Harlem Arts Alliance Presents:  On the “A” w/Souleo
The story of talented individuals from Harlem pursuing their dreams plays itself out every day, which is why the 1976 film, Sparkle, still resonates with modern audiences. Lonette McKee, who played Sister in the original film, knows this and that’s why she’s planning a live reunion tour with the original leads from the classic to coincide with the remake’s release.
“The original people from Sparkle all have been in touch and agreed it’s the perfect time for a live concert version. So we all are gonna reunite and start doing Sparkle concerts,” she reveals.
Don’t expect the tour to kick off in McKee’s hometown of Detroit. McKee, who now resides in Harlem, wants to launch it in the Black Mecca. “I am more at home up in Harlem in New York than I ever was in Detroit, so this would be the place to kick this concert off.”
In addition to producing the Sparkle tour, the Tony-nominated veteran teaches acting workshops at City College of New York. On April 24, at Aaron Davis Hall, she will debut the theatrical production An Evening of Scenes, featuring her students, which she directed and produced.
McKee isn’t the only one still dreaming big and reaching her goals. Fourteen-year-old playwright, actor and visual artist Aliou Abdussami is also on the path to success. Abdussami is a member of Culture Crashers, a creative arts youth initiative presented by the Harlem Arts Alliance and Souleo Enterprises LLC. This past week, his work was displayed at The Children’s Storefront 9th Annual Men’s Mentoring Art Exhibition. For Abdussami it’s just one more step toward fulfilling his vision. “My dream is to combine computers and technology with my passion for acting, visual arts and writing,” he says.
Combining classic songs and musical theatre has produced an off-Broadway hit for Dorothy Marcic with Sistas: The Musical. The feel-good musical reveals the struggles and triumphs of a group of women of color through songs ranging from Bessie Smith’s “‘Taint Nobody’s Business If I Do,” to Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.” As the show’s director, Kenneth Ferrone, notes the production serves as a valuable reminder of the power of lyrics.
“The Motown songs we do are so much a part of popular culture that you know the tune and hook, but I never completely actually heard what I was listening to. This makes you listen to the lyrics more than you ever did,” says Ferrone.
Those who see “Sistas,” will also get a chance to focus on the words of Erykah Badu’s “Tyrone,” which is one of the featured musical numbers. Meanwhile at the launch of Hennessy’s Wild Rabbit campaign there were a few other words of wisdom Badu shared, particularly regarding pursuing one’s creative path.
“… You have to live your dreams not somebody else’s,” advises Erykah Badu. “I tell artists do it with honesty, be true to your art and don’t allow anything to infiltrate it, not even you.”
Now that’s a recipe for making dreams come true.
Note: For tickets to McKee’s “An Evening of Scenes,” please call Jennifer Robinson at 212-650-7395.

For more information on HAA please visit: www.harlemaa.org.

 For more information on Souleo please visit: www.souleouniverse.com.