautiful. It’s super sexy. All my songs are bold and sexual. I love to love and I love to have sex, of course. It’s all me ’cause I write and produce all my music. Some women think I’m male-bashing but, no, my music is majority for men. I’m not singing for women.”

“I got a new book, ‘Ignoring the Signs,’ that’s dropping in July as well. It’s a fiction book based on non-fiction experiences. I’m trying to drop three books this year. I think the books are going to make people realize that I’m also a creative writer.”

A Lesson Learned
“I was ripping and running when I was young. I ended up getting pregnant so young. My mom was so disappointed, telling me, ‘You should be doing your music.’ It took for my mother to pass for me to stop ripping and running the streets and work on music. My album came out quick, a year after my mom passed. Sometimes something bad has to happen to wake you up.  I don’t want something happen like that to Gucci.”

NEXT: Vita

Day 23: Vita
As petite as she is, Vita can hold her own. It’s safe to say that’s why the East coast-native was brought in as the first female rapper of Murder Inc. (A co-sign from her manager at the time, legendary director, Hype Williams, didn’t hurt either). After a hiatus, Vita is back with new music,  individually and with a group of strong female rappers like herself.

Beginnings
“They were looking for a 16-year old who was feisty for ‘Belly.’ I auditioned three times and got the roll of DMX’s girl on the side. [Laughs] When I got the roll I thought I was [going to be] doing more but when the movie got cut, there was only a bedroom scene and car scene. I went and told my mom that I didn’t want people to look down on me  because of the roll and she reassured me that it was just a role. There was a backlash. Some said, ‘Why do black women have to get on screen and do certain things? White woman do it too though. People aren’t going to love everything you do.”

“There was backlash against the movie. They were saying it was more violent than the average movie that was playing at the time. Hype [Williams] spent a lot of his own money on the movie. It wasn’t in all movie theaters because of the backlash.”

Murder Inc.
“Hype, who was my manager at the time, introduced me to his colleagues which were Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. I met them at a video shoot (Method Man and D’Angelo’s “Break Ups 2 Make Ups”). I was supposed to only be featured on the “[Irv Gotti Presents:] The Murderers” album but they wanted me to sign and be a part of Murder Inc. Coming into the situation, I was thinking that Irv Gotti was well respected and known in the game.”

“I don’t think the we, as a crew, got to go as far as we were supposed to because, mostly, everyone was scared of the game. We couldn’t do in-stores cause of the name. There was a lot backlash.”

The Making of “Put It On Me”
“Ja Rule came up with the idea and everybody built around it. We recorded it in L.A. Once every one did their verses, Lil Mo came in and she went to church on it. The record was hit.”

No First Album
“The album not coming out wasn’t because of my mom passing away. There was a lot of stuff going on in Murder Inc. that was out of my control. I couldn’t push the button. A lot of things happened within the crew that didn’t permit for things to happen or for albums to come out. I was new to the team, so I couldn’t dictate. Things were out of my control. I don’t think it was cause I wasn’t talented or style; If I didn’t Hype Williams wouldn’t have signed me. I believe it was about timing.”

“When everything came crashing down…  If you make a certain type of money, how can you really keep up with the pace that you were on originally? You’re in a million dollar videos and then there’s no Murder Inc.”

Her Mother’s Passing
“My mom passed away in 2008 of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease]. She got sick two years before she passed away. She went to the hospital one day cause she wasn’t breathing well and two days later she passed away. I remind myself of what she taught me about women and our strength. It was tragic for me. The loss of someone you love is a feeling no one can imagine.”

What’s Next?
“For the last year, I’ve been focused on making music. I put out my ‘Pre-Cumm’ mixtape. The title was for shock value. I’m sitting over 50 songs that I recorded instead of chasing the industry.”

I’m working with some female rappers that have been in the game now. Me, Da Brat, Justina, and Babz just did a remix together called ‘My Bitches.’ It’s called ‘Shemix’ on the clean version. We’re doing different records with each other.. There aren’t too many females that are coming together and showing love. Guys do it all the time and make money. We should too.”

“I’m working on a a sexy and classy lingerie line. I’m also working on a boo, not a tell-all, but it will include some of my experiences. I’m also on a reality show with some other women.”

“I recorded a song for Rick Ross. Musiq Soulchild is also on the song. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that song.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“[I’d] cross my T’s and dot my I’s. I’d make sure I use the money that I am making to have a lawyer. When you’re young, you don’t have money. Me sure you have a great lawyer on your team. Learn to be a better business person, even if you have to take some classes.”

“I’d also tell myself to be my own person and not put my life in anyone’s hands. With my situation, i not only did other people’s situations hurt me, but… when management and other parties seem like they don’t care it also affects their artist.”

NEXT: Diamond and Princess from Crime Mob

“Crime”

Day 22: Diamond and Princess of Crime Mob
Not many artists can deliver a hit that both women and men can call their own, let alone enjoy as much as in the present as when it was first released. Crime Mob was one of those acts. The group’s leading ladies – Diamond and Princess – brought sex appeal and charismatic lyrics that helped the group garner mainstream attention.

Beginnings
Princess: “We (Diamond and me) stayed in the same neighborhood and she used to braid my hair when I played basketball. Every week, we would record at my parents’ house so everybody would be over there. Her boyfriend at the time was rapping with us. So everybody knew everybody. One time she was like, ‘What are y’all doing?’ I was like, ‘Girl, I’m in a rap group. I have to go do my verse.’ She said, ‘Oh, I want to come.’ At the time there were like 30 people in Crime Mob. It was just a whole Ellenwood thing. Everybody in Ellenwood was affiliated with Crime Mob at the time. ”

“A lot of people don’t know this but we had about six versions of ‘Knuck If You Buck.’ The way we determined who was going to be in the group was based on who was on the last version of ‘Knuck If You Buck.’ It was the last one and me and my brother had a discussion about it. We had a discussion as far as what made sense for who was on the song, what verses could be cut, and that was it. There were a lot of heated people at that time.”

Diamond: “I remember being in school and I had a point person, like an assistant. My bus took me to my house at 3:30 p.m. and I had 20 minutes to get ready for the studio. It took us three weeks and we were in the studio everyday, non-stop. I was always asleep in class. Sometimes I would miss breakfast or showers. I’d have to do a quick wash up in the studio. I’d go back to school, take tests and still perform. That was a real challenge for me. Looking back on it now, I’m like, ‘Wow, I didn’t really have a normal childhood.’ Most kids are playing sports after school and I have a record deal. After school, I’d be going to the studio to put an album out worldwide.”

The Making of ‘Crime Mob’
Princess: “When we did our first album, we were in high school so all we really knew is what we talked about. It wasn’t work. It wasn’t like it is now. We recorded the album in like, I don’t even think it was a full month. We caught the bus from school and then my dad would take us to patch work and we were there until like five in the morning. We would come home and shower and then it was back to school. We would do the same thing the next day.”

“As far as the female songs from Crime Mob, believe it or not, I didn’t like any of them. There was another beat to ‘Stilettos’ but the hook was pretty much the same. I think she (Miss Aisha) took it to Diamond and then Diamond gave it to me. I was like, ‘I don’t like it. It’s something about it I don’t like.’ My brother Lil’ Jay redid the beat and we rerecorded it and I was like, ‘Okay, it could work. Maybe. We’ll see.’ That’s one of our biggest songs. Why do dudes like ‘Stilettos’? It’s talking about heels? [Laughs]”

Princess: “‘Knuck If You Buck’ was one of my favorites. I didn’t think that it was better than ‘The Original Crime Mob’ song. We had about twelve people on that song and I went second. I was rapping real fast so I thought that was going to be the one. But we started performing ‘Knuck If You Buck’ more than ‘The Original Crime Mob’ song. That’s what we called it. I thought that the Crime Mob song was going to be the one. I was like, ‘No, we always perform ‘Knuck If You Buck.’ I don’t want to do that. And lo and behold, another one. So usually when I don’t get my way, it goes good as far as picking songs.”

The Making of ‘Hated On Mostly’
Princess: “I protested not to be on ‘Rock Yo Hips.’ When we did it, the guys would stay in the studio the whole time. I’m a female. I want to go home. I want to shower. I want to eat and then I’ll come back. They would stay in there the whole time and they ended up doing their version of ‘Rock Yo Hips,’ so the song was finished by the time I heard it. The said it was going to be they guys’ song.  I was like, ‘Alright, well y’all have your little song then.’ They really tried to keep it for themselves but when the label heard it, they were like, ‘The girls need to get on there.’ I was like, ‘Nope, they can have their song. We’ll see how far it goes.’ We were real cocky back then. They really wanted to keep it for themselves and I was like, ‘It ain’t gonna do nothing anyway.’ It ended up being the lead single from the album.”

Diamond: “I didn’t really care for the first album as much because we didn’t really have as much to say. The second album was better because the label gave us a little bit more flexibility to do what we wanted. That’s why we have those sexier songs like ‘Rock Yo Hips.’ Me and Princess were like, ‘We’re girls. We’re not always fighting. We want to show our sexier side.’ That’s how ‘Rock Yo Hips’ came about, which is one of the best songs we ever made. I think the second album was more like, ‘We got the hang of this. Here’s our growth and our second approach to it. We got this.’ Whereas the first album was, ‘We’re not sure. This is our first time doing this.'”

Diamond: “‘Circles’ was a song where we could all relate to the scenarios. On the record, two of us were talking about being in love and the other two were talking about not being in love and getting dragged around. It was fun because it allowed us to show more of our sensitive side and be more vulnerable versus being all, ‘I hate you. Fuck you. Don’t step on my shoes in the club.'”

The Breakup
Princess: “At that time, there was so much going on. I didn’t think it’d be this long, but all knew it was coming. Not to throw shade at Diamond, but when she first announced that she was leaving, she was saying that we kicked her out and we didn’t want her in the group. That wasn’t the case, at all. She’s always been good at finding a situation. When the ship is about to sink, she can find a lifeboat. We thought for a while that she was separating herself. At awards shows, she wanted to walk the red carpet by herself or with [Lil] Scrappy. So we thought, ‘If that’s what you want to do, go ahead. It’s cool. Good for y’all.'”

“For her to say that we didn’t want her in the group, that’s just not true. We were about to do a Diamond [and] Princess project. A lot of stuff with that didn’t go through for different reasons. That was before we quote, unquote kicked her out. So it was hard in the beginning. There was a lot going on and everybody went their separate ways. But as time went on, it’s like, ‘I wish you the best and whatever you do. I hope it works for all six of us. We all started together and no matter what we do, it’s always going to come back to Crime Mob. I don’t wish anything bad on anybody. We’re all talented in our ways, individually and collectively. I don’t know if we will ever do a Diamond [and] Princess project. Musically, I think we’re on two different wavelengths. We’ll just have to see. I think everybody’s happy.”

Parting Ways with Warner Music
Princess: “Warner treated us well. We were right at the end of an era and the beginning of an era. We were at the end of physical albums and street promotion. We were at the beginning of the digital age, with the ring tones and digital downloads. So we were the guinea pigs a lot of times for Warner. They didn’t know how to market us. We used to record ringtones in the studio and didn’t know what in the world we were doing. Why are we telling someone to pick up the phone? We didn’t get it at that time. Like, ‘Pick up the phone, yo man’s calling.’ We were like, ‘What are we doing? What are y’all doing paying for this?'”

“A lot of it was hit or miss with the label. It was also the beginning of artists being able to eat without a label. With the older generation, you weren’t really anybody if you weren’t signed to a major label. Now it’s all about being independent because you have social media that you can run. You can have your own merchandise and people will actually pay $100 for a t-shirt with your name on it. Crazy, but they’ll do it. You can come out with a nail polish line and a hair company and all of this other stuff.”

“I’ve seen the perks of the labels and now I’m seeing the perks of being an independent artist. I have a business mind so I know how to direct people and get things done the way they need to be done without coming out of pocket. You can be an independent artist and win; As opposed to signing to a major label: Get the chain and the car to floss in but they put the albums out when they’re ready. That’s like slavery now, in my mind.”

Current State of Crime Mob
Princess:  “[A reunion] has been talked about over the years. I’ve always said that if it didn’t make sense and it wasn’t for the right reasons, I didn’t want to be a part of it. I never wanted to be a part of it or come back to it because of the money. Starting off anything in greed isn’t going to end well. It was about timing. Now, we’ve all experienced different stuff individually and collectively. We can bring back it to our music in terms of how we express ourselves.”

Diamond: “We’re just getting cool with each other. I have done a couple of their records in the past. But right now, my priority is my first solo album. My priority is me because I’ve had to fight so hard to prove that I can stand on my own. There have been so many different cycles and transitions in this industry that I’ve had to show that I can stand in. If I do Crime Mob stuff right now, it’ll confuse people. I have to finish this task of being Diamond and working on my solo album. Then maybe down the line I can bring them out on my tour and keep it going. We still have Crime Mob fans but I think it wouldn’t mean as much until I finish with this task of dropping my first solo album.”

Beef Among Female Rappers
Princess: “I think females can do anything that males can do, except the physical stuff. We’re a force to be reckoned with once we get those insecurities out of our head. Thinking that there can only be one female rapper at a time or there’s only room for two or three, won’t let us get past that — because we’re the only ones holding ourselves back. We can do more female records. There can really be all females, or just more females reaching out and doing stuff. But we’re so scared of being outshined by the next person, or we worry about what everybody says on the blogs and them putting us against each other. We’ll never grow that way and it will always just be one or two.”

What’s Next?
Princess: “The group is working on something. Everyone is involved, but it’s just hard for all of us to be in the studio at the same time because our schedules are so different. We’ve only been together a few times. We’re a good nine records in with everybody on there. It’s some topics, it’s not just all the Crime Mob that people are used to hearing. We have grown so our music sounds a little bit more mature. There’s still those club songs but we have other songs. The songs where you want to be on an island, sipping some tea or something. It’s different and I like the direction we’re going in now. The records that’ll be coming out in spring and summer are from the group. ‘Pull Up’ and ‘Say Yes’ will be two summer records. One will come out late April and then another one in June.”

“My solo project is an EP. I’m not putting too many titles or restrictions on it. I’m just in the flow of making music, of creating and taking in new sounds and inspirations. I’m writing in different ways and not just singing about Princess, the artist. I’m a writer first. My last mixtape ‘Hiatus’ had more an R&B tone in the middle and towards the end. People were like, ‘Oh, you sing. I didn’t know you sing.’ It took people by surprise. I didn’t know either, [but] thanks to Auto-Tune and a couple of other tricks. As far as where I was going musically, the world wasn’t really ready for that yet. They’re still used to seeing me at 16 years old, jumping up and down in some Air Force Ones or stilettos. But now, I’m more at peace. I can talk about more and I respect myself in different ways.”

Diamond: “I’m working on a jewelry line.  There’s really no celebrity who’s dining somethings with accessories. I’m trying to bring it to life while I’m on television. I’m thinking no later than the end of summer. I’m doing a reality show. It’s with a couple of other girls. It’s supposed to hit this summer. We’re working on it right now.”

“[The album] has the old Diamond but double time with the unapologetic rhymes and more adult, sexy, and confident. I’m really representing for the ladies. I’m talking about things that happened in my personal relationships and other things that a woman goes through.”

“It’s different from the old Crime Mob days of just getting crunk in the club. It’s really well rounded. It’s for any woman who’s been through some things, highs and lows, and dealt with some things in her life. Whether it’s getting a new car or breaking up with your boyfriend, I know they’ll be able to relate to it.” [Note: “Spring” is when Diamond plasm to release the first single.]

“I just moved to New York as well. I’m excited about that. I wanted a change because I covered Atlanta. I want to expand my networks out here into fashion as well. My mother and my father are both from New York. New York is the place to be.”

NEXT: Salt-N-Pepa

“Salt-N-Pepa”

Day 21: Salt-N-Pepa
With massive hits like “Push It” and “Shoop,” Salt-N-Pepa have earned their status as the best-selling female rap group of all time. After years of trials and tribulations, the trio has sustained their friendship and continued to cement their legacy.

Beginnings
Pepa: “Our original name was Super Nature. Herbie [Azor] named us that; We hated it. After we did ‘The Show Stopper,’ the fans would call us Salt-N-Pepa: ‘Those Salt-N-Pepa girls. You know those Salt-N-Pepa girls?’ They took it from the line in the song: ‘We go together like Salt and Pepa.’ We were like, ‘We like that! Let’s keep that!’ It fit so well.

Spinderella: “The whole thing with me starting to rhyme came about because Herbie [Azor], our manager/producer, wanted to give me more. Each character in the group had their own popularity and personality. Herbie wanted to magnify my personality. He saw something in me and wanted to utilize me more. I was doing everything—DJ’ing, dancing, choreographing—and when he saw that, he started adding me to songs. I wasn’t on the first album ‘Hot, Cool & Vicious.’ I came in at the completion of that album. So when Salt-N-Pepa started to tour, that’s when they brought me in. Me rhyming was because Herbie wanted to capitalize on my different talents and bring another dynamic. And thank God he did that because it was another side to me that I got to utilize.”

Pepa: “We weren’t one of those artists who had to grind. We don’t have a war story. It was chemistry and being at the right place at the right time. Herbie [Azor] had a vision; He was Salt’s boyfriend and we all were friends cause we went to school together. He said, ‘Let’s put this group together!’ And, we did. I remember our first song, our answer to Doug E Fresh’s and Slick Rick’s’ ‘The Show.’ We did ‘The Show Stopper.’ Herbie wrote that and  we thought, ‘What? We’re going up against Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick? Are you crazy?’ Marly Marl played it on the radio but also people were requesting it. A label contacted us; We weren’t trying to contact a label.”

“We were playing at the hardest places in New York. We were ‘In Your Face’ types of females. They’re like, ‘Oh no, these girls are speaking their minds. Nothing to mess with.’ We went head on. The labels were coming to us ’cause we were selling and making those numbers.”

Salt-N-Pepa  vs. The Industry
Pepa: “When our music started to get popular, believe it or not but we got slack when our songs were crossing over. Back then they’d call you a sell-out. That’s what we went through. It’s like we were outcasts.  It was cool to be hardcore and underground, starving. We’re like, ‘We’re not doing any of that. Sorry guys!’ [Laughs]  It was all about street credibility.”

“We were feeling a little tension in the game because we were so popular. Being popular was being a sell out. When all these rappers, including KRS-One, would get together to make a song, I remember saying, ‘Oh they didn’t call us? Oh, okay. They’re acting funny.’ Back then, when you’d do anything, you had to have Salt-N-Pepa on it. I don’t care!” [Laughs]

“People couldn’t believe [our success]. Salt remembers one time bumping into Russell Simmons and him giving her a thumb down, like ‘You’re not here to stay.’ That only gave us more fuel. We work with him ’til this day so now he looks at us like, ‘These girls were no joke.’ It was always a battle for us to keep our feet planted.”

Spinderella: “We were owning it and inspiring a lot of women. A lot of our music had a message. And the thing that really motivated us during that time was how many women would come to us and say we inspired them. We were more encouraged by the fact that we were actually impacting a generation of women. We were really feeding off of that.”

“Salt-N-Pepa was really raising the bar and we were the standard for women in hip-hop. There was MC Lyte, there was YoYo and we all created this standard. The door was open and that allowed for women like Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim to walk through and then Eve and Missy. Even TLC, they had that R&B and hip-hop flow. Today, the door is still open but the ceiling doesn’t seem to be as high. But what we were doing was attacking issues as well as being cute and sexy. We were hitting issues and still seemed like the girls next door, so people responded to that. And it was global. We were that voice for the urban woman.”

The Making Of “Push It”
Spinderella: “I had literally just joined the group and we were doing shows. ‘Push It’ wasn’t a part of the show because we were pushing ‘Tramp,’ which was the A-side [first]. ‘Push It’ was the B-side but we had dropped a video for it based on the growing popularity. At shows, people started demanding that song. It happened so fast. The song was climbing the charts and before I knew it, we had a mega hit on our hands. As soon as I joined the group, it started to skyrocket.”

Pepa: “When I first heard it I thought: ‘Oh boy, we’re going to get it now.’ We told Herbie that we were scared it may come off corny. But, it took a life of its own. At that time, we had ‘Tramp’ on the A-side of the tape and ‘Push It’ on the B-Side. But then ‘Push It’ took off. We chose to switch and put  ‘Push It’ on the A-side.”

The Making of ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’
Pepa:”It was refreshing; we were the voice for many women. We were bold. ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ did good for us because it was a little taboo, but that hook grabs you. It opened some doors. Peter Jennings heard his daughter listen to the song; He had us change the lyrics to ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ to ‘Lets Talk About Aids’ for a campaign.”

“That was us. We were outspoken. We dressed the way we wanted to dress and said what we wanted to say. We supported women to speak up and speak their minds, despite it being a male dominated field.”

The Making of “Very Necessary”
Spinderella: “There was a major difference in our popularity. We really paid attention to the music, the production, and really put ourselves into it. It wasn’t just all about Herbie. The prior albums were mainly Herbie and his masterminding. But this album had more of Salt-N-Pepa’s touch. We were more concerned about important topics and relating more from a woman’s standpoint. At that point, we were all grown up. And then image was really important. We took care of our bodies, got in shape, and got a good squad around us and made some good videos. Everything that we needed to make it come together was there.”

“Shoop”
Pepa: “Prior to ‘Shoop,’ we were a little thick; We were a little healthy. [Laughs] We had lost weight. We had lost weight and were feeling good. I thought of ‘Shoop’ around that time and brought it to Salt. She thought it was dope. Salt and I wrote it and I co-produced it. Herbie wanted one of his songs to be the first single off the ‘Very Necessary’ album. He wanted a song of his, but we wanted for ‘Shoop’ to be the first single. We came together and finally convinced him.”

“We felt so good about ourselves. Also, felt so good to have our own song  be the first single off an album. We were selling millions of records after that. Now when we had to sort out the guys for the video? That was fun. We were feeling good cause we had just lost weight.”

“Whatta Man”
Pepa: “We were in the studio, and were talking about having En Vogue be a part of the song. Everyone was like, ‘We can’t get En Vogue. They’re so huge.’ I’m the one that said, ‘Why not? All they can do is say no.’ They fell in love with the song and said yes, ‘as long as we can put it on our album too.’

“I was together with him (Treach) at the time. Salt and Spin were single; I remember them having fun choosing their leading man. [Laughs] I couldn’t pick anyone. I’m like, ‘I got to keep my boyfriend I guess.’ [Laughs] Spin ended up picking a good friend. Salt was like, ‘Tupac! I want Tupac!’ He said, ‘Heck yeah.’ I remember Tupac going through something at the time, some drama with the police. I remember the label (Def Jam Records) being like, ‘We don’t want to show him as much.’ We were upset. From that moment we decided that we will never let anyone control our music or videos, in that sense. It was a lesson learned as to how much control the label had on the album. The label was serious at the time cause of what was going on with Tupac. It didn’t bother us though.

The Making of “Brand New”
“When you’re under the umbrella of a record label, you’re literally under their control, their spell, their timeline, and their schedule. And we just wanted to be able to be Salt-N-Pepa. There were a lot of political changes going on at the label. Someone else inherited this package, this brand and didn’t see the vision that we originally had. It was a little rough.  It was almost like ‘Brand New’ was a sacrificial lamb. It felt really good and it was a great album. But in this industry, you have to be able to sacrifice some stuff in order to keep going.”

Break Up to Make Up
Spinderella: “Salt and Pepa were in a place where they wanted to be more creative and there were some differences there. And just like with any relationship, if you don’t allow someone to grow tension will arise. Just growing up, they wanted more of their voices to be heard so it was all about expressing who they were.”

Pepa: “We were going through some stuff with Herbie. Herbie thought he was Prince and we were Lisa and Wendy. He was dictating us how to be and talk. That part used to get to me. It’s the typical story of a guy running one of the best female groups. He was feeling power; He was killing it. It was cool, but when business started coming and money started coming, it became a little different. It wasn’t until ‘Very Necessary’ [when] Salt and I said, ‘We need to stand up. We need to have a voice. We’ve been in the game for a long time. We need to do us.'”

“We ended up parting ways with Herbie, which was hard ’cause that was Salt’s boyfriend. She went through it, emotionally and from a business side. It was deep with Herbie. She had to deal with the music [and] the boyfriend. I’m like, ‘What [do] you want? I’m here. Let’s just keep going.’ And she’s like, ‘No!’ It got us closer though. She needed that time off and go through that. We were able to communicate on another level when she returned. She left abruptly and never spoke about it. That’s the problem I had because she never shared or spoke about it. I’m like, ‘Why am I getting punished?’ She apologized for the way she went about it. It’s okay to do you, but when you got people involved… I always tell her it’s like a marriage. ‘Your decisions affect me [and] mine affect you. We have to communicate.’ We’re good now. We’re back touring, and are closer.”

Spinderella: “Salt and Pepa were having some differences personally and they had to become their own people. We had basically grown up together so it was tough. But we went our separate ways. I got into radio, and I started producing my show called ‘The BackSpin.’ I was doing that and DJ’ing. My love for the art of DJ’ing kept me going. The role of the DJ started to grow and blossom in its own right, apart from the emcee. I took advantage of that time and started branding me as Spinderella. But artists that have been together for so long eventually start branching out. Salt was doing more with the spiritual side of her career and Pep was doing more acting.”

“It came back together again because of the demand. People started really missing Salt-N-Pepa. It took us figuring things out and respecting each other’s personal differences to come back together. I consider Salt and Pepa my sisters. And with any relationship, there will be ups and downs. But the real test is being able to address those things and move on. We let bygones be bygones so that we could come together as women and preserve the Salt-N-Pepa legacy.”

What’s Next?
Pepa: “We attempted to create new music a while ago but it just didn’t happen. We are always open to do new music. I think it can come together, especially with someone like Missy [Elliott]. Maybe we can do something together.

Spinderella: “I do a lot of community work. I’m a spokesperson for the ADA, the American Diabetes Association. Though I’m not diabetic, it affects me via my family. I lost my mom to diabetes. It is a horrendous disease. I’ve dedicated my celebrity to the organization so we can raise awareness and money to lower the numbers and eventually stop it altogether.  As a DJ, I’ll continue to be vocal about the quality and culture of the role and hip-hop itself. I plan to keep the legacy alive. Salt-N-Pepa is reunited and we’re working on some projects that will be major for our fans. That’s all I can say right now. We were a force to be reckoned with for a reason and we’re doing it again. I’m really excited about the future.”

Additonal reporting by Lauren Savage

NEXT: Missy Elliott

“Missy”

Day 20: Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott is one of the greatest to ever do it, among women and men. Her outlandish creativity has gifted the culture with music and visuals that are far beyond our time. Twenty years in the game and the rapper/singer-songwriter is in the studio, brewing something with close friend Timbaland that, if their track record is any indication, will set the bar even higher.

Left-Field Creativity
“It goes back to being the only chid. I didn’t have brothers and sisters to play with so I created a world of my own. Everyone had imaginary friends, I had a whole imaginary world. I would be in no place that was on map. I think that imagination spilled over to me being artist. I had always thought in a unique, different way. As far as videos, I was always influenced by Michael Jackson’s videos. I wondered what was going through his mind when he would make his videos. I told myself that if I was ever blessed to make a video, I’d want to impact people they way he did. When his videos would come out, I’d run home to see what he was doing next.”

“Me, Timbaland, Tweet, Ginuwine, and all of us, came from a camp where we couldn’t listen to what was on the radio or watch videos, which was a great thing looking back at it. By not knowing what was hot, we had to create our own. All we knew is what we were doing. We weren’t influenced by anything else. We kept that mind frame and stayed own box. We created what we felt; Instead of what was trendy, we went with how we felt.”

Creative Process
“When I get to making an album I never listen to what’s out. I go back and listen to older music. There’s something about older music that has feeling. That’s my main thing: Never follow. I just want people to feel what I do. I close myself off from music and videos so I can maintain some kind of originality.”

Self Image
“I was always different. I wasn’t a follower. When I got into the music industry, I did what I would normally do. I didn’t pay attention to any trends. Thankfully, I had Sylvia Rhone who never made me feel like I needed to change. They felt like it was refreshing. I always think that if you can walk in with confidence [then] you can convince the masses. I came in and did what I knew how to do.”

The Making of “Supa Dupa Fly”
“The funny thing is I didn’t’ want to be an artist. I was an artist before, while in the group Sista. We got let go from Sylvia’s, and she ended up signing me as a solo artist. But I wasn’t going to be an artist; I just wanted a label deal. She said, ‘In order to have a label deal you have to at least give us one album.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ Timbaland and me went in and did that album in two weeks. It was the easiest album to do because we went in and did what we normally would do. What people heard from us is what we we had been doing for years. Everything was just off feeling. We were knocking records out back to back.”

“The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”: “When I first did ‘The Rain,’ I thought, ‘This is cool.’ But then I played it at the record label and they were like ‘Wow, we’ve never seen nothing like this.’ I’m just thinking it was a cool video; I didn’t think it would impact people as it did. I didn’t know what was happening on the outside to know that I was doing anything different.”

“Hype Williams, June Ambrose and I sat down, listened to the record and we came up with ideas collectively. I told them I wanted to do what I said in the record. I wanted to paint out the song, and make a movie. I believe it was June who came up with the blow-up suit. It was so huge that I had to walk down the street, blocks and blocks in Brooklyn, cause I couldn’t fit in a car. I had to walk to the gas station to get blown up. People would walk behind me with this gas tank.”

“Beep Me 911”: “It’s my favorite record on the ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ album cause of the beat. The beat was hot! We did that [song] probably in 20 minutes. We had built a relationship with 702, and I said I had wanted them on the record. I then got Magoo. I told Hype I wanted to do a Barbie & Ken type of [treatment] for the video. Magoo’s rap, 702 being on it and the lyrical content, which is still relatable, all came together so easy.”

“Sock It To Me”: “Hype came up with the miniature man idea for the video. [Lil] Kim is my sister. It was funny cause she at that time was basically running the streets. She had the streets on lock. I thought it was going to be hard to get her and [Da] Brat in those outfits, especially for Kim who was rocking all the name brand clothes. Here I go wanting to put her in a robot suit. But, I think that what they realized by that time is that Missy is one of these different type of artists. The greatest thing is they were willing to step into that world and not be afraid and felt like, ‘we can make this cool, even though we’re in these robot suits.’ We’d look at each other and laugh. I couldn’t believe they were in them.”

The Making of ‘Da Real World’
“It was my hardest album because by that time the expectations were a lot higher. Once you get over that sophomore album, you feel like you’re staying. It was the toughest album to make. I thought, ‘What do people expect of me next?’ There weren’t any expectations for the first album. The second album was like, ‘This first album has got all these great reviews so where I do go from here?’ I was over-thinking everything. I didn’t think twice about videos, but yes for music. ‘Ah, I don’t like that.’ I drove Tim crazy.'”

“She’s A Bitch”: “We did that (video) at Universal Studios. A lot of my dancers were falling off the platform because we were really in water. They really had life boats out there. A lot of my dancers were having asthma attacks because we’d have to be under water. We got snorkels on but still… That was the hardest video to do because we had make-up that took two hours to do. Some of the dancers were breaking out cause of the make-up. My videos have been some tough ones to show up.”

“Hot Boyz”: “That record got bad call-outs. Back then, they (radio) used to call your house and play the hook and you’d say yes or no. I don’t know if it’s cause they didn’t understand it or it was the hook. It’d get back call-outs so radio stations started pulling that record. They said they weren’t going to play it. Something happened, somewhere it turned around and ended up being No. 1 for 18 weeks. I would have never thought that would happen cause all of the headaches.”

“We went through that with Aaliyah’s ‘One In Million.’ Our music that we were doing was so different that, rhythm-wise, radio was saying they couldn’t mesh our music with other records. We ran across that problem with ‘One In Million.'”

“Busa Rhyme” (featuring Eminem): “He hadn’t even came out with ‘My Name Is’ yet. I heard something of his and instantly told Tim, ‘I need this guy on my album.’ Immediately when I heard him rap I thought, ‘He’s special.’ I had the label reach out to [Dr.] Dre. He did it (his verse). I heard it and thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to blow up!’

The Making of “Miss E… So Addictive”
“It’s nothing like having songs females can relate to. I knew that ‘One Minute Man’ was going to be one of those that the girls were going to love. Even ‘Pussy Cat,’ that wasn’t a single, was one that a lot of people loved. Those are the fun records that tap into a whole other side that make the girls feel like, ‘Girl that’s what I’m talking about.’ They’re songs that they’re going to play around their dudes to get them mad.”

The Making of “Under Construction”
“The only time I put some thought into what I was going to do was with ‘Under Construction.’ By that time we had been so many places musically. I wanted to fuse old-school hip-hop with new school hip-hop. I wanted the kids to remember the great music that me and Tim grew up on. I remember Adidas being the thing Run D.M.C. always rocked; It reminded me of the time I fell in love with hip-hop. I grabbed the shell-toes and the Kangol hat and took it another direction.”

“I wanted to incorporate some of those [old-school] beats with Timbaland’s beats. We went through old beats from Run D.M.C.’s ‘Peter Piper,’ Method Man’s ‘Bring The Pain’ and infuse those together purposely. That’s the only album we sat down and said, ‘This is what we want to do.'”

“Gossip Folks”: “I slept on that record cause I didn’t like the way I sounded. After so many albums, you start questioning things.”

“Work It”: “He (Timbaland) made me change my raps five times for ‘Work It’, before the world had a chance to hear it. He’s like, ‘That ain’t it.’ I came back and said, ‘Look, I had all these hits and you’re telling me this ain’t it?’ [Laughs] I think it was on the fifth try he said, ‘That’s It!'”

“The reverse thing you hear was a mistake by the engineer. I was like, ‘keep it!’ People thought it was consciously done.”

What’s Next?
“It takes a good amount of time when talking about being in the industry [for] more than two decades. I’m very critical when it comes to my stuff. When you’ve done it for so long… I’ve talked about so many topics, so I think, ‘What way can I approach something and not feel like I’ve heard five of those records before?’ When you’re trying to not just give anything, but give them 100%, you’re going to think a lot harder. For this album, I decided to not give myself a deadline. I don’t work well under pressure. I decided this time I’m going to work at my own pace. When I drop whatever I drop, it’s going to be worth every year people have waited.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“It’s advice I’ve taken: Be yourself. It’s something that I stand by and that I’ve done. Be a listener and then you can become a teacher.”

NEXT: Trina

“Trina”

Day 19: Trina

Meeting Trick Daddy and Signing to Slip-N-Slide Records
“I met Trick [Daddy] a while before we did music. Before signing to Slip-N-Slide [Records] he recorded a song with Luke (“Scarred”). My girlfriends went up for the video and I came with them.”

“He [later] called me and asked, ‘I need you to do me a favor. I need you to do a record for me.’ I was like, ‘Are you serious? No, I’m not doing it.’ He asked for my friends and me to come up to the studio and hang out. ‘No. Absolutely not. I’m not doing that,’ I said. But we went and we were listening to some records off the album. The engineer came in and played the record he wanted to be on (‘Nann’). He didn’t’ ask me to be a rapper on the record, he said he wanted me to ‘go toe to toe with me but from a girl’s perspective. I’m going to talk trash and I want you to talk yours.’ I was like, ‘Uh, okay?’ It just happened.”

“Trick knew that I was feisty and could hold my own. He knew if he needed someone to talk trash, without acting or forced, he knew that’d be me.”

“I got a call from the owner of the label, Ted Lucas. He said he wanted to meet with me: ‘I heard the record you did. What do you think about being Slip-N-Slide?’ I was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ He told me to just think about it, and still I said, ‘No.’ But, hearing the record and the response, it boosted me to feel like, ‘Why not?’ I went to the studio by myself, listened to some more records and I liked it. I recorded a few things and tried it out. Him and I had a long conversation about the industry, and after that I said, ‘Why not?'”

“I was thinking, ‘I am not an artist. I did not wake up and say this is what I wanted to do with my life.’ While I loved music, I was already into real estate and had a normal life.”

Provocative Lyrics
“I’m from Miami. It’s a beautiful place. It’s nightlife: partying [and] strip clubs. I grew up in a world of Luke. He was one of the most provocative musicians to come out. That’s the world that I came up in so everything of this real.”

“It’s realistic, whether it be for the clubs or about relationships. I like to face whatever I feel, and live through it. Some people are afraid to talk about stuff, I don’t care cause it’s life. I’m a realist; I think that’s what keeps me grounded. People say it’s money and everything but try living without it.”

The Making of “Da Baddest Bitch”
“I was 17, 18-years-old. It didn’t seem like a lot of work was being done because a lot of work was being done for me. I had guys in the studio telling me, ‘You need to do something for the lovers, something for the independent women… something for everyone. They came to me and said, ‘There’s this kind of record or that kind of record. Give us something sexy. Give us something dark.’ And, that’s what I did. They would tell me my direction, that before I knew it the album dropped. There was no time to think about anything.”

“Fans chose ‘Pull Over.’ I went go off the crazy response from my fans when performing certain songs. People would yell out, ‘Pull over, pull over.'”

The Making of “Diamond Princess”
“At that point, from being on the road for a year or so, I had more direction of who I was trying to be. I had more say on what I wanted to do, whether it be something more romantic because I had fallen in love. The album took me to another place as an artist. I could step to the label and say, ‘I’m going to record these type of records.’ The label was always against the love songs or the slow records. They love the pop, raw songs. There was always a fight. But, they believed in me because they saw me work so hard for ‘Da Baddest Bitch.’ They let me simmer down and agreed that I could do more of what I wanted to do.”

Advice from Missy Elliott
“She’d tell me to stand my ground and stand for what you believe in. No matter if you if you are in a relationship or not, always keep your business your business and do real business the way you want to do it. Nobody can hold you down better than you.’Til this day, no matter what I do – whether I sign a contract or go independent – that advice stands true and I use it. You have to step up to the plate knowing what you want, who you want to work with, and you have to fight. It’s something that I take with me. It’s helped me get in and out of all the shady business that happens in the industry.”

Parting Ways with Slip-N-Slide Records
“It’s growth. I had been with Slip-N-Slide since the beginning of my career, since singing my first contract, since the day my first album came out. Everything I learned, I learned through them. They were and still are my family. I grew up and grew out of that. I grew into something I wanted to do myself. I felt like it was time to take that step and do my own thing. It’s like being a kid; At 18-years-old you want to get your own place. It felt like that. I have my wings. I want to fly. I did everything. I delivered five albums; That was my deal. I want to do something real and to take over my brand. I needed to do my own thing.”

Female Rappers vs. The Industry
“The industry is not glitter and glam; It’s smoke and mirrors, so you can be left behind or caught up. You can’t really hate the players though, you have to hate the game. As a woman, you have to work twice as hard and twenty-times harder in the paint than guys. I have gone to male artists show and I can honestly say [that] my show is better. But, I don’t get credit cause I’m not a guy.”

Rap Beefs
“Women are catty, emotional and insecure creatures so it naturally brings drama. I’m conformable with who I am. I’m 100% secure in my own skin, so if I like your work and it moved me in any sort of way I will support you.”

“Beef is a waste of energy and time. Beef doesn’t pay the bills. Beef doesn’t put food on the table. I have to take care of what I need to do so I’m good for the next 10-years. I don’t have time for that type of lifestyle. My girlfriends and I were the types that supported each other. It’s not about hip-hop, it’s about what’s in the inside and that’s insecurity. I’m for performing and recording with all female rappers. We have dope female rappers in the game. I don’t know why there aren’t more dope records with us like there are with guys. I’ve been on video sets, and some of these guys don’t speak to each other but in the video they act like they’re cool.”

What’s Next?
“For this next album, it’s about what’s happening now. I’m extremely happy and extremely in love. I’ve gone through so much that I’m putting it all in my music. I had tragedy happen in my life. There’s part of me that’s numb from it; I was able to reflect that in this album. Something that happened last year is the loss of my little brother. It’s the most tragic[thing] I’ve experienced. I don’t think, personally, I’ve accepted it or come to terms with it. I still look at it as something that didn’t happen. I’m dealing with it [though], so when I’m in the studio I’m letting it pour out especially one specific record. I had to face it and I poured it out on a record.”

“I’m not rushing. I’m looking late summer or the fall for the release.”

