2017 Decades Honorees
Dyana Williams’ career exceeds limitation. Whether showcasing her talents in broadcasting, print journalism and community activism or television producing & reporting, media coaching and lecturing, she’s remained a constant force in the entertainment industry for over three decades.
Currently, Williams hosts “Soulful Sunday,” a weekly show broadcast via Radio One adult contemporary station, WRNB-FM, which won the Achievement in Radio Award for Best Weekend Show in Philadelphia for 2006. Each Sunday, 10am to 3pm, she can be found at 100.3 on the FM dial, deftly weaving the musical history born of her adopted hometown and other classic music – from Aretha Franklin, The Temptations to Teddy Pendergrass…and every artist in between.
Affectionately named "The Ambassador of African-American Music" by American Express’ Departures magazine, the Harlem, New York native began her career at WHUR-FM in the Nation’s Capitol and later, journeyed back home to the top-rated station, WBLS-FM. After making history as the first African-American woman to join an on-air team in rock radio at WRQX-FM, she landed her first on-camera position as an entertainment reporter on “PM Magazine,” which aired on Washington, D.C.’s CBS affiliate, WUSA.
Williams made Philadelphia her home in 1980 when she accepted a coveted on-air position with WDAS-FM. Along with organizing the station’s community-based activities, she moonlighted as a News & Entertainment Reporter for BET and Music Consultant for VH1’s “The Soul of VH1.” After co-founding the International Association of African-American Music in 1991, she furthered her commitment to her community by rallying alongside Congressman Chaka Fattah to pass House Concurrent Bill 509, which she co-authored as a means to give credence to the contributions of African-American music as a viable cultural and economic entity.
The recipient of two academic scholarships, Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Radio, Television and Film, and graduated cum laude, from the Annenberg School of Communications at Temple University and has been honored with a Liberty Bell from Mayor John Street and the City of Philadelphia, as well as a citation from the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives. Dyana is a proud member of AFTRA, NABFEME and serves on the board of governors for the Philadelphia chapter of NARAS (better known as The Recording Academy or the Grammys organization). Her writing has graced the pages of Billboard, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Philadelphia New Observer. She’s been profiled in VIBE, Essence, Black Enterprise, Ebony, Jet, Upscale,The Philadelphia Sun and The Philadelphia Weekly.
Dyana was spotlighted on CNN Headline News as one of the top African American leaders in the country and has also appeared on PBS, MTV and The Tom Joyner Morning Show. She has also been a frequent commentator on the highly acclaimed TV One music series, UNSUNG. Along with Mark Rowland, Williams co-executive produced the Teddy Pendergrass episode of UNSUNG, which garnered a NAACP Image Award that season. Williams also frequently lectures at major colleges and university campuses throughout the United States. Among them, she has spoken at such illustrious institutions as Howard, Hampton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University. In June of 2007, she was acknowledged by President George W. Bush, for her outstanding work as a music activist and cultural advocate, at a special White House Black Music Month reception. Over the last decade, Williams has expanded her portfolio to include artist development/media coaching and to date, Usher, T.I., Chris Brown, Rihanna, Ne-Yo, members of the Zac Brown Band, and A$AP Rocky (to name a few) have all benefited from her hands-on approach.
In 2012 Dyana made history once again and became a Guinness World Record holder for her efforts as one of the primary organizers of the Largest Soul Train Line. Along with some of the key producers, she presented Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter with the official certificate in City Hall.
Ever mindful of the importance of family, Williams is most proud of her role as mother to her three children from her former union with acclaimed producer and songwriter, Kenny Gamble – Salahdeen, Princess Idia and Caliph.
Dyana Williams, a certified PADI scuba diver and passionate art collector, splits her time between her home in the Philadelphia area and her sanctuary in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.
Ginny Suss is the Vice President of Okayplayer.com and the President and co-founder of Okayafrica.com, two music and culture based media companies. Regularly involved in social justice work, Ginny produced the Women's March on Washington in January 2017. She has worked for The Roots (the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) in various capacities including Tour Management, for the past 13 years.
As a video producer, Ginny oversees Okayplayer + Okayafrica's original video content, and created and produced many original series, including Okay Acoustic, the animated Storyville, Player Xchange, The Roots Of series, in addition to creative agency and brand video work. With expertise in event production, Ginny has helped to produce annual events such as The Roots Picnic, the Okayplayer Holiday Jams featuring The Roots, in addition to Okayplayer's SXSW events, annual partnerships with Summerstage, Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, Okayafrica's launch at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park and more.
She's also known for her photography, particularly focused on live musicians and musical events. She earned her BA from Williams College where she studied Political Theory and Art History.