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20th Annual Divas Simply Singing

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

Twenty years ago, Sheryl Lee Ralph was told as if it was yesterday, that her special event to raise money for HIV/AIDS was foul and “those people” cannot be helped. She was told that it was a waste of time and to STOP because it is “those people’s” problem…. and that God would not find favor in her actions. Those people meaning gays and homosexuals.

This year at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, a teary-eyed Ralph stated, “I remember the people who could have helped. But didn’t. She has forgiven and is grateful for every ticket bought, every donation made, and red ribbons worn on t-shirts purchased. Over the years, divas from Patti Labelle, Whoopi Goldberg to Melissa Manchester has stood with her lifting their voices in song to fight the good fight against AIDS.

In her presence, after a fewmore words about HIV/AIDS, and how women are one of the fastest growing groups catching AIDS (especially women of color), in a beautiful flowing gown Ralph belts out the classic show tune “Try to Remember.” The audience is spellbound, and perhaps like many in the audience, I let my tears drop and remembered.

I was there for the first Annual Divas Simply Singing, and over the years, I have only missed two. For the 15th Annual Diva Simply Singing, I assisted Ralph as a volunteer in production. I was welcomedwith open arms and I worked, but mostly watched this extraordinary woman wi th her whole heart bring cast and crew together. Producing andwriting a magical evening of song was no easy challenge and the process was difficult. However, when the curtain openedon that Saturday in October 2005 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, there stood this beautiful, poised woman, as though she had not lifted a finger— utterly remarkable and ready to sing and sing she did. I cried then too!

Six years later, 2010, I could only imagine what it must be like to continue this fight against HIV/AIDS. There is no cure, no vaccine as of yet. DIVAS Simply Singing is the longest consecutive running musical AID benefit in theUnitedStates andcontinues to serve as a loving beacon of hope for those living with HIV/AIDS. Twenty years ago, Ralph produced DIVAS (Divinely Inspired, Victoriously Anointed Singers) in loving memory of the many friends that she lost to AIDS and today, the disease has l i terally devastat ing consequences that affected us all. The numbers are in double digits that I have known and loss.

In this year’s, show along with the fabulous other divas there were performances by mothers and daughters. Teena Marie, the artist “Lady Tee” performed in the second Annual Divas Simply Singing. She was pregnant with her daughterAlia Rose. After Lady Tee tenderly sings her classic “Déjà vu I Been Here Before”, out steps her beautiful daughter Alia.

The two sing their tribute song to New Orleans and Haiti. Coco Maurice imitates her mother Sheryl Lee’s booming voice and Shanice Wilson and her mother Crystal Wilson sends the entire theatre into a frenzy with their truly amazing voices.

Other divas were Kelly Price, who aroused the audience with her gospel and hip/hop flare. Jody Wat ley, Desiree Coleman- Jackson Deborah Cox, Loretta Devine, Coko, Gloria Loring, and Judge Glenda Hatchett just to name a few. The charismatic Lisa Raye McCoy was on hand and motivated the audience in passing around the hat. For two years in a row, she has been voted in Black Men Magazine’s “Sexiest Woman of the Year”. She entertained the audience with thoughts of having dinner with her for a donation. A gentleman in the audience, ran to the stage, held out his credi t card, and paid $5,000.00. He was celebrated for donating to the cause. The audience gave him a standing ovation. Pauletta Washington, a singer and classically trained pianist (married to Denzel) stepped out to support DIVAS as wel l by sharing her beaut iful voice in song.

It was most memorable and sobering when a long line of women from all ethnicities introduced themselves to the audience.

They each have been infected with AIDS. Their faces reflected those of all women—somebody’s mother, sister, aunt , or bestfriend.

It was too moving—too in your face about how this terrible disease affects women’s lives. It is reported that every 9-½ minutes, someone in the US, someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, co-worker or friend becomes infected with HIV.

There was a surprise guest and she came at the end of the evening. It was Chaka Khan. If the magical evening of song and entertainment benefit ing the DIVA Foundat ion and Women Alive Coalition did not take your heart, and twist it into a million different directions during the night, by the time Chaka Khan strolled out; your emotions completely fell apart. There is no diva like Chaka!And the audience let her know it. Her voice in song soared. The final curtain call produced a collection of all the divas, with Chaka singing, “I’m Every Woman.”

