BTS Visits NYC to Perform For the United Nations

BTSUNBTS is back in America.

The South Korean band is in New York City to visit the United Nations as presidential special envoys for South Korea.

NBC News reports that the group will be with South Korean President Moon Jae-in attending the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, which runs through September 27th. RM, the leader of BTS, famously delivered a speech at the UN in 2018, so this isn’t entirely new territory for the band.

While in New York, BTS is set to appear at SDG Moment 2021, a yearly meeting dedicated to the UN’s sustainable development goals. According to the Twitter account for UN News, the event will start on Monday, September 20, at 8 a.m. ET, and BTS will be performing. “Don’t miss their message to the world, and a very special musical performance at the UN headquarters in NY,” the account tweeted.

A headline on the UN News website asks “Will BTS break the internet? Again?” The article goes on to say “The I.T. team at the UN will doubtless be on tenterhooks as 20 September approaches, mindful of the huge internet traffic BTS attracted during their previous visit to the General Assembly in 2018, and when their video message was released at last year’s virtual GA – both of which left the system struggling to cope.”

Since 2017, BTS has worked with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the “Love Myself” campaign to stop bullying and promote self-esteem.

BTS’s visit is yet another sign of how the band has become a symbol of South Korean culture around the world. Much like how Bob Marley and reggae came to represent Jamaica (and his music was used in Jamaican tourism campaigns), the seven members of BTS have become cultural ambassadors for their home country.

BTS recently released a series of videos called “SEOUL X BTS: EoGiYeongCha Seoul” to help promote tourism to South Korea’s capital city. The phrase “EoGiYeongCha” is a kind of traditional chant meant to give people energy and encouragement.

Meanwhile, BTS’s global footprint continues to grow. The group is coming out with a collaborative song with Coldplay, titled “My Universe,” on September 24. BTS recently released their hit song “Butter” in a remixed version with Megan Thee Stallion.

You can check out my new novel “Zero O’Clock,” about a BTS superfan who uses the band’s music to help get through the pandemic, on Amazon.

 

‘Zero O’Clock’ Featured on NPR’s ‘Here and Now’

ZeroChartMy new young adult novel “Zero O’Clock” was the subject of a feature story on NPR’s show “Here and Now.” They even played two BTS songs–“00:00 (Zero O’Clock)” and “Life Goes On”–to open and close the segment!

The segment was hosted by Tonya Mosley, who later said on Twitter “Zero O’Clock is going to go down as one of the texts we will use in the future to make sense of this moment we’re in. Thank you @cjfarley for this timely book, and conversation.”

It’s great to see my book get this kind of coverage! There’s a real shortage of young adult novels that feature people of color that are written by authors of color, so “Zero O’Clock,” which features a Jamaican-American hero (I was born in Kingston, Jamaica), fills a real need in kids lit.

There are also many teens and parents out there who are looking for books to help them process the crazy events of the last year or so. That’s what my novel is all about.

After the NPR piece, my book shot up to No. 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers List for “Teen & Young Adult Literary Fiction.”

You can listen to the “Zero O’Clock” segment of “Here and Now” here and in the player below.

The Root Covers ‘Zero O’Clock’ as a ‘Page Turner’

ZeroOclockCoverThe website The Root just covered my new novel “Zero O’Clock” as a “Page Turner.”

The site gives a nice writeup to my book, summarizing the plot and the role of the protagonist, 16-year-old Geth Montego: “Geth’s small town becomes a hotspot for a rapidly spreading sickness and as things progress, she’s thrown into the center of Black Lives Matter protests where she’s forced to confront her beliefs but has to ask herself what she truly believes in.”

“Zero O’Clock” arrived in stores on Sept. 7, and it’s starting to get coverage lots of places. Stay tuned for more!

You can read the article about “Zero O’Clock” on the Root here.

You can pickup a copy of “Zero O’Clock” here.

Aretha Franklin, The New York Times and My New Novel Zero O’Clock

Aretha Franklin and C.J. Farley in New York City in 2014.
Aretha Franklin and C.J. Farley in New York City in 2014.

