Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12

by Wanda Sabir

Wishing a blessed Eid Al Adha to all Muslims this week. The Berkeley Rep production of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson, directed by Delroy Lindo, closes this weekend; so does Thick Descriptions’ “The American Play” by Suzan Lori Parks, directed by Tony Kelly. “Cinderella” opens at the African American Shakespeare Company and Lorraine Hansberry’s season black-nativity-lorraine-hansberry-theatre, Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12, Culture Currents special event, “Black Nativity,” based on the gospel play by Langston Hughes, opens Dec. 13. Allen Temple Baptist Church also opens a two week run of “Black Nativity” in Oakland at their Family Life Center Gym on International Boulevard.

Wanda’s Picks Radio Show

Wanda’s Picks Radio, a proud member of the Afrikan Sistah’s Media Network on BlogTalkRadio, is broadcast Wednesdays, 6-7 a.m., and Fridays, 8-10 a.m., at http://www.WandasPicks.ASMNetwork.org. This Wednesday’s show will feature rare audio interviews from artists and revolutionary thinkers I’ve interviewed in the past 10 years, since 1998. The artists and culture workers will share perspectives on life I treasure as I’m sure you will.

‘Black Nativity’ at Allen Temple and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

Langston Hughes will be celebrated in Oakland and San Francisco beginning this week at Allen Temple Baptist Church and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. The gospel play “Black Nativity” is a Bay Area favorite, with creative adaptations a pleasant surprise for all those who make this a yearly occasion to mark the season of reflection, thanks and charitable giving.

For information about the LHT production visit http://www.lhtsf.org/calendar_bn08.htm. Each year there are special family matinees at 4 p.m. with discounted tickets for all seats sold for $18. This year the Target Family Days are Sundays, Dec. 14 and 28, closing night. The play is in previews through Saturday, Dec. 13. Seats are discounted for the preview shows tonight and tomorrow, Dec. 11 and 12. Sorry I didn’t let you know for last week when the run started.

The Allen Temple production is this weekend and next, Dec. 13, 14, 20 and 21. Visit http://www.allen-temple.org/ (scroll down for the flier). The show is in the spacious Family Life Center Gym on International and 82nd Avenue in Oakland. I’d recommend you attend both shows. I believe this is the final year for the Allen Temple production, which has been going for 28 years or something impressive like that.

Intersection for the Arts Hybrid Season begins

Tonight, Dec. 11, through this weekend and next, Dec. 18-21, one can experience performance arts: dance, spoken word or poetry and theatre. You can say “I was there!” when these works open as full stage productions. The team from the Living Word Project, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Chanaka Hodge, among others, curate this marvelous artistic sensory experience. I plan to go tomorrow evening and next week also when the line-up changes. Thursdays are pay-what-you-can. Great price for the newly laid off or homeowners who made the deadline yesterday for property taxes. I felt the bite: OUCH! I am poor until January 2009. We’re eating beans without meat.

Visit www.theintersection.org for the line-up. Soul Nubian is on the bill this week. He was great in Animal Farm Living Word 2008 season. Intersection is on Valencia at 15th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. The best stop is 24th Street BART and then you just walk away from Mission Street.

‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’

This wonderful film about Liberian women who brought peace to their country opens Friday, Dec. 12, at the Red Vic Movie House in San Francisco and Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. The director and sponsors, Global Fund for Women, will be in the house opening weekend. I’ll also have the director, Gini Reticker, and Leymah Gbowee, the principal activist, on my radio show Friday, Dec. 12, 8-10 a.m. Listen any time at http://www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org.

pray-the-devil-back-to-hell-scene-courtest-tribeca-film-festival, Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12, Culture Currents This film is a wonderful celebration of the power of women, a little known story outside African until this film’s release. “Pray the Devil” shows how Liberia became the first country to have as its leader a Black woman, the first woman president in Africa: Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. You might have heard about the reign of Charles Taylor, but in “Pray the Devil” you see what these brave women were up against as both the rebels and the tyrants looked very similar in deed.

It’s 72 minutes of suspense. Luckily for the audience, we know how it will end; one witnesses such horror and abuse. I am frightened for the women and their families, especially when they are at the Peace Talks in Ghana and war breaks out at home, where they left their families and friends.

