Dameun Strange and Venessa Fuentes create ‘Mother King’ for Black audiences to see themselves in opera

In college, I enrolled in an opera program where I was one of three women of color in the entire undergraduate vocal department. So as I sat in the audience awaiting the final preview run of “Mother King” to begin, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the days when pursuing opera meant being surrounded by mostly white, upper-middle class peers from the suburbs. Sitting next to me that evening was my college opera friend and fellow woman of color, Stephanie Broussard. Like me, she formally studied opera and singing to fulfill a lifelong dream of taking the stage, only to be discouraged by the lack of diversity in the program and course material overall.

”If I had seen myself reflected in school, I think I would still be singing opera and performing more,” Broussard said.

“Mother King” is a conceptual Black opera about the life of Alberta Williams King — slain activist and mother of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. From July 20 to July 29, the cast and crew performed six preview shows in partnership with Public Functionary to fundraise for a future larger production. The idea to do an opera emerged as Venessa Fuentes and Dameun Strange of OperaRising 52, a music and storytelling partnership, were discussing the 2014 Ava DuVernay movie “Selma” and its omission of women’s contributions to the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Fuentes, who had recently been introduced to the story of Alberta Williams King, pointed out the importance of telling this story.

Leaving church after the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. From left, Coretta Scott King; Alberta Williams King, King’s mother; and Christine Farras, King’s sister. Atlanta, Georgia, 1968. Photo courtesy of the Bob Fitch Photography Archive at Stanford University.

“Alberta Williams King is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We all hold him up (as we should) as this iconic leader of the Civil Rights movement. But who informed him and shaped him?” Fuentes said, “I started to talk to people in my immediate circles and literally nobody had heard of her, except for Dameun.”

“Mother King” opens with the assassination Alberta Williams King as she sits playing the church organ. To take the audience along this journey, Strange and Fuentes relied on each other’s respective music and poetry backgrounds: Strange took lines from Fuentes’ original poems to create a libretto and score, Fuentes trusted Strange’s musicality to put the characters she wrote into song with one another. “Mother King” is the first project out of OperaRising 52 and both Fuentes and Strange are looking to be a part of the larger narrative of uplifting the contributions of women of color, along with those of other marginalized peoples.

Why opera?

Black arts organizations are not new to the Twin Cities. Black opera, however, is. The very words “Black” and “opera” seem antithetical to many who know the art form to be one that excludes people of color and indigenous folks (POCI). At a talkback after the final performance of “Mother King” on July 29, artist Ananya Chatterjea brought up that though she loves the aesthetic of opera, she cannot get past the consistently racist stories that use POCI characters as marginal. She posed the question: “Why opera?”

“For me that is the whole question and the question that I’ve been struggling with,” Strange said, “I’ve always been a fan of opera because of the huge stories and the big way you can tell stories. It seems to encourage a lot of different art forms within one art form.”

Strange grew up in Washington, D.C., surrounded by art, in a family rooted in the arts, and in a church that regularly performed western classical music. He fell in love with opera music at age 5 when he saw a production of Georges Bizet’s famous “Carmen.” Once he reached college and took a course on African American theatre, his childhood interest turned to intrigue.

“The way the professor talked about the beginnings of African theatre, especially the part about Egyptian theatre and the way they would tell stories, it was a huge production, more of a populist event,” Strange said, “so in thinking about that, it seemed like opera was actually a very natural way of telling stories in antiquity and for the people.”

Fuentes also carries with her a longtime love of opera sparked by a viewing of “La Bohème” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. But as many times as she been to the opera, she recalls never seeing a Black person on stage, or in the pit, or even taking tickets. This sparked another revelation, “I think as a Black, Latina and a queer person I really wanted to bust through a lot of those kinds of dusty ideas and notions about who can come and who is reflected on this stage,” Fuentes said. “Opera to me is all these different people coming together to tell a story.”

“Calling it an opera is really claiming an art form that was for the people,” Strange said, “we didn’t want to limit it to just being a theatre piece or a musical. ‘Opera’ in our minds is really meaning a big work or all-encompassing work.”

On art as a whole, Fuentes pointed out the importance of having a message that resonates with folks who have been historically excluded or oppressed, not just with folks looking for escape and luxury. “Art is also a vehicle to reflect movements and sustain people who are really shouldering a lot of the weight of making change and progressing ourselves as a humanity, as a society. It’s medicinal sometimes,” Fuentes said, “so that’s the kind of art that I want to serve.” OperaRising 52 is opera for the people, as the tagline states. “Where else are you going to go in the Twin Cities, or anywhere. Where you’re going to see an all Black cast?”

“The most powerful that a human voice can be”

As Fuentes and Strange created the show, they always had singer Liz Gre in mind for the title role of Alberta Williams King because of her extensive background in opera. “It is the most powerful that a human voice can be,” Gre said.

“The sound of opera was never new to me, primarily because my parents, my mom in particular, introduced me to traditional and historic Negro spirituals and other historical Black music that sounded a lot like opera,” Gre said. She recalls seeing Denyce Graves, a great Black opera diva, at Carnegie Mellon Hall when she was 10 years old. For Gre, that moment was when she made the connection between opera as a genre of singing and Black women as carriers of that message. Gre began taking classical voice lessons in high school from a Black voice teacher in Nebraska and moved to the Minnesota to find other kindred and socially conscious artists. Gre, who has performed on stages across the Twin Cities, says she will not audition for just any part.

“I don’t know that I would ever consider doing a traditional opera. I can’t just tell anybody’s story,” Gre said, “I would want to do things like ‘Mother King’ that focus on accessibility, that focus on doing weird [stuff] that is just different and wild and crazy and experimental.”

Before each performance during the preview run, Strange introduced “Mother King” as an “experimental opera,” a trait clearly evidenced by his scoring and selection of music. True to his last name, much of the music Strange writes could be called strange. He writes in unusual meters and makes use of atonality, which many people find unpleasant or inaccessible. However, Strange also grew up surrounded by jazz and gospel. He says that just as he cannot help but let the influences classical music inform his writing, he also cannot help but be influenced by Black music. In writing “Mother King,” Strange included recurring musical themes, or leitmotifs, that harken to gospel and jazz, so that even if some aspects of the music seem odd to people, these leitmotifs provide reference points for them to connect to the music.

