Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo
Sometimes you just can’t get enough of a voice as rich and powerful as that of legendary talent, Martha Wash. Recently, the former back-up singer for Sylvester and one-half of the Weather Girls with Izora Rhodes, delivered an all too brief, but spectacular set at New York City’s Joe’s Pub. Wash immediately got the house grooving with her dance music classics including “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” “Everybody, Everybody,” and the timeless, “It’s Raining Men.” Yet it was the fan-favorite ballad “Take Away Your Space,” which alluded to Wash’s new direction in music.
On her forthcoming untitled album, Wash plans to record more ballad driven songs such as, “It’s My Time,” and “I’ve Got You,” both of which she performed during her concert. “The new album is about messages of love and inspiration and to keep positive thoughts,” she says, “It is a struggle to maintain everyday life and we need to spread more love around.”
For listeners who still want to hit the dance floor, Wash promises that there will still be something to shake to. “It seems like I am kinda moving in a different area but there is always remixes, right?”
Hoping to remix Broadway’s audience is Impact Broadway, a youth audience development program, co-founded by Harlem Arts Alliance (HAA) board member, Donna Walker-Kuhne and Cherine Anderson. The program hosted its spring fundraiser event at Harlem’s Chocolat Restaurant Lounge featuring performances by youth, Tony Award-winner, LaChanze (The Color Purple) and poet/playwright, Will Power. While Walker-Kuhne acknowledges that Broadway is finally beginning to diversify she notes that there needs to be a greater marketing effort targeted to communities of color. “Sometimes there is the assumption that a play with Black people means we automatically come running, but we want to be courted like everyone else and we have to advocate that the plays have integrity.”
Developing audiences is a similar goal for the new initiative, Art in Flux, which was founded by HAA member, Leanne Stella. The innovative project, which occupies vacant retail spaces in Harlem to present pop-up art galleries, debuted with the “Urban Environment Project,” curated by Mariano Cinat. While viewing the impressive works of Leslie Powell, Tafa and other artists, Stella expressed the vision of Art in Flux. In addition to offering a space for emerging artists and engaging the community, she hopes that the concept of her program will become a contributing factor to Harlem’s growing commercial development. “We are drawing attention to empty retail spaces. Since we’ve been here there has been interest in the spaces for a wine bar or a coffee shop. So one activity spurs the next activity” she says.
When it comes to enriching the village of Harlem—whether it is through Wash’s music, Impact Broadway or Art in Flux—well, that’s one thing you surely can never get enough of.
For more information on HAA please visit: www.harlemaa.org
For more information on Souleo please visit: www.souleouniverse.com
Correction: In last week’s column it was incorrectly reported that the Apollo’s “Amateur Night,” is looking for a new host. “Amateur Night” remains hosted by Capone and Tony Rock will host the forthcoming television series, “Apollo Live.”