Black History Month Guide

Black History Month Guide
(Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform at American Theatre in Hampton)

Compiled by Staff

Following is a variety of concerts, art exhibitions, theater productions, and various events in celebration of Black History Month in Hampton Roads. 

 

Portraits of Service: Portsmouth African Americans in the Military, 1946-67

January 18 through February 28

Portsmouth City Hall Lobby

After World War II, the “Colored Notes” column of the Portsmouth Star newspaper described happenings in the African American community. The column included frequent photographs of local residents in military service. View this collection of military portraits and original captions in this temporary exhibit for Black History Month 2019. 

 

Kim Waters

Church Street Jazz Series

January 19

Attucks Theatre

Inspired early on in his career by such jazz luminaries as Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, George Benson, Grover Washington Jr., and Cannonball Adderley, Waters was born into a musical family and picked up his first instrument, the violin, at the age of eight. “That didn’t go over well with the fellas,” says Waters, who later found his calling on the alto and soprano saxophones at 13.

Waters has made a career of writing timeless anthems with insatiable grooves, undeniable hooks and memorable melodies that combine the best of jazz, R&B, funk and soul. This formula has catapulted him to the top of the charts time and time again and prompted JazzTimes Magazine to declare, “Waters is simply one of the planet’s best saxophonists.”

 

“Songs of a Dreamer: A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Presented by Virginia Symphony Orchestra

January 20

Second Calvary Baptist Church

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra will pay homage to the visionary Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This concert will feature orchestral and vocal music that inspires that legacy of Dr. King. The VSO’s annual Dreamer Award will also be presented to Thomas Wilkins, Music Director of the Omaha Symphony and Norfolk native. Through the VSO’s Harmony Project Concert program, this performance is free and open to the public.

 

Thomas Wilkins

Father Joseph N. Green, Jr. Lecture Series

January 24, 7:00 pm

Attucks Theatre

Free admission

www.attucks100.com 

Renowned orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins, who grew up in Norfolk and attended Booker T. Washington High School, is a sought-after guest conductor of orchestras across the country, and serves as the music director of the Omaha Symphony, the principal conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the family and youth concerts conductor for the Boston Symphony. Hear this gifted artist’s inspiring message as he brings his story home to Norfolk’s famed Attucks Theatre, followed by questions from the audience. (Mr. Wilkins will be conducting the Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on January 25-27; for information visit virginiasymphony.org.)

 

African Art Talk

January 24, 1 PM

Peninsula Fine Arts Center

Richard B. Woodward is the founding curator of the African art collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and since 1977 he has guided its development to include more than 1,000 works of art. Woodward received an MA in the history of art from the University of Virginia and a BA in the history of art from Rutgers University.

The African Art: Identity and Power exhibition on view at the PFAC observes the importance of the objects to those who commissioned, created, and used them. Identity suggests the idea that each piece has been created for a specific purpose and within a specific setting. Some objects may be identified with spirits, and others may represent human ideals or cultural values. Power can be political, religious, or social – it can also refer to regalia, masks, or sculptures used by various types of social organizations, or to items used in ritual contexts by divination priests and priestesses, or devotees of particular gods.

This exhibition seeks to address the slave trade and colonialism through the lens of the artistic traditions of African art. We celebrate the creativity of African artists who have made utilitarian objects of great beauty. Made to fulfill a specific function, each object was also skillfully conceived to provoke visual and tactile delight. Collectively, these are objects that were meant to be both used and seen. African artists use a variety of materials – they carve wood and stone, cast metal, model clay, and work with beads and into a rich array of forms.

 

Michael Lynche

January 26

Zeider’s American Dream Theatre

American Idol Michael Lynche is a new breed of soul singer with completely classic influences. Traces of Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Luther Vandross, Sam Cooke and James Brown all seem to flash in this uniquely talented performer. Undeniable charisma, well­ crafted song arrangements, and a voice soaked in soul give the big man class all his own. “Big Mike”—as he was known while winning over the hearts of a nation during his stint on American Idol—has talent so versatile, he’s played intimate jazz & blues clubs, 20,000 seat arenas and opera halls with 100-piece orchestras backing him. Through it all “Big Mike” has always had one singular goal to spread a message of love wherever he goes.