“How do I write opera ‘for the people’ but also express my tendency to be a little strange, if you will, and write contemporary music that is sometimes atonal?” Strange said. “Really what I want to do with my music is still be authentically me but still approach the opera as a storyteller, recognizing that some things may be inaccessible and where they may be inaccessible to add some accessible elements to that.”

In an interview with KFAI, Strange said that he initially thought because “Mother King” is a Black opera, “it should sound like Black music, or what other people think of as Black music,” i.e. hip-hop or soul. He went on to acknowledge, “I’m a Black composer so whatever I write is Black music.” Talking about this, Strange recalled a poetry class he took in college with writer Alexs Pate who told him that because he’s a Black man he would always be a Black poet — and because he’s a Black poet anything he writes will inherently be political. By taking on an opera, and scoring it with music true to who he is as a composer Strange challenges notions of both opera and Black music. He creates a work that is wholly both.

“Mother King” further pushes these boundaries with its performers. Including Gre, only two of the six cast members have classical training. The others come from jazz, hip-hop, musical theatre and soul backgrounds. Some had not read music since their childhood. Each talked about how challenging learning the music was, but they also spoke about how liberating it was to come out on the other side of knowing the music, to allow themselves to not be perfect. Gre spoke of learning to feel the heartbeat of the different rhythms as they changed and let that heartbeat connect them to the story and to each other. They all talked about how this opera forced them all to trust each other, creating a community, a voice, within the production.

Miko Simmons, projection designer for the opera, said in a talkback session after the final show, “these are very poignant times to remember, to reconnect to members of our communities and to have different thought processes… We need to root ourselves in history and family and fellow artists whose identities have also been marginalized.” Similarly, Strange and Fuentes shared these sentiments about the importance of telling King’s story especially in this moment. Both spoke to the poignancy of the present as being a moment of movement reinvigoration.

“I feel like this story has found us and we’re going to interpret it and tell it,“ said Fuentes.

Update: OperaWorks 52 has been renamed OperaRising 52. This article has been updated to reflect that change.

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The Reveal: Lonnie Holley Is the Ultimate Outsider Artist

On the June day that “Revelations: Art from the African American South” opened at the de Young Museum, artist Lonnie Holley shared a stage with two actors who are among the most celebrated in their fields (Danny Glover and Delroy Lindo) and with art scholars who are equally esteemed. The introductory discussion was supposed to give the audience a more tangible connection to the paintings, sculpture, and other objects on display. It did, but it also confirmed something for those who had never heard of Holley: He keeps people spellbound with his oratory, humor, and insights into art-making.

Holley’s art does the same. He makes the kind of sculpture — and produces the kind of music — that changes people. It gets into their emotional and intellectual core and forces them to rethink art and history, as well as their own assumptions about how the world works.

This is not an exaggeration. This is a fact. Anyone who attended Holley’s panel discussion will testify that Holley has a gift of “vision” and “spirit” that is undeniably powerful, and that he links art — poetically and practically — to things like humanity’s ability to steer the earth’s environment back to health.  

“We are the doctor, and the art is the medicine,” Holley said to rapturous applause that June day at the de Young.

Who is Lonnie Holley? He’s the artist who made a piece called A Box for Woman: The Pure White Spirit Trapped in Her Space, a work whose pink veneer and white cross overlap with a mouse trap, mouse skeleton, other animal bones, a syringe, leaves, and organic debris. Holley created it from parts he found in the kitchen of a virtually blind neighbor in Birmingham, Ala. The neighborhood was economically poor. The neighbor, an older woman, was also poor. This was 1989, when Holley was in his late 30s and had been making art for 10 years. He already had a reputation of being “an outsider artist” for his use of found materials. His first piece in 1979 was a pair of tombstones he made from sandstone after the deaths of a sister’s two children. A Box for Woman, now ensconced on the first floor of the de Young, is an apotheosis of Holley’s approach to art-making. Holley birthed A Box for Woman from a scene that would have repulsed and depressed many other people.

“That piece we’re honoring a woman that I had found all this material in her house,” Holley tells SF Weekly in his distinct vernacular during an almost-hour-long phone interview from Atlanta, where he now lives. “She had cataracts in her eyes, and she could hardly see. So something had been stealing her meat that she had prepared for herself to eat, and she didn’t know if someone had been sticking their hand in the window and getting food off the stove. It was at the time when we were getting to move her out of the house — because of the [Birmingham] airport expansion, they had bought her property. The airport inspector had been alarming people to either clean up or get rid of certain amount of things that they had on their property. We was in the house, and I moved the refrigerator and the freezer — and that’s where all of that material was found, underneath the freezer. I tried to explain to her, ‘This is your problem, and this is what had been eating up your meat.’

“The reason I did the paint box and did everything pink is the condition that a lot of women — especially African-American women — are living in, in America,” Holley adds. “It’s not so much that we should be ghostly afraid, or spiritually afraid. Sometimes, the thing that’s actually in our household that we don’t know about is in the manner of spiritual and ghostly. So me putting that into that box, and putting a white cross there — the white cross indicating the spirit that we cannot see. You got to remember that this woman was half-blind. What I do is try to take the terms of everything and mix it into the conversation about a piece of art. I’m an African-American artist, and I try to show nothing but the truth with the materials that I gather, about our involvement, our adventure as we adventured through the time periods.”

In the American South, Holley and generations of African-American artists before him have made art in a vacuum. Few major art museums were interested in their work, let alone collected it. Most of these artists were self-taught, and came of age at a time when racism, de facto segregation, and lynchings were commonplace. Without support from traditional institutions, these artists made art anyway, often out of discarded objects.

“I am the alarm clock,” Holley says, “of the wake-up of what materials there are for us to use.”

Instead of exhibiting in galleries, these artists displayed their work in streets, on lawns, and anywhere else they found promising. Through word-of-mouth and the occasional champion like art historian and patron William Arnett, the art world eventually came calling.

“I’m a part of something,” Holley says, “that’s greater than my individualness.”

