Sunday, March 28, 2010

Soweto Gospel Choir , Asylum, King Tut, the Play

I assumed incorrectly that the concert songs were listed in the program. Wrong. I was too into the music and performance to try to write in the dark. It was really dark and well, I needed the spiritual upliftment too much to bother with keeping tab on all the songs, so, sorry folks, no set list here. But suffice it to say that the Soweto Gospel Choir are pretty awesome with 27 members, who sing and dance –there is even a skit at the start of the second half, well while I love Voices from Heaven, perhaps the first recording on Shanachie, the multiple Grammy award winning artists for their CDs Blessed and African Spirit, and for Down to Earth, a tune collaborated on with Peter Gabriel for the film WALL-E, for Best Movie Song and was nominated for an Oscar, what could I possibly say, except, YOU MISSED IT!

But there were quite a few people who didn’t, the venue pretty full in the orchestra, many South Africans in the house singing along, getting to their feet in praise and my friends from Vukani Mawethu cutting up in the audience.

The ages ranged from 27 up, I was told by the youngest member of the Choir, Warren Mahlangu, born the same year as my younger daughter, the day after me, June 21. Pretty cool. I don’t know how I happen to meet South African singers born in June—my friend Albert Masibuke, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a June Gemini too. If you have ever seen a South African dance troupe, the choreography is pretty energetic, the men throw their legs straight up—with the Soweto Gospel Choir, women danced with the men swinging their legs vertical as well. This was the first time I’d ever seen a woman dance this way. I also saw within the choreography references to West African dance, so the ensemble was a Pan African mix, both lyrically with several renditions of African American songs, including a Negro Spiritual, as well as a Bob Marley song and even a regional classic, by Edwin Hawkins, “Oh Happy Day.” My friend and photographer that evening, Hubert Collins remembered when the song was first performed and then recorded. He said he attended a concert with the Hawkins Family, Nina Simone . . . (ask who else) He commented on another concert where the song was sung by a Japanese choir, this was at Art and Soul, so Oakland is certainly traveling the globe with this song.

All of the first set was acapella and the second set included a few musical numbers with drum, bass and piano. There were percussionists who also got up and danced throughout the concert. I can’t say enough about the synergy between the ensemble members and the tight moves and choreography. Everyone could dance and sing all at the same time and the costumes were colorful and as the artists moved on stage at times their gowns acted like paint brushes each gesture a stroke on the canvas. The younger cast members did break dancing, a few spinning and falling back then scooting backward on the floor. They called each other out, sometimes a younger artist challenging an older artist or an older woman challenging a younger man. It was so fun!

I wondered when I looked at the names of the members and saw, Vusimuzi Shabalala’s name, I thought that he might be related to Joseph Shabalala, musical director and founder of Ladysmith. I’ll have to get back to you on that one, but having missed the group this year, I was happy to get my South African music fix tonight with the wonderful Soweto Gospel Choir.


Earlier today I was at Laney College theatre for Destiny Art Youth Performance Company’s “Asylum.” I don’t know what I was thinking, but I hadn’t thought, mental hospital, when I first heard the title of this year’s theatre performance. Met by kids dressed as clowns. One brushed dust off me with a magical brush, I was still kind of surprised when “The Ringleader” also narrator of the show, “Claire Seymour,” played by Amber Espinoza-Jones, “Marsha Newman, the therapist” played by Mesiah Burciaga-Hameed, and Courtney Courier, the news anchor, played by Courtney Nicholson, set the stage for the story about The Super Six: Superwoman (actress Sonia Mena), Loverboy (actor Omar Evans), The Mask (Talia Payomo), Imagination (Neenee Franklin), Flow (Ellen Kobori), and Inside Out (Arianna Butler). These innocents are locked in the mental institution because of their trail of good deeds. They have been so busy saving the world they get caught and can’t seem to save themselves.

As the tale unfolds we meet the HMO executive director and her posse: The Super Villians: Dolores Domina a.k.a. Big Money played by Alaysia Brooks, Ulysses Uziah a.k.a. “Uzi”, played by Morgon Grody who has been at Destiny since elementary school (he’s a senior now in high school), and Skin Deep (the media liaison) played by Courtney Nicholson.

The story is tight, the cast well rehearsed, whether they were the baby martial artists or dancers, or the more seasoned cast of high school seniors, everyone knew his or her cues,on equal footing from the smallest and youngest dancers and martial artists to the eldest. All the performances were outstanding.

One of my favorite scenes, which was also an eyeopener was "Welcome to the Madhouse," where I think I finally got it—this is a mental hospital and the setting is a psychiatric ward. Ding!

The parallels between prison and mental institutions is uncanny. "Everything (really) is turned upside down," I think a line went, the aerial dancers literally upside down. Not overly didactic but certainly a "morals play," scenes were dedicated to themes which encouraged the audience to look or dig deeper when falling for the commercials that create desires, make one feel incomplete, especially the women who wants to purchase beauty or happiness.

Many characters are in recovery from something America peddles and the shopaholic buys or tries to like self-respect, self-confidence, or self-reliance usually found in a bottle in liquid or pill form.

“Gwendolyn Gadoe, a.k.a, Inside Out” played by Arianna Butler holds a mirror and helps people see themselves as they are, and to accept that. A retired top model, she was in recovery from high fashion and the shallowness of that world and her former life when we meet her as super hero. Butler's solo is another outstanding number in the show.

The groups therapy sessions were also great, especially the session which began with Melanie McCully or "Superwoman," who was a brilliant scholar as well and had a split personality—the choreography behind a screen shows two dancers Melanie's two selves, as one and as multiple is both clever and creative. The audience can easily visualize the split or schizophrenia as Mena and Ellen Kobori dance, their silhouette fractured.

Everything Princeton Maharam choreographed was awesome and then when he danced and sang on "Stop Callin’" the costumes and the lighting and his ability to solo and dance too was pretty amazing! He had CDs for sale afterward. No, I didn’t buy one, but you can. Money is short which is why I am teaching this summer, to augment my salary for the rest of the year(smile). No seriously, after all the creditors subtract their monthly amounts from my back account, there is nothing left.

I liked Asylum's ending: We all have super power, we just have to recognize it and rise to our potential. A party followed, by party I mean the story ended, but the show was by no means over. The finale was one Destiny Ensemble piece after another which I think was a great way to go out.

This is a fundraising season, Destiny is buying a building—which is great! They will have a dance center similar to dance companies in San Francisco like ODC and Alonzo King—space is the place if one wants to grow and not worry about tomorrow. I haven’t found out where this theatre space is, nor do I remember how much money was raised the evening before the matinee I attended (I know, no help right). Nor do I recall how much is needed, but Destiny would be a great place to send your tax refund check…just sign it over. With kids like these, our future is secure. For answers to all your questions call: (510) 597-1619 and visit

King Tut, the play
Last night I went to see King Tut, the play, at Bayview Opera House. Written and directed by Farad Dews a Bayview Opera House alumnus, whose resume reads like a what else hasn't he done!? From set design to acting classes at the American Conservatory Theatre, to dancing with the San Francisco Ballet and training in African and modern dance, plus film making, Dews is the consummate artist who is now training youth back where he started.

No longer a resident in here, Dews works in Bayview neighborhood and wrote "King Tut, the Boy King," many years ago. It debuted at the de Young Museum where the exhibit closes the same day the play does. Uncanny isn't it. Unlike the exhibit though, one does not have to travel to Egypt to see it. Dews says he hopes to mount it again in the East Bay and perhaps again in San Francisco.

With a large cast, many of them kids themselves, the playwright and company have a lot of heart. There are several remarkable scenes, most in the second half and those involve Tut's gentle and quiet rule. The boy king doesn't argue, and his trust in his friends who are the ones who love him shows his intelligence.

The actor in this role looks like he’s nineteen; in fact most of the cast looked like they were high schoolers. The one's not in public school are probably in college. The audience was full of proud parents, teachers and noisy friends.

Dews's choreography was outstanding and the dancer in the role was a show stopper. There is live drumming and the set looked just like the artifacts from the young king's tomb I'd just seen. I felt like I was still walking through the treasures in the tomb . . . the last couple of galleries filled with “bling.” I guess the young pharaoh had planned to keep up appearances in the afterlife, this before he was robbed.

What does a homeless spirit look like?

Back to Destiny, I really liked the dance, Ascension as well. One of the aerial dancers scaled a back wall which she then flew across. The choreography was really lovely throughout the show, and then there were moments like this which took away what little breath one had left.

The story has a really cool twist . . . but the tragedy is how though this is theatre, there are many good people who are persecuted for wanting to help make the world better, to save others. Patients are beaten, medicated against their will –if ever there were a modern take on "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Asylum" is it. Cuckoo’s Nest as a musical. Hum? Alaysia Brooks’s Dolores Domina certainly finds her match in Nurse Ratched Instead of one Indian, there are Six Chief Bromdens and all need busting outand the narrator institutionalized herself, the Ringmaster, was certainly did Randle McMurphy, Cuckoo's Nest's protagonist, "Randle McMurphy," the big gambler, con man, and a backroom boxer, proud. Mesiah Burciaga-Hameed's Ringleader was suitably hardcore, bottom line, no nonsense, unlike Randle who had more of a sense of humor. She was a take no prisoners guide through the nut house.

Susie Butler Salutes Sarah Vaughan

Today I was feeling a bit under the weather, I didn't realize how much until I got ready to try to go home and had to sit in the car for a moment to collect myself and gather my energy.

I was disappointed that I couldn't go celebrate two of my friends at the Blues Hall of Fame Awards today, John Handy whose award destroyed in a recent home fire was replaced and Herbert Mims was honored.

Ms. Butler came on after a wonderful documentary film, "The Divine One," about the late singer, Sarah Lois Vaughan whose birthday was yesterday March 27, 1924, her passing just a week later, April 3, 1990. The film and program were so wonderful, the intimate Jazz Heritage Center screening room cozy enough for the artist, Sassy Susie to interact with the audience.

It took a lot of nerve to follow the story like that, but Ms. Butler pulled it off and then some. The film featured interviews with Vaughan's band members and friends like vocalist Billy Eckstine, whom one might say, discovered her. He said her voice was one he'd never heard before --she said she sang horn lines, whatever it was, she was the only one doing it. Roy Haynes spoke about their gigs, as did colleague Joe Williams. Her pianist for ten years, an arranger and others who recognized her musicianship also were interviewed.

She was truly wedded to improvisation, allowing her band a certain freedom all couldn't handle. She was also funny and beautiful when black women who were dark complexioned were not looked upon as beautiful. Interviews also included her adopted daughter, her mother, members of the church she attended in New Jersey.