 

A Weekend in Wakanda

January 26

Children’s Museum of Virginia

Meet 93 year-old actress Dorothy Steel from the Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther” as she host Kids’ Q & A sessions, signs autographs, and poses for pictures with fans. Play instruments and dance along with ACT Dance Theatre’s very own Dora Milaje women warriors and live West African percussion orchestra. Make and take crafts and 3D print models based on the “Black Panther” movie. Dress as your favorite “Black Panther” character, the Falcon, Black Vulcan, or any other African-American comic book or action movie hero to receive a $1.00 discount on the day’s admission. Included in museum admission. 

 

Jae Sinnett’s American Groove Project

January 27

The Vanguard

The AGP is a multi-genre project. Everything from blues, soul, funk and rock to some jazz fusion. Jae Sinnett (lead vocal), Jay Rakes (guitar), Weldon Hill (keyboards and vocals), Terry Burrell (bass and vocals), Brittany Burrell (vocals) and Cody Thornton (drums).  

 

Art Exhibit by Ken Wright: See the Movement, Hear the Melody, Feel the Emotion

February 1–March 2

Reception:  Friday, February 1 @ 5:30–7:30 PM

Slover Library, Norfolk

Ken Wright is an award-winning artist who had works commissioned by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to hang in the White House during their tenures. The Bush piece is on display at the Bush Presidential Library.

 

Trial & Triumph: The Tuskegee Airmen

February 2, 1 PM

Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

Vietnam veteran pilot Howard Baugh takes you on a journey through World War II with a lecture and slide show presentation of his father Lt. Colonel Howard L. Baugh – one of the 393 Tuskegee Airmen combat pilots who received national and international recognition for their combat roles during World War II. The slide show also includes photos of a life size bronze statue of Lt. Colonel Baugh that was recently unveiled at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond. Admission is free and open to the public. 

 

African American History Month Opening Celebration: Black Migration: Remembering Norfolk Then and Now

February 2, 2 PM

Slover Library,Norfolk

Our month-long celebration will explore various aspects of Black migration within Norfolk’s historic Black neighborhoods.  Historian, Dr. Tommy Bogger will be the guest speaker for the opening program. Guest performers include the Word Singers and Gordon Banks (Marvin Gaye’s former music director and Grammy winner).

 

Sister Nancy & United Souls

February 2

The Vanguard

The Vanguard is proud to present a night of reggae featuring international recording artist Sister Nancy with special guests United Souls and soundtrack provided by DJ King NewLevel and DJ Iruption.

 

5th Annual African American Trailblazers Honors Program

February 3, 3 PM

Slover Library, Norfolk

NPL honors four distinguished African American trailblazers: George Banks, Geraldine Boone, Maizelle Brown, I. Sherman Greene and Dr. La Frances Rogers-Rose.

 

Soulful: A National Exhibition of African American Artists

February 7-28

d’Art Center

Curated by Ken Wright, the exhibition highlights various artists and mixed mediums. 

  

The Historic Attucks Theatre: The Apollo of the South

Documentary Screening

February 8, 8:00 pm

Attucks Theatre

Free admission, tickets required

www.Attucks100.com 

A historical documentary on the Attucks Theatre viewed by the public for the first time. 

 

Valerie June

February 8

Zeider’s American Dream Theatre

One of the most admired, genre-bending artists to breakthrough in the last decade, June’s music blends southern sounds, African rhythms and ambient atmospherics into something altogether futuristic and new. Her 2017 release The Order of Time appeared on numerous ‘best of’ lists and received near universal acclaim from a broad array of international media including: Rolling Stone, New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, Vice Noisey, New Yorker, ELLE, Nylon, Garden & Gun, Okayplayer, MOJO, UNCUT, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, Exclaim!, Newsday, Afropunk, CLASH, Glide, Financial Times, American Songwriter, MTV News and many more.

 

The Glory of Gospel

Presented by Hurrah Players

February 8-10

Hugh R. Copeland Center

Celebrating the uniquely enthralling sound born from the triumphs and challenges of the African American experience, THE GLORY OF GOSPEL uses song, dance, and narrative to take you on a musical journey of divine joy. Created and Directed by Sharon D. Cook. 

 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

February 9

American Theatre

Anticipate a concert packed with uplifting music inspired by deep African traditions as Ladysmith Black Mambazo celebrates 50 years as “South Africa’s cultural ambassador to the world.” Their coveted vocals are some of the most sought after in the music industry and have included recordings with artists such as Josh Groban, Melissa Etheridge, Dolly Parton, and the legendary Paul Simon.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s rich harmonies have secured their place as South Africa’s most successful and celebrated singing group. Winner of the 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album, their unique sound delivers a message of peace, love and harmony around the world.

