Teesee’s Town

Dionne Warwick, legendary recording artist, comes this way Sept. 10 along with other distinguished local and national guests for a ground-breaking ceremony and private reception for the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4440 N. Clark.

For Openers – Dionne Warwick, legendary recording artist, comes this way Sept. 10 along with other distinguished local and national guests for a ground-breaking ceremony and private reception for the new Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4440 N. Clark. Film star Harry Lennix will be the celebrity emcee; among others on hand for the long-awaited momentous occasion: Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Richard Daley, Ald. Helen Shiller and Jackie Taylor, BET’S founder and executive director. Three to Get Ready! ¼¼– A trio of hubby-wife duos, Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Susan Taylor and Kephra Burns, along with Madeliene Moore Burrell and Tom Burrell, join with James Cuno, director and president of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as honorary chairs of “An Evening With the HistoryMakers,” its 10th anniversary gala on Nov. 20 in AIC’s Modern Wing at 280 S. Columbus Dr. To date, also confirmations to appear on the $500 per person ticket benefit have been received by Nikki Giovanni, Gwen Ifill, Bebe WInans, Cathy Hughes, Melba Moore, Earl Graves, Denyce Graves and several others. Theme for the evening is COMMIT: Telling American Stories … Celebrating Our Future. This simple call to action challenges supporters, volunteers and sponsors to COMMIT their time, COMMIT their resources and COMMIT their dollars to help grow the collection which currently houses 7,000 hours of African American testimony. That evening, HistoryMakers will also be collaborating with various youth groups including Street Level Youth Media and Digital Youth Network to begin to bridge the gap between the old and young. The program begins promptly at 6:30 p.m.; no entry after 6:30 p.m. For more, contact Julieanna Richardson, at The HistoryMakers, 1900 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60616, (312) 674-1900, (312) 674-1915 (fax). Hats Off – to James Reynolds Jr., co-founder, chair and CEO of Loop Capital Markets, a global investment firm based here in Chicago, whoisthisclosetobecoming a member of the board of the Chicago Housing Authority, and if the City Council approves Mayor Richard M. Daley will appointed Reynolds the board chair. “One of my highest priorities as Mayor has been to lead the transformation of our old, isolated public housing into vital communities where residents of mixed incomes live together in neighborhoods with good schools, jobs, shopping and housing,” Daley said in a City Hall news conference last week. In 1999, CHA launched the Plan for Transformation, which committed to demolish the unfit housing in the system and replace it with 25,000 new or rehabilitated units. Since then, the city has have invested more than $3 billion in public and private resources in the effort and are now more than 70 per cent of the way toward reaching that goal, Daley said. “I believe we have established a model for other cities seeking to create large-scale change in public housing and in entire neighborhoods, but there is much more to do,” Daley commented. “Today, to keep that progress going, I am announcing the appointment of James Reynolds as a member of the CHA Board of Commissioners. If the City Council approves the appointment, I will then name Jim CHA board chairman,” he said. Reynolds grew up in the Englewood neighborhood and is a graduate of Holmes Elementary and Chicago Vocational High Schools. In addition to his role at Loop Capital Markets, Reynolds has long been active in community affairs. He’s is a board member of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, Chicago United, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Lyric Opera of Chicago, The University of Chicago Hospitals and The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Additionally, he serves as chair of the board for the Chicago Urban League, as a member of the Advisory Board of the Levy Institute/Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a member of the CFA Institute. Newsy Names – Cynthia Washington, associate director at the American Hospital Association, receives the coveted Freeing the Human Spirit Award “for volunteer excellence” on Sept. 12, 4 – 7 p.m., during Habilitative Systems’ “Caribbean Jazz with Pizzazz” fundraiser at the South Shore Cultural Center. On the agenda: Carl Brown, reggae artist, and band, jerk chicken, access to Lake Michigan, dancing, incredible raffle prizes and more. Washington, re-elected to a third term as the first female board chair of HSI, was recently appointed to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Women and serves on the board of the National Association of Health Service Executives. For tickets ($100 in advance; and $75 on the day of), contact Sharon Moreland, (773) 854-8313. Suggested attire: casual black and/or white … Derrick and Yvette Moyo Gillard celebrated their fifth-month anniversary on Friday before traveling south on their second honeymoon to South Beach, Fla. on Wednesday. From there, Derrick heads to Nordstrom’s northwest headquarters in Seattle and Yvette, celebrated co-founder and owner of Real Men Cook and a health and fitness expert, may meet a new client, O’Neal Hampton, at the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) Weekend in Washington, DC … Happy b’day to Jan Michelle Hooks, Wendell Hutson and his wife, Maizelle, Velma Wilson, Tahjma Hall, Denise Jordan Walker, Cong. Danny Davis (7th), Dorothy Brown, John Conrad, Nicole Jones, Stella Reid, Yvonne Moore Smith, Deborah Crable, Don Doty, Cynthia (“CJ”) Maddox, Faune Evans, Chester Singleteary, Rael Jackson, La’Keisha Gray-Sewell, Erika Summers, Fred Miller, Verna Watts Shannon and Valencia Ross … Seventh Ward residents are finding their community somewhat besieged by “Darcel Beavers – I’m Baaack!!!!!!“ literature, apparently referring to her wish to return to the political arena as an aldermanic candidate. The seventh ward hot seat was once owned by her astute dad, Bill, who relinquished it for a successful run for a Cook County Commissioner’s position … A fave friend and neighbor, Mavis Staples, with back-up vocals by sister Yvonne, plays the trendy Sausalito Art Festival in northern California on Tuesday, and on the following night they turn up as guests on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show on NBC-TV … Curtain Call! ¼¼-– Blues for an Alabama Sky, Pearl Cleage’s beautiful, insightful, funny, stick-to-your-soul drama with the Harlem Renaissance as its backdrop, is playing through Sept. 19 at the Theatre Building, 1226 W. Belmont. Set in the 1930s during the Harlem Renaissance, the play looks at the lives of five friends: a gay costume designer, a Cotton Club jazz singer, a young feminist, Harlem’s own Negro doctor, and a southern heart throb new to the big city. As the friends pursue their dreams of love, fame, and freedom, their hopes are challenged by the clash of 1930’s Harlem; and are confronted with issues of religion, economics and sexuality. The Harlem Renaissance is a time that is rich with culture, music, and most of all dreams. The great depression has just hit and jobs are scarce. Cleage paints the picture of these times and succinctly captures the trials, love, struggles and even the rich music of the era.  Despite "letting the good times roll," when religion, murder and sexual preferences are crossed, tensions arise in this must-see drama. Cleage’s poetic approach is sure to speak to everyone regardless of nationality, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.  Her words will reach in and touch your heart while they take you back to the 30s, sitting in a brownstone in Harlem, sipping champagne and awaiting a call from Josephine Baker herself. Showtimes: Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m., $25 ($20 for seniors and students); Sunday matinees, 2:30 p.m.; call (773) 327-5252 for tickets. Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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