Showing posts from 2017


In the wake of all of the disgusting allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against so many powerful men in the entertainment and music industries (to say nothing of our representatives in Congress and so-called president), I feel compelled to say something about how these revelations have affected my life. Granted I have been a musician for all of my life, and there were the occasional college professors who thought that they could pressure me to come to their homes to "discuss" my grade. Then there was the total stranger who followed me on the street in Philadelphia, and decided to follow me into the vestibule of an apartment house and feel me up (until I thought to scream). And then there was the man in Prague who gave me the wrong directions so that I ended up in an isolated wooded area, where he followed me and put his hands on me (until I fought him off).

"OTHELLO" by the No Man's Land Theatre Company

It isn’t often that April and I get to sit in the audience for a performance of an entire Shakespeare play, but the opportunity presented itself when the No Man’s Land Theatre Company invited us to attend a performance of Othello in early November. They aren’t kidding when they say No Man’s Land; the production had an all-female cast! Director Emily Messana was quoted in an interview which was printed in the program as stating, “We came up with wanting to do ‘Othello’ and were gonna do it through the New School, but there were a few complications with that. So we thought, ‘Let’s just make a theater company of our own!’” So we made our way to the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory on West 14th Street in Manhattan on Saturday, November 4th to witness this unique theatrical experience.

At first we were struck by how entire sets were constructed using movable wooden boxes. All cast members would pick up boxes and move them where they needed to be. The movements were so well-choreographed that t…


Congratulations to the cast of the Negro Ensemble Company’s production of Judi Ann Mason’s play Daughters of the Mock, winners of the AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. Directed by Denise Yvonne Dowse, the play ran for several weeks this summer at Manhattan’s Theatre 80 St. Marks.

The AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee, Inc.) is an organization that acknowledges and honors Black Theatre and its artists in New York City. Established and incorporated in 1973 by the late Vivian Robinson, to stimulate interest in and support of performing arts in black communities.

The awards show took place on November 20th at New York City's Symphony Space, and was hosted by superstars Brenda Braxton and George Faison.

For more information visit their website at


“It’s epic because it stretches           from the first Malcolm X          steles which I did in 1969 to          the last five and the whole suite      is 20,” Barbara Chase-Riboud       told INSIDE NEW YORK.
This week, INSIDE NEW YORK will rebroadcast its Special 3-part mini-series Exclusive on Barbara Chase-Riboud, the internationally acclaimed and award-winning artist, author and poet about her new exhibit, her bestselling novel, Sally Hemings and the latest developments and her many other projects!  This final episode features an Exclusive interview and Gallery Tour of her exhibit at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery which will be closing on November 4th. For over five decades, Barbara Chase-Riboud has created abstract art with a deep and nuanced understanding of history, identity, and a sense of place. In 1969, Chase-Riboud created Monument to Malcolm for the 7 américains de Paris show held at the Galerie Air France in Manhattan. This work,
as art historian Pellom McDaniels writes: “marke…

"SIDELINES" by Artist Jessica Spence

Congratulations to visual artist Jessica Spence, whose exhibit SIDELINES opened last night at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Quoting her website: "Jessica Spence is a Jamaican-American artist whose work is inspired by her life and topics relating to black female identity. She received her B.A. from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY for Studio Art, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Art Education with a concentration in Painting from Lehman College, The City University of New York (CUNY). She works predominantly in portraiture and is based in New York."

The exhibition SIDELINES "... examines societal standards of beauty as they relate to black women. This series of paintings places a spotlight on the marginalization of women of color and the push back they receive while wearing natural hair styles."

The exhibit opening took place at The Gallery at the 14th Street Y (344 E. 14th Street in Manhattan), and will be open for viewing through October 8th.

Click Here to visit…

Khatia Buniatishvili: Beyoncé of Piano?

April Gibson and Nina Kennedy both contributed to this article to share their respective insights and opinions. April grew up listening to Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, and Hair Bands. Nina, herself a classical pianist, grew up listening to jazz and R&B, as well as symphonies and opera.
Nina: While living in Paris I got in the habit of watching the news channel “France24,” and was delighted to find that I continued having access to France24 here in Manhattan. Now that most American news channels have become The Trump Show, I became more dependent on France24 to be able to hear some authentic international news. One day this summer while going about my business with the TV on, I heard the news anchor announce a feature story on “The Beyoncé of the Piano.” I stopped what I was doing to sit down and watch.
The subject of this segment was world-renowned Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, who has been referred to as "The Beyoncé of the Piano" and dubbed the "Pop Star Pianist.…

In Honor of Juneteenth¹, a Book Review of "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome"

While in the midst of researching and editing my documentary film², I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Joy DeGruy present a lecture as part of Fisk University’s Spring Arts Festival in Nashville. She was promoting her then new book titled Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and quoted several passages from the book during her presentation. The accompanying slide show contained several disturbing images, and fulfilled DeGruy’s intentions of making the gruesome violence of American slavery as real as possible.
At the time, I did not purchase the book. But a dear friend who is pursuing a master’s degree in psychology sent me a copy of the book just last month. I couldn’t put it down. It has turned out to be one of the most important books I’ve ever read.
DeGruy painstakingly quotes several of the “fathers” of the North American Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and states that the European Slave Trade began as early as 1440. Up to that point, “… most people who became slaves became so as the result of…

The Negro Ensemble Company’s Production of "Daughters of the Mock" at Theatre 80 St. Marks, NYC

Judi Ann Mason’s riveting play Daughters of the Mock, directed by Denise Dowse, just finished a successful run at Theatre 80 St. Marks in Manhattan. Starring Edythe Jason (“Maumau”), Brenda Crawley (“Oralia”), Claudia McCoy (“Madena”), Kristin Dodson (“Amanita”), and Lynne Michelle (“Gail”), Daughters of the Mock tells the story of three generations of women in the swamplands of rural Louisiana. Maumau, the grandmother, has mastered the use of herbs, roots, and potions to exact revenge on interlopers, and to control and frighten the younger women of her family. Oralia, her daughter, is clearly terrified of her mother, and begs her own two daughters to obey their grandmother’s wishes. The great mystery is, as Amanita’s friend Gail asks, “Where are the men in this family?”

Edythe Jason gives a stellar performance as Maumau, and is a commanding presence as the matriarch of this family. Brenda Crawley evokes sympathy as the obedient daughter who tries to convince her own daughters that the…

Channeling the Ancestors: Rhiannon Giddens Shines a Spotlight on America’s Dark Past

A few days ago I turned on Tavis Smiley to escape the nonsense I was hearing and seeing on CNN and MSNBC, and happened to catch a beautiful young sistah in the middle of a song. She was accompanying herself on an old banjo, singing her heart out. The lyrics I happened to hear were: "Julie, O Julie, won’t you lie If they find that trunk of gold by my side. Julie, O Julie, you tell them men That trunk of gold is yours, my friend.
Mistress, O Mistress, I won’t lie If they find that trunk of gold by your side. Mistress, O Mistress, that trunk of gold Is what you got when my children were sold.
Mistress, O Mistress, don’t you cry. The price of staying here is too high! Mistress, O Mistress, I wish you well. But in leavin’ here, I’m leavin’ Hell!"
My partner and I jumped up and looked at each other and exclaimed, “Who is that?!” Neither of us knew, so I set the TV to record the show for the broadcast the following day.
Turns out that beautiful young sistah is Rhiannon Giddens, formerly of the G…