Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wanda's Picks Radio April 29, 2009

Today we will speak to Ramona Africa about the MOVE 9. Visit; writer, Keith Adkins whose SAFE HOUSE, a commission from the Alliance Theater in honor of August Wilson, has won a spot at New Professional Theatre's 2009 Writers Festival. On Monday, May 4, 2009 Keith Josef Adkin's "SAFE HOUSE," will be presented in a special reading. Clinton Turner Davis will direct. For further information:; Straight Out Scribes: Sananaa and Stajaabu have many performances. Visit for events. Stajaabu performs tonight, Wednesday, April 29, 5-6:30p.m. at the Cultural Awareness Center, Sacramento City College – Room 105 - 3835 Freeport Avenue, (916)558-2575. Victoria Henderson will host. later on, they will be at "Ebony," also in Sacramento, from about 9:30-11:30 p.m. Perhaps close with a conversation with Malik Rahim, re: Common Ground Relief and COINTELPRO in New Orleans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wanda's Picks April 28, 2009 Special Show

Black Arts and Culture: Where Art Meets Politics Today's show features: director, Tim Disney, and subject, Regina N. Kelly, of the new film, "American Violet," which opens in the San Francisco Bay Area, Friday, May 1, 2009. There is a free screening Tuesday, April 28, 7 p.m. at the Metreon (4th and Mission Streets, San Francisco, 3rd level).

Our next guest is Jean Marie Teno, director of the new film, "Sacred Places," which looks at African Cinema and the FESPACO film festival on its 40th anniversary and questions its goals and objectives. The film screens several times at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

We close with an extended interview with Ra Un Nefer Amen I, Hon. D.D., spiritual leader and founder of the Ausar Auset community, and author of the new novel: Heru: The Resurrection. He will be in the San Francisco Bay Area, Friday, May 8-Saturday, May 9. Call (510) 536-5934 for information.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wanda's Picks April 24, 2009

Today we are celebrating Mumia Abu Jamal's Birthday and his new book: Jailhouse Lawyers with an Introduction by Angela Davis (

On the air are: Linda Evans, Robert King and Tiny. There is an event tonight at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street,in Oakland, beginning at 6:30 p.m.; the second interview honors the memory of Rev. Diama Clark, whose life is being celebrated April 25, 2009 at Beth Eden Baptist Church, 1183 Tenth Street,in Oakland, 2:30-5:30.

Following this we are joined by Kaylah Marin, singer, song writer, whose new CD is "Loving Life." She also produces, "Soul Green Connection" on Fridays, beginning tonight Friday, April 24, 2009, 7:00 10:00 p.m., at BollyHood, 3372 19th Street between Mission and Capp, San Francisco. The event is a fundraiser for Grind for the Green.

Hugh Masekela who is appearing in San Francisco this evening was not able to make it, so we close with Avotcja, who will continue the Happy Birthday Mumia celebration in words and poetry begin earlier in the broadcast. Avotcja & Modupue perform at Monday, April 27, 8 p.m. in San Francisco at Yoshi's SF, Fillmore @ Eddy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Love on Both Sides of the Wall: A Two Way Struggle

When I saw the time was 6:45 p.m., I mistakenly thought I’d get out in time to make a trip to Whole Foods in Berkeley, but by intermission, the clock was already at 9-something, but it didn’t matter. I was committed.

Based loosely on the novel: “On Both Sides of the Wall: The Two Way Struggle,” by T.J. Windham, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the production, was topnotch, from the multitalented actors who could sing, dance and act, to the great set and costumes. I was really impressed with the range of actor Mike Grayson, who played a gangster, “Big KO,” in the opening scenes, a police man, and the female protagonist, “Tasha’s” lovers, “Rob” and “Money.” If Mike’s mother, Coretta Grayson, hadn’t been behind me, I wouldn’t have recognized him in these roles—they were so different. His “Money” was my favorite though: gold tooth, big chain with a dollar sign on it, and a flashy black suit.

Another character I liked was Mike’s sister, Michelle Grayson. Her “Lady Squab,” a thugged out girl-gangster was really convincing, especially when reigning kingpin “De” told his “homies” that he wanted out of the game and they weren’t hearing it, especially “Lady Squab,” who said the gang was family and De had taught her everything she knew. He gave her her first gun. Hair in cornrolls, I had to look really hard to recognize the girl child beneath the hard surface. This character was a sharp contrast to another character Michelle portrayed: “Peaches,” Tasha’s best girlfriend. I loved the way “Peaches” kept drinking from her flask.

