by Wanda Sabir
It’s a great time to be Black and American (smile). I didn’t have a wonderful time at the presidential inauguration, but it was great to be in D.C. with my granddaughter, Brianna Amaya, and niece, Wilda Aisyah, both January birthday girls. We had a great time with my friend, former Oakland resident, D.C. native, Monica Pree.
Poetry for the People
The 23rd African American Celebration through Poetry is Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 1-4 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St., in Oakland, (510) 238-7352. All are welcome and if anyone didn’t hear of the event in time to be a part of the featured program, we do have an open mic at the end of the program.
This year, in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, we’ll be looking at “freedom” as one of our themes and the other theme honors the 50th anniversary of Martin King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. All themes are welcome. The event is family friendly, so one should self-censor and choose topics and language that is appropriate for all ages.
We are happy to have some of the veterans returning, like Avotcja, who has a new book out, along with Gene Howell, who divides his creative time between the page and canvas (smile). We are happy Paradise Free Jahlove is coming with his posse, along with WordSlanger and Jabari Shaw. There will be others and lots of surprises. Yours truly, Wanda Sabir, will host.
Come Sunday: A Musical Tribute to Duke Ellington
This concert and musical tribute for Black History Month 2013 features the dynamic Ms. Faye Carol, Kellye Gray, Ed Reed and the Marcus Shelby Orchestra at the Freight and Salvage Coffee House, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. For information, call (510) 644-2020 or visit www.thefreight.org.
Tribute to Billy Higgins
LifeForceJazz Artists Collective is hosting a tribute to drummer Billy Higgins, the world renowned jazz drummer and community organizer. These performances feature ensembles of musicians currently recording on the LifeForceJazz Record Label, and they will be recorded live so audiences will be a part of the experience. On Friday, Feb. 1, 8-11 p.m., performers are Dawan Muhammad, woodwinds; Modesto Briseno, trumpet and flugelhorn; Clifford Adams, trombone; Calvin Keys, guitar; Elmer Gibson, piano; James Leary, bass; and Leon Joyce Jr., drums. Doors open at 5 p.m., $15 admission. All ages are welcome. Visit http://www.57thstreetgallery.com/ for information about this and other concerts and events.
Bayview Opera House
For the month of February, the Bayview Opera House is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with an artist reception for Bill Dogget, who has curated a marvelous visual historic walk through the legacy of enslavement and freedom – what freed Africans called the “Jubilee!” – “From These Roots: The Journey to Freedom.” It is Saturday, Feb. 2, 5-7 p.m., and will include a screening of Mr. Doggett. He will also play some of his earliest original 78rpm recordings of spirituals on his record player during the reception.
Furthermore, a set of Obama 2008 campaign posters by various artists from the collection of shipyard artist Paul Gibson will be on display. Plus original drawings, paintings and jewelry by Malik Seneferu, Debora Gerosa, Thomas Tandy, Pat Coleman and Juanita Hodge. Later that evening, 7-9:30 p.m., Infinity Productions presents: “From These Roots Celebration” with performances by the Infinity Performing Ensemble, Rena Marie Guidry, Robert Henry Johnson, Patricia Wilder and The Seastrunk Brothers.
Weekly, there will be special performances with Dr. Albirda Rose’s The Village Dancers on Feb. 3; Destiny, Harpist from the Hood, on Feb. 10, 3-5 p.m.; a premiere of the film, “No More Violence, No More Pain” on Feb. 16, 6-10 p.m.; Dr. Susheel Bibbs presents her one woman performance of the life of Mary Ellen Pleasant on Feb. 17, 3-5 p.m.; and Sila’s World of Music Concert is Feb. 23, 8-10 p.m. For information on programs and tickets, visit http://www.bvoh.org/events/ or call (415) 824-0386. The Opera House is located at 4705 Third St., San Francisco.
Congratulations, Dimensions Dance Theatre!
The kickoff to Dimensions Dance Theatre’s 40th Anniversary Celebration performance will feature the illustrious and exciting works that helped build the company’s reputation. This electrifying performance will ignite the stage with traditional and contemporary works from artistic director Deborah Vaughan, former principal dancer Anisa Rasheed, Fred Benjamin, Garth Fagan, as well as featured choreography from Thamsanqa Hlatywayo, Dingani Lelokoane and Latanya d.Tigner.
This celebratory concert includes dance and music rooted in African American expressions, South African traditional dances, a crew of dynamite percussionists, and special guests, MJ’s Brass Boppers, who will bring home the rhythms and swagger of New Orleans. Audiences will also be delighted by a presentation from our youth program featuring Dimensions Extensions Performance Ensemble under the direction of Artistic Director Latanya d. Tigner.
This momentous event in Bay Area history and a remarkable evening of music and powerful dance expressions is Feb. 9, 8 p.m., at the Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door; children under 18 years $15. Advance tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com or in person at the Dimensions Dance Theater office, open Monday through Friday 4-7 p.m., on the third floor of the Malonga Center, 1428 Alice St. at 14th Street, Oakland. Further information is available at (510) 465-3363 or dimensionsdance.org.
Art in the House: Museum of the African Diaspora
The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has a number of free events this month, from art openings and author events to staged readings in collaboration with the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in an on-going series. Visit http://www.moadsf.org/.