“I have a personal record called ‘You’ coming in two weeks. I have a record with Cassie [coming] after ‘You.’ The record is uptempo and produced by is about the strength of a woman that’s been broken, lied to or cheated on. No matter how energy you put in a situation, it feels not good enough and your fed up.”

“I was so young when I worked on my first clothing line. We were great, but had different visions. I wasn’t as in tune with that part of the business because of music. I get it now. I’m working on a new clothing line right now. I’m looking at designs and patterns. I’m working on my second perfume now.”

NEXT: Roxanne Shanté

“Roxanne”

Day 18: Roxanne Shanté
In the mid-80s, when female rappers were commonplace, Roxanne Shanté took a chance and sparked what would become The Roxanne Wars. In fact, the Queens-native never wanted to be a rapper; However, thanks to a pair of Sergio Valente jeans she went on to become one of the most respected emcees to bless the mic.

The Roxanne Wars
“I started participating in battle rapping when I was about 10-years-old. By the time I was 14-years-old, I already had a good reputation. ‘Roxanne’s Revenge’ was a six-minute freestyle. It wasn’t planned. I went to DJ Marley Marl’s. He was my neighbor. We lived in the same housing projects, Queensbridge Public Housing – which was one of the largest housing projects in the world. He requested I come over. He said, ‘I heard you can freestyle and you’re really good.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He put on ‘Big Beat,’ which happened to be the underlining beat for ‘Roxanne, Roxanne,’ so he said, ‘Let me hear you do something.’ I came up with ‘Roxanne Revenge’ right then and there.”

“I was already known as a battle rapper so anything that came out of my mouth was going to be considered a diss. It just happened to be the topic at the moment. I actually did the record for a pair of Sergio Valente jeans. Marley Marl worked at the Sergio Valente jean factory, so I told him, ‘If I do this freestyle for you, I’m going to need a pair of Sergio Valente western jeans.'”

“When it (‘Roxanne Revenge’) initially started playing on the radio, people were calling my house late at night. At that time, it was the era where you didn’t have phones in every room. We just had the phone by the kitchen that rang real loudly in the household. It played on the radio at 1 in the morning and I heard the phone ring. The only thing I could think was, ‘My mother is going to kill me.’ I remember the first time I answered, someone was like, ‘Do you know your song is playing on the radio?’ I hung up and I had to keep the phone off the hook for a while to keep it from ringing. I didn’t really see how big it was going to become.”

“Bad Sister” (The Album)
“I wasn’t the person who wanted to become a rapper. It was just something I was very good at. I didn’t want to be this big rap star or hip-hop legend. The record label (Warner Music) had to push me to get into the studio. When it came to ‘Bad Sister,’ it was really a task. I have a career that spans 30 years and I’ve only done two albums. During the process of only doing that it was, ‘I’m just going to do this and get it out of the way.'”

Female Rappers vs. the Industry
“A lot of people want me to say I did [‘Roxanne’s Revenge’] to speak out so women can have a place in hip-hop but that’s not the case. They didn’t have the title of ‘female rapper’ back then. I was just considered a great rapper. So, I didn’t see the need to show and prove to them that I’m great because I’m a girl. I was great anyway. It wasn’t until the late-80s that they came up with the title, ‘female rapper,’ because they had women like myself who were ready to battle anyone and go after everyone. They were like, ‘Shanté, we just want to let you know that you are one of the greatest female rappers.’ I really wasn’t satisfied. I never accepted that title. I was a great rapper, period. I was ready to prove it.”

“They had a contest at the time called World Supremacy, where you had the opportunity to be crowned the greatest rapper of all time. I battled an emcee by the name of Busy Bee. I was 15-years-old at the time. It was a process of elimination competition and I had already battled six or seven young men. It was one of those all out battles. I had no voice left once I got to Busy Bee. Upon doing that, Kurtis Blow said, ‘What does she need to lose?’ They said, ‘The only way she’ll lose is if she [scores] a two.’ He [Kurtis Blow] gave me a two. I was devastated. I wanted to know why. I didn’t talk to him for years. A couple of years ago, we came in contact and I told him how I felt. He told me, ‘At that time Shanté, hip-hop was still new, coming out and needed to be viewed a certain way. There was no way they were going to take hip-hip seriously if the best rapper was a girl.’ After a while, I understood what he meant. [I] just hated it was done to me and that [it] killed my love for hip-hop.”

“Being involved in the industry, I understood the shift of a female rapper from an artist to a commodity. It really devastated me because I didn’t understand why a female rapper would think she needed to have a male hype man. People always made it seem like I was aggressive with my rhymes, but that’s what hip-hop is. You have to prove that you’re the best. It’s about your talent and your delivery. But as we went on, we stopped listening with our ears and [started listening] with our eyes instead. That’s where the female rapper made herself less important to the hip-hop industry.”

College Education Scandal
“I don’t regret any of those decisions either. In the process of living life after hip-hop, I allowed for a title to be placed on me and continued to live and represent that title. When everything was all said and done, if anyone was angry or if I caused anyone any problems, I apologized and moved on. At the time, I felt like I didn’t do anything negative or put out any negative representation of hip-hop. I think a lot of people felt I should have walked away and put my head down, but that’s not Shanté and that’s not who I am.”

What’s Next?
“I’m working on the Roxanne Shanté story called ‘Please Believe It.’ I’m a breast cancer survivor so I’ve learned to enjoy the finer things in life such as family and friends. It shows in my Instagram and Facebook. The Roxanne Shanté story is an open book. Keep reading.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“It’s very important to have a lawyer who has no contact with your record company or your accounts. It’s very important to understand the business of the music industry. I would also tell myself to stay true to yourself and don’t regret the decisions that you make. You are who you are. I would say to her, it’s going to turn out great because they will know you.” – Tyler K. McDermott

NEXT: TLC on Left Eye

“TLC”

Day 17: Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ booming voice and creativity were infectious. Throughout her lifetime, she strove to remain outside the box and undoubtedly broke boundaries for herself, TLC, and women everywhere. Twenty-years later, her legacy still stands strong through the VH1 movie, “CrazySexyCool,” a platinum-selling discography and memories shared by the two women who knew her best: Chilli and T-Boz.

The Early Years
T-Boz: “Lisa and I were together before Chilli came along. We bonded on a personal and professional level. I don’t really get along with females. They’re so catty. I’m like a prissy tomboy. But, I liked her. She didn’t care what anyone thought. She was just going to be herself. I respect that.”

Left Eye’s Creativity:
Chilli: “Tionne and I might be in the corner of the studio coming up with a routine and Lisa would be sitting down listening to the track we were currently working on. Whatever the title of the song was or if Tionne and I already put our verses down, she would bring it all the together with her lyrics. For example, on ‘Hat 2 da Back’ – which is my favorite song we’ve done – we were prissy tomboys talking about how you don’t have to walk around or be a certain type of way. The track became personal because she talked about a situation she was in. [Her verse] completed the song and made it perfect. She always came with that type of lyrical content. Like in ‘Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg’: ‘Two inches or a yard/ Rock hard or if it’s saggin’.’ It was hilarious and amazing how she came up with certain lyrics. It was effortless for her.”

T-Boz: “She was my creative partner in the group. We would feed off each other. I would go shopping for the wardrobe and she would spray paint them. As far as picking out our clothes and what the artwork would be, she would come up with the title of the album and I’d work on the album cover. We worked so well together. It was important for her to be a trendsetter, show the world how talented she was, and to encourage others to be different. She wanted to make her mark and go down in music history. We did that together and that’s what made TLC so special.”

Creativity vs. Reality
T-Boz: “Chili would get frustrated, mad, and leave me to deal with Lisa. Lisa wanted the video for ‘Red Light Special’ to be like, ‘Me and Andre are in the bed making love in the middle of the grass with lions, daisies and tigers walking around the bed. And, you can see the smoke come out. We can be looking out the window and these lights turn around.’ I was like, ‘Lisa, no.’ For two hours I argued with her, saying, ‘No smoke. No fire. No nothing! It’s not going to be like that.’ She would turn around and tell me, ‘I got your point two hours ago. I just wanted to argue with you.’ I just wanted to choke her but that’s what she would do. She would get you mad to the point where you’re screaming at her and then she’d tell you she got your point hours ago. She understood my point but she didn’t let me know she understood until I’d break. All I could do was laugh.”

“She would have to be reeled in. We had already lost a few deals after she burned the house down. Adidas, Nike and a lot of people didn’t want us to wear their clothes. There was one promoter who wanted to take us out on the road. She wanted to announce on TRL that we were broke but we had to tell her, ‘No. You’re going to ruin this opportunity because of possible legal issues.’ We had to tone her down sometimes. But, when you’re that creative you have to tame that lion and center that creativity. So, I would tell her, ‘That may not work for TLC but you can handle that in your own career.'”

Expression
Chilli: “We wanted to express how we felt in a classier way. Also, L.A. [Reid] and Babyface would watch us and see how we’d word our content. We were about girl power. We weren’t regular girls from the streets. That’s why women looked up to us. We were always that approachable type of group. We said everything that women wanted to say aloud, that they felt like they couldn’t. Plus, the way Lisa would put it in a rap made it a little more edgy.”

T-Boz: “We were all for being different. Using sex to sell [albums] is the easy way out. We stood up for people. We weren’t feminists but we wanted to be the voice for women, speak on their behalf, and let them know that you can be yourself. You can be in a pair of sweatpants and sneakers and still be as sexy as the woman with her butt cheeks hanging out and cleavage showing. We were all for that.”

Spiritual Journey
Chilli: “There was a lot she was dealing with internally. Stepping away from the business was something that was needed for her. She always wanted to better herself. Going to Honduras was her place of peace. It was her time to reflect. She loved it there.”

T-Boz: “When we grow up we have standards set by our parents, but once we become adults we’re able to choose how we want to live our lives. Whether or not Lisa grew up with God in her life, she knew that there were different aspects of religion. There’s Pentecostal, Numerology and Baptist. She wanted to explore different things. She wanted to find what worked best with her.”

Legacy
Chilli: “She did the things that she wanted to do, no matter how anybody felt. She just did Lisa. She was a fearless woman; I’m not that fearless. I wish she was still here.” “She would encourage anyone to follow their dreams. She was the type of person who wanted to help everyone. Unlike myself or Tionne, she could handle the stressors that came with being a manager. She always wanted to find the next rapper and help them reach their dreams.”

“She would let a pure stranger in her house. We would get on her about that. But she was a free spirit.”

T-Boz: “There will never be a person like her. One thing I try to take away from her is to stop caring [about] what people think. The thing I loved about her was the fact that she didn’t care.”

“She had painted this picture of Tupac. She was an incredible artist. She wanted to complete it before she died. She knew how her life was going.”

“People may have thought she was lost, but she was actually in search of becoming a better person. I commend her for that. She made her mark in society, the world and the record business. You can’t take away someone’s success and she accomplished a lot while she was here on Earth.”

What’s Next for TLC?
T-Boz: “We’re working on a book. The movie was great but it’s hard to cram three stories about three different girls in a 120 minute film. So, expect a full length book to come out in the near future. We’re going back on tour. I can’t give away too much but, we do have some clothing that just came out in Forever 21 and H&M. I’m just blessed to be here 20 years later, still touring and doing what I love. I’m having a ball.” – Tyler K. McDermott

NEXT: The Lady of Rage

“Rage”

Day 16: The Lady of Rage
As soon as she’d get on the mic, The Lady of Rage would make her presence known. It seemed only right that the lyrical emcee joined Death Row Records and became the Queen of a dynasty. In the 90s she reigned supreme with classic collaborations and hits like “Afro Puffs.” When the label fell apart, The Lady of Rage persevered. And while her affair with hip-hop may be coming to an end, the love remains.

Beginnings
“I moved to New York and on my first day there, I went to all of these record companies. Back then, record label addresses were on the back of albums and I wanted to bring everybody my demo. Later that day, I met this guy in Tower Records and I spit something for him. He said, ‘That’s funny, my mom is looking for a rapper to do an AIDS awareness PSA. I’ll introduce you to her.’ I waited around and it turned out that she’s Nile Rodgers’ mother. Her name is Beverly Goodman and Niles’ brother’s name is Dax. So they all really helped me out. They gave me money for studio time and did recordings for me.”

A Woman on Death Row
“It wasn’t a situation where they treated me differently or disrespected me. I didn’t even have to fight harder because my talent spoke for itself. Yes, I was in a league of extraordinary gentleman but I was on the same level that they were. It wasn’t like they had to write my rhymes or hold my hand. I held my own. And that’s how it was with my entire journey in hip-hop. I competed with guys, so it was nothing to me. These guys were my brothers and I was their sister. It (Death Row) was a family.”

“I learned that I wasn’t the only one who’s a perfectionist [or] who’s meticulous about their craft. [Dr. Dre] showed me the importance of forming a song. Like Snoop, he would go off the head a lot and Dre was there to direct and lead. Dre would show us the art of creating and forming a song. He also really taught showmanship and the importance of having a stage presence. There are a whole lot of elements that go into creating a song or a show, this perfect masterpiece. I took little things from him in that regard and added it to what I already had.”

“We were all young and we all wanted to make this happen. Snoop wanted to show the world what he could do, Kurupt, Daz, and me. There was just this energy there and we were able to do what we did so well. We had someone in a position to lead us down that road so it became an explosion of sorts. All these things fell in line and it was just a beautiful, magical thing. It was this energetic explosion of talent that was incomparable. That was a dope experience.”

“Afro Puffs”
“That song almost didn’t happen. I just so happened to go to the studio that day and Dre was playing this beat. He was like, ‘You got something for that Rage? Let me hear it.’ I spit a rhyme that I had written a few days prior. I didn’t like [the song], but Dre was like, ‘Damn Rage, will you just shut the fuck up? It’s not even done yet.’ I still didn’t like it, but everybody else did. I asked Suge [Knight] to not put the song on the [‘Above the Rim’] soundtrack and he was like, ‘Alright Rage, we won’t do it.'”

“I was riding in the car with Suge’s wife and I told her, ‘I’m so glad they got rid of that song.’ And she said, ‘Girl, they didn’t take that song off the soundtrack.’ I had a fit! I said, ‘They’re going to ruin my career. That song can not be the one.’ My style was more east coast. I’m from Virginia and ‘Afro Puffs’ was this G-funk sound. Jimmy Iovine called me and told me to calm down because the song is such a hit. That became my claim to fame.”

The End of an Era
“When I first got to Death Row, the lineup was going to be Dr. Dre, Snoop, myself, and then the Dogg Pound. For whatever reason, the Dogg Pound came out before me. I don’t know the reason, but I know that when it was time for my album ‘Necessary Roughness’ to be produced, the dynasty was crumbling. Dre was leaving, Snoop was unhappy and on the verge of leaving, Suge was locked up, and ‘Pac was assassinated.”

“And then it’s like, ‘Alright Rage, you’re up next.’ I didn’t have the conductor and I didn’t have the same help that everyone else had when it was time for their albums to be produced. Everybody came in and contributed for ‘The Chronic,’ ‘Doggystyle,’ and ‘Dogg Food.’ Everybody came in for ‘Above the Rim’ and ‘Murder Was The Case.’ When it was my turn, it was just me. I second-guessed myself. I have the highest confidence in my lyrics, but when it came to formatting and the sound, I depended on somebody else for that. That’s always how it was always done, even with the L.A. Posse and Premiere. I’m not the producer. I’m the lyricist and I brought my part of the equation to the table. When the other part of the equation was missing, I had to fill in but I’m not skilled on that level. I had bitter feelings and I held a grudge about that for a long time. But I got over it because I felt like if it was meant to happen another way, it would have happened another way.”

“Originally, [the album] was going to be called ‘Eargasm,’ which was Dre’s whole vision. Granted, lyrically I feel like it was some of my best work. I feel like my lyrics back then could rival some of the stuff that’s out today. But the album was still an accomplishment for me. When I set out to do this, my whole plan was for people to know my name. Back then, it was so much about respect from your peers. I wanted to be known as a dope emcee. In future years, I wanted to be in the discussion of dope female emcees and some of the greatest to do it. I feel like I did achieve that.”

Acting
“I’ve always wanted to act, ever since I was in the third grade. Even before rapping, acting was the thing. Rap was just a vehicle to get there. When I pursued acting full force, I wanted to stay in that lane. I also wanted to write a book and write some scripts. [Doing ‘The Steve Harvey Show’] was really exciting, I loved it. As a kid, you say the things that you’re going to do but when they happen, it seems surreal. ‘Ride’ was my first movie. I remember going to audition and seeing all of these established actors, all these people—Miguel Núñez, Elise Neal, Tatyana Ali, and Yo-Yo. So I thought, ‘Man, I’m not going to get this.’ But, I went for the role of Peaches and her description was a gangster girl who don’t take no mess. When they called me in, I walked in the room and slammed the door. I turned around and got all in their faces and said, ‘Fuck that! Peaches in the muthafucking house! The role is mine. Y’all ain’t to get no fucking further.’ And everyone applauded. I was so excited to be in this element.”

What’s Next?
“I just signed with a company called the Shirley Wilson Agency. I’m doing a doc-drama about the life of Chairman Fred Hampton. I’m working with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and we hope to release the project by the end of next year. [Acting] is still my first love.”

“I’m working with Premiere and we’re going to do my last album. Musically, I call it my last hurrah and coup de grâce. I feel like if I’m not passionate, then I’m cheating myself and fans of mine who expect the highest degree. So, I’m going to put my all into this project and that’s going to be my exit. It’s like a relationship. If it’s over, it’s over. [Hip-hop] I love you, but I don’t want to be with you anymore. I can still admire you from afar, but that’s it. I will always love you, but I have to move on.” – Lauren Savage

NEXT: Eve

“Eve”

Day 15: Eve

From the minute that Eve stepped onto the scene in 1998, people knew she wasn’t one to mess with. With her talent and passion, the first lady of Ruff Ryders quickly took over the rap scene. The Philly native has delivered a handful of hits (“Love Is Blind,” “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”) and continues to follow her gut whether it be in music or television.

Eve of Destruction
“My first producer used to call me Blondie Blackwell, which is one of my business names to this day. I stopped using that name and wanted to just go by my name. This movie called ‘Eve of Destruction’ was out and I was like, ‘Damn, that’s dope!’ At that time I was doing a lot of battle rap so it made sense to go with that name. That’s the name that I had when I first got signed to [Dr.] Dre. When I got dropped from Aftermath, I dropped that and was just Eve. I went through a lot: getting signed, getting dropped, being depressed. I felt like I had to drop that name because it didn’t get me where I was supposed to get to as if it wasn’t right.”

Aftermath Entertainment
“Once I got signed to Dre, I had people telling me where to be at a certain time and what to do at a certain time, [like,] ‘No, don’t come to the studio today.’ I expected that as soon as I got signed I’d be in the studio recording an album.”

“I got signed but I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t have anybody telling me, ‘This is they way of going about doing things.’  I was so frustrated and so feisty. I was horrible. [Laughs] I would show up to sessions that I wasn’t supposed to be at ’cause I was mad [that] nobody called me to come through. I’d show up and say, ‘Why am I not recording today? Why am I not working on an album?’ I got signed and was sitting. I was recording but I wasn’t recording the stuff I wanted to. I’d be in these sessions that had no direction. I felt like I was just hanging.”

Ruff Ryders
“I stated hanging with Ruff Ryders while I was signed to Aftermath. One of the producers from Aftermath told me about DMX, saying, ‘He’s blowing up. You should meet him when he comes out here to L.A.’ Every time X came out to LA, I’d go where he and the guys were: video sets, recording sessions. They then signed to Interscope and became label mates.”

“Jimmy Iovine really liked me. [So] when I got dropped from Aftermath, he kept me on Interscope. He was actually the one that suggested that I get signed to Ruff Ryders. He introduced me to them in a professional way.”

“Once I got dropped I went to New York to be a part of this Ruff Ryder cypher. Just because Jimmy said, ‘You need to sign her’ didn’t mean I didn’t need to still prove myself. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was like a job interview right in front of 20 people in the studio; it was me auditioning. It was also me battling two dudes from Ruff Ryders that had been signed for years. I came from battle rap and doing cypher on the corner of South Street, or in the lunchroom. I was scared but at the same time it was me going back to my comfort place. I had been writing my ass off during my trip to New York. I got signed for talent but also the courage, like, ‘Damn, she really did it. She got heart.'”

“Ruff Ryders make you prove yourself: ‘Do you write your own rhymes?’ Being the only girl, I had to show myself double time more than a dude would do. Once they saw that I was serious and that I wanted to hold my own, that’s when I started getting respect.”

“They wanted me to stand out as much as possible. They wanted me to be seen and heard. At that time, Ruff Ryders had their ears to the street. They were predicting certain things but also taking a gamble, and it was as so natural for me to go with the music they’d give me.”

The Making of “Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady”
“The albums was made in two months. I tell people, ‘You’ve been writing your first album your whole life.’  We got songs and skits done so quickly. The first album was me at that moment, me as the Philly chick that I wanted to show everyone. It was one of the most easiest and fun albums I ever recorded. Me and my friends were always in the studio recording.”

“Swizz [Beatz] is one of the easiest producers to work with. He does this with all the people he works with: He can get into that artist’s world and mind. Even if I was feeling exhausted or lazy, there was song done by the end of the night because his energy is so infectious. We’d end up doing 2-3 songs a night. At that time, we were coming up together. At some point, around the first album, we would be living with Swizz. We’d have people sleeping on the floors of the studio. Swizz was always making beats [so] songs were always being made.”

“Love Is Blind” (feat. Faith Evans)
“I told myself that if I was ever to get into the industry that I’d be who I was. I wasn’t going to pretend to be anyone else. I wanted to write things that I lived through, that were real to me. I’m sure it was a gamble but I never looked at it as so.”

“‘Love Is Blind’ was a poem at first. I wrote that when I was 16 years old, then I decided to put it on the album. It’s a true story. The first two verses are about my friend, who was 16 years old and she was dating this older dude who was 35 years old. She got pregnant by him and he used to beat her to try to lose the baby. She didn’t really have anyone in her corner but me. When she had the baby, I was the one in the [delivery] room.”

“I only had the first two verses, so when I finally made it into a song, I added the third verse. People die of domestic violence and I wanted to avenge my friend’s death. I didn’t know how real domestic violence was until that song came out and I had people come up to me and share their story.”

“Who’s That Girl?”
“‘Who’s that Girl?’ was the crossover record, and was big overseas. That was the record that made media pay attention to me, a lot more than they did. I was still new to the business, so I never thought about radio impact — I just wanted to make a song that felt good.”

“Let Me Blow Ya Mind” (feat. Gwen Stefani)
“This was the first time we worked together since I was dropped. We had seen each other at the Source Awards. Ruff Ryders and Aftermath were performing. When we saw each other he said, ‘This is crazy.’ I said, ‘Ain’t it? See you on stage.’ I was such a bitch. [Laughs] I was so extra, extra.”

“Scott Storch, who I knew since I was 15 years old, ended up playing the keys.

“After I wrote it, I knew I wanted Gwen Stefani. She was a label mate, and I had been a fan of hers and No Doubt for years. People thought I was crazy. They’d say, ‘She’s not going to want to do it.’  Although we were so different, I felt like she was just like me. She was a tomboy who was a girly girl, and never had the chance to hang out with girly girls ’cause she was around these guys. But it happened and I proved people wrong. It was nice to do so also, especially to bunch of guys.”

Working with Dr. Dre
“When I used to be in the studio [with Dr.Dre] I couldn’t stand him because he’s a perfectionist. Dre is a line-by-line producer, not a verse-by-verse producer. He wants to know how you’re breaking down the track. That’s why he’s amazing. He knew how to bring out the best in me.”

“We definitely had arguments. I definitely threw stuff and I definitely cursed a lot — but it was worth it.”

“Dre was not having it. He wasn’t having me come at him. He’s a very particular person and, at that time, I was a stubborn person. Neither one of us wanted to go there, in any type of way. I was like, ‘Yeah, now you’re producing for me.’ He was probably like, ‘Here we go.’ [Laughs] ‘Cause he already knew how I was. That was also an advantage: We knew each other creatively. He knew what buttons to push immediately. As frustrated I was, I had to prove him wrong. I had to do the record. Every time we got together, my manager was like, ‘It feels like shadowboxing.’ We’d be going at it without words, but for some reason it just works.”

Parting Ways with Interscope Records
“There started begin label issues and misunderstandings [after ‘Eve-Olution’]. It was horrible because there were all these people who have been championing me for years and now, all of a sudden, I didn’t feel like anyone was in my corner.”

“At that time, music was changing. Interscope was changing. Music was more dance or [pop] influenced. Me as an artist, I didn’t want to compromise my sound. I wanted them to let me go. I’d say, ‘If you don’t believe in me then let me go.’

“To this day, I still don’t know the exact answer as to what happened. ‘Tambourine’ came out, and it did amazing. It took while for the song to grow, and maybe that was an issue for them. But once it hit, it hit.”

“After that they said, ‘We’re not putting out the album ’cause we’re not happy with the album but you have to go in and re-record another album.’ I was like, ‘What? After the single came out?’ I was at the point where I just wanted an album to come out, so whatever suggestions they gave me, I’d do it. Whatever producer they wanted me to work with, I’d do it. I did some singing on the project, too. I was doing everything that I thought they wanted me to do in order to put out the album [‘Here I Am’] and it still didn’t happen.

“As I was moaning while recording I was like, ‘If you don’t like anything I’m doing then why am I still on this label? Let me go.’ When I did what I needed to do and they still weren’t with it I was like, ‘Let me go.’ There were meetings about me that they didn’t tell me about nor let me be a part of. Finally, I stood my ground. I made an appointment with someone high up. I can’t really say how it went down, though I wish I could. They finally said, ‘She’s right. Let her go.’

“When they did let me go, I went through a phase where I questioned everything and myself. ‘Is it me?’ ‘If they let me go, maybe I’m irrelevant.’ ‘If they let me go, maybe I shouldn’t be making music anymore.’ I went through so much.”

Depression
“It was during the Ruff Ryders/Cash Money tour. There were so many things happening; I wasn’t sleeping right or eating right. My friends and I were fighting all the time, and I was depressed. And you’re on tour so you can’t just leave.”

“I don’t think I knew it was depression. I thought I was just tired and sad. I was very unhappy, and I didn’t tell anybody. I was one of those people who cried but told myself I couldn’t show emotion. I didn’t want to be ‘that girl’ around the guys. I’m not like that anymore.”

“I [finally] had a real breakdown. I was going to work on a video so I had to leave the tour to go to New York. I finally got to New York, and I started crying uncontrollably one night. Even though there were only three shows left, I said, ‘I can’t go back.’ I didn’t want to go back and see those friends on the bust that were just taking advantage. I didn’t want to go back to being tired. Thankfully, my manger saw how I was and said, ‘You need to rest. I’ll get you out of this. Chill for awhile.'”

From The Rib Record Label
“Honestly, I didn’t want to start a new label. I wanted to be signed to another label. I was going around having meetings with labels. I kept getting people telling me, ‘You need to go back to the Ruff Ryders days. You need to be the old Eve.’ How am I going to back to who I was? I’ve made music beyond Ruff Ryders. They made me who I am but I have songs beyond that first album with Ruff Ryders. I think people would think I was regressing or pretending. You can’t bring back that moment in time.”

“I wanted freedom. I decided that the only way to make the music that I felt like making was to do it on my own. It became a necessity, more than a want.”

What’s Next?
“For the next year, I’ll be working on a new TV show with ABC. It’s about an interracial couple. It’s not just me and my fiancé, Max [Cooper], but more about a young black girl being with a white dude and what that entails. I never thought I’d be marrying a white man. Our relationship is great, but at the same time I haven’t seen many positive or any kind of shows of interracial relationships.

“We’re still in the baby stages. We’re in the development [phase]. We still need a writer and a cast. I’m going to be starring and executive producing the show.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
I would say, follow your instincts more. I wish I would have trusted myself more. I wish I would have trusted my gut more and not had second-guessed myself as much.

NEXT: Amil

“Amil”

Day 14: Amil

In the late ’90s, you couldn’t escape Amil’s voice on the radio. She appeared on countless Roc-A-Fella songs, including Jay Z’s popular “Can I Get A…” and “Jigga What.” Despite rumors of a falling out, Amil actually took a step back to attend to her happiness. After a hiatus, Amil readies a mixtape for the summer, titled ‘Another Moment In Life.’

Check out her new song, “Remember,” premiered exclusively here on The Juice. “Remember” samples Jay Z’s “Where I’m From” and the hook from Faith Evans’ “You Used To Love Me.”

Beginnings
“At the time, I definitely wanted to be in a group. I wasn’t thinking about being a solo artist or anything like that. Liz Leite and Monique were in the midst of starting a group [Major Coins] and I vibed with them well.”

“I had been rapping long prior to meeting them. It was something that I did since a little girl. I never looked at it as going beyond me being known in the streets. I never looked at it as a career. That wasn’t the case for the girls.”

“I met Jay Z through the the girls. One particular girl (Leite) had that star quality. She was ready, maybe more ready than anybody else. To me, she was dope.”

“He had us both rap, and I ended up doing the verse for ‘Can I Get A…’ She appeared on Jay’s album (‘Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life’) too (on ‘It’s Like That’).”

“Jay wanted to sign me as a solo artist. I was excited but not really knowledgeable of what was ahead of me.”

Working With Jay Z
“I had no idea ‘Can I Get A…’ was going to be a hit. It [all] took off from there. He was looking for a female to say the verse and that’s where I came in at. Jay had already wrote ‘Can I Get A…’ before I got it. I wrote my rhymes around it.”

“Whenever me and Jay recorded it was a natural thing, it was always smooth. The way we sounded together, it was a good chemistry.”

“Jay had respect for my talent – writing and my voice – nothing more. Jay gave me the opportunity of a lifetime, and what I did with it was my own decision. That was my brother. There was never a relationship between me and Jay or anyone over there. He was like a brother; He was very protective over [me]. I’m never going to lose any love for Jay.”

“Smile For Me” (Off “All Money Is Legal”)
“Prior to the album, I didn’t make songs like ‘Smile For Me.’ I may have been introduced by the songs I was on, those from Jay Z and from the rest of the [Roc-A-Fella] guys but the album showed another side to me. You understood me more on a personal level. I loved being in the studio. It was a great experience to work with Just Blaze, my engineer at the time.”

“All my personal songs are my favorite, like ‘Smile For Me.’ There was  freestyle I did once that Kay Slay played. It didn’t have an official title but that was one of my favorite songs I’ve done ’cause it was real personal too.”

“When I first heard ‘Smile For Me,’ I loved it immediately. I wanted it. I immediately began writing once I heard it. I wanted it to be the last song on the album but Jay said, ‘You have to make this No. 1 on the album.'”

Major Coins Reunion
“[The] original Major Coins never reunited and worked on a mixtape. I just want to clear that up! Not that it can’t happen, they are my sisters, but it hasn’t. I haven’t spoke to the girls since 2001, however plenty of girls rep Major Coins and carry on the legacy.

Walking Away from Roc-A-Fella
“I wasn’t there mentally. I was in my own world. Was I prepared? No. Did I realize what was happening right before my eyes? No.”

“I started to rebel. I rebelled against the industry because it’s not what I wanted. I hated traveling. I wasn’t at after parties or the club. Also, at the time my son’s asthma, [who was] 5 [or] 6-years-old at the time, was getting worse and no one was there for him. I had to be there for him.”

“I didn’t think about the legalities of a lot of things. I never cared about the contracts. I could have been signing my life away… I was not a business woman at that time. I didn’t have a manager or the things that most artists have. I didn’t put my all into it. I didn’t give 100% of myself. I felt like it just wasn’t for me. That’s when I started rebelling. I started rebelling because I wanted out. It was easier for me to slip away. I faded myself. No one faded me. And, thats when everything seemed to go left.”

“I think they (Roc-A-Fella) knew through my actions that I wasn’t in it. I wasn’t the artist that was doing everything be No. 1. I wasn’t doing anything to make myself bigger than what I was. I wasn’t putting any effort in promotion. I wasn’t looking at it as a career. It’s not that I wasn’t doing it because I was stupid, it was because I didn’t want to be there anymore.”

“There was never a conversation. He (Jay Z) knew that that’s not where I wanted to be. I told him that I couldn’t do it for another year. I think he understood, overall. He thought that as time went on I’d be ready, but later realized I wasn’t. I know he knew, ‘She don’t give a fuck about this shit.'”

“I was fine being an around the way rapper. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to jump in the game.  If I would have did it again, I would have left it alone. I wasn’t cut out for it. I probably would have stepped in as a writer.”

Self-Reflection
“My story is not everybody’s story. Being a female rapper is not going to create my happiness. Being in the media or fame alone is not going to create my happiness. I need more. I have to be in control of my own life; Everything that goes on in my life. I won’t be happy otherwise. If you’re going to be in the music industry you have to be prepared. Be the best you can be, live that life the best you can. Don’t let anyone discourage you from doing what you want to do.”

What’s Next?
“I’m wrapping up my mixtape, ‘A Moment In Life.’ It should be out late spring or early Summer. It’s a lot of R&B. I still love 90’s music so I wanted to stay in that zone. I miss the music of my era. People remember me from the late 90s, and that’s what I like to represent. So I’m doing a lot of songs off 90s beats and collaborating with 90s artists (Havoc, JT Money, Killah Priest). You’ll hear a much mature Amil.”

NEXT: Rah Digga

“Rah”

Day 13: Rah Digga
A true student of hip-hop, Rah Digga studied with the boys but shined as a woman all on her own. She was the only woman in the Flipmode Squad for 10 years. With songs like “Imperial” and “Party and Bullshit” under her belt, she wasted no time establishing her credibility. As she looks ahead to the next chapter of her story, the hard-hitting lyricist proves that nothing is out of her reach.

College Student Turned Rapper
“Actually, I was a rapper first. I’ve been writing and rhyming since I was in elementary school. I was on my way to boarding school and was still rapping. And even throughout college, [music] was a priority. I told myself no matter what I do or how old I am, I’m going to put out an album. I’ve always known that, since I was about 12. And once I was able to really be independent, I decided to leave college and keep it real with myself. I knew that music was my passion.”

The Inner Circle
“I became a part of the Outsidaz in the early 90s. We were pretty much the crème de la crème as far as Jersey emcees go. I was partnered with a woman when I first met the Outsidaz. And lo and behold, my chemistry was better with the guys. So I link up with this crew of battle rappers and we’re just slaying folks left and right.

“There were a lot of crews in Jersey at the time. Either you were a battle crew, or you were a song crew. As the Outsidaz, we did a lot of battle rapping, but the Fugees did both. Young Zee was touring with the Fugees at the time and he made that connection happen for us. When we crossed paths it was like, ‘Either we’re going to battle with each other or we’re going to collaborate with each other.’ That’s pretty much how crews confronted each other back then. So we ended up doing this song “Cowboys,” which unbeknownst to us, ended up on their album ‘The Score.’ It was my unofficial introduction to the industry.”

Q-Tip
“I was part of a rap circuit called the Lyricist Lounge. I was performing while I was pregnant at a Lyricist Lounge showcase that Q-Tip was hosting. And about a week before that, Q-Tip was producing a remix for Young Zee. During the session, me and Q-Tip were the only ones in the room who weren’t smoking. So we ended up sitting and had a real conversation. I just blurted out to him, ‘I got 30 days to get a record deal before this baby is born.’ And he said, ‘I’ll sign you.’ Sure enough, the following week was the Lyricist Lounge, where I performed pregnant. And true to his word, [Q-Tip] led me by the hand up to the offices of Elektra Records. Sylvia Rhone came in the office and was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve been looking for a new female artist to sign. Pull up the paperwork.’ And she walked right back out of the office. I was a signed artist just like that.”

New Artist, New Mom
“I don’t think [Elektra] knew I was pregnant at first. I think I was on Sylvia’s radar already because I did the duet with the Fugees. We shot a video for that song, and I was very comparable to Lauryn Hill at that time as far as our size and our look. I guess we just reminded people of each other. So [Sylvia Rhone] had an idea in her head that I would be an artist similar to Lauryn. When I came waddling in the office nine months pregnant, it was like, ‘Oh, we didn’t know she was pregnant.’ But the good thing was that I only had about a month to go because it took that long to go through the contract negotiations. By the time everything was all done, signed and sealed, I was literally giving birth.”

Busta Rhymes
“Q-Tip was going through some things. I think A Tribe Called Quest was splitting up around that time. And I was a pretty headstrong artist, so Q-Tip might have felt a little overwhelmed with me or thought maybe he’d bitten off more than he could chew. He put a bug in Busta’s ear and the next thing you know, I was a part of Flipmode.

“I think what sealed the deal for me was the crew record that Busta had on ‘Disaster Strikes.’ He had a song called ‘We Could Take It Outside’ where he featured the rest of his crew. I pretty much stole the show and the reviews came back like, ‘Who’s that girl?’ And Busta just said, ‘Okay, she’s a firecracker. I have to lock this down.'”

The Making of “Dirty Harriet”
“When I originally recorded ‘Dirty Harriet,’ I wanted it to be a whole Pete Rock and Primo album. I told Sylvia Rhone, ‘I want the whole side A to be Primo and I want the whole side B to be Pete Rock.’ I met a producer by the name of Nottz and started working with him. We had great chemistry, so I got up to song number seven with Nottz before my manager and Busta was like, ‘We don’t want the whole album to be one style.’

“We had to get some different sounds going on so that’s when Rockwilder and Shock came in. Shock did ‘Imperial’ and Rockwilder did ‘Break Fool.'”

“After that, it was pretty much open as far as production. I was really focused on having a pure hip-hop album. I didn’t care about having collaborations. I was really, really hip-hop, so much so that I couldn’t even fathom having an R&B hook on my album. But the album came together and it didn’t take long. I was in the studio round the clock, seven days a week, the same way I was with Flipmode. That’s one thing with Busta. That dude’s work ethic is relentless and it shows. So the focus for me was really just having the hardest hip-hop album imaginable.”

Independent Woman
“It didn’t matter, because I had already been the only woman in the Outsidaz. I respect both my crews for different reasons. I appreciate Flipmode for teaching me how to be a woman in the industry. I feel like I learned more about my stage presence by performing alongside Busta. But as far as the lyricism and the ‘I can take down any dude’ attitude, I learned that from my crew prior to Flipmode. Eminem was a part of the Outsidaz, so I had some real mic killers. So I had already gotten accustomed to having to stand apart from dudes that really spit. So that was a cakewalk.”

The Split
“It got to a point where I felt like I was moving laterally as opposed to moving upward. We lost our deal with J Records and we were putting out mixtape after mixtape. And after a while, I was like, ‘This is getting old. We’re not making any progress.’ We were still a crew but the sentiment was every man for himself because we were scrambling for solo deals. I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything more being a part of the crew at that stage. I felt like anything more that I need to do, I needed to do it for myself. There wasn’t any beef or anything like that. I called Busta up and we had a serious heart to heart. I was like, ‘Look dude, I think this union has run its course. I wish you the best but I don’t feel like being the chick in the clique anymore.’

“In that era, having a crew was everything. It’s hard to say if my career would have progressed further if I was on my own. There’s definitely a gift and a curse that comes with being in a crew. But I do feel that people don’t know enough about Rah Digga as an artist. I think when you mention my name, a lot of people just think of me as the chick in Flipmode. People don’t really realize that I had a history and career that was thriving prior to Flipmode.

“I don’t ever want to say that the crew hindered me, because I always moved at my own pace. Anybody in Flipmode will tell you, I didn’t sit around and wait for my turn. I made my turn happen. But I do feel like a lot of the fallout from crew-based decisions did affect my solo career.”

What’s Next?
“My next passion project is a community center. I’m working on trying to put together a center for kids in the city of Newark, because we’re really plagued with violence. We have such a smaller demographic than Chicago, but when you compare the numbers, we actually have three times the murder rate. I’m really trying to give these kids something to do in the neighborhood. They all look up to me and respect me because they always see me. Throughout my life and my career I’ve always had what I call a little trap spot in the hood or an apartment in the hood. So they know I’m real. They know I’m not one of those artists who makes it and then leaves and forgets everybody. I have other residences in different places, but I’ve always kept a spot in Newark. I’m still here; I’ve never left. So I’m working on doing things for the community.