With hints of McMillan’s “Waiting to Exhale,” On Both Sides of the Wall, especially in the scenes between the girl friends is a pleasant journey into black sistah ‘hood. All the women really care about each other: Michelle, Peaches and Tasha. Amanda Doss’ “Michelle” is off the chain, as in unclasped, can’t handle, it let is go loose…she is too cool. Three actresses bring out the best in each other’s characters that are strong and well developed—I love their lines. Here the writing really sings, but one of the productions strong suits is the dialogue.

I am enjoying the sparing between Tasha and her two best girlfriends and also between Tasha and her boyfriend Rob’s sister, Jeanette and De, long before actress Amanda Doss, who portrays both Jeanette and Michelle, sings one of her original songs. (There are three in the program).

Did I confuse you? Don’t worry; it works a lot better on the stage and in the novel (smile).

One of the more poignant scenes is in the prison, when after 15 years “De,” actor, Jaye Diggs, finally breaks down and cries, but it’s the song that foreshadows the tears which is one of the showstoppers sung by Rob Turner, De’s cellmate. After the show, Rob told me that the song was actually written by a man imprisoned who later was released and became a contestant on American Idol. The song is called “Cry” on Lyfe Jennings from his album: "Lyfe 268-192." Visit and

The story?

Right! The story is about gang life in Sacramento between the Crips and the Bloods. It is also a love story, one which is doomed almost from the start, but survives because there is no other alternative—the characters chose life over death, which means they have to change. The story shows how Tasha lets go of destructive behaviors and people who participate in this lifestyle. It’s not easy and in the novel more so than in the play the audience witnesses the arduous journey.

What this couple experiences gives us a microcosm of what our ancestors must have felt each day they awoke and were still enslaved—since prison is slavery nouveau. What does a man do when he has a life sentence and he hasn’t committed the crime he is charged with? De is not saying that he is innocent, but after 20 years, he is a new man.
There are a few meltdowns in the piece, but compared to the novel, it was lightweight. I love the line Tasha gives De when he is feeling like a victim: she says that when a person is behind bars, his entire family, those who love him is doing the same time too. De’s sister, “Kathy,” actress Jonez Cain, is another favorite of mine. Jonez has a hat for almost every occasion. She is the character out to save souls, but Tanya Windham gives the saint flaws too.

When I posted the story on FaceBook, my friends wondered why any woman in her right mind would marry a man behind bars serving life. When I spoke to Tanya, whose life is reflected in both the novel and now the stage production she said though she knew her husband before he went inside, she got to know him when she began corresponding with him and later started visiting. He is my best friend, she said and the two encouraged each other.

I love it in the play when the letters are read aloud and end with: the man you raised/the woman you raised. Remember, when the two met, both were in their teens and then early 20s. Now coming up on 20 years, in the play 15, De’s real life wife, just as her “Tasha” is sharing this story, to be instructive and to raise money for De’s legal defense.

There are several wonderful moments in the film, some I have already shared. Another I liked was during the opening scenes, when the crack addict “Paulette” convinces Big KO to give her drugs. I also like it when Tasha and her girls get together for Peaches birthday. The banter and camaraderie is so genuine and the writing superb. I don’t know who did the choreography, but the greeting is so fun. Each woman has a dance she identifies herself with and the three do it together. I think it dates back to when the three were children.

“On Both Sides of the Wall” is a coming of age story, cautionary, yet uplifting. There are no villains and if there are, the bad guys and gals repent and mend their ways. It’s all about choice. De owns his role in his fate. None of it was accidental, he fell into the trap…but most adolescents do this as a matter of course as a part of the matriculation process.

“Order My Life Productions’” mission is to “uplift, inspire, and encourage the lost, while walking them into a heart changing victory through Gospel Stage Plays.

One of the themes in “On Both Sides of the Wall” is drug commerce, the ease with which drugs and guns are available to youth. In the novel, TJ Windham goes into more detail about De, who is recently released from prison, has a promising career in college sports and a job offer, which he blows when he can’t stay away from the lure of the streets. He makes bad choices and he doesn’t get a third chance—his bridges are literally burned and today he and his wife are trying to mend them: Order My Life Productions is a way to do this.

Tanya’s story is thematically current for another reason when one looks at the high number of African American men and women behind bars. The intentional saturation of the black community with crack cocaine and guns, which Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance,” addresses is played out here—not death, but the other alternative, prison.

Films like: “American Violet,” the story of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie) which looks at drug raids on the black community and how these communities are targeted in Hearne, Texas, in Robertson County. She sues the county on behalf of other unjustly imprisoned plaintiffs. Another film, Tulia, TX (ITVS) looks at the same phenomena, the case against, not a district attorney, but an FBI undercover operative.