The footage from interviews and concerts along with photos was also notable. I certainly recommend this film for serious students of jazz vocalists and for people who want to learn about the life of one of our treasures. I remember when my brother took a date to see Ms. Vaughan and his report that he knew she was great but didn't know exactly how to listen to her to get the most out of the experience. He said he should have taken me. I wish he had (smile).

Known for her ability to handle herself with the boys, Ms. Vaughan was said to have the mouth of a sailor and called "Sassy" for her salty linguistic choices. She was also known for her poor choice in men; she was married four times. Later on when she grew more confident and able to manage her career, the menfolk couldn't handle her independence.

Initially a pianist and accompanist in church, Vaughan wanted to sing and a contest at the Apollo is where Eckstine met her and her professional career was launched first with her friend, Eckstine, in Earl Fatha Hinds' band and later in Eckstine's which seemed like a training school or finishing school for artists of that time, somewhat like Art Blakey's band trained many of today's top stars. After she left Eckstine for a solo career she continued climbing to the top.

Many of the musicians spoke of her octave range as operatic reaching both the high highs and so low her pianist said you could feel her voice in the floorboards. I was just so happy to celebrate her life this weekend and I hope we can continue to do so each year leading up to 2024, her 100th birth date. As it is, April 3, marks the 20th year since she made her transition.

Wearing a "Vaughan" gown, tangerine with matching earrings and smile, Susie "Sassy" Butler was the image of Vaughan. I had to pinch myself when the lights came up and Miss Divine was still in the room. The show included birthday cake for Vaughn and the chocolate cake went quickly as the table was being set for the closing show at 5 PM.

Photos are of Susie Butler in performance, Susie Butler and Raja Rahim and me, also Peter Fitzsimmons, Jazz Heritage Center Director, Susie Butler, artist, and Abbie Rhone, director.

Photo credit: Wanda Sabir (of course)

Reflecting on the Reflection on King Tut

Closing night was a Community Evening at the Museum, which meant the hours were extended to 9:00 PM, I believe, and included art activities like making Tut crowns, an Egyptian play with live music and an open quilting studio, (connected to the Amish Quilt Exhibit) plus a lecture. There was a no host bar and the cafe was open as well. All these activities were included in the admission. It was a great farewell party for the king.

I kind of stumbled into the extended hours after I emerged from the Tut exhibit 4-5 hours after I'd entered at 2:30 PM.

Unlike the exhibit with Queen Hatshepsut which allowed scholars outside the museum community to lead tours, Tut did not and I really miss the opportunity to have had Professor Manu Ampin's insight on the king and this period in African history.

Certainly the de Young has learned from the work of scholar and artist Fred Wilson about museum spaces and how they artificially manipulate realities to create new ones, often attached to power. King Tut's remains, though contextualized within the landscape of discovery, were not centered in ritual. Often on the many plates mention was made of how an object was used, but what did it mean that the object was in San Francisco now, to King Tut's eternal life?

How long does it take a spirit to travel through the Afterlife to its final destination? I certainly don't know and I'm pretty certain the bling got in the way of such considerations. I'm reflecting the tomb's initial discovery.

When the de Young opened its doors to the new facility there was ritual--in the African galleries practitioners were invited to bless the space. I remember, the procession began with a lecture and then continued up the stairs to the galleries. I left the museum that evening at midnight, spent the night in San Francisco and then returned the next day.

I remember wondering why so many non-Africans were involved in the ceremony and being told by someone in the procession that race didn't matter. It might not matter to them, but if something is African I want to see indigenous Africans or black people.

I think King Tut deserved something similar. Spirit is real. It's surprising that the Museum of the African Disapora wasn't a satellite for any Tut-related events or activities or even the African American Art and Culture Complex or the Bayview Opera House. I wonder who is on the museum's advisory committee and how connected are they to the constituency that is black San Francisco?

In the future when the museum brings in Pan African exhibits community should insist that we have a say in its presentation. There was a big corporate sponsor who as money often does, shaped input; however, the part of the deal that was public funds, that is, tax dollars --the people, should have been able to override its objections.

When one looks at presenting organizations--I'm speaking of visual art here, but it includes performance art as well, Velma's Place is one of the only black clubs left in the Bay Area and The Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center and the Bayview Opera House are two of the only places for both visual and performance art consistently connected to black culture.

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) looks black, but the mission is so watered down inclusive of any ethnic opportunist who chooses blackness like a garment needing dusting off, that black people--the ones without a choice (if they care to defect), are not the target audience, even those who can afford the admission. I heard a sad story of a family who came into the museum opening week of the new exhibit (March 20, 2010) to buy something from the gift shop. When the father asked the admission price--$10 adults, $5 students and seniors, as he looked at his wife and two kids and clearly couldn't afford it, then asked if there were a family price, he was told no.

The door keeper told him no, when all day long she'd been admitting white patrons from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) whose members received free admission to MoAD that day.

How many black people have subscriptions to SFMOMA?


The woman could have given the family a pass and no one would have been the wiser, but more importantly it would have been a great opportunity to develop patrons for the venue. I wonder if the dad regretted his purchase, since he couldn't afford the museum. His kids would have loved it. There were art activities --kids were making jewelry in the colors of the orishas and in the community room there were Yoruba creation stories being told. This is the day that Dowoti Desir gave a tour of the gallery speaking about her altars in: Dancing on the Hips of Gede.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, just across the street, does more to connect the dots between Africa and its children in the Diaspora than MoAD and its outreach is to people like you and me.

I was listening to some of the pod-casts on the de Young Museum website on "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs about how the exhibit came to San Francisco in the first place. One of the person's responsible is interviewed and he mentions the Egyptian government asked how much money could they expect from the tour. The museum representative said $1 million dollars and the tour actually raised something like $8 million. I wonder how much was raised this time? What was interesting was Egypt's request that the museums sell tickets 30 years ago, when some museums didn't charge admission at all. I think all the museums in Washington D.C. are still free. The money was to be made from souvenirs in 1979, this time, tickets and souvenirs --at least here in San Francisco.

Related Exhibits
There is a mummy on display at the Palace of the Legion of Honor through October 31, 2010, in the exhibit: Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine. Visit

Very Postmortem: Mummies and Medicine explores the modern scientific examination of mummies providing new insights into the conditions under which the Egyptians lived, bringing us closer to understanding who they were. The exhibition is a homecoming celebration marking the return of Irethorrou, the Fine Arts Museums’ mummy who has been on loan since 1944. CT-scans done by scientists at Stanford Medical School shed light on Irethorrou’s physical attributes and cause of death. The scans provide depth and scientific background to the exhibition and contribute to a three-dimensional “fly through” of the mummy and a forensic reconstruction of his head. The exhibition also includes a variety of ancient artifacts that date from approximately 664–525 B.C., the Late Period from the 26th Saite Dynasty.

Special International Women's Day Programming

March 28, 2010 5:00 am - 10:00 pm

on KPFA 94.1 Free Speech Community Radio



5:00 - 8:00 am
"Musical Offering and Opening Ceremony Honoring International Women's Day"

An opening ceremony honoring International Women's Day andKPFA's day long celebration of women's programming with music of all kinds, highlighting and celebrating women.

Host: Mary Berg

8:00-9:00 am

"Women and Spirituality"

A Live Discussion about women's lives and spirituality.

Host: Gabrielle Wilson

9:00 – 11:00 am

"Women Talk"

1st hour -Update on Haiti and Chile earthquakes and the special burden women and children face when disaster strikes. 2nd hour: Women Leaders discuss the progress made, by women and future prospects for greater expansion of women's power and leadership.

Host: Joy Moore

Special International Women's Day Programming

March 28, 2010 5:00 am - 10:00 pm

on KPFA 94.1 Free Speech Community Radio



5:00 - 8:00 am
"Musical Offering and Opening Ceremony Honoring International Women's Day"

An opening ceremony honoring International Women's Day andKPFA's day long celebration of women's programming with music of all kinds, highlighting and celebrating women.

Host: Mary Berg

8:00-9:00 am

"Women and Spirituality"

A Live Panel Discussion about women's lives and spirituality.

Host: Gabrielle Wilson

9:00 – 11:00 am

"Women Talk"

1st hour -Update on Haiti and Chile earthquakes and the special burden women and children face when disaster strikes. 2nd hour: Women Leaders discuss the progress made, by women and future prospects for greater expansion of women's power and leadership.

Host: Joy Moore

Guests 1st hour: Ayana Labossiere and Dr. Ramona Tascoe

Guests 2nd hour: Linda Burnham, Eveline Shen

11:00 am - 1200 pm
"Women of Code Pink"

“Code Pink” women live in studio discussing civil disobedience, with interviews, music, and news about upcoming Code Pink Activities.

Host: Carla West

12:00 - 1:00 pm

"What has the UN Done for Women's Rights?"
A historical look at the work of the UN towards gaining women's rights with a look back to the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women

Co- Hosts: Preeti and Malihe/Chris W(?)

1:00 – 2:00 pm

"Women in Film"
Two Women filmmakers discuss women's progress in the film industry and the future of women in film.

Host Ms. M

2:00 - 3:00 pm
"Women, Misogyny and Hip Hop"

Live DJ and discussion about women, hip hop and the politics of women making music.


3:00 – 5:00 pm

"Women's Issues in Song"

New and classic pro Women's music, stories, history and poetry.

Host: Rosie Reyes/Victoria (?)

5:00 - 6:00 pm

"Women Ancestors Memorial"
Recorded highlights and memories of and about women warriors lost to us this past year, including Mama O'Shea, long time KPFA host and producer.

Co- Host: Lisa Dittmer and (?)

6:00 - 6:30 pm

KPFA Weekend News

Anchor Rose Ketabchi

6:30 - 7:30 pm

"Anita Lofton Project"

A four piece women’s ensemble performs live in KPFA Studio.

Host: (?)

7:30 -9:00 pm

"Women World Music"
Live DJ spinning music by, for and about women, fromall over the world.


9:00 – 9:30

"A Frank Talk about Sex"

Three Generations of women talk about sex and how it is talked about by women.
Host: Lindsay Clark

9:30 – 10:00 pm

Closing Ceremony including thanks, love, appreciation and credits to all producers, hosts, helpers, supporters and allies that helped create KPFA's day of women’s programming in honor of International Women’s Day.

Host: IWD Steering Committee

11:00 am - 1200 pm
"Women of Code Pink"

“Code Pink” women live in studio discussing civil disobedience, with interviews, music, and news about upcoming Code Pink Activities.

Host: Carla West

12:00 - 1:00 pm

"What has the UN Done for Women's Rights?"
Women of Iraq A look at the work of the UN towards gaining women's rights with a look back to the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women.

