Signed in as:
Signed in as:
On set, Filming the Sugar Hill Quartet’s Oral Histories for a Documentary About St. Nick’s Pub, Patience Higgins
Echoes of the Eras (now the Sugar Hill Music Festival): Our very first concert. Daaiya Sanusi, emcee; Angela Owens, soprano; Roy Jennings, pianist; Geri Allen, pianist.
While We Are Still Here is indebted to the presenters who have shared their vast knowledge and stellar talents to illuminate, interpret, and honor Harlem’s history.
Michael Henry Adams was born in Akron, Ohio. He is a writer, lecturer, historian, tour guide, and activist, living in Harlem. A fine arts graduate of the University of Akron, Michael trained in Columbia University’s graduate historic preservation program, and studied English country houses at the Attingham Summer School. His books include Harlem, Lost and Found: An Architectural and Social History, 1765-1915. Currently he’s at work on the forthcoming, Homo Harlem, A Chronicle of Lesbian and Gay Life in the African-American Cultural Capital, 1915-1995.
Tia Allen, violist, has performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Teatro Nacional in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. As a freelance artist in New York City, she has performed with Cee-Lo and Nikki Jean on the Late Night Show with David Letterman. She is a six-summer veteran of the Aspen Music Festival and school, where she performed Souvenir de Florence with Julia Fisher, in the Benedict Music Tent. She has also performed at festivals in Graz, Austria and Nice, France. Tia attended the University of Cincinnati College of Music, where she received her bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in Music, graduating magna cum laude.
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.
Samori Benjamin has been the sports editor at WBAI-FM, in New York. He is an on-air reporter and commentator, as well as the editor of the online website, wbai-sports.com. Samori studied Broadcast Journalism at SUNY, from which he holds a bachelor of science degree. He is completing a book, Where Did Our Love Go: The Disappearing Afro-American Athlete in Major League Baseball.
Rich Blint is associate director of the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Office of Community Outreach and Education. Prior to joining Columbia, Rich held positions at New York University’s Institute of African American Affairs; and the Center for Labor, Community, and Policy Studies at the Murphy Institute. He holds a bachelor of arts in English and Honors from Hunter College, the City University of New York; and earned his PhD in the Program in American Studies at NYU. A frequent interlocutor with artists across the genres, Rich is research affiliate and adjunct assistant professor in the Masters Program in African American Studies at Columbia and has taught courses and guest lectured at Hunter College, Vassar College, and NYU.
Herb Boyd is a professor, journalist, and author, who has written or edited twenty-two 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.
Leroy Burgess is a vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and keyboardist, who is also known as the “Father of the Boogie.” Born and raised in Harlem, Leroy came into prominence as the lead singer of Black Ivory. He is steeped in the traditions of various manifestations of Black Music, from jazz to gospel, and received part of his musical education at the City College of New York with the likes of Herbie Jones, a colleague of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Leroy’s music has been recorded by Bobbi Humphrey, Rick James, and many other prominent artists.
Garnette Cadogan is a Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Scholar (2017-18) at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the editor-at-large of Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas (co-edited by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly- Schapiro), and is at work on a book on walking.
David Caines Burnett is a Harlem-born violinist and violist of Antiguan and Kittitian parents. He began violin lessons with Galina Heifetz at the Third Street Music School Settlement, while a student at LaGuardia’s High School of Music and Art. David continued his studies at Oberlin Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory. He has performed with virtuoso violinist, Liana Iskadadze, at Carnegie Hall. Other performances include the Harlem Chamber Players and the New York Housing Authority Orchestra. His vast teaching experience includes the Harlem School of the Arts, the Langston Hughes Middle School, and Juilliard’s MAP Program.
Daniel Carlton is an actor, writer, teacher, storyteller, and director who has appeared on New York, national, and international stages. He is a veteran of numerous Off- and Off-Off Broadway productions. His multi-character, solo show, Pig Foot Mary Says Goodbye To The Harlem Renaissance, produced by the Metropol itan Playhouse, has been seen both locally and nationally.
Terri Lyne Carrington is a GRAMMY-winning drummer, composer, and bandleader, who has toured with luminaries such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Al Jarreau, Stan Getz, David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Cassandra Wilson, Clark Terry, Dianne Reeves, and others. She is a professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music, from which she also received an honorary doctorate.