I have a new YA novel coming out on September 7, 2021 called “Zero O’Clock” and to help mark the occasion, I wrote an essay for the New York Times Sunday Review about the interviews I’ve had over the years with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

I interviewed Franklin a number of times, for Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  One of my interviews with her launched that “beautiful gowns” meme–and I talk about all the drama behind that in my New York Times essay.

Aretha also had an influence on my new book. There’s lots of musical references in the novel, to the Strokes, to Lauryn Hill, and others, especially the South Korean K-Pop band BTS. In one scene in the book, a character creates a  Black Wall of Fame with photos of Black icons like Thurgood Marshall, Bob Marley, Jean-Michel Basquiat–and Aretha.

You can check out my New York Time essay here.

You can buy a copy of my new YA novel “Zero O’Clock” on Amazon.

Zero O’Clock by CJ Farley: The Book Trailer

The new trailer for my upcoming YA novel “Zero O’Clock” just dropped!

“Zero O’Clock” is the story of Geth Montego, a 16 year-old Jamaican-American girl living in New Rochelle, N.Y. She’s a lot of things–she’s a runner, she’s a BTS fan, and she’s kind of a loner except for her friends Tovah and Diego. Then Covid-19 hits her town, and she gets swept up in the Black Lives Matter protests. Suddenly, she has to decide who and what she’s really about.

“Zero O’Clock” is available for pre-order on Amazon! You can watch the trailer here.

Bam Bam’s Tina Bell: The Forgotten Godmother of Grunge

Tina Bell was grunge before grunge was cool.

Bell was the lead singer of the Seattle alternative rock band Bam Bam. Founded in 1983, the band’s drummer, Matt Cameron, went on to play with Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Reportedly, Kurt Cobain served as a roadie for the group before he hit it big with Nirvana. Just last week, the Seattle Times ran a story headlined, in part, “Before Nirvana or Pearl Jam, there was Tina Bell, the godmother of grunge.”

Bell, who died in 2012, was a Black woman, and various reports argue that she didn’t get her just due when she was alive because her race and her gender didn’t fit the white narrative that critics had created for the Seattle scene.

But if you listen to her music, especially songs like “Ground Zero,” all the hallmarks of what would become the Seattle Sound are there–the angsty vocals, the sludgy guitars, the energetic mix of metal and punk wrapped around a melodic core. Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Hole and others all built on the sonic foundation that Bell helped create.

Too often, Black creators in music don’t get their due. They invent new forms, and are quickly replaced and their innovations repackaged by white artists doing similar things. Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton and  Sister Rosetta Tharpe helped create guitar-based rock and roll, but few kids today know their names. When I wrote a cover story on alternative rock for Time magazine back in 1993, not a single person I talked to in Seattle even mentioned Tina Bell and Bam Bam.

Tina Bell deserves a place in the Seattle pantheon.

Check out my upcoming novel “Zero O’Clock“–a book about BTS, BLM, Covid-19, and a 16-year-old girl trying to cope with it all.

Golden Globes, Diversity and My Novel Zero O’Clock

I went on the MSNBC show “American Voices with Alicia Menendez” to talk about the diversity crisis at the Golden Globes awards show.

Award show ratings have been falling, but they’re still an important part of marketing and promoting a movie. Winning a Golden Globe can boost a movie’s box office by millions of dollars. So when shows like the Golden Globes fail to promote diversity among their member voters, or in the awards they hand out, it hits people in the pocketbook.

Interestingly, one of the award shows that’s on the upswing in terms of ratings is the NAACP Image Awards–a show that’s all about promoting diversity. My novel “Around Harvard Square” won an NAACP Image Award and it really helped raise awareness about the book.

Speaking of books, on “American Voices,” host Alicia Menendez put in a word for my upcoming YA novel “Zero O’Clock,” due out September 7, 2021 and available for preorder now.

You can watch my MSNBC segment below.

Emma Farley: Join Stomp Out Bullying’s Virtual Gala

Emma-Farley-2021My daughter Emma Farley is a youth leader for STOMP Out Bullying and she recently recorded an appeal for the public to join the group’s virtual gala.