“For a moment, I was going to run for councilwoman. I was well on my way, too. I definitely had the backing. But I had to sit back and ask myself, ‘Do I really want to be entangled in politics?’ I felt like I’d better off doing what I’m doing. I’m really here to help. I’d rather just be the artist that I am and continue to make music and contribute to the community when I can.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“I would tell my younger self to trust my gut. I feel like I was so strong in every other aspect of my career except for trusting my own judgment. I disregarded a lot of my own personal concerns out of loyalty to others and trusting other people’s judgment. At the end of the day, I was right and I knew what I was talking about. I was really scared to be a solo artist when I was at my peak. At the time, the sentiment was that female artists couldn’t make it without a crew or a man at the helm. I don’t regret anything but I just wish I could tell myself, ‘Fuck that shit, you’ll be fine. Just stick to your guns and you’ll probably doing better than most of those guys anyway.'” – Lauren Savage

NEXT: Lil Mama

“Mama”

Day 12: Lil Mama
Known for her vibrant style and energy, Lil Mama isn’t afraid to go against the grain. In fact, from the moment she burst onto the rap scene in 2007, the Brooklyn native has been determined to forge her own path. Her debut single “Lip Gloss” peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Though she’s received her fair share of praise and criticism—many people were ready to write her off as a one hit wonder—she plans to continue to to prove herself. And no matter what skill she chooses to showcase, the rapper/actress/dancer will stay true to her herself and her individuality.

On Hardship and Loss
“The loss of my mom definitely affected me professionally, because at that point I felt like I wasn’t fully equipped as a woman to make decisions for myself. The mental and emotional imbalance of being hurt by the loss of my mom and trying to be prepared for business wasn’t there. I was pretty much all over the place in a sense.”

“It was difficult to put out a project at that time. Not only because of my age, but because at a moment when the best thing in the world was happening to me, the worst thing in the world was happening to me simultaneously. I had a very uncomfortable balance between the success and acceptance of my music and my mother suffering with cancer. She was basically slowly dying. It was a really hard experience for me.”

On Healing and Recovery
“God has helped me in so many different ways. I feel that at some point, I lost faith. And it’s funny because it’s when you’re down that faith really kicks in. That’s the test of faith. I lost faith but over time, my faith was restored.”

“There were people around me that helped me and believed in me. My dad was there for me and then I met my mentor MC Lyte. At one point, we were just really good friends. People would tell her, ‘you know, Lil Mama really reminds me of you.’ And they would tell me, ‘you really remind me of MC Lyte.’ And because of that connection from people comparing us all the time, we linked up. She would see how I was doing periodically. And more recently, she became a force in my life, a person who gives me direction, and a great mentor. Upon [MC Lyte’s] presence, I realized that a woman’s advice and a woman’s outlook is very important in my life.”

Controversy
“The 2009 VMA’s was an example of my courage, my free spirit, and my free will. I had been in the audience with all kinds of artists and I was so new to the industry. I was so raw at that time. I was so Brooklyn and so Harlem at that time that when someone was singing about New York and being inspired, I took those words in a literal sense. It really touched my heart. But the message wasn’t meant for me to respond in that way. I later learned that this is an industry—everything is planned and everything is a business. However you may learn your lessons, you take it and you grow from it. I feel like I’ve truly grown. Not in a sense that I’m more confined. I just know that there’s a time and there’s a place. No matter what someone’s singing about or no matter what someone is saying, they may not even mean it. They may just be saying it because they’re entertaining. And you’re in a place where you’re responding to something that’s not real.”

Criticism
“I always wanted to be a kid star and I always wanted people to see my greatness when it was happening. I never wanted to be a person who had to wait until they were 25 or 30 to get their break. And at 17, I thought I was grown. Now I realize that I got what I wanted. I was in the spotlight at such an early age at 18-years-old and my heart was younger. So people got a chance to see me evolve and blossom into a young woman. Unfortunately, I was a young woman who didn’t have my mother behind me. But before my mother [passed], she allowed me to be expressive. My self-expression was important in my household and it was okay as long as it wasn’t too grown, too advanced or provocative.”

“As far as fashion goes, I’ve always been out of the box and [have] tried different things with my hair and my wardrobe. I would make stuff on my own. When I got in the spotlight and around people who were into high-end name brands, everything was cut and paste. So [my style] came off weird to some people. But I don’t regret anything that I’ve ever done. And no matter who looks at it as weird, it doesn’t matter to me because I know that I was a young woman and I enjoyed my life. And as a lady walking into my womanhood, I will continue to enjoy my life and express myself.”

“What I can say is that my fashion has changed and my eye for fashion is a little different now that I’m older. It’s been a really fun ride for me.”

On Left-Eye
“The experience working on ‘CrazySexyCool’ was exactly that. There was also a bit of mourning for me. It’s crazy because even though Left Eye has been gone for so long, I felt a sadness and missed her presence. With Chili and T-Boz on set to support us, it was very clear that one person was missing and that was the character that I played. So it was emotional for me. But [Left Eye’s] spirit lingers. Her spirit was so powerful that I knew the things that she would tell me and the things that she would expect from me; That pushed me to go harder. I’ve experienced some of her same experiences, not necessarily in a literal sense but where the world is doubting you and judging you. Or when the world doesn’t believe that you can achieve a certain accomplishment and you break through. So that connection gave me the strength to get through the film with authenticity.”

What’s Next?
“Through it all, the best part is when you can restore your faith and continue through life with a pure heart. I have no animosity and no regrets. I’m happy and free. I’m excited about my new project and I still feel 17. The music that I’m working on is going to touch important topics. I just did a track the other day called, ‘Letter to Self.’ I love the record because the concept—me talking to me—really touched me. I hope that it can help someone else. And also, I’m just having fun with music and creating sounds that [will] make other people feel positive, free, and excited.”

“The EP has a more hip-hop and R&B feel. It’s untitled right now, but I’m thinking a summer release. Every since I was a child, I’d sing, act, rap, and write. There was just constant art all around. I think it’s interesting that when you’re introduced as an artist on a certain level or you’re popular in a certain genre, people may want you stay in that lane. So, I think it’s amazing that you go from rapping and being known as a writer to singing and being known as a TV personality or an actor. I feel like I’m blossoming. Right now, working in R&B and hip-hop allows me to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I feel like I’ve matured so the [material] will be presented in a way where I have more of an understanding and better control of how I put it out.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“Be relentless and most importantly, be selfless.” – Lauren Savage

NEXT: Jean Grae

“Jean”

Day 11: Jean Grae

Jean Grae embodies creativity. Stepping out and developing projects outside of music, she’s been able to produce a successful web series “Life with Jeannie,” as well as a well-received audio book, “The State of Eh.” But don’t get it twisted, she’s not done with the hip-hop game as of yet. She’s currently in the studio placing the final touches on the long-awaited “Cake or Death” album and contemplating recording a new album. There’s nothing that will stop this Grae from getting what she wants.

What? What? to Jean Grae
“What? What? was my introduction to an actual audience. Jean Grae happened when I decided to streamline my career [from Natural Resource to] a solo artist. There were a lot of topics I wanted to touch on. I wanted that versatility. There was some growing up and relationship changes from me stepping out on my own. There was a little more child’s play going on. I was sitting with my friend and we were going through comic book names. He came up with Jean Grae. I felt that was perfect, especially with [Jean Grey’s] story and being able to go really far with this saga. It’s a challenging namesake to live up to but it seemed perfect.”

Working With 9th Wonder on “Jeanius”
“Little Brother was on the Okay Player Tour at the same time I was. 9th came out to one of those shows and we hit it off real quick. I told him, ‘Man I would really like to work with you.’ We met up back in New York and he gave me a beats CD with eight records on it. One of those records ended up being ‘Don’t Rush Me.’ I came up for North Carolina to record that. We only planned on doing one song, but immediately as we were done we thought we should do more songs together. We became fast friends. It was an organic process. I came back to work on what would become ‘Jeanius.'”

“We were really gung-ho about the process of ‘Jeanius.’ It took 4 to 5 days to work on the album. Everyone was in one room. It makes it much cooler because everyone’s energy was on there. We would play a beat and figure out what song that sounds like on the album. For instance, we would need a beat that was going to sound like a number four in terms of album placement. We got really excited about the project. I probably shouldn’t have given out any copies of the CD. There was no mixing or mastering and all of the samples were still on there. ‘Jeanius’ actually leaked the same day my album ‘This Week’ came out. I thought to release ‘This Week’ and then I would have a space where I didn’t have to do anything because I already had another album done. That didn’t go so well for me. It was a time where we were trying to understand how an album could leak on the internet. In retrospect it was a great way for it to happen. It got to a lot of people before we had to clear the samples and everything. It happened how it was supposed to happen.”

Industry Hiatus
“I came from a family that did nothing but the music industry. I didn’t expect that to be more difficult than it already was. I think I wasn’t prepared in an adult way to be able to navigate multi-tasking in life. I didn’t understand that I can still do music, write a book, do a television show or anything I wanted to do. I think it was a level of maturity I needed to reach. I never wanted to put all my eggs in a basket with rap and it felt very confining at times. I put a lot of time into it and wanted to move on to something else. The most frustrating part was people saying, ‘We need you! We need you!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, a little more support then would be nice. [So] I don’t feel like I’m doing this for nothing.’ I just needed to come into my adulthood a little more.”

“I had a lot of personal changes I went through. I decided to change my living arrangements and things that were going on in my relationships. I didn’t need to be in relationships that weren’t constructive. I needed to be able to appreciate the art and start making the music that I liked. I’ve known Kweli since I was 13,14-years-old. It seemed like a natural fit that we worked together and do business together at some point. However, it was mostly personal changes and realizations that set me back on different road.”

“The State of Eh”
“I was working on it for a few years on a blog. It was something I thought I should turn into a book. I felt like there are a lot of books but let’s do something different that’s going prompt the reader to turn the page. It felt like a nod to my childhood. I started doing readings from ‘The State of Eh’ about 3 to 4 years ago. Those readings were a great opener for me before I started doing stand-up. I loved being in front of people. The adrenaline rush I felt after [those readings] was a greater rush than [when] getting off a stage at a rap show. I love to read. It wasn’t as confining as the rap world where you have to make words rhyme all the time.”

“Life with Jeannie”
“I’ve wanted to do stand-up since I was very young. I grew up watching stand-up and listening to a lot of comedy. It’s been something I wanted to do for a very long time. I did my first stand-up two years ago. I said to myself, ‘Go try it. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?’ It was letting go of the fear of doing it. With ‘Life with Jeannie’ it was another one of those, ‘Okay, I can take on another job. I just have to do it.’ I talked to people and they would say, ‘Yeah, you’re not going to be able to hold this up. You need to budget in equipment, people and the necessary expenses.’ When people always tell me that, I always try to do it anyway. With my mother passing in August of 2013, it was catalyst for me to do it. I didn’t want to wait around anymore to make things happen. That was a push for me to do a lot of my material I put out in the past few months. I wanted her to be around to see me doing more things. That was motivation for me to not delay any of my projects anymore and to jump into every situation fearless.”

A Mother’s Motivation
“She was an absolute genius but never referred to herself as a genius. She was one in every way: a mom, a musician, a visionary and as a businesswoman. Her advice was ‘I don’t want you to be like me, but better than me.’ I feel like I have a responsibility to make her proud even though she’s not physically here. It was an everyday thing. She was still performing and putting out albums at the age of 76. I can’t be lazy, ever. My drive to potentially outwork anyone is probably where that comes from.”

What’s Next?
“I really want to start promoting artists I actually love. I want to create the score of ‘Life with Jeannie’ based around artists I actually love. That’s a big deal with me in terms of the show. ‘Cake of Death’ is still coming out this summer. I’m really excited about that album; I love that album. I might decide to make another album this month. I don’t know what it will be about, but I always say, ‘Expect the unexpected.'”

NEXT: Gangsta Boo

“Gangsta-Boo”

Day 10: Gangsta Boo
The first and only lady of Three 6 Mafia is known to hold her own. Since before joining the Memphis-based rap group in the mid-90s, Gangsta Boo has positioned herself to be among the elite group of femcees that run the south. After countless notable guest features, collaborative albums with Three 6 Mafia and solo projects, Gangsta Boo strengthens her bottomless discography with an upcoming collaborative project, “Witch.”

Beginnings
“DJ Paul introduced me to the world. He had a series of [‘Underground’] mixtapes and he put me on Volume 16. I had a song on it called ‘Cheefa Da Reefa,’ talking about smoking weed. I was 15 or 16-years old.” [Laughs]

“I wasn’t really asked to be in Three 6 [Mafia]; I was told I was on Three 6. They just said, ‘Here’s a contract. Sign it.’ I don’t know why they went with a girl when they could have chosen anyone. It was a risk because I don’t doubt they heard a lot of shit because they chose a girl rapper. But I was always around them; I wrote a couple of raps for members in the group.”

Parting Ways With Three 6 Mafia
“We grew apart and wanted to try something different. It wasn’t about the money because we were definitely making money. I was immature and let emotions get the best of me. Now that I’m older and look back, I realize it wasn’t the money. I was let outside voices get to me.”

Female Rappers, Then Vs. Now
“We didn’t grow up in the social media world, so my grind is completely different. It was way harder. Now a woman can come up easier, with the right team and the internet. I’ve ben rapping for 20 years so I have some loyal fans. I wonder if the ones [female rappers] now will have loyal fans like that.”

“But the way its hard for girls now is that they don’t have a clique. You have to have the support of a clique. You also need a foundation. Back then we had Missy Elliott, Shawnna, Remy Ma, Mia [X]…”

Beefs
“I feel like I’m on a land of my own, as a female rapper. I love that everyone is doing their thing but I don’t even see them. I hope they don’t see me either. There’s no competition. I’m [also] too old to be making new friends with these bitches.”

“I don’t really pay attention to what anyone is doing, beefing with, or fighting with… I am only worried about the person I see in the mirror. I’m not competing. I don’t want the biggest booty, I don’t want the biggest whatever. I don’t want to be friends. I just want the money.”

What’s Next?
“Me and [La] Chat are working on a project right now called, ‘Witch.’ It comes out in March. It started out as a mixtape, but it’ll now be on iTunes and in stores. Fans have always wanted something collaborative from us because everyone thought we were beefing. The official single is with Mia X, “Bitchy,” produced by DJ Paul.”

“‘Witch’ is dark and mystic; It’ll make people think its crazy. Everyone knows I’m a hardcore rapper and crazy; I do it as if I’m an actress in a scary movie. Some people like comedy or drama; I like horror. I portray that in my music.”

“Paul, DJ Squeaky, Drumma Boy produced some songs on it. There’s a song called “Will Power Witches Brew,” which features Yela’s girl, Fefe Dobson. You have the drug-type songs. You have the relationship-type songs. You have the songs that the hood girls want to hear. I got a song where I say, “Nah, you ain’t my ni—a, you’re just something to do/ I don’t want a relationship right now, I’m just fucking you.” I don’t make songs for the glam girls. That’s not where I’m at. I can do that if I want to. I can be the red bottom girl, the Gucci girl but that shit is expensive. I’m not about to do that to impress those that don’t like me. That’s not my image. ‘Witch’ is more gangsta. It’s who I am.”

“We’re also working on a Three 6 Mafia album while on the road. Everyone’s going to be involved. Juicy J is on tour now too, so we just got to [find time] to get in the studio.”

NEXT: Ms. Jade

“Ms-Jade”

Day 9: Ms. Jade

Ms. Jade caught the attention of Missy Elliott and Timbaland instantly. Her lyrical prowess and ‘around-the-way girl’ style called forth collaborations most rising rappers could only dream of. After overcoming personal and professional obstacles since the release of her debut album ,”Girl Interrupted,” Ms. Jade readies a project which finds her at her most comfortable and honest.

Meeting Missy Elliott and Timbaland
“On one of my trips to New York, my manager and I went to shop beats for producers we were working with. We met Jay Brown, who was working with Missy at Elektra [Records] at the time, at Quad Studios. My manager told him about a female rapper he rep’d. He thought I was crazy, so he took me upstairs to meet Missy. She called Timbaland on speaker phone and had me rap to him, on the spot. She asked me, ‘What you’re looking for?’ And I said, ‘I deal!’ Two weeks later, that was that.”

The Making of “Girl Interrupted” (2002)
“When you’re from Philly, around that time, there was a certain way you’d rap to the beat. Timbaland’s beats were so crazy, that I had to get used to writing to his beats. He would teach me to listen to certain drums and certain patterns so I can have different flows. Some of those flows were important when it came to his beats. He’d spend a lot of time with me grooming me and molding me to be this lyrical beast.”

“I recorded most of the album in New York and L.A. When I first went to L.A., it was like a bootcamp for all the artists Tim worked with: Missy, Ginuwine, Tweet, Misha from 702, Bubba Sparxxx. We’d go to studio to record from six at night to six in the morning.”

“There were some songs that I wanted to come out more than others that did. I have a bunch of songs that didn’t make the album. I’ve been thinking about releasing an album with the songs that I didn’t get to put out, but I’d have to play with the beat cause they’re dated and music’s changed. Maybe I’ll drop a compilation album or ‘Best of…’.”

“I was going crazy when I got a bunch of texts from friends about Beyonce’s song [‘Rocket’].” (Editor’s Note: ‘Rocket’ features Beyoncé reciting a line from ‘Ching Ching’: ‘What about that ching ching ching.’)”

“Count It Off”
It was crazy [because] I would get features without knowing about [them]. With the Jay Z feature, I asked Tim if Jay would be able to do it and he said, ‘I don’t know. He really don’t deal with females like that unless they’re known.’ He surprised me with it because when I did it it was a full song and when I went back Jay was on it. I might have listened to that song, on the low, a 100 times.

“I was a kid. I never thought I would be on TV and around these people. And these people were successful so I thought, ‘I’ll listen to them. You’d be a fool not to.’ When you’re that young, you don’t know better. At that time I was just happy to be there.”

“I always had an attitude to because of those type of things. I didn’t know about radio songs, I just wanted to rap and write.”

Parting Ways with Missy Elliott and Timbaland
“It was growing pains. Me and Tim had built what we built. At that time, we weren’t seeing eye to eye. I thought the album could have done more than it did. So, I wanted to try it my way. I wanted to try to do it from the ground up. And they thought, ‘oh well…'”

“I went through a time where I was devastated after parting ways, not knowing what I’d do but then I told myself, ‘I’m still Jade.’ I felt like that was just a part of my story. They gave me the opportunity to change and see the world and I appreciate that.”

“Million Dollar Baby” (2007)
I had learned you have to stand up for you.  On ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ I felt like Ms. Jade. I had to find myself [after ‘Girl Interrupted’]. After my album, I felt like I was dumbed down a bit. After time went by I still thought, ‘That’s not me either.’ So I kept recording. I never not went to the studio. I had to find a balance of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. It was a transition and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ showed who I became. I thought, ‘This is who I am. Take it or leave it. I’m not dumbing it down or going ‘hard’.’ Some say I needed to go harder. I’m not about to talk about poppin’ guns or poppin’ bottles, cause that’s not who I am.”

What’s Next?
“Right now, I’m working on EP right called ‘Beautiful Mess.’ It’s all original songs. I’m also singing on this project; I started singing.”

“I found a few dope upcoming producers on YouTube for the EP. I want it be more musical because I’ll be performing the songs with a live band.”

“Lyrically, I’m 100% honest this time. I talk about everything, from feeling like I’m not good enough at times to people once wanting to change me. I’m much more comfortable. I’m talking about family, friends and men… life.”

“Life’s happened: One of my best friends got shot in the head recently. I was depressed. I didn’t want to do anything. And, I was in a car accident. It felt like it happened all at once, like I couldn’t catch a fucking break. But I’m not the only that’s going through this so I pushed myself to write about it.”

“I’m also writing R&B and pop for other people. I’ve been in the studio with Miley Cyrus. I wrote a song for Kelly Rowland but it didn’t make the album. I have to go harder. I want to let out my creativity out any way I can.”

NEXT: Mia X

“Mia-X”

Day 8: Mia X

Mia X was not only the female representation in Master P’s No Limit Records, she was the glue – the mama – that kept the family together and standing tall. While the rapper and chef has faced countless losses in her family and attacks on her image, her resilience and talent made her a force to be reckoned far beyond her hometown of New Orleans.

Beginnings
“I got in the game in ’84 when joined a rap group with DJ Mannie Fresh. We’ve known each other our entire lives. We lived right around the corner from each other. This guy, Denny D, moved from Queens to New Orleans. He started a DJ crew with myself, Mannie Fresh and three other guys called New York Incarcerated. We met a guy, Eli, who had us doing all the rap shows in Atlanta and opening up for huge groups like the Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. We had a strong name around the city. I left the group in ’87 because I had to concentrate on school. When I got to the 12th grade I had a baby, so I became full-time mommy. I then had another baby. In 1992, I had the opportunity to get back to rhyming because my kids were in nursery and I had some free time. I wrote this song called the ‘Payback,’ which my baby father helped me push. I moved 30,000 units, and that’s what got Master P’s attention.”

“P lived in California and C-Murder lived in New Orleans. C-Murder knew the noise I was making in the south. He knew the impact and knew I’d be the one at the hip-hop stations freestyling. He was the first one to tell his brother, ‘There’s this girl named Mia X.’ Corey was initially the one who co-signed me.”

“There were people from Atlantic [Records] hollering at me, but at the time I was enjoying reaping the benefits of an independent artist: freedom.”

“P came down from L.A. to New Orleans because everyone kept telling him about Mia X. He visited me at my job, this record store Peaches Records. He asked me to come to California in Christmas and be on his ’99 Ways to Die’ album. I moved to California and worked on ’99’ and Tru albums. P and I instantly clicked. We kept making records, up until my parents died in 1999.”

“He (Master P) asked me to be a part of No Limit after ’99 Ways to Die.’ He’s like, ‘You need to put out a whole thing with me in order to introduce you to the people outside the south.’ I went back to California and worked on ‘Good Girl Gone Bad.’ That EP moved 55,000 [units]. He said, ‘If you keep working on albums, by the time you drop something you’re going to be ready.’ He was right.”

The Making of ‘Unlady Like’
“KLC brought a sound to my flow that the whole world was ready for. When I dropped ‘Unlady Like’ it was certified gold in six weeks. It was during a time when there was some heavy-hitters dropping projects. I dropped ‘Unlady Like’ with only one video that you hardly ever saw. [Laughs] And one single [‘Party Don’t Stop’] you hardly ever heard, but the streets and my family certified ‘Unlady Like.’ The streets messed with me the long way since day one.”

“I had one single and it was, ‘Party Don’t Stop.’ Percy really liked the song and suggested I put another female rapper on it. He suggested Foxy Brown, which I thought was hot, and himself get on the record. This was the time before the internet, so we had to mail the beat back and forth. They recorded it [and] mailed it back. We loaded it up and then sent it to get mastered.”

“When first heard the drums hit in the beginning of ‘You Don’t Wanna Go 2 War,’ we knew it was going to be a hit. We all lined up in the studio and chanted: ‘You don’t wanna go to war.'”

“I wanted a lot of songs on ‘Unlady Like’ to be pimp songs. I had one of the producers come in and talk to me as if he was missing me. I played like I was pimping him. We couldn’t stop laughing though.”

“If I had more commercial backing, ‘Unlady Like’ could have been a bigger album. I never went in the studio thinking of a making my album radio-friendly. I just went in and made music that I loved. DJs showed love. When they found tracks they loved off the album they edited themselves and played them.”

No Limit Records
“I could see it in Percy’s eyes that he wanted to make No Limit bigger than any other label. We – myself, Master P and  KLC – created soldier music. Soldier music then turned around and birthed crunk music. I knew the world was ready after seeing the east coast – New York, Philly, and Jersey – get buck from our music. The door was open from all the different sounds from the south.

“I was the mama of the crew. No one would drink or smoke in the studio or on tour while I was around. No one played with mama. What made the relationship at No Limit so special was that we didn’t mix business with pleasure. Nobody was my boyfriend. We took the family thing serious. We didn’t have anything extra going on. When we fussed, we fussed like siblings and we had some fusses but thing would eventually smooth over.”

The Making of ‘Make ‘Em Say Uhh!’
“Percy used to say ‘Uhh!’ all the time. I started noticing when we’d do shows for 20,000-25,000 people that the’d say it also. We were in the studio once, and I brought up how a few comedians were turning ‘Uhh’ as if it was a noise when taking a crap. I said,  ‘Before they run with this like a gimmick we have to flip it.’ I started singing, ‘Uhh! Na-nah na-nah!’ I told them we have to do that again and hit them with another soldier beat. KLC then started working the beat and the drums. In order to get him him excited to do the soldier beats I’d make him chicken and Jambalaya. As he was making this crazy drum pattern, Percy walked in and I started telling him about my idea. His faced scrunched up and he started jumping up and down, rapping, ‘Ni—a, I’m the colonel of the motherfuckin tank.'”

“To this day, when it comes on in the club, I get butterflies.”

“The video was crazy. We had Shaq up in there. They put Mystikal on top of the basketball pole. They put me in the locker room. We were doing too much. They had me in the Jordan XIII – two months before they came out – with the matching jogging suit. All the guys were losing their mind over my outfit. The energy on the set mad the song crazier. Sometimes I look back at videos and laugh at us because of how we were dressed. We used to be all in suits. [Laughs] All we thought was how we didn’t want our mamas and dads to be mad. We wanted to be presentable. It had a lot to do with our families and children and how they’d perceive us.”

Her Relationship with C-Murder
“As much as I love and will always love Master P, C-Murder is absolutely, hands down my favorite Miller.”

“When C-Murder got arrested, I was physically ill. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe hearing the whispers from high places saying, ‘We know he’s not guilty but he’s not talking to so be it.’ And then I’d go to the court room and hear the evidence that was no evidence. The jury was doing the girl that wanted to vote him innocent so bad, even worse than [they] were treating C-Murder. They’d tell her, ‘Just go and vote guilty.’ The judge would refer the verdict as a ‘conviction’ before the jury had even decided. It was devastating. I understood what railroading meant by seeing it first hand. He did not murder anyone, and that’s what’s been so sad about the whole ordeal.”

“I’m still heartbroken. I miss his loyalty. There’s not many that deliver when they say they’ll deliver. To know Corey, is to love him.”

Self-Image
“I remember people saying that I had the look but I didn’t have the body ’cause I was fat. People would tell Percy, ‘Make her lose weight. She should get some liposuction].’ He’d tell me, ‘You don’t have to do that.’ I said, ‘I’m not about to do that cause it’d be my luck that they’d suck all the fat from my stomach and it’d end up all in my eye.’ [Laughs] At the end of the day, I’m going to be the fat girl in heels cause I know I look like someone’s mom, auntie, or best friend. I wanted to represent the every day woman. Foxy Brown and [Lil] Kim were rocking high-end clothes, looking sexy, while I was the one that looked like the average girl with a big brain.”

Rap Beef
“Who do I look like beefing with someone on a record when my whole life, my real life, was burning down? I just had double murder happen in my family a few weeks ago. I had two children from two men; One got inducted and one got murdered. My mama, my daddy, my grandma, my great grandma, my uncle, my cousin, and my other cousin have died and all that happened in an 18-month span for me. [Hurricane] Katrina hit and we lost everything. So what do I look like fighting with someone on a damn record? We, No Limit, didn’t run like that. When we weren’t with family, we were working.”

Retiring
“I had planned on retiring at 30-years-old. I thought, ‘When I’m 30, my children are going to still be young. I want to see them go to school and grow.”

“From 1992-1999, I was on all the time: touring, writing, and preparing others on their projects. But everything changed when my mom died in ’99. She was a huge support system for me. I have a young sister, Ashley, who was so close to my mother and father. She lived with them and was always under them. I told myself, ‘Since our mother died I’m going to stay at home to make sure things go smoothly with Ashley and with my kids.’ Five months after that, our daddy died. I stayed with Ashley and decided to put all my attention on my family.”

“I miss the game but it paid off. Ashley is on her way of becoming an Infectious Disease Specialist and she just got offered a diplomatic position at the U.S. Embassy for Peru.”

Cooking
“When my mom was finishing college, I spent most of my time with my grandma. She had a lot to do with who I am. She was a strong woman. She cooked in a whore house, and she’d take me to work with her. We also ran our house like a speakeasy. She sold food and liquor and people gambled. That’s how we paid our bills. I learned how to cook since I was 5-years-old.”

“Now, I’m working on my cookbook, ‘Things My Grandma Showed Me, Things My Grandma Told Me.’ It’s coming out this summer. There’s a group of us, #TeamWhipDemPots. We inspire each other to cook meals, post recipes and share pictures. We’re 7,000 strong on instagram and 15,000 strong on Twitter.”

“Cooking relieves my grief. I’m sad for my mommy, my daddy, and my grandma every day. I miss them every day. The thing we had in common was cooking. Me, my mother and grandmother would always cook together. When I’m in the kitchen I’m at my best because I’m comfortable and can feel them with me.”

“I make music here and there, but my life has been about cooking since I left the game.”

NEXT: Monie Love

“Monie-Love”

Day 7: Monie Love
In the late 1980s, Monie Love journeyed across the pond to sprinkle British flavor on hip-hop. A member of the Native Tongues, she became a part of the force behind hip-hop’s women empowerment and served a dose of reality. Her soul continues to burn with hunger – mixing music and activism – as she prepares to return to England later this year for the first time in 15 years.

Beginnings
“A gentleman by the name of Dave Kline, we used to call him Bump-N-Kline, worked for Rush Management. He used to bring a lot hip-hop artists abroad to do shows in England and the UK. On a particular trip, he brought over The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah and others to do a series of shows in and around England. I went to one of those shows and Dave Kline was familiar with me because I had been making noise in the underground scene in England. He introduced me to the artists he brought over. Queen Latifah and I struck up a friendship from there. That was in late ’87.”

“We, Queen Latifah and me, were friends. We blew up each other’s telephone bill. Her bill was astronomical because she was calling me from New Jersey. My bill was astronomical because I was calling from England. Our parents were pissed. One day she said, ‘We should do a song together.’ She said she wanted to do something that was uplifting for women because it’s a male-dominated industry and hip-hop is full of male acts. [Women rappers] do exist but we’re few and far between. She said, ‘I want to do something that’s going to empower women and shake the guys up a little bit. I want to call it Ladies First because when a guy and a woman walk through the door, it’s supposed to be ladies first.’ So we built the song around that idea. We spoke about the song a good 6-8 months before we did it.”

“I absolutely had no idea the song was going to be as big as it was. The thing is, when you’re a kid and you’re so into something to the point where you can do it with your eyes closed, you’re not cognoscente of the type of affect is going to have. We were just having fun doing it. We had no idea it was going to go down in history as this great woman empowerment song in hip-hop. I didn’t know until this day that people would see me out on the street and say, ‘Ladies First.’ It makes me feel good in my stomach and in my soul. I love when young girls come up to me and say, ‘Oh my gosh, my mother used to play your song all the time. I dressed up as you, my friend dressed up as Queen Latifah, and we performed ‘Ladies First’ at the school talent show.’ That type of stuff makes me really feel good.”

Studio Life
“We all used to record at Calliope Studios in Manhattan. Her, me, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, the entire Native Tongues, we all used the same studio. It was like a commune. We would be in each other’s sessions lying on the floor or on the couch with a million boxes of stale Chinese food from the day before. It was commune. Queen Latifah and I had a good time writing ‘Ladies First.’ My record label got split in between Europe and America where I was working on my first album. My boyfriend was one of the Jungle Brothers and he did some production on it. He introduced me to Q-Tip. Q-Tip and I developed a family bonding relationship. He and I used to go record shopping. De La Soul would be recording a song in the studio and say ‘Phife go do a verse. Tip go do a verse. Monie go do a verse.’ It was the same thing for everyone else’s song. It was very organic. It was a family oriented vibe.”

Female Rappers Vs. The Industry
“Back in the day, we (female rappers) were easier to find. We were plastered all over the ‘Right On’ magazines, the Rap Pages and ‘The Source.’ Now, most of the girls are seen but it’s difficult because they don’t even the get the attention they deserve. The ladies that do get the light are following a similar trend of being scantily clad. Everyone’s naked, showing their boobs or ass. That doesn’t describe every woman in hip-hop but unfortunately that is what’s pushed to the forefront. Little girls don’t get to see anything else unless they’re pushing and searching for it.”

“I don’t think the scantily clad trend needs to fall off the face of the Earth because realistically, that won’t happen. There’s always been scantily clad [female rappers]. However there needs to be a balance. It’s easier to find half-naked black women on television, reality shows, and on every hip-hop blog. There needs to be a balance so we can find more girls who are about the rhyming like Rapsody and artists who are focused on ‘I want you to respect my art.’ All of us, with the help of some of my brothers, can shed a light on what’s missing and bring back the balance for women in hip-hop.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“When I look back at everything I did, I’m happy with it. I’m happy with my integrity, the stamp I made, and the time I was in the forefront. I’m working to start a non-profit organization soon concerning domestic abuse. I was a victim of domestic abuse. I wrote ‘It’s a Shame’ when I was 19-years-old. I wasn’t a victim of domestic abuse until I was in my 30s. I was sitting in it for a bit of time. I had to say to myself, ‘What are you doing? You inspired women to not take crap and here you are taking crap.’ But if I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to slow down a little bit and enjoy the ride. I think I went too fast. I was running so fast [and] working so hard.”

What’s Next?
“I’m touring this year, prominently overseas. I’m hitting London first. I haven’t been to my hometown in over 15 years. I’m going to stay out in Europe and do some additional dates. I plan to come back to the states then go to Australia following that. I have a book coming out this year which is exciting because I initially wrote the book in 2010. I’m doing a lot of activism here in Florida with the Stand Your Ground Law. There’s an incentive I’m working on with Harry Belafonte that will come to light later this year.” – Tyler K. McDermott

NEXT: Da Brat

“Da-Brat”

Day 6: Da Brat
From her image to her music, Da Brat has been notorious, and successful, at staying true to her creativity. Going with her gut has earned her the title as the first female solo rap act to have a platinum-selling album (with “Funkdafied”), notable featured appearances and close relationships with the industry’s most beloved. While she overcomes legal issues that’s haunted her for years, Da Brat continues to challenge herself through music and connect with the ladies in hip-hop we love, such as Missy Elliott, Shawnna and others.

The Making of “Funkdafied”
“Before meeting Jermaine [Dupri], I first I met Kris Kross in October ’92 at their show at the Arie Crown Theatre. I ran on stage and won a contest to meet Kris Kross. They thought I was dope and told me that they’d tell their producer about me, JD. I didn’t think they really would, but I kept in contact with them. The first time I met JD was when he came with Kris Kross to the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago; They were on the show with TLC, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and C+C Music Factory.”

“He was excited to work with me so he invited to come to Atlanta. I got a buddy pass from my friend who worked at TWA, an airlines that doesn’t exist today. I called and called and bugged JD’s assistant until he finally came and scooped me and my god sister, Dawn, from the hotel and took us to his house. It was the most magnificent thing I had ever seen, seeing that I’m from the hood. I’m from the West side of Chicago. The minute I got there, I started working. He had me rap for people. The chemistry was so crazy and I was so eager to learn that whatever he taught me I absorbed like a sponge.”

“When we first got in the studio, Jermaine Dupri started humming the song to ‘Funkdafied,’ and him and Kris Kross started working on the beat. Jermaine would then go back and forth with me on ideas.”

“JD told me at first, “Brat, I don’t want you to be disappointed if you if you don’t go platinum. It’s okay if you go gold.” I told him, “I don’t care if I go double copper. I just want the world to know me and how good I am for what I do.”

Self-Image
“I was already Brat, doing crazy stuff before I was in the scene. In high-school, I was different. I’d wear my pants backwards before Kris Kross did, just to be different. I’d wear my hair in a huge pony tail; It’d stand 3 feet tall and drape down. I was always comfortable in my own skin. There was nothing average about me.

“I was criticized for not wearing tight clothes at first or being girly enough but it didn’t bother me because it was me.”

“When people started seeing me wear something tight – I think it was on ‘Soul Train’ when performing with Kelly Price – people were like, ‘Oh my God you got a body under there.” I started liking the attention and that’s when I decided to doing shoots more girly. That was my own decision, not anyone else’s. It was because I liked it not because I was forced to.”

“Before I got signed to Jermaine Dupri, I had rapped for Michael Bivens. He wanted me to be in this group with his female rapper Tam Rock, who rapped on MC Brains’ “Oochie Coochie.” He wanted me in a jail cell with a teddy on, freaking him with some ice. I wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t me. I could have gone that route but I didn’t want to go that route because 1. I didn’t want to be in a group and 2. I wasn’t comfortable. I had a chance to be signed to Teddy Riley but I felt like I fit with Kris Kross and JD.”

Her Friendship with Mariah Carey
“I first met her when working on the remix to ‘Always Be My Baby.’ I felt like she was just like me but she had to keep it shielded. She wanted to do the things I did and talk the way I talked. She was signed to Sony and had this reputation to uphold of being a diva. That’s why we jelled. She was living through me and we became the best of friends. We’re both Aries and both like to have fun that’s why we say we’re ‘eternally 12;’ cause we’re kids.”

“She was so down to earth but her circumstances didn’t allow her to do things. We’d be in the studio at Tommy Mottola’s house and she’d whisper because cameras were everywhere. It’s like she was trapped. I had never seen someone have everything but be so unhappy inside because they couldn’t be themselves.”

Lil Kim’s “Ladies Night”
“The whole experience was amazing. It was like a big ass cookout with everybody there: eating, drinking and having fun. Lance Rivera put that together, with the support of all our labels. I still watch it and say, ‘Wow I wish we can do this again’ but in a bigger way. I don’t want to do it again and it look like a bootleg of ‘Ladies Night.’ I want us to all be on the top of our game like we were back then and make a part two but have it be bigger and better. I want us female to unite and do something that would knock the world off its feet.”

Past Acting
“I was signed to William Morris [Agency], so I was getting a lot of scripts and auditioning. I even did a pilot for my own show with Loretta Devine, but it didn’t get picked up. I even got a script for ‘Drumline.’ I was supposed to be in ‘The Matrix.’ Actually the roll that Aaliyah had, they called me and Aaliyah back three or four times to keep re-reading. When Aaliyah passed, they ended going with Nona Gaye.”

Legal Troubles
“I don’t really regret anything but I regret that (the 2007 assault). I learned from it [and] I’m paying for it. Butthis person getting that amount is probably never going to happen in this lifetime. Granted, I fucked up. I made a mistake. She deserves something, maybe doctors bills paid but… I can see $1 million dollars, but $6.4 million? She’ll never see it because I’ll never see it. Who knows though, I can become a billionaire. But I have my own bills, my own life. So, good luck.”

“I’m just glad that civil suit is not hanging over me. She’s entitled to something so when the checks start rolling in, she’ll get some. I don’t mind giving up some cause it was a stupid thing that I did. But $6.4 million? Baby. Who do I look like? Diddy? I don’t have a Ciroc deal, clothing line, or all that.”

What’s Next?
I’m in the studio four times a week, at least. I have so many songs. I keep working just to stay on top of craft and try new things. I’m not pressed. I have enough material for an album and mixtapes. I think it’s fun to put out mixtapes. I have so much stuff I can do that. I was thinking about putting out a mixtape.

If I get the opportunity to be on a major and the deal is beneficial for me then I’ll take it. When you’re independent you don’t have the machine behind you. It’s nice to have the machine behind you when you come from the 90s; You need that push. But now you have people like Macklemore who do it on their own. It depends on what my cards are through. I think God has a plan for everybody. I just roll with the punches.

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“I would say, ‘Calm down, breathe, take it all in and enjoy every aspect of life.’ I was working quickly, too hard and not taking in the places I’ve been. And don’t take anything for granted.”

“Also, don’t leave room for the could ofs, would ofs, should ofs. I lost both of my grandmothers. And, I hate that I did what I did because I missed those years that I could have spent with both of them.”

“When I was locked up for years, it felt like everything out in the world moved so fast. My grandmother that passed away in ’04? She was never sick, always healthy. But her appendix ruptured and I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ They told me and the whole family she was going to be okay. We had stayed in the hospital for a whole week. They did the surgery and got all the poison out. As soon as we left they told us to come back… and that was it. But they told us she’d be okay. It’s just crazy. You never know, so you should never take anything for granted.”

NEXT: Yo-Yo

“YoYo”

Day 5: Yo-Yo

Before she became the First Lady of Detroit, Yolanda Whitaker, better known as YoYo, was stomping through the 90s proving that women are here to stay. Though she’s slowed down musically as of late, the natural-born leader is still making moves; but not without the memories of a lucrative career.

