Black Canadian talent celebrate — and are celebrated — at inaugural Legacy Awards

As The Handmaid’s Tale star Amanda Brugel arrived at the inaugural Legacy Awards on Sunday night, she reflected on what the new awards ceremony — which highlights the achievements of Black Canadian talent — will mean to future generations.

“I think I’m going to get emotional talking about it,” she told CBC News on the black carpet.

“To have space, to hold space for the amount of Black talent that we have here, for future generations will tell them that they matter, that there is so much room for them, to tell them to aim higher. And I can’t wait to see what happens with this in 25 years,” she said, gesturing to the room full of Black artists, athletes and actors.

The Legacy Awards are Canada’s first all-Black awards ceremony. The 90-minute live show, which will celebrate accomplishments in film, television, music, sports and culture, is set to feature emerging and established Black Canadian talent.

Canadian actress Amanda Brugel arrives on the black carpet of the first-ever edition of the Legacy Awards in Toronto on Sunday. The Handmaid’s Tale star said that the awards event would show future generations of Black talent that ‘there is so much room for them.’ (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press)

The event is produced by the Black Academy, an initiative launched in December 2020 by Canadian actors and brothers, Shamier Anderson (Bruised) and Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk).

The Scarborough, Ont.-born siblings hope that, in creating the infrastructure to support and uplift Black talent, they can break barriers in Canada’s entertainment industries.

“We come from humble beginnings — Scarborough, you know?” Anderson told CBC News. “So for us to be able to do this, hopefully we can keep inspiring other Black and brown boys and girls.”

Joking that he and Anderson spent two and a half year “under a rock” while planning the event, which they will co-host, James said, “We’re here, and people gotta know it.”

“The power of being able to empower our people, put them on this stage, give them an opportunity to give testimony, share their journeys with Black Canadians all over this country. It’s a very, very powerful thing; it’s something that’s not lost on my brother and myself.”

This year’s previously announced award recipients are Olympic medallist Andre de Grasse, sportscaster Kayla Grey and filmmaker Fabienne Colas. The event will include several special presentations, including performances from Canadian music stars Deborah Cox, Savannah Ré and Kardinal Offishall.

DJ 4KORNERS, who is also set to perform at the event, told CBC News that the show was a symbol of action: “You always hear that … instead of begging for a seat at the table, build your own table.”

“This is our table; we got a table! We made this table.”

Canadian broadcaster and writer Amanda Parris arrives on the black carpet of the Legacy Awards on Sunday. (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press)

Black performers have received heightened recognition at mainstream awards shows in recent years, said Canadian broadcaster Amanda Parris. But she added that there is room for other events, like the Legacy Awards, to honour specific talents who are often under-acknowledged by major awards bodies.

“I think having this dedicated space to amplify and to elevate talent and voices that for so long have not been heard or have not been recognized or celebrated to the degree that they can or should be, is a wonderful thing. And it’s for everybody.” 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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Review: Morgan Wallen in L.A.: a country superstar, live and apparently un-canceled

What’s clear at this point about Morgan Wallen — clear since long before the country superstar touched down Saturday night at Arena for the first of two sold-out concerts — is that being caught on video drunkenly using the N-word to refer to a friend has not derailed his career.

A year and a half after TMZ published a grainy clip shot by a neighbor as Wallen stumbled around his driveway, the singer’s 2021 LP, “Dangerous,” has set a new record for the most weeks in the top 10 of Billboard’s album chart. He just received the Milestone Award from the Academy of Country Music. And in November, he’ll compete for Nashville’s most prestigious title, entertainer of the year, at the Country Music Assn. Awards.

So although Wallen seemed briefly to face the threat of cancelation when the video surfaced — his songs were temporarily removed from radio and streaming playlists, and even his label said his contract had been “suspended” — the only question now is whether the controversy may actually have helped propel the career of the 29-year-old native of tiny Sneedville, Tenn.

Before the video and its fallout, Wallen was no doubt headed for huge success as a charismatic young performer and gifted songwriter with an instinctive knack for blending traditional country themes with the textures and attitude of hip-hop. After, though, he became something bigger: a (perhaps unwitting) mascot for the pushback against cancel culture.

Wallen, who’s repeatedly apologized for his “ignorant” use of the N-word, has drawn the support lately of numerous Black artists, including Darius Rucker and rapper Lil Durk, who’s said Wallen “ain’t no racist.” What Wallen is, of course, is a beneficiary of a racist system that not only permits white ignorance but also enables it. Yet to be a Wallen fan, at least for some, is to reject the perceived excesses of that worldview — a powerful accelerant for anyone involved in the work of building an audience in an era as fractured as ours.

