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28 December 2012

The Morning Papers: Meet the writer/editor of the Beautiful Nights Blog

This is Part IV in a four-part series on the Beautiful Nights Creative Team:

   Who is K Nicola Dyes?
  The simple answer to that question is that I am the writer/editor of "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s," The Beautiful Nights Blog; the more compelling answer is that I am a person who has discovered a renewed sense of joy in life by combining two of my favorite things: writing and Prince.
  I was literally called out of "retirement" one day in November 2012 when the phone rang and Marcus Scott, of Beautiful Nights, was on the other end. His proposition was simple: to create a blog for his new Prince fan page on Facebook and, to kick it off, he would be able to get me an interview with The Twinz, Maya and Nancy McClean. That was a little over a month and seven posts ago.
  I had not written anything, besides e-mails and greeting cards, in nearly four years. After I was laid off from my job at The Union Democrat, a small-town newspaper, in 2009 I was bitter and frustrated that I could not find another writing job. At some point, I decided it was time to move on. I have languished in different jobs for the past few years to pay the bills: cashier at a pizza restaurant, concierge at The Underground Tour, a tourist attraction in Seattle and now as a front desk agent at a hotel (however, I am currently finding a lot of satisfaction in my current job).
  But, writing was always in heart, and I did not realize how much I missed it until I started doing it again. While interviewing Scott, Alexis Wofford and L'Quita Sanders, the other members of the Beautiful Nights team, I became intrigued by own questions. I thought that maybe people might be interested in the girl who would randomly post on the page and say "read my stories". 
  It is a little unorthodox, but, being a blogger, I think it is okay for me to be more accessible to my readers, which was not possible for me as a newspaper reporter. So, here is a little bit about me:
  ?: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you became involved with Beautiful Nights?
  KD: I have been a diehard Prince fan since I was 15 years old. Although I went to a performing arts high school (School of the Arts in San Francisco, where I played in the band), people at school kind of gave me a hard time for liking Prince. I did not care, because the thing that I loved about Prince, besides his music, was that he was okay with being himself, without giving a damn about what other people thought. In turn, I felt that made it okay for me to do the same. It was a very intense period in my life and Prince music has been my soundtrack ever since. I wanted to know about everything Prince: I sought out all the albums, read all the biographies and articles I could find and went to every single day. There was not really anyone at school to share my excitement with, so, I almost became like a "Purple Culture" scholar, amassing all this information to use at a later date.
  I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Russian from San Francisco State University in 2007. I met Scott when I was doing an internship that summer at the (now closed) Kane County Bureau of the Daily Herald in St. Charles, Ill. A mutual friend was having a house party one weekend and he was there. I did not really get to know him until 2008, when I came back for one of the now legendary Prince parties at Berlin, which I did periodically. In turn, he came out to visit me a few months later, when I was living in Sonora, Calif., where I was working as a reporter, and we went to a Prince party in Berkeley. After he left, I mailed him some clippings of some of my stories.
  We have kept in touch, on and off, during the last five years and in that time I moved to Seattle. It was that fateful phone call I mentioned earlier, where I was brought into Beautiful Nights, where they were already in full gear in Chicago. He said he wanted a blog for the page, which he said would make his fan group stand out from all the others, and I was the person who came to mind when he was thinking about a writer. He added that he still had those stories I sent him all those years ago. He came up with the title "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s," which is a play on "I've got the answers to your questions."
Courtesy of K Nicola Dyes

