Peabody Celebrates Black History Month

Denez and friends

Denez, Richard  and two of supporting cast after performance.

It’s been a while since I saw a black woman play the role of Carmen, the Spanish opera from the 1870’s.

The story parallels so much a black woman’s life, it could have been written by Gordon Parks instead of Georges Bizet, the Frenchman.

Just a sweeping glance of the black woman’s history, where she has faced abuse from her slave owner, right down to today, where black men take their frustration out on black women, piling up the physical atrocities.

Even though Dorothy Dandridge played Carmen Jones, with Harry Belafonte in the 1954 movie, the gist of the story is about the same. A case where she is too much for one man; a woman who makes a man’s blood boil! He may even  say to himself, “I have to have her!” Like that BMW, AUDI or RANGE ROVER, but maintenance becomes a killer!  

In both editions, Carmen dies, killed by the lover, who could not handle rejection, he had to have her, he became delirious.

 February is Black History Month here in the USA, this month includes Valentine’s Day, a day for lovers celebrating their passion for togetherness.

This is quite a thought provoking dilemma, the passion for physical unity, and the earnestness to promote the rising black consciousness in black history month.

One person who can possibly embody that, from the halls of the Peabody conservatory in Baltimore Md. is DENYCE GRAVES, an African American mezzo-soprano who toured world stages including Washington D.C., France, Zurich, New York and San Francisco. We spoke shortly after her performance. (See video)

On A Cold January Day in Baltimore, I can See Brazil


This January, Baltimore had 30 inches of snow, forcing us indoors, to hibernate like bears. We raided the supermarkets, leaving shelves naked, like babies at birth, even crying when our comfort foods were sold out.

After shoveling snow for two days, and watching front end loaders, make snow banks 12 feet high, it was time to see another side of life; the lighter side, to enjoy the fruits of nature, as well as it sounds.

The last Sunday in January offered that, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, listening to DUDA Da FONSECA, and his Brazilian All Stars, featuring  VANESSA RUBIN, on saxophone and clarinet

“Brazil!”, has a roll on the “r” and a falsetto shrill on the “l”, when pronounced with excitement, especially heard during carnival season (February). It comes from the roots of Samba: fast moving feet, torsos in circulatory movements, flying hands in conjunction. Yes, it’s all West African, brought to South America (Brazil) by the Portuguese, who participated in the slave trade.

Second to Samba, was Bossa Nova, when Carlos Jobim (Portuguese pianist) incorporated the classics with the African rhythms (Samba) to sync with the lazy seductive walk of the girls on Ipanema beach, Rio de Janeiro.

So now it was time to listen to the sounds of Brazil, to think of the beaches, the sunsets and the etceteras. (Watch video).

Kudos to BMA!