Meeting Ice Cube
“I had been rapping and performing in Los Angeles since junior high school from ’86 until I graduated in ’89. I was competing in every talent show that allowed youngsters. There weren’t many female rappers so I went hard and battled. I met Ice Cube through one of his friends who went to high school with me, T. Bone of the Lynch Mob. Bone was saying Cube was in the process of leaving N.W.A. and was looking for a female artist. We were introduced and it wasn’t long until we were in his mom’s living room writing rhymes and making music.”

“When I met Ice Cube I had this feminist mentality. That was before I even knew what a feminist was. I came up in the era where N.W.A. was like, ‘A bitch is a bitch.’ So, I was in defense of women. All of my songs were like Queen Latifah’s ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ So, when I met Cube it was more so, ‘You’re not going to call me a bitch.’ But once we got to know each other, I began to respect him as a big brother; It’s creativity and where he came from. Our bond was so strong. If you notice on ‘The Bonnie & Clyde Theme,’ I say, ‘I got a down ass ni–a on my team.’ He didn’t say, ‘I got me a down ass bitch.’ He tried it, but I was like, ‘No, you’re not going to call me a bitch.’ He went in and changed it which was mad respect.”

First Apollo Performance
“They had all this beef about the East coast and the West coast. We were so afraid to perform at the Apollo. Cube and I were excited to come yet there was this fear. We ended up getting up there on the stage and it was epic. The crowd was throwing money on the stage. I think that was the day the East coast started to accept West coast music. Ice Cube broke that barrier. I get so much love when I go to the East coast. It set a mark for me to really love hip-hop. I was always doing it, but that time was a ‘wow’ moment.”

Female Rappers vs. the Industry
“There were always obstacles. Back then, it was about fighting for your rights. I’d go in and talk to record companies. They respected the person who brought you in. We were always the token and a part of the clique. It was always about what they wanted for us. Sylvia Rhone was such a leader. She was always like, ‘What do we want to do, YoYo?’ Sometimes that threw me off. I remember I got to the point where I didn’t want to look like a boy. I didn’t want to wear overalls. I wanted to shake my ass and dance. So we had issues there for sure. Sometimes I think she thought it was disrespectful of me because I was so vocal with my opinion and how I saw myself. It wasn’t until Cube had a big fight with the company and I told him, ‘I don’t want to leave.’ I was happy being with a sister who was doing her thing. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. While they worked on their issues, I stayed on and that’s when I started work on ‘Total Control’ because I felt like I had control.”

Hip-Hop Sisterhood
“I’ve always had a relationship with Latifah and Lyte, but [with others] I felt like we always had this crabs in a bucket syndrome. I never really got close to other female artists. My relationship with Latifah and Lyte was really big because it showed sisterhood. We were all speaking the same language. We represented our own identities. I think us doing [the “I Wanna Be Down” remix] together made a statement not only to the world but to ourselves, proving to Atlantic and our respective record labels that we’re able to do something that we still haven’t been able to do [today] by having four women on one song. Lil’ Kim and them did it with ‘Ladies Night,’ but there was always a struggle to show that love because of the way they made us out to be. That’s one of the reasons why I have so much love for MC Lyte and Queen Latifah because they weren’t afraid to reach out and show love, as well as Missy Elliot. We were all doing it for the same reason, to uplift women.”

“Some [women] are intimidated. It’s a confidence thing. A lot of the cliques play on that. I think a lot of women downplay their strength to be friends with other women. But those who are confident in who they are and know where they’re going won’t have that problem, but those who don’t, will.”

“I remember when Missy was really hot. I don’t think I met her then. My people were saying ‘YoYo, Missy loves you.’ I thought that was amazing. You don’t really hear women showing homage to other women, especially back then. When I was on the set of my music video, she sent me flowers saying ‘Good luck on your video.’ I loved her from that day forward. It showed respect when you’ve been fighting for women to be heard. It made me feel really good.”

The Intelligent Black Women Collation (I.B.W.C.)
“The I.B.W.C. is still around. We have a mentoring program for troubled teens here in Los Angeles. We mentor 25 troubled teens per session. We have 10-week sessions for those of ages 10 to 17. We have re-launched and we’re doing some incredible work in our community. The parents who were a part of it then are still supporting us. We have a huge network of mentors and a lot of resourceful people who want to be a part of it.”

What’s Next?
“In 2011, I opened the doors to the YoYo School of Hip-Hop: Arts and Academics Program. We’re now stationed in Los Angeles and Highland Park, Michigan. We teach kids beat production, basic computer skills, engineering skills, creative writing and hip-hop dance. We have a lot of parents put their children in those classes to gain confidence. We have a theater class. The last one was taught by Paula Jai Parker. We’re really doing big things. We use the arts to perfect academics. When the kids go back to school in September, they’re proficient in spelling, writing and English after working all summer long. We currently have a waiting list. It’s very successful.” – Tyler K. McDermott

NEXT: Shawnna

“Shawnna”

Day 4: Shawnna
Shawnna was born with a music pedigree: her father was legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy. So it was only right that the Chicago rapper would make some noise out the gate and tuck a handful of hits under her belt, as a member of Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace and solo (“What’s Your Fantasy?” “Shake Dat Shit,” “Gettin’ Some”). Check out an exclusive premiere of Shawnna’s new single, “Gettin’ To It,” below.

Infamous Syndicate Days
“When me and Lateefa met Kanye [West] it was fireworks. We’re from Chicago, so met though a mutual friend of mine from high-school. We went to the studio the next day. One of the first songs we recorded was one of our biggest songs, ‘Jenny Jonez.’ At the time, we just had one radio station that would play hip-hop on late Sunday night, artists would try to get DJ Corey to spin their music. But for some reason he took a liking to us and immediately put ‘Jenny Jones’ on the radio. It  immediately took off. It got us a deal in a next month.”

“We got one album under Relativity Records, ‘Changing the Game.’ Relativity Records went into default and Loud picked up the artists, like us and Three 6 Mafia. But they gave the artists the opportunity to stay or break contracts.”

“At the time, Lateefa and I were dealing with some things with management which made us disagree on a lot of things. So, we decided to go our separate ways. Coincidentally, that’s around the time that I met Ludacris.”

Meeting Ludacris and Joining Distrubing Tha Peace (DTP)
“While Ludacris was touring, he was on an interview with us on Hot 97. We let him hear a lot of our music afterwards. He told me that he wanted to work with me, which I didn’t believe at first. But, he flew me down to Atlanta to be on the hook for ‘What’s Your Fantasy?’ I did it real fast because I was comfortable; It was a fast rap that I was used to being that was from Chicago.”

“While on set for the video, he told me that he wanted me to be on the remix. He told me it’d have three female rappers: me, Foxy Brown and Trina. I said, ‘No, they’re going to murder me! They’re established!’ I kept asking if I can hear their verses first because I was scared. But I’m glad he didn’t because then I would have built my verse around them instead of doing my own thing. He believed in me, so I laid down my verse and got incredible reception.”

“Worth tha Weight” Album Delay
“It wasn’t anyone’s fault. We wanted to focus on making money and getting experience. The more people saw me the better chance of me having a successful album. We kept coming across opportunities to put me out there, like touring and Ludacris’ idea to make a compilation album. It would give you an idea of what I would come with and put my name in people’s mouth before I would come out solo.”

The Making of “Gettin’ Some (Head)”
“My manger, John Monopoly, and I were looking for a single. At the time, Mike Jones was the hottest out and he’d do this call & response type of rapping. We put that together [with what I was doing]. John called me at 2am in the morning and said, ‘I got our hit!’ He sent it to me and the first thing I hear was: ‘Getting some head.’ I was like, ‘Why do you think we are going to win with this? The radio isn’t even going to play this.’ John was also managing Kanye at the time, so I trusted him but I couldn’t believe that we could have a single about head. I did it though. If you really listen to the lyrics, you’ll hear that I never make any references about anything sexual. We sent it to radio and the rest is serious. I made a classic.”

Leaving DTP
“It was family. I have children. I had been on DTP for 10 years: touring, making albums and shooting videos. I had missed out on so many monumental times with my children, in their younger years. I asked myself, ‘Is it going to be beneficial for me and my kids to continue or should I go home, reevaluate some things, be there for them before its too late? And I just had found out I was pregnant and that was my answer.

Teaming Up with T-Pain
“T-Pain and I threw around the idea of me coming on board and being a part of Nappy Boy. We did some songs to see if we had the right chemistry. But at the time he was going through his own difficulties with his label, Atlantic Records. He eventually left the label and was in talks of signing with Cash Money. That wasn’t something that I wanted to. I didn’t want to seem like I was jumping from crew to crew or being an opportunist.”

Female Rappers vs. The Industry
“At this point in time, in hip-hop, the list goes and on and on with successful male hip-hop artists but you can count the successful female hip-hop artists with one hand. Males don’t have a problem working with each other or creating opportunities with and for each other. We have to break the stereotype that women can’t do that either. It’s a stereotype that’s holding us back.”

What’s Next?
“I came across the beat for my single, “Getting To It,” through Twitter. I sent it over to DJs and they loved it, so we decided to move on it as a single. I love to get feedback from DJs and radio personnel. I have my own ears but they know what’s hot now because of what they’re exposed to.”

“I have tracks on tracks. I always have an album. I’m always recording until the release date. I want to take it one step at a time though, see how the single does.”

“I don’t want to do the independent thing. With the internet [being] so overstated, it’s hard to get out there and put out an album on your own. I want to release some singles, get the clubs back on lock, do some features and get the record labels to reach out to me and talk about a deal. I want put out an album with the power of a label behind me because they have more outlets and connections. With the groundwork I’ve done, labels already  know that I’m marketable. I don’t feel like I should have to do it alone or prove anything. I’ve done that.”

NEXT: Charli Baltimore

“Charli”

Day 3: Charli Baltimore

Charli Baltimore didn’t have the slightest idea of the impact she’d have on hip-hop, when she took Notorious B.I.G.’s advice to transition from ghostwriter to rapper. The teen mom of two daughters at the time, went from proving her skills to those in her personal and professional circles to now co-owning her own label.

Her Relationship with Notorious B.I.G.
“I met him at a show. I wanted a picture of him and he wanted a picture of me. We were out there taking pictures of each other. [Laughs] It was a while before I was siting there writing rhymes and he was critiquing me. We were in the works to start a group called The Commission with myself, him, Puff [Daddy] and Jay Z but we weren’t able to have anything come from that because of B.I.G.’s death.

“I wasn’t intrigued by all that was around him. I look at people for what they are and take them for what they’re worth. I didn’t go out with B.I.G. I went out with Chris. It felt like it was [just] me and him.”

The Story Behind Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s “Get Money” Video
“I’m always playing with my hair color. When B.I.G. asked me to be in the video, he asked me if I can dye my hair back to dark. I said, ‘No!’ I had just colored it blonde. He told me that if I left it blonde there’d be some repercussions. I had never been on a video or video set so I didn’t know the impact it would have. I had no idea it’d come off as us dissing Faith [Evans]. I would never do something like that.”

“It was a total misunderstanding. I just loved my blonde hair and didn’t want to change it. It didn’t click to me because I didn’t know any better. I told B.I.G., ‘You’re the artist, no one is going to care about me.’ I didn’t realize there was going to be much attention on me in the video. It was a learning experience.”

Female Rappers vs. The Industry
“It’s a male-dominated industry. You have to be an MC and a business man so people will respect you. It was hard because when B.I.G. passed, I didn’t have that backing or support. It was a hard climb. I was young, and a teen mom that didn’t know the business. I had the ‘that’s all B.I.G.’ stigma. People didn’t believe that I wrote my own rhymes. I had to prove myself.”

“With my first deal with Sony Records, they wanted an artist with an image and the whole package. It was during the Tommy Mottola era. They were trying to market me as a pop artist, and I am not a pop artist. There’s nothing wrong with that but I don’t consider myself a pop artist. I felt like I was compromising my music. There was a difference between the music they wanted me to make and the music I was making.”

“People would tell the label, ‘she looks uncomfortable’ and ‘it doesn’t feel like its her.’ It’s about being comfortable with yourself.”

“I left Sony because there was a lot of mismanaging of money and misunderstanding. Irv [Gotti] was the one who opened my eyes to it. He came in only trying to make a couple of songs with me for my album “Diary,” and he figured out a way for me to get out of this $1.3 million dollar deal I thought I was stuck in. I found out that I could’ve left at any time. All he did was make a phone call and found out that I could leave if I wanted to. They (Sony) had been telling me that if I got out of my contract I had to owe them money which wasn’t true. Irv made one call and found out it wasn’t true. It diminished this love that I thought I built with Sony. I left before the “Diary” came out. I told them that they can keep the album and there was no bad blood. If it wasn’t supposed to be, then I’m not going to fight it. I was never shelved. I left both deals myself and left my albums with them.”

Murder Inc. Times
“Irv didn’t believe I wrote my rhymes which put another battery on my back. It’s an insult and compliment. He thought Cam’Ron was writing my rhymes. I had to go through bootcamp where he’d lock me in the studio for 48-hours recording and he wanted to make sure I wrote my rhymes. Irv had a vision to make Murder Inc. what it was originally supposed to be which was: Ja Rule, DMX and Jay Z, who all appeared on the cover of XXL. But because of all the politics they couldn’t facilitate it.”

“Irv had a female artist Vita so he never had the intention of signing me. He just wanted to help me because he thought I was dope. I wrote for some of his artists. He told people I could write from the perspective of a girl or a guy. He was running around as my cheerleader.”

“He broke the stereotype that cliques can only have one girl, cause at the time Vita was a part of Murder Inc, and signed me after I killed Ja Rule’s ‘Down Ass Bitch.’ Since Murder Inc was more than a label, there was more camaraderie between us and it soon became a family.”

Unreleased “True Lies” Album
“‘True Lies’ was one of my favorite albums that I did because it was so personal. My mom had just had a stroke and it was hard on us. I’d never experience that with someone so close to me. I was in such pain and turmoil. I was in a dark space spiritually. I just felt like I wrote ‘True Lies’ for myself. It wasn’t meant to come out. It was my therapy.”

“In the midst of getting it ready to come out, I wounded up in situation where I am now, which is co-owner of BMB Entertainment. ‘True Lies’ was my stepping stone to becoming a more spiritual, happy person, that now co-owns a label.”

NEXT: Angel Haze

“Haze”

Day 2: Angel Haze

In the brief time that Angel Haze has been in the rap game, she’s managed to turn heads. The rapper/singer, born in Detroit and raised in Brooklyn, has a fire in her that’s ignited admirable and stripped-down rhymes. Emotions guide Haze’s moves – whether fearless and rebellious (leaking her major label debut album without Universal’s consent) or “out of control” (beefing with Azealia Banks on Twitter). They make her real, which is especially appreciated in hip-hop.

Beginnings

“The way I live my life is that I like to challenge myself, to take on the things I’m not really good at. I’ve always had an affinity for words. I started writing poetry and I said ‘fuck it’ and started doing this (rapping). When I first started rapping I was terrible at it. I’m only now becoming bearable. [Laughs] It became cathartic. I would listen to Eminem and Kanye [West] and said, ‘This is soul-baring music.’ You take an instrumental and you pour yourself on to it and it becomes a sigh of relief. It was really important, especially back then, because I was so angry.”

The Making And Impact Of Her “Cleaning Out My Closet” Remake
“There are a tons of things that I haven’t touched on publicly because I feel like if I can’t cope with them in private I definitely can’t cope with them in public. I can’t have someone listen to my deepest, darkest truths if I’m not ready to.”

“I told myself, ‘Admit it.’ ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ was me wanting to let go. Being 19, [I was] still that angry little girl and wanting to scream all the time. Putting out ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ soothed me.  I can’t listen to that song, though. I’ve only performed it one time. I put it out, and won’t go back. I let it go and it transcended my own personal pain and helped other people.”

“It made me realize how universal music can be. It can touch thousands of people in thousands of different types of ways. I think life is philanthropy. If you’re not living life in a way that you’re helping people, I don’t know if you’re doing it the right way. That record made me realize I really wanted to do this.”

Reconnecting With Her Mother
“We’ve had a real rough two years. We went from not speaking at all to about a month ago, starting to reconnect. As a child, I’m still a child, you get real wrapped up in your anger and want to hate people forever. Listening to Eminem’s ‘Headlights’ made me realize that I don’t want to be old and finally realize [that] my mom did everything she could to raise me. Even if she didn’t do it the right way, she tried. I said everything that I needed to say and if she’s interested in re-building a relationship with me, why not?”

“I can call my mom [now] and tell her that Sean Paul kissed me. [Laughs] We met in an elevator after a show we played. My friends left me on the elevator with him. He hugged me and he kissed me. It was completely accidental but I was so dead. I freaked out: ‘Oh my God, Sean Paul just kissed me!’ If I can call my mom and tell her stupid shit like that then it’s fun for me.”

Women In Hip-Hop
“I think of Lauryn Hill as the woman of hip-hop. I think of her as a music figure because she’s transcended into pop, alternative and she’s all those things and hip-hop at one time. She has a massive following because she poured [out] her soul and did it in a way that was completely authentic to her. I think that’s what makes women in hip-hop so special. You have to be genre-defying.”

“Missy Elliott is beyond rap. Queen Latifah and others have been relentless in their pursuit regardless of  whatever way they were conveyed. Nicki Minaj came out of the gates baring parts of her soul and being one of the most relentless woman in hip-hop. She’s on everyone’s songs, killing everyone from Jay Z to Kanye and she’s still going. It’s admirable.”

“You don’t know how high the ceiling is until someone hits it and [Nicki Minaj] shows us how high you can go.”

Angel Haze Apologizes After Azealia Banks Beef: Watch


Beefing With Azealia Banks

“To be honest, for me it wasn’t an amazing display of character. It was very emotional because it was with someone I knew outside of work. It wasn’t like it was us saying, ‘I’m a better rapper than you.’ It wasn’t an actual battle but more, ‘Why are you being fake?’ Then it was a lack of control of emotions. It wasn’t okay.  I apologized to her personally. I got a bit out of control. You have a problem with someone and you can’t resolve [it], then you have to take the high road. I didn’t. I was a bitch and I regret that. I don’t let people take me out of my element.”

Competition Amongst Female Rappers

“There’s no competitiveness between women rappers now, though people say there is, because we all do this differently. We’re all in different lanes. But the male ego is easily damaged by that. If they can only focus on one woman, they will.”

“My old managers would tell me, ‘You need to do something better than Nicki Minaj.’ I would say, ‘You need to go fall on your dick because I’m doing what I do and that’s it.’ I have a warped perception because I don’t believe in putting women against each other.”

Sexuality In Hip-Hop

“I think it’s very weird how obsessed people have become with sexuality within the past years. People used to shy away from that but over the past few years, especially now with gay marriages, it’s something that people have started focusing on more and intimately so. In the grand scheme, it’s like saying your favorite color is red. It shouldn’t be the main focus of who a person is.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self

“[I’d say,] ‘Bitch, get it together.’ I can’t say I regret coming out the gates projectile-vomiting my demons everywhere but I would have been a lot more cautious as to how quickly I shared myself. Some people are afraid to approach me or think that I’m a bitch because of what I’ve shared. There’s this perception of me that I don’t live up to in person. You put your feelings out there and people think that’s who you are, not who you were.”

“I’ve been doing this for two years and I’ve been letting go. I’ve been getting lighter and I think a part of artistry is evolution. I think the ultimate goal is to be happy.”

What’s Next?

“Seeing how my release went with ‘Dirty Gold,’ I feel like I should spend the rest of this year making [that] album one of the best things about me. It’s one of my first albums. It’s one I put all my work into and I want the world to hear it.”

“I’m going to take some time off at the end of the year, a month or so, and move away to write. I’ll go back in with Markus [Dravs] and do what we do.”

“I’m going to start writing the next album soon. I’ve just been cultivating a sound. I want to do all live instruments this time and move further with the singing. I’ve been taking vocal lessons. To hone in on my craft, I have to take a step forward sonically and vocally.”

NEXT: MC Lyte

MC LYTE

Day 1: MC Lyte

Since she was moved to rap by the soundscapes of Salt-N-Pepa blasting through her boombox, MC Lyte has inspired both men and women to rap at their fullest potential through her sharp lyricism and accomplishments, such as being the first solo female rapper to drop a major label album with 1988’s “Lyte As A Rock.”

Good Ol’ Days
“I remember the days of the New Music Seminar, who were the best, where you had a bunch of talented people in love with this new art form. We’d all gather for the DJs and we’d visit hip-hop clubs once or twice a week to see the latest act, be it Rakim, KRS-One. I remember seeing Public Enemy for the first time at Latin Quarter. There were 15 on this small stage, performing ‘Welcome to the Terrordome.’ It was fantastic.”

Being A Woman In the Industry
“There may have been times when promoters didn’t want to pay me what I deserved. In a line-up they didn’t want to put me where my songs warranted me going. But none of it affected me to a degree to where it mattered. There may have been set-backs but I never let get to me.”

“Labels were signing MCs who were women, and it was all based on skill. It had nothing to do with anything else. I was Sylvia Rhone’s first signing as an executive at Atlantic Records, and she still went on to sign a plethora of female MCs. We were one of the only labels who had three [female MCs] signed at the same time: Yo-Yo, Champ MC [and] J.J. Fad. That was pretty much unheard of, because it felt like every label had [just] one.

“Truth be told, I don’t think many labels understood the difference between each female MC. They thought one female MC should cover the gamut of all female MCs. Sylvia and her team clearly saw the difference between each of us.

“Labels didn’t steer me any kind of way. They just wanted me to be me. All of us, in the late 80s/early 90s, were given the opportunity to express ourselves – lyrically and esthetically – in ways that we chose to. I don’t think it was ’til much later that it became important to others to get in the middle.”

Sisterhood in Hip-Hop
“The conversations between [Queen] Latifah and myself during that time… we are growing up in New York. She was from New Jersey but she spent a lot of time in New York. The overall discussion, which included De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest, was on how we were raised by reggae music, because so many Caribbean families had moved to the New York. We spent a lot of time listening to reggae music and talking about the latest dance trend, latest hip-hop song and just music overall. We are drenched in music and understanding it because we were it.

“It wasn’t until the video shoot for the remix to Brandy’s ‘I Wanna Be Down’ when YoYo and I were really able to come together because she was on the West coast and I was on the East coast. We wound up doing a song for YoYo’s album (“One For the Cuties”), and ever since then YoYo is my sister. All of the hip-hop sisters, in any given day, I can speak to: Yo-Yo, Missy [Elliott], Lil’ Mama [and] Latifah. It is a sisterhood that exists; now it’s just that we all got our lives that we’re living, so it’s pretty cool when we’re able to get together.

“Closeness exists with those who feel it’s necessary to keep those bridges of communication open, and those who feel good on an island stay on it.”

“10% Dis” and Beef Amongst Female Rappers
“To me it’s all a part of hip-hop. Back then, I had only met Antoinette once, and never seen her again except at the World but nonetheless it [’10 % Dis’] was done in the spirit of hip-hop. I was the baddest MC. If you don’t think you’re the baddest MC then you might as well just sit down cause that’s what hip-hop is all about. It’s braggadocio. You can come up and win a different type of way, but you stand the chance of your ground being shaken. You have to put your stakes in and say, ‘I have to come at you some point.’

“That was then. Now there are MCs who can go at one another lyrically, and it’s respected as just that. But then when it comes out of the record, it’s when it becomes an issue. Even then, it feels as though, that with a little time they’re able to work things out. I just saw most recently Rick Ross and Young Jeezy have worked out their differences, which is a big deal. I’m sure there were other guys around who pushed and promoted that to happen. I hope the same for the ladies, if given a space where there’s an altercation that’s able to be worked out.”

Advice To One’s Younger Self
“I’d tell myself, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’re young, you’re just going with the flow, and by the time some of us decide to ask questions, it’s too late. When you ask yourself those questions, you have to be ready for the answers that may cause a certain chain of events to take place. When I finally did ask the questions I also had to make the decisions to leave management. Also, I don’t think anyone understands to be in the present moment until we’re older.”

What’s Next?
“I’ve been carving out time from A&Ring and Sunni Gyrl.I’m recording my new album. It’s a merge of what’s happening now, and what was happening then. Strong bass lines really work well with my delivery. The crew of people that I’m working with, called the Natives, have been able to tap into a sound that’s great for me. There are eight musicians that are varied in age, so it lends itself puling in everything that’s happening that’s going in music today.

“Lyrically, a lot of it has to do with love: be it looking for it, being misguided, being disappointed, being hopeful… The music speaks to me, and this is the story that should be told with this particular body of music.”

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Best camera for kids 2021: easy to use and durable cameras for children http://www.jacphotographic.com/best-camera-for-kids-2021-easy-to-use-and-durable-cameras-for-children/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/best-camera-for-kids-2021-easy-to-use-and-durable-cameras-for-children/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:24:17 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1905

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Letters, Jan. 10: ‘Let’s not get carried away on these travellers’ http://www.jacphotographic.com/letters-jan-10-lets-not-get-carried-away-on-these-travellers/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/letters-jan-10-lets-not-get-carried-away-on-these-travellers/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:21:38 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1902

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LET IT GO
Who has been credited with having said something like: “Let he among you without sin cast the first stone?” Seems to me that a lot of Albertans likely ‘bent the rulings’ a bit during the Christmas holidays, as far as visiting other family households goes. But as far as I know, no passport-bearing Canadian citizen was refused boarding of an airplane after negative COVID screening wherein the ‘shamed politicians’ were just waved through the line-up and allowed to go? Parents (Premier Jason Kenney) must be held accountable for the sins of their children/MLAs and heads must roll? Yes, their behaviour is shameful, but worthy of a death penalty? Ms. Notley is quick to point out that none in her party had left the country during the holidays … Wow ! Such command over the ‘troops’, eh ? She is obviously privy to, and responsible for, the actions of all her people? Chairman Justin has seen the resignation of certain MPs for similar travel ‘travesties’ but who has been asking for his head, too? They simply quit their post to ‘save the emperor’, I’m guessing. Should a number of ‘naughty’ UCP MLAs and even our premier be tossed aside over this? Don’t change horses in the middle of a stream. Wake up! Just don’t be woke, eh!
DAN DRINKALL
(We’d have taken up a donation for the NDP to go away for Christmas.)

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NEW TAXES
Justin Trudeau has just saddled Canadians with a new carbon tax. Now we have income tax, carbon tax 1, provincial sales taxes in most provinces and now carbon tax 2, which appears to be so onerous that it could bankrupt most farmers and transportation companies and all because (Trudeau) hates Alberta and Saskatchewan. The debt that will accumulate, along with chasing investors away, will turn Canada into a Third World country for our children and grandchildren and the latte lifters in Central Canada will be wondering why we are complaining and not being good little colonies. So we have a tax on a tax on a tax on a tax. We really cannot afford this entitled Liberal government and any Canadian with an ounce of common sense (which apparently isn’t so common) should be wondering what in the hell did we do to deserve this band of thieves.
MURRAY McANDREWS
(Good times ahead, eh?)

AVAILABLE TO ALL
Politicians made terrible choices to take trips abroad. But, they broke no laws, or got special treatment, they did what any other Canadian could have done. Somehow, vacations must be essential. Two separate acquaintances went international for Christmas. They kept it very quiet. You can’t invite family over for Christmas. But, with COVID, flights and BnB’s are cheap, it’s the one legal way to spend Christmas with your family and grandchildren. When I hear the government saying we need to stop non-essential travel, I expect politicians to be doubly strict. But, to demand that Kenney fire people who didn’t pull any strings, and didn’t break the law, just so they could spend the holidays with family, seems harsh. We can show our displeasure with our votes. Some 1,600 Canadians flew to Hawaii in December, many more flew somewhere else. Should all those people lose their jobs, when they broke no laws?
BOB WILSON
(You don’t need to break laws to be wrong. When you are part of the team locking down Albertans for Christmas, you don’t find a way to escape the process.)

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DANGER TO PUBLIC
The other day I was driving down by Elbow Dr. and Heritage and witnessed an elderly man, possibly in his late 70s, early 80s, struggling to cross a sidewalk with snow piled up over knee high where he was to cross, forcing him to walk along the road into oncoming traffic because the snow was still not cleared properly going on two weeks from the initial snow storm on Dec. 21, 2020. This elderly person’s safety was put at high risk due to the absolute incompetence and laziness of our pathetic city snow-clearing crews, What an absolute joke! This is two weeks on and sidewalks are piled with snow and side streets are still swamped with snow, causing vehicles to get stuck and putting people’s safety at risk. The city should be ashamed of itself as I have showed other people online elsewhere in the country this pathetic situation in our city and they say what the hell? What a joke and city hall, don’t give your pathetic excuses we need to save money and the chinooks will melt it all away, so let’s just not complain about it. Do your damn job, stop being so pathetically cheap and get on the city crews to clear the roads so elderly people and people with mobility issues don’t need to walk into oncoming traffic just to get around!
CAM KOSMACHUK
(Whoever’s responsibility this is, they are continually getting it wrong. Maybe it’s time someone else took a shot.)

STOP THE MARCHERS!
Why is nobody stopping those freedom marchers from gathering? They aren’t wearing masks, they are going against all the rules, and it doesn’t look like anyone is doing anything to stop them? And they are not only gathering in large groups in Calgary, but also in Red Deer, Edmonton, and other cities across Canada. Furthermore, they have been doing this on every Saturday for months! What do we have to do to stop them? If the police aren’t doing anything, or if you tell me that everyone’s hands are tied, then why are the rest of us holed up in our homes, following the rules, and the city officials are allowing these people to do what they want? It doesn’t seem fair at all! Please tell me what I, as a tax-paying, law-abiding citizen can do to stop this from happening.
TINA RUIZ
(Just ignore them.)

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WHERE’S MY JAB?
So some government officials were caught with their pants down travelling outside of the country. What can you expect from holier-than-thou government bureaucrats and politicians. Ultimately they will be punished in one form or another so now let’s move on and press on to more important issues. Where is the COVID-19 vaccine and when will the general population start receiving it so that this time next year many more of us may have the opportunity to travel to warmer climes?
PAT ANCELIN
(It’s gonna take some time.)

THEIR CHOICE
The lack of common sense on the part of our politicians is indeed appalling, but we start down a slippery slope when we demand that they are fired for choosing to travel, for whatever reason! We are a country built on freedom and democracy, and last I checked, travel was not banned, and remains a possibility for each one of us. However, by refusing our politicians their right to exercise that choice (as poor a choice as it was) we should not be surprised when they turn around and deny us the right to make those same choices. I, for one, will be dismayed if international travel is banned, if only because the knowledge that I can travel gives me hope in these dismal times that perhaps I will find a way to do it.
LINDA HOPKINS
(It’s not about the act of travelling, it’s the optics of it after Albertans have been locked down.)

WHO IS AN EXPERT?
I have a bit of a “spidey sense” when I read news articles, or watch news broadcasts. It involves the overused term “expert”. Licia Corbella’s article on spreading lies set it off. She mentions a Netflix documentary, stating, “The Social Dilemma, described by media experts as ‘the most important documentary of our times.’ ” When I read these kind of statements, I wonder what makes someone an expert, especially a media expert? Is this a tenured position at some university? Is it an appointment voted on by members of the media? Or is it simply someone who watches a lot of TV? (Hi, mom). I’ve worked in and around the media for over 30 years, but if someone was to ask me my title, I would be very reluctant to use the word “expert”. Luckily the statement above also included a link to what she was referencing. It appears to be a single article, or review by a single reporter. I guess we are to believe Alexi Duggins is a “media expert” and whatever is submitted by this person should be taken as gospel? As Ms. Corbella’s article goes on to explain, a good reporter verifies the facts before submitting them for print.
GLENN SAKATCH
(Experts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are certified or licensed, others are just incredibly knowledgeable on certain topics. And yes, some likely have no clue what they are talking about.)

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STAYING SAFE
I’m a 58-year-old man, living with my wife and mother. My wife is also 58, and is into her 21st year of an MS diagnosis (that’s multiple sclerosis, by the way). My mother is 81. Guess what we did for Christmas, eh? If you have an IQ over 65, you would say we were at home isolating like nearly everyone else. Normally, my mother would be in Mexico for the winter. Her IQ is definitely over 65. My wife and I would be preparing for a trip to our time-share for her birthday in February. We have, of course, cancelled our vacation, somewhat devastating my wife. Both our IQs are also over 65. There are truly no rational words that can be used to describe how us “commoners” feel about the backstabbing inflicted on us by our leaders? Our beloved Ralph Klein was the last of Alberta’s political leaders, for that matter, the last real political leader in Canada. Our prime minister is a black-faced crook, with an agenda that has more to do with China, and nothing to do with Canada’s interests. Our Premier (Jason) Kenney is a jellyfish, who is terrified of his position. No leadership qualities whatsoever. Canada is a mess. We need leaders. Western Canada has to become a distinct society. Where’s the leaders? I’ll do it for free!
LORNE RANKINE
(We’re holding out for a hero.)

STAY AT HOME
We are all enduring the recommendations of public health officials as we navigate life in a pandemic. One of those recommendations has been to avoid non-essential travel. ‘Ski at your local hill’, we are told. Alberta has many excellent ski hills yet my local hill has predominantly Albertan vehicles in the lots. Is it little wonder you aren’t being received as hospitably as you’d like? It is really no different than the reaction Albertans had to being told to stay home and have no company for the holidays, only to learn the folks spouting those rules flew off to Hawaii! Locals living in border ski towns would love to have you visit … after the pandemic is under control! Come on, Calgarians and your fellow Albertans, ski at home this season.
JEAN HAINES
(Common sense tells us that’s the best thing to do. However …)

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BONUS LETTERS — ONLINE ONLY

LOOK BACK IN ANGER
I regret sending the email this morning. It was composed and produced under stress and anger and I know better than doing something like that. Now that I’ve had a bit more time to reflect on this situation, I have an overwhelming need to flesh out my opinions and thoughts. I believe there are many Albertans that share in my distress. Points to ponder and might as well start at the top: Justin Trudeau. At your earliest convenience, please slime back under the rock from whence you came. Jason Kenney. If memory serves correctly, there were several instances of underhanded activities when Alberta conservatives were looking for a new leader. What comes to mind is a sign in a local bar in Caroline, Alberta, and it says “keep your city out of my country”. Well Mr. Kenney, “Keep your Ottawa out of my Alberta”. You sir, are proving to be an Ottawa politician through and through. Take it back home where you belong! As your employer. I say to you, “you’re fired”. When you try to lighten the load for the politicians under your “leadership” and you say we all make mistakes, you’re right, we do and it looks like you and your minions have been one of our mistakes. Surely to goodness there has to be someone out there to lead this great province and believe me when I say, there ain’t no one I’ve seen lately that would hold a candle to Ralph. Where, pray tell, are we to find decent people to lead us through the most trying times this province has seen in many years. Jason, there are several people you need to fire and it needs to be done this week. Do you have the prairie oysters to do that? (NDP? Good heavens, no thank you!) Best they can do is belittle each and every effort that anyone else makes. (Not an oyster to be found in this bunch). Jeremy. Yup, back to you again. Still got your full wage? Full pensions? Of course you do. How else could you afford a sunny and warm vacation over Christmas? The rest of us? Ah, who cares? Certainly isn’t you, is it? Nor the rest of your ilk. Why, oh why, have the politicians not stood up and confirmed that yes, indeed, small businesses are closing, bankrupting, and in dire straits. The waitress single mother? Where is she these days? Why are your flapping mouths not telling us all of you are prepared to take 20, 30 or 50% wage cuts to help Alberta coffers recover. What is wrong with you people? As long as your trough is full, you really don’t give a damn, do you? Yes, indeed, I am seriously pissed off. I don’t see a ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel when you folks are more equal than the rest of us commoners. You’re a bunch of bleeping crooks and the very sad part of that? I don’t have any ideas on what to do about it. Use my feet and vote? I always do, otherwise I have no right to complain. Who do we vote for? The best damn liar this side of the Alberta border, whoever he or she might be. Same thing at the federal level. Bunch of bleeping crooks.
DAVID LITWILLER
(Is trust in our politicians at an all-time low?)

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NOT TOUGH ENOUGH
Great column by Rick Bell in the Jan. 2 edition. I totally agree. I am in a real quandary now. Jason Kenney has once again disappointed by not (originally) holding the members of his caucus accountable for their recent behaviour and “do as I say, not as I do” attitude by travelling out of the country. Yes it may have been within acceptable parameters, but the optics stink. Jason Kenney should have fired them all as the leader of the NDP in Alberta said. Believe me, I never thought in a million years that I would ever agree with the opposition, but on this front I do. The quandary I am in now is, come the next election, what do I do. I will never vote NDP or Liberal. The UCP continues to disappoint as Kenney, in my opinion, has not been forceful enough with the feds and continues to justify a lack of concrete action. His handling of the COVID crisis has been significantly less than stellar, and now this. We continue to get kicked by the federal government and nothing is getting done. If we are waiting for a change in the federal government, we are barking up the wrong tree because there are no options there, either. Erin O’Toole, in my opinion, cannot win a majority government. Pierre Poilievre might have had a chance but unfortunately he is not the leader of the Conservatives. It is time for Alberta to take a strong decisive stance towards separation. I have lost so much faith in virtually all politicians. It seems election promises mean nothing once the individual or party are elected and the electorate has absolutely zero recourse to hold elected members accountable, other than at election time, which generally occurs every four years. When there are no real choices at election time, then what? Just look at the damage Trudeau is doing and, at the moment, he doesn’t even have a majority government. I believe the federal NDP are worse than the Liberals because they are supporting the destructive agenda for their own gain. My family came to Canada over 60 years ago. Up until about four years ago, I was a proud Canadian but today I am feeling more ashamed of Canada than I am proud. We are headed for disaster and there is little to nothing many of us can do about it.
JOHN WADDELL
(There are no guarantees a separatist leader would be any better than the ones we have now.)

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THEM AND US
I am at the end of my seventh decade, still sound of mind, and still paying a fair bit of attention to the political scene — municipally, provincially and federally. I have been witness, over many years, to countless examples of greed, hypocrisy, arrogance, ethics violations, and incompetence on the part of our elected officials. With shocking frequency since the ascension of Justin Trudeau; ramped up during the almost year of the Wuhan/CCP/COVID pandemic. The old adage about power corrupting is playing out with unerring accuracy as we witness the ‘them-and-us’ mentality of those making decisions, spending taxpayer dollars, and instituting pandemic regulations. We ‘Thems’ have masked up, sanitized, and for the most part, followed draconian restrictions regarding where we can go, who we can see … and in what numbers. Birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, weddings — and funerals — have been lonely, minimally attended events. Small businesses have been decimated. Churches are virtually empty. Big-box stores and malls, however, carry on with just a few hiccups. Many loved ones have died without a family member sharing their passing. An exchange of latexed hands being their last touch with another human … usually a health-care practitioner. The ‘Us’ folks, the ones issuing directives, warnings, and platitudes about proper pandemic behaviour, are being exposed as complete and utter frauds … or at least a goodly number of them. International travel, roundly discouraged by all levels of government, has been blithely ignored by the well-paid, well-padded types who head off to various exotic — and decidedly warmer — locales. MP Ron Liepert has a Palm Desert vacation home desperately needing ‘repairs’. Tanya Fir has a sister to visit in Las Vegas. Niki Ashton has an ailing grandmother in Greece. Tracy Allard just couldn’t bear to break the 17-year tradition of family get-togethers in Hawaii. Rod Phillips just couldn’t cancel that couples package to St. Barts. Almost all of these jet-setters went to some lengths to present a picture of ‘at-home’ to their constituents in Canada. Rod Phillips looked toasty sitting next to his fireplace … warm sweater … cookies and milk on a side table. Tanya Fir was photographed on what looked like her back deck … snow everywhere. The MLA vacationing in Mexico didn’t bother with subterfuge: there he was, beaming for the camera, thumbs-up, in an adventure cave. A flurry of apologies has followed these travel revelations — a few resignations and a number of slap-on-the-wrist demotions. Premiers Doug Ford and Jason Kenney have taken responsibility for their errant underlings by claiming they should have been a whole lot clearer about the no-travel thing. Countless politicians are now rushing to assure us that they were home — here with the regular folks — over Christmas. (Those who haven’t yet ‘fessed up’ are no doubt experiencing panic attacks at the prospect of being found out). “We’re all in this together”? To Canadian politicians of every stripe: promise — hand-over-heart — to never resort to that patronizing, condescending platitude in exhorting the rest of us to play by the rules. Too many of you have just thoroughly defiled them.
BARBARA JESSIMAN
(That pretty much sums it up.)

