February 11, 2004
Actors’ Equity’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee And The Actors’ Fund of America
In Association with Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and The Shubert Foundation,
Present A Free Event Celebrating Black History Month:
HARLEM ON MY MIND: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO LANGSTON HUGHES, OSCAR BROWN, JR. AND EUBIE BLAKE
With A Special Tribute To Al Hirschfeld by Gail Lumet Buckley
Performance by Genovis Albright
Monday, February 23, 2004
In honor of Black History Month, AEA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and The Actors’ Fund of America will present Harlem On My Mind: A Musical Tribute to Langston Hughes, Oscar Brown, Jr, and Eubie Blake, on Monday, February 23, 2004 at the Little Shubert Theatre. The event is free and open to the public – show time is 7:30 PM. The Little Shubert is located at 422 West 42nd Street, New York City. Harlem On My Mind… is presented in association with the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and The Shubert Foundation.
“We are delighted to present this event honoring three distinguished Black artists as part of Equity’s decade-long tradition of celebrating Black History Month,” said Julia Breanetta Simpson and Christine Toy Johnson, Co-Chairs of Equity’s EEO Committee. “It is important to celebrate the rich diversity of the entertainment industry as well as our own Equity membership by recognizing the contributions of these Black cultural giants.”
The evening will feature readings and music associated with Langston Hughes’ works, as well as musical tributes to Oscar Brown, Jr. and Eubie Blake, performed by Genovis Albright. Septuagenarian Brown will attend the event!
Gail Lumet Buckley will give a special tribute to Al Hirschfeld, who died in January 2003 (Hirschfeld’s Harlem, long out of print has just been re-released by Applause Books). In addition to his original drawings, Hirschfeld’s Harlem features 20 new short essays by prominent African-Americans and sketches of Black artists Hirschfeld created after its initial publication. Louise Hirschfeld and Ms. Buckley will present copies to Actors’ Equity and The Actors’ Fund of America.
Genovis Albright is a recording artist, musician and composer, best known as the creator of such musicals as BONES, UPS AND DOWNS, CHILDREN OF THE ENTERPRISE, GROWING UP, and most recently, as the composer of three songs in the Off Broadway musical GOOD TIMES BLUES, in which he starred. Mr. Abright wrote the theme song for Miramax Films “Just Another Girl,” and is host/producer for the National Council for Culture and Arts weekly TV show, “Opening Night.” He has worked with the WC Handy Foundation, designing curriculum for the National Blues for Kids Project, and has performed with such theatre companies as the New Heritage Theatre, ASCAP Musical Theatre, Mirror Repertory, and the Henry Street Settlement. In 2001, he released a new solo CD, MY WORLD, and is heard on the 2002 cast album release of GOOD TIME BLUES. His next CD, SERENADE THE WORLD, will be released in 2004.
Writer, poet and playwright, Langston Hughes (1902-1967), was a distinguished and prolific author who wrote poems, novels, short stories, magazine articles, anthologies, musicals, opera, television and radio scripts, as well as 20 plays. He moved to Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance and continued writing up until his death in 1967. The long and distinguished list of Hughes’ works includes: Not Without Laughter (1930), The Big Sea (1940), I Wonder As I Wander (1956); His collections of poetry include The Weary Blues (1926), The Negro Mother and other Dramatic Recitations (1931), The Dream Keeper (1932), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), Fields of Wonder (1947), One Way Ticket (1947), The First Book of Jazz (1955), Tambourines To Glory (1958) and The Best of Simple (1961). He wrote or collaborated on numerous plays, musicals and operas, including: LITTLE HAM, JOY TO MY SOUL, STREET SCENE, MULATTO, TROUBLED ISLAND, THE BARRIER, THE PRODIGAL SON, BLACK NATIVITY, JERICO-JIM CROW, and TAMBOURINES TO GLORY.
Oscar Brown, Jr. is a preeminent Chicago-born composer, singer, actor, playwright and director. He has written hundreds of songs, recorded ten albums and won two Emmy Awards in Chicago for his WBBM-TV special, “Oscar Brown Is Back In Town.” His musicals include JOY 66, KICKS & CO, SUMMER IN THE CITY, LYRICS OF SUNSHINE AND SHADOW, OPPORTUNITY PLEASE KNOCK, and BUCK WHITE, which came to Broadway in 1969 with Muhammad Ali in the title role. Other theatre works include JOURNEY THROUGH FOREVER and GREAT NITTY GRITTY. Brown continues to be active in his Chicago community, working with gifted young performers, including two of his children, Oscar Brown III and Maggie Brown, with whom he frequently appears.
Composer and pianist Eubie Blake (1883-1983), a native of Baltimore, started playing piano in bordellos, minstrel shows and hotels as a teenager. His first song, “Chevy Chase,” was published in 1915. A year later, Blake met lyricist Noble Sissle and began a long-lasting collaboration that produced many classic ragtime hits and their famous all-Black Broadway musical SHUFFLE ALONG (1921). With Sissle and other lyricists, Blake continued to write songs, led an orchestra, and helped found the Negro Actors’ Guild. His life was celebrated in the musical EUBIE in 1978; Blake continued to perform right up until his death at the age of 100.
Actors' Equity Association (AEA), founded in 1913, represents more than 45,000 actors and stage managers in the United States. Equity seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions, providing a wide range of benefits for its members, including health and pension plans. AEA is a member of the AFL-CIO, and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions. For more information, visit www.actorsequity.org.
The Actors’ Fund of America is a national human service organization that provides for the welfare of all entertainment professionals. Founded in 1882, The Fund serves professionals in film, television, radio, music, opera, dance and theatre, assisting performers as well as those behind the scenes including creative professionals, technical and crafts professionals and support staff. The Actors’ Fund has offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago and offers social services, an employment and training program and supportive housing. The Fund operates an assisted living and skilled nursing home in Englewood, New Jersey. For more information, visit www.actorsfund.org.
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Oscar Brown, Jr.