Lonnie Holley’s A Box for Woman: The Pure White Spirit Trapped in Her Space. (Photo by Jonathan Curiel)

Among the best-known works in “Revelations” are Gee’s Bend quilts, from Gee’s Bend, Ala., from a collection that first toured in 2002 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston before going around the country, including a stop at the de Young in 2006. “Revelations” showcases gripping art by Purvis Young, a Miami painter whose Talking to the System depicts three young African-Americans addressing two rows of oversized heads; Joe Light, a Tennessee artist whose enamel-and-wood work Jealousy is a graphic depiction of a woman interrupting a potential fist fight between men; and Thornton Dial, an Alabama artist whose Strange Fruit: Channel 42 uses spray-can tops, clothing, wood, and other objects to depict the hanging of a man from a television antenna.

Dial passed away last year, Light in 2005, and Young in 2010. Most of the artists in “Revelations” are dead. And their late recognition as professional artists is bittersweet — an example of an artistic shift that mirrors the culture at large. More Black Americans than ever have advanced to positions of prominence in the arts and academia. More Black Americans than ever are middle- and upper-class. The nation elected its first Black president. But the education system is still skewed against many Black Americans. And even as someone like Holley has made huge advancements in his life — even as he was invited to the White House under President Bill Clinton in 1995, and even as institutions like the Smithsonian began collecting his work — he faced challenges that amounted to virtual discrimination.  

In 1997, Holley lived on a property that, like his neighbor’s, was just minutes from the airport. That year, the Birmingham Airport Authority condemned the property, which was also Holley’s art studio and exhibit space, saying it needed the space for its $30 million expansion. The authority offered him just $14,000 to cover his costs, implying that the scores of artwork scattered in Holley’s yard amounted to junk. Holley sued the authority, asking for $250,000. He settled for $165,700 — and then, he had to move his life’s work to another Alabama property. The authority’s staff were akin to mainstream art collectors who thought Holley’s work was worthless. Vandals desecrated Holley’s work in his Birmingham yard, sometimes with feces.

“When I did get to be an artist, the hardest thing I had to deal with was the critic,” Holley tells SF Weekly. “They was criticizing me. People were coming into my life saying that what I was doing didn’t make no sense, didn’t have no message. It was junk to them. It was garbage. They didn’t see nothing but a refrigerator full of cans and things. They didn’t see the leftover product of a woman’s life.”  

“I’m grateful,” he adds, “to have lived this long, in order to have achieved [what I did]. Art has proven to be the best function of education that I have seen in my life.”

Holley, who now lives in a one-bedroom apartment, frequently travels around the country for art exhibits and gigs. His songs are otherworldly and trance-like, a unique mix of roots music, blues, quasi-gospel, quasi-folk, and spoken word, with lyrics and a voice that are uniquely Holley’s. On a track like “From the Other Side of the Pulpit,” where band members use guitar, keyboard, and other instruments along with such non-instruments as metal pipes, Holley intones and growls, “Been want to go somewhere / Been want to tell somebody. / Been a loooong time. I want to tell it and I ain’t lyin.’ / … See what I got to talk about. / … How I see the world. / … The car is runnin’ out of gas. The tires are going kind of bald / May pop at any time, they may pop off. / … I want to climb mountains. I really do want to climb.”

As visitors enter one of the de Young exhibit’s main galleries, Holley’s music is playing overhead — seven songs, including “From the Other Side of the Pulpit,” that turn the gallery into an echo chamber of inspired, complicated feelings. It’s that gallery that contains Holley’s work, including A Box for Woman. It’s that gallery where you see art-goers squinting and closing their eyes and reacting to the art, both externally and internally. The entire exhibit is, indeed, a revelation — not just because this is art from the past, but because it exists in the present.

Holley is still alive. He’s still making great art. (“The art and the music,” Holley says, “are coming from the same brain formations. … It’s like Siamese twins.”) So are other Black artists in the American South. And the Atlanta nonprofit that William Arnett inspired, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, is actively promoting the work of these artists. The de Young’s exhibit is the culmination of its recent purchase of 62 works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, whose trustees include Jane Fonda. Matt Arnett, whose father is William Arnett, is one of Holley’s managers.

“Lonnie was certainly ready to bring his message in music and art to the world 30 years ago, and my dad was trying to get museums to bring this art to the public 30 years ago, and the de Young exhibit we could have done in the 1990s,” Arnett tells SF Weekly. “Lonnie was no less relevant in the 1990s than he is now. It’s wonderful for all of us who’ve been following this art — and it’s wonderful for Lonnie — to finally be recognized and celebrated, but his art was this good 30 years ago. … Lonnie has been ahead of the curve of contemporary art for decades. In the ’80s, the world wasn’t ready for Lonnie, so he got dismissed in all kinds of ways.”

Holley himself is more matter-of-fact and philosophical about the circuitous route he’s taken from the margins of the art world — and society — almost to its center. He’s the son of a woman who gave birth to 27 children. They had no money, and she gave Holley away to a woman who asked if she could have him. A few years later, that lady gave Holley to another woman, trading him for a bottle of whiskey, Holley says. That new woman’s partner abused Holley: beating him up, forcing him to do laborious chores, and leading him to run away. He got into trouble, and was sent to a kind of juvenile hall — to what was then called the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, where he endured more beatings, one of which broke his legs. Holley learned farming. He was not formally educated, and became a father for the first time at age 15.

Holley, whose grandmother and mother wanted him to be a preacher, doesn’t say his life is “better” because of all the hardships and challenges he’s faced — just that his life is kind of emblematic of many things about Black life in the southern U.S. He could have been an anonymous casualty. Instead, major media — including The New York Times — have profiled him in the past five years, and he’s invited to perform and talk around the country. At age 67, Holley is more celebrated than he’s ever been. And younger people — artists or not, art-goers or not — look to him for inspiration. He uses art to teach young kids, telling them that creation and art-making is a satisfying way to channel their energies.

“Malcolm said, ‘By any means necessary.’ That’s what Malcolm X said,” Holley said at the de Young panel discussion. “But my thing is to get them away from the weapons, and see that all of this stuff is your dreams. By any means. Every plank on this slope — instead of seeing a kid deny himself or herself an opportunity, I want to show them the patterns within each plank. I want to show them the groove — the pine knot — and what a knot means. A knot is to be or knot to be. You understand what I’m saying?”

The audience laughed and applauded Holley. Then Holley said this: “Somebody said, ‘You think you can do good on Broadway?’ I am Broadway.”