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MISPLACED VOTE?
Christmas holiday travel not advised, except by MLAs and government officials. I contacted the premier with this letter: Mr. Kenney, I am questioning why I ever voted UCP in the last election. It is with extreme disappointment and anger that I learned of members of your government travelling during this pandemic lockdown. Surely, they knew better than to even consider travelling? But obviously not. And I am incensed that you, the leader, (initially) announced that there will be no sanctions, and no consequences as a result of their poor judgment? I can only assume that your response to their poor judgment call was formulated because you knew of their plans beforehand and condoned them! This is a slap in the face to all who voted for the UCP, and indeed, all Albertans who have abided by and suffered under your lockdown requirements. It’s obviously one rule for you and your government pals, while the rest of us in the real world suffer the isolation, restrictions, and business losses that you recklessly imposed upon us. It is shameful behaviour, Mr. Premier, and I hope you, along with the travelling MLAs and other government officials, know that this breach of our trust will be remembered come election time!
DEBORAH HOTVEDT
(This has damaged the UCP.)

CHOOSE WISELY
An honest but very accurate “blanket” explanation for the current status of Canada/provinces, our health care, COVID, taxes, and most everything else, whether it be on a national level, provincial, or within the larger cities. “Garbage in, garbage out.” So often (too often), people get “taken in” by smooth talk and overwhelming promises/wants/beliefs/desires. All a politician has to do is say/promise the words people want to hear, to sell themselves. Canadians keep electing poor representation over and over and expect different and better results. This is the root cause of present day problems/situations, “doing the same thing over and over and over then, expecting bigger, different with more positive results” All our politicians are failing this country, and people. From the very top, and all the way to the bottom. But we keep electing them anyway, in the same way for the same promises, hopes and expectations. Whoever can spin the biggest, the brightest, and the most wonderful tale/yarn wins. And along with this roll/title of leader, comes absolutely no accountability or blame associated for any wrongdoings, including those under the chosen leadership. But blame can easily be assigned to all others as needed and required. Simply put, as a country, as a province and cities, you get what you elect. Elect poorly, get poor results, repeat the same over and over, get even poorer results over and over. Given the status in and across Canada, Canadians are getting the deserved results for poor choices … past … and especially present.
ROLLY KLAEPATZ
(It doesn’t make us look that smart, does it?)

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JUST THE FACTS, PLEASE
An email directed to all members of city council: Where did you spend the holiday season, Joe (Magliocca)? The taxpayers of this once great city have a right to know. I have no intention of letting this go until I get an answer. While I understand you are allowed personal time and privacy, you need to understand that as an elected public official, you are held to a higher standard than the average Calgarian. Thought you might have gotten that message after last summer’s expense account fiasco. Apparently/obviously not! These are very unusual times and we as a city, province and country need to be able to look to our leaders for … dare I say, leadership? It would be pretty much impossible to convince me you didn’t know anything about travel advisories from both provincial and federal governments, especially in view of the fact that his purpleness has been all over Premier (Jason) Kenney to initiate restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID. The members of council need to pursue this issue! Well, we’re waiting …
S. MURRELL
(This is what happens when you no longer have the benefit of the doubt.)

BLAME OTTAWA
Umendra Deo is concerned about the cost of food. Deo ought to look at Ottawa and not Edmonton. Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau has Canadians paying a carbon tax and then there’s the clean fuel standards legislation. The carbon tax is paid by trucking companies and warehouses are subjected to the Clean Fuel Standards Act, which uses fuel to heat the facility and to operate machinery. Deo mentions greenhouses, but that produce still has to be trucked to market. As well, PM Trudeau has increased the rate of payroll deductions that companies have to remit to Ottawa. All those costs are passed onto the consumer and someone has to pay for it and that someone is you.
JEFFREY ANDERSON
(Costs of doing business keep rising.)

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INTO THE FIRE
After four years of “Orange Man Bad”, it will be interesting indeed to watch the media and how they will handle that feeble, 78-year-old who is now the new POTUS. Personally, I think the media honeymoon for Joe Biden will be short for a variety of reasons, as he and his family have a lot of very questionable personal baggage that up until now has been totally ignored by the MSM. If you can place a bet somewhere that VP Kamala Harris will be sitting in the Oval Office inside two years, take it, it’s a sure bet.
LARRY CANTREL
(That’s how the system works, if it comes to that.)

STAY OUT OF IT, J.T.
Why am I not surprised that our joke of a PM has the gall to call out (Donald) Trump for the recent mobs in Washington. Perhaps our PM should pay more attention to what’s going on in his own backyard. I for one am not interested in anything he has to say on any subject. The coverage of this incident is completely false and contrived, several news/radio channels report that four people were killed during these riots. That was not the case. One woman was killed by police and the other three suffered medical emergencies — but I guess we’re now calling that murder. No matter what you think of Trump, the media including outlets like Facebook and Instagram are responsible for this mess and are as guilty as anyone for inciting those riots. Is it any wonder why the world is in the state it is today? God help the people of the U.S., sadly they are in for a very turbulent ride.
C. MATTHEWS
(Four people died. No one said they were murdered.)

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RIGHT NEIGHBOURLY
I wish to offer my best wishes to the new United States of China from a neighbour in Chinada.
NORMA SIMMS
(You know something we don’t?)

NO CENSORSHIP
Re: Licia Corbella’s (column) on ‘lies on social media’. Ms. Corbella’s Orwellian description and self-appointed solution to ‘fake news’ is frightening. In a free society, open discussion of ideas and questioning of political leadership is to be encouraged, not filtered. As usual, the smug Canadian view notably put forth by ‘mainstream media’ and a called-upon ‘expert’ is shoved down our collective throats! No thanks! Canadians and Americans have not been well served by inquisitive, un-biased, objective ‘journalists’, instead, the public have been smothered by ideologues and activists seeking to further elitist agendas. Ms. Corbella only furthers the narrow and dangerous strategy of the Trudeau socialists. The answer is not to allow the Liberals or any other political party the ability to define and control what can and can’t be discussed or suppressed in a democracy. The role of ‘big tech’ suppressing free speech is threatening democracy and must be an integral part of an open and free debate. As a democratic society, we do not require Orwellian controls to ‘protect us’ from open discussion, as distasteful that might be to political and ‘mainstream media’ elites.
TONY O’CONNOR
(The fabric of society is being torn apart, often based on deliberate misinformation. It is scary.)

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DAY OF HATE
Jan. 6, 2021 comes along and what happens? Conservatives of America and police of America commit acts of riots and treason and of course will pay no price for either. I for one am disgusted by the actions of (Donald) Trump and his supporters on this given day. The violence, bigotry, and hatred displayed by these people are inexcusable, unacceptable, and completely repugnant, reprehensible and traitorous. Trump and his imbecilic minions should be fully prosecuted by law and hopefully imprisoned for life. As well, I have a simple question: where were law enforcement officers during all of this? The answer came to me as I was typing the question. These were armed Caucasian people, not unarmed African American citizens. The cowards in law enforcement not only did nothing to prevent this insurrection but video has surfaced to show they not only removed barricades and let these maniacs in the buildings but also took selfies with them. And please nobody have the audacity to say that not all law enforcement behaves this way, because those who stand by and do nothing but protect “The Blue Wall” are just as guilty as those pro-active scumbags hiding behind the uniform and badges they have betrayed. As a Caucasian man, today at work somebody asked me if these actions by these people shamed me and my answer was simple: No, as a white man I am not ashamed of these cowards’ actions but as a member of the human race, I certainly am. And the part I am waiting to see will be when the spin doctors in Trump land blame these actions on Antifa and the BLM movements.
CHRIS NEVEU
(The storming of the Capitol was as surreal as it gets.)

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PLEASE RUN, SIR
I do hope that (Naheed) Nenshi runs for mayor again, we can finally deliver the message once an for all that Calgary doesn’t need or want the likes of his childish leadership. A mayor’s job is to unite, not divide, and he has taken every opportunity to divide from his own council to taking shots at our premier. The recent calling out of (Jason) Kenney’s staff for their vacationing is only one example of this pompous, arrogant excuse of a mayor. All the while full knowing that his own staff did the same. QR77 radio actually praised Nenshi’s actions because he divulged that his own staff took vacation. What they left out was that was only once the firestorm hit. Par for the course, seeing as how Nenshi gets a regular forum to spew on their morning show. Just another example of our misleading and biased media. To those calling for Kenney’s resignation, why are you not calling for Nenshi’s as well? Where were you when our so called PM pulled the same stunt? He kept his job even after doing much worse. Rachel Notley doesn’t like that Kenney is using Redford’s old digs, what would she recommend? Additional dollars be spent to house his staff elsewhere? Stupidity at its best.
C. MATTHEWS
(There’s more noise and rhetoric these days than most of us can handle.)

SAVE THE YOUNG?
Re: Rick Bell’s column Jan. 8. I agree with most of Rick’s comments over the past week concerning Premier Jason Kenney and his flying minions. However, towards the end of today’s column, he makes reference to, I believe, Dr. Hinshaw saying, “We’d sure like to see the needle actually going into the arms of more old people. Then the deaths from this virus will go down. Then the COVID patients in hospitals will go down.” I for one do not see the logic in this statement. Old people live to die. It is nature’s way. The older you are, the closer you are to life’s exit. The official cause of death for most “old people” is natural causes, either respiratory or heart failure. COVID may hasten this result but so will myriad other problems. Much has been said about the herd mentality. In any herd, except for humans, protection of the young is foremost. Assuming that the vaccines will be effective, and this may be a stretch, should not the young and the worker bees have the highest priority?
DICK VARLEY
(That’s just a cold thing to say, Dick. We are not elk. We appreciate and do whatever we can for those of older generations we love and value.)

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Best Horror Movies on Netflix: Scary Movies to Stream Right Now http://www.jacphotographic.com/best-horror-movies-on-netflix-scary-movies-to-stream-right-now/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/best-horror-movies-on-netflix-scary-movies-to-stream-right-now/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:19:35 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1896

You might want to keep the lights on while you watch these.

‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ | A24/DirecTV Cinema

‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ | A24/DirecTV Cinema

Looking for something other than horror? Check out the best movies on Netflix right now

The greatest horror movies of all time get under your skin with original conceits. They sharpen your paranoia to burrow down into your brain. They grab hold of your heart with iconic imagery—you’ll never forget Freddy’s claws, no matter how hard you try.

Most of the major streaming services take spooky, scary dramas quite seriously, including Netflix. So switch off the lights, grab a blanket, and hold your nearest loved one—these stream-ready horror movies are here to fill your head with nightmares. Have fun!

netflix alive movieNetflix

Inadvertently capturing a very specific 2020 vibe, #Alive stars Ah-in Yoo (Burning) as Joon-woo, a sweatpants-clad video game livestreamer who inadvertently becomes a witness to a zombie apocalypse happening right on his doorstep. Where most modern zombie movies use technology to draw metaphors about glassy-eyed millennials and their screens (oooh), #Alive, instead, allows phones, drones, and Internet connections to bring survivors together in a world where survival means staying indoors at all costs. Sound familiar?

apostleWarren Orchard/Netflix

Apostle (2018)

For his follow-up to his two action epics, The Raid and The Raid 2, director Gareth Evans dials back the hand-to-hand combat but still keeps a few buckets of blood handy in this grisly supernatural horror tale. Dan Stevens stars as Thomas Richardson, an early 20th century opium addict traveling to a cloudy island controlled by a secretive cult that’s fallen on hard times. The zealous religious group is led by a bearded scold named Father Malcolm (Michael Sheen) who may or may not be leading his people astray. Beyond a few bursts of kinetic violence and some crank-filled torture sequences, Evans plays this story relatively down-the-middle, allowing the performances, the lofty themes, and the windswept vistas to do the talking. It’s a cult movie that earns your devotion slowly, then all at once.

the blair witch projectArtisan Entertainment

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The paranormal flick follows three student filmmakers who travel to an eerie forest in Maryland where they’re determined to uncover the myth of the Blair Witch. It may be complete fiction, but it paved the way for modern horror, and if you allow yourself to believe in the “found footage” documentary style film, prepare to be terrified by this modern horror classic.

the babysitterNetflix

The Babysitter (2017) & The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)

One preteen boy’s (Judah Lewis) fantasy about his babysitter (Samara Weaving) turns into a nightmare when it’s revealed she and her hot friends dabble in human sacrifices. Director McG’s self-aware spin on the babysitter slasher is more comedy than horror, delivering a bloody fun time in a stylish manner. Archetypes get turned on their heads, laugh lines punctuate almost every scene, and reality mostly ceases to exist while our hero tries to learn some sort of lesson. It’s goofy mayhem in all the right ways. When you’re finished, jump to its sequel, which has Lewis’s Cole running from another night of cult-y mayhem. If you hit play, please don’t ruin a good thing by taking it too seriously.

before i wakeNetflix

Before I Wake (2016)

Though debated by genre purists, this one most definitely qualifies as a horror flick; it just happens to be a “soft” horror film with an actual heart that parents could probably watch with their kids. It’s about a couple, played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane, who adopts a kid (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams become physically real while he sleeps. If you’re looking for shocks and kills, you may want to skip this one for now, but Before I Wake is an impressive piece of work from the very consistent horror filmmaker Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game).

the blackcoat's daughterA24

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

Two young women are left behind at school during break… and all sorts of hell breaks loose. This cool, stylish thriller goes off in some strange directions (and even offers a seemingly unrelated subplot about a mysterious hitchhiker) but it all pays off in the end, thanks in large part to the three leads—Emma Roberts, Lucy Boynton, and Kiernan Shipka—and director Oz Perkins’ artful approach to what could have been just another occult-based gore-fest.

the boySTX Entertainment

The Boy (2016)

While not the best movie out there about a woman in a creepy house menaced by a possessed doll, The Boy has its stans, and we’re here to add to that number. When Greta (Lauren Cohan), arrives at the Heelshire estate to start her job as a nanny for the family’s young son, at first she thinks she’s the victim of a practical joke: the boy, Brahms, is merely a porcelain doll that an elderly couple treats like a real child—and they expect Greta to do the same. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that there’s something… off… about Brahms. He’s unusually active for an inanimate object.

bullet headLionsgate

Bullet Head (2017)

Remember the badass 1992 action flick Trespass? Ice Cube, Ice-T, Bill Paxton, and Bill Sadler. It’s about a bunch of crooks hiding out in a warehouse while their recent heist falls apart. How about the 1993 sci-fi/horror movie Man’s Best Friend, in which a killer dog makes trouble for Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen? Bullet Head is virtually the offspring of those two movies. A bunch of crooks (John Malkovich, Adrian Brody, Rory Culkin) find themselves trapped in a warehouse with a killer pitbull. It’s that simple. While much of the film is darkly entertaining, it does (fair warning) contain some simulated dog violence that may upset some viewers, so beware.

calibreNetflix
More than two men going on a vacation together in a horror film is never a good idea. Calibre, a horror tale that follows two childhood friends on a hunting trip in the Scottish Highlands, is a clever and tense entry in this long tradition of male bonding gone haywire. Father-to-be Vaughn (Jack Lowden) and his gruffer buddy Marcus (Martin McCann) aren’t as close as they used to be, but the trip loosens them up and rekindles their friendship. After a tragic accident occurs in the woods, Marcus makes a decision that the more reserved, contemplative Vaughn regrets. Director Matt Palmer finds psychological nuance in this well-trodden material, making a familiar hike feel like a brand new journey into the unknown.
the call NAMKO/Netflix

The Call (2020)

Take a slice of the “people communicating across different time lines” premise from movies like Frequency and The Lake House—only this time one of the temporal communicators is a psychotic serial killer who is using the situation for very nefarious deeds. This unpredictable Korean export from Chung-Hyun Lee juggles more than a few tones and subtexts, and does it quite craftily.

cam netflixNetflix

Cam (2018)

Unlike the Unfriended films or the indie hit Searching, this web thriller from director Daniel Goldhaber and screenwriter Isa Mazzei isn’t locked into the visual confines of a computer screen. Though there’s plenty of online screen time, allowing for subtle bits of commentary and satire, the looser style allows the filmmakers to really explore the life and work conditions of their protagonist, rising cam girls like Alice (Madeline Brewer). We meet her friends, her family, and her customers. That type of immersion in the granular details makes the scarier bits—like an unnerving confrontation in the finale between Alice and her evil doppelgänger—pop even more.

creep - best horror movies on netflixThe Orchard

Creep (2014)

Patrick Brice’s found-footage movie is a no-budget answer to a certain brand of horror, but saying more would give away its sinister turns. Just know that the man behind the camera answered a Craigslist ad to create a “day in the life” video diary for Josef (Mark Duplass), who really loves life. Creep proves that found footage, the indie world’s no-budget genre solution, still has life, as long as you have a performer like Duplass willing to go all the way.

creep 2The Orchard

Creep 2 (2017)

The first Creep proved to be a quietly compelling and calmly creepy story about a man who unwittingly befriends a real… well, creep played by Mark Duplass. Unfortunately, for online documentary filmmaker Sarah (Desiree Akhavan), the creep is back, as she’ll soon find out, in various odd and unsettling ways. But what happens when the creep’s potential victim refuses to be, well, creeped out? Akhavan seems to be a perfect foil for Duplass’ quietly unhinged lunatic, and together they cook up an oddly satisfying sequel to a satisfyingly odd predecessor.

the conjuringWarner Bros.

The Conjuring (2013) & The Conjuring 2 (2016)

James Wan’s horror duology inspired by the lives of real haunting experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) spawned a whole franchise full of nuns, Annabelles, and weeping ghosts, but it’s the first two Conjuring movies that continue to make us shriek long after the spin-offs have worn out their welcome. The first movie focuses on the ghost of a witch that haunts a farmhouse, and the second takes the Warrens to England where they meet the famous Enfield poltergeist. Let’s just say you’ll never ever want to play hide-and-clap with your friend after watching these.

gerald's gameNetflix

Gerald’s Game (2017)

Like another one of his low-budget Netflix-released horror movies, Hush—a captivity thriller about a deaf woman fighting off a masked intruder—Mike Flanagan’s Stephen King adaptation of Gerald’s Game wrings big scares from a small location. Sticking close to the grisly plot details of King’s seemingly “unfilmable” novel, the movie chronicles the painstaking struggles of Jessie Burlingame (Carla Gugino) after she finds herself handcuffed to a bed in an isolated vacation home when her husband, the titular Gerald, dies from a heart attack while enacting his kinky sexual fantasies. She’s trapped—and that’s it. The premise is clearly challenging to sustain for a whole movie, but Flanagan and Gugino turn the potentially one-note set-up into a forceful, thoughtful meditation on trauma, memory, and resilience in the face of near-certain doom.

a ghost storyA24

A Ghost Story (2017)

Admittedly less of a “ooh scary” horror movie and more of a meditative look at life and death through the mournful eyes of a bedsheet ghost, A Ghost Story, directed by David Lowery and starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck as the titular spirit, is beautiful, heartbreaking, and strange. The ghost of a man who dies in a car crash remains in the house he and his wife lived in, watching her attempt to move on and eventually move out, and befriending another ghost who lives next door. The film moves through the years and into the future, before looping back around to the past, a small-scale Odyssey of love and heartbreak. And, yes, Rooney Mara ate that entire chocolate pie in a single take.

the guestPicturehouse

The Guest (2014)

A family grieving the loss of their eldest son, a soldier who died at war in Afghanistan, welcomes a stranger named David (Dan Stevens) who arrives on their doorstep, claiming to have been their son’s friend. Initially charming, handsome, and friendly, David begins to show a darker side, beating up a group of bullies and gifting the family’s young son his butterfly knife. But David isn’t who he seems to be, and when the other shoe drops, it’s life or death for anyone who runs from him.

horns movieDimension Films

Horns (2013)

Post-Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe made a new name for himself as the kind of actor you turn to when your movie needs to get weird, and dark horror-comedy Horns, based on the book by Joe Hill, was the start of it all, casting Radcliffe as a man who gets supernatural abilities (and horns) after being falsely accused to raping and murdering his girlfriend. Using his newfound powers, he finds out who the killer really is, by forcing people around him to reveal their darkest desires.

his houseAidan Monaghan/Netflix

His House (2020)

Bol and Rial Majur, a married refugee couple newly fled from war-ravaged South Sudan, begin a probationary period of asylum in a London suburb, where they are given a shabby townhouse and a weekly stipend. Bol attempts to assimilate by going out into town, hanging out in pubs, using silverware to eat meals, and buying new clothes, but Rial still clings to their Dinka culture and the memory of the child they lost during their crossing. They see specters all over the house and begin to believe that a witch is haunting them. The power of His House comes not from the intermittent scares or constant building dread, but from the devastating, final-act reveal that forces its characters to reckon with the trauma they’ve suffered and the guilt that has consumed their lives. There is a particular flavor of horror that exists in experiencing shocking violence and then escaping into a world that makes it seem like nothing more than a dream.

hush netflixNetflix

Hush (2016)

While films like the classic Wait Until Dark and Don’t Breathe have wrung scares from blind heroes and villains, deaf characters haven’t been placed at the center of many mainstream horror movies. Enter (very quietly) Hush, a low-budget home-invasion thriller about a deaf and mute woman (Kate Siegel) being terrorized by a masked home invader (The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr.). This is the type of movie that can exhaust its premise in 20 minutes if the script doesn’t deliver—how long can two characters face off in a swanky cabin for, really?—but luckily director Mike Flanagan and Siegel, who co-wrote the film together, have some well-timed twists (and many, many cross-bow arrows) up their sleeves.

i am legendWarner Bros.

I Am Legend (2007)

Immediately cementing itself a zombie movie classic upon its release nearly 15 years ago, I Am Legend, which stars Will Smith as the lonely survivor of an undead apocalypse that turned Manhattan into a ghost town, with only a loyal dog for company. Unlike other zombie movies, though, the walking dead in this one are genuinely terrifying, half zombie and half vampire, with the ability to SPRINT after their prey in a way that will make your skin crawl.

i am the pretty thing that lives in the houseNetflix

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)

A meditative horror flick that’s more unsettling than outright frightening, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House follows the demise of Lily, a live-in nurse (Ruth Wilson) who’s caring for an ailing horror author. As Lily discovers the truth about the writer’s fiction and home, the lines between the physical realm and the afterlife blur. The movie’s slow pacing and muted escalation might frustrate viewers craving showy jump-scares, but writer-director Oz Perkins is worth keeping tabs on. He brings a beautiful eeriness to every scene, and his story will captivate patient streamers.

in the tall grassNetflix

In The Tall Grass (2019)

This nasty, little novella from Stephen King and Joe Hill got the inevitable movie treatment; fortunately the producers thought to hire Vincenzo Natali (Splice), one of the most consistent genre directors around. Two grown siblings get lost within a sea of very tall grass, only to discover that this particular patch of land contains threats both mundane and, well, exceedingly freaky. Earns bonus points for consistently finding new ways to keep the location both visually compelling and subtly threatening.

the invitation movieDrafthouse Films

The Invitation (2015)

This slow-burn horror-thriller preys on your social anxiety. The film’s first half-hour, which finds Quarry‘s Logan Marshall-Green arriving at his ex-wife’s house to meet her new husband, plays like a Sundance dramedy about 30-something yuppies and their relationship woes. As the minutes go by, director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) burrows deeper into the awkward dinner party, finding tension in unwelcome glances, miscommunication, and the possibility that Marshall-Green’s character might be misreading a bizarre situation as a dangerous one. We won’t spoil what happens, but let’s just say this is a party you’ll be telling your friends about.

it comes at nightA24

It Comes at Night (2017)

In this post-apocalyptic nightmare-and-a-half, the horrors of humanity, the strain of chaotic emotions pent up in the name of survival, bleed out through wary eyes and weathered hands. The setup is blockbuster-sized—it reverts mankind to the days of the American frontier, every sole survivor fighting to protect their families and themselves—but the drama is mano-a-mano. Barricaded in a haunted-house-worthy cabin in the woods, Paul (Joel Edgerton) takes in Will (Christopher Abbott) and his family, knowing full well they could threaten his family’s existence. All the while, Paul’s son, Trevor, battles bloody visions of (or induced by?) the contagion. Trey Edward Shults directs the hell out of every slow-push frame of this psychological thriller, and the less we know, the more confusion feels like a noose around our necks, the scarier his observations become.

killer klowns from outer spaceTrans World Entertainment

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Hear us out: What if there were aliens from a hostile planet who wanted to take over Earth and who resembled toothy circus clowns? Look, the universe is a big place, it’s entirely possible. The ’80s horror-comedy classic is the only movie ever directed by special effects artists the Chiodo Brothers, and is probably the only movie in existence to feature circus clowns shooting webbing out of toy ray guns to turn people into cocoons they then drink from with crazy straws.

the killing of a sacred deerA24

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

After surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) takes to a teenage boy Martin (Barry Keoghan) whose father died when he was young (Barry Keoghan), it becomes evident that Martin blames Steven for his wrongful death from a botched surgery—and either his wife or one of his children must die to make up for it. Yorgos Lanthimos’ psychological thriller pulls its material from the Greek tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, drawing disturbing stages of injury, a deteriorating will to live, and a pitch black mood that permeates throughout. Rather than a gore fest or paranormal disturbance, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is an art-horror movie that’s as disturbing as any slasher flick, but for its mastery over its unnerving mood more than anything else.

little evilNetflix

Little Evil (2017)

A hilarious riff on movies like The Omen, Little Evil stars Adam Scott as the new stepfather of a young boy he believes to be the Antichrist. People tend to die in mysterious, gruesome ways around him, while the kid stands around looking possessed and generally makes his new stepfather’s life into a living hell, leading him to believe that the kid really is evil. Hey, we’ve all been there. Except, this time, he’s actually right.

1922 netflixNetflix

1922 (2017)

With all the recent adaptations of Stephen King’s celebrated novels, it’s easy to forget that the wildly prolific horror writer also has a stockpile of untapped short stories for IP-hungry producers to choose from. 1922, a folksy riff on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” starring Thomas Jane as a farmer who kills his wife, draws its plot from a novella in the 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars, but it’s just as rich and complex as the more famous films based on longer King tales. Plus, there are so many rats in this movie. Seriously, watch out, Willard.

nobody sleeps in the woods tonightNetflix

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020)

This Polish slasher film takes place in a technology detox summer camp for teens, where a group of kids stumble upon a murderous supernatural force that picks them off one by one in increasingly bloody ways. An homage to movies like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp, it was a runaway success at the beginning of 2020’s quarantine, where it skipped theaters in favor of dropping on Netflix, becoming a word-of-mouth success with plans already in place for a sequel.

pan's labyrinthWarner Bros.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Set against the backdrop of post-civil war Francoist Spain, Pan’s Labyrinth introduces Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl who moves with her mother into the home of her fascist new husband and discovers an ancient labyrinth in the woods, inhabited by a giant faun who tells her she’s the fairy kingdom’s long lost princess. Equal parts beautiful, grotesque, and shockingly violent, Guillermo del Toro’s most beloved movie spins a magical realist fairy tale you won’t soon forget.

the perfectionNetflix

The Perfection (2019)

The Perfection, Netflix’s self-consciously sleazy genre provocation starring Allison Williams as a former child cello prodigy out for revenge, is like a cinematic endurance test. Grossed out by the creepy bug effects and horrifying depictions of self-mutilation? Keep streaming. For some viewers, the act of surviving each grisly twist and body horror scare in this thriller from Richard Shepard will be its own reward, because as shocking as this derailed story of vengeance from one deranged classic musician onto another is, that’s all part of its sick fun.

the platformNetflix

The Platform (2020)

It’s difficult to watch The Platform, a cannibalistic prison freak-out from Spain, and not imagine a producer sitting in a conference room or a coffee shop and musing, “What if Snowpiercer but vertical?” The debut feature from Spanish filmmaker Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia boasts an appealing high-concept premise, an oddly affable leading man in actor Iván Massagué, and a series of brutal twists that should intrigue anyone currently watching the news and thinking about the possible end game of rampant inequality. Instead of a train, The Platform takes place in a prison-like structure called the “Vertical Self-Management Center” where inmates live two to a floor. Those on the top get first dibs on a giant platform of food that descends from the ceiling everyday; those on the bottom get the scraps—or nothing at all. Dismantling the system of this socioeconomic experiment unravels through David Desola and Pedro Rivero’s knotty, exposition-packed script.

the ritualNetflix

The Ritual (2018)

Four old friends travel into a foreboding forest and… yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard this one before. So has everyone. Only this time, it’s interesting. Suffice to say that these guys stumble across a freaky shack, unwisely opt to sleep in said shack, and then find themselves hopelessly lost. Also there may or may not be a mythologically inspired monster from Norse lore on their trail. The Ritual doesn’t try and reinvent any wheels, plot-wise, but it’s a very well-shot, -acted, and -conceived piece of horror filmmaking from David Bruckner (V/H/S).

shutterGMM Grammy/Phenomena Motion Pictures

Shutter (2004)

Shutter is one of the biggest horror movies to ever come out of Thailand. Not only was it a major hit there, it spawned four remakes abroad including a 2008 American version of the same name—and with its haunting original story and foreboding mood, you can see why. It may start off with a familiar premise, featuring a young couple who drive off after committing a hit-and-run, but it takes new turns after the incident when strange images start to appear in the photographer boyfriend’s developed pictures, and the supernatural force refuses to go away without enacting some brutal vengeance. It’s picture-perfect for horror fans who like to be at the edge of their seat: This one’s full of jump scares and shocking twists to keep your heart racing until the final shot.

sweetheartUniversal Pictures

Sweetheart (2019)

The indie horror film Sweetheart begins with a simple enough premise when a young woman survives a shipwreck and washes ashore on a deserted island. That’s scary enough as is, but it turns out there’s also a freakish sea monster that roams the beach at night looking for something to eat. Imagine sort of a gender-switched Robinson Crusoe story, only with the added threat of a sea monster, and you may enjoy this well-shot and gradually intensifying thriller.

velvet buzzsawNetflix

Netflix’s “ludicrously fun and gory art-world satire” sees director and screenwriter Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) team up with Jake Gyllenhaal in a thriller that rips apart the effete Los Angeles art world. While pricey auctions and pretentious collectors are relatively low-hanging fruit, Gilroy, Gyllenhaal, and Rene Russo bring a fast-paced humor that makes the plot—an outsider artist’s haunted work starts killing people—more tolerable than you might think. Oh, and names like Morf, Rhodora, and Ventril elevate the film’s self-aware kitschiness, which makes the satire even more cutting.

veronicaFilm Factory

Veronica (2017)

Gotta love a horror film that’ll do everything it can to remind you of why playing around with an Ouija board is probably not the best idea. The movie from Paco Plaza (REC) sees a young girl named Veronica (Sandra Escacena) who conducts a seance with her friends in the middle of a solar eclipse. Her goal is to contact her dead father, but as it normally goes in films of the paranormal variety, that doesn’t happen. Veronica instead ends up waking up some truly sinister forces and, well, you probably already know how this will end. Or not. And if that’s the case, then you’re in the same boat as all the other Netflix users who couldn’t finish the movie because it’s that scary.

under the shadowXYZ Films/Vertical Entertainment

Under the Shadow (2016)

Set during the conflict between Iran and Iraq, a desperate mother and her horrified little girl find themselves haunted by the ghosts of wartime past. Tapping into history and the terror of true life bombardment, Under the Shadow is one of the smartest, saddest, and most eerily effective horror films in recent years. Writer-director Babak Anvari uses war as a metaphor as astutely as legends like Guillermo del Toro, and the setting is refreshingly novel for this type of supernatural story. The two leads (Narges Rashidi and Avin Mashadi) are nothing short of fantastic.

unfriendedUniversal Pictures

Unfriended (2014)

The Blair Witch Project popularized the found-footage genre, and Unfriended was the first to tap into the even more niche subset of the horror style—social media/computer screen found-footage. The first of its kind, the movie from Blumhouse isn’t always a master of its craft and can feel more like being forced into peering at a screen from over someone’s shoulder like you’re waiting for your sibling’s allotted screen time to wrap up, and is sometimes flat-out silly, but since we’re addicted to being online, it is hard to look away. It follows a group of teenagers whose chatroom appears to be haunted by their friend who was recently bullied and died by suicide. Even when the scares are cheap, it’s an interesting experiment that’s worth logging into.

we summon the darknessSaban Films

We Summon the Darkness (2020)

In Marc Meyers’ (My Friend Dahmer) We Summon the Darkness, three fun-loving young women head out for a night of rock and roll, but their plans change ever so slightly when they meet a trio of goofy but slightly charming young men. Serendipitously, it turns out there’s been a slew of occult-related murders in the immediate area. Will the three young couples run across something horrific? Yes. They will. And the result is a good gory time.

wildlingIFC Midnight

Wildling (2018)

A low-key but engaging horror story about a young woman (Bel Powley) who was raised under bizarre circumstances, only to deal with all sorts of problems when she’s introduced to the normal world. “Problems,” as in “she may actually be a supernatural monster” or it could all be in her head. Either way, things get pretty nasty in this feature debut from German filmmaker Fritz Böhm.

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WSOC Announces Class of 2024 http://www.jacphotographic.com/wsoc-announces-class-of-2024/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/wsoc-announces-class-of-2024/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:16:53 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1885

STORRS, Conn. – The UConn women’s soccer team announced the addition of 10 incoming freshman to the class of 2024 on Monday morning.

“We are really excited about this coming fall as we welcome our first true recruiting class as a staff, play in our brand new stadium, and return to the Big East conference. We worked tirelessly on building this incoming class and we believe that they have the potential to come in and immediately compete alongside our returning players.” – Head Coach Margaret Rodriguez

Read up on all 10 incoming Huskies and what they have to say and head coach Margaret Rodriguez is saying about their arrival to Storrs.

Jaydah Bedoya | Forward | New Bedford, Mass. 

Mags on Jaydah – “Bedoya is an exciting player to watch.  She has an opportunistic mind and is always looking to be a threat to any backline.  She has pace to get in behind, the technical ability to beat players 1v1 and finish, and the tactical awareness to set up her teammates.  She will be fun to watch this fall.”

Why I chose UConn:

“I chose UConn because I fell in love with the campus right when I stepped on it. I noticed the school pride of being a husky right away and I knew that was something brought me in. I also felt a connection with Margaret Rodriguez head coach and I feel as if that’s very important because I am spending almost all my time with my coaches so that was important to me to trust them and that’s just how it felt. UConn has such a strong rigorous academic history and to top it off women’s soccer program history and I’m so glad I get to be a part of it now. I’m excited to finally get to join the program and husky nation finally getting to call myself a husky is an absolute honor”.

Played at New Bedford High School before finishing final three years at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass. Under head coach Steve Sughrue at Tabor Academy, Bedoya led team to 2019 Class B New England championship. Two-time All-League (2018, ’19), All-NESCAC. 2019 All-Region. 2019 First Team ISL. Selected to 2019 Junior All-Star Game. 2018 Class B New England Championship semifinals. No. 2 goal scorer in the ISL in 2017 and 2018.

Lucy Cappadona | Midfielder | Marlborough, Mass.

Mags on Lucy – Lucy is one of the most consistent players we have recruited and we are excited to have her join us next fall.  She has a big presence and the ball winning abilities we are looking for in a defensive midfielder.  Lucy is also very composed and confident on the ball, which will allow us to build through her as we attack. 

Why I chose UConn:

“UConn was the only college that I felt at home with. I can see myself being held to my highest abilities and pushed to my own limits”.

Played for NEFC club team and helped lead team to two NPL National Championships and a US Club National Championship. Lettered one season for Marlborough High School under coaches Sam Kiley and Sean Mahoney. Lettered four seasons in basketball. Two-time captain.

Lauren Hart | Forward | Toronto, Ontario

Mags on Lauren– Lauren has great size coming in at 6′ and can play anywhere in our front line.  She is a goal scorer who will be looking to take care of business at this level.  She is disciplined and hardworking, and brings in another dimension for us up top.

Why I chose UConn:

“Before committing to UConn, I first attended a summer ID Camp on campus, where I was welcomed by the current soccer players with open arms. I knew then, based on the team’s infectious enthusiasm and their obvious love for the school, that I wanted to be a Husky. Things like the beautiful campus, the amazing programs and the extremely caring and supportive coaching staff only made me more sure that I was making the right decision! I am so grateful to the wonderful people at the University of Connecticut, and for their efforts to help me reach my full potential. I am sure that I will be exposed to an environment that will help me grow as a student, a player and a person. That is why I am so excited to begin my college career at UConn in 2020! Go Huskies!”

Played for Woodbridge Soccer Club. Runner-up for Young Player of the Year award in 2019. Named Second Team All-Star League1 for 2018-19 season. Played for head coach Doug Hunnissett at Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute. 2018 OFSAA Division AAA Champions. Named 2019 MVP after setting goal-scoring record. All-City and All-State. 2020 team captain.

Jada Konte | Forward | Woodbridge, Va.

Mags on Jada – Jada is a true target forward who is very comfortable back to goal. She is very strong and athletic and will be a threat up top with her pace and ability to hold the ball. She is a quality player who can find the back of the net for us next year and beyond.

Why I chose UConn:

“When I first arrived at UConn it felt like a second home. The atmosphere and vibe of being on campus made me feel comfortable and content. When I left to go back home, I felt assured that this was the school I wanted to go to for the next 4 years”.

Lettered one season at Charles J. Colgan High School in Manasses, Virginia for head coach Thomas Warzywak. Named First Team All-District, All-Region and All-MET. Team captain and team MVP. Led the No. 2 team in the district with 39 goals and added 12 assists. Played for Braddock Road club team. Was a US  Youth Soccer National Best Eleven selection at U-14 level and earned ECNL Mid-Atlantic All-Conference team accolade at both the U-18 and U-19 levels.

Chloe Landers | Midfielder/Defender | Glastonbury, Conn.

Mags on Chloe – Chloe is a smart player who will add depth to any position across our backline  She is composed on the ball and has good feet to build through along with the mentality we need to win games.  We are eager to get Chloe in our environment to begin her development at the next level. 

Why I chose UConn: 

“I am honored and excited to join the women’s soccer program at the University of Connecticut. I chose UConn because of their unique soccer culture. It is clear to me that the coaching staff works hard to develop their players technically and also values the importance of building a family culture. I’m excited for the next phase of my athletic career and look forward to be a part of this amazing team and community”.

Had a standout four-year career at Glastonbury High School under head coach Joe Finocchiaro, leading the team to a 68-5-5 record and a pair of Class LL championships in 2016 and 2019. She was a two-time United Soccer Coaches Association All-American and participated in the 2019 Allstate All-American Junior All-Star Game along with the 2019 High School Girls Soccer All-American Game.  A two-time captain, she led Glastonbury to four Central Connecticut Conference titles and No. 1 ranking in the state of Connecticut in 2016 and 2019. She was a three-time All-Conference, All-State, All-Academic performer and won the Hartford Courant Girls Soccer Player of the Year award twice (2018, ’19). Played at Connecticut Football Club (CFC) United ECNL. Helped lead team to 2018 ECNL Northeast Division title and qualified for ECNL National Champions League three times. Off the pitch, she lettered one season in track and field at Glastonbury earning All-Conference and All-Academic team honors in 2018.

Sofia Weber | Midfielder & Defender | Andover, N.H.

Mags on Sofia – Sofia is a player who I believe flew under the radar during the recruitment process.  As a central player, she is technically very good on the ball and has the athleticism to impact our midfield or backline. She is a great fit for our team and we are excited to see her growth in our program.

Why I chose UConn: 

 “I am excited to attend UConn and pursue my love of soccer. Playing at a highly competitive level with the best coaches and facilities is a dream come true for me. I look forward to getting to know my teammates and classmates and to wear a UConn uniform with pride”.

Lettered four years at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. under head coach Christina Cooper. Was a three-time Connecticut All-State performer. Three-time Boston Globe All-Star. Two-time WWNEPSSA All-Star. Two-time All-NEPSAC. 2019 Boston Globe Prep Class A/B MVP. Lettered four seasons in ice hockey. Earned the Ely Prize – for combined excellence in athletics, scholarship and character in 2019.

