Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oakland Art & Soul Festival (New Dates!)

Shawn Colvin, The Bodeans, Will Downing, Bobby Caldwell, Mo’fone, Ramana Vieira Walter Hawkins And More

9th Annual Art & Soul Features a Packed Two-Day Schedule of Top Flight Entertainment

Oakland, CA - The City of Oakland announced headliners and featured performers for this year’s 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland. Thanks to guaranteed stellar lineups, abundant parking, easy BART access and the bargain price of just $10 per day, Art & Soul Oakland has been named the Bay Area’s “best annual cultural event” by Oakland Magazine and Best Festival by East Bay Express. The SF Weekly added, “Art & Soul is dialed in to practically everything that makes Oakland great.” Held in beautiful, re-energized downtown Oakland three weeks earlier on Saturday August 15,and Sunday, August 16, 2009, the festival delivers four concert stages offering simultaneous talent and diversity featuring an eclectic all-star lineup of 40 national recording artists and hot Bay Area bands sure to please every musical taste. While stage lineups are still being finalized, the acts continue the diverse and wonderful variety that has made Art & Soul the region’s most popular music festival.

Saturday is anchored by headliner and multiple Grammy winner Shawn Colvin on the Art & Soul Main Stage (in association with KFOG 104.5 FM/97.7 FM) Colvin’s tender, crystal clear voice sings of poignantly vivid images of relationships and life with great insight. Her performances are all at once astonishing and haunting, provocative and seductive. Sharing the stage are the BoDeans, the danceable, lean and scrappy folk/rock band once named best new band by Rolling Stone magazine. Now, 20 years later, their romantic sensibility and passionate harmonies linked to simple but potent guitar based rock and roll still excite.

The new Yoshi’s Jazz Stage is newsworthy in and of itself. The lineup was selected through collaboration with the booking agents for both the Oakland and San Francisco Yoshi’s Jazz Club. Headlining on Saturday are the funky brass sounds of Mo’Fone. Jazz Weekly says Mo’Fone, “Snaps and crackles like James Brown’s Famous Flames with a New Orleans second line.” Jazziz sums it up with, “Mo’Fone brings the grease.” The Oakland Public Conservatory of Music under the direction of famed jazz trombonist Angela Wellman opens the day at 12:30 P.M. The smoky saxophone sound of Dayna Stevens follows and then the cool Latin/Soul of Sepia leads into the roaring Mo’Fone close.

Headlining the Plaza Stage’s Local Voices programming on Saturday is world renowned Fado singer Ramana Vieira. Called “A rising star in World Music,” by the San Francisco Examiner, Ramana has solidified her place as an artist who understands the tradition of Fado singing, but constantly combines new musical textures and original compositions. Berkeley-based Indie Rock singer/songwriter Jesse Strickland (aka Dear Indugu) brings an intensely passionate presence and personal lyrics to open the segment, followed by the Afro-Venezuelan sounds of Oakland’s Rosa los Santos.

Abby and the Pipsqueaks and Jump Street open the Plaza Stage with humorous children’s music and family entertainment.

In addition, Saturday features the wildly popular Gospel Stage with Edwin Hawkins and Bishop Walter L. Hawkins and the Community in Praise Mass Choir. An entire afternoon of uplifting, roof-raising Gospel music will abound including Terence Kelly & Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Love Center Choir, Kevin Moore, Carl Wheeler & Men of Endurance and Derrick Hall & Company.

The indomitable Will Downing tops Sunday’s Main Stage line-up (in association with KBLX 102.9 FM) In late 2006, Downing was diagnosed with polymyositis, a disorder causing weakness in joints and muscles. As a result, Downing recorded the majority of his vocals for 2008's After Tonight from a wheelchair. Buoyed by fan support, Downing continued to struggle against the disease and released the soulful Classique in 2009. His gorgeous, smooth, deeply personal delivery connects emotionally with the listener, his song choices are excellent, and his arrangements are extremely sophisticated. Also on the Main Stage is blue-eyed soul singer Bobby Caldwell. Best known for his What You Won’t Do for Love, Caldwell provides a genuine mix of R&B and jazz signatures with his bittersweet, buttery vocal tones that make him equally adept at his own originals or classic standards.