Co- Hosts: Preeti and Malihe/Chris W(?)

1:00 – 2:00 pm

"Women in Film"
Two Women filmmakers discuss women's progress in the film industry and the future of women in film.

Host Ms. M

2:00 - 3:00 pm
"Women, Misogyny and Hip Hop"

Live DJ and discussion about women, hip hop and the politics of women making music.


3:00 – 5:00 pm

"Women's Issues in Song"

New and classic pro Women's music, stories, history and poetry.

Host: Rosie Reyes/Victoria (?)

5:00 - 6:00 pm

"Women Ancestors Memorial"
Recorded highlights and memories of and about women warriors lost to us this past year, including Mama O'Shea, long time KPFA host and producer.

Co- Host: Lisa Dittmer and (?)

6:00 - 6:30 pm

KPFA Weekend News

Anchor Rose Ketabchi

6:30 - 7:30 pm

"Anita Lofton Project"

A four piece women’s ensemble performs live in KPFA Studio.

Host: (?)

7:30 -9:00 pm

"Women World Music"
Live DJ spinning music by, for and about women, fromall over the world.


9:00 – 9:30

"A Frank Talk about Sex"

Three Generations of women talk about sex and how it is talked about by women.
Host: Lindsay Clark

9:30 – 10:00 pm

Closing Ceremony including thanks, love, appreciation and credits to all producers, hosts, helpers, supporters and allies that helped create KPFA's day of women’s programming in honor of International Women’s Day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Good Friday

I returned to bid farewell to King Tut yesterday afternoon. This time I parked on JFK Way; a month and a half ago I parked on MLK Jr. Way. I didn't have anyone with me this time around and didn't want to get lost as I walked toward the museum, the Academy of Sciences across the way. I entered the side entrance after noticing for the first time how Egyptian looking the statues were at the entrance, and how much these statues resembled those guarding the threshold at the front steps of Studio 750A on 14th Street at Brush Street in West Oakland.

For those who got by the museum over the past few months, there is a brief orientation as one proceeds into the first gallery. It's a typical Hollywood moment and then the doors open into the first gallery (there are 10) where we are instructed to turn on our gallery guides. As the exhibit moved from city to city on its 30 year return tour, the exhibits mirrored one another, very different from 1979 when each museum actually staged the artifacts differently depending on the gallery space itself. In one museum the exhibit was in the basement creating the feeling of a tomb, the golden mask the last item one saw before exiting.

I eagerly awaited the double door's opening, so I could see once again, the boy-king. It was like returning to see an old friend. He hadn't changed much, if at all in the 31 years since he'd been here last. If anything he represented the immortality of blackness, black consciousness.

Somewhat like Tupac Shakur whose early demise occurred just as he was becoming more self-reflective and introspective; King Tutankhamun's early death, which caught everyone off guard--the artifacts represent a quickly assembled crypt. It's amazing, one wonders what the sight might have looked like had he lived. His early death, at the prime of his leadership prevented a similar opportunity for the king to review his strategies, especially those policies which supported unification between Upper and Lower Egypt and the surrounding territories.

When we meet Tut he is more like Tupac as gangster or military heavy--there is no compromise. One couldn't help but notice the various scenes depicted on the items designed to protect and assist the young leader on his journey into the afterlife showed him in battle, as conqueror his foot on the necks of his enemies, not as peacemaker.

Was this youthful bravado something time might alter? Was he pumped up with the ideas of imperialism or the need to establish Egypt as the dominate leader in the region? If so, why? What is the governance back story? Granted I am looking at the young leader through a 21st century lens, post Columbine, Oklahoma, Sept. 11, post-Iraq and Saddam Hussein, post Obama even, but what's with all the scenes with dark-skinned Africans at the foot of Egyptians?

King Tut was the last king and he rose to power at a time when there were non-Egyptians in powerful places of influence. Were his policies the result of miscegenation and assimilation? Tut is clearly a black man as are his wife and father and grandparents.

It's amazing if the brown paper bag-thing was also present in Africa and that the boy king was white. Unlike the other exhibit, which was in LA and Miami a while back, there were no computer generated images of Tut in white skin, the closest in a statute or bust, but this is the material, not the persona whose features suggest non-European heritage.

I'd left my other notebook at home and at $49.00 the catalog was out of my financial reach, so I filled my journal with reflections and notes as I made my way through the crowded galleries. I mean they were full with adults and children, a few of them black. I was pleased to see so many black youth and parents with their children--many of our kids have never seen a black king, this much gold and riches, plus the opportunity to witness such careful attention paid to a black man's death. Even his potential resurrection is instructive as shootings occur in my East Oakland neighborhood regularly and this same black life, Tut's, in certain situations today were he alive, would not be valued at all.

Each day and night my driving route is dependent on safety: shootings on International Blvd., Thursday, March 25; kids upset by the street corner memorials a day later; youth arguing on Seminary and San Leandro Street two weeks ago.

TaSin calls me with news updates or traffic advisories. It would be funny if it wasn't funny--the violence is creeping closer towards my front door where we have had walk-by shootings (this before the crack dealers moved in...and out, an old man their cover. One of them was also killed--he was the nice kid who spoke to me as I was entering or exiting my home).

So to see King Tut, the youngster, born in a town named after the sun god, worshiped by his dad, (Amen Hotep IV who changed his name to Akhenaten, to reflect his belief in Aten or the one god, the sun. At nine in 1333 B.C. when he became king, Tut moved from his dad's town, Amarna, to Thebes and changed his name from Tutankhaten ("honoring Aten" -- the sun god), to Tutankamun ("honoring Amun", the religion of his forebearers. His wife, 13 year old Ankhesenpaaten, the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, also changed her name to reflect a renewal of traditional spiritual practices, to Ankhesenamun. When Tut died ten years later, his successor took the widow as his wife. He died four years after that and there the trail ends regarding Tut's wife.

At nine, the boy-king probably didn't exercise any real power, but who knows, he could have been a precocious youngster whose age didn't stop him from participating in the governing of Upper and Lower Egypt. The best-known pharaoh of ancient Egypt, King Tut has been puzzling scientists ever since his mummy and treasure-packed tomb was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter. As the last male in the family, his death in 1325 B.C. at age 19 ended the 18th dynasty probably the greatest of the Egyptian royal families and gave way to military rulers.

I loved the etchings on one of the many statuette boxes of him and his wife in playful or intimate scenes, eating grapes, brushing one another's hair, lounging near each other, chillin' on the throne. It was sad that they lost their two children early in their lives--miscarriages, yet the again respect and love given to their remains--two gold coffins, nestled inside one another.

The boats used as transport and the fact that there were about 30 such vehicles reminded me of the brothers who collect cars in their driveways. Tut's folks had skiffs for the quick jaunts and a houseboat with a huge mast for the overnight missions in the Afterlife which I read wasn't always safe.

Was the Afterlife a series of tests one had to master as he made his way to the Gods? The Book of the Dead with its spells sounds really interesting and the gods in charge of the passage, like Horus, God of Thebes and his sons.

This piece is a work in progress or a draft. I'll update and answer some of my questions as I become better informed. I include here photos from the press package FAM provided. There were no photos of Tut's queen, Ankhesenamun. I included photos of the 1979 opening of the exhibit which I attended, but the line was around the museum and my husband (at the time) didn't want to wait to see the exhibit. I also included photos of the Valley of the Kings where the tomb was found, Howard Carter the archeologist who found the tomb and the monuments to the king, along with his funeral mask and coffins, which are not a part of the exhibit. 31 years ago the gold mask was a part of the touring exhibit, not any longer, which is kind of disappointing after a few hours in the various galleries to come to the end and just have a computer generated images of the compartments that housed King Tut's remains. His grandmother's golden coffin and her funeral mask, along with his unborn children's coffin are on display, but not the rock star himself. You have to go to Eqypt to see this.

I also included a photo of President Anwar Sadat with Cyril Magnin.

I noticed in the plates that a few of the larger shrines said Metropolitan Museum. If what I read is correct, these items have never left Egypt. The Metropolitan Museum's photographer was present when the items were discovered.

Another ethical question is pilfering the tomb of a renown statesman. How many European kings and queens are sent around the world to lie in state in a variety of museums? King Tut's grandmother and unborn children... are on display.

What happened to letting the dead rest in peace? Again, I don't see the remains of any Europeans circling the globe, yet so many Africans have been on display in museums both alive and dead, the more famous Saartjie Baartman was a living installation in the British Museum and Ota Benga at the New York Zoo. Later Baartman's genitalia were pickled.

Marilyn Nelson's book, "Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem," looks at the story of an anonymous skeleton hanging in the Mattatuck Museum in Connecticut for over 200 years, until recently, as in 1996 when questioned as to its origin and it is found that the bones belong to an enslaved man named Fortune owned by the local doctor. He died at the age of 60 in 1798 and the doctor boiled his skin off the bones and used his skeleton to inform his medical practice, as it did that of his children who also began doctors. This African man's remains remain on view.

So once again the question is, why are Africans or black people disrespected even in death? Why is there a different standard applied to our dead that is not applied to others? Why are black bodies even in death public property?

Did you know that the word for mirror and life--ankh are the same? The image here is of a mirror case, there are two parts. Life is a mirror of our soul. Who we are is reflected in what we do or at least in what we intend to do--this is me talking. I believe that one's intentions count, even the unsuccessful ones.

The museum states on its website that its "goal with this exhibition is to present the beauty, artistry and rarity of the 130 objects from Tut’s tomb and the tombs of his royal ancestors and to share with visitors a comprehensive and educational look at life during the 18th Dynasty, Egypt’s Golden Age. Since it is likely that these objects will not travel again once the new museum in Giza opens, this exhibition presents a unique opportunity to see these wonderful artifacts in person" unless one travels to Egypt which I certainly hope to in the near future.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wanda's Picks updated

The website where Wanda's Picks is posted is having technical difficulty and I wanted to draw attention to a few activities occurring this week like the King Tut play at the Bay View Opera House in San Francisco,through March 28; the opening of Othello at the African American Shakespeare Company at the AAACC's Burial Clay Theatre, in San Francisco; Susie Butler's salute to Sarah Vaughn at the Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center this weekend, 3/27-28; Alice Walker events and other author/artist talks tonight and next week like Bryan Wiley at MoAD and Dr. Vega also at MoAD in San Francisco; the Friends of Faith Fancher event to raise awareness and money for indigent or low income women survivors with cancer, Monday, March 29, at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco with Dr. Condolessa Rice, the Women's Film Festival in San Francisco, a play closing soon at Brava Theatre and the Colored Girls exhibit closing at Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland; the Sowetu Gospel Choir concert March 27 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

I didn't mention the First Annual Running Festival in Oakland or the Victory Outreach Ministries' "Candlelight Vigil" for victims of Sexual Trafficking and Abuse next Friday, April 2, 5-7 PM in front of Oakland City Hall; or the poetry fundraiser for Rebecca's Books in Oakland on Adeline Saturday, March 27 as well. Visit Avoctja's webiste for the details.

