• Musical Phenomenon Naturally 7 Hits Los Angeles Tributes Herbie Hancock, Betye Saar & Donald McKayle at CAAM Gala, October 15 Performs Full Live Concert at CAAM, October 16

    Los Angeles – There is a phenomenon sweeping across the international musical landscape known as Naturally 7 and it is about to hit Los Angeles big. Having mesmerized audiences across Europe, the sensation has been engaging music lovers with shows that simply defy logic. Instead of performing with the backdrop of a live band, these Hidden Beach Records artists utilize their vocal chords to duplicate the sounds of actual instruments. An uncanny ability they call “Vocal Play,” the members of Naturally 7 actually become the instruments coupled with a cappella sound. Resonating as voice and instrument, Naturally 7 make beat boxing appear child’s play. You will blink, just to make sure what your eyes are witnessing and what your ears are hearing is real!

    On Sunday, October 16, 2011, Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum (Friends) will present Los Angeles with this unique “Art of Sound” when Naturally 7 performs an exclusive full live concert at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Exposition Park. The occasion will not only benefit the youth and education programs at CAAM, it is destined to be an experience that will change the way you listen to music! The Naturally 7 live concert on Sunday begins at 5:00 pm with a buffet dinner and the show starts at 7:00 p.m. General admission and VIP seating is available. Call 213-744-2077 for more information and tickets are available at www.caamuseum.org.

    The exclusive live performance follows the annual An Artful Evening at CAAM gala fundraiser on Saturday, October 15, which honors dancer/choreographer Donald McKayle, visual artist Betye Saar and Grammy Award winning musician/composer Herbie Hancock. Naturally 7 will preview their talent at the affair with a special tribute performance.

    Naturally 7 initially charmed America with a national U.S. television debut on “Ellen.” Touring with Michael Bublé, they also guest appeared with him on “The Today Show.” More recently, they opened for Jay Leno in Las Vegas, and performed on the “Tonight Show.” Quincy Jones took note of the group at his 75th Birthday in Montreux and they were also guests at the Playboy Jazz Festival. The native New Yorkers have even performed at the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Conference where they received a standing ovation. The group has recorded a number of CD’s over the years including “Non Fiction” (2000), the aptly titled “What Is It” (2003), “Christmas …It’s A Love Story” (2004) and “Ready II Fly” (2006). Their latest Hidden Beach Records release is entitled “Vocal Play.”

    Naturally 7 are Roger Thomas as not only musical director and arranger but also first baritone and rapper; Warren Thomas as percussion, guitar, clarinet, and third tenor; Rod Eldridge as first tenor, scratching and trumpet; Napoleon (Polo) Cummings as fourth tenor and guitar; Dwight Stewart as second baritone, vocals and trumpet; Garfield Buckley as second tenor and harmonica and “Hops” Hutton as bass.

    “Naturally 7 are a wonderful cap to a weekend of spectacular events at CAAM coordinated to raise funds to support our youth, education and free public programs,” expresses CAAM executive director, Charmaine Jefferson. “CAAM has always been a cutting edge force in the artistic community and Naturally 7 is quite an innovative art expression with their unique fashioning of sound. We are honored that they have chosen to donate their services to our cause and to present them in such an intimate setting where the audience can experience them up close and personal. Considering that the concert will benefit our educational programs here at CAAM, we are providing our supporters a wonderful opportunity to contribute while being treated with an amazing show.”

    Chartered by the California State Legislature in 1977, the California African American Museum, located in Exposition Park, is a state supported institution. In addition to its permanent collection, CAAM hosts specially borrowed and self-curated exhibitions, free public and school age education programs, and tours CAAM-owned exhibitions throughout California and the nation. Admission to CAAM is free and open to the public, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. Parking located at 39th and Figueroa Streets is $10.

    Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists to provide resources, staffing, programming and exhibition funding in support of CAAM’s mission. Explore the California African American Museum’s offerings at http://www.caamuseum.org. For general CAAM information call (213) 744-7432.

    For a peak at the magic that is Naturally 7 check them out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5MkNOXSdkA .

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  • International Diva of Hip Hop Dance, Lauren N. Outlaw Choreographs “Star Akademi” in Istanbul, Turkey

    Hip Hop Choreographer Lauren N. Outlaw

    Houston, TX – Hip hop’s favorite international dancing diva certainly takes dancing with the stars to a new level … and location! Choreographer Lauren N. Outlaw just recently wrapped her third series for one of Europe’s hottest reality shows, “Star Akademi” filming in Istanbul, Turkey. Displaying the hottest moves to a viewing audience of millions more than eager to watch, Outlaw has creatively positioned herself as the face of hip hop dance overseas!