A perennial favorite, the Oakland R&B Reunion Stage is loaded with great acts. Zakiya ******, daughter of the legendary John Lee ******, brings her jazzy, sassy, soul blues to the stage. Freddie Hughes, who had R&B hits all the way back in the 60s, will pump out a set of Southern Soul blues. Derick Hughes adds his powerful, moody blues voice and crack band to what should be a great day of blues. The Caravan of Allstars featuring some of Oakland's finest blues musicians and singers are next. Their shows are very funky, filled with some of Oakland's greatest legends performing in front of the Allstars roaring rhythm section and horn section. Rounding out a great Blues afternoon is Frankie Lee, a legendary, underrated blues singer with more than 45 years experience. Known for his incredible live shows, Frankie says, “Whether it’s one or 1,000, me and my band are gonna put on a show.”

Expect people to be up and dancing at the Latin Stage on Sunday. Chino Espinoza y Los Dueños Del Son headline. Their high energy, infectious music is perfect for the dance club and has made them the most popular Salsa orchestra on the West Coast. Building up to Chino’s show we have Ba-Tu-Ke with their heady mixture of Cumbia, Son, Merengue and Samba mixed with Brazilian and African percussion and sweet vocal harmonies. Sandy Perez y Su Lade offer Afro-Cuban folkloric music with a strong percussion base, and Fito Reinoso returns to Art & Soul Oakland with his stunning Salsa Cubana.

On Sunday, the Plaza Stage is dedicated to World Dance. The stage opens highlighting the youth and adult classes of Bay Area dance studios. That will be followed by a steady stream of Bay Area hip-hop dance crews. The highlight of the afternoon is sure to be Tribute to Michael Jackson presented by Bay Area hip-hop dance companies and featuring dancers from the hit TV series So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew.

Art & Soul Oakland has great music but that’s not all. A family paradise, the festival boasts the largest Family Fun Zone of any festival in the Bay Area, complete with kiddie rides, children’s entertainment and free festival admission for ages 12 and under. The ever-expanding Family Fun Zone is jam-packed with interactive activities for children of all ages, as well as kid-friendly carnival games, inflatable bouncers and hands-on activities to create their own art to take home. Every year, Art & Soul Oakland features hundreds of artisan and vendor booths as well as a mouth-watering array of food reflecting the rich cultural diversity found in Oakland—the most diverse city in America.

The 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland is Northern California’s most accessible festival offering direct service from BART (12th Street - Oakland City Center Station) and free parking for thousands of cars. Last year more than 60,000 people enjoyed sensational music, food, fun, dance and art in beautiful downtown Oakland. “Downtown Oakland is hot,” says Samee Roberts, City of Oakland Marketing Director. “Scores of new restaurants, clubs, galleries and the renovated Fox Theater are drawing people from all over the region in droves. It all started with Art & Soul -- a multicultural mecca of music, art and food with the most wonderfully fun, diverse festival crowd you will find anywhere.”

The 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland takes place in downtown Oakland on Saturday, August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 2009 from Noon–6 PM. The festival is centered in Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, encompassing 10 strollable city blocks. Admission is $10.00 per day at the door; $5 for seniors, disabled and youth 13 to 17, with 12 and under free.

For more information on the 9th Annual Art & Soul Oakland, visit or call (510) 444-CITY.

Date: Saturday August 15,and Sunday, August 16, 2009

BET In Search of Black Homophobic Church Goers

BET is doing an in depth look at homophobia in the Black Church. The producer is looking for someone willing to discuss it. Privacy will be of most importance. Here's her note below. Plz tell folks to contact her if they are willing to talk. Plz send out to everyone you know!