The Opening Reception for “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect,” a national touring exhibition of authentic and rare art, artifacts, books, documents and manuscripts that tell the often untold story of African American achievement and contribution. On view from Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, May 19, the opening reception is Friday, Feb. 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. for MoAD members and 7:30- 9 p.m. for the general public.
Other upcoming MoAD events are “Dance Across the Diaspora” featuring “Black Swan” with The Jetta Martin Dance Company, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2-4 p.m. So if you are not at the 23rd African American Celebration through Poetry from 1-4 p.m. in Oakland at the West Oakland Branch Library, I forgive you if you are checking out the “Black Swan” (smile).
Sunday, Feb. 10, is a free day, from noon to 5 p.m. From 12:30-2 p.m. is “Martin’s Dream” with Dr. Clayborne Carson, who will talk about his recently published book, “Martin’s Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” a memoir about Carson’s transition from being a teenage participant in the March on Washington to becoming the editor of King’s papers. Among other topics, Carson will talk about his unexpected discovery of the love letters King sent to Coretta Scott during the 1952 courtship.
“Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance” with Dr. Umi Vaughan and DJ Walt Digz will be performed 3-5 p.m. Local author and professor Umi Vaughan will present a lecture and signing of his new book about contemporary dance music in Cuba, entitled “Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba.” From his unique perspective as an African American anthropologist, musician, dancer and photographer who lived in Cuba, Vaughan reveals a rarely discussed perspective on contemporary Cuban society during the 1990s, the peak decade of timba, and beyond. By looking at the experiences of Black Cubans and exploring the notion of “Afro Cuba,” “Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance” explains timba’s evolution and importance in the larger context of Cuban culture. The event will include a Q&A session and salsa-timba dancing with music provided by local timba heavyweight, DJ Walt Digz.
Black and Jewish artists
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is having a Black or African Diaspora History Month with Kehinde Wiley’s “World Stage Israel” Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m. with a concert featuring Bay Area Ethiopian-Israeli hip-hop artist Kalkidan Mashasha – the subject of several of Kehinde Wiley’s portraits in “The World Stage: Israel” – Mashasha comes to the museum direct from Israel to share his hard hitting beats and rhymes. Then Israeli freestyle champion DJ Alarm spins international tunes to keep the party jumping.
An exhibit, “The art of Ezra Jack Keats,” is up through Feb. 24. Remember his classic picture book, “The Snowy Day”? Another, “Black Sabbath,” explores the musical connection between Black and Jewish artists. For information, visit http://www.thecjm.org/home. CJM is located at 736 Mission St., San Francisco, (415) 655-7800 or email@example.com.
Tribute to Belva Davis at YBCA Forum
Belva Davis has been a fixture in Bay Area journalism for more than five decades. Since becoming the first Black female television journalist in the West in 1964, she has covered events of local, national and international scope; interviewed U.S. presidents and other world leaders; and, for the past 19 years, served as the host of KQED’s must-watch public affairs program, This Week in Northern California.
Belva announced her retirement from broadcasting last year, and signed off the air on Nov. 9. Join newsmakers, colleagues and friends in celebrating Belva’s historic career with a reception and a program of interviews, tributes and surprises presided over by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. For the costly tickets, $55-$1,000, call (415) 978-ARTS (2787) or visit ybca.org.
9th Annual Black Choreographers Here and Now
The African and African American Performing Arts Coalition and K Star Productions announce the schedule for the Ninth Annual Black Choreographers Festival: Here and Now with three weeks of programs Feb. 9–24 – in Oakland week 1 at Laney College Theatre, 900 Fallon St., and weeks 2-3 in San Francisco at Dance Mission, 3316 24th St. Tickets – $10-$20 – and information are available at www.bcfhereandnow.com or (866) 898-2272.
Musings On the fly
Mama Charlotte is going to be in town this month at Merritt College, a stop on her “Loving Africa Tour,” and there are some great book talks at Marcus this month too. SFJAZZ has a new performing arts center, which I haven’t seen but hear is very nice. Congrats Randall Kline (smile).
I want to also mention the Jazz Heritage Center, which has great programming, often free and the wonderful gallery space. Kamau Amen Ra is curating an exhibit at the Berkeley Main Library on Kittredge, which opens this month too. Its theme is African music. I might have a few pieces in it (smile).
African American Shakes has a play up that looks interesting: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is really making the rounds with the free staged play reading series which continues yes, another conflict, Saturday, Feb. 2, at the African American Art and Culture Complex, at 2 p.m. I believe. It is a reading of OyamO’s “Tituba, the Black Witch of Salem.” I really enjoyed the last reading I attended at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond. Visit http://lhtsf.org/.
Cuttingball always has something interesting going on and one can’t forget Marin Theatre Company, The Magic Theatre, SJ Rep or ACT-SF, Berkeley Rep or the Black Rep either. I don’t get invitations to all of their seasons, but many like the SF Playhouse present fine theatre.
It makes it hard to cover the Bay when I am not formally invited to openings or given the courtesy of access to directors and cast for interviews. Also, paying for tickets out of pocket gets rather costly. It’s funny, I do not have access to some Black theatres either, and I was the only journalist writing about many of these places before the corporate press noticed them.
However, I love theatre and the intimacy of the smaller houses is often unmatched. I like that once again LHT is collaborating with many of the larger regional theatres this season.
Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays at 6-7 a.m. and Fridays at 8-10 a.m., can be heard by phone at (347) 237-4610 and are archived on the Afrikan Sistahs’ Media Network.