There was more applause for Holley. No one disputed him. No one disagreed.

“Revelations: Art from the African American South,” through April 1, 2018, at the de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr. $6-$15; 415-750-3600 or deyoung.famsf.org.

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PHOTOS: Harambee Black Arts Festival wraps up in Homewood


Live dance, tables full of art, jewelry and other handmade items lined the streets of Homewood this weekend for the 50th anniversary Harambee Black Arts Festival. The free event kicked off Friday with the annual Soul Stepping Parade and closes tonight at 8 p.m on Kelly Street.

Homewood resident NeeNettia Edmonds described the event as fantastic.

“I came down here after all the violence and everything that’s going on in the Homewood area, I decided to step out and try to join the peaceful activity.”

Check out our photos and social media posts from around the community.

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Arias Rise To The Occasion At Glimmerglass

When the artistic mecca in verdant Cooperstown changed its name from Glimmerglass Opera to Glimmerglass Festival a few years ago, it signaled that new audiences were welcome. Notoriously demanding opera audiences would still travel extravagant distances to see top productions of rarities.

These would include the American premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s Siege of Calais, new works like Paige Hernandez and Victor Simonson’s Stomping Grounds about contemporary refugees or Derrick Wang’s Scalia/Ginsburg, about the unlikely friendship between two justices who disagreed about almost everything. On the other hand, the audience-friendly Oklahoma! renews its vigor when golden voices are proclaiming “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.”


Also at Glimmerglass are productions of George Frideric Handel’s Xerxes (Aug. 12, 18), in which the lead is sung by a countertenor, and George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Aug. 13, 17, 19, 21), now established as America’s greatest opera. Rarely juxtaposed, they both present their most memorable vocal expressions in the first arias.

Although several selections from Porgy, like “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “I Got Plenty of Nothin’,” are among the best-known from the Gershwin corpus, many audiences have had a difficult time seeing the whole work for two reasons. Some black artists were unwilling to appear in roles portraying prostitution and drug dealing, and eminences such as Desmond Tutu have disdained Porgy. It’s also huge, with more than 22 singing roles sometimes running three-plus hours. Black playwright Suzan Lori Parks wrote a truncated version titled The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in 2011 for Broadway, ostensibly to make it more appealing to contemporary audiences.

The Glimmerglass production can boast of authenticity. Artistic director Francesca Zambello mounted her Porgy for the Washington National Opera in 2005, employing the 180-minute 1935 book that retains charming non-plot items, like the Vendor’s trio, songs for the Honey Man, Strawberry Woman and the Crab Man. Conducting the pit orchestra is Gershwin specialist John DeMain, who has been in charge more than 300 times, going back 40 years before the opera’s status was so secure.

Glimmerglass has scoured the earth for the right voices with the right look. Silver-voiced soprano Meroe Khalia Adeeb as Clara has come from Torrance, Calif., to begin the action with a goosebump-inducing “Summertime.” From the beginning, we know that director Zambello is following Gershwin’s wishes that his masterpiece be sung by trained voices in operatic mode and not merely be a Broadway show with ambitions. Even when the action turns to Catfish Row street life, we hear the same precision in “Roll Them Bones.” Clara’s husband Jake (Justin Austin) responds with the cynical “A Woman is a Sometime Thing,” paradoxically as a lullaby.

Stocky South African baritone Musa Ngqungwana sings the role of Porgy, limping with a crutch rather than on an encumbering wagon. Seen last year in Rossini’s Thieving Magpie, he is initially unrecognizable despite a distinctive body set. As an actor he resolves the contradictions of Porgy’s character, a needy, crippled beggar who nonetheless projects enormous reserves of strength. Ngqungwana’s heart-swelling “I Got Plenty of Nothin’” might have been aimed at audiences in the depths of the Depression but here is a coruscating declaration of resolve. The title of the DuBose Heyward novel that inspired Gershwin was indeed Porgy.

The emergence of the flawed Bess as a counterweight is what makes the opera a drama. Talise Trevigne has an established reputation as an interpreter of Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini, but as an actress she’s extraordinary in conveying all the contradictions: Bess’ street flash, her fatal need-driven weakness as well as her sweetness and beauty. Her major solo, “I Loves You, Porgy,” throbs with deep-felt sincerity.

The love duet “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” toward the beginning of the first act in this configuration caps all musical expression. Gershwin is at the peak of his genius, and Ngqungwana and Trevigne soar with lyrical passion. This is the most ecstatic moment on upstate stages this summer.

Porgy and Bess’ musical abundance includes at least two other showstoppers, which require some plotting to explain. Bess’ previous boyfriend, the villainous stevedore Crown (Norman Garrett), in a drunken rage, murders the innocent bystander Robbins (Chaz’men Williams-Ali) with the hook from a cotton bale. The disposal of the body and the law’s processing of the murder consume much action, but it also leads to the blockbuster lament, “My Man’s Gone Now” by Robbins’ widow Serena (Simone Z. Paulwell).

Enticing villainy is the Mephistophelean Sportin’ Life (Frederick Ballentine), the neighborhood “happy dust” dealer who aspires to become a procurer with the right lady to sell. His “It Ain’t Necessarily So” delivers blasphemy at its most winsome.

Glimmerglass has spared no expense in production value, with Peter J. Davison’s scenery filled with grubby, rusting metal, convincing poverty. And the second act’s hurricane is enough to rattle bones.

Handel’s Xerxes also begins with one of the composer’s best-known melodies, usually called the “Largo,” although marked larghetto in the score. Its Italian lyrics are “Ombre mai fu,” or “Never was a shade,” in praise of the plane tree. The title character is taking his rest from world-conquering before contemplating his love life. A useful program note by classicist Olga M. Davidson explains that although most of the plot is fanciful contemporary invention, the episode of the plane tree derives from reliable ancient documents. The opera is often known by its Italian title Serse, as his name is pronounced in the lyrics.

A notorious flop at its 1738 opening, Xerxes is supposed to be an opera seria, meaning it would emphasize the august expression of deeply felt emotion, with most voices in the upper ranges. The title role was written for a soprano castrato and is taken here by countertenor John Holiday Jr., who brings the physique of a professional athlete. Nearly all the other singers are at home in the upper ranges, except for basso Calvin Griffin as the comic servant Elviro.