Charles David Carter is a bass-baritone, who has performed on both concert and operatic stages throughout the U.S. and abroad. He recently appeared in the Lyric Opera of Chica- go’s critically acclaimed production of Showboat. Other performances of note include appearances with Jessye Norman at Carnegie Hall for a presentation of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Works and the Emmy-nominated broadcast of Porgy and Bess, Live from Lincoln Center, conducted by John DeMain. He has performed the roles of “Scarpia” in Puccini’s Tosca and “Figaro” in Mozart’s the Marriage of Figaro. A graduate of the Harlem School of the Arts, Charles continued his musical education at Morgan State University. He was influenced by his mother who was classically trained mezzo. He aspires to continue in traditions set before him, using his talents to promote cultural awareness.
Marc Cary is a jazz pianist, keyboardist, producer, and composer. He has worked with Betty Carter, Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Erykah Badu, Shirley Horn, Stefon Harris, Q-Tip, Abbey Lincoln, Arthur Taylor, Mickey Bass, and all of the major figures from jazz’s mid-century heyday. He has also worked with Q-Tip, members of the Wu Tang Clan, and other prominent hip-hop musicians.
Rudel Drears is a jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, who received his formal musical education from the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, the Manhattan School of Music, and through the jam-session scene of New York City. A member of a musical family, he is the son of pianist, actor, and playwright, Marjorie Eliot, and drummer, Al Drears.
Ife Felix is a renowned quilt artist. She is the founding member of Harlem Girls Quilting Circle. As a group they have exhibited at many venues in New York City including the Caribbean Cultural Center. Her works have appeared in international exhibits, such as “Conscience of the Human Spirit: The life of Nelson Mandela,” in Johannesburg” and “Commemorating His Purple Reign: A Textural Tribute to Prince,” at the Textile Center in Minneapolis. Ife lives in Harlem with her husband.
Joan P. Gibbs is a long-time activist, writer, and attorney. She was born in Harlem, but spent most of her growing years in a small town on the coast of North Carolina. Her writings, poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including the Iowa Review and Azalea, the first magazine published by and for lesbians of color in the United States. Joan was also the founding editor. She was also a founding member of Dykes Against Racism Everywhere (DARE). Joan has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College from which she retired in 2015.
David F. Gibson toured extensively and recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra under the direction of Frank Foster. David has also performed with a host of artists and ensembles, including Joe Williams, Clark Terry, the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Diane Schuur Trio, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. Music critic, Chip Deffa (the New York Post) says that “Gibson’s drumming is strong and fluid and as satisfying as any drummer I heard in years.” He is also featured on recordings that include Diane Schuur’s Music is My Life and Harry Sweets Edison’s Live at the Iridium and the Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir’s Saxophone Shop. He is an adjunct faculty member at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He earned a bachelor of music degree from Temple University.
David Hajdu is the music critic for The Nation and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Nation in January 2015, he served for more than ten years as the music critic for the New Republic. He is currently at work on a fictional work of non- fiction, a biography of a nonexistent songwriter. He is also completing the libretto for a music-performance piece about Orson Welles. David is the author of four books of nonfiction and one collection of essays: Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña and Richard Fariña, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America, Heroes and Villains: Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture, and Love for Sale: Pop Music in America.
LaShawn Harris is a native New Yorker. She is an associate professor of History at Michigan State University and assistant editor for The Journal of African American History. Her area of expertise includes twentieth century United States and African American histories. Dr. Harris’s scholarly articles have appeared in The Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, Journal of Urban History, and the Journal for the Study of Radicalism. Her first monograph Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City’s Underground Economy, which explores how a diverse group of African American women carved out unique niches for themselves within New York City's expansive underground economy. In 2017, Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners won the Organization of American Historians’ Darlene Clark Hine Book Award for the best book in African American women's history, and the Philip Taft Labor Prize in Labor and Working-Class History for the best book in labor history.
Her recent publication, which appears in SOULS: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society, examines the less familiar life of 1984 police shooting victim and Bronx resident Eleanor Bumpurs.
Patience Higgins is the front man for the Sugar Hill Quartet. He has been a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. His other credits include performances at the White House with Esperanza Spalding and others, as well as tours and recordings with the Count Basie Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Ray Charles, Muhal Richard Abrams, Barry Harris, Stevie Wonder, Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group, the Pointer Sisters, Savion Glover, Bobby Watson & Tailor Made, David Murray, Jimmy Scott, Paquito D’ Rivera, Rodney Kendrick, and Yoko Ono. His Broadway credits include Dreamgirls, The Wiz, and Chicago. He is also featured on Dee Dee Bridgewater’s double Grammy-Award-winning recording, Dear Ella. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from New York University.