Contact: Karen C Saunders-
BET News,
Senior Producer IN DEPTH
212 975 1595
Or e-mail -

--BET is revamping the network and launching several new shows in the fall. IN-DEPTH is a series of quarterly specials that will examine issues/ social phenomena that affect all of America but we will take a look at how those issues manifest/affect the black community.

Our first hour will focus on homophobia in the black community examining the myth that blacks are more homophobic than other groups we'll discover ways homophobia simply manifest homophobia differently than other groups.

We'll hear poignant stories from the grass roots (the gay choir director and/or church member with a homophobic minister) to the "rarely heard emotional stories" from celebrities like Felicia Snoop Pearson.

We're searching for that church member, someone who on the verge of leaving their home church because of the anti-gay messages from the pulpit. We'd like to interview them for the show.

We hope to capture the unique dynamic that is prevalent in some black churches and throughout many black communities- - a "don't ask-don't tell" philosophy in regards to gays in the church and their families.

It is my sincere hope to capture the pain and the paradox by hearing from someone actually going through the torture of attending a church whose' minister/congregati on has condemned them.

Please have any interested people contact me via email or at the phone number.

Thanks so very much!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



In the minuscule moments before I slip into slumber, as I am readying myself for rest
I think of you holding me, your arms around me in a strong, yet sweet caress

Laying behind me, in an intimate and sensual embrace
I smile at the thought of you nuzzling my neck with your handsome face

You'll be my Nubian King, I'll be your African Prince
Why are you so far away from me? It's not fair, it doesn't make any sense

I want to wake in the morning...
The sound of your voice, will be what I hear first
But I am left longing, baffled... by some cruel joke of the Universe

Come lay with me Cap'n
We'll listen to Phyllis Hyman sing, “Meet Me On The Moon”
Who Knows?
Maybe next lifetime we'll actually get a chance to spoon...
Copyright©2009 Jair

Saturday, July 25, 2009

E. Lynn Harris and Henry Louis Gates

I was shocked by the death of Michael Jackson. The death of E. Lynn Harris came as a similar surprise.

His first book, "Invisible Life" mirrored my life in so many ways. It became a bit of a lifeline for me. Reading that book helped me connect to a place inside myself that I had been searching for but wasn't sure I could find. It wasn't the only thing. There were a number of forces at work but it definitely help me on the path to self discovery. For that I will be ever grateful.

I read each book he published. Met him at a couple of book signings and have to admit that his last few books became a bit formulaic for me. He will always be one of my favorites. He definitely was someone who inspired me to write. Seeing him do it helped me get to the point where I could believe in me doing it. It's strange to me that both he and BeBe Moore Campbell are both gone. They came up in the "Black Literary" world after Terry McMillan and for me forged new territory. They were also friends so I guess in some way they are together again. The most interesting thing is the recent deaths of Michael Jackson, E, Lynn Harris, My friend and performing partner Min. Regi Perry, Transgender activist and friend Teri. Tinsley, and my niece have me thinking of my own mortality more than I ever have...

The interesting discussions and conversations concerning the arrest of Henry Louis Gates once again proves to me that the notion of a "Post Racial" America simply has not happened.

After offering his opinion about the situation President Barack Obama has been mocked and derided for his words. I totally understand what he meant when said that after proof of being the owner of the house Dr. Gates should've been left alone but I also know I was not there and am seeing this situation through the lens of my experience.

I also actually believe the police officer and his supporters that his intent was not to racially profile Dr. Gates but what seems to be an episode that spiraled out of control is turning into a dialog that has has nothing to do with what happened.

People can pontificate all they want but the fact remains that there are some situations in this country where people in authority use that power in an abusive way. I am not saying that's what happened with Officer Crowley but it does look like the situation could have been handled differently by many parties involved.