Low jinx buffo in the midst of all the seria is what led to Xerxes’ failure at its opening but now appears to be a welcome asset. Director Tazewell Thompson, former honcho at Syracuse Stage, enhances the comic interludes while never betraying the seria. His production team of star set designer John Conklin, costumer Sara Jean Tosetti and lighting master Robert Wierzel ensure that the ever-changing surreal set seduces the eye, beginning with that alluring plane tree.

The libretto by Nicolo Minato and Silvia Stampiglia exists to position singers to sing about different aspects of love, mostly unrequited. Contrived though situations may be, the music is exalted and its expression often moving. Still, the path is so convoluted that the program prudently includes a cartoon page with lines drawn between characters to help you remember who loves whom and who is being squeezed out.

When Xerxes turns from the plane tree he espies soprano Romilda (Emily Pogorelc) in red, the daughter of a second basso, his vassal Ariodates (Brent Michael Smith) in blue and gray, and immediately intends to marry her. Alas, Romilda has set her eyes and heat on Xerxes’s brother Arsamenes (soprano Allegra De Vita in a trousers role). The comic Elviro is his servant. Simultaneously, Romilda’s sister Atalanta (soprano Katrina Galka) in green also yearns for Arsamenes. And Xerxes’ original fiancée, Amastris (contralto Abigail Dock) finds herself passed over and disguises herself as a man to observe how things will play out. We are always sure who she is, but the characters in the cast are willingly gulled.

Baroque opera in general and countertenors in particular are thought to be acquired tastes. The excellence of this production, as well as John Holiday Jr.’s musicianship, can lead many to those acquisitions.

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Crystal Bridges to Debut ‘Art in the Age of Black Power’ Exhibit

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville on Tuesday announced its exhibitions for 2018, including the U.S. debut of “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.”

Also appearing next year will be the Crystal Bridges-organized exhibitions “Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art” and “Native North America.”

“Our 2018 exhibitions complement the story of American art shared through our permanent collection,” said Rod Bigelow, the museum’s executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer. 

The museum called “Soul of a Nation,” organized by the Tate Modern in London and debuting in the United States at Crystal Bridges, “a look at how American culture was reshaped through the work of Black artists during the tumultuous 1960s, ’70s, and early ’80s.”

Crystal Bridges is one of only two American venues to host this exhibition. Following its debut at Crystal Bridges, the exhibition travels to the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

The exhibit will feature artworks by more than 60 black artists, including Romare Bearden, Melvin Edwards, Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Charles White, Alvin Loving, Alma Thomas and Lorraine O’Grady.

And the art includes a wide range of styles and media, including painting, photography, fashion, sculpture and mixed media work, as well as street art in the form of murals and posters by artists of the AfriCOBRA collective, the graphic art created by Emory Douglas for The Black Panther newspaper and black feminist art.

“Soul of a Nation opens a window into the heart of the Black Power movement in all of its beauty, pride, power, and aspiration,” the museum said.

Soul of a Nation runs Feb. 3 through April 23, 2018.

As for the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit, Crystal Bridges is building on its collection of major works by O’Keeffe — including Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 and Radiator Building-Night, New York — and is bringing together a selection of O’Keeffe’s most important works.

Alongside the works by O’Keeffe, the exhibition will display artworks by emerging contemporary artists “that evoke, investigate, and expand upon O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy,” the museum said. “This exhibition demonstrates the continuing power of O’Keeffe’s work as a touchstone for contemporary art.”

These contemporary artists include Sharona Eliassaf, Monica Kim Garza, Loie Hollowell, Molly Larkey and Matthew Ronay.

This exhibit will run May 26 through Sept. 3, 2018.

The exhibit “Native North America,” which will be on display Oct. 6, 2018, through Jan. 7, 2019, is the first exhibition to chart the development of contemporary indigenous art from the United States and Canada from the 1960s to the present, the museum said.

The exhibition will present about 75 works of art by important native artists — such as Kay WalkingStick, Carl Beam, Fritz Scholder, Andrea Carlson and Kent Monkman — and features works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, photography, videos, sculpture and sound, installation and performance art.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood keeps wasting Idris Elba’s talent. It’s a huge loss.

Idris Elba as Roland Deschain in “The Dark Tower.” (Ilze Kitshoff/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

As the troubled, long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” rolls out to dismal reviews this week, I’ve had to resist banging my head against the wall in frustration, and not because I’m a King aficionado grappling with shattering disappointment. Rather, “The Dark Tower” is the latest frustrating example of how nothing ever seems to go quite right in the career of Idris Elba — and what a loss that is for the rest of us.

Although Elba had been acting steadily for eight years before the premiere of “The Wire,” most American audiences know him best from his performance as charismatic, sophisticated and ultimately doomed drug dealer Stringer Bell, the nemesis of Baltimore Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West). Stringer Bell was one of those exceptionally rare roles that give an actor a chance to demonstrate that they can do many things very well. As Stringer, Elba could be intimidating when up against a rival, dryly funny when messing with McNulty, pedantic in his dealings with underlings, seductive in an old-fashioned way that we rarely see on screen anymore, and full of pathos when Stringer’s dreams of going legitimate bumped up against the limits of his knowledge, experience and education.

“The Wire” should have set Elba up to do anything: to be an older Black Panther in a Marvel adaptation; to revitalize the old-school movie romance in an era where “Fifty Shades of Grey” was bringing more adult sexuality back to the multiplex; to star in a range of historical biopics at a moment when directors such as Ava DuVernay were turning their history to black America’s past.

But somehow, the next great role, the one that should have made Elba a genuine movie star, or that should have put him squarely at the center of his own outstanding television show, never quite arrived. And even when parts did materialize, they didn’t quite resonate the way they could have.