The fight against HIV/AIDS is far from over and utilizing music and entertainment as a vehicle to inform and educate against the negative social perceptions of the life robbing disease is worthy of everyone support. Every year in the month of October, this special event is held with the intent of raising funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS. Until there’s a cure!

Daz Patterson Provides Inspiration to Overcome Life's Obstacles

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Douglas Miller will Headline "Musical Tribute to Daz Patterson," Friday, November 5, 2010

When people gather next month for the “Musical Tribute to Daz Patterson” at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts they will be treated to performances by some of the top national and local gospel artists, view the premier of Daz’s new movie “For the Sake of Love” and have a chance to meet and greet this phenomenal singer, producer, director, and writer as she signs copies of her new book “Through the Storm and Rain.”

Well known for her musical plays including “Talk is Cheap” and “Somebody Say Amen” Dazrene "Daz" Patterson is a native of Victoria, Texas, who relocated to the Inland Empire and graduated from California State University at San Bernardino. Her natural gift of a seven-octave range singing voice provided her entry into the entertainment industry, where she performed popular and R&B music before finding her place in gospel. She has composed, written, and arranged over 300 gospel songs. She has always had a love and concern for people, and before launching her writing and directing career served several years as a juvenile hall counselor and then as a probation officer.

This special tribute will feature the Grammy and Stellar nominated performer Douglas Miller, whose song “My Soul Has Been Anchored” has enraptured many an audience, and whose albums include “Living on the Top” and “Unspeakable Joy” Mr. Miller will travel from his home in Akron, Ohio for this special tribute. He and Daz toured together in Delilah William’s hit musical play “God’s Trying to tell you Something.” You can see him and hear his magnificent voice on YouTube where fans have posted him in live concert.

There will also be special appearances by colleagues and friends, including actor/director/producer Sid Burston (Get Thee Behind Me!, Crown Royale, Walk by Faith, Reunion), actress Nei’Ce Knight-Preuitt (Love Ain’t Supposed to Hurt), Ernest Carter, Jay Olegario, Raheem Mitchell (Get Thee Behind Me!) and perfomances by gospel recording artist and First Lady of Spirit of Love Church Shervonne Wells (Here I Am, Kurt Carr Singers), David Whitfield, Madelyn Patterson-Berry and tributes by special friends Madeline Freeman and Rafael Rawls.

The evening will kick-off with the inspirational gospel concert, followed by the premiere showing of “For the Sake of Love,” produced by PNP Entertainment. According to Daz, “This movie is about spousal abuse and it’s based upon a true story, the experiences of a relative of mine and her relationship with the wrong man.. The film is very intense and very real, with incidents that actually happened.” Just as with all of her works, Daz’s new movie is spiritually rooted. “The Bible says that when a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing. Too many women are out to get a man instead of letting a man find them. These women should have faith that God will send them the right person.”

The woman in the film takes a significant amount of abuse. Daz states that woman took the abuse and ignored its impact on her because she was obsessed with the idea of being able to say she was the ‘wife’; she took overwhelming abuse as long as she could say she had a ‘husband’. Young people don’t realize older people can see what’s good for them.

Her mother begged her not to marry that man. She knew how and what he was, and married him anyway” “We want to share this story with all of America, in order to help women be aware. Women need to know that they can’t change a man. Unfortunately, most women feel they can, even with red flags coming up all over the place!” Daz herself is happily married to the ‘right’ man, businessman Norman Patterson and they have three children.

After the movie, guest will be invited to meet Daz at her book signing for “Through the Storm and Rain,” which Daz describes as “a book on Life Lessons, the things I encountered during my illness.

I was diagnosed with cancer in 1988. The doctors said they caught it all but the cancer came back in 2001. It seemed to be better after treatment, but in 2003, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer which spread to my liver, back, neck, lymph nodes, legs and arms.” You know they say that cancer is silent and doesn’t cause pain. That’s just a myth, a lie.