On the Fly

At the Museum of the African Diaspora the film "Sabar: Life is a Drum" is screening this month. I discovered (not as in Columbus--I would never be so presumptuous) a new gallery in Oakland, the 57th Street Gallery which is having an opening this month featuring the work of women artists. The gallery is really spacious and sports a grand piano. Their forte is jazz and initially when they opened a year ago, the art all had a musical edge. For February the gallery mixed it up and had art which looked at the historic legacy of Africans in America like Carter G. Woodson and movements like Civil Rights and Black Power. Milton Bowens had a lovely series of conversations on the Black Panther Party on the walls. There were also paintings of Oscar Grant and Jimi Hendrix. There is a Golden Voice concert this month or next, featuring the music of Hendrix. Check the radio show frequently. In fact you can follow it with an rss feed. I also post to the blog photos which I can't post here. The Black Choreographers Here and Now was strong this year, really strong thematically and artistically. Laura Elaine Ellis and Kendra Kimbrough Barnes have created and expanded an important tradition here which seems to be filling an ever enlarging void as dance ethnographers and pioneers like Ms. Ruth Beckford, Ms. Nontsizi Cayou, Deborah Vaughn and Dr. Albirda Rose and so on and so on retire and so goes an opportunity for a black boy or girl who wants to dance. BCHN encourages such chidren, especially this year with an expanded New Wave and the first Dance Conference for youth. The master classes which happen throughout the year and the presence of these two women in public instrutions of higher education also gives access to the philosophy that black bodies need to be out front and at center stage shaping the genre aesthetically and politically. Destiny Art is having its annual dance concert this month at the Malonga Center for the Arts. Visit

Don't forget to visit and Dance Mission, the collaborating presenting organization. There is a fundraiser for Dance Mission and La Pena is hosting a Haiti Fundraiser this month as well. I am hosting one in April 30, 2010 at the mosque on Madison Street in Oakland. At the African American Art and Culture Complex, the Obama 1 year later comes down in a couple of weeks--don't want to miss this.

Luis Alfaro's adaptation of Sophocles' "Oedipus el Rey at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, is another great play not to be missed since the run was extended a few weeks. The story of the man cursed to kill his father and marry his mother is set in the Central Valley in one of California's many prisons. When we meet Oedipus he's getting ready to be released from custody, young, alone and cocky--ingredients for trouble. The language is poetic and Loretta Greco's direction is creatively refreshing. When young blood meets the melancholy woman, Jocasta, the sparks fly quickly into flames, as passions long dormant are ignited. Its said they stayed in bed for three months--what beautiful bodies...the rest of the ensemble fill in the story details as time passes and the two lovers come to know their identity.

I'm sure the imagery--two naked bodies, was an intentional reference to Adam and Eve, the snake and the garden and what happens when the two innocents taste the fruit.

I must have blinked because I got lost when Oedipus wandered back into California State Corrections: Prison. If it weren't prison, I might say the reunion between Oedipus and his father (the man who raised him) might have been poignant, but the frequency of black and brown men arrested and tried and convicted to life inside prison walls makes one wonder about the metaphor and the oracle and the curse and if Oedipus could have avoided his fate if he wasn't so impetuous and impulsive. Are the men inside prison there to escape an even more unsavory distination or fate?

The Magic Theatre also has a series called Virgin Plays which take place over the month of March, beginning March 1 with Six by Zohar Tirosh-Polk at the Commonwealth Club. The next play, "What We're Up Against," by Theresa Rebeck is at the Space Gallery, 1141 Polk Street in San Francisco, on March 8. Marinheiro March 22 at the Magic looks really interesting. It takes place in Brazil. Visit or call for reservations(415) 240-4454 for the free series. Oh they all start at 6 p.m. March 1-29.

Cultural Odyssey is 30 this year and their anniversary season is challenging today's audience who often have to be cohersed into participation. Michael Eugene Sullivan has something coming up-a reading, and there is a new opera "John Brown's Body" at Live Oak Park, East Side and two other venues over the next month. Hum, I got an email that Black Rep in Berkeley s hosting the lovely Delancy Sisters' play, "Having Our Say," Sunday, March 14, 3 PM gala, 4 PM show. The run continues through the rest of the month. Check the theatre website: I haven't seen this plan since a San Jose Rep production a while back. Gilberto Gil is at Cal Performances March 17, 8 PM, Sonny Rollins is coming in May 13, and Sweet Honey is slated for April 22 and they always sell out. I don't know what community events surround their appearance, but stay tuned. From Senegal Baba Mal is at Cal Performances April 20, 8 PM. Laurie Anderson's "Delusion" looks interesting, for May 7-8, 8 PM. Diane Reeves performs this month as a part of Smokey Robinson is performing March 13, 2010 at the Warfield. Check out "Transformative Visions 2010 Art Show" opens Saturday, March 13, 2-5 PM at Studio One in North Oakland. Visit The 28th Asian American International Film Festival has many titles and films to recommend it, among them the Emmy and Oscar Award winning director, Frieda Lee Mock, whose latest films: "Lt. Watada" and "Sing China!" (Watada 3/14 at 3:15 PM at the Clay and Sing! 3/13 at 1:30 PM at the Clay). She is honored for her 20 year career with the Spotlight Award and will participate in an onstage chat about her work. Visit Also of note is the film about the beloved comrade and revolutionary, Richard Aoki, whose passing (1938-2009) on March 15, is still felt here in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Aoki" directed by Ben Wang and Mike Chang is a wonderful tribute to his life and work, as well as an affirmation or ashay for all those whose feet are found standing on his shoulders or shoulder to shoulder like Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Yuri Koshiyama, Shaka At-thinin, and many others. Aoki screens three times beginning, 3/13 at Viz and 3/17 at the Kabuki and finally in San Jose at Camera, 3/20. The Festival Forum March 13, 12 to 9 PM in Japantown Peace Plaza and the musical performances and other projects are just a few of the many related events over the next two weeks.

Sarah Vaughn's birthday is this weekend and Susie Butler is celebrating her at the the Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center, Friday-Saturday, March 26-27. Visit

Join the Susie Butler in celebrating the life of Sarah Vaughan on Sunday, March 28, 2010 at the Jazz Heritage Center, 1320 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-255-7745. The shows are 2:00 and 5:00 PM. Tickets are $15.00. There will be a showing of the film '"The Divine One- The life of Sarah Vaughan." On March 27, 2001, the City of San Francisco and Berkeley, California proclaimed March 27th as Sarah Lois Vaughan Day. Sarah Vaughan had one of the most amazing voices of the 20th century with a four-octave range that could sing anything from jazz to opera. On her 86th birth date, would like to encourage all jazz lovers to join us to celebrate a wonderful life. Visit

Check out Brava for Women in the Arts which on its smaller stage is presenting Ramble-Ations, written and performed by D’Lo, Directed by Adelina Anthony, March 17-April 3, 2009 (Regional Premiere)

Performance artist D'Lo grew up gay in a Hindu Sri Lankan family in Los AngelesCounty while immersed in Hip-Hop youth culture. Reflecting upon what it means to be a person of color, to be gay, and to be from an immigrant minority, D’Lo raises a much larger question about what it means to live in America, where one's national, ethnic, and cultural lineage is constantly challenged by assimilation and normalization. Ramble-Ations reminds us of the cultural tensions and synergies that define and affirm us as a nation. Visit

Check out my radio show website:

SPARKS FLY 2010: An evening in celebration of Marilyn Buck and Women Political Prisoners

Saturday, March 13, 2010, 7 PM Art Auction, Speakers & Music, 10 PM Dance Party with DJ Kuttin Kandi at Uptown Body and Fender Garage, 401 26th St., Oakland (Telegraph Ave). There is also an "Art Auction, Speakers & Music" with Maisha Quint, devorah major, Phavia Kujichagulia, Kayla Marin, Yuri Kochiyama, Graciela Perez-Trevisan & Bomberas de la Bahia Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba Plena. Tickets are $10-50 (no one turned away). Sparks Fly has honored women political prisoners for 20 years. Marilyn Buck is scheduled to get out of prison later this year after serving more than 25 years. Let's welcome her home! All money raised will go to the Release Fund for Marilyn Buck. During this evening Sparks Fly also pays tribute to Safiya Bukhari on publication of her posthumous book, The War Before. For book tour dates go to

Love of Art at Studio 750A
Art from the Heart featuring: Jimi Evins, Ronnie Prosser, James Reid, Ted Pontiflet, through March 21, 2010, 750A 14th St. @ Brush, Oakland, CA 94612. The gallery is open on Weekends & First Friday, March 5th 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Staurday, March 13, 2 PM Jimi Evins is hosting a free block printing workshop.

John Brown's Truth, A 21st Century Opera opens Friday, March 12. This innovative and entertaining performing opera by William Crossman is the Bay Area's first full-length musically improvised opera. The script/libretto is written, plus all music sung and played to the libretto is improvised "in the moment" by a dynamic, interdisciplinary cast of classical & jazz singers, musicians, dancers, and spoken-word artists.

It's also a rare occasion to explore the American folk hero, anti-slavery abolitionist John Brown on the 150th anniversary of his historic 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia.

Brown is legendary, but what do we really know about him? What would Brown say about his own intentions, hopes, and plans to other historic leaders of the past and present, such as Martin Luther King? Composer William Crossman creatively explores these questions in this production directed by the renowned Michael Lange. The musical conception includes having a different singer, including male and female singers of diverse ethnic backgrounds, step into the John Brown role at the start of each new scene. Don't miss John Brown's Truth, A 21st Century Opera, an inspiring, educational, and musical production perfect for the entire family! The Spring 2010 production schedule:

Friday March 12, 8 PM--Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave., in Berkeley;

Sunday March 14, 3 PM--Eastside Cultural Center 2277 International Blvd., in Oakland;

Sunday, April 25, 4 PM--Community Music Center, 544 Capp St., in San Francisco.

Other Minds 15

Kidd Jordan, saxophonist, a legend in avant-garde jazz circles and knighted by the Republic of France. He has taught at Southern University of New Orleans, among his students Branford and Winton Marsalis. Jordan is one of the artists featured this year in Other Minds 15 concert series beginning Thursday, March 4, 2010; his concert featuring new music with William Parker, bass (OM 9 artist) and Warren Smith, percussion, is on Friday, March 5, 8 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California Street (at Presidio Avenue) in San Francisco. Call (415) 292-1233 and visit The Kidd will also be appearing with Eddie Gale at the Bach Beach House in Half Moon Bay Sunday, March 7, and Monday, March 8 at Kuumba in Santa Cruz.

