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Toni Braxton Helps Celebrate Dance in Harlem

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents:  On the “A” w/Souleo

Toni Braxton Photo Credit: Christopher Duggan

It’s easy to forget that pop music simply refers to what is popular at the moment, whether it’s disco, rock ‘n’ roll or most recently, hip-hop and dance music. SESAC, the nation’s fastest growing performing rights organization, honored those who have made an impact in the pop genre at its annual Pop Music Awards.

When it comes to pursing a larger platform in the pop market, many artists forsake genres such as jazz, funk and even, R&B, something which concerns, Trevor Gale, SESAC’s senior VP, writer and publisher relations. “It is unfortunate that jazz and other genres of music don’t get the same notoriety and publicity as pop, but it doesn’t take away from the fact there are still amazing artists out there creating all genres of music. I have faith that the music always rises,” he notes.

Doing its part to help jazz music rise to the forefront once again is the second annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival presented in partnership with Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, with support from Columbia University. Highlights from the festival included bringing the famed, Minton’s Playhouse back to life with a celebration of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach and more, and late-night jam sessions at Showman’s Jazz Club. At the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington created a fusion of music with Lizz Wright, Nona Hendryx, Tia Fuller and more.

Listening to so much jazz can make one want to swing and dance. Fortunately, attendees had the chance to do just that at the 10th annual Ailey at the Apollo gala. Singer Toni Braxton served as the honorary event chair, which was an odd and surprising choice since Braxton obviously doesn’t dance. However, she noted that her latest single “I Heart You,” is a foray into the dance music arena. “Trying to do a dance song is kinda fun. I am not a dancer by trade but as a performer there no avenues for us and this helps the kids do their craft,” she says.

The craftsmanship of visual artists is currently on display at the “Four Brooklyn Artists” exhibition at Berkeley College. Curated by Robert Keiber, the show features Harlem Arts Alliance member and Culture Crashers mentor, Leon Nicholas Kalas; along with Mary Chang, Norma Lithgow and Dr. Rudy (Kofi) Cain. It may not be pop, and you can’t dance to it, but it’s still art.


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