    With this season of “Star Akademi,” Outlaw’s talent is now cemented across 35 countries, including Spain, Italy, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. A production of Endemol, one of the world’s largest production houses (known for their hits such as “Deal or No Deal,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” and “Fear Factor”) “Star Akademi” is a mainstay of European television, much like “American Idol” in the United States.

    For the show, Lauren served as not only choreographer but also as dance teacher, holding daily classes in movement, staging and performance for the show’s contestants. Her added duties entailed concept and choreography for all the live weekly performances in addition to on-camera appearances. Just imagine the challenge of teaching complicated hip hop routines to students who barely speak English. Yet Lauren has continued to remain undaunted. Her winning spirit has catapulted her to success.

    “To have the opportunity to return to Europe and film one of the most popular reality series there has been beyond amazing. The interaction with the production company, the contestants and the fans has been simply overwhelming. The love for all things hip hop is so gratifying to experience. My dance techniques have been embraced and appreciated beyond measure. I’m excited to return home and continue to spread the love with several new endeavors I have planned!”

    A Tampa, Florida native, now residing in Houston, TX, Outlaw has been dancing since the age of six, having studied and trained in classical ballet, jazz, tap, modern, tumbling and cheerleading. Outlaw attended Fayetteville State University initially, completing her studies at the University of Central Florida, majoring in Psychology and Dance. While attending UCF, she owned and operated her own studio, Butterfly Danzers, Inc. a dance company that provided over 300 underprivileged youth with professional level dance classes at affordable prices. A brief stay in New York garnered her certification at the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory & Broadway Dance Center.

    Now back home in the states, Outlaw is looking forward to choreographing more artist’s videos, shows and tours and even tackling commercial and film ventures. She also plans to release an exercise dance video that allows participants of any age to benefit from a maximized workout while having fun. In addition, Outlaw will continue to teach and consult high school, college and professional dance teams, as well as judge dance and cheerleading competitions nationwide.
    Outlaw will continue to serve as a reminder of the universal power of performance art, spreading the legacy of hip hop, a culture that knows no boundaries. A true entertainer, Lauren N. Outlaw is indeed a dancing star! Check out her grooves at http://www.mzoutlaw.com .

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  • An Equation for Disaster: Black Youth + Poverty – Jobs = Screwed

    By Deven D. Anderson, Black Youth Vote! – It’s a critical time in America. The recession has been tough, especially for young black American’s who are faced with bleak job prospects, exorbitant student loans and overwhelming hopelessness. With and unemployment rate for young black males over 18 percent, young black men are still hemorrhaging and the people we put in office to represent us are just starting to take notice.

    If that’s not enough, earlier this week the US Census Bureau released “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010,” a report that underscores the spiraling rate of poverty and decline of the median household income for Americans, especially Black American’s. This is the third consecutive year that the household income for African-American’s declined and, according to the report, 10.7 million African Americans lived in poverty in 2010.

    As for young people, as usual, we’re the hardest hit by a depressed economy. The New York Times recently reported that young people between the ages of 25 – 34 are depending more on their parents for financial support; of that age group without family support 45.3 percent of them live in poverty. This is the same population experiencing high unemployment at 45.6 percent. That’s right, almost half of the 25 – 34 year-olds are unemployed. We need help now.

    Earlier this week President Obama sent a much-needed American Jobs Act to the Hill for swift passage. This jobs legislative package is a critical attempt by the Obama administration to address the economic hardships faced by Americans across the country and is expected to cost $447 billion.

    President Obama’s American Jobs Act includes the “Pathways Back to Work Fund” which provides summer jobs for programs for low-income youth and year-round employment for economically disadvantaged young adults. Additionally, the extension of the payroll tax will help 20 million African-American workers and the new tax credit for hiring the long term unemployed will have a significant impact on the Black community.

    The American Jobs Act also takes a step in the right direction in preventing employers from discriminating against the long term unemployed, which will benefit young adults as well as black males – the members of the black community who are chronically unemployed.

    Black Youth Vote! is cautiously optimistic about this bill. We’re happy to see our elected officials finally prioritize job creation and hope that this bill will begin to create jobs with livable wages for our community. However, one thing we know is the political process; and sending the American Jobs Act to Capitol Hill is merely a step in an on-going journey.

    It is important that black youth take the necessary steps to compel our elected officials to remain focused on creating jobs. Whether you’re Democrat, Republican, or Independent, you must pay attention and make sure that our decision makers constructively move on social policies that will aid in the upward mobility of marginalized communities.