Natalia Santangelo | Defender| Collegeville, Pa.

Mags on Natalia – Ta is a defensive player with an impressive attacking mentality.  She has a great first touch and is technically clean on the ball.   She has the focus and drive to be a very good collegiate player and has the tools to be an impactful attacking wing back.

Why I chose UConn:

“I chose the University of Connecticut because Coach Mags, Carey, and Vanessa will develop my skills to become an important part of the team. When I first spoke with my coaches I knew that we had a very similar passion for the game, and drive to win. They also stressed the importance of education and to do your best on the field and in the classroom. 

As I begin my college career at the University of Connecticut I am excited to play in the Big East, a conference full of competitive and skilled teams. I look forward to making an impact and helping our team be successful. I am fortunate to be able to study in one of the top Exercise Science programs”. 

Played for Penn Fusion Soccer Academy for head coach Craig Scangarella. Was chosen by coaches to U.S. Training Centers, U.S. Combines and ID2 Camp. Won two-straight division titles. Helped lead high team to state championship. Was an All-League performer.

Kaitlyn Mahoney | Goalkeeper | Manorville, N.Y.

Mags on Kaitlyn – Mahoney will round out our goal keeper position and she’ll compete alongside the other 2 goalkeepers we currently have on the team.  She is confident, knows the game, and has a big presence on the field.  Mahoney is also very comfortable with the ball at her feet, which will give us another option to play through.

Why I chose UConn:

“The moment I stepped on campus I felt like I was home.  I knew in my heart that UConn would be the place I would spend my next four years, pursuing my education and my soccer career.  The family atmosphere and the bond between both staff and players made me want to join the UConn family.  UConn was the perfect distance from my hometown and could offer me a multitude of opportunities I had dreamed of for my future.  I cannot express more how excited I am to begin the next chapters of my life as a student-athlete at UConn”.

Played two seasons for head coach Sue Alber at Saint Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, N.Y. Earned All-League status her junior and senior seasons. All-Long Island and All-Star while serving as team captain her senior season. Two-time All-Academic who won 2019 Saint Anthony’s Scholar Athlete Award. Named Top 100 soccer players on Long Island. Helped lead team to two NSCHSAA League championships. Played for Susa ’02 ECNL and was a team captain.  

Grace DiVincenzo | FOR/MF/D| Mahopac, N.Y.

Mags on Grace– Grace has speed, athleticism, and the technical skills to be dangerous on the flank for us next fall. Her fitness level, mentality and drive is what stands out with her and we are excited to see her contribute to our attack.

Why I chose UConn: 

“It’s actually funny. My cousin gave me a UConn sweatshirt when I was younger, like 11, he told me if I work hard enough I will go to that school and play soccer. Ever since then my heart was set on UConn. I fell in the love with the school even more after I toured it. I feel UConn had a lot of opportunities for me. The plus is I can play soccer, a game I love at a school I always wanted to attend”.

Played under head coach Casey Carroll at Mahopac High School. 2019 League IA Player of the Year while serving as team captain. Earned 2019 All-League and All-Section honors. Played club soccer at QuickStrike FC. Led team to 2019 NYCSL NPL championship. Were U.S. Club NPL National finalists in 2018 and semifinalists in 2019. 2018 Jefferson Cup Showcase Champions.

Samantha Derico | Forward | Harrington Park, N.J.

Mags on Samantha –  Sami will add depth to our attacking positions.  Her work rate is unmatched and her drive to compete is what separates her from others. We are eager to see her train daily at this level to see how she will impact this team and program over her 4 years here.

Why I chose UConn: 

“UConn checked all my boxes: enthusiastic athletic programs, a soccer team with passion and energy that was electric, and homemade ice cream”.

Played four seasons under head coach Kathleen Wehmann at Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan. 2019 team captain. Scored 46 goals and contributed 27 assists. Won 2019 Coaches Award. Two-time First Team All-League. 2019 NJ.com Top Girls Soccer Senior and led the Big North in assists. Two-time All-County performer. Played for Princeton Soccer Academy. Was a 2019 USYS National Championship finalist after winning 2019 USYS Eastern Regional champion.  


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Experts answer your COVID-19 questions: ‘If I was fully vaccinated six weeks ago, how am I testing positive?’ | Coronavirus http://www.jacphotographic.com/experts-answer-your-covid-19-questions-if-i-was-fully-vaccinated-six-weeks-ago-how-am-i-testing-positive-coronavirus/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/experts-answer-your-covid-19-questions-if-i-was-fully-vaccinated-six-weeks-ago-how-am-i-testing-positive-coronavirus/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:16:49 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1884

Have a question about COVID-19? We will ask the experts.

Send questions to tribdem@tribdem.com.

Note: Due to the volume of questions submitted, we will not be able to answer them all. Any questions of an urgent nature should be directed immediately to your primary care physician.

Readers of The Tribune-Democrat asked the following questions: 

“I was fully vaccinated six weeks ago with the Pfizer double shot.

“Today, upon visiting my father’s nursing home, I tested positive twice. I went to another testing site and tested positive. I also had a PCR test done, but will not have the results for several days. I have no symptoms. I will quarantine but am confused as what I should do moving forward.”

The answer:

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective which is excellent, but it’s not 100%. You are fully vaccinated. You tested positive for COVID-19, and you are asymptomatic.

According to the CDC, about 5,800 of 77 million fully vaccinated people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Thirty percent of those breakthrough cases were asymptomatic.

If you are not immunocompromised, I recommend you self-isolate separately for 10 days since the date of your first positive test. If you are immunocompromised, then 20 days of self-isolation is advised.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“Unknowingly, I was definitely exposed to too many people at a wedding in Florida last weekend. I am from Michigan. The day after I got home, I was having many symptoms. I got a call that day from my friend in Florida, telling me that five people whom I was with all tested positive for COVID-19.

“The next day, I did not want to get out of bed. It’s the severe fatigue and achiness in my spine that keeps me in bed. I have sinus congestion stuck in my head, scratchy throat, dry cough, body aches, fatigue and headaches every day. I had the first vaccine of Moderna two weeks before I went to Florida. I have been PCR tested four times already with all results negative!

“How is this possible? With having the first of two vaccines, could it be a contributor to the negative results.

“I was told my first three tests may have been too soon, hence my fourth test. And by the way, two other people who stayed with me at our Airbnb in Florida tested positive for COVID when they got back to Michigan.”

The answer:

An excellent question.

I’m assuming the wedding was on April 3. Based on existing literature, the incubation period (the time from exposure to development of symptoms) of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus ranges from two to 14 days. The best time to get tested is five to seven days after you were exposed. Your test on April 10 would have been seven days after exposure.

Studies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines suggest that one dose may offer between 50-80% protection against COVID-19.

Genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 may lead to false negative results with molecular (PCR) tests for detection of SARS-CoV-2. No test is perfect, and consider negative results in combination with clinical observations, patient history and epidemiological information.

My recommendations for you are:

• If you are not immunocompromised, self-isolate at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared. If you are immunocompromised, then at least 20 days of self-isolation is advised.

• Contact your local health department and consider repeat testing with a different test (with different genetic targets).

• Follow-up with your physician for further instructions.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My son is coming home from Germany for approximately a month. We will get a COVID test a few days before he arrives and again a few days after arrival. In New York State, we have to quarantine seven days with a negative test, no symptoms. He will get vaccinated while he is home, but all the questionnaires I see always ask if you have been tested for COVID within the past two weeks. I want to get him started with vaccines as soon as possible and would like him to get one of the mRNA vaccines so it will take a while to complete the series. Would he be turned away from getting a vaccination for having had a negative COVID test, and has been asymptomatic the whole time?”

The answer:

What a great question.

Your son should not be turned away from the vaccination because he had a COVID-19 test due to travel.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My fiancé is flying from Tanzania to Cape Town. The ticket is booked. Can he go for a PCR test 16 days before flying? If the result is positive and he got COVID-19, he isolates 14 days and then can he still fly three days later after he did his isolation period? I know people can still show positive within three months, but are no longer infectious?”

The answer:

The South Africa variant has multiple mutations in the spike protein.

South Africa is on the list of Level 4: COVID-19 Very High Travel Restriction.

Travelers should avoid all travel to destinations on this list.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I went for my first Moderna shot eight days ago. The girl administering the shot pinched about two inches of skin, then put the needle in that fleshy part. I am a larger person, so I have extra skin/fat on top of the muscle. I don’t think the needle would have hit the deltoid, since she administered it into two inches of flesh. I did not experience any effects other than the injection site felt warm to the touch on the day after the shot. However, I awoke this morning and discovered that the injection site was swollen, red, sore and warm to the touch. Do you think the shot was successful and effective?”

The answer:

Local adverse reactions with the Moderna vaccine include pain, tenderness, swelling and redness.

The vaccine is for intramuscular injection only. Subcutaneous and/or intradermal injection is not recommended.

I cannot comment or speculate on vaccine effectiveness if the vaccine was perhaps not administered properly.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

“Both my boyfriend and I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 19. Do we have to watch or worry about the blood clots that they’re talking about?”

The answer:

The adverse reactions that were seen with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, blood clots, happened within 14 days of the shot. Since you are past that, you are one of the 7.4 million people who did not experience that side effect; there were only six people who did experience it.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had COVID in December and recently tested positive for antibodies. I am planning on getting the vaccine when it becomes available to me, but I was wondering if you could explain how the vaccine works with my current antibodies. Does it strengthen my antibodies? Do I start over with new antibodies? I’ve also heard numerous reports of the first dose producing more symptoms for people who have had COVID recently and the second dose is less. Can you confirm this? I haven’t heard much about how the J&J shot effects people who recently had COVID. It would be helpful to know what I may expect.”

The answer:

Individuals who have had COVID-19 and receive the vaccination (any of the approved ones) will be providing their bodies with a booster. Your immune system made antibodies to the virus when you were infected.

Some of those antibodies will be activated to work this time (when you get vaccinated) and some new antibodies will be made.

As for your response to the vaccine, some people report headache, slight fever, and tiredness upon receiving the dose after they have had COVID-19, and some don’t. I suggest that you take some Tylenol if you feel unwell and drink more water in the day than you normally would.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I received both COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer) and am having the cancer antigen 125 monitored monthly following treatment for ovarian cancer. The CA has been increasing since receiving the vaccine, but the scans have been clean and I have no other symptoms. Can the vaccine affect the CA?”

The answer:

I’m not aware of any relationship between COVID-19 vaccination being associated with rising CA-125 levels. I recommend you follow up with your oncologist.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I will have my second dose of the Moderna vaccine April 24. I have a flight scheduled for May 7. Is it legal to board a plane, or do I legally have to wait one more day?”

The answer:

There is no law against traveling. Officially, the CDC recommends that you delay your travel for two weeks after infection and/or vaccination.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My fiancé received his first dose and is a little confused. Is this a side effect of the vaccine?”

The answer:

Headache can be a vaccine side effect, but I am not aware of the COVID-19 vaccines causing confusion. I recommend your fiancé follow up with a physician.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“Because only one COVID vaccine was available, Sinopharm, I was vaccinated with both doses, the second on April 24. Now access to the Pfizer vaccine, which is far more effective than Sinopharm, is available. Should I opt to get vaccinated again? Could I do so safely? If so, how long an interval would you recommend before I get the Pfizer vaccine?”

The answer:

The company that makes Sinopharm has not publicly released any data on its ability to protect (efficacy). In a statement last month from the World Health Organization, it is thought to be 50-70% effective.

You can get another vaccine. You should wait at least 14 days between vaccinations.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My husband has had two Moderna injections. The second injection was one month ago. He has a planned cataract surgery so had to have a COVID test. The result was a positive PCR test. He is asymptomatic. Can he have the surgery? Does he need to quarantine? Can he infect my son, who had his first injection three weeks ago? I have had two injections last dose five weeks ago.”

The answer:

Regarding your husband – if your husband is not immunocompromised, I recommend he self-isolate separately for 10 days since the date of his positive PCR test. If he is immunocompromised, then 20 days of self-isolation is advised. I do not recommend cataract surgery during his isolation period.

Regarding your son – he is not fully vaccinated. Therefore, I recommend he self-quarantine. Ideally, people should quarantine separately. Your son’s quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is his quarantine may end after day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on day 7 tests negative, and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Regarding yourself – you are fully vaccinated. According to recent CDC recommendations, fully vaccinated people can refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if you are totally and completely asymptomatic (without symptoms, or producing no symptoms).

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received my first vaccine shot, then was out of town on the 28th day, and it has now been 35 days. Should I restart the process, or is it OK to get the second shot?”

The answer:

It is OK to delay the second dose. Now that you are back, sign up for your second shot!

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“Query from India – My mother, 87, had her first vaccine (AstraZeneca) on March 9, with no reaction. On March 20, she tested positive for COVID, and two weeks later (April 3) she was COVID negative. When can she take her second shot?”

The answer:

I am sorry to hear that your mother contracted COVID-19. The AstraZeneca second dose vaccine can be given between 4 and 12 weeks. The best protection was seen after waiting 12 weeks for the second dose.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I am 72 and fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. My wife is 64 and vaccine-hesitant. 

“Should I be masking around her? Is it safe to sleep in the same room? If I sleep in the same room, are we both at risk? We also babysit our 4-year-old grandson one day a week. Should we be wearing masks? My wife refuses to wear a mask unless it is required.”

The answer:

You are protected from the virus that causes COVID-19. Individuals who are vaccinated are less likely to get sick and, if they do, it is mild.

Your wife should be wearing a mask when around unvaccinated individuals. She also should wear a mask around your grandson. She is at great risk of getting infected when out in public.

It is OK for the two of you to sleep in the same room. Vaccinated individuals do have a reduced transmission rate to others. Science is still working on the specific number for that one.

If I can offer one more bit of advice, talk to your wife about why she is not choosing vaccination. Listen to what she has to say. Oftentimes it is fear or the belief in misinformation that will result in someone choosing to remain unvaccinated.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“On April 6, I went to Walgreens and got my first vaccine. I didn’t have problems until Wednesday, when I got up with the feeling of my arm and fingers asleep. I figured I had slept wrong. On Thursday, April 8, my arm and fingers still have that tingling feeling. Is this normal after the shot?”

The answer:

I have heard of a few people with similar symptoms following COVID-19 vaccination, but in our experience at Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, where we have administered more than 10,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, these symptoms were brief and transient, lasting less than 30 minutes on the day of vaccination.

If your symptoms are persistent or worsen, then I definitely recommend you contact your physician for an evaluation and further instructions.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My husband and I received the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 6. Three weeks later, we tested positive for COVID. We both received the monoclonal antibody infusion due to both of us being high risk.

“We know we have to wait 90 days after the antibody infusion to receive another shot. My questions are:

“1. Is it OK to receive the second dose of Moderna that far out (April 26 and 29)?

“2. We are having trouble finding a second dose of Moderna. They just want to schedule first doses in our area. What should we do?

The answer:

Excellent questions.

There are no data available on the interchangeability of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine with other COVID-19 vaccines to complete the vaccine series. Individuals who have received one dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should receive a second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to complete the vaccination series.

Regarding your specific questions:

1. In my opinion, it is probably OK to receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine on April 26 or 29.

2. If the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is not available, then another option is to consider substituting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • • 

“My husband and I have both been fully vaccinated (Moderna) a month ago. Our son, who lives with us, just tested positive for COVID. Do we have to quarantine also?”

The answer:

Recent CDC COVID-19 Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People (updates as of April 2, 2021, and apply to non-healthcare settings) state:

Fully vaccinated people can refrain from quarantining and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic (without symptoms or producing no symptoms).

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had the second vaccine last Wednesday and became ill that Friday with back pain and and pain on my left side. On Tuesday morning, I felt better, but by Tuesday night I had a fever, chills and a headache. I am 57 years old with history of asthma. I’m also very tired with aches and sinus pressure.”

The answer:

Some of your symptoms may be related to the vaccine. However, I’m concerned that some of your symptoms may be due to a kidney or colon problem, such as diverticulitis, kidney stone or infection. 

Therefore, I advise you to contact your physician as soon as possible. If your pain is severe, or if you see blood in your urine or stool, or if your fever is greater than 100.5, then go to a hospital emergency department for urgent evaluation and treatment.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had my first Moderna vaccine on March 24. I’m flying back from Florida on April 23. I have an appointment for my second Moderna shot on April 26. I’m supposed to be in quarantine after my arrival from Florida. Does this mean I need to reschedule my second dose?”

The answer:

It may be possible for you to work with your vaccine provider to receive your second shot. 

You will need to contact them and work out the details. Since you are in quarantine, you will not be able to be in the space with others.

I am aware of some providers giving the vaccine to individuals in their car. The individuals wait for 15 minutes and then leave, all while being in the vehicle.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I watch my granddaughter daily at my daughter and son-in-law’s house. My husband came down with COVID. I was sent home, then I tested positive. We quarantined for the 10 days. He got cleared, then I retested with a negative test. He did not retest.

“Then we both received the first dose of the vaccination. I was so happy with my outcome. When I went to drop things off at my daughter’s house, I was not allowed in the house. I was told to wear a mask. I couldn’t touch my granddaughter or even get close. It broke my heart.

“They both have not gotten the vaccine and they both don’t intend to, either. My daughter can’t figure out when I can return. And I can’t either. My husband and I both get our second dose in a few weeks.

“Can you please give me advise of when I can return, if at all. My daughter continues to read the facts as well as I do. But it seems so confusing still. Their attitude isn’t kind to me – with sending me home, closing the door in my face and telling me to put on a mask! 

“Their attitude of not being happy or even showing excitement about me testing negative and even getting the vaccine that I was once apprehensive in getting.

“My question is the safe return. 

“When is the earliest? And should I go at all? To put the icing on the cake, I’m planning to retire because of them. I wonder if I even should at this point. I was hoping that my absence would make the heart grow fonder. I don’t know how they’re doing it with them both working at home. Apparently they are.”

The answer:

Reinfection is uncommon within 90 days following initial infection. 

However, it is possible, and I agree with vaccination. You will be fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose. In my opinion, you may resume normal activities.

The CDC has recently provided guidance on how fully vaccinated people can safety visit with unvaccinated people who are low-risk for severe COVID-19 disease in private settings (CDC, Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People, Updated April 2, 2021).

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received both my COVID-19 shots in January. I have the virus now. I took steroid shots about a week after the shots. Does this affect my shot potency? I have masked everywhere I go. I worked with COVID patients the entire fall season and never got it. I got the shot series and I still have it? What is your opinion?”

The answer:

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94-95% effective, which is excellent, but the vaccines are not 100%. If you are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, your symptoms are expected to be milder, and you’re less likely to be admitted to the hospital. Also, the COVID-19 vaccines will decrease COVID-19-related severe illnesses and deaths.

Currently, there is no direct evidence of the impact of corticosteroid injection on vaccine efficacy. 

However, immunosuppressants may diminish the therapeutic effect of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Data are currently insufficient to inform optimal timing of COVID-19 vaccination among people who are planning to receive immunosuppressive therapies. Based on general best practices for vaccination of immunocompromised people, ideally COVID-19 vaccination should be completed at least two weeks before initiation of immunosuppressive therapies.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“On March 27, I received my second Moderna vaccination. Two days later I donated blood, where I was given a COVID antibodies test, which was positive. Is this normal?”

The answer:

You didn’t mention which COVID antibody test was positive. I’m assuming the SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody was positive. If that assumption is correct, the positive SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody indicates you were likely infected with COVID-19 at some time in the past.

Since vaccines induce antibodies to specific viral protein targets, post-vaccination serologic test results will be negative in persons without history of previous natural infection if the test used does not detect antibodies induced by the vaccine.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My son had his first Pfizer vaccine two weeks ago. He began experiencing a severe headache and disorientation two days ago. 

“Yesterday, he went to the doctor and was sent for an MRI and an MRA (no contrast). He was told today that the tests showed a sinus infection. I am concerned and wondering if the sinus thrombus can be misdiagnosed as a sinus infection?”

The answer:

In my opinion, no.

I recommend your son follow up with his physician as soon as possible.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had COVID-19 in March 2020 and recovered. I tested positive for the antibodies in June 2020 and tested positive again in November 2020. In late November, I was exposed to COVID again, but tested negative.

“I got my first Moderna shot on March 16, 2021. The week following Easter weekend, my friend tested positive for COVID, and I was at his house the previous Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Easter. 

“He started having symptoms on Monday after Easter and I had gone home on the Saturday before Easter.

“I don’t feel sick but I got another COVID-19 test. If it shows negative, then can I get my second Moderna shot as scheduled or do I have to wait and reschedule?”

The answer:

As long as you are not symptomatic for COVID-19, you can get the vaccination.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

“I had the monoclonal antibody treatment and I can get a vaccine shot 80 days later. They say to wait 90 days. Any harm with me going for the shot at 80 days?”

The answer:

The CDC recommends postponing COVID-19 vaccination for at least 90 days in patients who have received either anti-COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment based on both the half-life of the antibody products and on a low likelihood of reinfection within 90 days of the initial infection.

Since the antibody products bind to the COVID-19 spike protein, they may interfere with the immune response to the vaccine.

Based on the above, I advise following the 90-day recommendation.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I was with a friend on March 22. Two days later, she came down with COVID very badly, and tested positive by March 26. I tested seven days after being with her, and it was negative. Today is day 15 since exposure, and I am scheduled for the first shot. Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling great – a tad achy and chilly all day. Today I feel fine. Is it safe for me to get the shot? Could I possibly still get COVID 15 days after exposure?”

The answer:

If you are not symptomatic you can receive the vaccination for COVID-19.

The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days. It is unlikely that you are positive because of the exposure you spoke of on the 22nd of March.

Even after you are vaccinated, I urge you to wear your mask and maintain distance when around unvaccinated individuals.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“It has been two months since my first COVID Pfizer vaccine. Due to an injury and a tetanus shot it will be eight weeks between the first and the second vaccine. Is this OK?”

The answer:

The shortest amount of time between doses is 21 days for Pfizer. It is OK to delay the dose.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had my first Pfizer shot 
April 5 and got all of the symptoms the next day and still today feeling small reactions. Is it possible I had COVID, and is that possibly why I got sick? Also, should I expect a worse reaction on the second vaccine on April 28?”

The answer:

First, vaccination does not cause COVID-19. Vaccination following exposure to another person with COVID-19 is not likely to be effective for preventing the disease from that exposure. Therefore, I recommend you get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and I also advise you to self-isolate while you wait for your results.

Adverse reactions after Pfizer vaccination may include pain or discomfort at the injection site, chills, fatigue, headache, muscular aches, fever, or nausea.

Regarding the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I can’t predict with certainty if you’ll experience worse reactions. I recommend you receive your second vaccine dose at a medical center facility where you’ll be closely observed for 30 minutes or possibly longer after vaccination.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My daughter is 21 weeks pregnant and fully vaccinated. Her husband is not vaccinated and just tested positive for COVID-19. How safe are she and the baby?”

The answer:

I can understand your concern for your daughter and soon-to-be grandchild. However, because your daughter chose vaccination, she and the baby will be protected. I do recommend that she wears a mask around her partner and that her partner self-isolates in the home.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I have to quarantine for eight days because of an employee who tested positive. We wear our masks and stay 6 feet apart. But my second shot is coming up before my eight days are up. Can I still go get my second shot?”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination and following CDC guidelines on mask-wearing and social-distancing.

As long as you are not experiencing symptoms – fever-free, no cough, etc. – then you can receive your vaccine.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I’m due to get my second COVID vaccine tomorrow. I was diagnosed with strep three days ago, and have been on the antibiotic for almost 48 hours. Is it still OK to get my vaccine?”

The answer:

Yes.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“I am married. I signed my husband and myself up at the same time, but only I got a confirmation to get vaccinated, my husband didn’t get a confirmation. Can I take him with me to be vaccinated also?”

The answer:

I would reach out to the vaccine provider and determine if your husband is scheduled. It may be that he isn’t and they can help you to get him signed up.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I am 66, and my husband is 73. We have both had heart problems in the past, but have been entirely healthy in recent years. During the past year, our adult children have visited us for weeks at a time, always quarantining (within our large house) after arrival and before being around us. 

“After these quarantines, we have mixed freely, without masks. Our house is in a remote area, and we have all isolated together during these periods, apart from grocery shopping. None of us has had the coronavirus to our knowledge.

“Now one of our children will be living with us for a while, and we would like to follow the same basic program, but we hope to shorten the quarantine period for her to the extent possible. 

“She has an appointment for her first Moderna vaccination on Monday, the day of her arrival here from another state. She will try to get a test as well.

“First question: Is it important for her to get the test before being vaccinated?

“My husband and I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccination four weeks ago. We have the opportunity to get the Moderna vaccination on Monday as well. I saw that you told another person in our situation that there was no reason to get an additional vaccination, but we would prefer to do so unless there is a good reason not to.

“Second question: Is there a good reason for us not to get the Moderna vaccination?

“Most important question: How long does my daughter need to stay away from us?”

The answer:

Your first question:

Testing is not required before vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests.

Your second question:

You and your husband are fully vaccinated since you both received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine one month ago. Repeat vaccination with the Moderna vaccine is not recommended.

Recommendations on re-vaccination or additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines may be updated when additional information is available. No additional doses are recommended at this time. The need for and timing for COVID-19 booster doses have not been established.

Your third question:

Your daughter will be fully vaccinated two weeks after her second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

She should quarantine for 10 days after her arrival without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your daughter’s quarantine may end after day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • • 

“I received my second Pfizer vaccine dose exactly 14 days after my first dose. Is this bad?”

The answer:

It is recommended that you wait at least 21 days between shots with the Pfizer vaccine. It isn’t a problem that you received your vaccine early. What may happen is that your protection is slightly less than 95%.

The body’s immune response takes about

14 days to mount response to a vaccine.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  

• • • • • 

“Do we need to be tested for COVID before we are vaccinated?”

The answer:

Current recommendations do not require a negative COVID-19 test to receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

However, if you are symptomatic for COVID-19, it is advised that you wait until your symptoms resolve before you receive the vaccination.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  

• • • • • 

“If my husband gets the vaccine and I accidentally use his toothbrush after he gets the vaccine can I get COVID?”

The answer:

No. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. This means that they use our cell’s own process to make the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This spike protein is then broken down by the cell and shown to the cells of the immune system in a process called antigen presentation (think of it like an introduction to the body).

The immune system will then mount a response to that spike protein causing the individual to possibly have injection site pain, tiredness and after about a week a swollen lymph node in the arm pit closest to the injection site.

Since there is no virus in the vaccine, there will be no natural infection and no possibility of contagiousness. When you get the vaccine, you will only be making the protein, not the virus, and that will make it impossible to infect your spouse.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  

• • • • • 

“I need information regarding patients coming to our medical office. I see the updated information for people that have had their COVID vaccines and waited the allotted time frame. But the information regarding a patient who has had both immunizations and lives with a COVID-positive relative is very vague. Can you explain what we should do? Are we to reschedule the patient’s appointment?”

The answer:

The definition of a high-risk exposure includes a household exposure, and the most protective recommended quarantine period remains at 14 days.

Clinical decision making involves the severity of the patient’s symptoms and whether the patient can be safety and adequately evaluated and treated in a medical office or a hospital emergency department. In either scenario, personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn by health care personnel.

For specific questions regarding guidance for your medical office, please contact your local health department.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • • 

“My son has been in graduate school in the Netherlands. He just heard that he will not be eligible for a vaccine there until late June and is thinking about coming home to be vaccinated. His partner would like to come, too, but is not a U.S. citizen. If his partner comes, is there a way to also get him vaccinated? We would be willing to pay for it.”

The answer:

I am happy to hear your son and his partner are seeking vaccination.

The guidelines in the United States are to vaccinate anyone, regardless of their status as a citizen, for COVID-19. The individual must fall into current vaccination guidelines for your state.

Bring them home and get them vaccinated!

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  

• • • • • 

“I just received my Johnson & Johnson vaccination this morning. My daughter informed me today that she tested positive for COVID 3 days ago. I saw her 10 days ago, however, she was with me for about 30 minutes and was wearing a mask. I have had no symptoms and feel fine. Is my vaccine effective or do I have to get another vaccine?”

The answer:

Vaccination following exposure is not likely to be effective for preventing the disease from that exposure. You will be fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving your Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Re-vaccination is not advised.

Persons (your daughter) who test positive are considered infectious 48 hours before the onset of their symptoms. Persons testing positive but who do not have symptoms are considered infectious starting two days before the test date.

In my opinion, your risk of COVID-19 infection is low. However out of an abundance of caution, I recommend you self-quarantine separately. Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My spouse is getting the vaccine, but I am not getting it. So now that he has it and it claims to minimize symptoms or have no symptoms if you get COVID, am I safe around him?”

The answer:

I applaud your spouse for choosing vaccination. I do wish you would do the same. Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to combat infection with COVID-19.

A recent article in the Lancet Psychiatry, published on April 6, describes outcomes of 236,397 patients who recovered from COVID-19. At the six-month time point, 33.62% of those recovered had a neurologic or psychiatric disorder diagnosis (mood disorder: anxiety or depression), with 17.39% being diagnosed with dementia after recovery.

They showed that, overall, COVID-19 was associated with increased risk of neurological and psychiatric outcomes, but the incidences and hazard risks, a measure of death due to these outcomes, of these were greater in patients who had required hospitalization, and much greater so in those who had required intensive care admission or had developed encephalopathy, a brain infection.

The authors compared these data to patients who recovered from influenza and found that COVID-19 is much more likely to result significant neurologic outcomes than seasonal Influenza.

COVID-19 is real, and it is dangerous.

To your question, your spouse will not give you the virus that causes COVID-19 from the vaccination.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I saw that fully vaccinated persons are not COVID carriers. How about those that are not vaccinated, but have had COVID? What about reinfections from more virulent strains as it pertains to those that have had the virus, but are not vaccinated, especially those who are under 30?”

The answer:

I am not sure where you saw this, but there has been no scientific study completed to determine this claim.

Individuals who have been vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus. A study done in monkeys shows that the virus may be in the nose one to three days after exposure. This equates with no clinical infection, as the immune response will destroy the virus, but it does not assume that those individuals are incapable of spreading the virus in that time frame.

A study is being conducted now to answer that very question. The study is using 18-22-year-olds. Half have been vaccinated. These people will be swabbed daily to determine if an exposure resulted in possible transmission. The results are expected in December.

Anyone who is symptomatic for COVID-19 is contagious.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My sister got her second dose of Moderna and has chills/fever and body ache. I haven’t had my vaccine yet. Is she contagious? 

“Should I wear a mask?”

The answer:

I am so happy to hear your sister chose vaccination.

No, she is not contagious. The vaccine is doing its job, and your sister’s body is mounting an immune response to the virus that causes COVID-19. She should be feeling better within 36 hours of her vaccine.

I do recommend that you continue to wear your mask in public. 

Once you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to gather in small groups with other vaccinated individuals.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“We live in a multi-generational home – my husband, my father (63 years old with COPD and diabetes), sister, brother-in-law, nephew and me. My husband will be fully vaccinated, and he intends to visit with his fully vaccinated friends from different households before there has been two weeks passed for the rest of the family after their second dose. Actually, on the same day, my father will be getting his second dose. I advised him against it because the rest of our family will not yet be fully vaccinated and, while he could be safe, there is the chance he can transmit the virus to us before we are fully vaccinated.

“Can you help with guidance? Is my assumption correct that it is better for him to wait until the rest of the household is fully vaccinated?”

The answer:

Science is working to answer the very question you are asking.

Individuals who have been vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus. A study done in monkeys shows that the virus may be in the nose one to three days after exposure. This equates with no clinical infection, as the immune response will destroy the virus, but it does not assume that those individuals are incapable of spreading the virus in that time frame.

If you husband can wait a few more days, it will be safe for all.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I had my second vaccination shot on March 16, and then had an allergic reaction to touching shellfish on March 26. Is this anything to do with the vaccine? I’ve been eating shellfish all my life.”

The answer:

Your reaction was 10 days later. 

Allergic reactions occur, for the most part, within seconds to minutes of exposure to the substance. I would venture to guess that you are allergic to something that was on the shellfish.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My husband and I contracted COVID on Feb. 26. We were both sick for 10 days; low-grade fever, chills, brain fog, loss of taste/smell and extreme fatigue. After isolation and experiencing no more symptoms, we received the first Moderna shot on March 17. Within 18 hours, we felt like we were hit by a truck. Fever, chills, nausea, headache, rash and severe exhaustion for four days. 

“Naturally, we are hesitant and scared for the second shot. Will it be as bad, or worse, than the first shot? I don’t think I can handle being that sick, or sicker, so soon again.”

The answer:

The most common side effects reported are headache, low grade fever and tiredness with the Moderna vaccine. You may experience those symptoms again.

I recommend that you drink plenty of water the day of your vaccine and take acetaminophen to help alleviate the symptoms.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

“My mother-in-law has tested positive twice. She was supposed to have a hip replacement, and they have postponed twice.

“She has no signs of COVID and has had both shots. What can she do? She is in so much pain.”

The answer:

When was her initial infection? Sometimes the virus is persistent in detectable levels up to 12 weeks or longer after infection, but likely isn’t infectious.

For this reason, people previously diagnosed with symptomatic COVID-19 who are asymptomatic after recovery shouldn’t undergo virus testing within 3 months after the date of symptom onset for the initial infection.

Your mother-in-law is fully vaccinated two weeks after her second dose of the vaccine.

I recommend your mother-in-law consult an infectious disease specialist who can clear her for the planned hip surgery.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“If a person tested positive for COVID and had to quarantine for 14 days, is it safe for that person to get their vaccine shot now?”

The answer:

If you are not symptomatic for COVID-19, or any other infectious illness, you can get your vaccine. If you have had another vaccination in the past two weeks (like the shingles shot or pneumonia vaccine), you should wait 14 days before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My spouse received his first vaccine and I haven’t gotten mine. Are we safe to sleep in the same room together? Do I need to wear a mask around him? It gives me a lot of anxiety that he is vaccinated and I am not. I want to be safe, but I want to be comfortable living in my own home, too.”

The answer:

Studies of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) suggest that one dose may offer between 50-80% protection. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94-95% effective two weeks after the second dose.

I understand your anxiety associated with you not being vaccinated. I recommend you get vaccinated as soon as vaccination is offered to you.

If there is no known exposure to another person with COVID-19, masking with your spouse in your home is not required in my opinion.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“I had my second Pfizer vaccine on March 22 and was exposed to COVID on March 24 by my son’s girlfriend. She started showing symptoms on March 25 and she got tested that day and my son started getting symptoms on March 28. He got tested on March 30 and they both got their results on March 31, and tested positive. I went for a test on March 30 and my results came back negative and I have no symptoms. The question is: did I test too soon? Also am I at risk of spreading it to unvaccinated people even though I tested negative? Do I need to quarantine?”

The answer:

Yes, you need to quarantine separately since your exposure was before you were fully vaccinated. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna).

Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“I got my first Pfizer shot three weeks ago and I’m in Antigua. They gave me a rapid test and they said it came out positive. I’m flying back to the United States in three days. Could this be a false positive and what do I have to do?”

The answer:

Did you have a known exposure?

The rapid test is good for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. It tests for viral proteins. If you are not actively making virus, it is difficult for the test to show positivity.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I have had both COVID shots a month ago. Today, my sister informs me that she has tested positive for COVID. She did have symptoms. We were all together for a family gathering on March 23 – wore masks, etc. Those of us who have had our shots, do we need to self-quarantine? If so how many days?”

The answer:

People who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following criteria:

• They are fully vaccinated (greater than 2 weeks after the second dose in a 2-dose series, or greater than 2 weeks after 1 dose of a single dose vaccine);

• They are within 3 months after the last dose in the series; and

• They have no symptoms since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I am scheduled for surgery next week. I have an appointment for my COVID vaccine this week. Is it safe to take the vaccine?”

The answer:

In my opinion, yes. Please inform your surgeon.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I am getting my first COVID shot April 19, and on April 22 I am having a cardiac CT and will be injected with contrast to highlight my vessels. Is this OK?”

The answer:

Yes.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received my second Pfizer shot on March 16. I am still getting pain in my right arm where the shot was given. 

“There is no rash or other signs of side effect. The pain is now radiating to my shoulder and neck but mostly in the arm. 

“At times when it is severe I have trouble raising my arm. Any ideas?”

The answer:

Perhaps you’re dealing with a shoulder injury (shoulder bursitis or tendinopathy) related to vaccine administration.

I recommend you contact your physician for an evaluation and consider a trial of physical therapy.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My boyfriend has a 102.7-degree fever. He was exposed to COVID and has been in bed the past two days – today puking and high fever, hasn’t eaten anything; nonstop sleeping. He was exposed last Sunday. He has the chills. His last two blood works from his doctor came back elevated. He went for the third time. If elevated he has to see his cancer doctor. Help. What do I do?”

The answer:

It sounds like your boyfriend has severe illness, and I advise transporting him as soon as possible to a medical center emergency department for urgent evaluation and treatment.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My daughter’s boyfriend is in hospital for stomach issues, but he tested negative. Then they sent him to another hospital, and he tested positive. My question is, we were eating at a restaurant where my daughter works, and her boyfriend showed up and sat at our table. 

“We drove him home, and that was five days ago. Do my fiancé and I need to get tested now that he’s positive?”

The answer:

Considering the time frame, and if there were no symptoms since the last contact at the restaurant, no testing is needed at this time.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“I live in Canada. I received my first dose of Pfizer on March 4. My second one is scheduled for June 23; this is how they’re doing it here. How protected will I be with the doses so far apart?”

The answer:

Recent research into the Pfizer and Moderna shots show that individuals will have 80% protection from infection within 14 days of the first dose.

I can understand how it is confusing and frustrating to have to wait so long to receive your second dose. Your country, Canada, is choosing to vaccinate everyone before they give second shots. 

This is one public health strategy that is being employed to combat COVID-19.

If you continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and maintain physical distance from others outside your pod, this will also help you to reduce your risk of COVID-19.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I had my first Moderna vaccination on March 8. Right after the shot, I experience a short wave of flushing. It made me a little nervous, but it went away as quickly as it came. I am due for my second vaccine on April 8, and I am a little nervous that it could be worse. I have never had a reaction to any vaccines or flu shots.”

The answer:

Most people experience mild cold-like symptoms upon the second shot.

Our bodies have a response called the sympathetic response. It is our fight-or-flight response. When we are startled, scared or encounter anxiety, this response kicks in. Since the flushing you described went away quickly, I am hypothesizing that it was due to the sympathetic response and not the vaccination.

However, it is best for you to wait the required 15 minutes in the presence of medical personnel after your second shot to be as safe as possible.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“How does a senior citizen (over age 85) get a second dose when the provider of the first dose states they have no idea when they will receive their allotment? Online sign-ups do not allow us to register for second-dose only.”

The answer:

This is a good question. I am sure you are frustrated by the unknown. Vaccine distribution to providers can be challenging. Some providers only know a few days before they receive the doses how many they will get.

I am certain that your provider will contact you when doses become available. You can delay the second dose up to six weeks.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I am due for a my second Moderna vaccine and was informed my friend tested positive five days ago, and I was at their house. Can I get the second vaccine? Also, is it safe or do I have to be tested before I get the vaccine?”

The answer:

I recommend you self-quarantine separately.

Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Persons with known exposure should wait to seek or complete vaccination until after their quarantine has ended.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“I tested positive for COVID on March 25 using the rapid test. I was told to quarantine for 10 days. 

“I alerted my mom, whom is my next-door neighbor and is experiencing the same symptoms I am – allergy-like symptoms. She went the next day, and they would not give her a rapid test because they said she did not have enough symptoms and a two-day test is more accurate. Her results came back negative. What are the chances my test was a false positive? I called my doctor and requested a two-day test but was denied. I was put on a steroid and antibiotic because I have interstitial lung disease due to a toxic reaction to chemotherapy. 

“I feel like I am at my baseline. 

“I typically get a sinus infection at the change of every season and am allergic to mold.”

The answer:

The chances of your rapid test being a false positive are 50/50. 

Out of an abundance of caution, I recommend you self-isolate separately 20 days since you were treated with a steroid.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“If I got my first COVID vaccine and my son tested positive do I still have to quarantine?”

