Category Archives: live performance

Featured Event: Somi @ The Clarice Performance Arts Center, University of Maryland (Dreaming Zenzile: Work-in Progress) Sunday, August 20, 2017 . 4 PM

20729691_10155256011695589_7977099732533519697_nDreaming Zenzile is a modern jazz play based on the extraordinary life of late South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba. Written by vocalist & songwriter Somi, the play features both original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s popular repertoire through the modern jazz idiom and small ensemble arrangements. Dreaming Zenzile is set in Castel Volturno, Italy on the night of Makeba’s final performance. Somi performs the role of Miriam Makeba.  Framed as a meta-performance, Makeba moves between the memory and evocation of real and dreamed experiences about her life journey.  This project is largely inspired by Somi’s recurring dreams of being in conversation with Makeba that Somi began having after the loss of her father. During those conversations, Makeba would try to explain life choices Somi made as a professional artist to her father despite what he might have traditionally expected of Somi as an African woman by using Makeba’s own life in America as an example he might better understand. The piece, therefore, is a reflection on both Makeba’s biography and of those dreamed conversations. The word “Zenzile” is actually Makeba’s true first name, which means “you have done it to yourself” in her native language of Xhosa. In short, this work is meant to be an exposition of the burdens and freedoms that accompany the gift of song.

Produced in association with Octopus Theatricals

Somi wishes to thank The Miriam Makeba Estate and Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust for their support and permission to create this work


I have followed Somi’s career for many years.  She has risen to the top with both her tenacity, talent, and beauty.

This forthcoming project looks and feels like it will truly make a statement.  Be sure to check out who and what Somi is all about!

For more info : Creation Residency 2017-18

Artist info: Somi

Somi on: Facebook

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Haitian musician Paul Beaubrun sings for his people, he sings for his country! (@CAAM live performance event)

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Yes, I made it to CAAM (California African American Museum) earlier this month for their LIVE PERFORMANCES to catch one of my favorite artists to date, Paul Beaubrun

He made his way toward the stage with such a calm and humble manner it made me rest easy and look forward to what was to come. There was no huge fanfare just Paul and his percussionist Morgan Zwerlein –they took to the stage and made the entire room feel welcome.  He played with such raw enthusiasm and love.  Every now and again I find so much truth in watching an artist perform.  Beaubrun is definitely one of those rare ones.

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Together they brought the audience to their feet, freeing the room from any restraints. At one point Paul was joined on stage by legendary drummer Munyungo Jackson lifting the entire room into one beautiful frequency.  In that moment, we were in the presence of pure spirit.

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Paul Beaubrun’s music not only pulsates with rhythm and force, it also makes you think.  His love for Haiti and its people is commanding.  Paul gave us a window into what being Haitian is all about.  Check out the clip below.

It was such an honor to get a snippet of time to share with Paul.  Artist to artist we connected instantly and I was able to impart my respect and admiration for his work and his presence.  Look for a new album coming late 2017! Follow Paul Beaubrun on Instagram

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Paul Beaubrun is a scion of Haitian musical royalty, Paul has spent his life living to the beat. Son of the Grammy nominated band Boukman Eksperyans, his earliest memories is of rhythm and sound. Moving to New York as a youth he was inspired by his heritage to begin crafting a sound all his own. Constantly aware of his roots, the struggle of an immigrant and the drive of New York life, Paul began to create a path where music, activism, and history meet. Read and find out more:

Paul Beaubrun

I had a wonderful time.  CAAM is a great place to see live music.  The room is inviting and of course, the shows are free!

All photos & video courtesy Philippe Roc

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The duo ‘Climbing PoeTree’ is art meets activism in its most powerful revelation

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These two young ladies “ALIXA + NAIMA are at the forefront of using art to speak, to inspire and to share thoughts on the state of affairs in the world at large.  They have inspired me for a few years now.  As a poet and mother of a young lady, I am thrilled to share the story of these immense artists with my daughter and those I come into contact with.  They epitomize exactly what we do here with NevahBlackDown, we use art to uplift and promote positive change.  They bring truth gloriously mixed with a passion that creates a template to be honored. (photos by Pablo Aguilar)

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“Creativity is the antidote for violence and destruction. Art is our most human expression, our voice to communicate our stories, to challenge injustice and the misrepresentations of mainstream media, to expose harsh realities and engender even more powerful hope, a force to bring diverse peoples together, a tool to rebuild our communities, and a weapon to win this struggle for universal liberation.”
– Alixa + Naima

“Over the last 13 years, Climbing PoeTree has infused our movements for justice with healing and imagination, inspiring thousands through their award-winning multimedia theater, dual-voice spoken word, visual art, sustainable touring, and community organizing. Co-creators Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman are cultural architects committed to reframing the story through multi-voice spoken word, hip hop, world music, and multimedia theater that translate deep research around the most pressing issues of our time into stunning artistry that catalyzes their audiences to activate the transformation they wish to cultivate within themselves and their communities.” Read and find out more about CLIMBING POETREE

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Climbing Poetry has just released their latest album “INTRINSIC” A must purchase for your music collection!

On 3/31/2017 Climbing PoeTree released a new collection of rebel-rousing anthems, bilingual ballads, and unconventional love songs. Backed by 33 world-class musicians, vocalists, and producers, Alixa and Naima’s impassioned lyricism propel 17 soulful compositions bridging electronic music and live instrumentation, combining hip-hop, spoken word, rock, blues, folk, and Afro-Latin beats.

Produced by the powerhouse music legend, Toshi Reagon, INTRINSIC features an incredible cadre of collaborators including Carolyn MalachiRising Appalachia, B Steady, Taina Asli, Arooj Aftab, Juliette Jones, Ayla Nereo and many more.

Check out the official video for ‘WE SURVIVED’

There is so much more to check out with these powerful young ladies.  I suggest a visit to their website CLIMBING POETREE

NevahBlackDown is proud of the profoundly positive and strong images these young ladies present to the world.  I hope they continue to speak up and share their gifts with the world!

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These L.A. dancers are changing the way people protest

I found this story in the LA Times to be fantastic.  Dancers using dance to protest. Read more here: LA Times

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The seeds for street dance activism were planted with the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin. After Bell learned Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman was able to walk free, she immediately headed to L.A.’s hot spot for arts and activism: Leimert Park

Using art to speak within the times is exactly what we are about here for NevahBlackDown.  Non violence, non traditional protesting, art, love, joy are all amazing ingredients for change.

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Gina Breedlove: Her Voice & Soul Can Heal All Wounds

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There is nothing more powerful than a voice filled with soul, raw emotion and the alchemic brew to heal and bring light to darkness. Gina Breedlove fashions her sound in a way that draws you in and envelopes you in love and magic.  She lifts you up and leaves you feeling empowered and strong.  There is nothing holding back, there is nothing hiding, there is nothing selfish, there is nothing egotistical about this song bird.

I have had the pleasure of hearing Gina sing (on more than one occasion) and getting to know her personally through friends. Her softness and Goddess like nature has and will always inspire me.  She is feminine strength and power personified.  I watched her and learned.  I listened to her and imagined.  I sat in her space and grew. That is what Gina brings to the world, she brings change, she brings truth and she brings the bridge where all can cross and find passion, love, and balance.

 

She began performing at age 15, singing back up for the incomparable Phyllis Hyman. Since, gina has toured all over the world with artists who, like herself, define and redefine genre; Harry Belafonte, Toshi Reagon, Ronny Jordan, Ani Difranco, Craig Harris, and Sekou Sundiata, to name a few.

She calls her music Folksoul, a coalescence of Rhythm & Blues, with story telling cadences of Folk, Soul, and the gospel truth. Folksoul is music that lifts the Spirit, opens the heart and allows one to find their way. Breathing into the Sound of this woman’s voice, gina embodies healing artistry. An Actress as well , gina created the role of “Sarabi” for the Broadway production of “The Lion King”, and recently appears in 2 Spike Lee films, ”Living Da Dream” for NBA 2k16 and “Chiraq“.

If you don’t know anything about her you must visit here website: ginabreedlove.com

If you have never seen her perform you must see her show if she is in your town.  Find out more about her tour schedule @ her website in the above link! Lucky for those in NYC, Gina will be at Joe’s Pub June 20th! joespub.com

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We are all very lucky that a spirit like Gina is roaming the earth with here healing nature.  We are all blessed to have our sister in love walk the path of helping to heal the wounds of the world.  We are so very blessed to have an image such as Gina to share with our girls! Yes yes we are blessed!

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Val Jeanty: A Powerful Spirit

 

Few people in the world bring something different, stamped with an originality that can’t be compared.  I guarantee you’ve never seen or heard anything like the presence and sound of Haitian artist Val Jeanty known as VAL-INC.  She has been mesmerizing audiences around the world for some time, her RESUME is long, her artistry is profound, her place in the world is needed.  She brings you into a dimension where boundaries are broken and the shape of the room changes with her music.  Energy shifts as she takes you journeying through passages never before traversed.

The producer, drummer, DJ, turntablist, teacher and sound engineer has created a distinctive style of music called Vodou Electronica which she also refers to as Afro Electronica. Her music is a fusion of electronics and African Vodou rhythms.

Below is a performance @ National Sawdust –Performance center & recording studio located in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

On her music, Jeanty says: “I use these electronic tools, but the music is spiritual—something you might hear at church, or in any other religious ceremony. It’s the kind of sound that gives your spirit freedom to roam.”

It is sublime knowing that in Brooklyn, NY there resides a passionate artist that shares exactly what is in her heart.  She is important during these times as her image and confident music goes a long way in showing our children that following your own truth and passion is what is important.  Labels don’t define us.  Boxes can’t hold us in and with Val Jeanty, we can be assured that this idea won’t fade!

Keep up with Val Jeanty on INSTAGRAM

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Event: A Sucker Emcee by Craig ‘Mums’ Grant @ National Black Theatre

This is not to be missed!

Ticket Info

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A Sucker Emcee
Written & Performed by Craig ‘muMs’ Grant
Directed by Jenny Koons
Music by Rich Medina

APRIL 26 – 30, 2017

2031-33 National Black Theatre Way
New York, NY 10035

PH: 212-722-3800
$25 in advance
$35 at the door

Infused with hip-hop, slam poetry and personal recollections, this one-man show charts the ups and downs of muMs’ incredible journey, from growing up in the Bronx to starring on one of HBO’s biggest shows. A life set against the backdrop of the birth of hip-hop, this is the story of a man looking for his spotlight and finding it in the most unlikely of places.

A Sucker Emcee was originally produced by Labyrinth Theater Company (Mimi O’Donnell, Artistic Director; Danny Feldman, Managing Director) in September 2014.

PRODUCTION TEAM:
David Meyer (Set)
Bradley King (Lighting)
Jessica Paz (Sound)
Marie Cisco (NBT Producing Fellow)

Ticket Info