Not that any of this was explicitly in the air at Crypto, where Wallen arrived near the end of a lengthy tour set to wrap early next month with a stadium gig in Arlington, Texas. The singer made no mention of the TMZ video, unless you count a lyric about the mistakes he’s made from “Don’t Think Jesus,” one of several singles he’s quietly released this year as part of his comeback; nor did he play directly to any kind of anti-woke sensibility, unless you count the proud down-home-isms of “The Way I Talk,” which like so many modern country tunes borrows elements of a Black creative lexicon to enshrine a white cultural heritage.


Morgan Wallen

Morgan Wallen performs.

(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)

Then again, the point of winning is no longer having to press your case, and in that way, Wallen carried himself Saturday like a victor. Backed by a muscular six-piece band, the singer ran through his many hits — including “Chasin’ You,” “More Than My Hometown” and the only country song currently near the top of the Hot 100, “You Proof” — with an untroubled confidence that belied his speedy ascent to arena-headliner status, not to mention the years of road experience he missed out on because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was a rowdy party-starter in “Up Down” and “Country Ass S—,” the latter of which found him patting a disc in the back pocket of his jeans as he sang about “an empty can of long cut.” For the wistful “Sand in My Boots,” he sat down behind a piano and recounted a beach-town dalliance with a woman destined to break his heart. Vocally, Wallen is most impressive on his records as a balladeer, channeling desire and nostalgia in songs like “Somebody’s Problem” and the almost painfully pretty “7 Summers”; here, both suffered a bit from his oversinging to match the pumped-up arrangements required by the size of the room. But the slightly aggro approach paid off in Wallen’s stark rendition of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” where he squared up against the microphone like a baseball player with a bat.

At about the halfway mark of the 90-minute show, Wallen invited out two of his frequent collaborators on tour as his opening acts: Ernest, with whom he sang the acoustic “Flower Shops,” and Hardy, who joined Wallen for the rap-rocky “He Went to Jared.” (Earlier, in his own set, Hardy flashed the culture-warrior streak Wallen resisted when introducing his song “One Beer,” about a couple waiting for the result of a pregnancy test. “Got any pregnant people out there tonight?” he asked with a sly grin, before adding, “Stupid joke.”)

It was easy to sense the pleasure — and maybe the comfort — Wallen took in having his pals onstage with him, not least when he and Hardy shotgunned a couple of beers and then crushed the cans and flung them into the crowd.

For more than a year, he’s been in a spotlight of his own making, both a pariah and a figurehead. Yet you wouldn’t say he looked lonely when Hardy and Ernest split. He’d been assured that he belonged up there, and who was he to doubt it?

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Kevin Powell’s Poem “letter to bell hooks” Honors His Late Friend

Kevin Powell’s Poem “letter to bell hooks” Honors His Late Friend
Photo courtesy of Kevin Powell

I knew bell hooks for half my life, and she was like a second mother to me, and also my mentor, sister, friend. I was summoned to her home state of Kentucky in December 2021 to be one of the few to say good-bye in person to bell as she rested in a hospital bed in her living room.

I held bell’s hands, I rubbed her knees, I talked to her although she could not respond. I told bell how much I loved her, how much she had transformed my life, as a man, as a Black man. And I cried, a lot.

Kevin Powell’s Poem “letter to bell hooks” Honors His Late Friend
Photo courtesy of Kevin Powell

bell was arguably the greatest Black intellectual we’ve ever seen, with over 30 books in 30-plus years—a brilliant and unapologetic Black feminist writer and thinker. It is because of bell more than anyone else that I do the work I do to re-define manhood, why I dream a world where we not only get rid of racism, but also sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all forms of hate and violence.

I wrote this poem, “letter to bell hooks,” shortly after that visit.

my dearest bell:

I was not only a man-child
teething fractured knuckles
when I met you—I was also
an angry and misplaced
momma’s boy, and you crushed
the cold ice beneath my holey sneakers
so decidedly that first encounter
as words such as
sexism and misogyny and homophobia
hemmed me up at da Lawd’s crossroads
I am ashamed I cannot recall
that first person’s name
who airdropped a sojourner’s truth
into my concrete knapsack
because she was among the many women
of Spelman College I knew
back in the day
like Miss Kupenda Auset
who goaded me to become
something more than a man
Ayy, ayy, yeah, I was gifted photocopies
of your feminist candied yams
the way my ma shoplifted
reparation pennies so we could eat
My ma and her four sisters
and my Grandma Lottie
hot-combed and curled story after story
about the ways of White folks
about the ways of men folks
while I sat there and took it
yet I remained bone-thin
with bonier brain
when it came to understanding
that women folks ain’t
just ‘spose to be your momma
or your mattress or your
mule to punch and kick—

