Moguls in the Making

t wasn't easy for LaShaun "Phoenix" Moore to transition into her rightful place as a songstress after spending more than a decade as a force in Detroit's poetry community. Fortunately, she didn't have to do it alone. Local artists Inohs Sivad and Andrea Daniels are a critical part of Moore's re-emergence. Together, they've laid the foundation for a movement, and helped one artist find her true voice.

One recent night in downtown Detroit at the intimate 1515 Broadway performance venue, respected poet LaShaun "Phoenix" Moore stepped on stage for seemingly the 700th time in her artistic career. This night, however, was different. She announced her new role as a singer and songwriter, and her debut album, "Spaces Between the Rain." And this time, she sang.

For Moore, 35, the night was as much a declaration as a debut. For years, she had wanted to sing. She always added music to her spoken word performances, but felt misunderstood.

"When I was doing poetry, people felt like the vocals were the gimmick," Moore says. "But for me, the poem has always been the gimmick. I'm a good poet. I think that I'm a great singer. And I think I'm a phenomenal songwriter."

Moore, a siren with a silky voice, performed tracks from the soul music project, backed by a live band and three background singers. The album, produced by her business partner and musical collaborator, 39-year-old Inohs Sivad, was not the only revelation of the evening. Sivad's third album, "No Goodbyes," a tribute to the singer's recently deceased mother, would later pump during her own live performance with all the positive energy of her first two projects, "Is" and "Changes."

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Earlier in the night, a third partner-49-year-old writer and poet Andrea Daniels-read selections from her first book of verse, "Like Gwendolyn." The trio makes up the partnership MoGal Girls Aloud!, which promotes women who sing, write and rap. It has two divisions. MoGal produces and distributes the work of performing artists and publishes the writing of poets. And Girls Aloud is a promotional platform that organizes artistic events. The company is about women's work, and the partners seek to work with more artists.

Moore always found it easiest to write songs about love when she was actually experiencing it. If a relationship failed, she'd stop writing. Eventually, she met and married Tony Kotaran, a chef who cooked up some immediate support and stability.

Moore and Sivad met six years prior, after Moore saw her perform at the now defunct Camillion Cafe on the edge of Detroit's Greektown. Their friendship developed and Moore ended up writing eight songs for "Changes" and five more for "No Goodbyes," which includes rock and urban elements in the spirit of Meshell Ndegeocello. Daniels, a longtime friend of Sivad and creative compatriot to Moore, was a natural fit in an enterprise that was budding organically.

The refined Daniels is a true bard, given to self-analysis and awareness. A lifelong student of Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry, Daniels work lives on the page, making her a fit for MoGal's publishing endeavors. Collaborator and bassist Damon Warmack rounds out the crew.

Moore says MoGal's evolution has been an educational process. The "Space" album is an organic project. Every note is a manifestation of ease. It's reflective of Moore's current station in life.

"You're not too old to get what you want," she says. "Positive energy attracts what you think about. People receive it well when you write from an authentic perspective."

Sivad is her most profound self when working behind the boards. Moore, meanwhile, is a natural front person. She hosted long-running poetry series at venues like Cliff Bell's. Musically, they are developer and presenter, intersecting at times, but generally respecting each other's lane.

"Our voices blend," Sivad says of their creative and business rapport. "It's a really nice energy. We understand each other."

KHARY KIMANI TURNER IS THE CO-AUTHOR OF "SURRENDERED: THE RISE, FALL & REVELATION OF KWAME KILPATRICK" AND A RECORDING ARTIST.

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