ArtsCentric brings ‘The Color Purple’ to Baltimore

— Local theater production company ArtsCentric presents the Tony Award-nominated musical “The Color Purple” in Baltimore from December 12, 2014 through January 4, 2015.

The musical showcases jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues, and will feature new up-and-coming talents along with local favorites including Dayna Marie Quincy, who was a lead in the Broadway National Tour of “The Color Purple.”

Performances will run every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. in the newly designed Boston Street Theater inside Best Western Plus Hotel and Conference Center located at 5625 O’Donnell Street in Baltimore.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, by Alice Walker, the story of the musical spans four decades and three continents.

Throughout the musical we are introduced to an array of complex and charismatic characters including Harpo (Te-Ron Prioleau), Sofia (Latisha Hamilton), and the ever- alluring Shug Avery, played by Tierra Strickland.

However, much like the novel and the 1985 Steven Spielberg-directed film, the musical mostly chronicles the life of Celie, played by Dayna Marie Quincy. Separated and isolated from her sister Nettie (Raquel Gregory-Jennings), Celie is a battered and abused 14-year old girl from the South. Celie has endured rape by a man assumed to be her father, has been stripped of her children and ultimately sold off into a loveless marriage.

Nettie, on the other hand, is allowed to attend school, becomes a teacher, and eventually ends up on a missionary trip in Africa with a couple who turn out to be the adoptive parents of Celie’s long-lost children. Dayna, who has had the unique opportunity of having played the role of both Celie and Nettie in past productions says, “I’m looking forward to finding a fresh approach. I love the music from the show, and it’s great to come back to it and experience new people and new voices!” During the course of the musical, Celie changes over time from a fragile youth to a mature and contented elderly woman. While some would cower at the demands of playing such a broad character arc, Dayna notes, “I look forward to attempting to tell her story in as true a manner as possible, and to her evolution as a person. From the moment the curtain goes up she is always growing— always changing.”

She also acknowledges the heavy issues covered in the musical, “I want people to walk away thinking about domestic violence, mental views and self-exploration.

I want people to look at their own lives and really think about not only the negatives, but the positives in life…. the silver lining.” The two sisters find strength by writing letters and clinging to the hope that they will one day be reunited. Ultimately, “The Color Purple” reminds us that, “it only takes a grain of love to make a mighty tree.”

Founded by twelve aspiring young artists in 2003, ArtsCentric is an organization designed to bring quality artistic works and creative services to the community at large. Its members consist of talented artists, musicians, educators, composers and playwrights.

Tickets for “The Color Purple” are $25.00 and can be purchased online at: or by calling the Box Office: 410- 205-5130.

Indie Soul Spotlight: Guardian Angels

On October 11th, 2014, The Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River presented the Guardian Angels with an award for their work in the community.

The Guardian Angels is a non-profit international volunteer organization of unarmed citizen crime patrollers. It was founded in 1979 in New York City by Curtis Sliwa and has chapters in 15 countries and 144 cities around the world. The local of the Guardian Angels is located at 27 Penny Lane in northwest Baltimore.

Assistant Chapter Commander Victoria Kent grew up in the Baltimore area and became part of the Guardian Angels to make a difference in the area she loves. She adds, “I wanted to be a part of something that was making a difference in the community I love. That is why I am part of the Guardian Angels. We are here for the community.”

Chapter Commander, Marcus Dent, wants the public to understand, “We are not a gang or here to replace the police officers. We are here to help protect the community peacefully for those communities that need it. It is our desire to work along with the police and neighborhood watch organizations.”

The Guardian Angels are looking for a few more volunteers. You can visit the website:, for more details. Understand this is not about being a vigilante but more about serving your community. If that is you and truly love your community, give them a call: 410-916-2215. Indie Soul salutes the Guardian Angels.

Smokey Robinson to perform in Baltimore

— It’s possible audiences will be treated to classical violins during Motown legend Smokey Robinson’s upcoming concert at the Patricia and Arthur Modell Lyric Opera House on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 8 p.m.

“It’s the Lyric Opera House, It’s possible,” he said during a recent trip to Charm City.

Robinson’s appearance in Baltimore will cap-off a trip down memory lane for area Motown fans.

In October, Gladys Knight wowed a sold-out crowd at the Warner Theatre in Washington as she performed such hits as “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Neither One of Us,” and “The Best thing that ever Happened to Me.”

Then, in November, another Motown Records icon Stevie Wonder thrilled more than 17,000 fans at the Verizon Center in Washington, reliving his masterpiece album, “Songs in the Key of Life.”