In the beginning
I was utterly frightened of your fearlessness:
Your Kentucky fried soul was un-digging
future and past generations
of women
long left for dead
Your Kentucky fried soul was un-dressing
future and past generations
of men
long left for dead
I was hunchbacked before you, and stark-naked
one of your books in my shaky hands
my unsalted ego crashing to the rug-less floor
like a beer pitcher full of lies
bell, I had already been
the devil’s willing volcano
when I pushed a girlfriend
into a bathroom door
in July of 1991
that is why my body and mind
became a ferocious hurricane
when I first read you:
the ski mask was knifed from my face
the grime was sucked from my heart
the quicksand was scraped from my ankles
the clay was carved from my colon
a musty and sticky holy ghost triggered me
as my blood overflowed and retched
the absent father the single mother
the men on them liquor corners
the men in them barbershops
the men in them big positions
the communities the churches the chicken shacks
the reverends so-and-so the politicians no-and-no
the television shows the movies the sports the warts
the miseducation the ghetto plantation the prison cell
the swaying noose awaiting arrival of my neck—

bell, I remember we
sat down
greased elbow to greased elbow
a few years later
when I was writing for that magazine
I had never interviewed anyone
as brazenly free as you
one-woman emancipation proclamation
bold and snappy tongue
who painstakingly stiff-armed
capitalism and racism and toxic manhood
and politics and pop culture
like you were
the wind hurriedly washing away
the bulging whip marks of runaway slaves
I collapsed
in love with your genius
I dropped
my bags at your exposed feet
I stared
at myself with your x-ray eyeglasses
I shook and recoiled
whenever you scratched and peeled my history—

Oh, bell, you are gone,
and it is hella hard to write this
I jab these words with my half-crooked fingers:
I would not be the man I am without you
And you once said I was like a son to you
I am your son, bell, I am—

That is why
I am so terribly sorry I let you down
when I had to abandon
my trip to Berea, Kentucky
a couple of years ago because I had not
taken seriously what you
had sketched so many times about love
I was in a wretched place, bell,
my self-esteem
the bursting, rat-attacked garbage
in front of a Brooklyn bodega
But I still phoned you
every few months
simply to hear your voice
on your old-school answering machine
I was hurt and confused
as to why you never returned my calls
We had never gone that long
without talking in some form—

bell, I did not know you were dying—

Death embracing you like
a head-less family member
at an Appalachian train station
inside the home state you had fled in your youth
Only to return as an elder shero of the world
thirty-plus books in thirty-plus years
To die to sleep perhaps to dream
of a slow and methodical suicide
To die to sleep perhaps to dream
of a slow and methodical good-bye
to box and store
the great love-ship you never had
love hastily shedding pounds:
flesh draping your bones like a flimsy dress
love desperately crawling up stairs:
hands and knees like suction cups gripping a wall
I did not know bell I did not know—

I flew to Kentucky
through a diabolical tornado
I had no clue was happening
I was driven by Dr. DaMaris Hill
from Lexington to Berea to your house
on a block over yonder
I shall forget in a heap of tomorrows
I wandered anxiously around your ‘hood
while you were prepared for the day’s visitors
I was terrified of going inside
I was terrified of what I would see
I was terrified of what I would feel
At last, I was welcomed into your home
by one of your sisters and your literary executor
Original Black art over here
Buddhist symbols over here
Countless books like air tiles
to plug your home’s lonesome spaces
You in a hospital bed in your living room
Tubes plunging from your nose
Cranky oxygen tank on the side next to your bed
Your hair totally gray, your body totally frail
I gasped and cried and cried and gasped
I was the only guest at that moment
bell, I got to sit with you for over an hour
I held and rubbed and squeezed your left hand
I held and rubbed and squeezed your left knee
I held and rubbed and squeezed your left toes
I gasped and cried and cried and gasped
I kept saying it was me
I finally made it to Berea, bell
You snored, you snored some more
When you did awake
you strained to unleash your eyes
I wondered if you knew it was me
You kept shouting “Let’s go!”
as if you were ready to go somewhere
You kept saying “Yup”
whenever I asked you if you could hear me
That famously shrill voice as sassy as ever
I gasped and cried and cried and gasped
bell, I told you I loved you, several times
Then I did not know what else to say
As I arose to leave, I said a prayer
to the Goddess of wings and warriors
to safeguard your travel to the other side
I thanked you and I said good-bye quietly
I gasped and cried and cried and gasped
I knew I would never see you as flesh upon flesh again
And when I stepped out into the biting Kentucky air
I felt you strolling with me
bell, I hugged your spirit
Your spirit hugged me back
I gasped and cried and cried and gasped
And less than a week later, bell,
you had your freedom, at last—

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Kevin Powell is a poet, journalist, civil and human rights activist, and author of 15 books, including his newest title, “Grocery Shopping with My Mother,” a collection of poems.

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Montreal percussive dancers step in to tell stories of Black art and history

Children are always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Kayin Queeley says.

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Kayin Queeley expresses himself with his entire body. One can feel his enthusiasm in every sweep of his hand, in the set of his shoulders and the widening of his eyes.

