May 01, 2014

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

 

Being Black, brilliant, and radical is hard in 2014. Imagine life being Black in the early 20th century.

‘Hard” is actually a ‘diplomatic’ word to refer to lynchings, blatant discrimination, and ungodly behavior inflected upon African-Ameri­cans during this era.

Enter Paul Robeson, the first African American valedictorian of Rutgers University and an All-American football player for the school. Robeson, an incredibly brilliant artist, dared to challenge the status quo and his courage led to a documented, yet often forgotten, period of American history.

Daniel Beaty aims to give us a fresh awakening about Paul Robinson in the production, ‘The Tallest Tree in the Forest,’ now playing at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles.

Beaty, who opened the one-man show on April 19, delivers a captivating synopsis of Robeson’s life. His presentation not only shares known facts about Robeson’s outrage towards the insults, disrespect, and ‘benign neglect’ endured by Black Americans, but also discloses his profound disappointment about the ill treatment of Jews, Irish, American Indians and others affected by this peculiar approach to U.S. justice.

“I believe Robeson epitomizes the artist-activist.  I think it’s a shame that he is not remembered in American and world history to the degree that he should be.  Though he had some controversial politics, he made huge, huge contributions.  I wanted to explore his life to be able to honor those contributions,” said Beaty, who also wrote the play.

The two-hour performance traces Robeson’s childhood, academic honors, artistic career and persecution by the U.S. government. Throughout the show, Beaty reveals his uncanny ability to depict the voices of various characters in Robeson’s life.  He delivers rapid-fire conversations between Robeson and his wife, Essie, various media critiquing his plays and the attacks of U.S. senators during Robeson’s appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956.

Beaty also sings powerful renditions of popular Robeson standards such as “Ol’ Man River,”  “The Joint is Jumpin,” “Get on Board Lil’ Chillun,” and “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.”  In addition, Robeson’s rumored infidelity gets exposure as well.

“I believe that if you really want to put a character into the social discourse, you can’t do hero worship.  No human being on earth is perfect and if you tell a story of a perfect human being, people will become skeptical about what agenda you have that you’re leaving out truths about the person,” noted Beaty in an L.A. Watts Times interview. 

“I think, ultimately, when you see a human being and their complexities, you actually can evaluate and value their contributions more.”

Without a doubt, Paul Robeson vividly comes to life through Beaty’s portrayal.  Audience-goers will be enlightened and possibly amazed that one individual could achieve so much in the face of insurmountable challenges.

“‘The Tallest Tree in the Forest’ is an exceptional play. The ease at which Mr. Beaty was able to transition between characters transported the audience to those pivotal times in the life of Paul Robeson and of Black America, his connection to the Jewish community and the working class,” said Pam B., who attended the opening night show.

“I received a history as well as a life lesson about Robeson’s accomplishments, victories, struggles, determination and commitment to his (Robeson’s) ideals and beliefs despite the persecution in his fight for equality for his fellow man no matter the color of his skin,” she observed.

Although Robeson lived a fascinating life, it ended in near obscurity. As Beaty exposes Robeson’s last years, he reveals a broken, depressed and tired old man, finally worn out by the long fight for right.

Beaty is a talented actor, singer and writer who delivers a memorable performance. When this production ends, he begins his next project, this time on the big screen.

“I will be shooting my first film this summer, ‘Chapter and Verse.’  It deals with the issue of mass incarceration and a man who is out of prison after 10 years trying to find his way in the world.”

‘The Tallest Tree in the Forest’ runs until on May 25 at the Mark Taper Forum. For tickets, call (213) 628-2772.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 24, 2014

Shonassee Shaver

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

Radio co-host Tammi Mac of “Mac & Amiche,” Los Angeles’ #1 urban radio show on 102.3 KJLH brings her titled one woman show “Bag Lady” to the theater this May. 

The witty and funny radio host will be giving us another side of her as she brings every emotion to the surface.  Debuting May 2-11 at Stage 52 on 5299 W. Washington Blvd Los Angeles, CA, Mac leaves no subject to the imagination as she reveals surviving molestation, to baby momma drama and much more. 