Webbs’ “Dark Alliance,” points to the use of drugs –crack cocaine and hand guns and the destruction of the Black Liberation Movement, most noticeably the Black Panther Party. The generation the protagonists “Tasha” and “De” represent reflect the seemingly forgotten Children of the Movement. “The Other Side of the Wall” is their story.

Love on Both Sides of the Wall: A Two Way Struggle @ The Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek April 17-18, 6:45 p.m.

Wanda's Picks April 17, 2009

I got an email today stating that this date is the anniversary of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace's almost uninterrupted stint in solitary confinement, their case collectively known as the Angola 3(see

Today are speaking to T.J. Windham & cast of "On Both Sides of the Wall: The Two Way Struggle" on stage at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek tonight, April 17 & tomorrow, April 18; Margo Hall, director, and members of the cast: Dwight Huntsman, Halili Knox, & Craig Marker of Tracey Scott Wilson's "The Story" currently at SF Playhouse through April 25; Jacinta Vlach, choreographer and director of Liberation Dance Theater, who's "Animal Farm" is debuting next week at ODC Theater in San Francisco, April 24-25; closing with an interview with Algenis Perez Soto, star in directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's film, "Sugar," currently in theatres everywhere.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wanda's Picks April 15, 2009

The show starts out in silence after the introduction. I tried something new again which didn't work. I thought the audience could hear a Youtube broadcast, but it was only audible to me. I'd recorded it and had planned to upload it, but I thought I could do this broadcast. I can't edit the archived show because it is live, so just stay with me and after 7 minutes of silence, Jonathan calls in and we start. For reference, the link is:

We'll be speaking to New Orleans native, Jonathan Batiste, (pianist), who is the musical director of Stanford Lively Art's "Miles Davis/50 Years of KIND OF BLUE," this Saturday, April 18, a project headed by National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Loren Schoenberg, ED.

He'll be joined by Darryl Green on drums; David Ewell on bass; Dayna Stephens on saxophone; Dominick Farinacci on trumpet, and Vasko Dukovski, clarinet. Okpara Danjuma, Unity Concepts, Inc., and Val Serrant join us next to talk about the first of many fundraisers called "Bridge to Bridge: A Gift from the Bay Area to the Youth of Katrina."

The project is designed around a series of fundraisers to raise monies to establish a youth center in New Orleans' 6th Ward. The event is at Shashamne, 2507 Broadway in Oakland. Besides featured guests: Paradise, Val and Muhammad Hanif and the Sound Messengers, there is also an open mic. The donation is $5. The focus of the center will be to train youth in the areas of Human Rights and Social Justice advocacy. For information call (510) 759-7577.

We close the show with a conversation with Joyce Jenkins, editor of Poetry Flash and member of the Northern California Book Reviewers Association's annual Book Awards, Sunday, April 19, at the San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium. The event, 1-2:30 p.m. Awards Ceremony, 2:30-4:00 Book signing & reception. The event is free. Visit

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wanda's Picks Radio April 10, 2009

Today's show went better than last week. I got technical assistance (smile). However, my music wasn't working out the way I liked. I couldn't upload any of Buford Powers songs except one and Idris and Rhodessa's song wouldn't play. I don't have any memory and I guess you need memory to perform certain tasks (smile), but compared to last week. It was a great show! Great guests and great conversation.

Guests: Rhodessa Jones and Idris Ackamoor: "The Love Project," plus their Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women in the Diaspora--South Africa...; "Mrs. Streeter" playwright, Merrill D. Jones, and members of cast: Kimberly Smith as "Mrs. Streeter," Jeffery Tyler Moon as "Jeffery Streeter," and Clint Cartridge as "Charles Streeter"; Buford Powers, singer/composer, and India Cooke, musician, educator at Mills College featuring artists in her 10th year of the “PATTERNS: MUSIC AND RELATED ARTS IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN TRADITION” Apr. 14, 16 & 21.

The lectures are at 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in the Music Building Ensemble Room, on the Mills College Campus, 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland. Oh, it's free too. Two of the artists are with her today in the studio: Eddie Gale, Trumpeter, and San José’s Ambassador of Jazz (4/14), Brenda Schuman-Post, Oboist, documentarian (4/21)--not in that order.

Folks should get up to Juvenile Hall this morning to support David who has an arraignment at 8:30 this morning. He is the only child being tried on felony charges in the Oscar Grant III protests 1/7/09. (There are three people being charged, the rest of those arrested have had charges dropped or reduced). David has two felony convictions. I had him on the air, Wednesday, April 8.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Paul Robeson!

