Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Women's Conference 2010 - The Grand Finale/Minerva Awards

It was wonderful to actually have the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, California's First Lady Maria Shriver, Previous First Lady of the United States Laura Bush, The Honorable Sandra Day O'Connor, Oprah Winfrey - and her best friend Gayle King, Mary J. Blige, Sarah McLachlan, Deepak Chopra, Holly Robinson-Peete and her husband Rodney Peete, and a whole host of other intelligent people, all under one roof. I mean, it felt a little like what I'd imagine it would be having dinner with Queen Hatshepsut, Queen Yaa Asantewa, Madeleine Albright and Thomas Robert Malthus. This is one of those moments in my life where I am so amazed by the sheer awesomeness of what can be accomplished if an over abundance of people who are problem solvers, get together in the same space/time continuum. People who have shown that authenticity, positivity, creativity, coupled with faith, courage and wisdom (key ingredients to being an Architect of Change)

It's called California's First Lady Maria Shriver's Women's Conference. It was where all of this massive amounts of positive energy circulated over these past three days.

(If I were you, I'd go to the website and watch the entire 3 day event. It was absolutely wonderful.)

Why? Because now, more than ever, we as a people, need to collectively get together and discuss what it is that needs to be done to make this world a better place - eradicating the world of Breast Cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Autism*, obesity, poor nutrition, homelessness - then put into action what our ideas are. If one can visualize and idea, one can make it happen. Mary J. Blige, who has an organization called FFAWN, bravely stood up and told us about the abuse that ran through 2 generations in her family and not only did it touch my heart, but had everyone in my section in tears. The Asian woman sitting two rows up from me had to be handed tissue because she couldn't stop crying. All different nationalities yelling out, "We hear you Mary, We feel you, Mary!" Lord, have mercy! Just ask the women who were the recipients of the Minerva Awards 2010 - Carolyn Blashek, Oral Lee Brown, Sister Terry Dodge, Sandra Day O'Connor and Oprah Winfrey.

I'm hoping that this note motivates you to discover how you too, can be an Architect of Change. I'd like to thank Lena Cole Dennis for a wonderful day. Now, what are WE going to do? That's the question. Remember, it starts with you.

Love & light,

Deepak Chopra - DeepakChopra.com
Gayle King - The Gayle King Show
* Holly Robinson-Peete & Rodney Peete - Hollyrodfoundation.org

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy 93rd Birthday Dizzy Gillespie! 10/21/17- 1/6/1993

Dizzy Gillespie once said, "My Father made me a rebel against everybody but him." Because his Dad was a musician, picking up an instrument was second nature to Dizzy. His unique style of performing, with the big cheeks and comedic timing really was authentic. He was an original.

Dizzy made his way from Cheraw, South Carolina to Philladelphia, with his family - one of 9 children - when he was 14.
It was in 1937 when the great Cuban trumpeter Mario Bauza took Dizzy to hear the Latin sounds of Spanish Harlem and Dizzy fell in love with it. Eventually Dizzy, along with Charles Mingus, Stan Getz stepped up the Big Band game with amazing sounds and created a movement that caused multiple revolutions w/ Be-Bop and Afro-Cuban music. According to composer and jazz theorist George Russell, "Be-Bob was uneasy music, meant to shake people up."

Donald Maggin wrote a book entitled, Dizzy: The Life and Time of John Birkes Gillespie. According to Mr. Maggin, Dizzy blew that trumpet, which someone accidentally sat on at his wife's birthday, and he didn't want to upset his wife by not performing, so, making lemonade out of lemons, he rocked that Trumpet, which, as a result, tilted upwards at an angle of 45°, becoming his signature instrument - it was magic!

His contemporaries - Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles " Bird" Parker, Cab Calloway, Kenny Clark, Sonny Rollins wrapped sound around your senses and couldn't help but seep into your very soul.

Ever since I was a child, I loved Jazz. I was so young and didn't realize how fortunate I was to know Dizzy Gillespie. The last time that I got a chance to spend time with him, was when he was visiting the West Coast back in 1985. I was the baby of the bunch, back stage watching Dizzy as he got ready for a performance at the Henry J, Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, CA. It was a fund raising event for the East Oakland Development Foundation. The late Jerry Dean ( KJAZ emcee) emceed that night. Dizzy, Max Roach, Nancy Wilson were on the Markquee. Everyone was still celebrating Dizzy's Birthday, and so there was a party for Dizzy after the concert. It was an amazing night!( If you were there, shoot me a note please)

I loved Caravan, Salt Peanuts and A Night in Tunisia. What were some of your favorites by Dizzy Gillespie?