Joy James, professor of the Humanities and professor of Political Science, at Williams College, is author of: Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics; Transcending the Talented Tenth: Black Leaders and American Intellectuals; Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender and Race in U.S. Culture. Her edited books include: Warfare in the American Homeland; The New Abolitionists: (Neo) Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings; Imprisoned Intellectuals; States of Confinement; The Black Feminist Reader (co-edited with TD Sharpley-Whiting); and The Angela Y. Davis Reader. James is completing a book on the prosecution of 20th-century interracial rape cases, tentatively titled Memory, Shame & Rage. She has contributed articles and book chapters to journals and anthologies addressing feminist and critical race theory, democracy, and social justice.
James is a senior research fellow at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where she is co-curator of digital repositories for the Warfield Center and the Harriet Tubman Literary Circle, an educational nonprofit organization.
Roy Jennings, composer and pianist, is the minister of music at the Bronx Baptist Church. He is also engaged as a performance coach in the post-graduate studies program at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Upon completion of his graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, Roy embarked on a decade of study of the Viennese classics, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, with pianist Kurt Appelbaum. During this time, he became pianist and assistant to Edward Boatner, with whom he studied choral conducting and arrangement, with a concentration on the African American spiritual. As performer and lecturer, Roy advocates for the music of African American composers and arrangers of spirituals to be included in the canon of American concert repertoire.
Patricia Spears Jones was born and raised in Arkansas, and has lived in New York City for more than four decades. She is the recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize, one the most prestigious awards for American poets, via Poets & Writers, Inc. She is author of the poetry collections: Painkiller, Femme du Monde, and The Weather That Kills. Her fourth collection, A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems, features her Pushcart Prize winning poem, “Etta James at the Audubon Ballroom.”
Jamal Joseph has written and directed for Black Starz, HBO, Fox TV, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., and A&E. He produced, Chapter & Verse, starring Daniel Beaty. He is Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University School of the Arts. He serves as the artistic director of the New Heritage Theatre Group and is executive director of New Heritage Films, a not-for-profit organization.
David Levering Lewis is a scholar, whose field is comparative history, with special focus on twentieth-century United States social history, imperialism in nineteenth-century Africa, twentieth-century France, and Muslim Iberia. In 2003, Mr. Lewis was named Julius Silver University Professor and professor of History at New York University. He holds graduate degrees in History from Columbia (MS) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (PhD). He has taught at the University of Notre Dame, Howard University, University of California-San Diego; Rutgers-New Brunswick; and Harvard. He has authored eight books, including W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 and W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1994 and 2001. In 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama at the White House. The Society of American Historians awarded him with its Arthur Meier Schlesinger Distinguished Service Award in May 2015. He retired from New York University in 2013.
Loira “DJ Lay-lo” Limbal is also a filmmaker, activist, and mother, who serves as vice-president for the award-winning Firelight Media. For the past decade, she has dedicated herself to fusing arts and activism. She has worked at various community-based organizations in New York City including the Point Community Development Corporation, the Dominican Women’s Development Center, and Sista II Sista. In 2006, she founded the Reel X Project, a social justice and creative filmmaking space for young women of color in the Bronx. Limbal received a bachelor of arts in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program.
Felipe Luciano is a news reporter and anchor, poet, writer, activist, lecturer, and radio personality. He was the first Puerto Rican news anchor of a major media network in the United States and is a two-time Emmy recipient. In 1966, he enrolled in Queens College, where he immediately became involved in the student activism of the 1960s. Felipe soon became known within activist circles for his membership in the Last Poets, the group of Black Power era artists mentored by Amiri Baraka, whose politically charged live-music and spoken-word poetry performances in the 1960s prefigured the emergence of hip hop and rap in the 1970s and 1980s. Felipe was chairman of the Young Lords Party, which became one of the most influential Puerto Rican organizations of the 1960s. His radio broadcasting experiences includes influential stints for WRVR, WBLS, WLIB, and WBAI. He is currently a lecturer on the speakers’ circuit.
Jessica McJunkins, violinist, is known for her “dynamic playing” and “fearless artistry.” As a classical musician, she has had concert engagements with the Charlotte Symphony, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Harlem Chamber Players, and Soulful Symphony. As a recording artist, she has collaborated with noted artists Sufjan Stevens, Frankie Rose, and more. She has performed with UK pop sensation Bastille, and at noted venues such as Carnegie Hall, Trinity Wall Street, Symphony Space, and the DR2 Theater. Jessica was a featured soloist for Broadway’s Becoming Chaplin. She is a faculty member of the St. Ignatius Loyola School and Sage Music School of Brooklyn.
