*Gospel music legend BeBe Winans’ autobiographical play, Born For This, is enjoying it’s red carpet premiere this weekend in Atlanta at the Alliance Theatre.
“When you’re a teenager you don’t think your life is being recorded for others to learn from, or be healed by, or better yet to find strength through your fears and failures,” shared BeBe Winans. “Now I know that these were God’s plans for my life. We’re all born for a purpose. This musical celebrates the journey of finding it.”
For the uninitiated, BeBe is one of the Winans family, a gospel music dynasty from my home town of Detroit. Four of his older brothers formed the groundbreaking group The Winans, after which he and his sister Priscilla took the world by storm as a duo. You may know them as BeBe & CeCe.
In Born for This, BeBe and CeCe Winans experience the ultimate in culture shocks when invited to join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord Network. The Winans teenagers become not only television celebrities as they were welcomed into the Bakkers’ family, helping to integrate TV evangelism. As BeBe and CeCe encounter fame, fortune, and even a young Whitney Houston, BeBe must learn to balance his desire for success with his true calling. Continue reading →
well, now that I think about it, I may have never seen anything like Franklin’s show. I’ve been blessed to see many of the great live performers of my lifetime. Franklin’s Saturday night performance may well have been the best concert — of ANY genre — I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been a fan of Franklin’s since the beginning of his career, but I’d never seen the artist live, and wasn’t sure about what to expect from a live Franklin show, as he’s as much preacher as singer.
I needn’t have worried. Kirk sang Saturday night. Let me be clear: Kirk SAAAAANG. Kirk also danced, giving David a run for his money during several parts of the show and appearing at times as a sanctified Michael Jackson. The show was less concert and more experience, with Franklin serving as a praise and worship leader who worked the stage and our hearts like the love child of James Brown and Mahalia Jackson. He covered all of his classics, like “Why We Sing”, “Silver & Gold”, and “Stomp”, while leaving plenty of time for “Wanna Be Happy” and other favorites from his current, Grammy-winning Losing My Religion album. Continue reading →
*(Los Angeles) Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson.
Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse.
Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times.Continue reading →
*(Los Angeles) — The Los Angeles Network of the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment (NABFEME)will hold a launch event reintroducing the organization and its board to LA. The featured guest speaker for the evening will be Ophelia Harper,CEO of ClayHouse Visual Branding Firm. Introductions of the the All-Star Board Members highlight the evening with music provided by DJ LA REGGEntertainment. The evening will be moderated by Serese Styles, Internet Radio Host of Beauty and The Beat.All professional women in business and entertainment are invited to joinNABFEME for this special kick off event, April 14, 2016 at Philippe Chow, 8620 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills from 6pm-10pm.
*(Los Angeles, CA) Get ready for an unforgettable Evening of Rhythm and Percussion! Award-winning tap dancing sensation Savion Glover and renowned jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette will blur the line between music and dance as they merge their brilliant talents into a surging rhythmic machine at Valley Performing Arts Center for one night only on Thursday on May 26 at 8:00pm. This not-to-be-missed performance promises to be a tour-de-force night of percussion and rhythm bursting with the full vibrational power exchanged between these two legends.
Joining Savion Glover and Jack DeJohnette onstage at VPAC is Marshall Davis, an impressive tap dancer in his own right who was a cast member of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk and a Star Search champion.
Most recently, Savion Glover choreographed the Broadway musical, Shuffle Along, starring Audra McDonald and directed by George C. Wolfe, which opens April 28 at the Music Box Theatre.
George C. Wolfe said of Savion Glover, “I think what makes him an incredible artist is his extraordinary joy in what he does. He is able to live in that state of joy and not compromise his emotional complexity like the earlier tap dancers had to…He is as much a composer as he is a choreographer.”
Telegraph UK said of DeJohnette, “Jack DeJohnette’s drums rarely settle on a pulse, painting a sound-world in intricate floating patterns full of empty spaces, like points of light in a night sky.” Continue reading →
*“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.” – Michael Jackson
I spent last weekend in Las Vegas. While I am forced to abide by the mantra “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” (and trust me, that’s for the best), I had one experience in Sin City that I HAVE to tell you about: I experienced Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque de Soleil at Mandalay Bay.
Yes, Michael Jackson ONE‘s been around since 2013. To be frank, I’d avoided seeing the show. Michael Jackson was the preeminent entertainer of my generation, of my lifetime. I’d worried that what I had thought of as a “tribute” to the King of Pop would pale in comparison to his genius. Ultimately, the Cirque du Soleil billboards up and down “the strip”, along with my brother’s first-hand testimony, beckoned me.
*Valley Performing Arts Center presents its first full scale musical – the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and McCoy Rigby production of Dreamgirls, with book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, music by Henry Krieger, musical direction by Dennis Castellano, and directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom. Dreamgirls will be presented for four performances only May 6 to 8, 2016 at Valley Performing Arts Center. Prior to the VPAC engagement, Dreamgirls will be performed March 25, 2016 (press opening March 26) through April 17, 2016 at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada, California.
Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, this sensational new production of Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s girl-singing group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Academy Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award winner Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls features the unforgettable hits: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only” and “Listen.” This Tony and Academy Award-winning musical sparkles like never before.
“One of the largest requests from our audience is for full scale musical theatre at Valley Performing Arts Center and I am thrilled to be inaugurating our musical theatre presentations by working with McCoy Rigby Entertainment for the first time to bring their new production of Dreamgirls to our theatre. I can’t wait to hear these large powerful voices fill our Great Hall,” said Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of Valley Performing Arts Center. “A musical about show business is the perfect way to commence bringing Broadway musicals to the Valley.” Continue reading →
*Entertainment legend Ben Vereen is on a mission. He’s devoting his full attention to restoring the arts to kids in public schools, and he’s been walking the walk for awhile.
“I knew nothing about the arts when I was very young, growing up in Brooklyn,” the 69-year-old icon told me. “I came in contact with a few angels, teachers and administrators at my junior high school, who were trying to generate interest in the arts there. I remember sitting with one of my teachers as she tearfully read a letter from a kid in the Midwest who dreamed of being able to study the arts in school.”
“I realized early on how the arts could affect people’s lives,” he continued, “and how not everyone had access to a school like the one I went to.” Continue reading →