The STOMP Out Bullying 15th Anniversary Virtual Gala will be held Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 7:00 PM ET.  It will be hosted by  Hoda Kotb, Co-Anchor of the Today Show and Co-Host of Today with Hoda and Jenna. The show will feature performances by Sting and Naturally 7; The New York Jets and actor Taye Diggs will be honorees.

STOMP Out Bullying is the leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens. The group works to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, and other digital abuse, and seeks to educate people about stopping racism, hatred, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and violence in schools.

Please watch the video below and spread the word!

Zero O’Clock: The New Novel by CJ Farley Is Coming Soon

ZeroOclockCoverMy new book “Zero O’Clock (Akashic) is coming out September 7, 2021! It’s YA novel about Geth Montego, a Jamaican-American teen living in New Rochelle, N.Y., whose world is turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

There’s also a lot in the book about the K-pop group BTS–Geth is one of the band’s biggest fans, and that’s saying a lot.

Here’s some of the pre-publication praise that “Zero O’Clock” has gotten so far:

“An insightful, eye-opening, and inventive story. C.J. Farley has penned a novel that sheds an important light on real issues facing young people today.”
Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give

Zero O’Clock is a beautiful and timely YA novel that is both heartbreaking and whip smart, a glimpse into the world of virtual friendship, classrooms, and pop stardom.”
Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, author of The Nine

“Thoughtful, provocative, and pounding with the fast-paced beat of a sharp-witted adolescent mind, Zero O’Clock is the story of a Jamaican-American teen girl at the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Rochelle, New York. C.J. Farley has created an irresistible heroine in Geth Montego. Simmering with justifiable anger at everything from the cancellation of her senior prom to racial injustices and police brutality, Geth manages to overcome grief, anxiety, and confusion to discover a new sense of herself and her ability to create change.”
Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party

Zero O’Clock seems to have a direct line into the mindset of a modern teenager. I enjoyed it immensely!”
Alex Wheatle, author of Cane Warriors

RIP, Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman Forever

RIP, Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman
RIP, Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman

When Black Panther dies in “Avengers: Infinity War,” I didn’t believe it. He was too great a character to write out of the franchise.

When I heard the news today that actor Chadwick Boseman had died of colon cancer at the age of 43, I felt the same thing, only magnified by real life and real tragedy. Boseman was too great for him to leave this life so soon.

I served as consulting producer on the HBO documentary “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown”; Boseman starred as Brown in “Get On Up,” the big-screen movie version that was made from the same source material. 

Boseman specialized in bringing the lives of bigger-than-life Black icons like Brown to the big screen. If he had only played Black Panther, he would have deservedly been a legend–but he did much more than that. He also played Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as a younger man in “Marshall” and baseball legend Jackie Robinson in “42.”

When I was growing up, Black heroes, let alone superheroes like Black Panther, were much more of a rarity in Hollywood movies. Black characters were more likely to be criminals or clowns; if they were positive roles, they were likely to be small parts, or in small movies. Boseman followed in the tradition of Denzel Washington—he focused on roles that uplifted Black viewers, and he managed to win parts in movies that were significant releases.

Boseman didn’t play cardboard heroes. His James Brown is a deeply-flawed man, fueled by ambition, driven by demons, wracked by addictions. But Brown was also indisputably a genius musician. That’s what we all want and expect of our storytellers–to go beyond stereotypes and tropes and portray our stories in their complexity and glory.

In a statement, Boseman’s family said that since 2016, he had been in treatment for stage-III colon cancer, which progressed to stage IV. That meant he filmed some of his greatest roles, like “Black Panther,” while he was fighting a deadly illness. Former President Barack Obama said in a statement about the actor’s passing, “To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years.”

It’s hard to get authentic movies about Black life made in Hollywood. The efforts and accomplishments of people like Boseman, like Washington and Sidney Poitier in years past, have helped blaze a trail for other actors to follow. Because Boseman fought to play heroes in the movies, he succeeded in becoming one in real life.

[This post has been updated.]