Today would have been Paul Robeson's 111th birthday! At the San Francisco Public Library there was a lovely program and celebration of his life with a special presentation by Clarence Thomas, president of the ILWU, Local 10, the rowdy seriously, Local 10, in particular is the Local that refused to unload shipments from South Africa, weapons headed to Chili after President Allende was killed in a coup, and recently in protest of the war in Iraq. This July marks the 75th anniversary of this union, one that made Robeson an honorary member, one of only three such members. Thomas said Robeson was ahead of his time, in that, the issues he fought for would have had more impact if he'd had organized support behind him, then Thomas shared stories of Harry Bridges organizing successes at a time when new laws allowed the government to use the military to break union strikes. In one instance when President Truman threatened to have the navy taken over the docks and shipments, Bridges called ahead and got the support of all the unions at the ports of call. They said they would honor the strike and not unload the ships. Truman backed off.

The people are powerful when they are organized.

Bill Doggett, curator and co-host, played music from a Robeson compilation. The room wasn't full and noticeably absent were youth. Perhaps no one knew any kids? Robeson's maeesage is one young people need to know, that their voices count and that an organized people can bring down the mightiest government or at least make it listen.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Wanda's Picks

Today was a studio session from hell. I tried multiple times to get into the on-line studio. I tried different phones and the program did not recognize it. I started calling in about 20 minutes till showtime and at 5 till 8, I still wasn't on the air. I switched screen names and my land line was finally recognized, but my notes were in another screen name, so I quickly switched back to the other screen name and then couldn't see the phone numbers of guests once I patched them in.

They disappeared and it looked like I was alone in the studio but when I spoke to them they were still there. I was like: Oh my goddess! How will I know anyone is there if their numbers don't appear?!

OK, so I'm trying to be cool as I see a blocked number appears sort of out of the blue. I think it's Margo, but it's Ajuan and I'm so happy to hear from her, but in all the uploading of music this morning beginning at 5 a.m. and then the scrambling to find a way to get into the studio, I wasn't able to look up her bio. So I put on one of Tammy Hall's songs from Blue Divine, by the way, a lovely CD, while I do a quick search for a rudimentary something--I am totally winging it now....Oh how I wish I could fly?

No, not really, but I find enough to talk intelligently about this scholar/artist who was one of a few people scheduled to speak today on the air and she went from ancillary to prime time.

Yeah! I am screaming in my mind while my voice stays calm.

I mispronounce her title and well, she is an interesting and engaging guest so I don't know if she knows I am trying to do three things at once, locate my other guests: Margo and James Gayles, while paying attention to our conversation, but I think it went very well.

Margo told me in a later email that she was in the wings...another form of that word, trying to get on, but the program was not having it. She was frustrated too. I had a feeling she was there. I just couldn't see her--talk about Invisible woMan.

I've got to talk to the tech person at I sent them a message a few months ago about getting kicked off the air arbitrarily, and have yet to receive a response.

After Ajuan and finished I spoke to Jetaun, who'd called in a bit early, as she should and then called back a few minutes later, but her phone was echoing. When she asked, "Should I call back," I was kind of spooked. Should she? What if I couldn't hear her once she did and I was all alone in the studio?

She did and I saw the number and it all worked well.

I have this system of not letting my guests go until I see the next guest in the queue. No one from the cast of Ain't Nothing But the Blues was there at 9 a.m. so Jetaun and I continued our conversation and she was great!

I was having so much trouble this morning that when Tammy Hall didn't call in at 9:30 I just kept talking to Mississippi. Normally, I put on a song or hope my current guest keeps talking while I put the phone on mute and use my cell phone to call guests who are late arrivals, but this time I was so exhausted from the stress and so happy everything was proceeding smoothly now that the show was winding up, plus he was such a fantastic interview, simply fantastic-- His bio doesn't do him justice, I decided to leave it alone and reschedule Tammy. Ajuan was also fantastic as was Jetaun, who didn't get to talk about her graduate work in healing arts at JFK and her mission as "Womb Woman."

Okay, so for the past 45 minutes the show has been going well and as the hour grows closer to 10 a.m., I am trying not to get kicked off, so I call into the show on my cell phone so I can continue playing music and the darn system kicks me off anyway after I put on my "Odun De." I'd wanted to play Walkin' Blues and the piece from Invisible Womb but the time ran out.