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He uses language that echoes his passion in phrases like “tapping into” and “taking the step” and “resonance.”

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Queeley is the director of the Montreal Steppers, a team that uses their bodies to create rhythms and beats. The non-profit percussive dance group performs for themselves, for the community and visits schools for workshops and discussions that Queeley says quickly become “next-level.”

Percussive dance has origins in West Africa. It was a form of celebration and communication among slaves in North America and became popular among Black fraternities in the 1940s and ’50s, making its way to Canada by the ’90s.

Queeley, who is now a crisis case manager for students at McGill University, joined and went on to lead a stepping team while doing his undergrad in Upstate New York in 2007.

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“What I didn’t realize then,” Queeley says, “was that stepping was going to introduce me to part of my history, a rich art form rooted in blackness, rooted in Black expression, Black healing. These are ways we are communicating with each other. For me, it was very superficial at first. It was cool, it looked good. Yet it has meant so much more for us.”

Although he had fallen away from stepping by the time he moved to Montreal with his wife in 2014, the need to “keep the art form alive and keep the passion of using my body to make music” was never far from his thoughts. Montreal Steppers was formed in 2019 and has 18 members, 13 of whom are active steppers, while the others take charge of such things as stage management, music direction, media, photography and spoken word.

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When Queeley goes into a school for a workshop, the children will learn how to step. Yet the first thing he tells teachers is that he will allow the students to ask anything they want. A statement like that makes teachers nervous, he says, but he is blown away every time by the depth of conversation children set in motion.

He introduces himself and, with mid-elementary and older children, will begin, “About a hundred or so years ago (I’m just being generous), I would not be allowed to be in your classroom. The kids stop and say, ‘Mr. K., why?’ I say, because of my skin colour. At that time, although slavery had ended, there was segregation. Some ask, ‘What do you mean, what is that?’ It starts questions right away. As a Black man, I would not have been allowed into a white school. I would only have been allowed to teach at a Black school.”

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In this way, the Steppers are bold about centring Black history and acknowledging what some children might not have had to think about. Kids, with their finely tuned sense of justice, “call out what is wrong,” he says. The workshops are wrapped up by talking about people’s differences and the importance of appreciating them.

Children stomp and clap, they walk and clap, they are almost always in motion. Yet when they experience it in rhythm, they are linked with their peers in an intangible way, Queeley says.

“We use our bodies to tell the story of stepping and history. We use the art form as a starting point to have dialogues and conversations around blackness, Black art, Black history, Black importance, around creating a safe space and taking up space for ourselves.”

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It has been healing for the Montreal Steppers, Queeley says.

“As we dissect deeper into stepping, we connect the history. We recognize that this is not new. This has always been part of our ancestors’ expression. Going back to 14th century, back to West Africa before these folks were displaced against their will and brought to this North American context, these were elements of expression they were tapping into.”

The only time Queeley grasps for words is when attempting to define the connection his team experiences while stepping.

“Some folks say, ‘As you step on the ground, as you hit your body, you’re activating your land and you’re waking up your ancestors. It’s something we can’t really describe. … We’re tapping into something our ancestors laid down.”

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The team has done more than 300 workshops and has met close to 10,000 students, Queeley says. It is one way they want to sow into Montreal communities.

“We want people to see us and know who we are: ‘This is in response to everything you have said about Black people and believe about us.’ We are incredible. We are gifted. We are intelligent. We are impressive.”



The Montreal Steppers are part of the English Language Arts Network’s education program, wherein schools are granted an amount to invite artists to hold workshops.

The Steppers have made an intentional decision to not do any workshops during Black History Month, to avoid being tokenized or made a checklist item. They use that time to focus on their own healing.

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The group has set a fundraising goal of $4,000 for the month of September. The money will go directly to four community groups that have identified specific needs. The Steppers want their performances to be accessible and therefore not tied to fundraising, so donations are accepted online only. The groups benefiting are: The West Island Black Community Association’s robotics program; Côte-des-Neiges Black Association’s teen program; South Shore Youth Organization’s tutoring program; and Tinsdale Community Association’s high-school perseverance program.

“We want to continue to find ways to serve, teach, heal ourselves,” Queeley says. “Wherever this goes, if they feel a need to connect with us, we are happy to. We have seen the impact. We are very optimistic about what lies ahead.”

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  1. Dorothy Williams has dedicated more than 40 years of her life to documenting, archiving and telling the stories of the African presence in Canada as far back as the 16th century.

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James Earl Jones Retires As Darth Vader in ‘Star Wars’

Oscar-winning actor James Earl Jones is officially retiring as the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars — an iconic role he played for decades — and is signing over the voice rights to Lucasfilm and Respeecher.

The 91-year-old actor first debuted as Darth Vader in the original 1977 film, and went on to provide most follow-up voice performances for the iconic villain in the Star Wars franchise.