The director gives the history of the country and how African Americans, newly emancipated, repatriated this country and set in motion a class system which has crippled the country economically and spiritually, preventing umoja or unity between the indigenous and the recent arrivals. One would think 150 or so years later that this distinction would be null but, at its core, white supremacy rules. The Black people from America treated the Liberians like slaves as they took on the behaviors of their former captors.

A lot of healing needs to take place as the country, which is still peaceful, rebuilds and recovers from the sustained bloodshed and violence. Visit www.praythedevilbacktohell.com.

Faye Carol Sings Lady Day

Faye Carol Sings Lady Day features Marco Casasola on piano, Marcus Shelby on bass, Jeff Marrs on drums and Howard Wiley on saxophone Saturday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m., at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, (510) 841-JAZZ. Visit www.faycarol.com and www.youtube.com/fayecarol.

Ledisi: Soul Singer

Ledisi is in town this weekend at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, Dec. 11-14. Visit www.yoshis.com.

Shopping Spree for Needy Oakland Children

The holidays are here and Golden State Warrior guard Jamal Crawford, Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management and Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks want to share some joy and goodwill. They need help to fulfill the holiday dreams of 200 deserving Oakland children. Each of the 200 Oakland children will receive a $75 gift card to participate in a shopping spree at a local store.

If you are a parent, guardian, teacher, friend, mentor, relative, coach or Oakland resident, please write a letter explaining why your child nominee should be selected to receive this gift. The child must be between the ages of 5 and 15. This offer is limited to children who reside in Oakland and attend an Oakland school. Although there are no income restrictions, preference will be given to children whose parents are experiencing economic challenges.

All letters and emails must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Dec. 16. Letters should contain the name, address, phone number and age of the nominee along with the name of a parent or guardian. No calls please. Only complete submissions will be reviewed. A total of 200 children will receive a letter or email notifying them of their selection. Children who are selected for the shopping spree must attend the event – with a parent or guardian – on Dec. 24 in order to receive a $75 gift card. The letter along with proof of residency and school attendance should be faxed to (510) 986-2650 or mailed to Hon. Desley Brooks, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612. Letters may also be emailed to dbrooks@oaklandnet.com.

20 years of … Love in Action – Destiny Arts

The Love in Action concert and celebration is Saturday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., at McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle St., Oakland. General admission $3-$10 sliding scale. Kids under 6 are admitted free and no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For tickets and information, call (510) 597-1619, ext. 102, or visit www.destinyarts.org.

‘Let Us Break Bread Together’ Holiday Concert

Michael Morgan, music director and conductor of Oakland East Bay Symphony, has announced program details for the upcoming choral extravaganza “Let Us Break Bread Together: A Target Holiday Celebration,” presented by Target, Sunday, Dec. 14, 4 p.m., at Oakland’s historic Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway.

michael-morgan-oakland-east-bay-symphony-conductor, Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12, Culture Currents Joining Maestro Morgan and the symphony musicians on stage will be the combined musical forces of Oakland Symphony Chorus, Terrance Kelly and Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Mt. Eden High School Concert Choir of Hayward, Latin roots band Los Cenzontles and the celebrated Bay Area klezmer band Kugelplex.

This year’s musical selections will range from spirituals and sacred music to classical and popular holiday songs. Concert highlights include Ellen Hoffman’s original work “Let Us Break Bread Together” for orchestra and singers, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” and an array of beloved Christmas carols, Hanukkah songs and traditional gospel sure to create a festive prelude to the season. Audience participation is encouraged with a few opportunities to sing along.

Oakland East Bay Symphony’s highly acclaimed annual tradition of “Let Us Break Bread Together” is a celebration of American music, choral singing and specifically the rich tradition of community music-making found in the East Bay. Last year the Oakland Tribune called the experience “a thoroughly ecumenical, multicultural and unabashedly feel-good festival!”

Tickets for this non-subscription concert are $15 to $40; $10 for youth ages 18 and under. To order tickets, call (510) 625-8497 or visit www.oebs.org.

The symphony’s 20th season continues in 2009 with monthly concerts January through May, concluding with a special concert performance May 15 of Jerome Kern’s and Oscar Hammerstein’s groundbreaking musical, “Show Boat.” For additional information, visit www.oebs.org.