After “The Wire,” Elba took guest roles on series such as “The Office and “The Big C.” As many black actors in Hollywood do, he ended up in a number of sentimental movies aimed largely at African American audiences, among them the melodramas “Daddy’s Little Girls” and “The Gospel.” He and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter co-starred in a stalker drama, “Obsessed.” And over and over, Elba was cast as supporting characters in genre blockbusters: as Heimdall, the blind guardian of Asgard’s Rainbow Bridge in Marvel’s “Thor” movies; as a priest in the second “Ghost Rider” movie; as Janek in the “Alien” prequel “Prometheus”; as a Starfleet captain who lost his sense of mission in “Star Trek Beyond”; and as the colorfully named Stacker Pentecost, the head of a giant-robot fighting crew in “Pacific Rim.” Even as movies like these helped raise the profile of actors like Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor, and Chris Pine, who anchors the “Star Trek” franchise, these roles seemed to hem Elba in rather than help him reach the next level. (A quick note: since I published this, a number of readers to ask me what I think about “Luther.” I like the series quite a bit, but it’s a BBC production; if the Brits have Elba moderately figured out, Hollywood is still clueless.)

This is not to say that Elba hasn’t done outstanding work in the years since Stringer Bell died at the hands of Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) and Brother Mouzone (Michael Potts) in the third season of “The Wire.”

He was wonderful as Nelson Mandela in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” capturing both Mandela’s militancy and his hard-won patience. But that movie (which also featured a marvelous performance by Naomie Harris as Mandela’s wife, Winnie) came out the same year as Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” In an industry that often seems incapable of recognizing more than a few black artists at a time, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was largely shut out of year-end awards after a modest performance at the box office. Elba did similarly strong work in “Beasts of No Nation,” as the Commandant who manipulates and deploys child soldiers. That film, though, was distributed through Netflix, which bets on daring content but doesn’t yet seem to have figured out how to make its glut of original movies and television shows capture the cultural conversation.

Arguably some of Elba’s best and most popular work — and the roles that have let him do comedy as well as drama — come in animated films where his face is off-screen, but his rumbly baritone makes an unforgettable impression. Three of those roles came in 2016 alone, when he played an exasperated water buffalo police chief in “Zootopia,” Disney’s wildly successful allegory about racial profiling and law enforcement; the menacing tiger Shere Khan in the gorgeous live-action remake of “The Jungle Book”; and Fluke, one of two jocular, slightly bullying sea lions in “Finding Dory,” a role that reunited him with “The Wire” co-star West, who also played a blubbery blabbermouth. It’s as if Hollywood can only figure out what to do with Elba when it separates his lively, versatile voice from his body.

That’s an awful shame, and it speaks more to the entertainment industry’s failures of imagination than to anything lacking in Elba’s talent. And while I’m sure this frustrates Elba and his agents, this state of affairs is a loss for everyone. The space between what Idris Elba is capable of doing and what Hollywood has been willing to give him to do is a measurement of the industry’s creative failure and timidity. And for those of us who love to watch Elba work and hate to see him wasted, the weight of performances that could have been but never will be is crushing.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

During Native Omaha Days, Disney’s Floyd Norman and Adrienne Brown-Norman reflect on careers

If the arts community had been blossoming in north Omaha when Adrienne Brown-Norman was growing up there in the 1960s and ’70s, she may never have moved to California and become a senior illustrator for Disney Publishing Worldwide.

“If places like the Union (for Contemporary Art) were around I may never have left,” she said of the center founded in 2011 to create an arts-based bridge between north Omaha and the larger community. “That’s such a great, creative place to find out what to do as an actor, an artist or a writer. Of course, though, I would not ever have met Floyd.”

That would be her husband, Floyd Norman, the now-legendary first African-American artist at Walt Disney Studios.

Floyd Norman, 82, began working for Disney in 1956 and was named a Disney Legend in 2007. In 2016 Norman was appointed to the education and outreach committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In Omaha for Native Omaha Days, the Normans talked about their work and lives Sunday over breakfast at Big Mama’s Kitchen. It’s a favorite location for Brown-Norman, who grew up in the Higgins family and graduated from Central High in 1974.

The Normans recently collaborated with legendary songwriter Richard Sherman (“Mary Poppins”) on a picture book called “A Kiss Goodnight.”

The book tells the story of how the young Walt Disney was enchanted by fireworks and subsequently chose to send all of his Magic Kingdom guests home with a special kiss goodnight of skyrockets bursting overhead.

Topics over the nearly two-hour interview included the recent showing of “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life” at Film Streams. The 94-minute documentary was produced by Michael Fiore Films and is available on Netflix and on Blu-ray at FloydNormanMovie.com. It features his animation work on classics such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “101 Dalmatians.”

Walt Disney later picked Norman to join the team writing the script for “The Jungle Book.” Disney had seen Norman’s gags posted around the office and recognized a talented storyteller.

“I didn’t think I was a writer, but the old man did,” Norman said. “Then I realized that maybe I am good at this.”

Norman named “The Jungle Book” as his favorite project, because he worked alongside Disney. It also proved to be Norman’s last feature at Disney for several years because he left to found his own production company.

“What I learned from the old man was the technique of storytelling and what made a movie work,” Norman said.

“I had an amazing opportunity to learn from the master. If you were in the room with Walt, it was for a reason. There are a lot of people who wanted to be in that room but didn’t get an invitation.”

The Normans, married 24 years, met at Walt Disney Studios. She was attracted by his humor and gift for voices, especially his Darth Vader imitation.

“Although I almost broke up with him when I found out he was also working on (TV cartoon) ‘Scooby-Doo,’ ” she said. “I couldn’t stand that show.”

Working at Disney presented its own challenges.

When Norman turned 65, the studio pushed him to retire. Instead, he began freelancing, and eventually worked his way back to Disney.

“To have a real tour of the Disney studios, you have to go with Floyd,” his wife said. “He gets into offices and other places that I can’t even go, and I still work there.”

Brown-Norman primarily paints children’s storybooks based on Disney and Pixar animated features. Some of her work has included such classic Disney characters as Mickey Mouse, and Pixar stars Buzz and Woody from “Toy Story.”

“In the beginning I did a lot of princesses, which I liked,” she said. “But my favorite subjects to paint are fairies, like Tinker Bell.”

One day at the studio the Normans recall pausing to watch the filming of “Saving Mr. Banks,” the story of Disney’s quest to acquire the rights to film “Mary Poppins.” Norman had worked on the movie and was interested in seeing Tom Hanks’ portrayal of his old boss.

“Tom Hanks rushed from his trailer in full costume to meet Floyd, shouting, ‘Where is that famous animator?’ ” Brown-Norman said. “You don’t expect a man like Tom Hanks to come running up. Then Tom wouldn’t let us leave. He wanted to know more about Walt, and if he was getting it right.”

