Black History Month in Baltimore

By Rosa Pryor
Special to AFRO

Hello everyone, I hope everything is well with you. If you have never believed it before I encourage you to believe it now, ‘Tomorrow is not promised’. An accurate statement that is frequently overlooked. I know my dear friend Vernard Gray expected a return to his home in Washington, D.C. when he departed on his trip to Cuba, but unfortunately he passed away on Jan. 20 in Cuba. This is truly a sad time for the people who knew him. Gray was born in July of 1941 and was the father of three successful daughters. He was a man of creativity who wore many hats as a professional photographer, videographer, arts administrator, curator, exhibition specialist and concert producer. He founded the Miya Gallery in 1976, a gallery that has exhibited the work of more than 200 artists and craftspersons. In March of 2008 he founded a jazz preservation project, “Be Mo Jazz”, where he produced concerts all over Baltimore City including Pikesville, Maryland and areas in Washington, D.C. Final arrangements were not presented before press deadline. I will try to keep you informed.

Vernard R. Gray, a dear friend of mine and a strong long-time jazz promoter, passed away on Jan. 20, in Cuba. Well known in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore Metropolitan Area as a photographer, videographer, arts administrator, curator, exhibition specialist, wearable art and furnishings designer, concert producer; interactive media specialist and the founder of “Be Mo Jazz.” He will be truly missed by so many. Condolences to his daughters and family.

You can kick off Black History Month by attending the Author’s Book Expo from 5-8 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Baltimore War Memorial, 101 N. Gay Street, in Baltimore, Maryland. This is a family friendly opportunity to meet and purchase items from your favorite Black authors. A variety of authors ranging in age as well as genres will be present. Event goers will have access to exclusive readings and excerpts from the authors themselves. This event is free and open to the public.

Andrea Jones, the author and curator for the Black Author’s Book Expo will host the Black Author’s event on Saturday, February 1 from 4-8 p.m. at the Baltimore War Memorial, 101 N. Gay St. in Baltimore. This event is free and open to the public.

Led by jazz educator and trombonist, Charles Funn, Dunbar Alumni Jazz Band will do their thing for Black History Month by performing at the An Die Musik Live jazz club downtown at 7 p.m. on Feb.10. Charles organized this ensemble in 1995, and they have performed the music of composers Duke Ellington, William Thomas “Billy” Strayhorn, William “Count” Basie, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and countless others. The band plays many classics of the big band repertoire, and distinguishes itself by also performing more obscure orchestral tunes and complex arrangements. They are really great, I have enjoyed listening to them many times.

Charles Funn and his Dunbar Alumni Jazz Band kicks off Black History Month on, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at An Die Musik Live on Howard Street.

The Souls of Life Society will host “The Joy of Blackness, A Celebration of Black Life” from 3-7 p.m. on Feb. 8 at 401 N. Howard Street in Baltimore. An event honoring their Elders with a meal, the showcasing of their collective organization love and commitment for unity through musical presentations, free form dancing, conscious karaoke and DJ. For more information, call 410-419-1226.

Schroeder Cherry will be performing at the String Theory Theater Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at Eubie Blake: 847 N. Howard St. in Baltimore. The String Theory Theater is a small Baltimore based puppet troupe composed of artist Dirk Joseph and his daughters Sequoia and Azaria.

Everyone is talking about the First Monday of Black History Month. Entertainment by two of the baddest DJ’s in Baltimore; DJ Mike Jones and DJ Sugar Chris will supply the music. From 5-10 p.m. on Feb. 3 at City View Bar & Grill, 6700 Security Blvd, Gwynn Oak, Maryland there will be free open buffet, dancing and special guest appearance by comedian and radio personality Ms. Maybelle. As my friend Larry Young from WOLB 1010 AM says: “Loddie, doddie and everybody” will be there.

Creative Alliance celebrates Black History Month at 8 p.m. on Feb. 2  with their Annual Dance Party celebrating Bob Marley’s Universal Message of Peace, Acceptance, and Resilience with the inspiring and astounding reggae singer Taj Weekes. Weekes, a dreadlocked Rastafarian musician, was bred in the Caribbean but shaped by intercontinental life experiences. He is a creative, poetic singer-songwriter who fronts a dynamic reggae band named Adowa.

Alright, my dear friends, enjoy your week, be good to each other and keep our fallen angels in prayer. I got to go now, but remember; if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at rosapryor@aol.com. Until next time, I’m musically yours.