   ?: What area of expertise do you bring to Beautiful Nights?
  KD: I'm a writer, but, more importantly I am an interviewer; you cannot have a great story with a wack interview. My job is to make people who may not want to answer my questions feel comfortable enough to speak freely with me. I'm not afraid to get on the phone with people I never met and talk to them for hours.
  Also, from my days as a reporter, I am able to write effectively on different topics: I covered city and county government; food; travel; religion; business; health and entertainment. However, entertainment writing has always been my passion, particularly interviews with public figures. I cannot lie: I love famous people. During my career, I have been blessed enough to interview Mikhail Baryshnikov, the renowned ballet dancer; Singer and TV Personality Tony Orlando, who, before I interviewed The Twinz, had my undisputed vote for nicest celebrity ever; the late TV Producer David Gerber ("Room 222, "In the Heat of the Night"); Comedians Mark Curry and Victoria Jackson, of Saturday Night Live, among others.
  I am also constantly thinking of new ideas for the blog, all the things I ever wanted to know about Prince, but, was afraid to ask.
  ?: What is the best thing about being apart of Beautiful Nights?
  KD: I get to write about Prince! How cool is that? If there was ever a dream job, this would be it. I get to sit at home or at work or wherever and think about story ideas to related to Prince and there is already an audience in place who will read it. Friends have been imploring to write a blog for years, but, my question was always the same: "About what?" There are a lot of bloggers out there, what was going to make me different?
  Also, I like the fact that this is not a newspaper. There is structure, but, I am no longer governed by a set of rules that, in my opinion, are becoming outdated in as the speed of news increases every moment.
  ?: What would you like to improve about Beautiful Nights?
  KD: Nothing about Beautiful Nights, the group is great, but, I could use a bit more time management and organization on my end. I work full time (including two nights of graveyard shift) and between interviewing, editing and posting, it sometimes feels like there are not enough hours in the day. I want this endeavor to stay fun for me, I never want it to feel like a job. So, I know that the key to that is to get on top things now.
  ?: Who is your favorite protegee and why?
  KD: Jesse Johnson, as a solo artist. But, I would not call him a protegee, I would call him an associated act. I think he is baddest musician to ever come out of Prince's camp. All you need to do is listen to his guitar solos on "Fool's Paradise" and "Lovestruck" if you are not convinced. I'm also a fan of the work he has done for other artists, including Janet Jackson, Vanity, the song "Nights Like This" that he wrote for The Five Heartbeats" soundtrack and his guitar solo on "You Wear it Well" by DeBarge. I do not think he ever got the credit he was due, because people were always comparing him to Prince.
  I also want to give a shout out to Margie Cox, one of Jesse Johnson's protegees, the lead singer of TaMara and the Seen, who also worked with Prince on the unreleased MC Flash project. She is a very talented and underrated singer. I love them both.
  ?: Who would you like to see host the next Beautiful Nights party?
  KD: I would love to meet Jill Jones. I am a big fan of her 1987 album and I have also had the pleasure of listening to some of the cuts of her unreleased second album. In my opinion, she is another artist from the Prince camp who never got her due. In addition to that, she had worked with two of my favorite artists, Teena Marie and Prince and I would love to ask her some questions about that.

Drawing by Clayton Ballard
?: What is the most unique piece of Prince memorabilia you own or have owned in the past?
  KD: I don't just have one! This is a three-part answer:
  A) The first one is a framed charcoal drawing of Prince that a friend of mine drew for me and gave me on for my 29th birthday. What really made it so cool was that he gave it to me right before we went to go see a Prince concert at the Tacoma Dome in December 2011.
   B) The summer I did my internship at the Daily Herald in 2007 was the same year that the Chicago Bears went to the Super Bowl and Prince did the halftime show and, of, course, the paper sent writers and photographers down to Miami. For my going away present at the end of my stint there, the staff presented me with two framed photographs that the photo editor at the bureau, Rick, had taken himself during the halftime show. One was Prince by himself and the other was him with The Twinz.
  C) My grandmother's late second husband worked as a banquet waiter in some of San Francisco's best hotels for many years. In the early 1990s, he was working at the Clift Hotel when Prince was in town on tour. When I was in high school (around 1998), at the height of my Prince madness, he gave me this very small jar of honey that had a black label with gold letters that said: Prince, Scandalous Sex Suite, featuring Kim Basinger. He said that someone working with Prince had given it to him. He had kept it on his dresser until he gave it to me. I had it on my dresser from that moment all the way through college, until I moved out to accept that internship. I left that jar of honey behind and have not seen it since. In her haste to clean out my old room, so my younger brother could move in, a LOT of things came up missing and that was one of them. When I came home three months later to get my things, I could not find it. I asked her about it and she acted like she had no clue what I was talking about. I eventually forgave her and moved on, but, I am getting a small twinge of sadness just writing about it now
  ?: What would you like see happen with Beautiful Nights in the next year?
  KD: I hope I get to go to the next party! It is kind of difficult being in Seattle, when the rest of the team is in Chicago, but, I am going to find a way to make it work. I also want to expand the readership for "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s" and I am working on ways to expand my fan base. I love promoting Beautiful Nights, because I really believe in it; it is essential to have a place where Prince fans can come together in a positive way.
  I have an interview wish list, too: Margie Cox, Jill Jones, Mazarati and, of course, Prince, although that might be a long time coming. I also have a more large-scale story in mind: an in-depth feature that would be a critical history of, from the beginning until now, because that Web site truly fascinates me.
   I also hope that readers at some point become comfortable enough to reach out to me and suggest story ideas. Part of the reason Scott came up with the name "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s" is because we, at some point, want more member involvement and interaction. I am just the vessel to assemble information for the fans.
  ?: What message do you have for fans of the Beautiful Nights page?
  KD: The fact that people are reading my blog really warms my heart. All the time I spend writing means absolutely nothing if no one is reading. Do not be shy about telling me what you think about my posts-- good, bad or indifferent-- leave comments on the blog, post on my page, inbox me. I would love to hear from you.

Stay beautiful, Kristi


Lead drawing by Clayton Ballard.


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