Cuban Nights at Peña Pachamama with Fito Reinoso

Friday, Dec. 12, 8:30 p.m., renowned Cuban singer Fito Reinoso performs with Eddy Navia, Quentin Navia and, from Peru, Jose Rivera and Luis Ramos and Bolivian guitarist Gabriel Navia – with Latin dancing Buena Vista style. It’s $12.50 to $15 sliding scale. Peña Pachamama is located at 1630 Powell St., San Francisco. Call (415) 646-0018 or visit www.penapachamama.com.

23rd Annual Kwanzaa & Christmas Gift Show 2008

Bring the whole family Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Oakland Marriott Convention Center, 10th & Broadway. Tickets are $5 per person; children under 12 get in free.

As Oakland’s and the Bay Area’s original African American Holiday Crafts Show, this grand event is in its 23rd year and is undoubtedly committed to sustaining and growing African American crafts exhibitors, small businesses, wholesome families and communities.

Kwanzaa is a unique, non-religious, African American celebration, celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 with a focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce and self-improvement. The celebration of Kwanzaa builds self-respect, unity and respect for those ancestors who worked and made a better life for all of us. Why drive? Take Bart to 12th Street Station! For more information, call (510) 534-1594.

Kwanzaa Gift Show attractions

Join Congresswoman Barbara Lee signing her new book, “Renegade for Peace and Justice,” at the 23rd Annual Kwanzaa and Christmas Gift Show, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Just added to the already smooth sounds of the gift show entertainment line-up is the passionate, soul stirring and versatile saxophonist Stabe Wilson. Stabe embellishes the musical experience with his vast musical vocabulary and energy. After your Saturday shopping, stop by the stage at 6 p.m. and catch Stabe and his band as they reach the outer limits of both smooth and funkie jazz, with a taste of Rhythm and Blues sounds that will make you want to dance or just sit back and enjoy.

Featured musical artists are, on Dec. 13, Lloyd Gregory and his band at 3 p.m. and Ajuana Black and her band Black Out at 5 p.m. Playing Sunday, Dec. 14, are Derick Hughes at 4 p.m., Know Jazz at 5 p.m. and Amar Khalil at 6 p.m.

38th Annual KPFA Crafts & Music Fair

UpSurge will be performing this Saturday, Dec. 13, at the 38th Annual KPFA Crafts & Music Fair at 1 p.m. Saxophonist, vocalist and producer Richard Howell and pianist Tammy Hall will both have their CDs available at the event. We’ll have a special for you at the fair. The KPFA Crafts & Music Fair is at the Concourse Exhibition Center, Eighth and Brannan Streets in San Francisco. Visit www.kpfa.org.

Free shuttles will pick up passengers from the Civic Center BART station at the Eighth and Market Muni bus stop every 20 minutes all day. It’s a great place to experience the Bay Area’s abundance of art making and music making. By partaking of their wares, you can help sustain original, independent arts and crafts and music – and benefit community radio all on the same weekend!

9th Annual Musical Night in Africa

The 9th Annual Musical Night in Africa with Baba Ken and Kotoja, West African Highlife Band, Nigerian Brothers and Ballet Lisanga is at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave. at Gilman in Berkeley. Visit http://www.ashkenaz.com/. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students with valid ID.

Celestine’s and Reflections in Rhythm present Ajuana Black & Black Out

Join dynamic songstress Ajuana Black and her phenomenal band Black Out for a night of heartwarming songs from the soul Saturday, Dec. 13, 9 p.m., at the Bay Area’s newest entertainment spot, Celestine’s Fine Dining and Entertainment, 8475 Edes Ave., Oakland.

ajuana-black-2, Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12, Culture Currents ajuana-black-22, Wanda’s Picks for Dec. 12, Culture Currents Celebrating her latest recording, “A Soulful Journey,” Ajuana shares her infectious spirit and incredible vocals through her uplifting and passion filled songs. Backed by the jazzy flavored contemporary sounds of her band Black Out, Ajuana Black continuously mesmerizes audiences and gains new fans with each performance. Combining the spirit of her contemporaries such as Jill Scott and Ledisi with the essence of such legends as Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, Ajuana has created her own appealing style.

Visit www.ajuanablack.com and www.myspace.com/ajuanablack. For more information on Celestine’s Fine Dining and Entertainment Reflections in Rhythm, call (510) 632-4504.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wsab1@aol.com. Visit her website and blog at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her photos and her radio show.