Norman said he’s always a little surprised when people recognize him on the street. With his sharp, dry wit, he doesn’t think of himself as a legend.

“What I enjoy is the love of Disney that made so many people happy,” he said. “Maybe they were poor. Maybe they were in a bad home, but they tell me Disney stories gave them an escape. They gave them happiness, and that’s what I like.”

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Everything That’s Wrong About The Atlantic’s Prog-Rock Diss

The book that triggered one of this centurys most maddening pieces of music criticism.

The book that triggered one of this century’s most maddening pieces of music criticism.

In a recent piece in The Atlantic titled “The Whitest Music Ever,” James Parker trashes prog-rock in what is ostensibly a review of David Weigel’s book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. (Spoiler alert: Weigel likes prog-rock.) From that atrocious and erroneous headline onward, Parker coughs up an array of misguided assertions to dismiss a genre that is responsible for some of the greatest rock ever. Taste is subjective, obviously, but flawed arguments cannot go unchallenged. Not on my watch.

Now, as with all musical styles, prog has generated tons of garbage. But when it’s great, it’s mind-blowing. Cast aside your biases and ignore screeds written by detractors who only skim prog’s surface; follow trusted guides and explore for yourself, and you will discover a treasure trove of works that will tingle your synapses for a lifetime. As a champion of prog-rock, I would like to address what I perceive to be Parker’s critical/aesthetic wrongdoings in “The Whitest Music Ever.”

First, that headline: Prog-rock is far from “the whitest music ever.” Come on, man—you’re not even trying. There are several strains of European folk music, German schlager, grindcore, and the twee indie pop of a hundred small Anglo-American labels, to name a handful, that one could safely say are “whiter.” Parker—and his enabling editor—is just going for shock value here.

Of course, a posse of dead white European men’s classical music influenced prog, but if you get out a magnifying glass and scan the credits of releases by DJ Shadow, Kanye West, Madlib, and many other hiphop producers, you’ll find samples from loads of prog records. Or, more conveniently, you could log on to whosampled.com and type in any prog-rock band’s name and see how widely this so-called “whitest music ever” impacted a genre dominated by black artists.

You want some instant examples? Go YouTube McDonald & Giles’s “Tomorrow’s People” and gawk in amazement at one of the fattest funk breaks that will ever penetrate your everloving ears. Hit up a B-boy contest and peep dancers busting moves to Can’s “Vitamin C.” Check out French proggers Shylock’s elastically funky rhythm on “Himogene.” Go stream Egg’s “Fugue in D Minor” (a funked-up Bach cover, yo) and Arzachel’s “Queen St. Gang” and witness what sounds like the birth of triphop. Whom are you gonna trust on this matter: some of history’s most ingenious producers or a contributing editor for The Atlantic?

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Let’s move on to Parker’s second paragraph, in which he outlines the few prog tunes he does like: Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (of bloody course); that portion of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells heard in The Exorcist (of bloody course); Tool (what a tool); Meshuggah (okay, I did not see that coming). Parker closes the graf with an elegant explanation about his bias: “Yes’s Tales From Topographic Oceans is an experience to me unintelligible and close to unbearable, like being read aloud a lengthy passage of prose with no verbs in it.” Translation: I have a short attention span and hate deviations from traditional song structures. Fine. So does 98.7 percent of the world. But do you have to preen about it in the august pages and pixels of The Atlantic/theatlantic.com?

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Later in his review, Parker quotes Weigel quoting a member of the Nice: “‘We’re a European group,” declared the lead singer of proto-proggers The Nice in 1969, ‘so we’re improvising on European structures… We’re not American Negros, so we can’t really improvise and feel the way they can.’ Indeed. Thus did prog divorce itself from the blues, take flight into the neoclassical, and become the whitest music ever.” This description may apply to some prog-rockers, but it reveals a shallow knowledge of the genre, a glossing of strictly English and American acts. Explore the prog made by musicians from South America, continental Europe (even Scandinavia—see especially Bo Hansson, Pärson Sound/Träd Gräs och Stenar, and Pugh), Southeast Asia, and Africa, and you’ll hear a different story.

Let us now feast upon the most egregious passage in Parker’s essay, which I will annotate with caps lock retorts.

But prog’s doom was built in. It had to die. [IT’S STILL LIVING. YOU’RE JUST NOT PAYING ATTENTION.] As a breed, the proggers were hook-averse, earworm-allergic; they disdained the tune, which is the infinitely precious sound of the universe rhyming with one’s own brain. [ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I COULD GO ON FOR DAYS REFUTING THIS STATEMENT, BUT HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES: MCDONALD & GILES’ “FLIGHT OF THE IBIS”; THE ENTIRETY OF POPOL VUH’S LETZTE TAGE – LETZTE NÄCHTE; CARAVAN’S “GOLF GIRL”; SENSATIONS’ FIX’S “MUSIC IS PAINTING IN THE AIR”; SOFT MACHINE’S “MEMORIES”; KING FUCKING CRIMSON’S “I TALK TO THE FUCKING WIND”] What’s more, they showed no reverence before the sacred mystery of repetition, before its power as what the music critic Ben Ratliff called “the expansion of an idea.” [DUDE, YOU EVEN DISCUSSED MAGMA, BUT APPARENTLY YOU DIDN’T LISTEN TO THEM CLOSELY. THEN THERE ARE HELDON, SOFT MACHINE (E.G., “WE DID IT AGAIN”), TANGERINE DREAM, CAN, GONG, PÄRSON SOUND, ETC.] Instead, like mad professors, they threw everything in there: the ideas, the complexity, the guitars with two necks, the groove-bedeviling tempo shifts. [THE SPICE OF FUCKING LIFE! WHY DO YOU HATE INNOVATION AND EXCITEMENT, JIMMY?] To all this, the relative crudity of punk rock was simply a biological corrective—a healing, if you like. [YES, ONE OF THE MOST SONICALLY CONSERVATIVE, RIGIDLY DEFINED GENRES SAVED US ALL FROM THE HORRORS OF PROG. HALLELUJAH. FUCK ANY SONG THAT GOES OVER THREE MINUTES AND HAS MORE THAN THREE CHORDS.]

