A Gospel, Jazz music, & Spoken Word Celebration of poet and literary icon Maya Angelou
Published : Wednesday, January 15, 2020 | 9:35 PM
Marguerite Johnson’s life did not begin auspiciously. She experienced the unfortunate challenges of too many black families in the early 20th century – poverty, her parents’ divorce, relocation to her grandmother’s house, and a brutal rape that so traumatized her she did not speak for five years. Yet, somehow, Marguerite found the strength and courage to live the words she later wrote for others: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” In so doing, Marguerite – or, as she was now known, Maya Angelou – became one of Black History’s most august heroes.
Clazzical Notes will pay tribute to the legacy of this poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist when it presents MAYA! A Gospel, Jazz music, and Spoken Word Celebration of poet and literary icon Maya Angelou. The program, which Clazzical Notes is presenting in partnership with the NAACP-Pasadena, will take place on Thursday, February 13, 7:00 p.m. at Boston Court in Pasadena as part of Black History Month.
“The Pasadena Branch of the NAACP is pleased to be partnering with Clazzical Notes,” says Allen Edson, President. “We are expanding our reach in the community and presenting to our members and the community an event that expresses African American culture in an exciting and inspiring fashion is a great way to start.”
Artists taking part in MAYA! are Lanny Hartley, jazz pianist; Yvette Freeman-Hartley, singer/actress; Robert Henley III, Gospel vocalist; and Brittany Daniels, dancer. Poet Beverly Lafontaine will act as host, sharing her thoughts on how Maya Angelou’s life and artistry intersect and why her passion for human rights, racial justice, and self-empowerment will resonate for generations.
As Lafontaine explains, “Maya Angelou’s penetrating words and observations spoke to the humanity in every man, woman and child on earth. She reminded us that we could be more honest, more giving, more joyous than even we thought we could be.”
“I love how the name Marguerite chose for herself is Maya,” adds Jerri Price-Gaines, founder and executive director of Clazzical Notes. “In Greek, Spanish, and Hebrew culture, Maya means ‘water.’ In ancient Persian, it means ‘generous’; and in Japanese, ‘truth’ or ‘everlasting’. Maya Angelou quenches our thirst for enlightenment. Water also cleanses, and Maya’s words help wash away despair; she gives us hope.”
Admission to MAYA! is $15/person; children 12 and under, Free. To purchase tickets, visit https://clazzicalnotesmaya.brownpapertickets.com/
For more information about Clazzical Notes, visit https://www.clazzicalnotes.org/ or call (626) 833-2750. Boston Court is located at 70 Mentor Avenue in Pasadena, 91106.
Clazzical Notes’ mission is to create engaging, educational and experiential music programs that foster community understanding across diverse cultures, genres and generations.
Lanny Hartley (Piano) Lanny is a member of Northridge United Methodist Church, is a jazz pianist, conductor and composer, and studied Music Education at Indiana University. Jazz piano became his love and he performed with such great Jazz artists as Wes Montgomery, Lou Rawls, and Linda Hopkins. Lanny has also played for such Pop Artists as Thelma Houston, The Fifth Dimension. He has been the Musical Director/Conductor for such shows as Ain’t Misbehavin’, Tracks (Yolanda King); The Late Great Ladies of Blues and Jazz (Sandra Reeves: The Della Reese Musical Tour; and Dinah Was (New York, Los Angeles, and Williamstown)
Yvette Freeman Hartley (Vocalist) Yvette has starred in the Broadway, First National, Paris and International companies of “Ain’t Misbehavin’” the New York production of “Dinah Was,” based on the life of the legendary jazz singer Dinah Washington, and won the 1998 Obie for Best Actress. Most recently she starred in Ma Rainey at the Huntington Theater in Boston. She played the role of 101 year old Dr. Bessie in Having Our Say at the acclaimed McCarter Theater directed by Emily Mann.
Two of the TV roles she is most proud of is – Nurse Haleh Adams on the acclaimed dramatic series ER, and the character of Evelyn Smalley on the NBC sitcom Working. In 2010 and 2011, Yvette had the honor of being nominated for NAACP Image Award for her role as Dr. Lewis in the soap opera “The Bold and The Beautiful”. Her second album “In My Arms” was released in May 2012.
Bob Henley III (Vocalist) Bob Henley III’s musical foundation began first in the world of gospel and church music, where he was first able to explore his vocal talents. Throughout his formative high school and early college years, Bob had the chance to perform with an eclectic number of musical acts, choir groups and jazz bands. He is a true tenor with a powerful vocal range. He is also a gifted bandleader and choir director, as well as a masterful keyboardist and percussion player. Not one to be kept to only one type of music or live performance style, he has also worked in the world of theater. His work includes ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Black People Who Knew’ and ‘The Message is in the Music.’
Brittany Daniels began dancing ballet at the age of eight and later studied hip-hop, jaBrittany Daniels began dancing ballet at the age of eight and later studied hip-hop, jazz, modern, and ballroom at the age of 14. She completed Cecchetti examinations 1-5 and earned international honors for her last examination. Some summer dance intensives she attended are Cecchetti USA (nominated for an award in her division), American Ballet Theater, Ballet Magnifcat! (full scholarship), and LINES Ballet (scholarship). She was awarded the most promising dancer in her home city, Temecula, California, by ODC modern dance company, as well as offered a full scholarship to their dance intensive. She was offered an apprenticeship to the modern company, PGK Dance Project when she was 18. She traveled and danced in New York, Italy, and Cuba with Dunamix Dance Project. She was honored with many opportunities to perform, serve, and teach dance at places that served underprivileged children, abused children, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and individuals who are homeless. Currently, Brittany leads the dance program at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, and dances with the Lineage Dance Company at the Lineage Performing Arts Center.
Beverly Lafontaine is a Los Angeles-born poet and playwright. She has enjoyed four productions of her plays in the Los Angeles area and has had her poetry published in various poetry journals and anthologies, including Blue Satellite, Spillway, So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets, and most recently, Beyond the Lyric Moment. Four of her poems will appear in Waves, the forthcoming anthology of women’s voices, published by the A Room of Her Own Foundation. As a collaborative artist, she has worked with composer Tom Flaherty to create The Cellist of Sarajevo, a chamber music piece. Additionally, she was commissioned to create six poems that were incorporated into the sculptural work of Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a public art project dedicated to Martin Luther King and sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. As a journalist, she has written for publications as wide-ranging as Essence Magazine, Soul Magazine, and Caesura: the Journal for the San Jose Center for Poetry and Literature.