Dionne Warwick Celebrates 50 Years of Music and Def Poetry Jam Reunites<br />

Dionne Warwick

As the legendary, Dionne Warwick celebrates her 50th anniversary in music with the release of a forthcoming album, “Dionne, Now,” she is looking forward and hoping to reach a younger generation. “With this album it was time to bring our music into the 21st century and to younger ears. So you get a chance to hear some really great songs,” she says.

Music isn’t the only thing that she wants to share with youth. Warwick revealed plans to devote some time to finishing a project she began fifteen years ago to create a history book on African and African American history. “I am planning in the next couple of years to gather the first parts of it and do it in parts. I think it is time everybody takes a good look at who we are and how much value we bring to this entire world.”

When it comes to the history of the spoken word, “Def Poetry Jam,” was a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon that gave an international platform for spoken word artists. It’s been 5 years since the HBO television series ended but co-creator, Danny Simmons is presenting a reunion at MIST Harlem on September 27th. Simmons shared that the reunion is a tribute to the show and currently there are no plans to create a tour or do produce another television show. On looking back at the legacy of “Def Poetry Jam,” he is proudest of its social and educational impact. “One of the hopes I had when Bruce George and I created the concept was that poetry would become a literacy tool for our youth,” he says. “It has and is used by educational institutions world wide to spark deeper interest in writing and reading in students.”

The Fashion Institute of Technology’s Black Student Union (BSU) are hoping to have a similar impact in the world of fashion and design with their recent event “24|Fashion.” The goal was to showcase the talent of its members and to aid in that mission was fashion expert/host, Rae Holiday and BET Music Matters artist, Kimberly Nichole. According to the president of BSU, David Hamilton, this event was necessary since access to mainstream opportunities is limited for the group. “Because our show is student organized and not a formal school presentation, our formal invitation to mainstream fashion is limited,” he notes. “But the Black Students of FIT are craving the attention of prominent Blacks in fashion to come speak to and work with us.”

Harlem’s status as a cultural and intellectual force in the world is being celebrated in the weeklong festival, “Harlem in the City." The event is presented by the City College of New York, in collaboration with the Harlem Arts Alliance and runs October 1-7. The festivities launched with the opening of the photo exhibit, “Harlem & the City Over 100 Years of Special Moments in Time.” Dr. Myrah Brown Green, executive director of arts and culture at City College, is coordinating the festival which will also include lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, tours and poetry readings, which you can learn about here.

Perhaps, Warwick would be pleased to know that history is alive, well and being celebrated.

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The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.