It was on a flight to LA that Mac and her best friend Michelle came up with the idea of “Bag Lady.” Discussing their bad relationships, they started to compare who had the worst relationship.

“I had an epiphany thinking were comparing bad relationships, but the one thing that we had in common in all of them is we’re in them, so were they really bad relationships because the men were bad to us or were they bad relationships because we were bad to ourselves,” Mac stated.

Mac feels it’s our own personal baggage that allows us to continue to get into bad relationships and make repeated mistakes.

“‘Bag Lady’ forces women to look at themselves as to what they could be doing wrong to get into bad relationships,” she states.

While others may write a memoir on their personal struggles, Mac is putting it all in a show turning her battles into a performance.

“I am actress so that is the number one reason I decided to do it on stage. The core of me, is that I am a story teller, I believe because of my empathy for people. God has given me a gift of storytelling, to tell other people’s stories, but tell it from a perspective where people can hear the story and not judge but only look at the story as maybe a lesson or maybe an internal thought process of what is happening in their own lives.”

Not to be mistaken, her show doesn’t so much tell the story of abusive relationships but the abuse women do to themselves.

“Bag Lady” is not about the bad men in my life, it’s about the bad decisions I have made in my life that have caused me to pick bad men,” said the actress. 

On not casting another actress to play her, “No one can tell my story better than I can. There will never be another actress who can do this play better than me because it’s my story.”

This isn’t Mac’s first introduction into theatre nor is it a transition into the field.

“Most people see me as a comical, quick witted radio host. A lot of people aren't aware of the theatrical skills that I've obtained through schools and workshops.”

Mac who is a formally trained actress with a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre and who has also trained with the infamous improv school, The Groundlings enjoys both radio and acting.

“Radio is my best friend, acting is my love. They both kind of intertwine because when I’m on the radio I have to tell stories and because you can’t see me I have to make them so compelling that you want to hear it even though there’s nothing visual there,” Mac said.

“I’m a huge part of the theatrical world, I have yet to really sink my teeth in film and television. I recently had a film Don B. Welch ‘The Divorce’ released on DVD. It’s a great film, I’m excited for the opportunities he has given me. I do a lot of Don B. Welch and Brandi Burks productions, they're really good at giving upcoming actresses opportunities to showcase themselves in  different roles in each project as well as honing their craft.”

Mac, who is looking to forge her own path in Hollywood, hopes to land her own show or role in a big budget film one day.

With so much going on, one wonders how the multi-talent handles juggling so many hats.

“The best model I ever heard was the Nike advertising campaign ‘Just Do It,’ you can’t think about it.”

Mac who doesn’t think about juggling anything states, “It’s all entertainment to me. My best day is when I get up a 7am and go on an audition in Santa Monica, then do a voice over gig in Hollywood, go on another audition, then turnaround and rehearse my show then go to work on the radio for four hours. Host something later on that night and get home at 1am I love every part of that!”

“Bag Lady” is not only a representation of her personal life but a way of aiding other women who are battling the same issues.

“I didn't pay for the show, I had over 200 hundred dollars contributed to a kickstarter campaign for the show that’s how I knew it was living proof that the show was bigger than me, it was God's show. God telling me to tell the story not for me but for other women.”

Not stopping at theater, “Bag Lady” will become a web series, shown on her YouTube channel, Tammi Mac TV. “Bag Lady” takes individual stories of real life women and puts them into movie form. There are four series. “No Male,” “Joy Ride,” “Viagra” and “Duck Tape” are all different stories that every woman faces and goes through in a string of relationships.

Subscribe to Tammi Mac TV to watch “Bag Lady” as well as “The Divorce” on Netflix.

For show times, ticket purchases and to keep up with the latest from Mac visit www.tammimac.com and follow @mstammimac.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 24, 2014

LAWT News Service

 

Her father was once the IBF heavyweight champion of the world, giving Mike Tyson one of his toughest fights, her mother was a single-mom who struggled to make a way for her, but today Kahla Tucker has more than a fighting chance to become a major star in the music and entertainment industry.

A singer, songwriter, and all around performer “KAHLA” is a hot up and coming artist from Carson.