 

Billy Drummond, drums

February 9

Attucks Theatre

Bandleader, recording artist, with over 300 albums to his credit, educator, and much in-demand sideman, native Billy Drummond is a “thrilling” (Downbeat), “powerful and highly musical” (AllAboutJazz) drummer, known for his “fertile, exciting music” (The New York Times). Billy has made three albums as a bandleader–including Dubai, which was picked as the Number 1 Jazz Album of the Year by The New York Times)–and six as a co-leader, including 2016’s Three’s Company with Ron Carter and Javon Jackson, which made many of the year’s Top Ten lists. Born in Newport News, where he grew up listening to his father’s extensive jazz record collection, Billy was leading his own bands from the age of eight, and was teaching adults from the age of 14, before going on to study classical timpani and jazz drums at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. Billy has performed and recorded with a veritable who’s who of jazz, including Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Lovano, Javon Jackson, Toots Thielmans, Lee Konitz, James Moody, and more.

 

Uncle George & Me Author Talk

February 9, 1 PM

Portsmouth Colored Community Library

In Uncle George and Me, author Bill Sizemore tells the story of his slave-owning Virginia ancestors, their slaves, and those slaves’ descendants – a story that lay buried by a century of denial and historical amnesia. Meet Mr. Sizemore, who will read passages from his book, sign copies of his book and chat with visitors about his family’s fascinating history. Admission is free and open to the public. Presented by the African American Historical Society of Portsmouth. 

 

Step Afrika!

February 10

Sandler Center

Step Afrika! founded in 1994 in South Africa, started through a collaboration between dancers from the Soweto Dance Theatre of Johannesburg, South Africa and the United States. The company moved abroad in 1996, settling at the Atlas Performing Arts Theater in Washington, DC—becoming the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping. They are now one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States.

Step Afrika!’s performances integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. They are more than dance shows, blending the percussive style practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, African traditional dance, among other forms of art. A musical and visual spectacle, Step Afrika! appeals to a diverse audience while promoting stepping as an educational tool for young audiences.

 

Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar

February 10

Ferguson Center

Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar has made a name for themselves by performing with gospel greats, such as William McDowell, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Richard Smallwood, Earnest Pugh, and James Fortune. After being featured on Vashawn Mitchell’s “Chasing After You,” off the Grammy nominated Triumphant, TreyMcLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar are becoming sought after the world over for their expressive vocals and intricate arrangements of classic gospel hymns.

 

Black History Expo

February 13

Churchland Branch Library, 5:30 PM

A choral performance by Portsmouth Public Schools with a presentation, author talk and book signing by Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander. Newby-Alexander is the author of Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad. 

 

R&B Valentine

February 15

Hampton Coliseum

Bring your special valentine to a throwback concert of your favorite ’80s and ’90s R&B superstars! Get up and dance to Blackstreet featuring Teddy Riley and Dave Hollister, Tony! Toni! Toné!, 112, K-Ci from Jodeci, and 702. 

 

Choir Boy

Presented by Norfolk State

February 15-17

Attucks Theatre

An Inaugural Norfolk Theatre Festival & Attucks Centennial Celebration production — Choir Boy is infused with the spirit and music of glorious gospel spirituals.

Choir Boy tells the story of Pharus, who wants to lead his school’s legendary choir—but quickly learns that the “key” he sings in, is not in tune with the men of Drew Prep.

 

Neighborhood Black History Tour & Costume Parade

February 16

High & Green Streets, Portsmouth

Wear your favorite costume representing an African American hero, past, present, local, city, state, national or international. Walk or ride a shuttle bus

to see significant African-American historical sites in Portsmouth African American history, concluding at the Portsmouth Neighborhood Facility Recreation Center at 900 Elm Ave. Meet Mae Breckenridge-Haywood, author and President of the African American Historical Society, who will have signed copies of the books Black America: Portsmouth, Virginia, and For You, Dear Norcom next door at the Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum at 904 Elm Ave. To register, contact Joyce White-Tasby at 202.812.2804. Registration fees are $10.00 for an individual and $50.00 for 10 or more. The line-up begins at 10:30 am at High & Green Streets 

 

Branford Marsalis

February 16

American Theatre

This is a rare opportunity for an up close and personal evening with one of the century’s most acclaimed musicians. Branford Marsalis and his jazz quartet bring more than 30 years of experience to the stage and have long been recognized as the standard to which other ensembles of its kind are measured.

