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A celebration of the life and music of Nina Simone

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Calvin Manson’s soulful production about the life and music of Nina Simone is a beautifully crafted piece. Four performers played Nina at different points in her life and took us from her humble beginnings to her training as a classical pianist and eventually becoming active in pursuing dreams of living in a world where all people are able to live in freedom. She wrote songs reflecting the struggle of the people and became identified as the voice of the civil rights movement.

Nina was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, NC. Musically and politically, she’s always been the real thing. Nina was a pianist, jazz singer, arranger, composer and protest singer. Like many great entertainers, she had her own demons. Her song, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” probably covers it all. Ayanna Hobson performed the song beautifully and with heart-wrenching emotions that tugged at our hearts.

Many of our favorite songs were featured including “Mississippi Goddamn” which was written in response to the killing of the civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala., which killed four African American children. Janice Edwards performed “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” flawlessly. This song was written in memory of Nina’s friend, Lorraine Hansberry, a “young, gifted and black” author and playwright. Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” was the first play written by an African American woman to be produced in 1959 on Broadway. “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” became an anthem for the 1960s civil rights movement.

The production is presented by Ira Aldridge Repertory Players in collaboration with San Diego Continuing Education and will run at the Education Cultural Complex until Nov. 10. For more information, please visit iarpplayers.org

Dia de los Muertos Celebration returns to Rancho Guajome Adobe

Dia De Los Muertos Photo: Ana Pines

We went to Rancho Guajome Adobe for their Dia de Los Muertos festival Oct. 26. It’s their third year hosting a celebration of the 3,000-year-old tradition. Guests enjoyed traditional music and dancing, food, blacksmithing demonstrations and self-guided tours of the adobe house which dates back to 1853. Distinguished as a National Historic Landmark the twenty-room adobe ranch house was built during the cattle boom.

Some of the rooms contained small altars adorned with gifts, flowers, food and beverages to honor those that have left us. There was even an altar set-up to commemorate the late Tejano singer, Selena, who was killed in 1995.

Face painting and rides on a tractor-drawn wagon were offered as well as stations set-up to teach kids how to make ropes and pan for gold. Characters such as Woody from Toy Story were also on hand to entertain and take pictures with the little ones. The event was sponsored by SDG&E. For more information about Rancho Guajome Adobe, visit historyandculture.com

Honor & Resurrect: A QTPOC Art Reception

QTPOC art Gallery Photo: Ana Pines

The UC San Diego Cross-Cultural Center held an event bridging the Day of the Dead celebration and the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event was described as, “… a celebration of the life and legacies of queer and trans* people of color – both living and ghostly.” The evening program included personal stories, poetry, dance and a rap performance. The walls contained displays of photos, art, poetry and personal suicide letters. Those letters were heartbreaking as they display the turmoil a person goes through when they feel they don’t belong and/or are treated as if they don’t belong, and they believe their only option is death. In closing, the host Eliseo requested that everyone write a personal note to the spirits. It could’ve been a help request, a thank you or a struggle; anything that anyone wanted to share or needed help with. To find out about other events open to the public visit: http://ccc.ucsd.edu


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Posted by on Oct 31, 2013. Filed under Online Only, Scene Out, Social Chaos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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