Harlem Stage, the legendary uptown venue that for more than 30 years has promoted the creative legacy of Harlem and artists of color from around the corner and across the globe, is proud to present its Spring 2018 season of performances. The season is curated by Monique Martin, newly appointed director of programming for Harlem Stage and features artists who #Disrupt, and take creative risk. They reflect the times via a range of artistic genres, offering audiences the chance to experience legendary performers and rising stars.
On Jan. 16, join Harlem Stage for a special winter benefit performance. This intimate evening will feature jazz icon Dee Dee Bridgewater and singing sensation Wé McDonald, of The Voice fame, as they pay tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald in honor of her centennial. Wé McDonald will be accompanied by organ and piano prodigy, Matthew Whitaker.
Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s Stretch Music Residency is in its second year at Harlem Stage and this season the venue and will present the 2nd annual Stretch Music Festival, a FREE Stretch Music Intensive, along with a film screening and conversation series. The second year of the Stretch Music festival features Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his band along with musicians who push the boundaries of form as they reach back into the past creating bridges to right now. Rhythms such as Kassa Soro from the North East Highlands of Guinea, that predate the transatlantic slave trade as well as Salsa, Son and Swing which came after those rhythms, can be heard on Blues, Funk, Trap, Hip Hop and Stretch Music. In this Festival you will hear a complete reevaluation of these cultures with the intent of building new bridges, new landscapes and new forms. This year’s festival will feature bands led by The Curtis Brothers, Max Moran and Neospectric, Lawrence Fields, Kris Funn and special surprise guests.
Additional musical highlights include “Lyric of Love: An Evening of Music, Poetry, Power & Magic” featuring Rhonda Ross and Rodney Kendrick in their first full USA concert together in 15 years. Join them as they celebrate love in all its dimensions with new music and songs from their respective releases “In Case You Didn’t Know” and “The Colors of Rhythm.”
Vocalist Candice Hoyes, a storyteller of vast range and personality and two-time Bessie and Princess Grace Award winning tap dancer and choreographer Dormeshia Sumbry-Edward, will debut a night of music and dance inspired by the life of Lena Horne. “Lena Horne at 100,” will offer a melodic journey through Horne’s seven decade career, accenting the bravery and vulnerability that make Horne’s legacy utterly modern.
Later in the season, vocalist and composer Imani Uzuri will present “Hush Arbor (The Opera),” a mercurial musical meditation exploring themes of death, rebirth, impermanence and transcendence. The contemporary chamber opera is inspired by hidden gathering places called “hush arbors” created by enslaved African Americans in wooded areas in the South to secretly worship, commune and strategize rebellion. The concert will feature polyphonic singing, instrumental rumblings and poetic text. Major support for the early development of WaterWorks artist Imani Uzuri’s Hush Arbor has been provided by the MAP FUND, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This year for their signature series Uptown Nights, Harlem Stage has partnered with the National Black Theatre to celebrate the contributions of Black women pioneers from the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements with “Mothers of the Movements.” This two-part series pays tribute to iconic women, including Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Abbey Lincoln, and Ella Baker. Longtime Lincoln collaborator, Marc Cary will re-imagine the seminal album, “We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” with Terri Lyne Carrington, Reggie Workman, Sameer Gupta, Edmar Colón, and surprise guests. “Mothers of the Movements” is presented in collaboration with Carnegie Hall Festivals, The ‘60s: The Years That Changed America, a citywide festival Jan. 14 – March 24, 2018.
Dance enthusiasts can enjoy the return of Harlem Stage’s signature dance series E-Moves. E-Moves presents four contemporary and innovative African choreographers who have been commissioned to create or re-imagine new work that is culturally referential, arresting and fresh. Adaku Utah, Lacina Coulibaly, Ousmane Wiles and Nora Chipamire wrestle with questions that push the boundaries of what it means to be African in America now.
There are also several Dance Parties, including, Harlem’s own “The Shed Open Jam,” hosted by Grammy award winning musician/engineer Anu~Sun and featuring Sundae Sermon’s DJ Stormin’ Norman and DJ Luna, who come to Harlem Stage for a special Grammy week edition. Later, “Swing Out!: A DJ Dance Party!,” offers a Swing dance/lindy hop edition featuring vocalist Charles Turner III & Uptown Swing. In tribute to Harlem’s own famed Swing dancers Frankie Manning, and Norma Miller, join us for a swinging party to a live band and DJ and dance class lead by Traci Bartlow and Samuel Coleman.
Special free performances span the world of theater and music this spring season.
Repertorio Español’s “LA CANCIÓN THE MUSICAL.” “La Canción” is the humorous and refreshing story of Rafa, a young man from The Bronx with a passion for music. Rafa tells his story through an amalgam of musical genres from Rap to tropical tunes like Salsa, Merengue and Bachata.”
The Stretch Music Intensive” is a free immersive workshop for all music students, lovers of music, and emerging musicians. Join Edison Award-winning and Grammy-nominated trumpeter, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his incredible ensemble, as part of The Stretch Music Residency with today’s most creative improvisers.
On April 4, join Harlem Stage for a free musical, visual and movement celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King as a civil-rights leader and humanitarian, on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Later in the season, NEA Jazz Master Dr. Lonnie Smith will present a memorable free jazz performance “HARLEM Stride Jazz Now.” With a career spanning over five decades, Smith stands as the preeminent Hammond B-3 organist in jazz today. He has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Presented in collaboration with Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts.
To close out the Spring 2018 season, join Harlem Stage for a free screening of “A Luv Tale,” an edgy romantic comedy set in culturally rich and historic Harlem. The film examines friendship between four beautiful and cultural lesbians of color navigating their complex lives through a world of art, music, consciousness and love. This special Pride program is part film screening, part conversation and part uptown hang.
Patricia Cruz, executive director, said “I welcome Harlem residents, New Yorkers, and visitors to join us at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse for this fresh and special spring season, which offers a diverse, unique array of artists and genres.”
Monique Martin, director of programming, said “The season’s theme of #Disrupters will offer performances from pioneering American artists and contemporary artists from across Africa, as Harlem Stage continues to identify, support and celebrate visionary artists of color. We will offer tributes to legendary, bygone but transcendent, African American artists like Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald, and to the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.”