Jones is signing over the rights to his voice so that filmmakers using new AI technology can re-create the voice, according to a report by Vanity Fair.

Sound editor Matthew Wood, who estimates that he has recorded the actor at least a dozen times over the decades, told the magazine that Jones signed off on using his archival voice recordings, because he wants to keep Darth Vader alive — even if it means by artificial means.

“He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character,” Wood told Vanity Fair. “So how do we move forward?”

Wood also described Jones’ contribution as “a benevolent godfather,” and noted that the filmmakers inform the actor about their plans for Darth Vader, and regard his advice on how to stay on the right course.

Last week, the newly restored Cort Theatre on Broadway was renamed after Jones, becoming the second theater on the Great White Way to be named after a black artist.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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Senga Nengudi, known for evocative found-object art, wins Nasher Prize

The Nasher Sculpture Center announced Wednesday that Senga Nengudi, an artist whose uncanny sculpture — incorporating nylon pantyhose and other found objects — has been displayed in such museums as the Museum of Modern Art and the Baltimore Museum of Art, is the 2023 recipient of the Nasher Prize. Nengudi is the first Black woman to receive the honor, which was established by the Dallas museum in 2015 as a way to “honor a living artist who elevates the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities.”

Previous recipients of the prize, which is unusual in its international scope and its focus on sculpture, include such artists as Michael Rakowitz, who is known for replicating looted Iraqi artifacts, and Doris Salcedo, who conducts interviews with survivors of violence that inspire haunting conceptual sculptures. The award comes with $100,000 and is followed by programming focused on the artist’s work, including gallery displays and lectures, leading up to a gala in April.

Doris Salcedo used 15,000 needles to represent pain of gun violence

Nengudi’s multidisciplinary practice — which includes sculpture, performance, dance, photography and film — challenges convention and takes art down from the ivory tower. In the name of art, the 79-year-old has facilitated a ritual dance under a Los Angeles highway overpass in “Ceremony for Freeway Fets” (1978). She has hung “fabric spirits” made of flag material from fire escapes in Harlem to capture what she has called the “inner souls” of the people she saw on the street. And most notably, she’s transformed worn pantyhose, sometimes filled with sand, into tactile, visceral meditations on the female body. (She once said she could fit an entire exhibition in her purse). Her work, which spans more than half a century, has intersected with the feminist and Black arts movements.

At a time when women’s rights are being actively restricted, Nengudi’s signature pantyhose sculptures stretch across museum walls with renewed boldness and resonance. They are suspended, elongated, twisted and knotted, taking an object that was created to reshape women’s bodies to comport with expectations and turning it on its head, gesturing to the saggy, bloated and bulging bits of the body that so many have been conditioned to scorn.

Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher, said in an interview that Nengudi stands out for her pioneering collaborations, which often mix dance and performance art with sculpture; her use of humble materials installed in accessible spaces; and the way she engages with social issues that remain topical today.

“In more recent years, the extraordinary creativity of the Black art community — which, in the ’70s and ’80s, was in many ways marginalized — is now being recognized. And so she occupies a critical place in the history of Black arts but also of art, period,” he said. “At a moment when the right of women to control their bodies has been taken away, she’s an artist whose exploration of female identity through works made with pantyhose speaks with great power and relevance.”

The idea for the Nengudi’s pantyhose works, known collectively as “R.S.V.P.,” came to her after she gave birth to her first child. “I was looking for material that kind of reflected the female body” she told curator Elissa Auther in an oral history for the Archives of American Art. “And then, finally, I found the pantyhose. Right after that, I went, ‘Wow,’ because the whole birthing experience — you’re expanding and then all of a sudden, after it’s over, you’re contracting, and your body kind of goes back into shape. I really wanted to somehow express that experience.”

Nengudi’s work has long been intimately connected to the body. As a student at California State University, Los Angeles (now UCLA), Nengudi, who was born in Chicago as Sue Irons, studied both dance and art, knowing that a career in dance would be necessarily short-lived and she’d need something to do afterward. Her experience working in arts education at the former Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum) opened her eyes to the ways art and dance could coexist: The museum had its own dance department, and educators danced in front of artworks as a teaching tool for kids.

In a statement announcing the award, National Gallery of Art curator Lynne Cooke — one of the Nasher Prize jurors — addressed part of what makes Nengudi’s work so impactful. “The fact that she makes work with these everyday means that had no history within sculpture and were of no great value is something that means a lot to younger artists as well as to a wider audience,” Cooke wrote.

Early in her career, Nengudi was attracted to what she called the “non-craft” of artists such as Paul Klee, and volunteered in experimental, Black-centric art education programs at Los Angeles’s Watts Towers — massive sculptures made of found objects. In the 1960s, she became so fascinated with Gutai — a radical Japanese art movement in which artists rolled in mud, half-naked, and painted canvases with their feet — that she moved to Japan. There, she came to appreciate the way Japanese aesthetics embraced simplicity and imperfection, and she studied Noh and Kabuki theater, which she praised for combining different artistic media.