The answer:

Yes, you should quarantine separately.

Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative, and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My husband had a liver transplant 14 years ago and has been on immunosuppressants since. He also is going through chemotherapy for multiple myeloma. He will be doing this once a month for the next two years. He has had both his vaccines (Moderna). How protected is he with the vaccines? We want to go see our newborn great-grandson.”

The answer:

Although data are not currently available to establish vaccine efficacy in these patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination of immunocompromised patients.

I’m glad your husband was vaccinated, and I also recommend you get vaccinated if you are not. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose series. I’m very optimistic that you and your husband will see your new great-grandson.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I got both Moderna shots, and then traveled to Las Vegas to visit my son. How long should I quarantine now that I am back? I was very careful. I wore my mask all the time.”

The answer:

Individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine from exposure to someone with COVID-19. 

You do need to keep wearing your mask in public and when around individuals who have not been vaccinated. There is a chance that you could spread the virus to them before your body eliminates it (if you happen to have an exposure).

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“My wife took her second COVID-19 shot (Pfizer) 12 days ago and is experiencing a cough and headaches. What do you recommend?”

The answer:

Your wife should be fully vaccinated now. Headache is a known symptom after Pfizer vaccination, but cough is unusual and may not be related to the vaccination.

Therefore, I recommend she be evaluated by her primary care physician as soon as possible.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and 48 hours later my young daughter tested positive. I am waiting on the results of my COVID test, but would like to know if I need to be vaccinated again if I test positive?”

The answer:

Our immune systems take 14 days to reach full potential for protection against any pathogen after vaccination. Your body is working to make that protection for you. 

What this means is that you may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from your exposure, because your body has not reached full protection from the vaccine.

I hope your daughter has a mild case of COVID-19 and that all in your home are well soon.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“Neither myself nor my adult daughter have had COVID. We have had both shots. Do we have to wait two weeks to be in the same house without wearing masks? I’m 82 and she is 61. She works in an office. My last shot was mid-February. Her last shot was a week ago.”

The answer:

People are fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series. You are fully vaccinated, and your daughter will be in one week.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“My friend in Florida, who is 87, got her second dose of Pfizer vaccination six weeks ago and now has developed COVID. How is this possible? I thought you are protected.”

The answer:

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is very effective (95%), but it is still possible you can get COVID-19. If you are vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19, your symptoms are expected to be milder and you’re less likely to be hospitalized.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I have leukemia and will be getting the COVID vaccine. My wife does not want to get it. Is that a problem?”

The answer:

The available COVID-19 vaccines are safe, very effective, and will decrease COVID-19 related severe illness and deaths. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged, and it is safest if she is also vaccinated.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“Why, after having COVID-19 and having been vaccinated, am I still required to swab test for COVID at my place of employment? A little ridiculous.”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination.

Each work place may have varying rules for returning to work. I know it can be frustrating in your situation, but what may be the case is that they are setting rules for everyone, regardless of COVID-19 recovery or vaccination status. I sympathize with your frustration.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I just had blood work, and my IGG levels are below 300, so I get monthly IGG infusions to help. My second Pfizer vaccine is soon. Can I get my IGG infusion, or should I wait until after my vaccine to get it?”

The answer:

The CDC says COVID-19 vaccines may be given to patients who receive passive antibody treatment not specific to COVID-19.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“If I have been vaccinated and am exposed to someone with COVID-19 (close contact) do I still need to quarantine?”

The answer:

If you are fully vaccinated, meaning you have had both shots of the mRNA vaccines and are two weeks out from the last shot or you are two weeks out from the single-shot Johnson & Johnson, you do not have to quarantine.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My friend got her first COVID vaccine two weeks ago. She is now in the hospital with COVID and pneumonia. I went with her when she got her first shot. Should I now get a COVID test to make sure I don’t have it?”

The answer:

In my opinion, COVID-19 testing is not necessary if you had no symptoms during daily monitoring.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“Would my siblings be safe for a get-together? One lives out of town. We have all had the COVID vaccine. Should we be safe?”

The answer:

Yes, you should be safe. The risk should be minimal – less than 5% if everyone is asymptomatic and fully vaccinated (more than two weeks after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine).

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I am 65-plus and I got my first shot of Pfizer on March 17. I got absolutely no reaction. Could that mean they forgot to inject the Pfizer vaccine in me? Sorry, but that’s what I feel.”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination. Most people do not experience any issue with vaccination. I am sure that the medical professional who gave you the injection did so correctly.

You may experience tiredness, pain at the injection site and mild body aches upon your next dose of the vaccine.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had tested positive back in November. I had my first shot in the beginning of March, and my second one is due soon. My son-in-law that lives with us has tested positive. Do I still have to quarantine?”

The answer:

Yes, you should quarantine separately. Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.

Another option is that your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative on Day 7 and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Persons with known exposure should wait to seek vaccination until after their quarantine period has ended.

According to updated CDC quarantine recommendations, people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 if they meet all of the following criteria:

• They are fully vaccinated (greater than two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series, or greater than two weeks after one dose of a single-dose vaccine);

• They are within three months following the last dose in the series; and

• They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I am male, 69 years old, and in September, I had a severe bout of COVID-19 and dengue at the same time while in the Caribbean. I am well now and came out after 12 days of hospitalization and treatment.

“On March 9, I took my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine while staying at my son’s house in Florida. On March 14, my son and I started having symptoms of a cold. He tested positive on March 16. My wife, who is much younger than I (35 years) and who has no symptoms, and I tested negative on March 18, or five days from my first symptoms. We have isolated together from my son.

“I feel that with antibodies from both having COVID and my first shot, I am keeping severe onset of COVID at bay. On March 22, I continued with mild cold symptoms and retest with rapid antigen test and still test negative. My wife tested positive and she still has no symptoms. My cold symptoms improved slightly. Although I tested negative, I feel that we both have COVID and are isolating together; it’s just not manifested in my rapid test. Since she shows no symptoms, I also feel that it would be safe to stop isolating 10 days after her positive test, or March 31. We isolate together from my son, who is recovering, as I am.

“I am due for my second shot. If I am well, I believe I should take the second Pfizer shot. My wife does not qualify at the moment for a vaccine. Our vitals are good, no fever, no shortness of breath, oxygenating 98-99, no fatigue. For me, runny nose and mild cough with mucus. Getting better. My son is also recovering the same.”

The answer:

The current recommendation for persons with current COVID-19 or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is: Defer vaccination in persons with known current COVID-19 infection until the person has recovered from acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received my second Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 12. My husband just received his second Moderna dose on March 16. My husband sings with a five-man vocal group, and they have been rehearsing three nights a week for a few months, to my dismay. After rehearsing, one of the members was hospitalized with a fever. While they rehearse, he said, they social distanced (which I can’t see) but couldn’t sing with masks on, of course. If the hospitalized member is found to have COVID, is there danger of my husband getting it or bringing to me, or of us passing it to others even if we do not contract it? I am a Type 1 diabetic.”

The answer:

I am happy to hear that both you and your husband chose vaccination. Thank you!

It takes our bodies 14 days to be fully vaccinated after the last dose of the vaccine. In your case, you are fully protected. The Pfizer vaccine affords 95% protection from infection (with recent studies showing it provides 80% protection against the UK variant).

Your husband was not considered fully protected until March 30. In this case, your husband needs to quarantine, if it is found that he was exposed to someone with COVID-19, for at least 10 days (14 if he does not test negative on Day 7 or 8).

You do have a 5% chance of becoming sick. I urge you to wear your mask when sharing space with anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I am 67 years old and received the Moderna first dose on Feb. 27. I am very healthy and had very little reaction, a sore arm. I took a mandatory test for volunteer work on March 16 which was presumptive positive, retested on the 18th and received a positive result. I have no symptoms. I am self-quarantining to be safe for others until my apointment for the second Moderna shot. Should I go in for the second dose?”

The answer:

The current recommendation for persons with current COVID-19 or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is: Defer vaccination in persons with known current COVID-19 infection until the person has recovered from the acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“How early can you get the second shot of Moderna?”

The answer:

The earliest you can receive the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is 28 days.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine exactly two weeks ago with no major side effects except the usual sore arm. Would it be possible in a few months to get the Pfizer or Moderna as a booster to help prime the immune system?”

The answer:

I know that there is much information circulating about the virus and variants and what vaccines are most effective. This can make your head spin!

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious COVID-19 infections. This means that you may get sick, but it will be a mild, cold-like illness.

There are booster shots in development for the new strains of COVID-19. When they are out, you may want to consider getting one. For now, I see no reason for you to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in addition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had the first vaccine on Monday and had to do a CA (cancer antigen) 125 test two days later, it came back abnormal. Is that possibly the result of having received the vaccine? My oncologist did not know I had the vaccine and ordered a CT scan. Next dose is in three weeks. How long should I wait for a second CA 125 test?”

The answer:

I’m not aware of any currently available COVID-19 vaccine causing an abnormal CA 125 test result. I recommend you follow up with your oncologist.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I wanted to ask if I have been fully vaccinated but my husband has not been, I know it is 95% effective, but do I still need to continue to wear a mask around my husband? We have not slept in the same room for months. I wear a mask whenever he comes home. Is it necessary for me to continue. 

“I’m overweight with Type 2 diabetes. I have mild CHF and an arrhythmia from chemo and radiation. I have been treated for asthma in the past and chronic bronchitis. So I have a lot of risk factors. I have had breast cancer with a recurrence in lymph nodes four years later, but I’m five years out from treatment, so can I stop wearing a mask around my husband? He refuses to vaccinate. I will continue to wear a mask in public, but it would be nice to not wear one around him and to be in the same room to sleep.”

The answer:

Since you have a history of medical issues that increase your risk of complications associated with COVID-19, I suggest that you continue to wear your mask around your husband.

I know conversations around vaccination can

be difficult. I suggest that you speak frankly and from the heart to your husband and attempt to determine why he is against vaccination. There

are some great resources on the website:

www.inthistogethercambria.com. Together you can look at the information and help alleviate any fears or misconceptions your husband may have about vaccination.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My granddaughter went to her father’s for a weekend visit, spending time with four step-siblings and stepmother. She left Sunday and the dad came down with COVID on Thursday. I am high-risk, COPD and diabetic on oxygen 24/7. We are to meet Sunday for a family day. Is it safe for me to be with her.”

The answer:

Your granddaughter is a close contact with exposure to another person (her dad) with COVID-19. She should quarantine. Ideally, people should quarantine separately. Her quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is her quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

I recommend you get vaccinated for COVID-19 considering your high risk and medical history.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received my second Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 12. My husband just received his second Moderna dose on March 16. My husband sings with a man vocal group and they have been rehearsing three nights a week for a few months – to my dismay. On March 19, after rehearsing the previous night, one of the members was hospitalized with a fever. While they rehearse he said they social distanced (which I can’t see) but couldn’t sing with masks on, of course. If the hospitalized member is found to have COVID, is there danger of my husband getting it or bringing to me? I am a Type 1 diabetic. Or of us passing it to others even if we do not contract it?”

The answer:

I am happy to hear that both you and your husband chose vaccination. Thank you!

It takes our bodies 14 days to be fully vaccinated after the last dose of the vaccine. In your case, you are fully protected. The Pfizer vaccine affords 95% protection from infection (with recent studies showing it provides 80% protection against the UK variant).

Your husband is not considered fully protected until March 30. In this case, your husband needs to quarantine, if it is found that he was exposed to someone with COVID-19, for at least 10 days (14 if he is does not test negative on Day 7 or 8).

You do have a 5% chance of becoming sick. I urge you to wear your mask when sharing space with anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“We have a trip to Florida planned on March 26.

We just found out that my son’s friend tested positive a couple of days ago. My son sits next to him in one of his classes. The school told us my son has to quarantine for 10 days as a safety precaution. 

“Should we cancel the trip? We were told by the airline that as long as my son has no symptoms, he can still fly. We plan on getting him tested in a few days as well. If he tests negative and has no symptoms can we still fly to Florida? We would hate to cancel the trip if he is negative and has no symptoms.”

The answer:

Your son is a close contact with exposure to another person with COVID-19.

I recommend your son quarantine. Ideally, people should quarantine separately. His quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your son’s quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I am 8 months out from my COVID infection and am a long-hauler. Though my symptoms have gotten much better, I still randomly get a low-grade fever and struggle with fatigue. I recently got an antibody test and it showed I had IgG antibodies, which is great this far past initial infection but it also showed I tested positive for IgM antibodies. 

“To be on the safe side I got a COVID test and it was negative. Is it safe for me to get the vaccine or should I wait until the IgM antibodies drop off?”

The answer:

An excellent question.

A positive SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) IgG antibody test indicates you had a previous infection, but it doesn’t give the exact date. Positive IgM and positive IgG antibodies indicates you may be in either the active phase of infection, or the late or recovery stages of infection.

If the negative COVID-19 test was a Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), then in my opinion, you are in the late or recovery stages of infection and it is OK to be vaccinated. However if the negative COVID-19 test was a rapid SARS antigen test, then I do not recommend vaccination now, and instead I advise you to get a RT-PCR swab test as soon as possible. 

If the PCR test is positive, then that indicates you are in the active phase of reinfection, and you should self-isolate at least 10 days if you are not immunocompromised and 20 days if you are immunocompromised. In this case, defer vaccination until you have recovered from the acute illness and no longer require isolation.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“If a periodic booster vaccination is found to be necessary, will you have to be vaccinated with the same vaccine that you were initially administered?”

The answer:

What a great question.

It is looking as if a COVID-19 booster may be necessary due to the variants that have been emerging and will likely to continue to emerge.

These boosters will be modified to match the various variants associated with the changing virus.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My husband and I got the Moderna vaccine on March 2. His only side effect was tiredness. I had severe chills and headache for a couple days, but Tylenol helped tremendously.

“My husband tested positive for COVID on March 10, after being ill with chills, fever and headache for a day or so. He is 83 and has heart conditions and leukemia. He was in the hospital for 13 days before he tested negative, but was very weak and still tired. He was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehab, which is going slowly. He has no appetite and has lost 15 pounds or more since being ill. He is scheduled to stay in the nursing facility for a total of 10-14 days.

“My question is, should he get the second dose of Moderna vaccine on schedule, March 30, even if he is still very weak and tired? The nursing facility said he could go with me to get the vaccine, but then would need to return to rehab to finish up until he feels stronger. Do you think he should still get the second dose on time or put it off until he feels stronger?”

The answer:

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, my opinion is your husband should receive his second dose of the Moderna vaccine as scheduled on March 30.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“Can a person who had COVID on Jan. 13 and has recovered, but was not vaccinated, now be in the same household with a fully vaccinated person three weeks after vaccine? They are a couple, but had been separated since she had COVID.”

The answer:

COVID-19 reinfection is possible, but is uncommon within 90 days following initial infection.

The safest option is for the person who had COVID-19 on Jan. 13 to be fully vaccinated before sharing the same household. Fully vaccinated is greater than two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) or greater than two weeks following one dose of a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“My 39-year-old spouse received his second dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the first week of January. Early last week, our son who attends elementary school where there are no requirements to wear masks (our son does however, and is the only one of two or three in the entire school) became sick with fever, cough, congestion, fatigue and aches for days. Last night, my spouse became sick with scratchy throat, headache, congestion, fever, chills, body aches and loss of smell and taste. He went to be tested, only because of the smell and taste issue. He had a PCR test that we were told was positive after three hours. I was shocked. 

“I, too, have received both vaccinations and have not had symptoms. I guess my question is, how often is this happening? I know it is supposedly 96% effective and my spouse could just be in that unlucky 4% category or possibly infected with a variant. Just wanting to report this or find out how many others have been so unlucky or unfortunate.”

The answer:

I am so sorry to hear that your husband and son are sick. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 from the original strain. A recent study out of India showed that it is 80% effective against the UK variant. 

Without knowing the specific genome of the virus your husband had, it is difficult to say if he was infected with a variant or the original.

What has been documented is that those who are vaccinated have a milder case of COVID-19 if they become infected. I sure hope this is the case with your husband.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“I had my first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 7 and 28, respectively. On March 17, at a doctor visit at a Mount Sinai clinic, I asked my doctor if an antibody test could be run (given that blood was to be drawn for other assays). She agreed and I just got my results March 19. I really was shocked to see that I tested negative on the Abbott SARS-CoV-2ab, lgG test. 

“The results indicated ‘no detectable antibodies.’ Is that possible? I am really devastated, thinking that I was protected, but I am just as vulnerable as before getting the vaccine. And now what do I do? Get revaccinated?”

The answer:

An excellent question.

First, I do not advise repeat vaccination. You are fully vaccinated, and the Pfizer vaccine is 94-95% effective.

Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection. Experts are currently looking at how a COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Antibody testing is not currently recommended to assess for immunity to COVID-19 following vaccination or to assess the need for vaccination in an unvaccinated person. Since vaccines induce antibodies to specific viral protein targets, post-vaccination serologic test results will be negative in persons without history of previous natural infection.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My mom got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Five days later, she got COVID-19. Will the shot help her at all in recovery?”

The answer:

Vaccination following exposure is not likely to be effective for preventing the disease; however, being fully vaccinated limits severe illness.

It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. That means it is possible a person could still get COVID-19 just after vaccination. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I’ve not been tested for COVID, but have been sick with several symptoms for a week as of today. My husband received the first of his two-part vaccine four to five days ago. I’m struggling with, ‘Should I get tested?’ 

“Explain why or why not please. My main concern is this: Is my husband in danger? And if I do have COVID, how long should I wait/quarantine before getting my own vaccine?”

The answer:

Regarding you, I recommend getting tested as soon as possible with a molecular PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) swab test. I also advise you to self-isolate in a private room and use a private bathroom, if possible, while you wait for your result.

If your PCR test is positive, I recommend you continue self-isolation for 10 days if you are not immunocompromised and 20 days if you are immunocompromised.

It is currently recommended to defer vaccination in persons with known-current COVID-19 infection until the person has recovered from the acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

As for your husband, if you test positive, I recommend your husband self-quarantine separately since he is not fully vaccinated. 

His quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is his quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“My partner and I live together and have been following all safety protocols for the past year. We were going to see my partner’s family over the weekend and got a PCR test the previous Wednesday. 

“I got my results Thursday night that said negative, but my partner got his on Friday morning saying he was positive. I got a rapid test on Friday and tested negative again. The only out-of-normal thing I did was see my friend who had COVID, but was no longer contagious, based on what her doctor said. Is it possible the positive test was a mistake? Or should I assume I have already been infected?

“Thank you for your time and all the great work you do!”

The answer:

In my experience, a positive PCR (molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction) swab test is highly accurate. I recommend your partner who tested positive self-isolate separately in a private room and use a private bathroom if possible. 

His isolation can end after 10 days if your partner is not immunocompromised, and 20 days if your partner is immunocompromised.

You are a close contact, and I advise you to self-quarantine separately. Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option for you is that your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen tests negative on Day 7 and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Finally, I’m assuming neither of you were vaccinated. If that’s true, I recommend vaccination for both of you. Your partner may be vaccinated when he has recovered from acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“I saw that someone recently asked if they could give their husband COVID if they were vaccinated and he wasn’t. They can. 

“My husband is fully Pfizered. 

“His second dose was five weeks ago. He just came down with COVID, and he is pretty ill. His doctors said he is highly contagious. He has been sick now for seven days and in isolation for only three because we assumed it was just a cold at first and then had him tested. So the vaccine, from my personal opinion, only protects the person who is vaccinated in that they are not likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID. 

“People are believing they are safe because they were vaccinated, but they still could infect someone.”

The answer:

Thank you for your statement.

It is known that vaccinated individuals are protected from severe COVID-19 illness. The question of transmission is one that science is still working out. This is why we all still need to wear our masks.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I am about to get my second dose of vaccine, but my husband refuses to be vaccinated. Will I still be protected?”

The answer:

It will take two weeks from the last shot of the series for you to reach full protection. Even with that, the vaccine efficacy – how well it will protect you – is not 100%. For the Pfizer vaccine, when tested, prior to the variants emerging, the effectiveness was 95%. The Moderna vaccine, when tested, prior to the variants emerging, was 94.1% effective.

What does that mean? If you received the Pfizer vaccine, you have a 5% chance of becoming infected. For the Moderna vaccine, it is a 5.9% chance.

I am sure you have spoken to your husband about why he does not want to get vaccinated, but if you are looking for more resources, please check out www.inthistogethercambria.com. This is a local group in Cambria County that is working to provide education surrounding COVID-19.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I had both of my vaccinations by the end of January. Two weeks after receiving the last shot, I started having a horrible reaction of swelling and joint pain in both my hands, wrist and elbows. My hands are definitely the worst. It’s been two months, and the swelling and pain have not completely gone away. I’ve been to my health care provider two times with steroids give both times. However, my hands have not returned to their prior state. I have had inflammatory lab work done and nothing came back showing anything. I had the Pfizer vaccination.

“Are you seeing any other responses of other people having the same issue? I have an upcoming appointment with a rheumatologist in a few weeks to try to help. I have no prior history of this.”

The answer:

Thank you for your question, and I’m sorry to hear of your arthritic problem after Pfizer vaccination.

We have given about 8,000 Pfizer vaccinations at our medical center and have not encountered what you are describing.

Patients and health care providers (HCP) are encouraged to report adverse events after vaccination to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) even if it is not clear that the vaccine caused the adverse event. In addition, HCP are required to report certain adverse events after vaccination.

VAERS is co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

I’m glad you have an appointment scheduled with a rheumatologist, and I strongly encourage you to keep that appointment. 

Your history and physical findings are suggestive of an acute inflammatory arthritis which may be immune-mediated.

I’m hoping you’ll have a complete recovery.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“What should I do if I’m exposed to a person with COVID-19 11 days after I am fully vaccinated?”

The answer:

It does take 14 days to reach full vaccination. While vaccination is highly effective, a good way in preventing you from getting COVID-19, you must meet three criteria to avoid quarantining. 

According to the CDC, they include:

• Being fully vaccinated, meaning it’s been two or more weeks since you’ve received the second dose in a two-dose series or two or more weeks since you’ve received a single-dose vaccine.

• You’re within three months of the last dose of a vaccine (the second dose if you’ve received a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine).

• Remaining asymptomatic since your current COVID-19 exposure.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I have been trying to find out if I can get the second Moderna vaccine (scheduled for March 28). 

“About 40 minutes after my first shot, I experienced a minute of shortness of breath (shallow breathing) with abdominal pain, immediately followed by a flushing event (felt like when I had dye injected for a non-invasive angiogram). As soon as the flushing was done, the breathing was normal and the pain subsided. I am trying to find out if I am OK to have the second dose of Moderna. I talked with my PCP and he said for me to talk to the people where I received the vaccine, but they only said to discuss with my PCP. 

“I read the CDC presentation and it sounds like I should not get the second dose. I do want to be fully vaccinated since I am high-risk (coronary heart disease and chronic bronchitis).”

The answer:

Hypersensitivity (anaphylactoid) reactions have been reported with the COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA) during vaccination outside of clinical trials. You didn’t mention if you had any adverse reactions to the influenza (flu) vaccine.

I can’t predict with certainty whether or not you’ll have a serious adverse reaction to the second Moderna (mRNA) dose. 

Another option is to consider getting the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine 28 days after your first Moderna dose. The Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine.

If you decide to proceed with vaccination, I advise the following:

• Receiving the vaccine at a medical center facility, where there are trained and readily available medical personnel to treat any serious adverse reactions.

• Having appropriate medical treatment, including epinephrine, for anaphylactoid and/or serious hypersensitivity reactions immediately available during vaccine use.

• Being closely observed for at least an hour or longer.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had a positive COVID test three days after the second shot. I’m having the typical side effects from the vaccine itself, but I lost my sense of taste and smell. Will the vaccine help treat the virus?”

The answer:

One dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine may offer 50-80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94-95% effective two weeks after the second dose.

You didn’t mention if you had a SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) viral diagnostic test. I recommend a molecular PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) swab test.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“I received my first vaccine March 3. This morning I received a message that I could sign up for my second dose, but it’s been only 13 days. Is it safe to get the second shot this early, or is it better to wait 21 days?”

The answer:

I am sure that request was confusing. 

It is necessary for the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be 21 days or more after the first. I advise you to schedule the shot for the next available appointment after March 24. It is my guess that the establishment that contacted you wanted you to schedule for a time slot after that date.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I tested positive in December. I am scheduled to get the Moderna vaccine this coming week. After getting the vaccine, I’m scared that I will experience worse side effects and feel more sick than I did when I had COVID. I’ve heard that people who already had the virus and get the vaccine react worse than those who have not previously had COVID. Is this true?”

The answer:

Thank you for your question, and I understand your concerns. In my opinion, the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible are worse than the potential vaccine side effects.

I advise you to consider the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • • 

“Me and my husband had COVID. We both will be getting the Pfizer vaccine in May. We both decided to only get one shot as more and more evidence is coming out that if you had COVID already, one shot is all that is needed. My husband had no symptoms of COVID. I only had a headache for 11 days.”

The answer:

As with any medical procedure, you should follow the guidance set by science and medical professionals. This means that you should get both shots of the mRNA vaccine you are scheduled for.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had two vaccines of the Moderna about a month ago. I am considering having some contractors in the house. I have been told that I will have to remind them to wear masks. What is risk the to me of them working in my home?”

The answer:

The Moderna shot is 94.1% effective at stopping infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. I would like to point out that the data it was based off was before the emergence of any of the variants. 

This means that the vaccine may not be as effective against the variants. This is normal and happens with all viruses. When viruses replicate, they make mistakes at a rate science can predict.

What does this mean for your question? 

It means that you and your contractors should wear masks when in the home together, since there is a chance that you could develop an infection.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • • 

“On Jan. 19, I had my first COVID vaccine (Chinese) and the date for second dose was Feb. 9, but unfortunately I had pneumonia during the second dose time with all symptoms, but the PCR swab test was negative. I did an IgG test and it was positive. 

“What shall I do in this case for second dose? Can I take the vaccine now or wait for months and start again with first and second? I am totally confused.”

The answer:

First, I’m not sure which vaccine you received on Jan. 19. Since the second dose was scheduled on Feb. 9 (21 days later), perhaps the first dose was the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. However I’m not certain.

Second, your positive IgG antibody test means you were previously infected, but it doesn’t give the exact date. It’s also not known for certain whether you are either fully or partially protected from future infection with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), or how long your natural protective immunity may last.

Therefore, my advice for you is to consider vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. I recommend you discuss this with your physician.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“When I received my second Pfizer vaccine, the immunizer gripped a few more inches of the skin above my deltoid muscle and squeezed it tightly while injecting the vaccine. I’ve read that this could have resulted in the vaccine being administered subcutaneously rather than intramuscularly, and that the efficacy could therefore be diminished. I had a very noticeable reaction to the second shot the evening after it was given: aches, headache, fatigue and weakness. Does that mean that despite the immunizer are squeezing the flesh on top of my deltoid, that the vaccine was administered properly into the muscle?”

The answer:

The immune system is a marvelous thing! Any foreign substance is recognized, and a response is generated. While the vaccine is to be administered intramuscularly, with the practitioner flattening the skin instead of pinching, any introduction will result in an immune response.

Rest assured that your immune system responded to the vaccine. The symptoms you describe are indicative of a robust reaction to the vaccine.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 30. I got COVID 10 days later. I was still too sick to get the second vaccine within the 43-day period. Since I am not considered fully vaccinated, I wanted to redo the whole thing. I do not know how to go about this because I am unable to make an appointment in VAMS.”

The answer:

The Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) is an appointment scheduling system provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Creating an account and registering in VAMS requires creating an account for yourself with a unique email that is not shared with anyone else.

In my opinion, there are two options, either receive the second Moderna dose even though it’s late, or consider the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine.

I suggest you contact your local health department for assistance in scheduling your vaccine choice.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“How long do I have to wait after testing positive to get a shot?”

The answer:

If you are not symptomatic, you do not have to wait for the vaccination. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should wait for those symptoms to resolve before getting the vaccine.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“I would like to know why adverse reactions to the COVID nasal swabs aren’t being documented. Also, are there any chemicals in the swabs? What negative side effects have people experienced from the nasal swab procedure such as headaches, migraines, blood pressure spikes, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiac issues as well as reactions to any ingredients used in the actual materials used to make the swabs? As someone who has had some life-threatening reactions to various drugs and procedures that most people never experience, it’s vital that I have this information before I get tested.”

The answer:

I can infer from your comments that you have experienced side effects from pharmaceuticals.

The nasal swab that is used in the COVID-19 test is a cotton swab that is sterile, no contaminants of any kind. When you are swabbed for the test, the practitioner will place the swab no more than 3/4 of an inch into the nose. Some individuals will experience discomfort and have a bit of a runny nose after the swab. No headaches of any kind should occur as a result of the sampling.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My grandson had a COVID test on March 4 and it came back positive. He is asymptomatic. I have been fully vaccinated (Pfizer) two weeks ago. Am I safe to be around him at eight days in?”

The answer:

You are fully vaccinated, and the Pfizer vaccine is 94-95% effective. Therefore, your risk is low, less than 5%.

If your grandson is not immunocompromised, his isolation should end 10 days since the date of his positive test. If he is immunocompromised, then 20 days of isolation is recommended.

At this time, I recommend you and your grandson wear a mask and continue good hand-washing hygiene.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My mom and sister have had two doses of their shots for a couple of months now. My daughter and I tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 28 with mild to moderate symptoms. We have ended our isolation period after 10 days and have not had fever for over a week. We still have slight fatigue but no other symptoms. Is it safe to visit my mom and sister who have had their shots?”

The answer:

In my opinion, yes.

At this time, I recommend everyone wear a mask and continue good hand-washing hygiene.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“Can the Moderna vaccination affect routine blood work, my labs came back bad after vaccination?”

The answer:

I’m not aware of any lab abnormalities caused by the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. I recommend you follow-up with your physician as soon as possible regarding your abnormal lab results.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I had my first Moderna vaccine on Feb. 12, then was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 11 (one day prior to my scheduled second vaccine. I almost made it.)

“I am immune suppressed, 69 years old, good physical shape and experiencing mild symptoms. An antibody infusion is scheduled but I

am having second thoughts if I should take it. The current literature recommends waiting

90 days before the second vaccine after receiving the infusion.

“My question – if it is recommended to wait 90 days after the infusion for the second vaccine, why is it safe to have the infusion 29 days after the first vaccine?”

The answer:

Intravenous monoclonal antibodies can be used to treat persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk (defined as immunosuppressive disease, currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment, age greater than 65, diabetes, chronic kidney disease; or age greater than 55 and have at least one of the following: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or COPD/chronic respiratory disease) for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. The monoclonal antibody infusion should be given as soon as possible after a SARS-CoV-2 positive test result and within 10 days of COVID-19 symptom onset. The person should be monitored in a medical center facility for possible hypersensitivity reactions at least 1 hour after completion of the infusion.

The proposed mechanism is the monoclonal antibodies bind to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and acts as neutralizing antibodies, thereby preventing viral entry and replication. As a precaution, it is recommended to defer vaccination for at least 90 days following receipt of COVID-19 convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibody therapy.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“If I just recovered from COVID, and have already tested negative, but all other members of my household are still testing positive, can I infect others?”

The answer:

Sometimes the virus is persistent in detectable levels up to 12 weeks or longer after infection, but likely isn’t infectious. For this reason, people previously diagnosed with symptomatic COVID-19 who are asymptomatic after recovery shouldn’t undergo virus testing within three months after the date of symptom onset for the initial infection. Therefore, you are likely not infectious at this time.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“My roommate started feeling sick around March 8 and tested positive on March 13. My last exposure was March 13 and I have tested negative three. I am supposed to get vaccinated. Should I postpone? Also, at one point will I know for sure that I am not at risk of being tested positive?”

The answer:

Based on current literature, the incubation period (the time from last exposure to development of symptoms) for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) ranges from 2 to 14 days. Thus, your potential incubation period is March 15-27.

You are a close contact and should self-quarantine separately. Vaccination following exposure is not likely to be effective for preventing the disease from that exposure. Therefore, persons with known exposure should wait to seek vaccination until their quarantine period has ended.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“My daughter is flying to Florida for a vacation. She is scheduled for her COVID vaccine the day after she returns. Should she wait seven days after return to get her COVID vaccine in the event she may have been unknowingly exposed during her travel?”

The answer:

As long as your daughter is not symptomatic, she can receive her second shot. There is no need to delay because of possible exposure.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

 

“My entire family had COVID-19 in early January. Symptoms ranged from just coughing to a slew of symptoms for some of us. My son had surgery 10 days ago after a negative test. 

“Today, due to continuous difficulties following his surgery, they moved him to another intermediate care unit. They tested him beforehand. He tested positive, so he is now in COVID ICU. I was allowed to be his only visitor these past 10 days. No visitors now. Doctor said I should get tested despite having had the virus. 

“Do I need to isolate from the rest of my family, who have all had COVID, until I get a result that is negative? Three of them have already received their first dose of Moderna or Pfizer. The youngest is too young for a vaccine. I am not vaccinated yet.”

The answer:

We don’t know how long natural immunity lasts after infection. Studies of the mRNA

vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) suggest that one dose may offer between 50% and 80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

You are a close contact of your son who was diagnosed with COVID-19. Therefore, I recommend you self-quarantine separately. Your quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Another option is your quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen done on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

Persons with known exposure should wait to seek vaccination until after their quarantine period has ended.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“If I get the vaccine and my husband doesn’t, could I give him the virus?”

The answer:

Anyone who is not vaccinated is at a greater risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2. You will not give the virus to your husband because of vaccination, but you may be able to transmit it to him in the 1-3 days it takes your immune system to destroy the virus after exposure.

Individuals who have been vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus. A study done in monkeys shows that the virus may be in the nose in the 1-3 days after exposure. This equates with no clinical infection, as the immune response will destroy the virus, but it does not assume that those individuals are incapable of spreading the virus in that time frame.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My husband and I had both vaccines. Can we visit our family who all had the virus five months ago?”

The answer:

If you and your husband are fully vaccinated (i.e., 2 weeks after the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine), the vaccine is 94-95% effective. Therefore, your risk is minimal, less than 5%.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I took the first dose of Pfizer on Jan. 8. It’s been 11 weeks. Could I still take the second dose?”

The answer:

Yes. Research conducted during the clinical trials says that 21 days is the least amount of time that can occur between doses. In the United Kingdom, they are delaying 2nd doses of the Pfizer vaccine up to 12 weeks.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“I am scheduled to have my second Moderna vaccine on March 24. I am currently having an outbreak of shingles and started antiviral treatment March 11. Will I be safe to have that second dose of Moderna vaccine?”

The answer:

When your shingles rash has no blisters, wait 2 weeks before you get the second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received the second dose of the vaccine exactly two weeks ago and decided to see another fully vaccinated family member whom I have not seen in a year. We were sitting in close proximity outside in an open field with no one within 10 feet of us with our masks off for at least an hour. 

“She is a health-care worker who has been seeing patients and has been seeing other fully vaccinated people without masks on since the new CDC guidelines. Should I be worried that she has seen patients and other people within hours/days of seeing me? How long should we be waiting in between seeing our fully vaccinated loved ones without masks on?”

The answer:

Current guidelines say that small groups of vaccinated individuals can gather. This is great news!

Individuals who have been vaccinated may still be able to transmit the virus. A study done in monkeys shows that the virus may be in the nose in the 1-3 days after exposure. This equates with no clinical infection, as the immune response will destroy the virus, but it does not assume that those individuals are incapable of spreading the virus in that time frame.

Since you are both vaccinated, it is unlikely that you will develop clinical symptoms of COVID-19 from an exposed individual. However, it is best for us all to keep wearing our mask and washing our hands when in public. You wouldn’t want to give COVID-19 to an unvaccinated individual.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I just received my first Pfizer COVID-19 shot on March 13, and have a scheduled physical and blood work. Will it be OK if I get blood work done prior to receiving my second shot?”

The answer:

Yes.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had a second vaccine dose of Moderna a month ago. I work as a nurse practitioner in an urgent-care center where I am exposed to positive COVID-19 every day. A few days ago, after a month from my second and last dose, I felt mild symptoms that I recognized as possible COVID-19.

“A rapid ID NOW test gave a positive result. Then 24 hours later, I was feeling well, and a rapid ID NOW test gave me a negative result. To be sure, I sent it to the lab for the actual viral testing and the result was not detected. 

“Can vaccinated people overcome infection in 24 hours? Or was my positive a false one?”

The answer:

If the lab viral testing was a PCR (Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction), my opinion is the first rapid SARS antigen test result was a false positive.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“If I got my first COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer) and change my mind about the second vaccine, can that bring any complications in the future?”

The answer:

Oh, I wish you would reconsider.

There have been more than 109 million doses of the vaccines given to individuals and very few severe side effects documented. 

You made it over the last hurdle, now sprint to the finish line! 

Your body is already making antibodies to protect you from SARS-CoV-2, please give it the boost it needs to cross the finish line.

However, to answer your question, no, there are no complications that could occur as a result of not completing the vaccination series – unless you consider getting COVID-19 a complication.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My wife and I have had our COVID shots. My daughter and my grandson have just tested positive. Are we safe? They do live with us.”

The answer:

The short answer is no.

It will take two weeks from the last shot of the series for you to reach full protection. Even with that, the vaccine efficacy, how well it will protect you, is not 100%. For the Pfizer vaccine, when tested (prior to the variants emerging) the effectiveness was 95%. The Moderna vaccine, when tested (prior to the variants emerging) was 94.1% effective. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested after the emergence of the variants and it was found to be 85% effective at preventing severe disease and 66% effective at preventing all infection.

What does that mean? If you received the Pfizer vaccine, you have a 5% chance of becoming infected. For the Moderna vaccine, it is 5.9% chance. For Johnson & Johnson, it is 37% chance of becoming infected, but only a slight chance it will be severe.

I suggest that you have your daughter and her son self-isolate, and that you and your wife avoid sharing space with them. Wear a mask in common areas and wash your hands regularly.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • • 

“My daughter had to have a blood transfusion seven months ago for female issues. When signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine, it asked if she had a blood transfusion in past year. Does that mean that she shouldn’t get the vaccine?”

The answer:

Thank you for your question.

Certain vaccines cannot be given to an individual who has received a blood transfusion. Vaccines that contain live virus are not recommended for individuals who are within six weeks of the transfusion.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain mRNA. For this reason, they can be administered to individuals who have received a blood transfusion. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains an adenovirus, the causative agent of the common cold. This vaccine has a live attenuated virus in it, the genome of the adenovirus has been removed and the mRNA for the spike protein of SARS-Cov-2 has been inserted. More research needs to be conducted to determine if this viral vector vaccine is suitable for individuals who have received a blood transfusion.

The question was asked for your daughter’s protection. I suggest that she seek out an mRNA vaccine.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had a mild case of COVID-19 in early winter. I have completed my vaccine dosage. I have been exposed. Do I need to quarantine?”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination. If you are fully vaccinated the current guidelines state that you do not need to quarantine as long as you are asymptomatic.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

 

“I am on chemo. On March 4, I received my second Pfizer shot. I felt pretty good the next two days but Sunday and especially today I’m exhausted and just feel awful. Is this normal with second shot?”

The answer:

Fatigue may be a side-effect of the COVID-19 vaccine and/or chemotherapy. I recommend you contact your medical oncologist as soon as possible for further instructions.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I am scheduled to get my COVID shot, and also scheduled to have surgery four days later. Will I be safe to do this?”

The answer:

You didn’t mention which COVID-19 vaccine you’re scheduled to receive. You’ll be fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna), or two weeks after one dose of a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

Surgery is not a contraindication to the vaccine.

I recommend you discuss with your surgeon whether to delay surgery until after you are fully vaccinated.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I have pneumonia and I got the vaccine without telling them that, because I was afraid they wouldn’t let me get it. Will this hurt me?”

The answer:

The decision to administer or delay vaccination because of current or recent illness depends on the severity of symptoms and the cause of the disease (pneumonia).

In general, it is recommended to defer vaccination in patients with moderate or severe acute illness (with or without fever) and to provide vaccination in patients with mild acute illness (with or without fever).

