The national media made news out of Labor Day revelry along Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway where a few members of the New York Police Department joined the fun of the 44th annual West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s parade.

A video of the officers who joined masqueraders to celebrate Caribbean heritage and culture was posted and immediately picked up by mainstream media giving it even more global distribution throughout the world wide web.

NYPD’s Commissioner Ray Kelly was asked to respond on his position with uniformed police officers behaving in what was described as lewd activity (or by some as daggering).

Perhaps, this print version shot by Shauna Lewis of cops reveling at the same WIADCA event on the same day might put the controversy in perspective.

Play On!

Jamie Foxx Identifies With “Soul” Of Texas

Director Mark Landsmen scored a winner when he decided to make a documentary about a 92-year-old former, music teacher in Houston, Texas who dedicated his entire life to inspiring Black youth.

It seemed as if Landsmen’s story evolved as his cameras rolled to record a tribute to Conrad O. Johnson, the teacher many regard as Prof. That a 35-year reunion class would reassemble and return to the same music room they practiced and played at Kashmere High School seems a nice, little story to film. However, a little story grew bigger and bigger opening in theaters last Friday with a billing “Thunder Soul.”

Fact is Prof was no ordinary teacher. During the 1970’s the jazz-classical maestro managed to amass some of the most talented Black youths to form a school band that whipped state championship bands and broke down color barriers in the deep south where racists such as Gov. George Wallace dictated Jim Crow laws.

The irony is that the band used talent to politic their aptitude.

Audiences – Black and white – were awed wherever they played.

They transformed what was usually a band performance into a show business experience. Enhancing their musicianship with style, they added synchronized choreography to amplify their sounds. Trombones crossed trumpets and saxophones between notes and instead of the usual staid seating positions, talented teenagers used fancy footwork to jazz up rhythm and blues.

Their dynamism earned them many championship titles and booked them into Europe, Asia and even earned them a recording deal.

In 2008 when Prof turned 92, those students who were teenagers then returned – 35 years later – to thank their mentor, teacher and father-figure.

Now doctors, lawyers, preachers, business professionals, many had not played their instrument since leaving school but were determined to perform for Prof on his special day. The preparation for the occasion as well as back stories about the inspirational educator, bureaucracy, Black music and pride are all intertwined into the teling of “Thunder Soul.”

Few documentaries ever make it to national distributorship. However, the details of this true-life, southern story cannot be ignored.

Academy award winning actor Jamie Foxx, said he was blown away by the storyline.

“I had to be a part of it,” he said.

He added that when Kashmere competed “no one knew what to make of them.”

“It was like back in the day, the ‘50s and ‘60s, when the ‘mainstream’ was first exposed to rhythm and blues. They hadn’t heard anything like it they just knew they wanted to dance to it.”

Billed executive producer, Foxx invested in seeing the project through.

Catch You On The Inside!

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