Terrance McKnight is the weekday evening host for WQXR 105.9 FM, New York’s only all-classical music station. He’s also the host and producer of the station’s audio documentaries on Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hazel Scott, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and Florence Beatrice Price. In 2010, his program All Ears with Terrance McKnight, a show about musical discovery, was honored with an ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award. As a speaker, Terrance has worked with Chamber Music America, the Mellon Foundation, American Opera Projects, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.
Rosemari Mealy has taught as an adjunct professor at several City University of New York (CUNY) schools. Over the years she taught numerous courses including “The Color Line,” “Labor History,” and “Women In International Liberation Movements.” She is the author of Fidel and Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting. Rosemari holds a Ph.D. from Capella University and a Juris Doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law.
Melba Joyce grew up under the musical influence of her mother and grandparents. Her father, Melvin Moore, sang jazz and toured and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band. Melba Joyce is a singer’s singer, and has opened for artists that include Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. She also enjoyed a stint as a background singer for Smokey Robinson. Melba appeared on Broadway in Black and Blue as under- study for all three principals: Linda Hopkins, Ruth Brown and Carrie Smith. She holds a masters degree from Rutgers University. In service to her art and humanity, she toured the war-torn fields of Vietnam to entertain the troops at the height of the war, an experience that raised her social con- science to new heights.
Mark Naison is a professor of History and African American Studies at Fordham University, and was a collaborator on the Bronx African-American History Project. He conducted more than 150 interviews with African American professionals, community activists, and musicians who grew up in the Bronx. The first product of this research, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Growing Up in the Patterson Houses in the 1950s was published in the Bronx County Historical Journal. He is also the author of the award-winning Communists In Harlem During the Depression. Mark earned a PhD in American History from Columbia University, and a bachelor of arts and master of arts—both in American History—also from Columbia University.
Angela Owens, soprano, has been recognized by the London Times for her “beautifully musical” performances. She began and ended the 2015-16 season in concert: first at
the American Church in Paris with chef de chant à l’Opéra national de Paris, Morgane Fauchois-Prado, and later at the Harris Arts Center, presented by the Roland Hayes Museum. Angela’s experience on the concert stage includes the following repertoire: Handel’s Messiah and “Dettingen Te Deum,” Schubert’s Stabat Mater and Mass in G, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Faure’s Requiem, Brahms’s Liebeslieder Walzer, and Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Jeffrey B. Perry was educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia. His work focuses on the role of white supremacy as a retardant to progressive social change. He is an archivist, bibliophile, and historian, who has preserved and inventoried the “Hubert H. Harrison Papers” and helped to place them at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. He is the author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, and other publications.
Voza Rivers, founding member of New Heritage Theatre is an accomplished theatre, music, film, and events producer, and recognized as one of the country’s leading theatre producers. New Heritage Theatre Group, established in 1964, is the oldest Black, nonprofit theater company in New York, celebrating fifty-three years. Voza is also founder/executive producer of IMPACT Repertory Theatre; 1st vice president, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; executive producer and vice chairman, Harlem Week and the Harlem Music Festival. He currently serves as the chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance
Dr. MaryLouise Patterson was born in Chicago and grew up in New York City. She receivedboth her undergraduate degree and medical school degree from Patrice Lumumba People's Friendship University in Moscow and graduated in 1968. She did her pediatric residency atHarlem and Monteﬁore hospitals in New York City.In 1977 she moved to Northern California where she completed a master’s degree in Maternal-and Child Health at University of California at Berkeley. She then joined a private pediatric practice until 1990 when she moved to Southern California. There, Dr. Patterson worked for Kaiser Permanente until returning to New York in 1997, where she joined the pediatric practice at Weill Cornell Medical College. Throughout her career Dr. Patterson has been involved in numerous community programs, school career-day programs and conferences focused on encouraging young people to become doctors and scientists.
Marcus Persiani has performed with artists that include Jerry Gonzalez, the Impressions, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Cecil McBee, Tito Puente, Charlie Persip’s Supersound, Vanessa Rubin, and the Apollo Theater Showtime Band. He’s toured and recorded with Mario Bauza, Joseph Bowie’s Defunkt, Willie Colon, and others throughout Europe, Japan, and the United States. His compositions and arrangements are featured on the brilliant trilogy of albums recorded by Bauza’s legendary Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, one of which—944 Columbus—was nominated for a Grammy. He received a bachelor of music degree from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
Stephen Robinson is a physician and community advocate, with extensive experience in academic medicine and public health. His clinical career includes positions in the City University of New York Medical School and Operation Cross-Roads Africa, founded by the late Reverend James H. Robinson, a former resident of 409 Edgecombe Avenue. Stephen received his medical degree from the School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington and an MPH with a concentration in international health from the School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. As a resident of 409 since 1980, he worked with the Tenants’ Association to organize and prevent the building from being sold to real estate developers. Stephen was president of the 409 Tenants Association when it purchased this landmark building from the city in 1995.