When Nengudi eventually returned to Los Angeles, she founded Studio Z, a Black art collaborative, and worked alongside David Hammons and Maren Hassinger, who often partook in performance pieces in which Hassinger danced among Nengudi’s sculptures.

Based in Colorado Springs, Nengudi has been celebrated in retrospectives at such major museums as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum. New York’s Dia Beacon is planning an exhibition of her work scheduled to open in February.

But museums and awards, which seek to commemorate and memorialize are, in some ways, antithetical to the spirit of Nengudi’s work — at least according to Nengudi. “An artist’s supposed greatest desire is the making of objects that will last lifetimes for posterity after all,” she has said. “This has never been a priority for me. My purpose is to create an experience that will vibrate with the connecting thread.”


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Oscar winner James Earl Jones will no longer be the voice of Darth Vader

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: The legendary voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader can no more be enjoyed by fans. The artist has hung his boots and retired from the role he had played for decades, as he signed over the voice rights to a Lucasfilm and Ukrain-based artificial intelligence audio company, Respeecher. He took up this role back in 1977 for the first time and voiced one of the most iconic villain Darth Vader in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise for 40 years.
The Oscar winner Jones, 91, has decided to sign over the rights to his voice to make it possible for filmmakers to re-create the voice with help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) influenced algorithm, reported Vanity Fair. Spilling the beans on the voice rights, Matthew Wood, supervising sound editor at Skywalker Sound in Northern California said that Jones wants to keep Darth Vader alive – even if means by artificial means. The sound specialist has worked and recorded Jones for more than a dozen times over in his long and successful career.



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Wood further added, “He had mentioned he was looking into winding down this particular character, so how do we move forward?” as per Vantity Fair.
Wood also talked about how important Jones’ role has been in the entire franchise, and referred to him as a “benevolent godfather.” He said that the filmmakers always look up to him for his invaluable advice on how to “stay on the right course.”
Interestingly, the newly restored Cort Theatre on Broadway was named after Jones. It is now the second theatre on the Great White Way to be honored by the name of a Black artist. The artists present during the dedication ceremony, included such stage and film stars as Samuel L Jackson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and director Kenny Leon. Some also find keeping his performance alive through AI technology, “a bit weird” and “ethically questionable.”
There have been other stars who returned to the franchise, such as Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and Mark Hamill in recent years to reprise their characters, however, there’s no one close to the magnanimity that Jones held as Darth Vader.


RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

On Tap: Fall Fest and BBQ Cook-Off happening Oct. 1 in downtown Antioch


The Celebrate Antioch Foundation will host its fifth annual Fall Fest and BBQ Cook-Off on Oct. 1. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. downtown, join the party featuring barbecue, beer and wine and music. More than 30 street vendors will also be on hand for this fun, family- and pet-friendly event. To register as an event contestant or vendor, visit online.

—Celebrate Antioch Foundation

‘Evening of Magic’ with performer Amyx set for Oct. 19

El Campanil Theatre’s Lobby Series will present “An Evening of Magic” with Andy Amyx at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

Amyx is known around the world for his dazzling and thrilling style of magic and illusions. Peers of Amyx, such as Lance Burton, applaud his enhanced style and technique, which has fascinated many for years.

His exceptional reputation in the magic industry enabled his success after many years of performing for family, friends, schools and local organizations, when Amyx began studying at the Chavez Studio of Magic in La Verne (Los Angeles County).

There he achieved the Chavez Certificate of Prestidigitation, which the the Chavez Studio defines as the development of manual dexterity to a degree to which the eye cannot follow the movement of a performer’s fingers during sleights of hand.

Amyx continued to perfect his magic by creating his own style of music, manipulation and original costume. He has performed private shows for celebrities such as Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore and Tom Cruise. For tickets, which are $20 each, call 925-757-9500 or go online to

— El Campanil Theatre

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ at El Campanil starts Friday

Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble will present “Murder On The Orient Express” from Friday through Oct. 9 in El Campanil Theatre at 602 W. Second St. in Antioch.

Ken Ludwig’s clever adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” boasts all the glamour, intrigue and suspense of Dame Agatha’s celebrated novel, with a healthy dose of humor to quicken the pace, says its director, Alexiel de Ravenswood who is assisted with artistic vision from Jo Kiech.

Bill Falcon, left, and David Ghilardi star as Hercule Poirot and Monsieur Bouc in Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble’s production of the Agatha Christie mystery classic “Murder on the Orient Express.” (photo courtesy of Melissa Christine) 

With eight suspects, an intriguing and suspenseful plot and loads of glamour, audiences are in for one thrilling ride. It’s winter in 1934, and the Orient Express is traveling through Europe when, just after midnight, a snowdrift stops it in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it has one fewer passenger. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer — in case he or she decides to strike again.

