RealEyes Bookstore is a gem located in Charlotte, NC and is owned by Darren “Jazz” Vincent. The location is nestled on the corner of N. Davidson and 33rd Street. The area is also known as the art district and historical NoDa which is short for North Davidson. I was intrigued by Jazz when I met him recently at a book signing featuring authors located within the city. While there, he gave me a brief synopsis of how he fell in love with reading and I was in awe. I felt that I wanted to know more about this person and that is why I chose to dig a little deeper and find out more about Jazz while visiting RealEyes. Darren “Jazz “Vincent is from Niagara Falls, NY. He had a love for fighting and had even taken up boxing. Most of his family upheld the Vincent name so fighting was his way of doing the same. He was penned with the nickname Jazz because, while landing a record deal as a rapper, instead of the typical “street look” he had what most would perceive as an artistic, jazz effect. Niagara Falls was all he had known but after life’s ups and downs a close friend relocated to Charlotte, NC and offered Jazz the opportunity to become a roommate. Feeling afraid of the transition and what was yet to come, he began to make excuses. But every excuse put him closer on the path to Charlotte. Within 90 days, Charlotte was his new home. For two years he worked at a call center and felt that he had been stricken by a disease because he knew that was not what God had in store for him. A coworker gave him a book entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers Ph.D. He decided to read it but little did the coworker know, even though at the age 31, Jazz had never read a book from front to back. That book inspired him to read more and he realized he was lacking a very important tool we all know as information. From that point on books were being thrown at him. He went from owning 3 books in February 2003 to owning nearly 2,000 by the end of April 2003. Jazz doesn’t have a favorite author or book but loves reading fiction because he feels it takes us to unimaginable places. A friend suggested that he open a bookstore because of his newfound love for literature. Less than a year later keys were being handed over to him for the bookstore but he still didn’t know what to do and how to do it. He prayed and had a conversation with God. Jazz had given himself a two week time limit to find signs of a productive bookstore. Within those two weeks he received an email from the great poet, author, and activist, Nikki Giovanni. She told him that she wanted to visit Charlotte and also help with the bookstore and she did just that. While running the bookstore Jazz also began The Charlotte Literary Festival. The festival promotes over 40 upcoming authors yearly and is a spotlight for notable authors who frequent the Charlotte area. He has a vision of promoting literacy and is doing a great job spreading the word. In the near future, Jazz hopes to offer seminars, workshops and storytelling that will inspire the next generation. He also hopes that he leaves behind a legacy that will spark a movement to enable the community to read more. Setting an example for future leaders is important to him but he feels that politics and money should not be a force behind it. You can visit RealEyes at http://www.realeyesbookstore.com. My hat goes off to Darren “Jazz” Vincent as he is truly a trailblazer of Charlotte.
Meet our Guest Blogger: Jurena Burgess
Jurena Burgess is a native of Virginia. Born in Newport News and raised in Hampton. At an early age she developed a love for reading, knowledge, and poetry. Some of her favorite authors are Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Terri McMillan, and E. Lynn Harris.
She’s in the process of finishing a memoir based on her life in the foster care system. Through her writing she hopes to inspire others who have gone through or are going through some the same issues or may feel that going on is not an option. It is! It is the only option. Motivating others about life itself is a main goal of hers especially victims of abuse. She’s a member of the Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), is on the Board of Directors for Striving to Achieve Real Success (S.T.A.R.S.), Charlotte African-American Writers Group and Mahogany Writer’s Group of Raleigh, NC.
Ms. Burgess is also the founder of Literally Speaking Book Club located in Charlotte, NC which is where she now resides. Through her love of literary arts she has written several poems which are to be published late 2010.
Jurena Burgess is a contributing writer in “From Foster Care to ANYWHERE”. Visit the website for more information about the book.