Now, it’s Robinson’s turn and, if you take the word of officials at the Lyric Opera House, those who attend are in for an unforgettable evening.

“The dictionary defines the popular term comfort food as food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal. It has been known to have a buffering effect as it soothes the soul and spurs memories of more comforting times,” Opera House officials said in a news release.

“If that concept holds up in the kitchen, then it makes perfect sense that it should hold true in the living room with its aural equivalent. While it’s

already a known fact that popular songs often connect with listeners in a highly personal way, often recalled alongside life’s more personal moments, only a few distinctive voices in popular music can achieve that same effect with instantaneous familiarity,” they said.

With his eternally smooth and instantly recognizable falsetto alone without the strings, bass, guitar or drums, the legendary Robinson’s honey-coated voice absolutely is the audio equivalent of comfort food and its comfort food for the soul.

Known for his falsetto voice, Smokey Robinson has recorded more than 35 Top-40 hits and he has in excess of 40,000 songs to his credit as one of music’s most acclaimed songwriters. Recognized as a critical piece to the success of Motown Records, Robinson has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In a recent interview, Robinson provided insight into writing hit songs.

“When I sit down to write a song, I want to write a song that 50 years ago would have meant something. So, 50 years from now, it’s going to mean something,” he said. “I know that, if I do that, that the song has a chance to live on and on. If it can live on and on and 20 years from now, somebody could pick it up and do a great arrangement on it and it could be a hit, you know. But, if it’s a song, it has that chance, so that’s my goal every time.”

Tickets range from $47 to $115 and can be purchased by visiting or

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade accepting applications

— The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts invites organizations to be a part of the 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade presented by Forman Mills.

The parade celebrates the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 19, 2015 at noon. Eligible applicants include cheer and dance squads, college and high school bands, community bands, equestrian groups, floats, honor/color guards, military groups and civic/community organizations. Parade participants are encouraged to represent Dr. King’s message and legacy. The application deadline is Monday, December 8, 2014. An application can be found at

The parade steps off at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Eutaw Street, proceeds south on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and disbands at Baltimore Street.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade is presented by Forman Mills. Additional support is provided by Yellow Cab of Baltimore and MetroPCS. Media sponsors include The Afro-American Newspapers, The Baltimore Times, Fox 45/The CW Baltimore and Radio One: 92Q, Magic 95.9, Spirit 1400 and WOLB 1010.

For more information on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade, call 410-752-8632 or visit:

The hug shared around the world

— It’s the picture we needed to see after a week like this.

A 12-year-old black boy, tears streaming down his face, and a white police officer embrace in the middle of a Ferguson-related demonstration in Portland, Oregon.

The boy, Devonte Hart, was holding a sign offering “Free Hugs” during a Tuesday protest over a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum approached Devonte and extended his hand, the boy’s mother, Jen Hart, wrote in a Facebook post.

“He asked Devonte why he was crying. His response about his concerns regarding the level of police brutality towards young black kids was met with an unexpected and seemingly authentic (to Devonte), ‘Yes. sigh I know. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’ The officer then asked if he could have one of his hugs,” Hart wrote, according to the Oregonian.

The Oregonian was the first media outlet to publish the photo by 20-year-old freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen. Within hours of its posting on Facebook, the photo had been shared more than 150,000 times, according to the Oregonian.

Nguyen told CNN he attended the rally to take pictures for himself.

“When I came across Devonte, who was holding a ‘Free Hugs’ sign and tears running down his face, I knew right there and then there was something special about him,” he said. “My gut told me to stay at the scene despite other photo opportunities in the crowd.”

Nguyen captured a few snaps of Devonte, then turned around to get some shots of other people. When he turned back, he saw Devonte speaking to Barnum.

“I thought, what a great scene. A powerful scene. A scene with a message that needed to be communicated. A scene of coming together,” he said.

“They hugged it out, and I got as close as I could, and snapped away.”

The photo “spread like wildfire” in a day. Since then, Nguyen said, he has received hundreds of emails and messages saying how the photograph made people feel more hopeful, that it restored faith in humanity or brought them to tears.

“I knew it had something special, something powerful. It had a message I think everyone wanted to see,” he said.

“I think it goes to show everybody was clamoring for hope in the midst of the violence and conflict going on today. I’m glad my photo has done that. Yes, I’m a photographer, but in the end, I’m a human being who wants better for other human beings, and I’m glad I can play my part by sharing the incredible photo. I wish to see everyone continue to be positive, and spread love, always.”

John Harbaugh discusses Ravens injuries: Torrey Smith, Asa Jackson, Michael Campanaro

Torrey Smith wasn’t on the field for the Ravens final two drives in Sunday’s game against the Chargers. Apparently, he injured the knee while making a one handed touchdown catch. He landed awkwardly on his knee as he fell to turf. He was seen limping on the sidelines and pointing to his knee while he was talking to medical personnel.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh addressed a few of the Ravens injuries at his press conference on Monday. Torrey Smith was the first player that Harbaugh spoke about.

“Torrey didn’t really have anything to serious. I don’t know how to describe it right now. He’ll be getting ready for Miami. Right now I would call him day to day.” Harbaugh said.

The questionable status of Torrey Smith along with the possible absence of Marlon Brown due to a concussion puts a lot more importance on the return of Michael Campanaro. The Ravens have been anticipating his return. Harbaugh spoke a lot more about Campanaro.

“Campanaro has a hamstring. We will keep our fingers crossed. He has a hamstring. It’s been slow. It was supposed to have been two weeks ago. It’s to a point where it’s just like, ‘let me know when you’re ready.’ Hamstrings are like that. He’s been killing himself.” Harbaugh continued; “He’s working really hard and there’s a chance that he’s back this week but I am just not going to count on him until he’s back. Availability and ability, durability goes with it. If you’re not out there, you’re not out there. It’s not his fault; he’s killing himself trying to get back.”

The secondary has been an issue for the Ravens. Losing nickel corner Asa Jackson didn’t help. He was playing well prior to severely spraining his toe. Harbagh said that they will watch him at practice this week to see whether or not he is ready to go against the Miami Dolphins.

“I want to see if Asa is ready to play. Want to see if he’s moving, he’s bursting and then the next day want to see that the thing feels good and go back out there and do the same thing. We want to see that’s he’s healthy and can play at an NFL level which is a very high level. He had a good week last week and I am optimistic but you don’t know until you see it.” Said Harbaugh.

The Ravens will travel to Miami on Sunday. The game will feature two teams that are looking to make a move in the AFC wild card playoff race.

Students, activists create living red ribbon in commemoration of World AIDS Day

— In Baltimore City, one in forty people are HIV positive and the number continues to grow. Local, state and regional organizations want that trend to change and are campaigning for a “Getting to Zero” initiative— ZERO AIDS related deaths, ZERO new HIV infections and ZERO stigma and discrimination.

Moveable Feast; the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan State University; HopeSprings; Chase Brexton Health Services; AIRS (AIDS Interfaith Residential Services); the Baltimore City Health Department; University of Maryland Medical School’s “Preparing the Future” Program; Johns Hopkins University’s “Generation Tomorrow” Program; the Morgan Community Mile; and others came together on December 1, 2014, World AIDS Day, for the 3rd Annual B’More Aware of HIV: The Living Red Ribbon Event in an attempt to create the largest living red ribbon in the world. The event took place at Morgan State University in the Hughes Memorial Stadium.

In addition to the living red ribbon formation, a health fair was held at the University and included HIV/AIDS and other screenings and information from area health care systems.

World Berries International Sisterhood sets up mentoring program for girls

Not too long ago in the black community, there used to be rites of passage programs designed to help transition young children in different stages in their lives. The goal was to help educate, empower, and protect children. World Berries International

Sisterhood started by LaShone Croom, is reintroducing that concept to the community. The program called World Berries International Sisterhood is designed for girls ages 6-13.

On Saturday November 22nd, 2014 at the Grind House Juice Bar in Charles Village, the Sisterhood had an information session with parents and children.

According to Croom, “This is a mentoring program. My desire is to get young girls while they are young, assist them with building their confidence, helping them to be aware of who they are, understand their body image, educating them where they come from, their culture, and celebrating when they come into womanhood.”

Croom wants to find female entrepreneurs to serve as role models and mentors for the girls in the program. “I feel that is our responsibility to give back and save our community,” she says.

The Morgan State University graduate also feels that children need to understand the mind, body, spirit connection. “Children are never too young to learn how to meditate. The ladies will also get a chance to experience things that they may not get a chance to do like horseback riding, swimming, and so forth.”

World Berries International Sisterhood is looking for students, women volunteers, and speakers. World Berries International Sisterhood is a non-profit organization. For more information visit: www/ or call 443-857-0352.

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.

5 tips to ensure great giving on #GivingTuesday

— GivingTuesday, the National Day of Giving, kicks off the holiday giving season on December 2nd, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Before donating to a charity this season, it is wise to carefully review a charity and ensure it is a trustworthy organization. BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) along with Better Business Bureaus across North America, is sharing five tips to help donors give with confidence.