My symptoms were that I had a lot of pain, in my side and chest. I believe God allowed me to feel the pain so would seek help and live and not die. He did not allow me to sink into a ‘Woe is Me’ attitude. He helps us to work things out through our suffering, and helps us to see life more fully.”

Daz says the most important lesson people take from her book is “Knowing that no matter what you go through, God will not give you more than you can bear. I want readers to see that there is always rainbow.” Sturges Theatre of Performing Arts (www.sturgescenter.com) is located at 780 North "E" Street San Bernardino, CA 92410. Advance tickets are only $15, $20 at the door.

DVDs of the movie “For the Sake of Love” will be available for $10. The book “Through the Storm and Rain” will be available for $12.98. Advance Tickets are available at Bereans Christian Stores in both Redlands and Riverside, at Groovetime Records in San Bernardino 909-8840197; at the Westside Story newspaper in San Bernardino 909-3848131; at L& M in Rialto 909-874- 3229; or by calling Sabrina at 909-230-0016 or Annette at 909-559-3642.

October shows at California Theater/Sturges Center

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They defy labels, and at times, good taste. They’ve skewered the genre of magic, their sold-out audiences, and themselves -- very often all at the same time, within one mind-boggling evening. That’s Penn & Teller, who are performing Oct. 15 at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino. The show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $38.50- $177.50, www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com, (909) 885-5152, 562 W. Fourth St.

The stage play “Amadeus,” based on the lives of composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, will be presented Oct. 22-24 at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts in San Bernardino. Performances are 8 p.m. Oct. 22; 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 23; and 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 24. Tickets are $38.50- $77.50, www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com, (909) 885-5152, 562 W. Fourth St. Mannheim Steamroller -- which sold out its Christmas shows in San Bernardino a year ago -- will be doing two Halloween themed shows Oct. 28-29 at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts. Performances are at 8 p.m. both days.

Tickets are $38.50-$77.50, www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com, (909) 885-5152, 562 W. Fourth St.

Sturges Center for the Performing Arts

Platinum-selling country music artist Terri Clark, who has had success in her native Canada as well as the United States since the mid-1990s, comes to San Bernardino with her “Unplugged and Alone Tour,” at 8 p.m. Oct. 15. The concert is at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, 7809 N. E St. Tickets $19-$45, available through www.ticketmaster.com or theater box office, (909) 885-5152.

Suzanne LaRusch stars in the one-woman show honoring one of show businesses most beloved comediennes and actresses, the first lady of television, in “An Evening With Lucille Ball: Thank You for Asking,” 2 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, 780 N. E St., San Bernardino. Tickets $19-$45, available through www.ticketmaster.com or theater box office, (909) 885-5152.

An unforgettable rock and roll musical journey awaits theatergoers who follow Alice down the rabbit hole in “Alice in Wonderland: A Rock Opera,” 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Sturges Center for the Fine Arts in San Bernardino, 780 N. E St. Tickets $19-$45, available through www.ticketmaster.com or theater box office, (909) 885-5152.

Black Filmmaker Films in the Inland Empire

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By Mark Taylor –

Hisonni Johnson became interested in film at the age of 13 when he was asked to star in a college student’s film project. He remembered the feeling of being in sync with the film and loved the idea that an individual could control images and events with a camera. He is no stranger to the film world and has been acting since the age of five. His talents have increased sales for several businesses such as Walgreens and Boeing.

Johnson has been seen on shows and films such as: Glee, Greek, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and Cloverfield.

He attended a private film high school where he practiced with various camera techniques and equipment. Years later he worked as an apprent ice for David VanderVeen Productions where he learned photography, terminology, camera function, and lighting.

He draws inspiration from the work of Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, and Peter Berg.

Johnson grew up in a bad neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He describes his neighborhood as a place that seems inescapable. His parents were both involved with drugs and his mother had no choice but to get his school clothes from the dumpster. Johnson had a reputation as a junkie but later turned to film as a method to change his lifestyle. He also had a desire to get his mother out of his childhood neighborhood but she passed before he had a chance to do so.