    Below are four simple and effective ways to be involved:

    1. For more direct action on the “American Jobs Act” please connect with our partner organization The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights by visiting http://www.civilrights.org/action_center/america-needs-job.html
    2. Connect with a local community organization(s) and leader(s) to serve as “community watchdogs” to ensure that once funds are sent to states that those most impacted are benefiting from the “American Jobs Act” and to prevent wasteful spending.
    3. Register to vote and Educate members in your local community on social policy issues that affect your community as a conversation with action ahead of the 2012 election.
    4. Stay updated on our iThink2012 campaign by following us on Twitter: @blackyouthvote, Facebook: Black Youth Vote!, Email: blackyouthvote@ncbcp.org, or TEXT iThink2012 to 69302

    It’s time for young folks to take control of our own future. You need to read about the pros and cons of the “American Jobs Act” and I’m sure you will see how it benefits young people – especially young black men. In order to get swift passage of the “American Jobs Act” to put our brothers and sisters back to work with livable wages black youth must be proactive. Without action, we will continue to lead in economic and social disparities. Enough is Enough. It’s time to get busy making the government work for us.

    Deven D. Anderson is Senior Program Associate of Black Youth Vote!, a youth & young Adult initiative of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (www.ncbcp.org). blackyouthvote@ncbcp.org.

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  • Explosive New Film featuring Al Sharpton and Cleo Manago Addresses Black Men’s Challenges with Manhood, Sexuality and Masculinity

    Left to right: Marc Lamont Hill, R. L'Heureux Lewis, Cleo Manago, Esther Armah and Bishop John L. Selders Jr.

    I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity” delves into issues surrounding homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, manhood and the Black community

    New York – When Black Men’s Xchange (BMX) National joined forces with the National Action Network and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement to present the community forum I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity in the Black Community this past July, everyone in attendance intuitively knew that it would be a paradigm shifting juncture. What unfolded that sweltering day in Harlem, NY inspired BMX founder and CEO, Cleo Manago, to produce a thought-provoking educational film that would resonate beyond the participants in that room.

    Definitive version of “I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity.” from American Truth on Vimeo.

    With a panel helmed by Rev. Al Sharpton; “Our World with Black Enterprise” television host, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill; R. L’Heureux Lewis; WBAI’s Esther Armah; Bishop John L. Selders Jr. and social architect and filmmaker Cleo Manago, the conversation occasionally took heated turns and emotions were tapped. Ultimately love and respect reigned as those in attendance pushed boundaries to explore the topic of sexual diversity among Black men, and delved into issues surrounding homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, manhood and the Black community. It was a revolutionary gathering, still being discussed on Facebook.

    I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity” is the educational short film born from that affair. Produced and recently released by a team headed by Cleo Manago, “I AM A MAN” captures the fire of not only that particular evening, but ensconces it with riveting footage that conveys eye opening details about the path and perils of Black male sexuality in America and Africa. Explosive, thought provoking and myth shattering, the short delves deep into the roots of perpetuated Black anxieties about same gender loving love, addressing issues of cultural affirmation, societal isolation, black self concept and religious conditioning.

    Opening with footage of Arsenio Hall’s controversial hosting of Minister Louis Farrakhan on his show, “I AM A MAN” directly confronts society’s fear and covert emasculation of the Black male persona. The 36-minute short covers a spectrum of societal factions, including the raging hyper masculinity evidenced in today’s hip-hop movement. In addition, Uganda’s obsession with an anti-homosexuality campaign is uncovered for its religious agenda with white Christianity roots, while the Black church is also unmasked for its hypocrisy. A highlight of the film is archival footage of historical Harlem Renaissance icon James Baldwin, discussing his position as a Black man in America.

    “‘I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity‘ is not just a film. It’s a movement,” reveals Cleo Manago. “With the recent turn of events, be it CNN’s Don Lemon’s coming out, or comedian Tracy Morgan being taken to task for his perceived homophobic commentary, Black manhood has shown itself to be multifaceted. It’s a subject matter that stares us right in the face and is not going anywhere. Our film is a springboard for further discussion and analysis. Our intent is to not only open minds but open hearts as well, because bottom line, the agenda is love and community well-being.”

    I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity” is available for online viewing at http://vimeo.com/27859721. Connect with Manago, view the film’s trailer and leave your thoughts about the film on the Facebook page “I AM A MAN: Black Manhood & Sexual Diversity” by Cleo Manago.” For private organizational screenings and discussions, contact Cleo Manago at BMX National at cleomanago@gmail.com.

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