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James on Jazz: Compassion in the age of social media Part I

Billie Holiday

When I see photos of Holiday in gowns, smiling, I think about the profound courage it must have taken to get on stage and sing in front of crowds, all the while newspaper reporters were repeatedly chronicling explicit and unpleasant details of her life, instead of focusing on her amazing talent, and serious devotion to her craft. Continue Reading →

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African American publishers, editors among the few and proud at AWP

Author LaShonda K. Barnett

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ (AWP) Annual Conference and Bookfair, which boasts of being “the largest literary conference in North America” on its website, was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center from April 8-11 Continue Reading →

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Dominique Morisseau talks ‘Detroit ’67,’ Black theater and more

Dominique Morisseau

An award-winning playwright is bringing her play about Detroit to St. Paul later this month.
Dominique Morisseau is a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient and has produced six one-act plays. Now she’s currently developing a three-play cycle on her Detroit hometown. The first, Detroit ’67, will have a four-week run at St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre April 23 — May 17.
Detroit ’67 is about two siblings who inherited their childhood home after their parents’ death, and hold “basement parties” during a time when the city police began cracking down on such after-hours activities. One such crackdown led to five days of rioting, where 43 people died and thousands of properties were damaged in late July 1967. Continue Reading →

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REVIEW | ‘Fast & Furious 7′: A spellbinding ride

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Walking into a theater to see the latest Fast & Furious episode is like saying hello to an old, well-oiled friend. Great and familiar cast, excellent script, superb production values and the direction is tight as a drum. Can’t say this is the best film of the franchise, because so many of them have been excellent. But it’s easily the most daring. Fasten your seat belts and test the airbags. This one accelerates real fast. Continue Reading →

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Wonder delights in concert with timeless ‘Songs in the Key of Life’

Stevie Wonder on keyboard at the Songs in the  Key of Life, March 29.

Steve Wonder’s masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life proved every bit worthy of a tour some 39 years after its release at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Sunday, March 29. It wasn’t on my bucket list, but if I had one, Sunday’s experience would easily qualify for check-off status.

Wonder pretty much stuck to the iconic album’s original song order during the Twin Cities’ tour stop, his first time performing here since 1988. The show kicked off about 20 minutes after the 8 pm scheduled start, and concluded with a standing ovation around midnight. It’s hard to imagine anyone leaving unsatisfied. Continue Reading →

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