Some might gauge Branford Marsalis’s success by his numerous awards, including three Grammys and (together with his father and brothers) his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To Branford, however, these are only way stations along what continues to be an ever-changing journey in the world of music.

 

Three Divas Concert

February 16

Slover Library, Norfolk

Featuring gospel, jazz and classical performances by Dr. Patricia Saunders Nixon, Chrystall Elliott-Smith and Taylor G.

 

Vince Staple

February 18

The NorVa

Recording artist Vince Staples has come a long way from his trying upbringing in Long Beach, California’s Ramona Park neighborhood. Releasing his critically acclaimed debut Summertime ’06 album in 2015, the then twenty-year-old saw his life turned right side up, going from being nearly trapped to having what appeared to be complete freedom.

Yet, as his most recent projects suggest, appearances can be deceiving. The LPs delves into the confusion of sudden fame and acclimating to a lifestyle antithetical to the one he’d known in Long Beach – one wrought with gang violence and poverty. It’s a fundamental narrative in hip hop, but rappers have always found a new way to breathe life into it. Staples brings forth a vision that’s brutal, elegant, playful, and despondent in one breath.

 

The Temptations & The Four Tops

February 21

Ferguson Center

A night of classic Motown is in store with two of the most legendary bands to ever step out of Detroit. With infectious blends of pure vocal power and sweet harmonies, the legacy of the Temptations (“My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “I Can’t Get Next to You”), and the Four Tops (“I Can’t Help Myself,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Reach out I’ll Be There),” represents a unique chapter in music history.

 

Rhythm Live!

Presented by Virginia Arts Festival

February 22

Harrison Opera House

Feel the heat! In this dazzling show, high-energy Caribbean and West African music blend with electrifying dance to tell the story of Trinidad steel pan drums and calypso. Designed to captivate audiences of all ages, Rhythm Live! features young performers from the Virginia Arts Festival’s Rhythm Project and The Governor’s School for the Arts, who work for months to learn the historically authentic music and acrobatic dance moves.

 

Dedicated to Aretha: An Afternoon of Her Gospel Classics

February 24, 4 PM

Slover Library, Norfolk

Pastor Tully Mae Wood, Charlotte Olivis and the H. Sherard Fields Band and Friends bring back memories of her gospel legacy.

 

Wiz Khalifa

March 1

The NorVa

Multi-platinum selling, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated recording artist Wiz Khalifa burst onto the scene with mainstream success with the release of his first major label debut, Rolling Papers in 2011. Rolling Papers spawned the hugely successful hits “Black and Yellow,” “Roll Up” and “No Sleep” and gave Wiz the platform to win the award for Best New Artist at the 2011 BET Awards and Top New Artist at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. His sophomore studio album, Blacc Hollywood, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart and featured the hit single “We Dem Boyz.”

 

Kaia Kater

March 2

Zeider’s American Dream Theatre

As a Montreal born Grenadian-Canadian, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: one her family’s deep ties to folk music; the other the years she spent learning and studying Appalachian music in the USA. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements, and songwriting abilities have landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as NPR, CBC Radio, Rolling Stone, BBC Music, and No Depression.

 

Lawrence Brownlee, Tenor

Eric Owens, Bass-Baritone

Presented by Virginia Arts Festival

March 3

Attucks Theatre

Hear the reigning male stars of opera in this extraordinary performance! Lawrence Brownlee is acknowledged as “one of the world’s leading bel canto tenors” (Associated Press), and has taken the opera world by storm, performing at nearly every major opera house and with dozens of world-class orchestras. “The towering bass-baritone Eric Owens” is acclaimed for his “magnificent, powerful, unbearably moving” (The New York Times) performances in the great roles of opera as well as new works. For the Virginia Arts Festival, this pair of virtuoso voices join in a program of operatic classics and spirituals in the Attucks Theatre, where the echoes of history complement their performance.

 

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Presented by Virginia Stage Company & Norfolk State University

March 6-24

Wells Theatre

Adapted from Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s first novel, this play explores race and class during the post-Great Depression era. Young Pecola Breedlove prays for Shirley Temples’ blue eyes, sure that love and acceptance will follow; but for a young black girl in Ohio in the 1940’s, fitting in is easier wished for than done. This poetic narrative illuminates the destructive powers of racism, colorism, and how the dynamics of family and community can lift us up or tear us down. Produced in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre Company.