Other problems this morning were file uploads: I had 4 songs already uploaded and then the program told me I already had music by that name in the file, so I quit the program, look and it wasn't there, so I'd try it again. I did this for over an hour. There were some lovely pieces from Tammy Hall's CD with healing music, Rejuve, the program would not let me add. I also discovered this morning that there is a limit to how many files you can have at one time. I must have reached the max because I couldn't add any more until I deleted some.

I like the autonomy of the cyber-studio but sometimes it helps when one can talk to a human being rather than a machine. No matter how well-programmed, they can't catch everything.

It was, as stated above, a radio experience from hell. The phone recognition problem happens every show, but never this bad. It usually recognizes my cell number, but this time- neither.

If there are other techie folk out there who have had similar problems and resolved them, please share.

Wanda's Picks April 1 & April 3

April 1, 2009
Wanda's Picks

Dr. Lance Webb, D.C., Board Certified Chiropractic Physician Practicing Holistic Health Maintenance,Homeopathy, Chinese Healing Techniques 24+ years of Clinical research-sports/environmental medicine, toxicology, children health concerns...etc. Owner of Optimum Wellness, Chicago, Ill. Dr. Webb will also be at the Be Still event in Oakland (Jack London Aquatic Center) on Saturday, Apr. 4, 2009 between 10 am-3 pm., 115 Embarcadero East, Oakland, CA 94606 (between Oak Street & 5th Ave.)

For an appointment call(510) 536-5934. Visit

We are also joined by Idris Hassan, director of Bay Area Cypher, is practitioner of Media Arts, skilled as Videographer, Digital Video Editor, and Visual Artist. Ms. Hasan received her BA degree in Mass Communications and Photojournalism from Cal State Hayward and a Certificate Degree in Digital Video Arts from Berkeley City College. She has worked as an entertainment journalist, an editorial assistant and has contributed writings various to publications. Ms. Hasan is a graduate of the First Voice Radio Apprenticeship program and has worked with Hard Knock Radio, The Morning Show, and Full Circle Radio Magazine on Pacifica Radio Station KPFA in Berkeley, CA. She has produced video projects for various Bay Area artists and community groups.

She has a DVD release party and screening scheduled at the Guerrilla Cafe in Berkeley and at Berkeley City College April and May.

April 1, 2009 - 7:00 to 8:00 PM (Wednesday)"Bay Area Cypher" screens at San Francisco Women's Film Festival San Francisco’s Women's Building, Main Auditorium, 3543 18th St. #8, San20Francisco, CA, 415) 431-1180,

April 24, 2009, 6:30 to 8:00 PM (Friday), DVD Release & Screening
of "Bay Area Cypher" Panel Discussion on "Life After Multi Media Studies at BCC,” Berkeley City College – Auditorium, 2050 Center Street, Berkeley, CA (Sponsored by BCC Multi Media Dept. and BCC Film Club).

There will be a profanity free Open Freestyle Session. Snacks will be provided.

May 2, 2009 - 7:00 to 8:30 PM, (Saturday)"Bay Area Cypher" DVD Release Part II, Screening and Q&A at the Guerilla Café, 1620 Shattuck, Berkeley, CA, (Limited Seating Available)

April 3, 2009 8-10 AM
Wanda's Picks

Ajuan Marie Mance, Associate Professor, English Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Chair, at Mills College, author and visual artist. African American literature, 19th-century American literature, U.S. popular culture, the oral tradition in U.S. literature, Black feminist thought, African American art, Black on Campus. Ajuan, James Gayles & Karen Seneferu are a part of an exhibit at the Women's Cancer Resource Center,“Body & Soul.”

The exhibit located at 5741 Telegraph Avenue,Oakland, CA 94609, (510) 420-7900 x 111, and curated by Margo Mercedes Rivera-Weiss, opens April 17, 7-9 p.m. and continues through May 6.

Ajuan's book, Inventing Black Women African American Women Poets and Self-Representation, 1877–2000 now in paperback is out on Tennessee University Press, so look for it and notices about upcoming readings. Visit Also visit

Jetaun Maxwell, founder of Dance Theatre of the Gospel, has a new work, "Invisible Womb," on stage April 3-4, 7 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m. Saturday there is an artist panel and Sunday is an audience talk back with the Jetaun Maxwell. The show runs an hour, without intermission at Bay Area Christian Connection, 810 Clay Street in Old Oakland. For information call and visit: (510)350-8327 and

This morning's radio show closes with an interview with "Mississippi" Charles Bevel, currently appearing in, "It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues," at TheatreWork's Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto. Visit or call (650) 903-6000. The show runs Tuesday-Sunday and closes April 11. Some shows have audience talk backs.