Parker closes his piece with a fugly flourish. “The proggers got away with murder, artistically speaking. And then, like justice, came the Ramones.” HOO BOY. A one-trick pony—admittedly, it’s a good trick—is your trump card? Enshrine Parker’s sentences—and hell, his whole essay—into the Oversimplification Hall of Fame. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon to dissipate Parker’s inanities.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center Now Urges an MD or a Healthcare Manager in Kentucky to Call About Rewards If They Have Proof Their Employer Is Substantially Overbilling Medicare

If you are a healthcare worker anywhere in Kentucky and you have proof a healthcare provider is overbilling Medicare for unwarranted medical procedures or medical treatments please call us anytime”

— Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center

WASHINGTON, DC, USA, August 8, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center says, “We are urging a medical doctor or healthcare manager in Kentucky to call us anytime at 866-714-6466 for a discussion about how the federal whistleblower reward program works-for people who have proof of multi-million-dollar Medicare fraud or overbilling. We think a physician or healthcare professional with proof a Kentucky based healthcare provider is involved in a million-dollar scheme to overbill Medicare should at least inquire about the potential value of their information.” http://Kentucky.CorporateWhistleblower.Com

The types of medical doctors or healthcare workers in Kentucky the Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower would like to hear from about federal whistleblower rewards include:

* A ER doctor who can prove their Kentucky based hospital/employer is routinely and intentionally admitting Medicare patients for medically unnecessary tests or procedures.
* An employee at a Kentucky based skilled nursing facility or nursing home that is intentionally overbilling Medicare for unnecessary medical procedures or for medical procedures that never took place. The facility could be based in Lexington, Meads, Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Owensboro, Covington or anywhere in Kentucky

* A Kentucky based cardiology group that is performing high volume unnecessary cardiac procedures on Medicare recipients.
* A Kentucky based hospice provider that is signing up Medicare patients for hospice-even though the patients do not qualify for hospice-because they are not dying.

The Center says, “If you are a medical doctor or a healthcare worker anywhere in Kentucky and you have proof a healthcare provider is overbilling Medicare every day for unwarranted medical procedures or medical treatments please call us anytime at 866-714-6466 and allow us to try to figure out what your potential whistleblower reward might be worth. The wrongdoing must involve at least a million dollars for a whistleblower to get properly compensated. Why sit on a winning lotto ticket without ever knowing what it might be worth?” http://Kentucky.CorporateWhistleblower.Com

Simple rules for a whistleblower from the Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center: Do not go to the government first if you are a potential whistleblower with substantial proof of wrongdoing. The Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center says, “Major whistleblowers frequently go to the government thinking they will help. It’s a huge mistake. Do not go to the news media with your whistleblower information. Public revelation of a whistleblower’s information could destroy any prospect for a reward. Do not try to force a company/employer or individual to come clean about significant Medicare fraud, overbilling the federal government for services never rendered, multi-million dollar state or federal tax evasion, or a Kentucky based company falsely claiming to be a minority owned business to get preferential treatment on federal or state projects. Come to us first, tell us what type of information you have, and if we think it’s sufficient, we will help you with a focus on you getting rewarded.”

Unlike any group in the US the Corporate Whistleblower Center can assist a potential whistleblower with packaging or building out their information to potentially increase the reward potential. They will also provide the whistleblower with access to some of the most skilled whistleblower attorneys in the nation. For more information a possible whistleblower with substantial proof of wrongdoing in Kentucky can contact the Whistleblower Center at 866-714-6466 or contact them via their website at http://Kentucky.CorporateWhistleBlower.Com

Thomas Martin
Kentucky Corporate Whistleblower Center
email us here

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

A Forecast On Media Investments

DUBAI, UAE, August 6, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — “…global spending on entertainment and media is projected to rise from $1.6 trillion in 2011 to $2.1 trillion in 2016, a 5.7 percent compound annual advance….” (PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012-2016).

This is an astonishing figure, but when you consider the breadth and depth of media, it’s easy to see why. Alongside food, clothing and energy- media is one of the few industries that pervades into the lives of practically every consumer on the planet- delivering content ranging from news to gaming, films, TV programs and more. As technology has advanced, the number of channels (and types of content) has grown meaning that investors can now access everything from global hits (such as the film Avatar which grossed over $2.7billion in cinemas alone from an investment of around $300million) to niche events and productions targeting specific communities.

Entertainment and media are growing and globalizing. Media assets which once would have only been shown or experienced in their country of origin are now global instruments, which can be exploited in markets worldwide. Previously developing economies such as the Middle East, Latin America and Asia have also become incredible consumers (and producers) of media. These fundamentals represent a powerful case for investors.

To learn more, I spoke to Ethan Young, CEO of Ennahar Production who- since their debut in 2006 – have raised and invested over $3bn in the media and entertainment sectors.

Ethan is the Chief Executive of Ennahar Production with overall responsibility for the company’s fund raising and investment activities across its target sectors of cinematic animation & effects, music copyrights acquisition, and gaming developments. Ethan previously worked for a leading media and entertainment law firm specializing in media finance.

Q: What is the case for investing in media?
Ethan Young: Our model is very much investing in media cash-flows. We don’t take positions in quoted media stocks, as that introduces too much exposure to volatile equity markets- and media tends to get hammered more than other sectors when the markets have any degree of turbulence in them. We’re platform agnostic. People tend to see the market in terms of discrete sectors such as film, TV, music, video games, live and so on. We like to invest in content you can view many different ways- and that gives us depth and diversity within our portfolio.

Q: What makes a film ‘investable’?
Ethan Young: On features, we look for two key things. Firstly, the track record of the film making team- next, that the project has access to the best possible distribution. When we’re investing in independent films, we look for market tests in the form of pre-sales. This demonstrates that there are end-buyers for it. When we’re investing in studio-films, it’s about finding the closest possible alignment with the interests of the studio itself and making sure we’re accessing the economics of studio distribution.

Q: What do you see as the big sector opportunities in the future?
Ethan Young: Gaming is gonna be huge. Right now it’s worth an annual 100 billion USD and growing! That’s worth more than the movie industry. Mobile gaming has become such a big industry, its eclipsing PC and console gaming. So now is the time to focus on this rising trend and while it’s still relatively new, stamp your authority in it.

super services
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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment