“MOTOWN, THE MUSICAL” is Coming to the Hippodrome

Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” MOTOWN THE MUSICAL sings its way to Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre Friday, April 13, 2018 through Sunday, April 15, 2018. The limited five-show engagement is back by popular demand, and is part of the 2017/2018 CareFirst® BlueCross BlueShield Hippodrome Broadway Series.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is the true American dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and so many more.

The highly-acclaimed production tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America.

The production includes Baltimore natives Brett Michael Lockley and Isaac Saunders, Jr.

“Motown The Musical is a gift to the world,” said Saunders, who is a graduate of Lansdowne High School. “The show brings a sense of unity and family. You forget all about the problems in the world, because the show links you back to these moments in music.”

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL was originally produced by Tony Award® winning producer Kevin McCollum, Chairman and CEO of SONY Music Entertainment Doug Morris and Berry Gordy, in association with Work Light Productions.

“The reaction of the audience to this show is wonderful,” said Saunders. “Some songs they have heard, and some they have not heard. Sometimes, you hear the audience smile because they are going back into time and reliving that moment. It is a joy to do this show. Mr. Gordy has consistently come in, and said that he wanted us to stay true to Motown. We study, work hard, and have wonderful creative members to help us to embody the characters.”

Saunders added, “It’s is true gift to see Mr. Gordy’s face. He has come to see the show several times, and always finds a new way to show it to the audience. Having his creative genius is mind- blowing, and it’s a blessing to be a part of this legacy.”

The hit production features staging by Schele Williams, choreography re-created by Brian Harlan Brooks, original choreography by Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams, scenic design by David Korins, and costume design by Tony Award® nominee Emilio Sosa.

Saunders is a “swing” performer in the musical.

“A swing is a standby,” said Saunders. “As a swing, I step into a role when an ensemble cast member goes out. We also cover principles. We don’t go up every night, but we still show up because it is still our job. We fill in the blank in case something is missing. Whenever an actor has to step out, we step into that part.”

Saunders, 21, talked about how he landed a part with MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.

“I auditioned for the show in late June 2017, and within hours I was booked for the show,” he said. “I grew up in Baltimore City, and sang in the church. As I got older, I wanted to get more involved in singing and acting. I also took dance classes my last year in high school. I wanted to get involved myself in all three – singing, acting and dancing.”

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL’s arrangements and orchestrations are by Grammy and Tony Award® nominee Ethan Popp.

“I hope everyone can come out and see this show,” said Saunders. “We have been on tour since October of 2017, and audiences love it. The audiences are diverse, and range from young to old. It’s important that the young generation know this music because it will be around forever.”

Performance times are Friday, April 13, 2018 (8:00 p.m.); Saturday, April 14, 2018 (2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.); and Sunday, April 15, 2018: 1:00 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. The Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center is located at 12 N Eutaw Street in Baltimore. For more information visit BaltimoreHippodrome.com, or call (866) 870-2717

Traveling Exhibit “TrapxArt” Brings Black Culture to DC

— “Trapxart” is a movement that fuses art and HipHop culture via self-expression. They are a team that believes in being your own boss; spiritually, mentally, creatively, physically, whatever that means to you. Their showcases are a celebration of diversity through arts, whether audio or visual, but usually both.

The brilliance behind “trapxart” events is the way that they blend our contemporary “trap” music live show and a living, breathing, engaging art exhibit experience. Most events feature musical tributes to artists or record labels who embody the essence of their agenda. This particular evening was all about Atlanta’s own trap supergroup, “Migos”.

I joined trapxart and one of their featured artists, Lexi Russell (thelexishow.com), for an evening of custom creations and black culture, at Kabin Lounge in Northwestern D.C., right on Dupont Circle.

The top-floor nightclub was packed wall-to-wall with patrons, the DJ was playing our favorite songs. Every inch of the space was covered with creativity, from the outfits on display by the attendees, to a live art installation featuring a body-painter.

Lexi and I sat down to discuss the effect that growing up black had on the person she is today, how it influences her art, and what #blackgirlmagic means to her.


trapxart DC Recap 03/18/18

All photos taken by Gustavo Marinho (@MR_Gustavo)

The BSO’s OrchKids Program: Part II

Fifth grader Marquie Stainback reflected on OrchKids, a year-round during and after school, music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods.

“I have been in the program for two years,” said Marquie who plays the flute, guitar, piano, and sings. “I have learned about Black History, my heritage and how to play the flute. The flute is the most challenging instrument I have played, but I like challenges. I like the way I can change the way it sounds.”

Marquie is among the more than 1,200 children from Pre-K through 11th grade who are in the program. OrchKids’ main hub site is Lockerman Bundy Elementary School in West Baltimore.

In collaboration with Baltimore City Public Schools and several community partners, OrchKids provides music education, instruments, academic instruction, meals, as well as performance and mentorship opportunities at no cost to students and families.

OrchKids is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, the music program that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the country’s most impoverished areas.

“I can’t say it’s always safe outside,” said Marquie referencing the community surrounding Lockerman Bundy. “But inside, OrchKids is always safe.”

Raquel Whiting-Gilmer is Executive Director for OrchKids.

“Baltimore is a really great city that has challenges but so does every city,” said Whiting-Gilmer. “We are bringing out the talent we have here in our communities for everyone to see. We have good people in our city and that fact often gets lost. We are shining light on it.”

She added, “I have been here almost two years, and I am still moved hearing kids talk about being safe.”

OrchKids was designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods.

OrchKids was designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods.

OrchKids was founded in 2008 with seed funding from Marin Alsop and Founding Donors Rheda Becker and Robert E. Meyerhoff.

“OrchKids is a musicologist for social change program that was started by our founding donors and others,” said Whiting-Gilmer. “Whether performing on stage, or in life, the world this program opens up is incredible. These kids have gone to programs in Europe and many other places. Some kids never leave East or West Baltimore, but our kids travel outside of the city and state, which opens up new worlds to them.”

She added, “That’s the biggest part of the OrchKids program – possibilities and opportunity. The world is really big, and really big for our kids. If kids don’t see that, they will think the world is small.”

OrchKids is the cornerstone of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s efforts to expand their relevance within the broad and diverse Baltimore community.

“This isn’t easy work, but we have incredibly committed teachers and staff members,” said Whiting-Gilmer. “OrchKids is successful because of people giving their blood, sweat and tears to make this work every day.”

Camille Delaney-McNeil is the Senior Site Manager for OrchKids.

“We go to professional developments, and we are connected,” said Delaney-McNeil, who is also a musician. “We are always there, and even if there is not music going on, we are supportive. We have longevity on our minds. Some programs don’t have the opportunity to be as embedded as we are.”

Delaney-McNeil says OrchKids also offers a four-week summer program.

“What became evident to us was summer learning and music atrophy because students were not practicing and using their muscles,” she said. “Summer is also a recipe for kids to get into things they should not. Therefore, OrchKids started a four-week program, which allows us to see kids in a holistic and expanded way. We have really built relationships with our students all across the board. One of our goals is to have performance mentality in mind.”

OrchKids will perform at a concert at the Library of Congress in Washinton, DC on April 7, 2018 and a will hold a benefit concert at the Baltimore War Memorial on May 3, 2018.

For more information, about the OrchKids program, visit:www.bsomusic.org

World premiere of Migration, part of Baltimore Stories project at CCBC

— Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) presents Migration, an original dance production created by internationally known choreographer and CCBC alumnus Peter Pucci as part of the Baltimore Stories Performing Arts series on January 28, 2018 at 2 p.m. at CCBC Essex, Wellness and Athletics Center.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Free tickets may be reserved at the CCBC Box Office, 443-840-ARTS (2787).

The Baltimore native, whose family has lived and worked in Baltimore for generations returns to his Baltimore roots with a dance production exploring the interconnectedness of the human experience.

“Baltimore is my home town and I am honored to be granted this unique opportunity to work with more than 50 students from local high schools, colleges and community dance groups to bring ‘Baltimore Stories’ to life through dance,” said Pucci. “I grew up in East Baltimore and attended a dance class at CCBC Essex, which launched my love for making dances.”

Pucci grew up with a single mom in the East Baltimore housing projects during a time of great racial tension. He attended the former Northern High school and enrolled at CCBC, where he earned an associate degree in Physical Education. His Baltimore upbringing helped him form a deep respect for and understanding of how diversity and inclusion are essential elements in a community.

CCBC commissioned Pucci to create and articulate his vision of diversity and inclusion with a group of 50 dancers set to the music of Dawn of Midi’s Dysnomia. The production of Migration brings together dancers at different levels to choreograph, collaborate and articulate through dance the unique views and perceptions of people from different backgrounds, which shape their world views based on personal experiences, language and culture. Participating dance groups include: students from the CCBC Dance Company; three high schools, George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, and St. Timothy’s School; the Towson University Community Dance Program; and The Collective, a Baltimore-based professional dance company.

Migration, is inspired by the work of geneticist Spencer Wells, founder of National Geographic’s The Genographic Project, who is tracking the patterns of human migration over the past 50,000 years based on genetic information collected world-wide. Wells’ study of genetics revealed that earth’s human population shares a common origin and all humans are descendants from a single source and migrated across the globe.

Pucci earned a bachelor’s in fine arts from North Carolina School of the Arts. He served for nine years as a member of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, where he served as principal dancer, co-choreographer, and rehearsal director. Recent theatrical productions

include Master Harold and the Boys directed by Athol Fugard at the Signature Theatre; Incognito, directed by Doug Hughes Off Broadway at the Manhattan Theater Club; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Ethan McSweeney at The Shakespeare Company in Washington, DC. Pucci has worked for 20 years as a choreographer with extensive credits in theater, ballet, modern dance, opera, fashion and dance education.

The Migration premiere is supported, in part, by a $15,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation for Baltimore Stories, a year of programming at CCBC School of Liberal Arts, Performing Arts and Humanities focused on stories about Baltimore told through dance, music and theater.

“I Am Not Your Negro,”

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends— Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of the manuscript. Now, in an incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished.

The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material.

The film, “I Am Not Your Negro,” is a journey into Black history that connects the Civil Rights movement to the present Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

The film questions Black representation in Hollywood and beyond. Ultimately, it confronts the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of the three African-American leaders in a work that challenges the definition of what America stands for.

“I started reading James Baldwin when I was a 15-year-old boy searching for rational explanations to the contradictions I was confronting in my already nomadic life, which took me from Haiti to Congo to France to Germany and to the United States,” Peck said.

The director noted that he grew up “in a myth in which I was both enforcer and actor— the myth of a single and unique America. The script was well-written, the soundtrack allowed no ambiguity, the actors of this utopia, Black or white, were convincing,” he said.

With rare episodic setbacks, the myth was strong, better; the myth was life, was reality, he said. “I remember the Kennedys, Bobby and John, Elvis, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Dr. Richard Kimble, and Mary Tyler Moore very well,” Peck continued.

“On the other hand, Otis Redding, Paul Robeson and Willie Mays are only vague reminiscences. Faint stories tolerated in my memorial hard disk. Of course, there was “Soul Train” on television, but it was much later, and on Saturday morning where it wouldn’t offend any advertisers,” he said.

In the course of five years, Evers, Malcolm X and King were assassinated. Peck says each of them was connected and not just by the color of their skin.

“They fought on different battlefields,” Peck said. “And, quite differently. But in the end, all three were deemed dangerous. They were unveiling the haze of racial confusion. James Baldwin also saw through the system. And he loved these men. These assassinations broke him down.”

A Los Angeles Times review of the film notes that it’s Baldwin himself we see at the start of the film, a guest on a 1968 episode of the Dick Cavett Show being asked by the host “Why aren’t Negroes more optimistic – it’s getting so much better.”

“It’s not a question of what happens to the Negro,” Baldwin said with a look of inexpressible weariness crossing his face. “The real question is what is going to happen to this country.”

This is the theme— the idea that what’s really at stake in racial matters is America’s soul that Baldwin returns to again and again in the course of the film.

“The truth is this country does not know what to do with its black population,” he said at one point, adding later “Americans can’t face the fact that I am flesh of their flesh.”

Perhaps most movingly, in a televised interview with psychologist Dr. Kenneth Clark, Baldwin says he is “terrified at the moral apathy— the death of the heart which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves so long that they really don’t think I’m human. And this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters.”

But before it gets to any of that other material, “Negro” cuts immediately from that black-and-white Cavett footage to a sizzling montage of photos from Ferguson and other contemporary scenes of struggle, brilliantly edited to Buddy Guy’s high-octane “Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues.”

The film is opens for a one-week Academy-qualifying run and returns on Feb. 3 to theaters around the country, including Baltimore.

Note: “I Am Not Your Negro” has been nominated for “Best Documentary Feature” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars).

Family and creativity fuel Marlon Wayans’ success

Following the advice of his brother, Keenen, to not sit around and wait for Hollywood, Marlon Wayans has firmly established his own identity as an actor, writer, producer, director and stand-up comedian. He’s taken the advice to heart.

“I’m always creating my own point of view,” said the actor recently by telephone.

Known for his role as ‘Marcus Copeland’ in the 2004 hit comedy White Chicks, which co-starred his brother Shawn, Marlon has a history of collaborating on projects. He and Shawn starred as siblings in the television series The Wayans Bros., which ran from 1995-1999 on the former WB network. In 2000 and 2001, Marlon not only starred in and wrote but also produced the first two films of the Scary Movie franchise with Shawn as his co-star and Keenen as director. Their on-screen collaboration began in 1996 when they wrote and starred in Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, a parody of black coming-of-age films like Boyz n the Hood, Menace II Society and Higher Learning.

Earlier this year, Wayans produced and starred in the parody sequel A Haunted House 2 and created and starred in the comedy competition Funniest Wins, which had an eight-episode run this past summer on TBS. The show came about as he was looking at the landscape and thought “How do I create the perfect star?” said Wayans.

“Some shows showcase just stand-up,” he said. “I wanted to work on the skill set that would diversify comedians. I was looking at the YouTube and Vine generation and I thought it would be interesting to put the old school and new school generations together.”

During the show’s run, Marlon and his brothers Keenen, Damon and Shawn were on a national comedy tour together for the first time.

“It was the most awesome experience ever,” Marlon said. “I love touring with them and laughed a lot. We argued from time to time but always made up. To watch the audience have such a good time with us was awesome.”

Ever on the quest to create his own projects, Marlon recently launched his first online venture, whatthefunny.com with Randy Adams co-founder of the comedy website, FunnyOrDie.com. The site serves up comedy programming with an urban sensibility with established and emerging comedians, writers and actors.

The father of two said his son and daughter seem to be following in the family business.

“My son does impressions of people that are spot-on and my daughter is a brilliant writer,” Marlon said. “She studies Nickelodeon, watches old episodes and is a student of comedy.”

Next up for the multi-talented performer is more touring, building his social media, Instagram and online presence.

“I’m on them every day,” said the avid social media fan. “I never want to be broke again. I have a lot of projects and want to meet them all.”

Marlon Wayans’ stand-up tour includes performances at The Comedy Connection in East Providence, Rhode Island on Thursday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $35; www.ricomedyconnection.com; and at The Wilbur on Friday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets: $35; www.ticketmaster.com.

Courtesy of The Bay State Banner

Louis Gossett Jr

Academy Award Winning Actor, Activist, Author

Born May 27, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY, Lou has a flair for projecting quiet authority and has scored well personally in a string of diverse and occasionally challenging roles.

The aspiring actor caught a break at his first Broadway audition for “Take A Giant Step” (1953), where, beating out 400 other candidates, the then 16-year-old landed the lead.

His acting career soon flourished and his work in the stage and film versions of the groundbreaking drama about African-American family life in Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961) proved a watershed. This led to numerous appearances on network series in the 1960s and 70s culminating in 1977, when he picked up an Emmy for his eloquent portrayal of Fiddler in the landmark ABC miniseries “Roots”.

Meanwhile, his big screen reputation grew with critically acclaimed work in such comedies as “The Landlord” (1970) ”The Skin Game”(1971) with James Garner, “Travels with My Aunt” (1972) and the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning drama “The River Niger” (1975). A riveting performance as a drug-dealing cutthroat stalking Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset in “The Deep” (1977) catapulted him to wider popularity, but the tough by-the-book drill sergeant in “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982) won him a Best Supporting Oscar that consolidated his place in the Hollywood hierarchy.

Following his Oscar, he made numerous big screen and television appearances ,being singled out for his work as Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in “Sadat”(1983), the sci-fi adventure “Enemy Mine” (1985) where his lizard-like makeup won kudos, and in the action adventure series “Iron Eagle” (1985,1986,1992,1995) which introduced him to a whole new generation of moviegoers.

Still going strong, Lou’s trendsetting bald head and imposing six-foot-four physique served him well in “Diggstown” (1991) where he played a down-and-out boxer, a heroic headmaster in “Toy Soldiers” (1991).

Lou’s well thought out and nuanced performances also managed to give credibility to socially themed projects such as “To Dance with Olivia” (1997), and the critically acclaimed “Jasper, Texas” (2003)

The recipient of every known acting accolade, including multiple Golden Globes, Emmys, and People’s Choice Awards, Lou’s performance has connected him with his fans on a global scale. Organizations such as the NAACP, CARE, and the United States Armed Forces have used his likeness to add validity and integrity to their causes.

Recently, Lou was the new lead on the popular science fiction series “Stargate SG-1” introducing him to a new generation of fans worldwide. Lou has also developed the Eracism Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at creating entertainment that helps bring awareness and education to issues such as racism, ignorance, and societal apathy.*

*from www.louisgossett.com

Visit www.louisgossett.com, http://www.eracismfoundation.org/

Grandmaster Flash

DJ, Pioneer, Hip-Hop Legend

Square Peg Into A Round Hole

There are lots of stories about the birth of jazz and the beginning of rock n’ roll, but hip-hop has founding fathers: one of them is DJ Grandmaster Flash. In the early 70’s Joseph Saddler was living in the South Bronx and studying electrical engineering. However, Saddler, a native of the Bronx, had a much deeper passion for music; he had been experimenting with his father’s vinyl since he was an toddler. His knowledge of audio equipment led him to an idea that would revolutionize the way he played music: the turntable would become his instrument.

The career of DJ Grandmaster Flash began in the Bronx with neighborhood block parties that essentially were the start of what would become a global phenomenon — the dawn of a musical genre. He was the first DJ to physically lay his hands on the vinyl and manipulate it in a backward, forward or counterclockwise motion, when most DJs simply handled the record by the edges, put down the tone arm, and let it play. Those DJs let the tone arm guide their music, but Flash marked up the body of the vinyl with crayon, fluorescent pen, and grease pencil—and those markings became his compass.

He invented the Quick Mix Theory, which included techniques such as the double-back, back-door, back-spin, and phasing. This allowed a DJ to make music by touching the record and gauging its revolutions to make his own beat and his own music. Flash’s template grew to include cuttin’, which, in turn, spawned scratching, transforming, the Clock Theory and the like. He laid the groundwork for everything a DJ can do with a record today, other than just letting it play. What we call a DJ today is a role that Flash invented.

By the end of the 70s, Flash had started another trend that became a hallmark around the world: emcees followed flash to the various parts and parties to rap/emcee over his beats. Before long, he started his own group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Their reputation grew up around the way the group traded off and blended their lyrics with Flash’s unrivaled skills as a DJ and his acrobatic performances—spinning and cutting vinyl with his fingers, toes, elbows, and any object at hand.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five went Platinum with their single, “The Message.” Meanwhile, the single “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” introduced DJing to a larger listening audience than it had ever known before; it became the first DJ composition to be recorded by a DJ. The group’s fame continued to grow with “Superappin,” “Freedom,” “Larry’s Dance Theme,” and “You Know What Time It Is.” Punk and new wave fans were introduced to Flash through Blondie, who immortalized him in her hit, “Rapture.”

The rock n’ roll hall of fame also recognized Flash with an honor no one else in hip hop has received: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip hop group ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Flash is the first DJ to ever receive that honor.

By the time the 90s rolled around, Flash was handpicked by Chris Rock to spend five years as the music director for his groundbreaking HBO series, The Chris Rock Show. More recently, Flash has played for audiences as large as the Super Bowl and as elite as Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

On top of his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Flash has been the recipient of many awards, including VH1 Hip Hop Honors; The Icon Award from BET in honor of his contribution to hip hop as a DJ; The Lifetime Achievement Award from the RIAA; and Bill Gates’ Vanguard Award.

Although Flash has been in the business for many years, he shows no sign of slowing down: this coming year promise, a new album, and he will began his descent from the analog vinyl world of DJing to enter the digital world of DJing. His DJ application of choice is “Traktor Scratch” by Native Instruments.

Grandmaster Flash’s memoirs, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash – My Life My Beats was released in bookstores worldwide. The book is penned by David Ritz, author of both Marvin Gaye’s and Ray Charles’ biographies. In this extraordinary book, Grandmaster Flash sets down his musical history, sharing for the first time his personal and difficult life story—along with no small amount of wisdom and experience.

The Smithsonian Museum of American History in honor of Black History Month has opened its exhibit RECOGNIZE! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture that Grandmaster Flash along with other hip hop artist such as LL Cool J, Erykah Badu and Common will be featured.

In closing, grandmaster flash continues to tour the world, in festivals, clubs and venues. He now has his eyes and ears on this new craze-dance music, which he now adds to his legendary repertoire.

*from www.grandmasterflash.com

Visit www.grandmasterflash.com or Follow @DJFlash4eva

Beverly Johnson

Super Model, Hair Guru, Businesswoman

The first African American supermodel on the cover of American Vogue was Ms. Beverly Johnson. Beverly was attending college Northeastern University in Boston, MA when she tried her hand at modeling. She quickly landed modeling gigs and began working steadily. Johnson would go on to appear on magazine covers and fashion runways all over the world, including her groundbreaking Vogue cover in August 1974.

Johnson’s appearance on the cover changed the beauty ideal in fashion, and by 1975, every major American fashion designer began using African American models. Now Beverly is a considered a pioneer, entrepreneur, and role model for women everywhere.

She is the face and name of The Beverly Johnson Wig and Hair Extension Collection with Amekor Industries. During this period, her line of wigs, extensions and other hair products was the top selling brand in the country.

This is a true testament to Beverly Johnson’s “name recognition” and brand awareness from Multicultural clients with a deep respect for top quality hair products. Many national publications have dubbed her the “Hair Guru.” *

As her hair product line continues to flourish, Beverly will always be known as THE Super Model that paved the way for those that followed her.

*from www.beverlyjohnson.com

Visit www.beverlyjohnson.com or Follow @BeverlyJohnson1

Baratunde Thurston

Co-Founder & CEO of Cultivated Wit, Author, Comedian

“I run a company called Cultivated Wit that uses humor and technology to better communicate, tell stories, and shape technology products. We run comedically-focused digital marketing campaigns for causes and businesses. We make media. We build things including apps, that are fun. It’s all very inspiring and exciting.”

Personal Significance of Black History Month: It’s like Kwanzaa but longer.

Favorite African-American Icon and Why: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. First, every name this brother had was amazing from Malcolm Little to Detroit Red to Malcolm X to his final name. Second, his life (as so beautifully captured by Manning Marable) represents evolution, transformation, and reinvention. These are all themes essential to the survival and thriving not just of the black community but all communities.

Favorite moment in Black History: today

Visit cultivatedwit.com, baratunde.com or Follow @baratunde