“We are so excited to bring this show to our community — audiences will see some familiar faces, but many new ones!,” Ghostlight’s Artistic Director, Kathryn Lopez said. “We are so glad that the Ghostlight family continues to grow, and look forward to bringing one of Agatha Christie’s most famous stories to the stage.”

The stand-out cast features Bill Falcon (Hercule Poirot), David Ghilardi (Monsieur Bouc), Suzanne Pamphile (Countess Andrenyl), Helen Moore Dixon (Greta Ohlsson), Chuck Phalen (the Conductor), Carol Falcon (Princess Dragomiroff), Martie Muldoon (Helen Hubbard), John Ruzicka (Hector MacQueen), Sierra Bluebaugh (Mary Debenham), Patrick Atkinson (Samuel Ratchett), Ryan McComas (Head Waiter), and more!

Shows are Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and on Oct. 2, 8 and 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for seniors, $28 for general admission and can be purchased online at

— Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble


Catch Italian opera ‘Elixir of Love’ at Bankhead Theater

The Livermore Valley Opera will present “The Elixir of Love” on Oct. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at the Bankhead Theater. The opera will be sung in Italian and is appropriate for the entire family.

Love potion or snake oil? When poor Nemorino fails in his attempt to woo the lovely and wealthy Adina, he turns to quack Dr. Dulcamara, a purveyor of phony potions, who assures him that his brew will do the trick. But when it comes to love, the couple learns that the real thing — love that is — beats any elixir the doctor can concoct.

This bubbly and beloved comic opera by composer Gaetano Donizetti will charm you with laughs and memorable music, featuring one of opera’s greatest tenor arias, “Una furtiva lagrima.” Alos, this brand-new production is set just after World War I in a Livermore valley vineyard, complete with the leading soprano as the vineyard’s owner. For tickets, call 925-373-6800 or visit online.

— Livermore Valley Opera


Bedford Gallery to exhibit African American art collection

The Bedford Gallery will present “The Harmon & Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper,” an exhibition that celebrates 54 African American artists and their contributions to U.S. art and culture.

Curated from the extensive collection of Harmon and Harriet Kelley, featured artists will include Grafton Tyler Brown, the first documented professional graphic artist on the West Coast, and contemporary printmakers such as  Margo Humphrey. The works on paper — spanning from the 20th century to this one — consist of drawings, etchings, watercolors, pastels and color screen prints that chronicle the lives of Black Americans through scenes of family and community, urban and rural workers, poverty and success, cultural pride and political turmoil.

Presented by the Bedford Gallery and organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions in Los Angeles, the collection will be on view from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays from Sept. 29 through Dec. 18 at the Bedford Gallery in the Lesher Center for the Arts at 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek. For more information or to buy tickets ($5 for general admission, free for Bedford Gallery members and children younger than 13), visit Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

— Bedford Gallery

Submit area arts-and-entertainment On Tap items to Judith Prieve at

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Overworked and underpaid, this Salt Spring Island doctor says family physicians are burning out

White Coat Black Art26:30Salt Spring family doctor blues

Three years since starting his family practice, Dr. Christopher Applewhaite says he regularly considers quitting. 

Applewhaite practises on Salt Spring Island, B.C. — the largest of the province’s Gulf Islands — where, he says, half of the residents are without a family doctor. That figure is far higher than the estimated one in five British Columbians without a physician.

Despite the high number of people without a general practitioner, Applewhaite says he’s not the only physician reconsidering a career in the province. 

Canada is facing a shortage of doctors fuelled, in part, by growing workloads and low pay.

On average, nearly 15 per cent of all Canadians 12 and over reported not having a regular health-care provider, according to a 2019 Statistics Canada report. A survey published this month by the Angus Reid Institute suggests that number is now closer to 20 per cent.

Applewhaite spoke with White Coat, Black Art host Dr. Brian Goldman at his office on Salt Spring Island about what he’s experienced in his practice — and what the system’s problems could mean for the island’s residents.

Here is part of that conversation.

So now, more than three years later, what’s the mood like for you and your colleagues?

So I think people are speaking with their feet. Practices are closing across B.C. at an alarming rate. I don’t know where the doctors are going, but they’re disappearing. I think some of them are leaving medicine altogether. They’re retiring. 

I had at one time presumed that they were going to work as hospitalists. But speaking to one of my colleagues in the hospitalist program, they’re also struggling to find people. So people are just leaving practice altogether.

Including right here in this practice.

Including right here in this practice, yeah. We’ve had several departures in the last year or so. Only one of those physicians has been able to find a replacement. And for that reason, this island community has an attachment rate which is only about 50 per cent, currently. So almost the majority of people don’t have a family physician on the island now. 

