mahogani: the story behind the name

April 03, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve told this story a few times before but I definitely don’t mind telling it again ;-). 

As I reflect on my five years as a freelance media professional, it’s only fitting that I share the story behind the name that started it all.

In '98-'99 I was an undergrad at LSU in Baton Rouge, working on my Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication.  I’d started publishing a hip hop newsletter, called Urban Word, which I distributed around campus. 

The newsletter got the attention of one of the DJs at KLSU who hosted the alternative station’s only hip-hop show called Underground Sounds.  I was invited to hang-out during a broadcast of the show. He, his co-host and I became fast friends and I spent many a Monday night hanging out, sometimes even co-hosting with them. 

Within the year the DJ named CJ suggested that I get my own show and referred me to the student program director.  I proposed an R&B show (later named The AfterParty) that ran right after Underground Sounds

Before my first show, CJ asked what I would call myself.  My given name and adolescent nicknames simply wouldn’t do, so I had to come up with something new. 

I was taking a Greek Mythology course at the time and was in love with the goddess Athena (Goddess of Wisdom and Inspiration).  I decided that would be my name.  

I shared my decision with the guys and was instantly shut down.  Thinking back it reminded me of that scene in The Temptations where they were told to go think of a new name.  I was told to the same. 

Later that week, the movie Mahogany came on TV and though I’d seen it dozens of times before, I guess I never really paid attention to what was being said.  When the title character (played by Diana Ross) asked why her photographer/mentor Sean what name he’d chosen for her (as he named all of his “objects”), he replied:

“There’s only one word to describe something rich, dark, beautiful and rare … I'm going to call you -- Mahogany.” 

That line stuck with me for days and I decided that would be the name I’d adopt as my new creative alter ego. I ended it with an “i” like my own name’s spelling variation and spelled it in all lowercase like one of my favorite authors did with his name -- e. lynn harris.  The name was approved by my KLSU counterparts … and along with my sultry overnight voice, the show was a success as well.

Mahogani to me was like Sasha to Beyonce. The alter ego allowed me to be a person that I wouldn’t normally be in public.  I was more confident, almost fearless – and it helped me create like never before.

Years later I wrote a plan for my future and the empire I wanted to build one day.  I would call it Mahogani Media, because it would encompass several forms of media, not just one.  

I only shared this dream with my closest friends.  At the time, it was really just a dream … something that was decades ahead after paying my dues.  I never anticipated being an entrepreneur until much later in life.  However, after working in corporate media and having trouble finding work in my field, I took the leap a lot earlier than expected.

Now mahogani had been around the whole time, pushing me to creative heights as always, but now it was time for the two personas to merge and introduce my creative dream to the masses. 

That introduction happened in 2009, and though it’s been a long, sometimes tumultuous journey, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Living my purpose is priceless. 

I’m forever grateful that I was inspired back in college to step out and claim my own destiny.  Mahogani allowed me to reach goals I never would’ve imagined.  And to be honest, she still does ;-)



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