Do yourself a favor and get to know Dizzy Gillespie - Read:
To Be or Not to Bop - Memoirs - Dizzy Gillespie w/ Al Frazier
Dizzy: The Life and Time of John Birkes Gillespie - Donald Maggin
Also, check out NPR radio - The Lasting Impact of Dizzy Gillespie
photo property of - just elite.net - John Birkes "Dizzy" Gillespie

Love, C

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sisters at the Well - 5th Annual We See You Awards Gala

It was a crisp, cool, rainy, Sunday evening here in Southern California. There was just no way of getting around driving in the rain, Southern California style, to one of the most anticipated events - the 5th Annual Friends of Sisters at the Well, Inc. We See You Awards Gala Event, which takes place every year at the beautiful Skirball Cultural Center.

You guessed it - it was a full house and everyone was dressed for success. Barbara A. Perkins, Founder and President of Friends of Sisters at the Well, Inc., looked magnificent and truly was the perfect Hostess, making everyone feel so welcomed.

The Mistress of Ceremony was Erica Alexander, Actor/Producer/Activist/Advocate. (Great job, Erica!) The Announcer was the incomparable Ms. KiKi Shepard, who knocked everyone out with her grace and style.

The event started out beautifully with Rev. Andriette Earl speaking true words of wisdom with such a positive spirit.
Branice McKenzie's voice reminded me of a Mother's love. Everyone should hear her sing at least once in their lifetime!
Next, Eartha Robinson, dancing to the rhythm of vocalist Laurnea's tone/beat - as Laurnea
ascended from the depths of the theater using her vocal range to control the motions, then the two of them joining in unison, mid stage, stepping together in a syncopated rhythm, then separately - still feeling the vibe as Eartha continued to move to the mellifluous voice of Laurnea, and it was so exhilarating!
The world renown Artist Synthia St. James, who designed the first Kwanzaa Stamp for the U.S., Postal Service and whose art work graces the cover of 70 books, including Alice Walker and Terry McMillan, created the most beautiful paintings that were specifically for the Honorees at this We See You Awards Gala Event and are not for sale. When I tell you that Synthia St. James had so much positive energy and a light hearted spirit - simply going with the flow of things - you see, Barbara A. Perkins had stated that Synthia St. James really could dance up a storm, and when Synthia took the stage, to our surprise, she started dancing, and it just made so many of us laugh because the woman was smooth!

The Harpist from the Hood, Destiny, the Sound Sculptress ,who is also a vocalist, performed with friends. The Honorees for 2010:
Honorable Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, a lifetime resident of the 33rd California Congressional District, currently serves on the International Relations and Government Reform Committees.

Charisse Bremond-Weaver, President of the Brotherhood Crusade, the community service and development organization founded by her late father, Walther Bremond, in 1968.

Denise Pines, President of denise+pines inc., a brand strategy, media development and event production firm. Previously, Denise served as the President of The Tavis Smiley Group, Inc. for 15 years.

Kimberly Freeman, Director of Community relations Southern California Gas Company. Kimberly is the "Go to person" with regards to charitable donations in the community.

Lady Yvette Williams, Chairperson of the Women's Ministry at Ward AME Church. Lady Yvette is fortunate enough to wake up every morning blessed to be a role model in the community, assisting and leading others on the path of righteousness.

There was a lovely Tribute to the late Dr. Dorthy I. Height, a pioneer of change who worked closely with Mary McLeod Bethune, both women broke the ground and set the pavement for better education and equal rights for women in the USA.

Susan L. Taylor, Founder/ CEO of The National CARES Mentoring Movement, spoke of the importance of everyone of us taking an active part in mentoring our youth. Susan showed a moving video with so many celebrities - Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey -
all unitedly supporting Susan's initiative to improve the odds of children matriculating through the educational system; inviting all of us to spend just one hour a week mentoring a child. This will most certainly make a difference given the odds that are currently stacked against the children who are being educated in our public school system.

I solute Susan L. Taylor Founder/ CEO, Barbara A.Perkins, Executive Director and Brent Burton, Chairman of The National CARES Mentoring Movement.

What will you do to help our youth today? Please get in contact with The National CARES Mentoring Movement and volunteer ONE hour a week. It could change a child's life.

Love & light,