Kamau Amu Patton

Kamau Amu Patton: Icons of Attention curated by Julio Cesar Morales, adjunct curator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, closes March 7.

I went to a reception for another exhibit Friday night after seeing Robert Moses Kin's "The Cinderella Principle: Try These On, See If They Fit," which I really enjoyed, the entire program and the world premiere. So I stumbled sleepily over to the galleries and the party to check out the exhibit and was captivated by the installations of Kamau Amu Patton speaking on jazz and audience and sound. They kicked us out before I could listen to a 44 minute tape. I found his thoughts really enlightening and want to go back and spend a couple of
hours there. It's like that.

When I went by YBCA Thursday, March 4, to visit Icons of Attention and to play, I met the artist who has created a space where one can play with sound--microphones, soundboard, gongs, wooden circles, cymbals, cork on walls, swinging metal rods, sheets of tin and my favorite a bow and string--all of this broadcast live to those within a certain frequency of YBCA. Too bad I missed the dancers from Mills College a couple of weeks before--able to adjust the freqency of the sound measures--one could hear one's footsteps, the musicality of shoes on a wooden surface, the syncopation emphasized once one was aware of its inclusion.

It's a pretty cool room. I was reminded of Chinaka Hodge's play, Mirror's in Everyone Corner (now at Intersection for the Arts through the end of the month). Here set invites conversation, community building as the audience finds itself on the walls and seated at the bid whist table, rocking the empty cradle--Icons, like the exhibit in the larger gallery below Renee Green's "Endless Dreams and Time-Based Streams," multilayered media installations, up through June 20, 2010. Friday, March 5, 2010, 6-8 PM in the Screening Room, the artist will give a talk.

I didn't get to many installations my first visit, there was so much to see and each piece was a significant investment in time--two installations took over an hour to experience. What I recall most from the longer of the two was the artists concentration on the role of audience on performance, that the role of artist and spectator colide or merge becoming one--the two dependent, one upon the other. It is a dialectic conversation.

It is the same with Kamau's. Art is moving away from walls into spaces where the lines blur and art becomes the through line into humanity's interior spaces only art can touch. In a minute art is going to be our collective saving grace. I remember the last time I was at an Open Mind event, my friend, Billy Bang was one of the artists that season. We were listening to music at his concert and it made us feel strange so we left until her finished. One of the band said that the composer was irresponsible to manipulate people with his music that way, that this was not a proper use of the medium.

Art is responsibility. Art is fair. Art is truth.

Oh, did you get by the King Tut exhibit? It's up through March 28.

Monumental Movement: A Repertory Showcase by University Dance Theatre features work by guest choreographers: Adia Whitaker, Mark Foehringer, along with faculty members: Cathleen McCarthy, Albirda Rose, Ray Tadio and Susan Whipp, students: Sierrah Deitz. The concert celebrates the legacies of Professor Emeritus Jerry Duke and Dr. Rose, who will retire at the end of the spring. She will be celebrated April 17 in another dance concert.

The concert is in McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Building, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue (at 19th Avenue), San Francisco, (415) 388-2467. Tickets are $13/$8.

Mahalia: A Gospel Musical at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre through March 7, 2010

What a wonderful story…and the music is superb. One could say that Tom Stolz’s "Mahalia" is a gospel tribute to an amazing woman, who could be called if she isn’t already the Queen of Gospel Music. In the hands of Jeanie Tracy under the musical direction of Kevan Peabody and able stage direction of Stanley E. Williams, LHT co-founder, this play rocks as in the buxom of Hagar and her heavenly chorus. At first I wondered why Mahalia as a child, a young woman and then an adult were portrayed by one actress, why we had to imagine the other people mentioned like the members of Mahalia's ensemble, then the magic took over as Jeanie Tracy’s Mahalia filled the room. Larger than the old LHT on Sutter, this space is wider and deeper, the balcony higher, but opening night the house was significant. I say this to say that Tracy's ability to fill the room was no small feat.

The writing is so marvelous. I just loved Mahalia’s lines, especially when she was talking about her lord and savior. The other cast was equally fine, especially John Borens who plays all the male characters, sings and plays the Hammond 3-B organ well. He is Mahalia’s cousin Fred, who convinces her mother to let young Mahalia go to nursing school in Chicago; he’s pastor Lawrence who encourages Mahalia and baptizes her; he is also the Chicago preacher who doesn’t like the soul Mahalia brings to his Northern church---she dances too much; he plays Blues Man; Thomas Dorsey, the father of gospel music who wrote many songs for Mahalia; he’s Francis, her blind accompanist; and last he is Martin Luther King Jr. Actress Yvonne Cobbs-Bey is Aunt Duke and Mildred. She is so funny and Charlene Moore, is the most understated star on the stage...she plays for almost the entire show, she doesn't have any lines but she sings as well. She and Tracy have history and it shows; neither misses a cue. Together they are Mahalia, who calls herself, “Hallie.”

I love the way the writer externalizes the character's thoughts so we can hear her thinking—Mahalia is witty and so true to what she believes that God blessed her with this gift and her job was to use it to heal people’s souls. She wasn’t interested in crossing over or becoming homogenized. What I found amazing was how this woman, born of parents who’d known slavery, had only a third grade education and couldn’t read music was such a huge success, not just monetarily—she had material success, but as a person. She was happy doing what she felt was the will of her lord. The story Mahalia, especially in the hands of Jeanie directed by Stanley Williams is the story of hope and faith. If Mahalia could reach such greatness with so little to support her then there is no excuse for any of us to not reach out potential. Other lessons were hard work, family and community support…

The audience was clapping along and singing along as the popular songs filled the theatre. When Mahalia sang I Been Buked, I couldn’t help but think of Alvin Ailey’s Revelation where this song is one of the songs played. (Ailey is coming to town March 9-14 at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall.)

Mahalia made each moment a joyous one, even the moments when she was afraid, like the time when she went to Montgomery to share a song with those walking for freedom during the bus boycott. Mahalia’s story is literally a story which reflects the movement of this country from slavery to liberation…when one thinks about the soundtrack for a revolution one certainly hears Mahalia Jackson sing.

For tickets call (415) 474-8800. Shows are Thursday-Sunday. Visit The LHT is located at 450 Post Street, Union Square, San Francisco, CA. March 6, 2 p.m., is a Target Saturday, which means all seats are half-price, $20.00, and a meal is served at the close of the show.

"Mirrors in Every Corner" by Chinaka Hodge, directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph at Intersection for the Arts through April 3

The characters’ stories in Chinaka Hodge's debut as a playwright,"Mirrors in Every Corner," capture a sense of tragedy lurking near all of us. From Rodney King to Oscar Grant, Loma Pieta to urban removal, one sits on the edge of her seat waiting for the wrecking ball to fall. The title reminds me of the Sweet Honey in the Rock song about mirrors, and like the song, there really aren't any mirrors plural, just one, singular. No one wants to see the other in this family; everyone is hiding behind "Random" in random history lessons, random acts of unkindness--if there is such a word, "random" as in not purposeful, aimless misdirected and equally misguided.

If one sees the white girl born into a black family as a metaphor—the not so inviting aspects of deep seated racism and self-hate that lives in us all, then Mirrors is the bad luck that comes when the glass shatters, the ghost in the reflection looking back at you. Hum? What does a family do when a child white, as in Caucasian is born into the family and her pigment doesn't change as she grows older? How do you get beyond the surface when superficial is survival?

The movie Race: Power of Illusion is certainly apropos here. Mirrors brings to mind the true story of the South African white family who had a black child. They get her classified as white and dare their neighbors to see her any different, but they do.

Is it the color of one’s skin or what one knows deep in one’s soul that makes one black or white? What do you do when or if the two are incongruent, that is, the surface reading gets confused with the reality? Close one's eyes and "Random" sounds like a black girl. But one has to eventually open her eyes.

One would think the mother would know. One would think behind closed doors that no matter what the world knew or believed, truth would at least live there—but for Miranda, “Random” the anomaly never rests. The family plays bid whist, the suit wild, unnamed—which means control isn’t remotely possible so big brother "Watt" as in light bulb tries to think his way into acceptance of things he can’t change or the wisdom to know the difference. Such clichés, yet for this family there are no clichés.

For this family love isn’t enough—blinded by Random’s whiteness, green eyes and blonde hair in the 20th century, post everything possible for America’s Negroes, they are stuck as Random puts it in antebellum West Oakland, a place the playwright knows intimately as it is her home and for 80 minutes, it is ours too.

When one walks into the theatre the audience is struck by sensations of urban America, urban San Francisco Bay Area—there is aerial footage of West Oakland pre and post the 1989 earthquake, the twins: Ninth and Row sit in baseball caps, As and Giants caps and watch the World Series on TV when all of a sudden the room begins shaking. Dad who is terminally ill and the baby in a cradle, don't seem upset over the shaking. The mother and three other children sit at the table and play whist--the cure for what ails them.

Willie who is trapped between her child who she wills black, lives in a world where ease is defined by how easily one fits into boxes that don’t fit. Mirrors in Every Cornermeans hiding is not an option because when one least expects it, there you are.

The West Oakland in Mirrors is the one you read about, drugs and fatherless homes, yet in Willie’s house, how they get there is not by the typical route or maybe it is? All we know is Dad dies and Willie wants to disappear as well, but she has four children and they need her. What must slave mother’s have felt when the last child looked like the oppressor—

Innocence is an unexamined notion on paper until Random is born. She is a white girl first, Willie’s child second. She never belongs in this family; she upsets the balance and they live sideways without the fourth wheel, tipped over about to fall into the space between love, the corners where bright shining metal reflects images that don’t lie—racism, oppression, bigotry.

“The girl is white as crack.” Her mom says of her as she then reflects on how this child in the cradle is going to have it so much easier than the rest of her family, stereotypical Row –unemployed and selling penny bags of marijuana while his little sister gets ready to enter the University of San Francisco, his twin, "Ninth" stationed in Iraq at the start of the war and then there is Watts as in “riot and light bulb,” really smart, the man of the house at ten when dad takes the “get out of life ‘free’ card.”

We aren’t certain how he is so lucky, but we find out at the end of the tale and this information jars the already leaning edifice that is “Mirrors.” What we have is a new Oakland, one where Miranda (Random) says, her friends have to move out because they can no longer afford to live here.

