VOLUME 1 ISSUE I NOVEMBER 2016
Castle of our Skins
by Elaine Corbin
At the Grand Holiday Opening of the Northeastern Crossing, I had the honor of meeting and listening to Castle of our Skins, a fantastic group of young musicians. The mission of this group is “Celebrating Black Artistry through Music,” which they do by performing classical compositions by black composers.
I knew very little of black composers--except for Scott Joplin--until my education on the history of black composers by Castle of Our Skins. The founders, Ashleigh Gordon and Anthony Green, conducted research at the Center for Black Music Research in Chicago where they compiled music and the history of the composers.Through this research they founded Castle of Our Skins and created programs around it for children and elders. In creating these programs, they have brought together an amazing group of talented musical artists including Breana Bauman-violin, Olga Petramanskaya-Bell-violin, Javier Caballero-cello, and Shaw pong-Liu-violin.
The performance itself was a teachable moment for me. I learned that there were actually black composers. This is important because it is a part of our history and culture that I knew nothing about. We are part of the classical genre of music. Young people who are interested in music might be able to see these composers as role models and be encouraged to pursue composition in their own lives. I was compelled to do my own research on more black classical composers, and I hope that you will too!
Catch Castle of our Skins at their next “Edu-tainment” performance at 2:30 pm on October 29 at the Roxbury YMCA, and be inspired.
Jazz Life in Roxbury
by Elaine Corbin
The “Roxbury Jazzy Way of Life” was an immersion event held at Northeastern Crossing, with the goal of talking about jazz in Roxbury from earlier decades. Historian Stacy Sutherland (pictured above) was the keynote speaker, piquing the interests of those who were new to the Roxbury jazz scene from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, as well as jogging the memories of those such as myself who remember the 50’s to the present.
I remember hearing about local jazz musicians such as Roy Haynes and Sabby Lewis, pianist and band leader in Boston during the 1940s, performing at Roxbury jazz venues like the Savoy Café. At the event, Fulani Haynes’ collection of old jazz selections reminded those who grew up during those times of the music and the jazz greats who called Roxbury jazz clubs home. Nina LaNegra, journalist and music historian, put our memory to the test, asking, “For those of us that were born and raised in Roxbury during that time, what do you remember about the jazz scene?” The event was quite informative, and the history and music made for a spectacular evening.
Jacqui Parker: Community Jewel
by Elaine Corbin
Members of the community gather to enjoy a preliminary reading of the forthcoming play, "My Jeannie Don't Sing No Mo'"
Jacqui Parker is an amazing talent: playwright, director, actor, and Founder of “Our Place” Theater Company. Her company produced the African American Theater Festival, which was originally performed at the Boston Center for the Arts. Her plays were written by up-and-coming playwrights, which helped them go on to do larger productions. She was, and still is, important for the heritage and ethnicity of African Americans, especially in the Boston area. Theater is telling a story, and that’s what we do; only our stories are real.
On July 9th, 2016, I attended a reading of “My Jeannie Don’t Sing No Mo',” a play written and directed by Jacqui Parker that will be in full production in 2017. This play captures who Jacqui Parker is, where she comes from, and where her plays originate. The play is about a young lady, Jeannie herself, and her family. Throughout the reading, the question is -- why doesn’t Jeannie sing anymore? Ms. Parker is about rhythm, culture, history, and most of all, family roots, and that’s what this play is about.
I sincerely thank Hibernian Hall and Dillon Buston, Artistic Director, for giving this amazing artist a home. As Jacqui says, she looks out her window every day, and she sees people of color and the looks on their faces. She sees the wisdom, culture, and guidance there, but it isn’t coming out. Stories aren’t being told like they used to be. Jacqui uses that wisdom to write her plays.
4 Women is Valerie Stephen’s tribute to the great Dr. Nina Simone. The impact of Nina Simone, classical pianist, composer, jazz, R&B, folk, gospel and POP vocalist as well as civil rights activist, comes through in many of her musical compositions, which Valerie highlights in this production. The name comes from the four main female singers, including Valerie, who accompanied by a band, keeps the audience moving with soulful renditions of Nina’s famous songs.
Having seen this concert a few times, I found each performance was as amazing as the last. The band, who Valerie Stephens refers to as her blessings were and are a mind blowing musical force. When the four women aren’t on stage, the band takes over, keeping the vibrant energy alive with exciting solos that highlight their incredible talent. From Ms. Stephens opening selection to each performing women that followed all were absolutely sensational. Each selection was more stimulating than the last.
This production has been in a number of venues around the Boston area this summer from the Cambridge River Festival in June. For more information please visit Valerie’s website, and keep an eye out for the next 4 Women performance!
by Elaine Corbin
I had the honor of attending the Outside the Box Art and Music Festival on the Boston Common on July 17th. The festival consisted of seven to eight stages featuring various types of music and performances including spoken word and several vendors. Never missing an event put on by a good friend, Valerie Stephens, I attended the festival seeking my third viewing of her performance, “4 Women.”
A Tribute to Nina Simone
D. Elaine Hall-Corbin- Author/Publisher
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