Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo
When one has been given a platform to reach millions of people across the world, it helps to have a message to maximize one’s impact. Such is the modus operandi for jazz songbird, Esperanza Spalding. During her VIP World Tour dress rehearsal. she previewed her set list for her upcoming tour and plans to donate tour merchandise sales to the organization Free the Slaves, in an effort to help eradicate modern-day slavery. For Spalding it’s all about using her buzz wisely.
“We are going to squeeze every juice we can out of this hype while we have it,” she says. “There are more slaves today than there ever were and that’s shocking. Free the Slaves works with the community to break the cycles of poverty, so they have options and don’t fall back into slavery.”
While he may not be lending his name to fighting slavery, iconic vocalist Jeffrey Osborne is supporting the re-branding efforts of the legendary “Soul Train” brand. Osborne will join a stellar lineup that includes Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays and more to kick off the first ever Soul Train Cruise in February 2013. Taking a cue from the reinvention of Soul Train, Osborne revealed plans to release his first collection of jazz standards. He is collaborating with the legendary George Duke on the album’s cover and expects to have it released before year’s end.
“George Duke and I are slated to do a project of jazz standards like ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘When I Fall in Love.’ I’ve always wanted to do that my whole career. Most times companies wanted original material but I can do what I want to do now,” he says.
It’s all about giving the youth opportunity to do exactly as they wish through CULTURE CRASHERS, the youth initiative created by Souleo Enterprises LLC (full disclosure: that’s this writer) and presented in partnership with the Harlem Arts Alliance. The project mentors youth in all creative areas and then books them as opening and intermission acts for various venues throughout the New York City area. CULTURE CRASHERS made their debut this past week at the Harlem Arts Alliance’s Quarterly Evening Meeting and received high praise for their performances, which included 17-year-old jazz guitarist and singer-songwriter, Solomon Hicks, 14-year-old playwright, actor and visual artist, Aliou Abdussami and 15-year-old musical theatre performer, Georgie Exinord.
Attendees were so impressed that the cast of the hit off-Broadway play “Black Angels Over Tuskegee,” invited Abdussami for a backstage meet-and-greet and all of the CULTURE CRASHERS received booking offers on the spot to perform at several upcoming events. Overall it was an inspiring start for a program just barely two months in existence.
CULTURE CRASHERS is currently holding auditions to enroll more youth; seeking the support of rotating mentors to donate whatever time they can give; as well as venues and vents interested in booking the youth for opening or intermission performances. The mission is to provide youth with a platform like Spalding to promote a cause and like Osborne to have the opportunity to follow their true passion.
CULTURE CRASHERS logo credit: Giselle Bradshaw.