Chinaka Hodge takes us on a journey I trust because the landmarks are so familiar. I remember the freeway falling, the bodies and cars crushed under the cement—I had friends who thought their cars tires flat as they drove on I-880 what was called the Nimitz Freeway as it crumbled behind them. I remember walking West Oakland, looking down what is now Mandela Parkway, the renaming then a hope for a democratic and free Oakland (?) This was back when a few scrawny trees pushed up through the polluted landscape…the panhandle arid and vacant like squandered opportunities. This is the West Oakland Chinaka grew up in. I remember meeting her with her dad at
one of many meetings we called “Oakland revitalization.” She had her coloring book and toys, her legs too short to touch the floor. Aleta Canon was West Oakland’s city council representative and I don't remember who was mayor. Soon though, it was Elihu Harris.

"Mirrors" is a collage both literally and figuratively. Hodge’s play takes us on a journey one thinks is past, but in Miranda’s family we see how far from absolution we really are. What does a family do when anonymity is not an option? When a lynch mob lives inside one’s soul? Talk about reaching back to incarnation stories. No, Mirrors is not as complicated as I am making it seem. This is a stream of consciousness piece, one where everything is important and none of it is, except, this, go see the play (smile).

Ninth says early on in the story that the terrain is slippery, but we are invited along for the ride if we trust the vehicle—the set, a table with cards on it. The walls move out and the family on the mural disappear behind a wall covered in photos and text, narratives and self-portraits. A bookcase and a large mirror balance the room which has a white cradle hanging near the staircase where Random watches television and the father dies. Something’s leave and never come back. I even see a character reading Frantz Fanon makes sense in this psychological thriller.

Ambrose Akinmusrie’s score –especially the lone trumpet solo at the end of a poignant scene where Random tells her ghost story, one all black people carry inside if unarticulated ignored or forgotten. This scene is absolutely haunting—and yet the family believes it, even as they try to ignore its implications, even as this adds to the burden Miranda or Random piles onto the edifice about to fall…and fall it does.

I don’t know if I agree with the stereotypical medical diagnosis the playwright assigns to the deceased father—Willie already an unreliable narrator, contested only by her unreliability as a mother, falls headlong into a place only those walking on sanity's edges dare go. The one precious aspect of the tale is this relationship she and her husband share and then this is snatched away. I am almost as shocked by this revelation as I was by the surprising end…not that it was atypical, it was just so typical, convenient and easy for the fictive family. But these are my only complaints, overall Chinaka's Mirrors is a thought provoking spin on Black life that will have audiences spinning as the ground keeps pulling away.

Makes one wonder, did Random really ever exist and the game Bid Whist…think about slave auctions where the word is: “Bid em in.” For information call (415) 626-2787 or visit The theatre is located in the Mission District of San Francisco, 446 Valencia Street. Mirrors runs Thursday-Sunday, through April 3 (it was extended). Thursdays are pay what you can. The collaborative nature of the work: Living Word Project, Campo Santo, and Intersection for the Arts, is another reason why this play, this new work is so marvelous. Mirrors is an opportunity for a young artist to enter the canon and treat so irreverently and do it so well, others will mark the path and follow. Bravo Chinaka, Bravo!

Cutting Ball Theater presents …AND JESUS MOONWALKS THE MISSISSIPPI, A New Play By Marcus Gardley. It opens Friday, March 19, 8 p.m. at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., San Francisco.

…AND JESUS MOONWALKS THE MISSISSIPPI, a new play by acclaimed playwright and Bay Area native Marcus Gardley (This World in a Woman’s Hands, Love is a Dream House in Lorin). Set on the banks of the Mississippi during the Civil War …AND JESUS MOONWALKS THE MISSISSIPPI is a poetic journey of forgiveness and redemption. Inspired by the myth of Demeter and Persephone, this deeply personal play combines traditional storytelling, gospel music, and a wicked sense of humor to create a rich, imaginative world that allows trees to preach, rivers to waltz, and Jesus to moonwalk. Amy Mueller directs this profoundly moving story, a co-production with Playwrights Foundation, featuring David Sinaiko, David Westley Skillman, Martin F. Grizzell, Jr., Nicole C. Julien, Sarah Mitchell, Jeanette Harrison, and Zac Schuman, along with Erica Richardson, Rebecca Frank, Halili Knox, and introducing Erika McCrary.

Allen Toussaint
Allen Toussaint –solo piano, Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 8 PM (doors at 7 PM) at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

Allen Toussaint is one of America's greatest musical treasures. Singer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and producer — the New Orleans native has been making hit records for over forty years. His massive influence on American music reaches deep into the idioms of rhythm and blues, pop, country, musical theater, blues and jazz. Two years ago, Toussaint added yet another credit to his lengthy list of accomplishments, co-founder of NYNO Records. Launched in conjunction with the 1996 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, NYNO has to date released 11 albums covering a range of New Orleans music, led by Connected, Toussaint's first full-length national release in nearly two decades.

Recorded in New Orleans at Toussaint's famed Sea-Saint Recording Studios, Connected offers Toussaint's trademark mix of Professor Longhair-inspired piano licks, funky R&B and sensitive balladry. The album's lyrics touch on the desire for love and the longing for oneness, both between individuals and among the world family. This recent collection includes performances from such New Orleans mainstays as trumpeter Dave Bartholomew, guitarist Leo Nocentelli (The Meters), drummer Russell Batiste (The Funky Meters), saxophonist Amadee Castenell and many other skilled musicians. Visit: and

Human Rights Watch Film Festival at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: Mar 4, 11, 14, 18, 25 & 28

Every March, YBCA present a selection of powerful films with distinctive human rights themes. Just a few of the remarkable works we’ve presented over the years include the Academy Award-winning Born into Brothels, War/Dance, Shakespeare Behind Bars, Mardi Gras: Made in China, and dozens more. The power of film cannot be underestimated to challenge the viewer and promote calls to action. Rather than wallow in despair, the films in this series will put a human face on threats to individual freedom and dignity, and celebrate the ability of the human spirit and intellect to prevail.

Human Rights and Film – 701 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103 – YBCA Screening Room. For information call: (415) 978-2787 or Tickets are: $8 regular; $6 students, seniors, teachers & YBCA members. Visit

By Jane Campion, Gus Van Sant, Wim Wenders, Mira Nair, Abderrahmane Sissako, Gaspar Noé, Gael Garcia Bernal & Jan Kounen
Thu, Mar 4, 7:30 pm
8 is comprised of eight shorts by some of the most acclaimed filmmakers in the world. Each was given complete freedom to address one issue from the United Nations “Millennium Development Goals.” The goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. (2009, 107 min, digital video)

Thu, Mar 11, 7 pm
Filmmakers in person
Young people are on the frontlines of many of the world’s human rights crises, but it’s all too rare that we get to hear their point of view. Armed with digital cameras, computers and their own boundless creativity, these young people bravely expose human rights issues faced by themselves and their communities. It’s time that we listen to what they have to say in this program of short films. Founding presenter: Adobe Youth Voices. (2005-2009, 62 min, digital video)

By Hamid Rahmanian
Sun, Mar 14, 2 pm
The Glass House follows four girls striving to pull themselves up by attending a one-of-kind rehabilitation center in Tehran. Forget about the Iran that you’ve seen before. With a virtually invisible camera, the film shows a side of the country few have access to: a society lost to its traditions with nothing meaningful to replace them, and a group of courageous women working to instill a sense of empowerment and hope into the minds and lives of otherwise discarded teenage girls. (2008, 92 min, digital video)

By Zhao Liang
Thu, Mar 18, 7:30 pm
A harrowing investigation, Petition looks at the world of “petitioners,” people who come to Beijing from all parts of China in order to plead their case against injustices, and who find themselves embroiled in a no-exit situation which leaves them homeless and impoverished. Living in makeshift shelters in the now-demolished “Petition Village,” they wait for months or years to obtain justice. The director continued filming right up to the start of the Olympic Games, showing that the troubling contradictions of China continue in the midst of powerful economic expansion. (2009, 124 min, digital video)

By Susan Sontag
Thu, Mar 25, 7:30 pm
For decades essentially impossible to see, Susan Sontag’s third directorial effort and her only documentary scrutinizes the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict and the growing divisions within Jewish thought over the question of Palestinian sovereignty, shot in Israel during the final days and immediate aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.(1974, 87 min, digital video)

“Promised Lands hardly tells all the truths there are about the conflicts in the Middle East, about the October War, about the mood of Israel right now, about war and loss and memory and survival. But what the film does tell is true. It was like that. To tell the truth (even some of it) is already a marvelous privilege, responsibility, gift.” – Susan Sontag, Vogue

AMERICAN RADICAL: THE TRIALS OF NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, by David Ridgen & Nicolas Rossier, Sunday, March 28, 2 PM

A probing documentary about American academic Norman Finkelstein. A devoted son of holocaust survivors, ardent critic of Israel and US Middle East policy, and author of five provocative books, including The Holocaust Industry, Finkelstein has been at the center of many intractable controversies. Called a lunatic and a self-hating Jew by some and an inspirational street-fighting revolutionary by others, Finkelstein is a deeply polarizing figure whose struggles arise from core questions about freedom,identity, and nationhood. (2009, 84 min, digital video)

Inaugural Oakland Running Festival March 27th and 28th, 2010

Experience all the sights and sounds that Oakland has to offer at the new Oakland Running Festival featuring Oakland's first marathon in 25 years! Runners will begin on Broadway, race along Piedmont and College Avenues, pass by beautiful Lake Temescal and then tackle the hills of Montclair. After a breathtaking view of the Cities by the Bay, runners will journey through the vibrant neighborhoods of Dimond, Fruitvale, Chinatown and historic Jack London Square. Then it's a final lap around sparkling Lake Merritt and a sprint to the finish at City Hall.

Corrigan Sports is excited to bring its successful Running Festival formula to the west coast after ten years of hits with the Baltimore Running Festival and the Frederick Running Festival. We have earned a reputation for creating fun events with a party atmosphere and pride ourselves in listening to our participants to improve our event
year after year. Visit

ITVS presents: The Eyes of Me, Tuesday, March 2 at 10:00 PM (check local listings

How do you see yourself, when you can't see at all? At the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, students juggle all the usual pressures of high school along with the added challenges of growing up blind. Spend a year with four blind teens learning how to fit in and live independently. Forced to confront the world without sight, they share their inner visions of the outer world. Ultimately, you cannot understand their perceptions without challenging your own.

SFJAZZ Spring Season


28th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival March 11-21, 2010. Visit

The Art of Living Black through March 13, 2010 at the Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94608.Visit or call (510) 620-6772. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5 p.m.