Twenty years ago Kimberly Jackson and Former Heavyweight Champion Boxer of the world Tony TNT Tucker welcomed Kahla Michelle Tucker to the world and the rest is history.

Kahla lived in three different states within her life including California, Las Vegas, and Grapid Rapids. Kahla spent a lot of her toddler years traveling around the world, in and out of hotels, and surrounded by adults a majority of the time due to the fast life of her father’s career.

During this period music became the only consistent thing in her life. Her mother played a lot of Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gay, and the Temptations , while her father played a lot of Tupac, NWA, UGK, and B.I.G. Growing up with a mixture of two different styles of music Kahla inevitably grew up with a hunger to mix both R&B and HIPHOP music together to create something beautiful in which she brings to her music today.

Kahla has been performing since the tender age of four where she performed her first song at her kindergarten graduation in Grand Rapids Michigan. After she was bit by the love bug of performing she continued performing all the time.

She performed at graduation ceremonies at the Carson Com­munity Center put together by her local daycare “Tweets Childcare” and briefly danced at birthday parties with a dance group put on by a Popular hip hop clown “Tommy The Clown.” 

By age six she joined a neighborhood cheer and football organization the “Carson Colts” in which she believes molded her into the performer she is today.

The Colts performed all around Southern California and other states including Las Vegas, Nevada at huge arenas such as the Aladdin and the Orleans. She cheered with the Carson Colts consecutively all up until she was a freshman in high school and cheered for Long Beach Millikan where she attended, while briefly cheering with an all star team as well. During the conclusion of her junior year of high school she decided to quit cheerleading and take her dream seriously.

She attended the Wendy Raquel Robinson’s Amazing Grace Conservatory (AGC) of singing, dancing, and acting in Los Angeles where she won an auditioned and fell in love with the stage all over again.

Following her Senior year in High School she left the sunny skies and palm trees of Southern California to continue her dream at Columbia College Chicago, majoring in musical theatre and minoring in dance.  Kahla spent her freshman and sophomore year studying music including watching videos of her music idols Michael Jackson and Beyoncé for countless amount of hours. It wasn't until the summer before starting her junior year in college that she decided to come out with a project of her own motivated by a relationship breakup.

“I felt that it wasn’t a more appropriate time then now to release my own music. My friends and family knew that I sang but I had nothing to show for it other than taped performances. I had a lot to say. I’d seen enough and gone through enough whether it be relationship wise, emotionally, whatever to where I felt I had a voice...or a story in which everyone, but specifically women could relate to. I think the best part of my music is that it’s relatable and it’s honest. That’s important to me because music is the one thing that brings people together. So I got my pen and paper, teamed up with some producers from New York called TheNiteShift and basically a year later here we are.”

This is just the beginning for this rising artist. The journey officially begins...

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 24, 2014

 

Aries March 21 - April 19

Are you going on a trip or possibly moving, Aries? Is education involved in some way? Whatever your reasons for going away, you're going to gain whatever you hope for - and more. Writing, teaching, and anything involving communication should go very well right now, including conversations with a romantic partner. Your mind is quick and retentive right now, so make the most of it.

 

Taurus April 20 - May 20

You tend to be intuitive by nature, Taurus, but today you could receive psychic impressions by the dozen. You might even experience visions or hear voices. Don't worry – you aren't going crazy! You do, however, need to pay attention to these messages. They may have immense personal or even planetary significance. If you can't make sense of them, write them down. It should all be clear to you later.

 

Gemini May 21 - June 20

Communication with friends and partners should be clear, open, honest, and supportive today, Gemini. Camaraderie flows freely, and affection is shown without restraint or overkill. If you're presently involved but not yet committed, a declaration of love and an expression of desire to move the relationship to the next level could be in the wind. At the very least, your lover should pay you a compliment or two!

 

Cancer June 21 - July 22

Have you been reading about how a positive mental outlook creates a healthy body and a happy life, Cancer? If so, you might just find that this attitude brings results. You're feeling strong, fit, and mentally sharp. Career interests seem to be looking up for you. A fringe benefit is that you're probably feeling especially intuitive, too. Keep doing whatever you've been doing to bring this all about, because it's working!

 

Leo July 23 - August 22

Research that you've been doing for a particular project may finally be completed, Leo. Now you're ready to finish your work. Your mind is especially sharp right now, so this is a good time to work on any kind of project that involves communication. If you're a writer, your publishing prospects look good. Romance also should be going well. Perhaps you just became aware of a strong psychic bond between you and your beloved. Make the most of it!

 

Virgo August 23 - September 22

Dreams and visions about your family paint a rosy picture of your future, Virgo. These dreams could well be prophetic, but don't jump to that conclusion without first analyzing the symbols and discerning what your dreams are trying to tell you. There could be something that you need to consider before you can move ahead toward the future you want to create. But remember that dreams can be interpreted in more than one way!

 

Libra September 23 - October 22

Tonight you might decide to attend a social gathering held in your community that involves a lot of people who are into psychic or spiritual matters, Libra. This should be an interesting experience for you, because you could not only glean a lot of fascinating information but also make some new friends. Someone could recommend a few intriguing books. Keep your eyes and ears open, and take your address book with you. Have fun!

 

Scorpio October 23 - November 21

You're likely to receive news today that brightens your future outlook, Scorpio. It could be that your boss calls you at home and hints at a pending promotion, or your partner could receive a raise or unusually large bonus. Whatever the news, know that your financial picture will begin to look dramatically better than it has been. Start making plans for how you'll improve your lifestyle. A vacation may just be in order.

 

Sagittarius November 22 - December 21

Love and romance take top priority with you today, Sagittarius. You might be feeling a little insecure about the stability of your current relationship, but you're wasting your energy. For now, at least, things look very promising for you and your current lover. You should be communicating well and getting along great. Use your intuition to tune in to your friend's mind, and you'll probably feel your doubts and uncertainties slip away. Enjoy your day.

 

Capricorn December 22 - January 19

If you play your cards right, Capricorn, you just might be able to turn what you're picking up psychically into an exalted creative effort. The emotions and images flowing into your brain might be obscure, but they're significant in some way. Whether you write, play music, dance, or paint, you could be blown away by your own work. Whatever your materials, get them out and memorialize your inspiration. Tomorrow you'll be glad you did!

 

Aquarius January 20 - February 18

Expect to exchange a lot of phone calls and emails with friends today, Aquarius. Communication with others is your top priority. You have a lot of news to deliver and you'll receive a lot in return. Much of what you hear could be useful for whatever you're involved with now. The only downside is mental overload. You could feel as if your brain has spent the day running a marathon.

 

Pisces February 19 - March 20

Financial good fortune continues, Pisces, although old habits are hard to break and you might have difficulty adjusting to it. You could alternate between wanting to buy out the store and continuing to pinch pennies the way you used to. That's OK. Everybody has to make adjustments in life. Second only to falling in love, this will probably be one of the most pleasant adjustments you'll ever have to make!

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 17, 2014

Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

 

Almost 20 years after the New York City-based, dark, underground hip-hop duo Mobb Deep released their sophomore full-length album, “The Infamous,” the group is taking a full circle approach to their 2014 album, “The Infamous Mobb Deep.”

Although Mobb Deep did not receive as much mainstream attention as Nas, the gritty, poetic nature of “The Infamous” is considered to be a classic by true hip-hop enthusiasts. Hailing from Queens, N.Y., Prodigy and Havoc rhymed about the struggles and the bleak reality of growing up in the Queensbridge Houses.

Their third album, “Hell on Earth,” hit No. 6 on the Billboard charts, the duo finally receiving the industry and mainstream acclaim they sought. Nonetheless, over the years, Mobb Deep has been through ups and downs, including a less-than-desirable term on G-Unit Records, Prodigy’s incarceration and a brief split between the two members.

The release of Mobb Deep’s eighth album is being marketed as a time of triumph and rebirth for Havoc and Prodigy, as it should be. Their debut album, “Juvenile Hall,” was released in 1993, making them hip-hop veterans and survivors.

The reflective approach to the new record, which was released earlier this week, shows that hip-hop is now creating seasoned and historical figures who come from an era that is still relevant but still create from a current and wise perspective.

 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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