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I saw someone else mention them getting the vaccine and some of it leaked out. I got my shot today and afterward the tech said, ‘Oops, some is running down your arm,’ and she wiped it up with a cotton ball. Should I be worried that I didn’t get the proper dosage? My second shot is in 28 days.”

The answer:

I don’t know how much of the vaccine leaked out. Therefore, I cannot advise repeating the first dose. I do recommend receiving the scheduled second dose in 28 days.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“My physician told me that I should wait on getting a vaccine shot because I have a mild case of COPD and I had a couple real light strokes. I’m 60 years old I just want to know why she said that.”

The answer:

I don’t know why your physician said that, and you should ask her for an explanation.

In my opinion, you should receive whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“My 66-year-old husband is five days away from getting his second Moderna shot. He has decided to play poker with seven players, most of whom are younger and have not been vaccinated. 

“I objected to that since I’m not vaccinated yet due to being only 56. I’m considering isolating from him as much as possible. Is that unreasonable? He claims he is mostly protected and I shouldn’t worry. We do not live in a high transmission area, but you never know.”

The answer:

One dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine may offer your husband between 50-80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19. What is not known for certain at this time, is whether he can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus to someone who is not vaccinated.

The decision to isolate from him depends upon his exposure to another person with COVID-19.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I tested positive for COVID on Feb. 12 with a pcr test. I had no symptoms. I tested again on Feb. 14, both rapid and pcr. Those tests were negative. Regardless of negative tests, I was told to isolate as a precaution. During this period, I have been congested and a few bouts of diarrhea but no other symptoms. It has been 22 days since I tested positive and I was informed that I was safe to return to work and end isolation. Is this sound advice?”

The answer:

In my opinion, you may end isolation and return back to work with safety precautions including masking and good hand-washing hygiene.

We don’t know how long natural immunity lasts after COVID-19 infection. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“We would like to know the likelihood that our adult daughter would be exposed after my daughter-in-law goes for her 20-week ultrasound. Our family includes husband 68, daughter 30, me 70. Husband and I received second dose of Moderna; daughter not yet eligible. My son’s family includes son 33, daughter-in-law 31, their daughter/our granddaughter 3. Son and daughter-in-law received first dose of Moderna. We are all in the same pod.

“We don’t live together, but households self-isolate and mingle exclusively together since March 2020 – with occasional re-isolations for medical/vaccination appointments. My daughter is the only one not yet qualifying for vaccine. All are members of same HMO medical system. Both households use no contact, online/Instacart shopping only. Son and daughter-in-law work from home. Husband and I are retired. Daughter not employed.

“Could our daughter-in-law be exposed to virus during medical appointment including ultrasound, and could she would expose/transmit to our granddaughter, who might expose/transmit to adult daughter? We believe our vaccination status minimizes our ability to transmit exposure. 

“We watch our granddaughter 3-4 days a week. We recently quarantined for 20 days to accommodate our first vaccinations and daugh-

ter-in-law’s previous prenatal visit. Granddaughter experienced serious separation anxiety during our time away. We very much want to minimize the effect on granddaughter. We also want to be mindful of adult daughter’s risk of exposure. My son has a chronic medical condition.

“Advice?”

The answer:

Persons are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series (Moderna COVID-19 vaccine). At that time, the Moderna vaccine is 94% to 95% effective. Thus, the risk is minimal, approximately 5% for persons fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine. One dose of the Moderna vaccine may offer 50% to 80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

It’s not known for certain at this time whether persons who are fully vaccinated can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to people who are not vaccinated. We’re hopeful that vaccination reduces transmission of the virus, and some preliminary data seems to suggest that; however, more research is needed to draw a definitive conclusion.

In my opinion, exposure risk is minimal during medical appointments when taking adequate safety precautions.

Finally, transmission risk depends on multiple factors, i.e., prevalence of COVID-19 in the area, exposure(s) to other person(s) with COVID-19, whether the exposure was infectious and how contagious is the virus, length of time and proximity of the exposure, preexisting medical condition(s) and immune status of the contact, etc.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

“I received my first shot of the Moderna vaccine on Feb. 3. Unfortunately, that shot seemed to be given too high, and I have been experiencing some shoulder pain and tingling in my shoulder blade and neck. That has gone on for five weeks now. I can move my arm, and I am treating the intermittent problems with heat, Tylenol and a consultation with my neurologist. We believe the shot hit a nerve and/or was injected into the bursa.

“My second shot, which was on March 3, was, as suggested, administered in the opposite arm. The health professional administering the shot, who knew very well of what happened the first time, ended up administering this shot too low, about eight fingers down from my shoulder bone instead of the three. 

“We do not believe it was in the deltoid muscle.

“I have been extremely distraught and frightened over thinking that I very well may not be vaccinated at all from either shot. I have been working with the health center and reported my concerns to Moderna. As of now, Moderna has said that I should not be administered another shot or new series of two. I am scheduled to have the Roche Elecsys antibody test on March 17, which will be two weeks after my last shot. We are hoping that maybe the information from there will give me some idea if I am vaccinated at all.

“There seems to be some protocol if one shot of the two series is administered improperly or at the wrong site, but it is an extraordinary situation to have both shots given incorrectly. My biggest questions are the following:

“Do vaccines that are administered incorrectly provide any immunity at all?

“How am I to proceed in life – as a vaccinated person or as one who has no immunity?

“I am 71 years old. This is a matter of life and death to me. Can I see my vaccinated friends? Can I see my children and grandchildren? I have no idea how to view my future. I need to be vaccinated and I need to have the confidence that I can go out into the world and be safe.”

The answer:

My goodness! I am so sorry to hear about your issues with vaccination. I am happy to hear that you are being an advocate for yourself.

While there is no specific data regarding your exact situation, I can tell you that our immune system is amazing! We are exposed to pathogens in so many ways daily. 

The vaccines may have been given incorrectly (for that I feel for you), but they were still given. Your body was exposed to the pathogen and is making antibodies to it right now. I am confident that your antibody test will show what I am saying.

Until you have the results of your antibody test, I suggest that you remain cautious when visiting those who are not vaccinated.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“I am 68 and my husband is 72. 

“We have both had our first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine. Our son is in dire need of our help to take care of our 2- and 4-year-old granddaughters all day, twice a week. They attend preschool the other three days. It will be difficult to stay masked all day while caring for them. How critical is it that we keep those masks on?”

The answer:

Wearing masks protects both the grandparents and the grandchildren. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 94% to 95% effective two weeks after the second dose. Therefore, there is a 5% risk for the grandparents. More research is needed to draw a definitive conclusion if COVID-19 vaccination stops the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) to the grandchildren. The CDC continues to recommend masking regardless of vaccination status.

Therefore, at this time, I recommend that the grandparents mask as much as possible. Better safe than sorry.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My husband and I had our two Pfizer shots. I am 68 years old. He is 78, with a pacemaker and some heart issues. Is it safe to go food shopping? We have been using Instacart for a year. We haven’t gone anywhere except around the block and occasional doctor appointments. My gut tells me to wait and see how the virus trend continues. We live in south Florida.”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination.

Individuals who are fully vaccinated, two weeks post second shot for Pfizer or Moderna and two weeks post Johnson & Johnson shot, should still wear their masks when in public.

If you are comfortable venturing out, it will be OK for you to do so. 

Remember to wear your mask, social distance and wash your hands regularly.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • • 

“I received my first vaccine (Pfizer) Sunday evening. I tested positive the next day after displaying symptoms. In retrospect, I realize that I probably had symptoms at the time of my vaccine. They were just not obvious to me. I continually hear to delay vaccination if you are currently sick. Am I in any danger from receiving the vaccine while I was probably already symptomatic? 

“I am now three days out from the vaccine, and my COVID infection so far is mild.

The answer:

Your self-isolation will be 10 days since symptoms first appeared if you are not immunocompromised, and 20 days if you are immunocompromised. You are not in any danger from receiving the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

It is currently recommended to defer vaccination in persons with known current COVID-19 infection until the person has recovered from acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

In my opinion, it’s OK for you to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine after your isolation has ended and you are recovered.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My wife received her first dose of the vaccine about three weeks ago. We believe my family was exposed/contracted COVID from a fast-food chain about 10 days ago. 

“I and my two daughters started having symptoms. Four to five days after symptoms started, we all tested positive. My wife tested negative. She started having symptoms two days after testing. 

“Should she get retested?”

The answer:

I do not see the need for your wife to get retested. There is a high likelihood that she is positive. She can still get her second dose, as long as she is not symptomatic on the day it is to be administered.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My brother-in-law has recently undergone a major surgery. He is now being transferred to a skilled nursing facility. He has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and does not have the virus, but they are being told he must be quarantined for two weeks. The facility is telling them this is a CDC guideline. 

“Is this true, and does the guideline not provide exceptions for individuals who have been fully vaccinated? He has some cognitive issues, and being quarantined will likely worsen his condition.”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination.

Each individual facility has the right to require their own safety procedures. The interim guidance from the CDC states that fully vaccinated individuals, those that are two weeks post-second shot with Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks post-J&J shot, do not need to quarantine if they are not symptomatic.

I suggest that you speak to the facility regarding your brothers-in-law’s condition. Maybe something can be worked out.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“In our family, eight adults have been vaccinated. Four teens and an 11-year-old old have not. Is it safe to have Easter dinner with them all inside?”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination for you and your family.

Current guidelines allow for vaccinated individuals to gather with other vaccinated individuals. Those in your group who are vaccinated have the potential to expose those in your group who are not vaccinated to the virus.

Science is still working to determine whether vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus to those that are not vaccinated. 

A few studies show that the Pfizer vaccine reduces transmission from vaccinated individuals to non-vaccinated individuals to almost nothing after full vaccination, 14 days post-second shot. 

Those studies have not been completed with the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine yet.

Bottom line, there is risk of transmission to the teens and 11-year-old. I suggest you have those that are not vaccinated wear a mask when the whole group is together and have them eat in a separate room that is well-ventilated.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

“Can I be immune from COVID-19 if I haven’t had the virus? Could there be something in my DNA or in my immune system to where I can’t get COVID-19?”

The answer:

What a great question. Scientists are looking into this question daily.

A study done in Denmark showed that blood type O may offer some protection against COVID-19 infection. Researchers compared data from more than 473,000 individuals tested for COVID-19 to data from a control group of more than 2.2 million people from the general population. Among the COVID-19 positive group, they found fewer people with blood type O and more people with A, B and AB types.

It is a great question and one we all want to see answered. For now, I hope that you choose vaccination. It is the most effective way of preventing COVID-19.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • • 

“My girlfriend and I are seniors and do not live together. We have been separately quarantining except for masked trips for essential shopping or medical appointments. We both practice hand-washing as well as disinfecting surfaces religiously. We both now have completed the Pfizer vaccine’s second shot and have recently taken nasal-swab tests that were negative. What is our risk level of COVID-19 infection if we were now to meet for dinner at my home without masks?”

The answer:

I’m glad that you both received the COVID-19 vaccine. In my opinion, if it has been more than two weeks following your’s and your girlfriend’s second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the risk is low, less than 5%.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • • 

“I had my first shot on Feb. 13. Now, 20 days later, my arm is swollen and feels hard. Also, it is red and feels hot. Should I be concerned?”

The answer:

Thank you for choosing vaccination.

Your issue sounds more like an infection called cellulitis than a response to the vaccine. I recommend that you contact your medical provider and be seen.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I have a vaccine scheduled for 13 days after my pneumonia shot. Is that ok?”

The answer:

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended 14 days before or after other vaccines. In my opinion, 13 days is OK.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 • • • • •

“I had my first vaccine on Feb. 27. Rite Aid has scheduled my second on March 23. This is not the recommended 28 days. I had reactions to the first shot – body aches, sore burning throat and chest and bad headache. Is it safe to get the second at this interval?”

The answer:

I can understand your concern. Things keep changing and they likely will keep changing.

For the Moderna vaccine, 28 days is the shortest time that can occur between doses. 

If you must delay the shot by a few days, that is OK. In fact, recent guidance from the CDC notes that six weeks can occur between doses without a loss of efficacy.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“My husband tested positive for COVID seven days ago on Feb. 23 and started with symptoms on Feb. 22. On Feb. 26, I started having mild symptoms such as a sore throat and nasal congestion, but not aches and chills like my husband. These mild symptoms lasted a couple of days. I got a rapid test through my school district and it came back negative on March 1. I am wondering if I have COVID. If I don’t, what is the time window/chance I could still get it? I haven’t been able to self-isolate from my husband, so I guess I am still exposed daily.”

The answer:

If your husband is not immunocompromised, his self-isolation should have ended. If he is immunocompromised, his self-isolation should be for 20 days since his symptoms first appeared.

Since you haven’t self-quarantined separately, your chance of COVID-19 infection is 50/50. For you, a negative rapid SARS antigen test result does not rule out COVID-19 infection. 

If a RT-PCR (Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction) test result is positive, I recommend you self-isolate 10 days if you are not immunocompromised and 20 days if you are immunocompromised.

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, I advise vaccination regardless of whether you already had infection. It is recommended to defer vaccination in persons with known current COVID-19 infection until the person has recovered from acute illness and no longer requires isolation.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“My husband and I both have COVID. He tested positive on a Tuesday. I tested positive the following Monday. It’s just the two of us in our small home. Do we need to isolate from one another and wear masks even though we both have the virus?

“We each are struggling with low-grade fevers, body aches and feeling tired. We do keep up with sanitizing the counters and laundry. However, I feel it seems pointless to wear masks when we both have the virus.”

The answer:

You and your husband can be isolated together since you’re both positive. 

There’s no problem in having multiple people isolate together as long as we’re sure they’re all positive.

I do recommend that you and your husband wear masks outside your home when isolation ends.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 • • • • • 

“I received the first dose of the vaccine from my job as a nurse and was waiting on the second dose when a family member tested positive, went into quarantine for 10 days as per protocol. I tested prior to and was negative in the rapid and PCR test, retested on day 10 and was positive for the virus, so another 10 days of quarantine, and missed the second dose. 

“Question is do I need the second dose if I had the first and still contracted the virus?”

The answer:

Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection.

Studies of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) suggest that one dose may offer between 50% to 80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19, although more data is needed. We also know you get some amount of protection after infection, but we don’t know in either case how long that protection lasts.

Therefore, I do recommend the second dose of the vaccine.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“Does the Pfizer shot turn your urine red?”

The answer:

No.

If your urine is red, I recommend you immediately seek medical evaluation because that may be a sign of genitourinary bleeding due to a tumor or stone or possibly a bladder bacterial infection (cystitis).

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I am 86 years old and it has been five weeks since my first Moderna vaccine injection from Advocate/Aurora at Lutheran General Hospital. 

“The original schedule for the second shot was canceled and they keep saying they will get more vaccines soon. I know the directive say that a six-week lapse is OK, but I fear it may be longer. 

“I have been looking for other locations – such as the United Center – and do not even know if they will offer the second shot. Any advice would be appreciated. What I do not understand is if the weather delayed the initial shipment, where did it go when the weather cleared? Supposedly, these doses were earmarked for senior citizens’ second doses.”

The answer:

You are correct the current guidelines are a six-week lapse is OK. In the United Kingdom, second doses have been delayed for up to 12 weeks. That is not the recommendation, but the data out of the UK is showing that individuals are still mounting an immune response that is comparable to the three-week data.

I cannot speak to the vaccine distribution in your area or why it is delayed except to say that vaccine supply is an issue across the country.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

 

“I got the vaccine shot on

Friday, March 5. I am having thyroid surgery about two weeks later. Am I safe?”

The answer:

You didn’t mention which COVID-19 vaccine.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine, you’ll be fully vaccinated two weeks following the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

If you’re received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (both of which are a two-dose series), one dose may offer between 50-80% protection against symptomatic COVID-19.

If you are receiving either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, I recommend you receive the second dose as scheduled (21 days for Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for Moderna vaccine).

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I had my first vaccine on Feb. 10. I came down with a stomach ache off and on, fatigue, slight headache and diarrhea for two days, no temperature. This started on March 1 and now I am better. 

“The clinic noted this could be a reaction from my first vaccine. The body is building immunity. 

“Could this be a possibility? I

did do a COVID mail-in test to

make sure, and I am waiting for results.”

The answer:

I have good news! Your symptoms indicate that your immune system is mounting a response to the vaccine. I have no doubt that your body is making an army of antibodies to protect you. Since you had a reaction like this to the first one, the second shot may produce slightly more of a reaction. There is nothing to worry about in that case either.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

 

“I had my first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 25. The next evening I had an accident and lost a lot of blood. I did not have to get a transfusion but my hemoglobin dropped to 10. I was also given a tetanus shot. Will my vaccine still be good? Should I get the second dose as scheduled or redo both shots?:

The answer:

I’m sorry to read of your accident.

I do not recommend repeating the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is probably scheduled on March 18 (21 days after the first dose).

Since you were given a tetanus vaccine, allow a minimum interval of 14 days after the tetanus vaccine before receiving the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“On Jan. 6, I had a monoclonal antibody infusion done because I tested positive for COVID-19 

three days prior. At 64, I have COPD and hypertension. A week ago, I got tested again and received a positive result. Is it possible I got reinfected again? My only symptoms are nasal and feeling fatigued. Should I take the test again?”

The answer:

Sometimes the virus is persistent in detectable levels up to 12 weeks or longer after infection, but likely isn’t infectious. The cause of this persistence of detectable virus has yet to be determined. For this reason, people previously diagnosed with COVID-19 shouldn’t undergo virus testing within 3 months after the date of symptom onset for the initial infection.

Since you were treated with monoclonal antibodies, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“I am due for my regular allergy immunotherapy shot this coming Thursday – for allergies ranging from trees, ragweed and grass to cats. As an educator, I received notification via email that we will be getting our COVID vaccines next week, also. 

“Is it safe to get these two shots so close together or is it necessary for me to spread them out a few days.”

The answer:

There have not been formal studies looking into time frames for vaccination after allergy shots. It is recommended by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that you not receive the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day as your allergy shots.

I urge you to reach out to your allergist for more information. Since your vaccine appointment is scheduled, may I suggest that you reschedule your allergy shot?

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

 

• • • • •

 

“I had my COVID test on a Saturday and didn’t receive positive result until Wednesday. How long do I need to quarantine?”

The answer:

You didn’t mention if you had symptoms or if you are immunocompromised.

• If you have symptoms and are not immunocompromised, your self-isolation is 10 days since symptoms first appeared.

• If you have symptoms, and you are immunocompromised, your self-isolation is 20 days since symptoms first appeared.

• If you don’t have symptoms

and are not immunocompromised, your self-isolation is 10 days since the date of your positive test

result.

• If you don’t have symptoms, and you are immunocompromised, your self-isolation is 20 days since the date of your positive test result.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

 

• • • • •

 

“My husband tested positive for COVID-19 via rapid result test. I’ve read they are less accurate. He has been sick for three days with flu-like symptoms, so I am inclined to trust the positive result. I had my second vaccination on Feb. 4. 

“I have him upstairs, and because I was exposed to him, my job has me staying home for the next 10 days as well. I have bleach to clean our dishes with and will spray disinfectant in our home to diminish germs. I wash my hands. He will wash his also as often as possible.

“Can I be with him, such as sleeping at night in the same bed? 

“Are there limitations to how much I can care for him? Should I wear a mask in my house around him?

“I’m hoping it is safe for me to care for him since I have been fully vaccinated. I just don’t know if there are precautions or limitations as to how much I should expose myself or what to do.”

The answers:

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are 94-95% effective two weeks after the second dose, which for you was Feb. 18. There remains a 5% risk of infection for you. Therefore, I recommend your husband self-isolate for 10 days if he is not immunocompromised and 20 days if he is immunocompromised. Your husband should self-isolate in a private room and use a private bathroom, if possible. If you are caring for him while he is in isolation, both should wear a mask and continue good and frequent hand-washing.

On Feb. 10, the CDC updated its quarantine recommendations to reflect SARS-CoV-2 vaccination status. People who are vaccinated (you) against COVID-19 do not need to quarantine after an exposure to another person with COVID-19 (your husband) if they meet all of the following criteria:

• They are fully vaccinated (i.e., more than two weeks following the second dose in a two-dose series, or more than two weeks following one dose of a single dose vaccine);

• They are within three months following the last dose in the series; and

• They have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.

Therefore, if you (wife) have no symptoms, you do not need to quarantine separately.

Outside your home, the CDC continues to recommend COVID-19 preventative measures such as masking, physical distancing, avoiding nonessential travel and good hand-washing hygiene for all people regardless of vaccination status.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I received my first shot of the vaccine on Feb. 4. I was scheduled for the second one 30 days later. 

“However, that appointment was canceled because the vaccine was not available at that facility. What if I am unable to schedule the second shot prior to the 28 days?”

The answer:

Thank you for your question.

This question was addressed in a New England Journal of Medicine article published on March 4. This article outlined that it is acceptable to delay the second dose of an mRNA vaccine up to six weeks.

I hope this information helps to ease your worry about the vaccine, and thank you for choosing vaccination.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had a severe reaction to a TB test in the early ‘70s, where my entire arm became red, swollen and itchy. Are any of those ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine? I have many allergies to antibiotics, also. I get flu shots with no problems. Should I not get the vaccine?”

The answer:

Serious hypersensitivity reactions have been reported with the COVID-19 vaccines, but are rare. 

Minor side effects include discomfort or pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint aching, chills, fever, nausea or vomiting.

I’m not aware of cross-reactivity with a TB test and the COVID-19 vaccines.

Since you’ve had no problems with flu shots, I believe you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine with reasonable safety.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I had my second vaccine two days ago. I just received an email from someone I was in the same office with for a whole day, indicating that I have been exposed – she experienced symptoms and got tested and it came back positive. 

“How should I proceed? Do I get tested? Can I go to work, or do I need to quarantine?”

The answer:

An excellent question.

If the exposure was two weeks after your second dose, quarantine would not be necessary. However, that is not the case. Therefore, I recommend that you self-quarantine separately. Your quarantine can end after Day 10 without testing if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. The other option is that quarantine may end after Day 7 if a diagnostic specimen on Day 7 tests negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“I just had my second COVID vaccine – Pfizer. Tomorrow, I am suppose to visit my 86-year-old brother because he is having surgery the next day. Am I taking a chance of taking any sickness to him? Today I have a headache, chills and low-grade fever. Also, is my immune system down because of the shot, and could I catch something myself?”

The answer:

Thank you for your question.

It takes 14 days after the second shot to be fully immunized. There are studies being done to determine transmission after vaccination now. 

Some studies with the Pfizer vaccine show that it not only prevents COVID-19 but may stop the spread of the virus, SARS-CoV-2.

Your immune system is responding to the vaccine with the fever, chills and headache. This means that you are building your response to COVID-19.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“I have received both COVID Moderna vaccines. My 74-year-old brother has had some bad info given to him and he is thinking of not getting the shots. We are supposed to do a road trip moving him back to Alaska from Arizona in May, and I do not feel comfortable if he does not get his shots. We are close, and I have been looking forward to this trip for a year. 

“Information on driving through Canada does not state shots are necessary, but I would like to help him change his mind. He is diligent about flu shots, shingles shots and his health, but he has a friend that is sort of anti-everything.”

The answer:

I suggest that you check out this website: https://inthistogethercambria.com/resources/covid/vaccines/#immunity.

I have addressed many of the common myths here.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. 

• • • • •

“After my wife and I have received our second Pfizer, will we always test negative? Is it still possible that we could test positive? We want to travel to the Bahamas in May. We must present a negative test to enter the Bahamas and a negative test to reenter the United States. Is there a risk that we will not test negative?”

The answer:

The COVID-19 genome test looks for active infection. If you receive the rapid test, it is also looking for active infection. Antibody tests for COVID-19 should be positive in the few months after vaccination. After that, the natural response will decrease and our immune system will hibernate. When and if you are exposed again, within two to three days, the immune system will respond and destroy the virus.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

“Are there any studies of people vaccinated for COVID that were infected and subsequently were long haulers?”

The answer:

What a great question. In fact, it is one that is being looked at by science now. Currently, there are no published studies looking at reinfection and severity of that infection after vaccination. 

We simply don’t have enough people vaccinated yet.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“My husband received the vaccine and there was a problem with the needle. 

“Some of the serum leaked out. Now they want to give him a new shot two days later. Is that safe?”

The answer:

I don’t know how much of the vaccine leaked out. Therefore, I cannot advise getting another vaccine injection in two days.

I do recommend getting the second dose of the vaccine at the scheduled time, which is in 21 days for Pfizer and 28 days if Moderna.

– Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber. 

• • • • •

“What is ‘COVID arm’? I received my first Moderna shot on Feb 13. Slept a lot, no big deal. On Sunday, Feb. 21, the injection site swelled and became extremely itchy. Apparently they have dubbed this ‘COVID arm.’ Why did this happen, and am I likely to get very sick with a second dose? I also feel this is an effect that is underreported.”

The answer:

Thank you for your question.

What you experienced is called delayed hypersensitivity. You may be familiar with an allergy test. When this occurs, a small amount of an allergen (tree pollen, cat dander, mold) is injected into the layer just under the skin surface. If a person is allergic, the body (via the immune response) will produce a hive. It will be itchy and red and swell a bit.

Some individuals who were vaccinated with the first shot may experience a similar reaction. Their bodies mounted immune responses to the vaccine contents, and when they get the second shot, a hive is produced at the site of infection. This may mean that they are allergic to the lipid delivery system, polyethylene glycol. It is harmless and will not cause any decrease in efficacy of the vaccine. In fact, just the opposite! The body did mount a response, and it showed how willing it is to fight the pathogen.

There is a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. This hypersensitivity has been documented in a few of the more than 76 million doses.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“I had my first shot on Jan. 8 and second on Feb. 6. Both were at drive-thru sites. In January, I could not see what the technician was doing as he had his back to me. I had absolutely no reaction to the first shot and I became suspicious as to whether the syringe had vaccine in it. I did have a mild reaction to the second shot – a sore arm and fatigue for a day. Also, in February, the technician showed me the syringe. Is there any test that will indicate if I have full immunity?”

The answer:

Our immune systems respond to infections by mounting an adaptive response. This specific adaptive response is dependent on how severe our symptoms are, how old we are and if we have any underlying medical conditions. After the response occurs, our immune system generates four types of memory cells: Helper T-cells that help the other white blood cells, Killer T-cells that kill cells of our body that are infected, memory B-cells that make antibodies, and antibodies, found in the serum of our blood. 

Most individuals who are vaccinated will not experience any side effects. A few experience fatigue, injection site pain and fever.

If you are concerned about your vaccination efficacy, you can get a COVID-19 IgG antibody test. I do not think this is necessary. Our immune systems are amazing! If you had any response at all, you are protected.

– Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“Can I still get the vaccine if I am on an antibiotic?”

The answer:

I can understand your concern. Antibiotics are taken for bacterial infections. The vaccine is for a virus. You can receive the vaccine if you are on antibiotics. You shouldn’t get the vaccine if you are having symptoms of an infection.

Jill D. Henning, associate professor of biology, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

• • • • •

“Will getting the mRNA vaccine prevent me from finding out if I presently have Memory B-Cells for COVID-19? I’m presently trying to get a diagnosis for post viral symptoms from a respiratory illness from Feb. 20 and would like to know what exactly caused this before I get the vaccine. Otherwise I may never know what’s wrong with me.”

The answer:

In general, a positive blood SARS-CoV-2 IgG test result is presumed to mean a person has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at some point in the past. SARS-CoV-2 IgG detection occurs a median 14 days after infection with a range of 10-21 days.

In my opinion, vaccination will not interfere with a blood SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) IgG antibody determination.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •

“I initially got a negative COVID test result 3-4 days after symptoms first appeared. I took another test 4 days after that first test and received a positive result. I suspect my first test result was a false negative because I was in the early infection stage. 

“I took another test 17 days after my positive test date (24 days since initial symptoms) which came out negative. It has been 28 days since my initial symptoms, but symptoms have not improved. (I am specifically concerned about my breathing difficulty, though X-ray came out normal.) Is it safe to stop isolating, or is it likely I got a false negative result on my recent test and so should continue isolation?

“My doctor has reassured me that I am clear to end isolation, but I am very hesitant especially considering the similarity of my current condition to my initial condition (with symptoms but negative result). All my tests were nasal swab RT-PCR tests.”

The answer:

I agree with your physician that it is OK to end isolation. A study found that in patients who had recovered from COVID-19, almost 90% reported persistence of at one symptom, particularly fatigue and shortness of breath.

I recommend you follow-up with your physician. 

If your breathing difficulty persists, you may need further testing including possibly a CT scan of your chest, pulmonary function studies, and/or cardiac evaluation.

Also, due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with either monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. David Csikos, chief medical officer, Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.

• • • • •


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Brown University women’s soccer signs 8 recruits ahead of 2020 season http://www.jacphotographic.com/brown-university-womens-soccer-signs-8-recruits-ahead-of-2020-season/ http://www.jacphotographic.com/brown-university-womens-soccer-signs-8-recruits-ahead-of-2020-season/#respond Mon, 26 Apr 2021 14:14:35 +0000 http://www.jacphotographic.com/?p=1881

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University women’s soccer will welcome eight new student-athletes into the program as members of the Bears’ Class of 2024, Brown head coach Kia McNeill announced on Tuesday.

The class – currently ranked in the top 20 nationally by TopDrawerSoccer – provides balance across the pitch with a goalkeeper, three defenders, and four attacking players. The group spans the continental United States with two student-athletes from California and one each from Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nevada.

The members of the Class of 2024 include midfielder Lucinda Anderson (San Francisco, Calif.), forward/midfielder Cam Berry (Las Vegas, Nev.), midfielder/forward Evelyn Calhoon (Menlo Park, Calif.), forward Naomi Ferguson (St. Louis, Mo.), defender Kiera Fullick (Orland Park, Ill.), goalkeeper Clare Gagne (Orono, Minn.), defender Jessica Hinton (Middletown, Conn.), and defender Kaitlyn Williams (Peachtree Corners, Ga.).

Lucinda Anderson

Position: Midfielder
Height: 5-foot-8
Hometown: San Francisco, Calif.
High School: Marin Academy
Club Team: San Francisco Elite Academy

Prep Accolades: Garnered Second Team CIF All-North Coast Section honors as a junior … Earned First Team All-League honors twice … Gained Second Team All-League accolades as a freshman … Totaled 91 career points on 54 career goals and 37 career assists … Notched 19 goals and 17 assists as a senior … Played for head coach Josh Kalkstein … Competed on the club level for Mill Valley Rockers, Paris Saint Germain, Marin FC, San Francisco Elite Academy, and NorCal ODP.

Why Brown? “I chose Brown because the open curriculum will allow me to study a plethora of subjects that I’m interested in. As a curious person, I will have the ability to take many classes that aren’t in my concentration. I also am excited about the reputable professors, amazing opportunities for scientific research, and the diversity and intellectual spirit of the student body. I’m also super excited for the soccer team because the coaches and the players seem to share the same intensity, love for the game, and kindness.”

McNeill on Anderson: “Lucinda is a midfielder/forward who has an engine to compete on both sides of the ball. She covers a lot of ground and has a competitive fire to her game that has led to a lot of success at the club and high school level, and most recently was announced as the MVP of the BCL-West in California. She has continually gotten better every year in her high school career, and I look forward to seeing her continued development here at Brown.”

Cam Berry
Position: Forward/Midfielder
Height: 5-foot-7
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.
High School: Bishop Gorman
Club Team: Heat FC ECNL

Prep Accolades: Ranked in the TopDrawerSoccer IMG Top 150 and as the No. 49 player in the nation … Gained Nevada All-State All-Desert Region accolades … Captured a Nevada state title as a junior … Won team’s Defensive Player of the Year … Captained team as a senior … Played for head coach Doug Borgel … Competed on the club level for Heat FC ECNL; played for coaches Tom Amick and JJ Wozniak … Gained All-ECNL First Team Southwest Conference honors in 2018-19 … Selected for ECNL PDP Mountain Event … Participated at the US National Training Center in 2018-19 … Earned the Scholar-Athlete Award and Nevada All-State Academic Team accolades twice … An AP Scholar with Distinction.

Why Brown? “I knew I wanted to go to Brown the moment I set foot on campus! First, I love how competitive yet welcoming the entire soccer program is. I am so excited to grow as a player and learn as much as I can from so many incredible athletes. Second, the academics at Brown are simply unparalleled. The high-level classes mixed in with the open curriculum ensures that I will be able to maximize my academic experience at Brown, as here I am encouraged to follow both my love for science and my passion for languages. I truly am ecstatic to be a Brown University student-athlete!”

McNeill on Berry: “Camden is a highly touted attacking player out of Las Vegas who has had an incredible club career with Heat FC. She is ranked as one of top 50 players in the 2020 class. She has great vision and awareness in the final third and is a true finisher in and around the box. She also has a great work ethic which fits well with our up-tempo style of play.”

Evelyn Calhoon

Position: Midfielder/Forward
Height: 5-foot-6
Hometown: Menlo Park, Calif.
High School: Menlo-Atherton
Club Team: Mountain View Los Altos SC

Prep Accolades: Started every game over her four seasons … Selected for ECNL PDP Northwest in 2017 … Part of the 2014 US Soccer Regional Training Pool … Played for coaches Albertin Montoya and Seth Alberico … Competed on the club level for Mountain View Los Altos SC … Also competed in wrestling – a program which she co-founded – for head coach Phil Hoang … Placed first at the 2019 Central Coast Section Tournament and third at the 2019 California State Tournament in wrestling … Took a gap year before attending Brown, taking part in a documentary filmmaking program in Colorado which included a 30-day mountaineering trek in Patagonia in South America.

Why Brown? “The balance of continuing to grow my academic curiosity and challenge myself on the soccer field is very important to me. I’m excited about the community I’ll find at Brown and the ability to pursue passions, while pushing personal limits.”

McNeill on Calhoon: “Evelyn is an incredibly technical and active player that will help us in the midfield. She has good vision and creativity on the ball to unlock defenses and her ability to play make will complement the forwards on our roster well.”

Naomi Ferguson

Position: Forward
Height: 5-foot-3
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
High School: MICDS (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School)
Club Team: St. Louis Scott Gallagher ECNL

Prep Accolades: Participated at U.S. National Team U15 National Training Camp in June 2015 … Earned St. Louis American Soccer Player of the Year honors … Gained First Team All-Conference accolades twice … Garnered First Team All-State and First Team All-Region laurels … Played for head coach Jack Fischer … Competed on the club level exclusively as a junior and senior … Played for St. Louis Scott Gallagher ECNL … Participated at U.S. Girls National Team U15 National Training Camp in June 2015 … Honor Roll student.

Why Brown? “Brown University gives me an opportunity to pursue a world-class education, while also playing soccer in the very competitive Ivy League. The diversity of the women’s soccer team as well as the open curriculum at Brown were also very attractive to me.”

McNeill on Ferguson: “Naomi is an extremely dangerous forward. She has deceptive pace and strong 1-vs-1 abilities that make her a handful to defend. She has a knack for the goal and has been a proven gamechanger for her club team. She has been fun to watch over the years, and I am excited to finally have her here playing for me at Brown.”

Kiera Fullick

Position: Defender
Height: 5-foot-10
Hometown: Orland Park, Ill.
High School: Carl Sandburg
Club Team: Eclipse Select Soccer Club

Prep Accolades: Won an Illinois State Cup Championship in 2017 … Selected for the ECNL Midwest CSP Camp in 2019 and ECNL Midwest PDP Camp in 2018 … Helped lead team to the ECNL Midwest Conference Title … Played for coaches Marc McElligott and Nick Kolliniatis … Competed on the club level for Eclipse Select Soccer Club … An AP Scholar with Distinction and National Merit Semifinalist.

Why Brown? “I chose Brown because attending Brown would allow me to continue my academic career at the highest level, while also continuing to play the sport I love. Brown also was the perfect location for me: a mix of an urban lifestyle, with Providence right by it, and a college campus that would allow for a more traditional college experience. The first time I visited Brown, I immediately fell in love with the school.”

McNeill on Fullick: “Kiera is a hard, gritty defender who plays with her heart on her sleeve. She is fearless and willing to do whatever it takes to get results and plays for one of the most reputable club teams in the country, Eclipse SC in Illinois. She is extremely coachable and disciplined and will be a great addition to our defensive unit.”

Clare Gagne

Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 5-foot-10
Hometown: Orono, Minn.
High School: Orono
Club Team: Minnesota Thunder Academy

Prep Accolades: Ranked in the TopDrawerSoccer IMG Top 150, as the No. 51 player in the nation, and as the No. 5 goalkeeper in the nation … Received Great Lakes Class of 2020, High School Stars: Top Honors … Earned All-State accolades twice … Gained All-Conference honors all four years … Garnered First Team All-Metro laurels … Selected as a Minnesota State Ms. Soccer Finalist … Helped lead team to state runner-up finishes three times … Gained MNHSL All-Tournament Team accolades twice … Tallied 51 career shutouts … Served team as captain twice … Played for head coach Erin Murray at Orono … Competed on the club level for Minnesota Thunder Academy and coaches Danny Storlien and Terry Leindecker … Selected to the Midwest Player Development Program (PDP) and ODP Region II Pool twice … Earned ECNL Midwest All-Conference honors as a junior … Reached the ECNL National Playoffs twice … An AP Scholar with Distinction.

Why Brown? “Brown provides the unique opportunity for me to push myself both on the field as well as in the classroom, allowing me to explore many different interests in an academically intense environment, while also continuing to play the sport I love in a competitive program.”

McNeill on Gagne: “Clare is a phenomenal goalkeeper and ranked as one of the top five goalkeepers from the 2020 class in the country. She thrives under pressure, is a good organizer, technically sound, and has great distribution. She will be a great complement to our strong goalkeeper unit, and her game is going to continue to soar here at Brown.”

Jessica Hinton

Position: Defender
Height: 5-foot-6
Hometown: Middletown, Conn.
High School: Loomis Chaffee School
Club Team: Oakwood Soccer Club USSDA

Prep Accolades: Earned Prep School Defender of the Year honors from New England Soccer Journal … Gained All-NEPSAC All-Star Team honors twice … Garnered All-State accolades … Invited to the 2019 Connecticut Senior Bowl …. Played as a center defender for head coach Linda Hathorn … Competed on the club level for Oakwood Soccer Club USSDA as a center defender for head coach Matt Cameron.

Why Brown? “I chose Brown because it provided me with the perfect balance between soccer, academics, and extracurriculars, allowing me to fulfill my aspirations in all three.”

McNeill on Hinton: “Jess is a lockdown defender who is very good defensively 1 vs. 1, strong in the air, and has good distribution playing out of the back. Her strength, athleticism, and speed make it difficult for forwards to get by her, and I’m confident she will help us maintain our BWS reputation of being stingy defensively.”

Kaitlyn Williams

Position: Defender
Height: 5-foot-7
Hometown: Peachtree Corners, Ga.
High School: Greater Atlanta Christian School
Club Team: Atlanta Fire United

Prep Accolades: Garnered First Team All-Region accolades in 2019 and Second Team All-Region in 2017 and 2018 … Won two region titles … Helped lead team to State Tournament semifinals twice … Earned team’s Defensive Player of the Year honors twice … Started all four seasons … Served team as a senior captain … Played for head coaches Tia Graves and Mike Giuliano at GACS … Competed on the club level for Atlanta Fire United (2016-19), United Futbol Academic (2015-16), and Norcross Soccer Academy (2008-15) … Won a 2016 Super-Y National Championship in 2016 … Gained Gwinnett County Scholar-Athlete honors … National Merit Commended Scholar … AP Scholar with Distinction Award … National Honor Society student.

Why Brown? “I chose Brown because of the top-notch academics coupled with the strong and competitive athletics. Brown’s open curriculum really appealed to me with the possibility to expand my learning beyond my concentration. After visiting many schools, when I stepped on campus at Brown – it is hard to describe – but I got the feeling it was the right place for me. The size of the student body, the potential to continue playing soccer at the highest level, and the stellar academics, along with the atmosphere and all that Providence has to offer, made Brown an overwhelmingly easy choice for me.”

McNeill on Williams: “Kaitlyn is a hard-working and tough defender from Atlanta. She reads the game well to close down attackers, and does a good job mitigating chances on goal from the opposition. She plays with passion and is a fierce competitor which are some qualities I love to see in defenders, and I look forward to having her join our team this fall.”


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