Pistols and Prayers
A Speak Out & Lyfe Productions World Premiere written and performed by Ise Lyfe, is Friday, March 19, 2010 at Berkeley Repertory Thrust Theatre, 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley, $20/$10 for youth 17 and under. Visit The performance features Melanie Demore and Michael Fecskes with DC from KMEL 106.1 on the 1's and 2's. Call (510) 601-0182 for group rates and information.

Bamako Chic: Women Cloth Dyers of Mali
A benefit to raise funds to complete the film is March 18, 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2288 Cedar Street at Arch in Berkeley. For information call (510) 585-7926 Scenes from the film will be shown; Malian musicians Mamadou and Vanessa Sidibe will perform, followed by a reception.

NEA Jazz Masters

NEA Jazz Masters All-Stars featuring Bobby Hutcherson (2010), Jimmy Heath (2003), Slide Hampton (2005), and Cedar Walton (2010) with Eddie Marshall and Glenn Richman March 12-14 at Yoshi's San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore.

"Umbo Weti: A Tribute to Leon Thomas" featuring: Babatunde Lea Quintet with Patrice Rushen, Ernie Watts, Gary Brown, and Dwight Trible @ Yoshis San Francisco, Thursday, March 18, 8 p.m. The performance is also in Los Angeles March 11 and 12 at Catalina's Jazz Club.

I Speak Fula: Basselou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba - Thursday, Mar. 18 at Slim's, 333 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-4313, (415) 255-0333. Visit

Malian maestro Bassekou Kouyate is a virtuoso picker and musical visionary whose work blurs the lines between West African and American roots music. Bassekou’s instrument, the ngoni, is a “spike lute” and an ancestor of the banjo, sharing its taut-skinned drum body, percussive attack, and varied picking techniques. Since 2005, Bassekou has led Ngoni Ba, the first-ever group built around not one but four ngonis—all played by members of his family.

Bassekou’s longtime friend and booster Lucy Duran (a BBC radio host, record producer, and Mande music scholar) produced the band’s debut, Segu Blue. Before long, Bassekou and Ngoni Ba were touring Europe and in high demand. I Speak Fula builds on the success of Segu Blue. Its 11 tracks provide a star-studded tour of pan-Malian music, including collaborations with Toumani Diabaté, griot vocal legend Kasse Mady Diabaté, master of the horse-hair soku fiddle Zoumana Tereta, and guitarphenomenon Vieux Farka Toure, Ali’s precociously talented son. The release of I Speak Fula and Ngoni Ba’s first U.S. tour mark the latest leg of an extraordinary musical journey.

Habib Koite & Bamada
April 1-4 at Yoshi's San Francisco. Visit

Joyce Gordon Gallery proudly presents: James Gayles's "Women of Music," March 5-31, 2010. The Opening Reception features Live Jazz by Sound Sculptress, DESTINY, Friday, March 5, 2010, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607, (510) 451-4000. Visit

For Colored Girls Only: A Celebration of all Women and a tribute to Women's History Month
February 12 – March 28, 2010 at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St. (12th St. BART Exit) Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 465-8928.

This is a celebration of women from all color, size, age, gender, local and international as a form of politics/non-politics & as a body of thought. Erasing the indistinct lines ofclass, gender and geography, and celebrating even the contradicting facets of womanhood.

Performances @ Joyce Gordon Gallery
March 6, 13, 20, 27, Saturdays from 3-6pm. $5-10 sliding scale donation. Music performances, dance, monologues, with an all-women repertoire in celebration of Women’s month.

Poetry @ Joyce Gordon Gallery
March 7, 14, 21, and 28, Sundays from 3-6pm. $5-10 sliding scale donations: Nancy Hom, Marijo, Avotcja, Genny Lim, Phavia Kujichgulia, Wordslanger, Chinaka Hodge, Talia Taylor, hosted by Tureeda Mikell.

The African American Shakespeare Company presents: “OTHELLO”, March 26-April 18, 2010

Hell hath no fury like a black woman scorned. Rejected in a relationship and overlooked on a promotion, Iago sets on the ultimate revenge to destroy Othello's career and life. Told simultaneously from three (Othello, Desdemona, and Iago) points of view, African-American Shakespeare Company sets OTHELLO, one of The Bard’s greatest tragedies, during a modern-day military tribunal in Iraq, where race and sexual politics become the driving force for jealousy and revenge. Desdemona is courted by Othello, denounced by her father, greeted by her new husband, who then inexplicably turns on her. Reset. Othello courts Desdemona, pours his heart out about how and why they fell in love, then notices his wife flirting with another man. Reset. It becomes clear - Iago has been the evil backbone behind it all.

Shows are: Friday, March 26 @ 8 p.m., Saturday, March 27 @ 8 p.m., Sunday, March 28 @ 3 p.m., Saturday, April 3 @ 8 p.m., Saturday, April 10 @ 8 p.m., Sunday, April 11@ 3 p.m., Saturday, April 17 @ 8p.m., Sunday, April 18 @ 3 p.m. Special Early Bird Ticket price of $10 ends on March 13th. Regular Ticket Price $30 General and $20 for Students/Seniors

DANCERS’ GROUP’S ONSITE SERIES continues with Intimate Visibility by Levy Dance March 17-26

Intimate Visibility is a video performance installation that will spontaneously occur in several high-traffic public areas in San Francisco, engaging a flash mob, projected animation, and dance. Similar to ONSITE’s Hit & Run Hula performed by Patrick Makuakāne ’s company Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu and Erika Chong Shuch’s Love Everywhere, LEVYdance will perform in several popular areas throughout the City including: North Beach, Chinatown, the corner of Castro and Market, the Ferry Building, Pier 39, Union Square, and United Nations Plaza. All of these performances are FREE and open to the general public. For more information visit, and

The performances will begin on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, in North Beach and continue through March 26. Audiences can join Dancers’ Group’s twitter or facebook groups (see below calendar listing for twitter and facebook information) for updates on performance dates and times.

Following the ONSITE presentation, LEVYdance’s 2010 Home Season takes this site-specific work indoors to continue the company’s investigations on surveillance, separation, access and intimacy at Project Artaud, April 1-3, 2010.

Wednesday, March 17th
8pm- North Beach- Washington Square
9:00pm- Union Square

Friday, March 19th
8:00pm- outside of the Ferry building
9:00pm Pier 39

Saturday, March 20th
Castro corner of Market and Castro Streets- 2 performances
8:30pm, 10:00pm

Tuesday, March 23th
7:30pm United Nations Plaza.
8:30pm Powel Street Cable car turn around.

Thursday, March 25th
7:30pm 3rd Street between Mission and Howard
8:30pm Civic Center plaza (opposite of War Memorial Opera House)

Friday, March 26th



"Comic Relief for Haiti", Friday March 12, 2010, $15-$25 sliding scale - 8 p.m.

Join Global Women Intact as they present: Comic Relief for Haiti. Sia Amma hosts an evening of comedians to help the people of Haiti. Proceeds to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company presents: Asylum

The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company (DAYPC) is a multicultural group of teens that create original performance art pieces, in collaboration withprofessional artists, that combine hip-hop, modern, and aerial dance, theater, martial arts, song and rap. The productions are a dynamic, creative forum for the young people to express their fears, hopes and strategies for confronting challenging personal and social issues. The company has performed locally and nationally since 1993 for over 20, 000 addiences annually.

The shows are at Laney College Theatre, 900 Fallon Street, in Oakland, Friday, March 19 @ 7:30 p.m. *Saturday, March 20 @ 7:30 p.m. special benefit performance to support Destiny Arts Center's Raise The Roof Campaign $50.00 ticket includes reserved seating and post performance dessert reception with directors and cast. Limited non-benifet seating available at regular ticket prices.

Sunday March 21 @ 2 p.m., Friday, March 26 @ 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 27 @ 2pm and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are: Adults: $13-$25 sliding scale; Youth 18 and under: $6. Group rates are also available-email for information. The venue is wheel chair accessable-call (510) 597-1619 x119 for special instructions. To purchase tickets call 800-838-3006 or go to:


300+ years of blues legends take one stage for one night in San Francisco, Wed. March 31st at the Great American Music Hall. Visit The concert features: Pinetop Perkins, the oldest living Grammy winner and recipient of the country's highest arts honor, one of the top influential blues guitarist alive. Docu-Film Teaser:

The John Santos Sextet

Debut at the gorgeous and historic Douglass Beach House for the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay. The setet features: David Flores -drumset, Melecio Magdaluyo - saxes, Dr. John Calloway - flute, Saul Sierra - bass, Marco Diaz - piano, John Santos - percussion. Visit The concert, Sunday, March 21, is at 4:00 p.m. Call the box office: (650) 726-4143. The address is 311 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.

Choral Synergy! Vukani Mawethu Choir & La Pena Community Chorus - together in concert for the first time ever! Sunday, March 21, 2010, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave , Berkeley

Vukani Mawethu Choir and LaPena Community Chorus join voices to celebrate a common history of solidarity with the peoples of Southern Africa and Latin America – and our support for social justice and peace. La Pena Chorus sings songs from the Latin American Nueva Cancion repertoire and Vukani Mawethu’s rich harmonies bring songs of struggle and freedom in Southern Africa to life. This is a rare one-time only joint concert with these two Bay Area choirs, which are both long time choral treasures with more than 20 years each of service and inspiration. Each choir will do a set, and we will do 2 songs from each of our repertoires together. Concert proceeds will benefit the important cultural work of both non-profit choirs. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the door. For advance tickets, call 510-849-2568, ext. 20, or go to

Zigabooaloo: A Celebration of Legendary Funk Drummer Zigaboo Modeliste with an All Star New Orleans Funk Revue: Zigaboo Modeliste, Mac Rebennack, Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Friday, March 19-21, Yoshi's Oakland. Visit The concert is Friday, March 19, 2010, 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at 8 p.m.for a 9 p.m. performance. There is a $10 donation at the door. The first ten to pay pay $5.

Divinity Voice Music & Arts Series

The Shepeople's is an all female artists showcase, which takes place every third Friday of the month, this month, Friday, March 19, 2010, and is hosted by vocalist Valerie Troutt of DivinityVoice music & arts The series in the Dimond District of Oakland, California at New Community Fellowship Church, 3609 Maple Avenue, Oakland, CA 94602 .Please contact with inquiries or for more information and visit

Lewis Jordan with Music at Large
Music/poetry, Improvisations on the Rights of Spring

The first concert is Saturday, March 20, 8:00 p.m. at Flux 53 Theater, 5306 Foothill Blvd., Oakland (510) 842-8841. This presentation features: Lewis Jordan, saxophones and poetry, Karl A.D. Evangelista, electric guitar, Eric Marshall, acoustic bass, Sandor Moss, drums, with special spring celebrant: India Cooke, violin

The second concert is March 25, Thursday, 7:00 p.m. at Velma's Blues 'n' Jazz Club, 2246 Jerrold Ave., San Francisco (415) 824-4606 and features: Lewis Jordan, saxophones and poetry, Karl A.D. Evangelista, electric guitar, John-Carlos Perea, electric bass, cedar flute, vocals, Marshall Trammell, drums, trumpet, with special guests: Jimmy Biala, percussion, and Genny Lim, words and song.

