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Playthell George Benjamin, noted blogger and journalist, is the producer of “Commentaries On the Times,” which he writes and delivers on WBAI. Playthell is an award-winning journalist, who has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in two different categories. His byline has also appeared in the Guardian Observer of London, the Sunday Times of London, High Times, the Village Voice, and others. He has been a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
André Blake is a New York film and television veteran with over fifty film and television credits to his name. He has worked with Academy Award winners, Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts to name a few. Most recently, André played Dr. Claude Baptiste on the NBC hit show New Amsterdam. He is also a prominent figure in the voice-over world. He has been the voice of the BET Network, Church’s Chicken, Subway, Amtrak, AT&T, Ford, and many others. Born in Port Of Spain, Trinidad, and raised in Hempstead, Long Island, and Harlem, New York, this veteran is poised to make even more noise in the coming years. Keep your ears and eyes open, as you will see and hear more of Mr. Blake in the future.
Herb Boyd is a professor, journalist, and author, who has written or edited more than twenty-five books, including, Three Centuries of African American History as Told by Those Whole Lived It (oral histories); Civil Rights: Yesterday and Today; Baldwin’s Harlem, a biography of James Baldwin (finalist for NAACP Image Award); Brotherman—The Odyssey of Black Men in America (an anthology) (with Robert Allen, received American Book Award); We Shall Overcome (used in classrooms internationally); Autobiography of a People; and The Harlem Reader. He has scripted several documentaries on cold cases of martyrs from the Civil Rights era.
Marcelle Davies-Lashley is a singer/songwriter Brooklyn native of West African descent. She has toured five of seven continents opening hearts with her electrifying stage presence and huge voice. Some of her most recent projects include being the featured singer in Carrie Mae Weems’s opening of The Shape of Things and Carl Hancock-Rux’s I Dream A Dream That Dreams Back At Me for the Juneteenth performances at Lincoln Center in 2021. She was the singer/arranger for the Billie Holiday Theater’s A Walk Into Slavery, directed by Dr. Indira Etwaro. Davies-Lashley is the creator of her one-woman show, Liberian Girl in Brooklyn, which premiered at Mabou Mines’s Suite Space 2019 series. She is also a percussionist and has sung background for Macy Gray, Bono, Angelique Kidjo, BeBe Winans, Lizz Wright and others. Her first EP is titled Easy to Love. She has new music on the horizon.
Raymond Dugué was born and raised in Ayiti (Haiti) and educated in the United States. Brother Raymond Dugué serves as the first assistant president general of the UNIA/ACL, the Universal Negro Improvement Association, African Communities League—the organization that the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey founded, in Kingston, Jamaica. Dugué believes in “One God, One Aim, One Destiny,” and, of course, “Race First.” First Assistant President General Dugué attended the City College School of Engineering in Harlem, graduating with a bachelor of engineering in chemical engineering in 1984. Afterward, he completed a second degree in mathematics, following the footsteps of his African ancestors, the race of men and women who were the first to educate and enlighten the world in mathematics, science, medicine, the arts, spirituality,
and everything else.
Sheila Evans is an independently contracted licensed New York City tourist guide. Evans founded Sheila’s Tours, an established local and international tour consultancy. She has led tours in twenty-two cities on five continents. Evans is the author of Cathedral Parkway Towers at Harlem’s Gate and several audiobooks. A lifetime member of the Actors Studio, Evans worked on stage, film, and television, including recording children’s books for Troll Books. Evans is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity. Sheila’s stage and union name is spelled SHELA Evans. She holds a master of science in education with honors from CCNY. She has taught Acting for Animators for fourteen years at the School of Visual Arts. She is on the board of directors of the CCNY Black Alumni Group and the chairperson of the United Tenants Association of Cathedral Parkway Towers Inc.
Sheila E. Anderson, whose moniker, “Queen of Hang,” is a mover and shaker in the world of art, most notably in jazz. In addition to being an on-air host she is an author, a writer, emcee, and moderator. In 1995, she was hired by WBGO, Newark, 88.3FM to host Sunday Morning Harmony, where she now hosts Weekend Jazz Overnight and Salon Sessions.Not one to rest on her laurels and looking to immerse herself further into jazz culture, that year, award-winner, Ms. Anderson created The Art of Jazz, a weekly 30-minute TV program for Time Warner Cable in New York City. The show earned her a Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) Award for Community Media. The Art of Jazz featured jazz luminaries like Ron Carter, Eric Reed, Russell Malone, Regina Carter, Javon Jackson, T. S. Monk, Monty Alexander, Benny Golson the late Leon Thomas, Mark Murphy, and Attila Zoller. Ms. Anderson's unique individual career path began in 1973 at the age of 16 when she was elected New York State Youth President of the NAACP, a position she held for four years under the regime of Roy Wilkins.
Melanie Edwards, granddaughter of J. Rosamond Johnson, worked for forty years at The Modern School, which was founded by her mother, Mildred Johnson, where she served in many roles. Following the closing of The Modern School, she has worked at Fordham University, the Schomburg, and the East Harlem Council for Community Improvement. Throughout her career in education, she has maintained an interest in photography and local New York history. She holds a bachelor of science in mass communications from Emerson College. She is currently seeking a publisher for her grandfather’s unpublished autobiography.
Eon Grey has been acting for over three decades and has previously appeared in a plethora of works, including Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral off-Broadway, at the Soho Playhouse, and Billie’s Blues at the French Theatre Festival. Recent credits include feature films My Last Best Friend, starring Eric Roberts; Made in Dublin, which premiered last month at the Galway Film Festival; and the dark comedy Double Blinded. He just completed filming for the Irish TV series, The Dry, starring Ciarán Hinds. He has appeared in commercial work for Sony, Coca-Cola in the United States, Otterbox in Ireland, and the Sunday World newspaper. A graduate of New York University, Eon was a co-founder of the American Theatre of Harlem. He currently splits his time between Ireland and New York City.
Josh Henderson is a cross-genre violinist, violist, and composer. As a classical soloist, he has performed with companies worldwide. Josh has carved a reputation in jazz, rock, hip-hop, and country-fiddle for his dynamic performances. He has served as music director for the Emmy award-winning Damien Escobar (of Nuttin’ But Stringz), where he performed at several events across the globe, including a performance at the 2013 Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball hosted by Russell Simmons and honoring Barack Obama. He also served as music director to pop singer, Zahra Universe, on her South Korean tour, and to the spoken word artist LikWUid Stylez. Josh has also performed, recorded, and collaborated with artists such as Chris Brown, Michael Bublé, Bilal, Solange, the Sugar Hill Gang, and Paul McCartney—to name a few. As a founding member of the ensemble, Warp Trio, he has led the group on hundreds of concerts and University residencies. He is currently on the artist faculty at NYU and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.
Keith Edward Johnston is a Renaissance man (actor, director, musician, writer, visual artist, and teacher). He is also co-founder of Back-A-Yard Theatre, artistic director of American Theatre of Harlem, and senior director/teaching artist for CUNY Creative Arts Team (CAT). He received an AUDELCO nomination for outstanding music director/composer 2022 (Lambs To Slaughter). Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han won an Audience Favorite Award at the Fringe Festival in 2009. Keith served as director, dramaturg, and performer for BET’s 30th Anniversary Upfront. For the Pulitzer prize-winning play, Ruined he was music director, composer, and performer. Keith has shared his distinguished talents in dozens of productions over the past thirty years.
Damien Sneed is a pianist, vocalist, organist, composer, conductor, arranger, producer, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has worked with jazz, classical, pop, and R&B legends, including the late Aretha Franklin and Jessye Norman, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, J’Nai Bridges, Lawrence Brownlee, the Clark Sisters, and many others. Sneed is a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient. Some of the faculties he has served on include the Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, and NYU. In 2020, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater commissioned Sneed to create an original score for Testament. The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis commissioned him to compose The Tongue & Lash, an opera imagining a post-debate conversation between James Baldwin, which premiered in May 2021, and a reimagined adaptation of Scott Joplin’s opera, Treemonisha, which premiered on May 20, 2023.