February 13, 2014

By Edward Rice, III

LAWT Contributing Writer


Men have feelings. And despite the age old adage that suggests big boys don’t cry the dirty secret is: men actually cry.  “The Things That Make Men Cry” is the stage play that explores the topics that typically move men to tears currently playing at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Angeles through Valentine’s Day weekend (February 14-16). Set in a barbershop in Los Angeles, the play centers on the lives of barbers Joe (Lou Beatty Jr.) and Mel (Gregory Niebel) and the clients who frequent the establishment. Based on the book of the same title written by the play’s executive producer Dr. Gloria Morrow, “The Things That Make Men Cry,” opens up the doors of the barbershop to allow the audience an opportunity to peer inside the souls of men.

“Back in 2008 I was counseling a couple and there was a lot of tension in the room,” says Dr. Morrow as she discusses her inspiration for the book. “When I saw them separately the man just started weeping. He could barely sit down long enough for me to do the things that I do and say the things that I say before he just started balling. He said he felt misunderstood. He said he loved his wife, he just didn’t know how to communicate with her and he was overwhelmed by her.” As the play unfolds everything from fatherhood, divorce, love, unemployment and sex are tackled in the shop. Much like a real barbershop, the centerpiece of the shop which holds everything together is the veteran barber, Joe. “I felt that I could really show my wares in this role,” says Lou Beatty speaking about his character Joe. “Every role doesn’t fit but this role was a great fit for me.” Joe provides the voice of reason and always has some sage advice for his co-workers and patrons despite his own character flaws

Conversely, if Joe is reason then Mel is insanity. Played with great insight and humor, Mel is the comedic relief in the play. He is the stereotypical, guarded, sarcastic ladies man. “Mel works on different levels. He obviously loves women,” says Niebel with a chuckle. “But he’s got his armor up when it’s around women and he doesn’t like having to show his emotions and that all rings very true. I think that’s a universal trait in being male. It has just been hammered in our DNA that you don’t show emotion, you don’t cry, you don’t talk about your feelings, you contain everything and don’t let these things bother you and these things are changing.”

Newcomer to the stage Steve Turner shoulders the responsibility of bringing to life Charles, the character facing marital woes in the play. Divorced and unemployed, Charles struggles with providing for the son he loves dearly and navigating the remains of his volatile relationship with his son’s mother. “I related to the character 100%,” says Steve emphatically. “This role has been very therapeutic for me too at the same time. The biggest learning for me was just learning how to get it out. You know there’s a part where we talk about the son being cut in half, about putting your child first and that resonates. A lot of times many of the single men and women out there arguing over a child don’t always realize the effect it has on the child. That right there made me realize we need to be willing to put our differences aside for the sole purpose of raising our children.”

“The Things That Make Men Cry” is a powerful stage play that will help initiate some of those difficult conversations that men need to have about the things they talk about when nobody’s around. “To see this thing happen and see our community blessed has been the crucible for me,” says Dr. Morrow. “I think that we will bring a wonderful opportunity for men to speak their truth and women to receive that as well.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 13, 2014



You know, the dream that you say you’ll “get to” when the time is right.  This week the time is exactly right. Get the plan started that will lead to the realization of that dream. Talk it over with significant others so that they can add their strength. Make the dream their dream too. Soul Affirmation: I love the options that are presented to me. Lucky Numbers: 13, 41, 55



You are made from the best stuff on earth.  You’ll need to remember that this week.  Cast a wide net among the people that admire you and spend  time being admired. There re plenty of people who know your best qualities but this week seek out those who enjoy talking about what is good about you. Soul Affirmation: I let my positive emotions make my decisions this week. Lucky Numbers: 8, 14, 36



Give to a charity, talk with a grandparent, counsel a child, encourage a colleague this week.  Choose any or all of the above or create your own list.  Your goodness is an investment in your future as long as you do not think of it as such. Soul Affirmation: I don’t hide the wonderful things I feel about myself. Lucky Numbers: 6, 24, 53



If you are unhappy with your situation this week, you have all the power you need to change it!  Don’t procrastinate any longer.  You can make the improvement now!  Don’t worry about what others are thinking.  Just do what is good for you. Soul Affirmation: Love is my reward for giving love. Lucky Numbers: 12, 33, 55



The universe is balanced and our lives will be filled with triumphs and tribulations.  Don’t fret when you face turmoil this week.  Deal with it head on and stay undeterred.  Keep straight on the path you are traveling and you will reach the place where you are meant to be. Soul Affirmation: All is well and so I let it be. Lucky Numbers: 6, 21, 47



Your inner beauty is one of your greatest assets.  This week take full advantage of this gift you received from God. This week hold in consciousness the truth that you are specially crafted from His hands.   Allow a cheerful disposition to radiate through you. Soul Affirmation: I happily help to clear up a mess made by others. Lucky Numbers: 1, 50, 53



Everything that goes around will come around for the universe is balanced.   We all need to bear our crosses and accept the fate that is destined for each of us.  The will of God is good and we will receive as He gives. This week is a week for finding joy in little things. Soul Affirmation: I let love teach me more about life. Lucky Numbers: 19, 23, 46



This week have faith in what you know can happen and rededicate yourself to achieving your dreams.  Be sure to remember and respect who you are as the week unfolds.  Love yourself for who you are this week and this will give you a clear perspective on what you can become. Soul Affirmation: I celebrate the high energy that engulfs my life. Lucky Numbers: 5, 32, 51



Give yourself a chance to experience a different side of your personality this week. Keep from getting bored by doing a little acting. Choose a character who would be more effective than you in the situation in which you find yourself. Be that character. Play the role. Enjoy it. Soul Affirmation: The value I place on myself is the value that others see in me. Lucky Numbers: 17, 20, 30



You are a person of action.  Believe in your ability to get things done and you will find things so easy to do.  Put things into perspective and obstacles will become opportunities. Put your plans into practice with confidence and your list of things to do will get done one by one. Soul Affirmation: Hope brightens my mornings, faith sustains my nights. Lucky Numbers: 18, 25, 27



This week think of yourself in ways that you have not thought of yourself recently. Find in the closet of your spirit another set of clothes. Put them on and wear them like they are your everyday apparel. Reinvent yourself and act as if the new is usual. Soul Affirmation: I feel like the star that I naturally am. Lucky Numbers: 19, 49, 52



You are a person of many talents and skills.  People around you count on your abilities to keep things running smoothly this week.  Know that all your hard work is appreciated and even though you may not see it right away your dedication will be rewarded. Soul Affirmation: I do good unto others and enjoy doing it. Lucky Numbers: 4, 17, 22

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 13, 2014

by Kam Williams


The African-American community has been slow to get on the gay rights bandwagon, at least according to exit polls conducted on election days in states like California where the narrow defeat of same-sex marriage in 2008 was blamed on black folks. What’s up with that? After all, one would expect blacks, as the long-suffering victims of segregation and discrimination, including miscegenation laws forbidding race-mixing, to be quick to support LBGT equality.

But that hasn’t been the case according to “The New Black,” an eye-opening documentary directed by Yoruba Richen. The film follows the recent effort of African-American activists to rally support for Proposition 6, a Maryland same-sex referendum. This was to be no mean feat, given the way that the Black Church has dragged its feet in terms of LGBT issues.

The gay rights movement was apparently up against walking around money greasing the palms of black pastors coming courtesy of Mormons and white Evangelicals eager to sway the African-American vote. The Born Again crowd pressed for a literal interpretation of scriptures that leave no doubt about God’s will. Still, Bible-thumping bigots are ostensibly at odds with the open-minded attitude advocated by George Gershwin’s heretical hymn, “It Ain't Necessarily So” which warns that “The things that you’re liable to read in the Bible ain’t necessarily so.”     

As far as conservative black ministers, some have called homosexuality “a white man’s disease,” and shunned members of their congregation who have come out of the closet. This even happened to Tonex, a Grammy-nominated Gospel singer who found his homosexual “perversions” criticized by colleague Reverend Donnie McClurkin, a convert to heterosexuality who has come to reject what he refers to as the gay lifestyle.

Nevertheless, most brothers seem to be coming around to a more tolerant attitude, despite the homophobia previously permeating black culture. For example, as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama narrowly defined marriage “as a union between a man and a woman,” only to arrive last year at a belief that “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”

The African-American community collectively jumps the broom over its last big taboo!

Excellent (4 stars)


Running time: 75 minutes

Distributor: Film Forum

To see a trailer for The New Black, visit:


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 13, 2014

By Maleena Lawrence

LAWT Contributing Writer


Standing at the forefront of her destiny the 2014 NAACP Image Awards Nominee, Lady Ele has been considered to gain a major win in the category for Outstanding World Music Album. Her album entitled, “Coming From A Lady” has given the World Music scene a soulful dose of R&B with a traditional taste of class. During this interview with The Los Angeles Sentinel, Lady Ele, an unsigned independent artist, recalls a time when the possibilities of having an opportunity to pursue her goals as a singer were far and few. Against the odds, she worked hard, focused and dreamed constantly both as a child and as an adult to be the best at what she loved and at an art that could help heal others, singing and writing music. Read for yourself and see how the power of music makes a large world seem so very small.