The Museum of the African Diaspora present: African Continuum: Sacred Ceremonies and Rituals

Friday, March 19, 2010: Members Preview 6:00 - 7:30 p.m., General Opening 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.

Photo historian Bryan Wiley traveled the Atlantic Black diaspora documenting altars and ritual practices by African descendants. Wiley reveals the blurred lines between sacred and secular worlds and illuminates continuities in beliefs and customs in Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, South Carolina and New Orleans. Photographs are accompanied by altars constructed by Haitian priestess and scholar, Dowoti Desir.

Family Day: Orisha Celebration, Saturday, March 20, 1-4 p.m.

Lecture/Demonstration: Gyrating on the Hips of Gede with Dowoti Desir
Saturday, March 20, 7-9 p.m.

Film screening: When the Spirits Dance the Mambo, followed by Q & A with filmmaker Dr. Moreno Marta Vega, Friday, April 2, 6-9 pm

Lecture: African Belief Systems from Africa to the Americas with Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, Saturday, April 3, 2-4 pm

Lecture: Sacred Spaces: Altars of the Diaspora with Dr. Robert Farris Thompson, Saturday, May 1, 2-4 pm

Sila gets the NAACP Award

Some great news! Sila was just awarded the NAACP image award for outstanding world music album for his release "BLACK PRESIDENT." Join celebrants Saturday, March 20, at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show is at 9 p.m. Tickets are: $14. Visit Meklit Hadero's ensemble opens for Sila and AfroFunk. DJ Jeremiah is spinning.

Bay Area Community Cinema
Presented by ITVS, Bioneers and Youth Service America

DIRT! The Movie, directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow

It's under our feet and under our fingernails, but what is it? And how did it get there? Inspired by William Bryant Logan's acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, find out how industrial farming, mining and urban development have led us toward cataclysmic droughts, starvation, floods and climate change. Dirt is a part of everything we eat, drink and breathe. Which is why we should stop treating it like, well...dirt.

The screening in Oakland, presented by ITVS, KQED, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, The Oakland Film Office, HandsOn Bay Area and DEAF Media, is Wednesday, March 24th, 2010, at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 2nd floor of the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland's Chinatown, 388 Ninth Street, Second Floor, Suite 290, (between Franklin and Webster).

There will be light refreshments at 6 followed by the one hour screening at 6:30 PM. The post-screening discussion follows with:
Emily Beggs, Co-executive director, Oakland Based Urban Gardens (O.B.U.G.S) and Leah Fessenden, Use Your Roof! Program Advisor, Bay Localize. Pay Parking is available underground in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza (enter on Webster or Franklin).Street parking is also available- please note: metered parking has recently changed and ends at 6pm in Oakland. The nearest BART stations are: 12th Street @ Broadway OR Lake Merritt. The screening is FREE and Open to the Public. For more information, email

41st & Central: The Untold Story of the LA Black Panthers

The film: "41st & Central: The Untold Story of the LA Black Panthers" will open Friday, March 26, for a limited, one-week engagement at the Culver Plaza Theatre in Culver City, across from Sony Studios. Tickets are $10.

When I was in Los Angeles for the Pan African Film Festival, the line for the film was down the stairs and filled the hallway entrance to the screening room. I had a plane to catch and didn't see it, however, the film won the Audience Favorite Award. Originally scheduled for only one screening as the centerpiece of the festival ($30 per ticket), two additional screenings had to be added to accomodate the long line of folks who showed up. This limited engagement is an opportunity for those in the LA area to witness this historical documentary by filmmaker Gregory Everett whose father was a member of the LA Black Panther Party.

I spoke to Elder Freeman at Sparks Fly recently, a benefit for Marilyn Buck, and he said he is trying to get the film in Northern California for a screening, so stay tuned. An early cut was screened as a part of the Black Panther Heritage Month Film Festival a few years ago.

Former Panthers, Councilman Bernard Parks, Geronimo Pratt, Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown, Erika Huggins and others talk about the rise and fall of the Southern California chapter of the Party, the killings of Bunchy Carter and John Huggins at UCLA, and the early morning shootout between the LAPD and the Black Panthers in December 1969 and so much more, are a part of the film experience.

Tickets are $10 per person with 3 hours free validated parking and show times: Fri-cSun 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, Mon-Thurs 12pm, 2:45pm, 5:45pm, 8pm. Group sales: check or at the Culver Plaza Theater, 9917 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA, 310.836.5516

Women's History Month at the Mission Cultural Center

Women's History Month is marching along. It was an honor, programmers said, to host Violeta Luna and the Secos & Mojados crew earlier in the month. This week MCC moves on to its annual Luna Negra event (March 24) to showcase some of the Bay Area's most dynamic Latina performers. Also, Miss Carmen Vicente, a medicine woman from Ecuador will speak on the intersections between Art, Spirit and Justice (March 25). And, "La Tania" hosts Una Noche de Tablao (Flamenco, March 27) to wrap up the month and deliver us into Spring. No te lo pierdas! Visit

African Ancestry, Trace Your DNA, Find Your Roots

African Ancestry will be in San Francisco on Sunday, March 28, 2010, for a workshop at Third Street Baptist Church, 1399 McAllister, 12:30 PM is lunch, 3:00 PM is the program. Gina Paige, president and co-founder is presenting the workshop.

An Evening with Dr. Condoleezza Rice
A Benefit to help underserved, under-insured, at risk women with breast cancer.

Friends Of Faith presents: "An Evening with Dr. Condoleezza Rice, A Benefit" to help underserved, under-insured, at risk women with breast cancer, Monday, March 29, 2010 7:30 p.m. Visit

The VIP Reception is 6:00 pm - 7:00 p.m. at the Palace Of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon Street at Bay Street, San Francisco. Tickets are: $250 (includes VIP reception and Photo Op with Dr. Rice), $100, and $50. Tickets are available at City Box Office Tickets available through City Box Office 415-392-4400.

Join former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Friends of Faith in the fight against breast cancer. Presenters invite audiences to a rare evening with Dr. Rice in conversation with veteran KQED-TV journalist Belva Davis at the elegant Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco. Dr. Rice will discuss her amazing journey from growing up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., to becoming the first African American female Secretary of State. Dr. Rice, who lost her own mother to breast cancer, will also share her own personal experiences of caring for a loved one battling this deadly disease.

Dr. Rice’s memoir about her tenure as a top advisor in the administration of President George W. Bush is scheduled for release in 2011. As part of a three-book deal, Dr. Rice will also write a memoir about her family life, along with a young adult version—both scheduled for release in 2012. After eight years of government service, Dr. Rice returned to the Hoover Institution where she is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy. She also is a professor of political science at Stanford University.

San Francisco Women's Film Festival at the Roxie Film Center

Beginning on Wednesday April 7th through Sunday April 11th, the 2010 San Francisco International Women's Film Festival will be held at various Bay Area theater locations. For a program schedule with specific dates, times, and locations or to buy advance tickets visit, or call 415-509-6437. Visit

Media Internships Available

On Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 6:30 PM, Larsen Associates, a San Francisco public relations company specializing in independent, foreign films and film festivals is looking for interns.

Sowetu Gospel Choir

The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed to celebrate the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music. The 26-strong choir, under the direction of David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer, draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto, South Africa. The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world. Expect earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a capella numbers, as well as accompaniment by an exciting four-piece band and percussion section. This young dynamic choir performs both traditional and contemporary music, adding its own unique flavor and interpretation to both. The choir performs in Africa's eleven official languages, and rouses and moves all who hear it. The concert is Saturday, March 27, 2010, 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 20th and Broadway in Oakland, CA, Tickets are: $65/$50/$35/$25 Discount rates available for groups of 10 or more.

Pablo “Mezcla” Menendez with Latin Jazz All Stars

On Friday, April 2nd at 8 PM, Pablo “Mezcla” Menendez with Latin Jazz All Stars will perform at Merritt College, 12500 Campus Drive in Oakland Tickets for this event start at $22. For more information call 510-759-2491 or visit

Capital Punishment Roundtable

On Wednesday April 7th at 7 PM, there will be a panel discussion of the path toward abolition of capital punishment in California, with academic and policy experts, as well as members of the community. This free event will be held at Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford Street in Berkeley. For details, call (510) 848-3988.

Arundhati Roy

Attend this fundraiser for the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, based in Kashmir, India. Author and human rights activist Arundhati Roy reads from her latest collection of essays, Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers. Roy will be introduced by Alice Walker, 7 p.m., $35, Mission High School Auditorium, 3750 18th St., San Francisco, CA

Carrying the Lamp of Love: An Evening with Alice Walker and Jack Kornfield to Benefit the East Bay Meditation Center

Friday, Apr 2 7:00 PM at Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, CA Join the East Bay Meditation family for an evening of meditation, teachings, and conversation Oakland, CA

Alice Walker, Jack Kornfield, EBMC, East Bay Meditation Center. The "Carrying the Lamp of Love" event is currently sold out . If anyone is interested and would like to put himself on the wait list, please click on the "Add me to the Waitlist" button above.

The Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre & 1.9. O.J. Mendova Productions are proud to present: KING TUT: THE BOY WHO WOULD BE KING (the stage play)

Written, directed and choreographed by Bayview’s own playwright Farah Dews. We are excited to be welcoming back many actors from Black Repertory Group who brought us “Sparkle” last month.

The play takes a look at the short life of one of the most beloved and talked about Pharaohs of OUR Time. It is said that King Tutankhamen was the youngest Pharaoh to rule over Egypt in the 18th Dynasty. After the death of his Father, The Pharaoh, and the disappearance of his step-mother Queen Nefertiti, the throne was his; but not so fast - the High Priestess who helped raise him from birth thought she could rule as Queen of Egypt by his side, but Tut had other plans.

Friday, March 26: 8 PM, Saturday, March 26: 3PM & 8PM, Sunday, March 28: 3PM. Tickets are: $15 General , $9 Seniors (over 65), $6 Youth (under 18). Advance tickets are available by calling the BVOH Box Office at 415-824-0386 or can be purchased online: