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Hathaway Re-incarnated

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I have experienced three phenomenal one-person shows in my life. Two were on the stage of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater. One was tonight at the Black Rep.

It is the powerful performance by Kevin Roston, Jr. that shatters this oblivion. Roston draws upon his experiences with a mother with mental illness and along with his extensive research of Hathaway’s struggle, rolls it into a dramatic presentation that illuminates the life challenges of those diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Roston’s goal is to soften the “dis-ease” of the public about the issue of mental health. He does so with humor, showcasing his own musical gifts (including possessing an uncanny likeness to Hathaway’s voice). And oh the songs, the wonderful songs.

This theatrical gem is sure to achieve its purpose–to open our hearts and minds to the abyss of the complicated human mind. To crush the stigma still associated with diseases of the mind. To see the humanity of those who “hang on to the world as it spins around.”

“Twisted Melodies” runs from April 22-May 1. It is a must-see that I think will change the way you look at Donny Hathaway again and human beings like him.

 

Our Talented Prince

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This is my favorite image of Prince: His musical protest against the exploitive tactics of Warner Bros in 1995. His symbolic statement against the  record company spoke volumes to the manner in which the industry not only suppresses creativity  but tries to control the financial success of artists. As a fan of “Unsung” I am convinced that the blood-sucking music industry is about the worst component in the capitalist world. The price artists pay for success is unfathomable.

 

Royalty is Prince-RIP, you musical genius. Thanks for your love and your music.

Hangin’ out with the AMEs

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Being totally immersed in AME space last weekend took me back to my first substantive encounter with the African Methodist Episcopal church. Rev. C. Garnett Hennings. Rev. Hennings was a dominant figure in the faith community during the 1980s as well as in the broader social justice movement. He was involved in many community issues and his home church St. Paul AME Church was a hub of activity. Its doors were always open for community events and actions.

If you don’t know the story of Richard Allen and the AME church, it’s worth your time to research. I do believe the AMEs are the only black folks who didn’t just criticize the racism in their respective denomination but asserted their independence and split from the Methodist Church. They put their Afrocentricity at the center of their religion and were bodacious in maintaining Africa in their name. Names are important.

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