Applewhaite, left, pictured with registered nurse Ian Whipple, also works at Lady Minto Hospital, the island’s only hospital. (Brian Goldman/CBC)

You called this area the swamp. Why do you call it the swamp?

So this is the room where the paperwork happens and family physicians everywhere have a significant amount of paperwork to do. The burden of that has been increasing even in the time that I’ve been practising, which isn’t that long. 

I don’t know why, but, you know, insurance forms and notes … et cetera, have been just multiplying at an incredible rate. And unfortunately, we are only paid for visits, which is really, you know, probably only half of our work that we do. 

Like for actually seeing the patient and making a diagnosis and proposing a treatment.

Correct, yeah. So I guess the point you’re getting at is this is the room that the unpaid work happens in. And I spoke to my former residency mentor and supervisor about the way he practises in the city, which is five days a week in the office. 

He estimates that doing that full time, he does 20 to 30 weeks of unpaid, full-time work a year, comprised mostly of paperwork and forms. 

For the time that you do get paid, for the work that you do get paid, are you well paid?

My opinion is that, no, I’m not; $33, which is sort of the base rate for a visit in B.C., feels pretty inadequate. It certainly has not kept up with inflation, and every time it’s negotiated, it has essentially meant a pay cut because it’s been so far from inflation. 

I don’t spend less time with my patients because I don’t want to [spend time with them]. I spend less time with my patients because of the funding model, because I simply can’t keep the lights on if I spend the amount of time that I actually want to spend with my patients. 

Just this week, I had a mental-health visit where a patient was disclosing to me an absolutely horrific trauma history, and I was not about to tell that patient, listen, your 10 minutes are up. It’s time to go. And as a result, I let her tell me everything she had to say, which is extremely important for building the relationship that will hopefully help her to get well. 

And I actually cancelled a few of my appointments that day, rescheduled them, so that she could have the time. And that’s what we all want to do, is give the time where it’s needed. Of course, at the end of the day, I’m getting $30 for that hour that I spent with that patient. 

WATCH | Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh says health-care workers want better working conditions:

Future physicians worry about working conditions, cost of starting business

3 days ago

Duration 0:58

Doctors of B.C. president Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh says that while future health-care workers are driven by caring for patients, they want working conditions to improve so they don’t burn out.

All of that and then COVID came along. What’s COVID done to your office-based practice?

On a positive note, the government was able to display fantastic ability to make timely changes when it came to the pandemic. And what they did, most importantly, is that they allowed us to bill for virtual care at the same rate as we bill for in-person care. 

Most general practitioners would have loved to deal with simple things, like refilling a prescription, maybe checking in about blood sugars, that sort of thing, over the phone in the past. 

But unfortunately, the rate of pay was so low that we always asked people to come in. Telehealth is now a big part of our practice and remains probably half or more of the visits per day…. It’s great for patients and it’s great for the doctors. It can be more efficient and it just saves everyone a little bit of time.

You talked about moral injury…. You’ve had a couple of situations recently that kind of took it to a different level. Can you talk about those? 

I had a very unfortunate patient who was diagnosed with a brain tumour on imaging. I consulted a neurosurgeon who suggested that she should get an urgent MRI of the brain to fully describe what was going on, and so she could have a real conversation about the prognosis and diagnosis with a neurosurgeon and/or oncologist. 

Unfortunately, this MRI scan, which was ordered by a neurosurgeon, was going to take three to four weeks to get. The patient was deteriorating rapidly and in the end decided to just have medical assistance in dying. 

Of course, many people choose medical assistance in dying, but I think every patient deserves to have the full set of information in front of them before they decide to go that route. And more and more, that’s not happening. People are just sort of throwing their hands up going, I know it’s bad and I don’t know when I’ll get to see the cancer doctors, so I’m going to go this route. 

Applewhaite lives on Salt Spring Island with his family. He calls Salt Spring a great place to raise kids. (Brian Goldman/CBC)

What impact do stories like that have on you? 

It’s distressing because it’s not how it’s supposed to work. It’s not the best care for the patients. And I know because I talk to them over and over in those six to eight weeks how much they’re suffering with the waiting and the not knowing and the unanswered questions. 

And this extends to their families, kids, parents, all of those people are waiting, waiting, waiting and not knowing. And it causes a huge deal of distress that, in my opinion, shouldn’t happen. 

You’ve only been here for a little less than three years or around three years. Have you thought of quitting?

I’ll be honest, I think about it on a pretty regular basis. The only reason that I’m [still] doing it, and I think that most of us are [still] doing it … right now, in this environment, is because we really care about our patients. And to abandon another cohort of people just feels really sad and it feels like a failure. 

But as I mentioned, many, many people despite that, have reached the point where they just decide that they can’t continue on and they’ve closed their practices. So, yes, I do think about it.

I hope that this province can change course and start to make the meaningful changes that are needed to reverse this downward spiral and get more family doctors in this province providing longitudinal family practice.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment