Indie Soul Reviews “The Good Son The Life of Ray ‘Boom-Boom’ Mancini”

One of the best lightweight fighters, Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini was one of the most respected boxers in history. A single tragic moment changed his story.

The documentary, “The Good Son, The Life of Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini,” is one of the best real life sports films produced in very long time. The life of Mancini is not just shared from his viewpoint but from those close to him like Actor Ed O’Neil (Modern Family), Actor Mickey Rourke (Sin City), sports icon Sugar Ray Leonard, family and others.

“The Good Son, The Life of Ray ‘Boom-Boom’ Mancini,” shares behind-the-scenes knowledge of what and who shaped the life of Ray Mancini. When he won he dedicated his victory to his idol – his dad. The story also relates the tragedy of losing his brother and one of the most regretful live sporting events in television history.

On November 13, 1982 from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Mancini fought Deuk Koo Kim for the World Boxing Association lightweight championship. What happened in the 14th round forever changed what would have been one of the best matches in WBA history. Kim was knocked out in the 14th round and never recovered. The film takes a look at the other side of Mancini’s life after that fight.

The film also explores the perspectives of Kim’s fiancee, Young-Mi, who was pregnant at the time and her son Jiwan, who never had a chance to meet his dad. The last 13 minutes of the film show the Mancinis and Kims making peace.. As the film states, even Sylvester Stallone could not write a better story then this. If you love real sports stories, then this is a something to watch. For further information, visit .

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments. To contact Phinesse Demps, call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or 410-501-0193 or email: Follow him on Twitter@lfpmedia.

Sweet experience for CSM student Jeremy Hunter’s ‘Nature of Man’

“The Nature of Man,” written by Jeremy Keith Hunter of La Plata, earned Best Production/Director, Audience Choice, Best Ensemble, Tech Wreck Award and an Outstanding Performance Award for Jonathan Johnson. Kaytlin Medley, a CSM theatre major from Waldorf, earned an Outstanding Performance Award for “Monteggia Fracture.”

“The Nature of Man,” Hunter’s first play, is about the nature and mysteries of the heart. “The inner depths of the human heart overflow with darkness—but amidst these shadows, light can emerge. Today, we see, men are the homes they create for themselves and for each other,” Hunter writes in describing his work.

Hunter has performed and directed in numerous theatrical productions on CSM stages and volunteered his time to perform a short play on end-of-life issues for the 2013 Southern Maryland Hospice and Palliative Care Conference. He was chosen to attend the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and was invited to audition for professional productions at the Southeastern Theater Conference. He is working as a stage manager for the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival, July 10-27.

At the 2013 College of Southern Maryland Foundation Scholarship Reception, Hunter, who received the Jerome A. Zanelotti, Sr. Memorial Scholarship, thanked donors for their generosity, saying “This scholarship tells me that you have faith in me as a student and as an actor. The best way to thank you for this scholarship is to show you that I am indeed worthy of it—which is exactly what I plan to do.”

The Watermelon Festival is the brainchild of Lisa Gregory the founder of Watermelon Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performing arts and to providing a nurturing and educational environment for original works. In the past four years, Gregory has focused on original works written by local artists and was the founder, artistic director and producer of Southern Maryland Originals, a production of the Performance Arts Club at CSM.

The festival was hosted by the Newtowne Players in Lexington Park. For information on the Newtowne Players, visit

Art student Ty’Cuon Harris shows work in AACO

— The Aloft BWI Hotel and The Chesapeake Arts Center is holding a Free Meet the Artist Reception featuring an Anne Arundel County Performance and Visual Arts Magnet Student, Ty’Cuon Harris on Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Aloft BWI Hotel located at 1741 W. Nursery Road in Linthicum, Maryland.

Artwork of Ty’Cuon Harris will be displayed in the main lobby of the Aloft BWI lobby Art during the month of June. During the reception, friends and family will be able to enjoy free appetizers and cash bar from 5:30-7:30pm, while viewing Ty’Cuon Harris’ artwork.

Harris is a fine artist born on December 2nd 1997, in Baltimore Maryland, and currently an art student in Annapolis, Maryland. Ty began to officially pursue art in the 5th grade, and has explored a variety of media from traditional charcoal, to clay, and currently focuses on acrylic, oil paint, and ballpoint pen. His subject matter heavily revolves around portraits and widely recognized faces.

Ty believes he was born with a potential for art, which was fine-tuned and developed via the TWIGS program at the Baltimore School of arts, and the Performing and Visual Arts program he attended throughout middle school and throughout high school.

Ty’s attributes his growing success in art widely to two key people, Leo Hylan, his art instructor, and Tyra, his mother. Ty plans to use his art, combined with his fascination with airplanes, to pursue a career in aeronautical design.

For more information, call 410-691-6969 or visit

Baltimore’s drug court turns 20

This is Part I of a Two-Part Series on Baltimore City’s District Drug Treatment Court.

Sitting before the judge in Courtroom 1 at the Borgerding District Court Building located on Wabash Avenue, LaVeie Jones waited to hear her name called. From the age of 22, Jones, now 43, had used drugs. However, on Monday, June 16, 2014, her name was not called for sentencing, but to receive her Certificate of Recognition for successfully graduating from the Baltimore City District Court Drug Treatment Court.

“What I am feeling today is that I succeeded at something, even though it was hard,” said Jones. “I didn’t think I would be able to do it by being home and going past the areas where I used to get high and live. I prayed to God to guide me every day and keep me safe in his arms. I asked Him to guide me in the right direction when He saw me going in the wrong direction.”

She added, “I made it. I finally feel like I am doing something good and positive with myself. My kids and grandkids can now see and feel the love coming from me, because now it’s not ‘highed up’ It’s genuine and real.”

Jones was among the graduates who completed the Baltimore City District Court Drug Treatment Court. The rigorous drug treatment court program combines judicial oversight with intensive treatment and supervision. Family members and friends proudly watched the graduates receive their diplomas inside of the packed courtroom.

Baltimore City District Judge Jamey H. Hueston and Baltimore City Circuit Judge Karen C. Friedman presided over the graduation ceremony, which also was attended by U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, and several other dignitaries.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Baltimore City District Court Drug Treatment Court, actor Harry Lennix served as the graduation ceremony’s Keynote Speaker. Lennix’s credits include “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Matrix Revolutions,” and the TV series “24.”

“This graduation proves that Drug Court works,” said Lennix. “When I come to these events, I hear the stories about families reunited, lives restored and lives regained. It is extremely encouraging, and shows that love, faith, and the desire of people does work. We need more of this.”

He added, “It shouldn’t be a struggle to get funding for these courts. They save lives and money and help communities. I am always honored and obliged to participate in events like this.”

Lennix, is an All Rise Ambassador for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), and is currently starring in the TV show “The Blacklist,” on NBC. He also starred in the Oscar-winning film “Ray” and most recently, “Man of Steel.”

Maryland’s first drug treatment courts began in 1994 in Baltimore City District Court and Circuit Court. Since then, the program has expanded to include more than 40 drug treatment and problem-solving courts throughout the state.

Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah draws ‘rave reviews’

— Currently appearing at Center Stage straight from Great Britain is Kwame Kwei-Armah. A seasoned playwright and actor, Kwei-Armah, was “cast” in the role of “Artistic Director.” His many credits include serving as artistic director of the historic 3rd World Festival of Black Arts and Culture held in Dakar, Senegal. He also played the role of “Finley Newton” in the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) drama “Casualty.”

This may be a theatrical introduction, but Kwei-Armah is indeed a “star” at Center Stage. His leadership as artistic director has garnered rave reviews from entertainment media, and he has been credited with infusing excitement and energy into Center Stage, which is located at 700 N. Calvert Street in the Mt. Vernon area. He has served as Artistic Director since 2011, and moved to the United States to take the position.

“This has been great,” said Kwei-Armah. “This has been a wonderful learning curve. This may sound a little weird, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But, I have had a great time learning. Now I know some of the things I didn’t know, which makes life a little easier.”

Kwei-Armah’s play “Elmina’s Kitchen” initially brought him to Center Stage after the production was invited to be performed there. He talked about some of the challenges he has faced since taking on the role of artistic director.

“Some of the challenges have been working around the taste of Baltimore in terms of our subscription holders and the city itself. It’s painful when people don’t like what they see, and joyous when they leave with a smile on their face. Every town has its idiosyncrasies, and a thing that defines what it is. I had to learn what makes Baltimore tick. It’s not New York or Washington, D.C., and it’s been interesting.”

He added, “Baltimore has bright audiences, but what it doesn’t do is wear its heart on its sleeve. You have to know how to serve it, but I am learning. It runs the gamut. What I have learned is that Baltimoreans want you to give them something interesting, don’t want to be hit over the head with issue after issue. They also want variety and diversity.”

Kwei-Armah’s “performance” at Center Stage has drawn rave reviews.

“I am excited about what we have done here at Center Stage,” he said. “I think it is difficult to analyze one’s self and define it to someone in a way that is coherent to one other than yourself. I feel I was very blessed with the spirit of creativity and I feel honored every day and every hour. I give thanks when I pray every night. I live each day as if it were my last and give it my all.”

He added, “My job at Center Stage has been an exercise in listening. I have to listen to the audience to find out how they respond to a show, and the types of shows they are interested in seeing. I have been complimented on what I have brought to Center Stage, and the shows have gotten great reviews. I am seeing the fruits of my labor, but I am not complacent.”

Kwei-Armah, 46, is also an Associate Artist of the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain.

In addition to “Elmina’s Kitchen,” other theatrical works include “Fix Up”, and “Statement of Regret” which premiered at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. “Elmina’s Kitchen” was transferred to London’s West End, making him the first black British playwright to have that honor.

He was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II on her Jubilee honors list for services to Drama, has received Honorary Doctorates from The Open University and the University of East London, and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

Kwei-Armah has been nominated for a “Lawrence Oliver Award,” and has won the “Evening Standard Charles Wintor Award” for Most Promising Playwright, and a “Screen Nation Award” for Favorite TV Actor. Other honors include a “100 Black Men of Britain Public Figure Award”.

Reflecting over his three years at Center Stage, Kwei-Armah discussed his “upcoming performances.”

“Right now, I am only thinking about today and today’s blessing,” he said. “That is where my mind is. Tomorrow is not in the hands of the individual. For the foreseeable future I am dedicated to finishing the job here at Center Stage.”

Center Stage concludes 2014 season with ‘Wild with Happy’

— The production runs through June 29, 2014, and closes out a very successful, critically acclaimed season at Center Stage.

“We loved this heartwarming comedy when we saw it with Colman at the Public Theater,” said Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “Colman Domingo is an incredible talent, as both a performer and as a writer, and I’m excited to conclude our season on this joyous note.”

The run of “Wild with Happy” at Center Stage, represents the Baltimore premiere of the new comedy. Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen, the show opened June 4. Leading the cast is Forrest McClendon as the grief-stricken “Gil.” Facing the loss of his mother, a breakup, and a stalled acting career, Gil isn’t inclined to believe in “Happily Ever After.” However, through an unexpected road trip, he finds love.

“Audiences are leaving happy and ecstatic,” said Kwei-Armah. “A son is coming to terms with his mother’s passing. Wild with Happy is filled with love, laughter and so much heart. We have gotten some really great reviews. People really love this production.”

According to Kwei-Armah, “Wild with Happy” has drawn great reviews from, and other entertainment media.

McClendon has appeared in numerous regional productions, and was a Tony Award nominee for his role in The Scottsboro Boys.

Playing Gil’s outrageous “Aunt Glo” along with the spirit of his recently passed mother, is Stephanie Berry. Berry’s many credits include Broadway and regional productions, as well as her award-winning one-woman show, The Shaneequa Chronicles: The Making of a Black Woman in New York.

James Ijames made his Center Stage debut as sensitive funeral director “Terry” while Chivas Michael made his first appearance there as Gil’s riotous best friend “Mo.” Both are on hand to help Gil deal with his grief through love and laughter. Ijames has appeared in numerous regional productions, and is the recipient of two Barrymore Awards for his work at Arden Theatre and Wilma Theatre. Michael has appeared Off Broadway at Classic Stage Company, Lincoln Center, and the Public, as well as regionally.

Cohen is the Producing Artistic Director of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and previously served as the Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Hartford Stage from 2003 to 2010. Cohen is also the Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye Theatre Company in Chicago.

Center Stage worked with several community partners, including the Baltimore Center for Black Equity, Baltimore Gay Life, and the Baltimore Queer Film Festival.

Along with the run of “Wild with Happy,” Center Stage is also featuring “Global Sister Cities,” a video installation examining the role of art in the civic sphere. “Global Sister Cities” is on display in the Deering Lobby, and showcases international artists’ filmed reflections of their own cities and explores subjects ranging from post-industrial trauma to the ability of dance to help heal communities.

“Global Sister Cities” is Center Stage’s newest Fourth Space initiative. The Fourth Space is Center Stage’s digital initiative dedicated to the exploration of the intersection of technology, media, and the performing arts.

Center Stage is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

“We are looking forward to our next season,” said Kwei-Armah. “Next season, Amadeus, It’s a Wonderful Life, Next to Normal, and many other exciting productions will be performed at Center Stage. We are very excited about going into a new season with a new set of plays. We want to give our audiences a good time. We are looking forward to taking them on that journey.”

Located at 700 N. Calvert Street in the Mt. Vernon area, Center Stage is an artistically driven institution, and focuses on civic and community engagement.

For more information about Wild with Happy or Center Stage, call (410) 332-0033 or visit

Gospel TV Legend Bobby Jones promotes “Rejoice with Me”

Gospel TV legend Dr. Bobby Jones is busy promoting his first CD in seven years “Rejoice with Me” (EchoPark JDI/ Caroline Distribution) that features collaborations with Faith Evans, Howard Hewett, Ann Nesby, Tommye Young West, Renee Spearman and Shawn McLemore.

For months, gospel enthusiasts have been buzzing about the energizing radio single “Rejoice with Me” that features R&B star Faith Evans. The full CD is in stores this week and Dr. Jones is on the road heralding the news about the brilliant album.For the last 33 years, Dr. Jones has spent his Sunday mornings rejoicing with millions of gospel lovers around the globe who tune in to BET’s “Bobby Jones Gospel,” the longest running program in cable TV history.

Grow your own backyard paradise in a pot

Create a backyard escape with the help of container gardens. Whether you’re looking for a visit to the desert, an English garden or tropical paradise, a few planters can help create the mood.

Reduce your workload and increase your enjoyment with a bit of planning and proper planting.

Select a container with drainage holes and one that mimics the color and feel of the location you are trying to recreate. Use troughs, stone or other containers made from neutral colors when growing succulents. The container should complement, but not overpower the simple beauty of the desert plants.

Keep things warm and natural when going for a more tropical feel. Wicker, bamboo and other natural materials work well with the lush foliage and vibrant colors of tropical plants. Add a few terra cotta, metal and basket type containers when creating an English cottage setting. Set them on your patio, steps or in the garden to create a focal point.

Keep your plants looking good throughout the season with the proper planting mix. Look for potting mixes with good drainage and water holding abilities, like Schultz Potting Soil Plus ( Check the label as some mixes contain enough fertilizer to last the entire season and water-retaining crystals to reduce the need to water.

Use a cactus mix that provides the perfect growing conditions for cacti and succulents. The potting mix should retain the moisture and nutrients the plants need, while providing the excellent drainage that is a must for these plants.

Plant any orchids added to your backyard tropical paradise in a potting mix designed for these plants. Use an orchid mix that has excellent drainage and aeration, yet retains the moisture and nutrients these beauties need to thrive.

Check your planters daily and water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist. Allow cacti and succulents to go a bit drier.

Mulch the soil in tropical, herb, vegetable and annual container gardens. Spread a thin layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or twice shredded bark over the soil surface. Use fine pebbles for cacti and succulents that like things hot and dry.

And don’t forget about garden accents. A wattle fence and arbor of twigs and branches work well for an English garden setting, while a water feature can enhance a tropical paradise themed garden, and some southwest garden art can complete the desert scene you’re going for.

So start your vacation this year with a trip to the garden center. Invest in a few containers, the right potting mix and plants. Then plant your way to the retreat of your dreams.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. For gardening tips and videos, visit her website:

Indie Soul Entrepreneur of the Week: Fanon Hill

This week’s entrepreneur of the week is community activist Fanon Hill.

In 2010, Fanon Hill and his wife Navasha founded the Youth Resiliency Institute. “Our goal is to be able to teach children and families to embrace who they are and to teach them about where they come from and to introduce them to a variety of subjects to not only build character but to also give back to the community” states Fanon. “I love my community and I live for helping others.”

Fanon’s hard work was recently recognized by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation which awarded the Youth Resiliency Institute a half-million dollars to launch The Journey Project in Cherry Hill. According to Fanon Hill, “The Journey Project is for the community I love, Cherry Hill Public Homes. We will be helping students, doesn’t matter age or color, its about community, to learn how to study, the importance of family and family values when it comes to education, and to teach them how they can be leaders in the community.” When everyone else from political leaders to church leaders, gave up on people in Cherry Hill, Fanon Hill said is not giving up.

Youth Resiliency Institute is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization licensed in the state of Maryland. For more information about the Youth Resiliency Institute and The Journey Project, contact Fanon Hill at 443-934-1972 or visit:

Indie Soul Student of the Week: Kearie Young

This week’s Student of the Week Kearie Young is very special and personal. Usually, I try to stay clear of adding personal feelings but this week I am going to break the rules because this young man has come a long way and I am truly honored to have been a part of his life and to watch him grow.

I met Kearie when he was about five. The school that he was attending had labeled him a bad child. However, many around Kearie including his mother, aunt and grandmothers knew better. With tough love and guidance the family set out to help him change his attitude and improve in school.

On June 12, 2014, Kearie Young graduated from Berkshire Elementary School. He did so with the following honors: Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award for reading, Perfect Attendance Award, Character Award, Career Awareness Project Award and the President’s Education Award, signed by President Barack Obama.

“I want to thank my mother, my aunt and family for not giving up on me,” said Young.

Yes, the village guided him, but Kearie understands the importance of education and is setting goals for himself. His plan is to go to college to get a degree in electronics and computers, so he can design video games. Kearie Young when you read this, I want you to know I am very proud of you! You’ve come a long way and you have earned the right to be this week’s Indie Soul Student of the Week.

Each week during the school year, Indie Soul will spotlight a student who excels in academics and in the community. To nominate someone for “Student of the Week,” call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or email with “Student of the Week” in the subject line.