“Our main objective is to help donors find charities they can trust,” remarks H. Art Taylor, president and CEO, BBB WGA. “We believe our rigorous reviews help verify trust before you donate.”

BBB WGA recommends these tips to give wisely, on #GivingTuesday and any day of the year:

  • Watch out for copycats. There may be hundreds of charities seeking support in the same category, and some may have similar sounding names. Don’t fall for a case of mistaken identity.
  • Consider the whole picture, not just finances. While financial ratios help in identifying cases of financial abuse, it’s a mistake to use them as the sole basis for making a giving decision. A good ratio does not necessarily mean a charity is well managed, honest in its appeals, transparent about its activities, and effective in achieving its mission.
  • Avoid being pressured. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an on-the-spot giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow just as much as today.
  • Keep emotions in check. Donors need to be mindful that con artists will often strike when emotions are running high. Always take a moment to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
  • Rely on rigorous evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by undergoing a rigorous evaluation based on holistic standards such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to BBB Charity Reports at

About BBB Wise Giving Alliance

BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards and about local charity review at local Better Business Bureaus at

Ben Carson: Political phenomenon

— It was 1965 and Ben Carson, an eighth grade black student in Detroit, was stunned.

Unable to control her anger, his teacher lashed out at white students for failing to outperform Carson, who had just been awarded the class’s highest academic achievement. In an interview last week, Carson described the teacher as being from a time when some people thought “how can a black person ever intellectually do better than a white person?”

“To her, it was the most abnormal thing that ever happened in the history of the world,” Carson said. “To me, I was determined I would show her.”

Nearly 50 years later, Carson — relatively unknown outside of conservative circles — is on the verge of becoming a political phenomenon. He placed second behind Mitt Romney in a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday asking Republicans about their preferred presidential nominee in 2016. Though his support only reached 10% in the poll, Carson outpaced more high-profile potential presidential contenders like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

He’s gaining traction as an African-American in a party that is struggling to connect with minority communities. But Carson is remarkably checked when asked about how, to this day, he deals with racism.

“If somebody has a problem with the way that I look, more power to them,” Carson said. “Let them sit and stew in it. I just got so many more important things to do than to deal with that.”

That doesn’t mean he’s silent on the racial issues of the day. After last week’s violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Carson slammed President Barack Obama for contributing to poor race relations.

“I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected,” he told radio broadcaster Hugh Hewitt. “And I think that things have gotten worse because of his unusual emphasis on race.”

He’s offered provocative commentary on a wide range of other issues, telling FOX News in May that the Veterans Affairs scandal was a “gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider.”

In a March interview with Breitbart, he compared the modern American government to Nazi Germany.

And at the 2013 Values Voters Summit, Carson said Obamacare is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

The ‘PC police’

For Carson, abandoning political correctness is a central element of his persona — and something that’s winning fans in the GOP base. Carson recently appeared at an event for the Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization in Iowa.

“He was very well received, and enthusiastically well received,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the organization, who noted Carson spoke to 900 attendees about pressing domestic concerns including cultural issues, foreign policy, and his disdain for political correctness.

“It is like a breath of fresh air when he talks about not being politically correct and how he won’t be controlled by the ‘PC police’ and he will say what needs to be said,” Vander Plaats said. “That message really resonated.”

Carson is well known in the medical community — he’s a celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon — and Cuba Gooding, Jr. played him in the 2009 made for television movie: “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” But his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2013 catapulted him onto the national political stage.

With Obama sitting just a few feet away, Carson warned that the U.S. was heading down the same path as Rome.

“Moral decay, fiscal irresponsibility,” Carson said during his speech. “They destroyed themselves. If you don’t think that can happen to America, you get out your books and you start reading.”

Carson said 15 minutes after his remarks, organizers of the Prayer Breakfast called him and said the White House was “upset and that I needed to call and apologize. I said, ‘I spoke to the president after the Prayer Breakfast and he was quite cordial and didn’t seem upset. I don’t see why he would be upset, unless what I said applied to him.'”

His speech was embraced by GOP activists and radio talk show hosts. Carson became an instant political celebrity for conservatives.

“I expected a reaction, but I didn’t expect it to be that profound, quite frankly,” Carson said of his remarks at the Prayer Breakfast. “Obviously, it touched a chord with millions of people and I thought it would die down after a while, but instead of dying down it continued to build.”

Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist, said that Carson is “certainly someone to be taken seriously,” in the GOP primary, but added that this does not necessarily transfer to the general election. “In terms of appeal in a general election, there are comments he has made that can come back to haunt him,” she said.

Carson dismisses those who criticize him for his remarks, and said they are just blowing them out of proportion. Yet, Carson does acknowledge that he is trying to make a point when he speaks on the issues of the day.

“I try to talk about what I actually see that’s going on and this is what we need in America,” he said. “We need people who are not afraid to express themselves and who are not afraid to debate issues.”

Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, said he admires Carson as a surgeon and noted his son was inspired by one of Carson’s books to become a thoracic surgeon. But in terms of race relations, the two men are not on the same page.

“He is an extraordinary surgeon, extraordinarily passionate human being,” Brooks said. “But I disagree with the personalization of a set of policies that have been harmful, not only to African-Americans, but the country as a whole with any particular party. … Dr. Carson stands like a giant in the operating room, but in the civil rights arena we would love to have more conservation with him about our positions.”

From poverty to the operating room

Raised by a single mother with a third grade education, Carson rose from poverty and racial division to achieve success. Carson’s mother left his bigamist father when he was eight years old and, despite her inability to read, forced him and his brother to spend their days with books and focusing on their schoolwork.

Carson struggled in his early elementary school years. At 10, though, Carson said the most defining moment in his life occurred: He was the only child in his class able to identify an obsidian rock held up by his teacher.

“It said to me that everyone thinks you are dumb, but you are not dumb at all,” he said. “And that was really the beginning of change.”

The second most defining moment in his life almost led to tragedy. Carson got into an argument with a friend and, in a fit of rage, lunged at him with a knife. A belt buckle blocked the blow and saved his friend from injury. Carson said he ran away from the scene.

“I locked myself in the bathroom and started thinking about my life and I started praying,” he said. “In the three hours I stayed in that bathroom, I came to an understanding that to lash out at people is not a sign of strength, it was a sign of weakness.”

Eventually, Carson earned his undergraduate degree from Yale and went to medical school at the University of Michigan and joined Johns Hopkins when he graduated, becoming a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.

On the campaign trail

Carson recently switched his voter registration from independent to Republican — a move he acknowledged was spurred on by a possible presidential run.

“If I decide to run, I need to run as a Democrat or Republican,” he said. “I don’t want to run as a third party candidate. And I would have to choose one of the parties.”

But the retired doctor noted that if he decides to seek the GOP presidential nomination, it would not be as a “traditional candidate.”

“I’m never going to be a politician,” he said. “I’m not going to listen to the people who’ve already tried … because then I’ll be them. I won’t be me. If I am not me, what would be the point, even if you won, of being in office under false pretenses?”

Carson further embraces the status as an outsider with no government experience, which he said is a positive with voters.

“I see it as a drawback if you want to continue going down the pathway of government controlling every aspect of our lives,” he said. “I don’t see it as a problem at all if somebody wants to reestablish the original intent in this country, which was a nation where the government conformed to the will of the people and not vice versa.”

It is this type of talk that has created a “buzz” among some conservatives in the early voting state of South Carolina, said GOP strategist Joel Sawyer.

“He is someone that activists are listening to, to a degree,” said Sawyer. “People are talking about him.”

Helping to fan the flames of a possible presidential bid was a documentary about Carson that his business manager, Armstrong Williams, paid to air in in 22 states and Washington, D.C., last month.

On the issues, Carson talks about revamping the tax structure, cutting back on government regulations, and asserting the U.S. as a world power who will “obliterate” ISIS, and stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When it comes to social issues, though, Carson emphasizes that there are more pressing issues the nation needs to address.

“I have likened America to a ship that’s about to sail off Niagara Falls,” he said. “And the social issues are like little barnacles on the side of the ship. There are a lot of people leaning over the edge saying we got to get that barnacle. No, we have got to turn the ship around. Until we get things moving in the right direction, get the economy moving … bring people out of poverty … deal with our energy resources in an appropriate way, get education back where it belongs … those are the issues that are critical. The social issues as far as I’m concerned they are personal issues for most people.”

Carson said if the right candidate emerges — which he describes as “somebody who understands business and economics and somebody who understands our place on the world stage and the responsibilities that we have” — he wouldn’t run. He is giving himself until May 1 to get into the presidential race.

In terms of being on the only black candidate publicly interested in seeking the GOP nomination, Carson reverts back to his time as a surgeon.

“I operate on the thing that makes the person who they are,” he said. “The skin doesn’t matter to me. I really don’t think those superficial characteristics have a place in society today.”