Search

the Sidebar

A site for thoughtful analysis of events

Month

August 2015

Singing the blues of a shattered life

Lalenja Harrington stepped into the role of Billie Holiday’s on Saturday night and carried the audience on an intense journey of abandonment, love, drugs, and racism that eventually ended in a death of the talented singer.

In a ninety-minute played entitled “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”, Ms. Harrington, in a brutal, frank and honest performance, gave the audience a glimpse of the painful downfall of “Lady Day” .  The show was held before a sold out audience in the Hanesbrand Theater, It started the 81st season at the Twin City Stage that will showcase a number of quality productions.

Ms. Harrington was joined on stage by pianist David Lane who played Jimmie Powers, Kady Day’s dedicated and faithful accompanist.  Daniel Alvarez recreated the intimate setting of tables, microphone and piano Emerson Bar and Brill in Philadelphia, Pa. which was apparently the last performance of Lady Day before she died in 1959 at age 44.

Billie Holiday was a jazz icon who worked with a number of legendary artists including Artie Shaw, Lester Young and Benny Goodman.  She recorded many songs including “God Bless the Child”, “Nobody Business”, “Moonlight”, “Pigfeet and bottle of beer” are famous Lady Day recording.  And, one of her more dark, somber songs of “Strange Fruit” about the horrors of lynchings in the South in the early 1900s.

Ms, Harrington in her jazzy voice painted the picture of a trapped, beautiful songbird longing to be free from drugs and the sins of racism.  In a “wounded poignancy”,  she was dangerously bold in capturing the pain, brutality, and anger over lynching in “Strange Fruit”.  She initially refused to record the song because the subject matter was too overpowering.

She was majestic in hallmark flowing white gown, and elbow-length gloves, as she mingled with the audience.  She spoke about trying to imitate the singing style of Bessie Smith and Louis “Pop” Armstrong before finding her voice in songs like “Good Morning Heartaches” and other standards.

Lady Day told the audience of “ladies”, “duchesses” and “presidents” often names that oppress people gave themselves to uplift their spirit in order to combat racism.  The play gave insight into why she got involved in prostitution, about being raped, and about the love of man that she knew was destroying her career and life by introducing her to drugs.  That’s alright she still loved him, and “Ain’t Nobody business if I do..”

And, she reminiscence about her arrest and imprisonment for drugs that It robbed her of her angelic voice and blocked her from performing in New York City clubs.  Often time her parole officer would be in the audience to spy on her, and she joked about her ability to spot cops in the audience because they “were white men and they always wore white socks.”

The shroud of race infected everything that she did from her performance to her personal life.  It was evident in traveling through the south in the 1930s a ” black bitch” with an all white band.  She couldn’t get served at restaurants or find hotels to stay in so they often ate in the kitchen or slept on buses.  But Artie Shaw and his band refuse to eat in all-white restaurants unless Billie Holiday could join them.

This play is about a gifted and talented black woman whose personal life, and social evil of racism eventually destroyed her career and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

John Coltrane Festival High Point, N.C.

The Fifth Annual John Coltrane Festival is schedule for Labor Day weekend September 5-6 in Oak Hollow Festival Park.   Some of the artists appearing at this year’s festival are Lalah Hathaway, daughter of the late Donnie Hathaway, David Sanborn and guitarist Earl Klugh all well-known artists to jazz enthusiasts.

Coltrane was born in Hamlet, N.C., but grew up in High Point, graduating from William Penn High School at 16.  While in high school, he started listening to Lester Young, and Johnny Hodges who inspired him to start playing the alto saxophone.   He moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and eventually joined the Navy.

He performed with many musical legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk before forming his own quartet of pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Jimmy Garrison.   Theyrecorded some of the classic vinyl in jazz history like “My Favorite Things”, “Africa Brass”, “Impressions”,  and “Giant Steps”.

Coltrane, who converted to Islam, recorded the legendary albums “Love Supreme”, as a spiritual meditation.  And, the classic album “Kind of Blue” that he recorded with Miles Davis that some jazz critics called the greatest album in modern jazz history.

 

 

 

 

31st Annual Presidential Joke Day

Most know that the 36th president had a vulgar tongue, and here is just a couple saucy quotes:

“Boys, I may not know much, but I know Chicken Shit from Chicken Salad”!!

It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.
Lyndon B. Johnson
Read more at http://izquotes.com/quote/241192

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tommy Ford Got A Job

Tommy Ford’s first break in film happened after he graduated from University of Southern California , and auditioned in 1989 for a part in Harlem Night starring Eddie Murphy, Redd Foxx, and Richard Pryor.  And, the rest is history.

Ironically, he is directing a film titled Conflict of Interests starring, of course, Bria Murphy, daughter of Eddie Murphy which will premiere this fall.   A screening of the film will be held Thursday, Aug. 6, at the a/perture Cinema in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C. as part of the National Black Theater week.

As part of the festivities this week, Mr. Ford presented a reading to elementary children and neighborhood residents as part of his “I’ve Got A Job Literacy Program” that emphasizes improving the self-worth and images of young black children.  He read from his children’s book I Am Responsible and I Am Beautiful to about 100 children and adults at the Malloy-Jordan Library in East Winston on Wednesday.

Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Ford, who is a director, author, actor and motivational speaker, has starred in several hit television series including Martin, New York Undercover, Jamie Foxx Show, The Parkers, Who’s Got Joke, and Let’s Stay Together.

Recently, he has been pursuing a long time dream and launched a series of award winning children’s books that are designed to promote healthy, spiritual, and non-violent living while guiding young people towards becoming better people.

“Two things that God gave everyone,” Ford told the young people.  “The power to choose, and the power to change.  “Young people you are beautiful, powerful and awesome.  I want you to choose success over failure, wealth over poverty, and education over ignorance…”

Voting Right Trial Closes

Fifty years ago, Dr. King asked the question “How Long?”  before African Americans will gain the right to vote and have full access to citizenship.

On Thursday, August 6, it will be the 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act, but many feel, the rights earned after the passage of the law, are being taken away by currently voter suppression legislation.

Activists have taken the voter suppression battle into a North Carolina courtroom contesting what they claimed is one of the harshest voting rights laws in the country.  The N.C. N.A.A.C.P filed suit against the state and Gov. Pat McCory after the legislature passed H.B. 589 or more commonly known as Voter Identification and Verification Act (V.I.V.A) which they said restrict many of the provisions won after the historic Voting Rights Act (V.R.A).  The law reduced early voting days, stopped same-day registration, ended out-of-precinct voting and stopped preregistration of 16-and 17 year-old high school students.  Most of these processes were used by minority voters.

Closing arguments were completed on Friday, July 31.  Plaintiff’s attorney Daniel Donovan, in final summation, argued that the overall effect of H.B. 589 put the law in direction violation of Sec. 2 of the V.R.A.  “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy,” Donovan said.

Judge Thomas Schroeder closely questioned Donovan posing such hypothetical to the plaintiff’s attorneys: What would be standard of remedy for 589 if I granted relief?  How would the court know if it had corrected the law?

Thomas Farr, a state attorney, said the plaintiff’s had not proved that the law is racially discriminatory, and that legislature had the right to change election laws.  H.B. 589 was passed less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v Holder where the court struck down certain pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The case has garnered international attention from activists, civil rights and legal scholars who have stated that the case could set the template for changes in voting rights legislation.

Judge Schroeder is not expected to make a ruling for several weeks.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