William Seraile is professor emeritus of Lehman College. He joined Lehman’s faculty in 1971 and was one of the nation’s pioneers in teaching African American history in an academic department. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Central Washington University; a master of education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a doctorate from the City University of New York. Bill’s honors include the Unsung Historian Award from the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History; and the William Leo Hansberry Award for Contributions in History. He is the author of many articles, monographs, and books, including Angels of Mercy: White Women and the History of New York’s Colored Orphan Asylum; and Bruce Grit: The Black Nationalist Writings of John Edward Bruce.
Esmeralda Simmons is the founder and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Justice (the Center), small but effective community-based legal advocacy and research institution that is a unit of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. Prior to founding the Center, Esmeralda was an accomplished attorney, who was the first deputy commissioner for human rights for New York State, a Civil Rights attorney for the United States Department of Education, a New York State assistant attorney general, and a New York City assistant corporation counsel. She is a deeply spiritual woman who is grounded in African culture. She finds constant inspiration from the vision of her ancestors, her belief in peace, and her respect for life and cultural diversity.
Wayne Smith, cellist, made his recital debut at the Kennedy Center in 1996, and has appeared as soloist and chamber musician in countries that include Italy, Hungary, and China. He has played with the New Jersey Chamber Music Society, the National Chamber Orchestra, the Heidelberg Castle Festival Orchestra in Heidelberg, Germany, among other groups, and was a featured soloist on the PBS series Musical Encounters. He has recorded and performed with artists such as Joe, Richard Smallwood, the Spin Doctors’ Anthony Krizan, and the Moody Blues. He competed his undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, and his graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
The Sugar Hill Quartet is the longest-running house band in New York City, having performed for more than two decades at St. Nick’s Pub, Minton’s, Lenox Lounge, and Smoke. The members of the quartet kept the Harlem jam-session tradition alive, and have laid down the musical foundation for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Wynton Marsalis, and Bono. (See separate bios for Patience Higgins, Marcus Persiani, and David F. Gibson.) As of this writing the bass chair is rotating.
Gordon Thompson has had a laudable career spanning more than two decades of teaching and service at the City College of New York (CCNY), Louisiana State University, and Stanford University. As a scholar, he has a demonstrated record of peer-reviewed publications and is a frequent participant at national and international conferences. He is also an editor and co-editor of several books. Selected publications are The Assimilationist Impulse in Representative African American Narratives; and Black Music, Black Poetry: Genre, Performance, and Authenticity. Gordon has also had articles that appeared in refereed journals. Titles include “Methodism and the Consolation of Heavenly Bliss in Phillis Wheatley’s Funeral Elegies” (CLA Journal). Gordon received a PhD in American Studies from Yale University; and holds an master of arts in American Studies and a master of arts in Afro-American Studies, also from Yale University. He received a bachelor of arts in English from City College. Among his other professional responsibilities, Gordon is the creator, principal investigator, and director of the RAP-SI project of the Black Male Initiative.
Michael Tyner produced The Last Days of Hustling, which was featured in the Cannes Film Festival (2015). Tyner has produced, directed, and/ or edited over ten films including Malcolmology (2011), a six-part, web-series featuring the late Dr. Manning Mar- able, discussing his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Tyner
is currently developing several feature-length projects, both fiction and nonfiction, including Lefty Changes and the Revolution, a docu mentary about brothers McCoy and Jarvis Tyner, and their work as jazz legend and political activist, respectively.
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.
Reverend LaKeesha Walrond, PhD is a native of Galveston, Texas. She attended Spelman College, where she earned a bachelor of arts in Psychology and Early Childhood Development. LaKeesha went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), where she earned a master of education with an emphasis on Special Education, and a master of arts degree in School Administration with an emphasis in Educational Leadership. She also received a PhD from UNC-CH in Special Education and Literacy. Most recently, she attained a master of divinity from Union Theological Seminary. Reverend Walrond currently serves as the executive pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental-justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry, born and raised in New York City. She is executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization. She was the first Latina chair of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) and served as member of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Advisory Council. Last year Vogue named her as one of thirteen women in the world leading the fight for frontline communities against climate change.
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.