Luke James is used to being vulnerable in his music which is why he’s not afraid to address his own faults on his forthcoming debut album this summer, "Made to Love." Thematically, James says the record will focus on lessons learned in love including the value of honesty in relationships. “In love, I’ve been a deceiver. But I realized being honest is so much easier than lying and being deceitful,” he reveals. “Just be true all the way through and people can’t do anything but respect you for it.”
After the album, the crooner promises to show a new side of himself in the forthcoming film adaption of the Langston Hughes musical, Black Nativity. The film is released on November 27 and stars Angela Basset, Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson. James plays the character Jojo, a homeless man expecting a child. “I unlocked some things I probably never would have unlocked if not for this film,” he says. “It helped me be vulnerable in my movement. The movie has tap dancing and breakdancing and learning those things and being comfortable to do it was a trying but awesome experience.”
The rhythm of movement and music is also found in the artwork of Preston Sampson. The celebrated artist recently held an opening reception for his latest exhibition, "New Directions" at Harlem’s new hotspot, The Sol Studio. During the event he shared that much of the visual energy in his work—from musicians in action to the captivating faces of strangers—is inspired by the everyday life of Harlem. “My work is about the observation of people and in it is the spirit of Harlem from the Apollo Theater to images of families going to church,” he says. “It encompasses the whole of our experience as Harlemites.”
The appeal of Harlem is felt all over Symphony Space's third annual multi-disciplinary spring festival, Harlem Resonance. This year includes a plethora of diverse programs and performances from the Ailey and Dance Theatre of Harlem Schools, jazz artist Gregory Generet and actor/singer Tamara Tunie, actor BD Wong, a performance from the acclaimed play "Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale," and more. Artistic director, Laura Kaminsky notes that balancing programming to focus on high-profile names and unsung talent is crucial to Harlem Resonance’s ability to both entertain and enlighten. “The festival is sprinkled with an equal portion of star power names and lesser known names such as composer Margaret Bonds and author Ann Petry. You have to be able to give an audience something they respond to and then you surprise them with other stuff they may not know.”
Those who don’t know the power of music were given an electrifying lesson this past Friday as the Electrify Your Music Foundation celebrated its launch with "The 5 Borough Youth Rock Symphony Concert" at the Brooklyn Technical High School Theater. Over 200 New York City public school students performed alongside founder Mark Wood and rocker Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. For Wood it takes events like this coupled with scientific evidence to make arts as respected in schools as sports. “It boils down to the administrators and parents witnessing the positive effects of the arts,” he advises. “I’ve gathered scientific evidence that shows how the arts allows students to be better at other subjects. So I don’t want music to be superior to every other subject but I do want it to be on the same level to the sports department.”
On Friday April 26, SoHarlem presented a special evening in celebration of Alejandro Anreus’s most recent publication, Mexican Muralism: A Critical History. In his latest book, the focus is on how artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siquieros have used their art to address political issues such as state modernization and cultural imperialism.
The UNCF (United Negro College Fund,) will host its first-ever UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball on May 2. The elegant black tie gala will be hosted by the Honorable Cory A. Booker, Mayor of the City of Newark, NJ and special guests include, Honorary Chair Gayle King and singer Chrisette Michele. Proceeds from the black tie event will go to NJ students in support of their college education.
Condola Rashad and The Stoop Kids will be performing songs from her upcoming CD the letter 9 live at SOB’s on May 6. Click here for tickets. Tony nominee Rashad also currently stars on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful.
Similar to James, Rashad will share thoughts on life and love through music you can connect to.
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.