This tragedy disappoints him because he was unable to provide his mother with a better lifestyle before her passing. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about his mother and the wisdom she gave to him. He hopes that through his work he will one day inspire his troubled sister to make a change in her life as well.

Johnson’s upcoming film “The Other Side” tells the story of Damien, a cop who goes undercover in a drug ring to arrest a criminal.

During the course of his investigation Damien becomes addicted to cocaine and unintentionally kills an innocent woman.

While in rehab Damien begins to see hallucinations of the woman he murdered. In order to protect his reputation he attempts to close a case that could save his career.

Johnson is shooting the film in various locations across Riverside. He praises the city for its art-friendly nature and is honored to be filming here. He is also serious about helping his friends and other struggling artists find success in the business. He hopes to enter his film in the Riverside International, Beverly Hills, and the South by Southwest Film Festivals.

Johnson is interested in creating characters that do the right thing by practicing immoral behaviors. This is what he considers to be the main theme in his movie. He conveys this point by providing examples of his mother and Damien, the main character in his film. He explained that although his mother was involved with drugs she still instilled within him the wisdom he has today. He also explains how Damien goes undercover and does drugs so that he can arrest a suspect in a drug case. He wants the individuals in the audience to place themselves in Damien’s shoes.

Johnson is heavily involved in the creation of music videos, commercials, and demo reels. His music video, “Lately Illuminating” gave an aspiring rap artist the opportunity to meet with several record companies. Johnson has a part time job and he volunteers in the community in his spare time. He has been given a starring role in an upcoming motion picture with Rhea Pearlman and Michael Clark Duncan. The film is entitled “The Riot”.

Johnson’s career has made him realize that film making is his passion and that it has empowered him and given him the ability to bend his own will. He feels that the art of film has given him the ability to control destiny through a sequence of events. He is becoming more and more obsessed with this business and takes every opportunity he can to learn about the latest equipment and techniques.

RAIN in Review

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By Mark Taylor –

On Friday September 24th at 8p.m. three generations of fans gathered at Fox Theater to see RAIN-A Tribute To The Beatles. The band, consisting of members Steve Landes (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, harmonica), Joey Curatolo (vocals, bass, piano, guitar), Joe Bithorn (vocals, lead guitar), Ralph Castelli (Drums, percussion, vocals), and Mark Lewis (Keyboards, percussion) provided the audience with an exciting experience. It was a night of fun in which many were united by their love and memories of The Beatles.

When the lights dimmed the audience became quiet as the Beatles documentary played on screens located on either side of the stage. Soon the curtain rose and the audience began cheering while RAIN opened the show with the hit song “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. The band performed with a joy and enthusiasm that would soon spread through the performance hall. The audience quickly accepted the invitation to dance and sing along with the band. One lady in particular found it difficult to contain herself. Her hair was adorned with flowers and she danced and swayed to the music and bent down to kiss her husband every few minutes. It was as if the music had made her young again.

RAIN’s amazing performance was further enhanced through elements of video, animation, and wardrobe.

Stephen Gotshel and Joel Weiss created a light display that was vibrant and colorful. Laser beams illuminated the bands flashy costumes as they performed “Hello Goodbye”. Lighting techniques were used in such a way to further incorporate the audience into RAIN’s performance. During the song “I am the Walrus” the audience was enshrouded in an orange light and they screamed and aided the band in singing the lyrics.

Throughout the performance videos played past footage of The Beatles on three video screens.

One of the videos depicted the events that took place during The Beatles visit to Shea Stadium on August 15th 1965. The girls in the stadium were short of breath while others fainted in the presence of the band. The audience members found this video footage to be humorous.

The members of RAIN stay true to the memory of The Beatles by imitating the personas of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The band has spent years perfecting the sounds and identity of The Beatles and has succeeded in delivering authent ic performances.

Such dedication has allowed RAIN to develop a sound that is virtually undistinguishable from that of the original Beatles group. The members of RAIN replicate the hairstyles, personalities, and wardrobe of the iconic band to give the audience feelings of nostalgia. With such talent it is not surprising that RAIN has landed a spot in New York City’s Broadway scene.

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BVN National News Wire