Maleena Lawrence (LAWT): Lady Ele, what does this NAACP Image Award nomination say about your personal growth as an artist?

Lady Ele: I am extremely honored and flattered. This is a dream come true. The first time I attended the NAACP Image Award’s show was probably five years ago. I remember sitting in the top floor section watching the show with some friends of mine and they were also brown girls from Sweden. We decided to come out here to America to study and pursue our dreams. We said, in five or six years, however long it will take we want to be more than just an attendee. I wasn’t honestly aiming to be nominated myself. My friends and I were thinking of being the girls who could hand off the trophy, showoff the artist on stage or sing background for artists that I am in contact with. The fact that I am nominated this year is an absolute honor.

LAWT: What does the NAACP Image Awards signify to you?

LE: What the NAACP stands for to me is what we are missing in Europe. For example, growing up over there it was always just one brown girl in the modeling agency or one brown girl who gets to sing, basically no chance cause the diversity was non existent. So, having an organization like the NAACP who uplifts and highlights the people of color who are extremely talented but do not always get the recognition is important. Regardless, if I win or not, I just want to continue to stay in the mix. I also became a member.

LAWT: You mentioned being in the background, How does it feel to make the transition from singing back-up to being at the center of the stage?

LE: Wow, you know it’s amazing. It’s what I always aspired to do. I sang back up for Sleepy Brown. It is a little more safe their because you are not the ultimate person responsible for the feedback from the audience or the actual success of the show. Now it’s a lot more work but I am truly happy that now I am doing my solo career. This nomination signifies that my music is of quality. Some music people said weeks ago, “your music has a verse, a pre hook and hook then a bridge---and it modulates then a hook again”. It tells me that I am on the right track.

LAWT: Both your debut album, “She, Her, Ele” and current album “Coming From A Lady” expresses consistent tones of femininity, Is there a certain message you want to convey to women in your music?

LE: I think that it is up to each of us to express how we feel. I also think that a lot of times women are portrayed as overexposed, super sexual and more promiscuous than gracious. I don’t think that is who they are but it is based on how the world or the media portrays women in such a way. “Coming from A Lady” is a title I chose because I feel like what I am saying in each song is coming from a lady not a girl who is clueless. It’s not coming from a person who is trying to figure it out. It’s coming from a person who is fairly seasoned and poised enough in my life, love and music experiences. I’ve grown into knowing that I am a lady not a girl and that’s why I chose the title. I wish more artists would be who they are and not who they think they need to be.

LAWT: Tell us why you selected, You Know You Wish to be your title track?

LE: My current track, You Know You Wish is currently played on KJLH, World Music show with Hugh Fuller on Saturday’s. I wrote this track from experience or based on women I know who have and take good care of their man. We have so many roles to play. What I am saying in the song is to keep your man happy. When a woman knows her role and the man knows his and they establish an agreement to love each other early in the best way makes a happy relationship. But, sometimes having a good man can cause a little jealousy or envy amongst other women. (Laughs) So that is why I wrote this song. Some men are simple and some are very needy. Everybody needs to find his or her own thing.

LAWT: You seem so full of perseverance, love and grounded, what or who keeps you inspired as an artist?

LEA: Oh my God, so many inspire me. Stevie Wonder has always been my shining star and I followed him from an early age. Unfortunately, I grew up in a house where my mom was physically abused by my step-dad. It was hard watching and processing that as a kid. Music strengthened me and got me through it. Music inspired me. Music helped me talk sense into my mom to leave him. It was a song by Stevie Wonder and Babyface called, How Come How Long. A string of Swedish artist, African artists, American artist inspire me and have been on my radar. I am so grateful to be in this country. Music is flourishing. I will say I am lucky and this is showing me that my work is worth it.

LAWT: Lastly, Lady Ele, What is World Music?

LE: What is it today? World Music has that frequency and a message that can reach across. For the people nominated in my category it is a true honor they are all great. World Music is an ongoing love thing. 

To learn more about Lady Ele and hear her music go to: www.musicbyele.com.

Facebook: eleonore.hansson | Flickr: musicbyele  | Youtube: elesongslive.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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