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Star of Tupac Shakur inspired Broadway musical defends rapper’s controversial legacy

Holler If Ya Hear Me Palace Theatre

On the “A” w/Souleo…

It is the presence of strong women in the Broadway musical, ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ that attracted Saycon Sengbloh to be part of the cast and serves as a reminder of one usually overlooked facet of Tupac Shakur’s enduring legacy: his female empowerment anthems. The production, currently playing at the Palace Theatre uses Tupac Shakur’s music to frame the non-autobiographical story of an ex-offender John (Saul Williams) who returns home to a community plagued by poverty, joblessness and violence. Sengbloh plays the role of Corrine, the ex-girlfriend of John who tries to steer him away from the wrong path.

“I think the female voice in this production is very important,” said Sengbloh. “With my character, I inspire men in the play to see that you can choose to love your brothers and sisters by not harming them.”

Although the musical is centered on a man, throughout are performances of several of Shakur’s songs about the struggles and triumphs of women such as “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Dear Mama.” For Sengbloh, the fact that a man who was found guilty of sexually abusing a woman created these songs doesn’t detract from the power of the late rapper’s lyrics.

“I won’t defend or make excuses regarding his innocence but an entire group of teenagers were moved to not have unprotected sex by ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby.’ I won’t remove that song from their ears because of an issue that happened at another time. I do believe everyone should be allowed an opportunity for redemption.”

Off the stage, Sengbloh is creating her own music to touch listeners, as heard here.

Eriq La Salle takes artistic control while giving back

Eriq La Salle at Bronx Charter School for the Arts' annual art auction/Courtesy of PR Noir

Eriq La Salle at Bronx Charter School for the Arts’ annual art auction/Courtesy of PR Noir

After memorable roles in everything from the big screen classic Coming to America to the hit television series “ER,” Eriq La Salle is finally where he should be. And that place is either behind a desk or in the director’s chair as he balances career reinvention as an author and director.

To read the entire column click here.

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