A day for hats at the Harlem Derby at the Red Rooster Restaurant.
It was a day of pride and pageantry at the 6th annual Harlem Derby, “stylish and stunning” everywhere you looked, was the theme of the day. Mint Julep’s, tasty hors d’oeuvres and good vibes flowed freely, as we listen to Blues, Jazz and Soul by Choclattjared & The Swagga Band who played at the bar of the Red Rooster Restaurant while down stairs in Ginny’s Supper Club The Waiters of Happyness Band performed.
Some of the attendees chose to sit alfresco where they were the first see… and to be seen and as more guests arrived they grooved to some of the best 70’s, 80’s and 90’s R&B music, until it was time to watch the Churchill Downs race on big screens provided in every key area of the restaurant.
Just when people thought the day couldn’t get any better, the weather was heaven sent (not too warm and not too cool) which was perfect for folks with panache and flair. Speaking of which there were dinner and drink certificates presented for Best Hat & Best Dressed sponsored by B Squared Harlem and by Harlem EatUp.
No stone was left unturned by hat designer, founder of the Harlem Derby and host Rob Owens, including the fact that he reminded patrons that June 5, 2018 will mark the 144th year of the Kentucky Derby — a sporting event that African Americans have helped to cultivate from its inception. When African people were bought to America for the purpose of slavery, they worked the plantation fields, as well as in the owner’s stables.
According to Owens (a native Kentuckian) these skilled African care takers not only fed and groomed the horses but some, especially if they were from West Africa, may have been horse grooming experts.
He also stated that there were 13 African Americans among the first 15 jockeys in the initial 1875 Kentucky Derby. In fact, Black Jockeys won 15 of the first 28 races. Each year the Harlem Derby present a racing professional with an appreciative award, this year noted horse trainer Tony Wilson was the recipient of that auspicious salute. Owens’ goal is to bring ongoing attention to the rich and invaluable contributions African American’s have bought and continue to bring to the horse racing industry. All in all it was a fabulous day co-sponsored by, Hendricks Gin, Reyka Vodka and Hudson Whiskey. Without a doubt, Rob Owens and his gracious staff presented the event of the year!
By Roz Nixon
Ella Nixon Drive is an annual holiday toy, clothing and gift giving event that not only works to secure a happy holiday for those in need but also serves to encourage and assist others in becoming charitable organizers so that they may reach their own gift giving goals.
Roz Nixon, founder of the drive says, “Christmas was the most important time of the year for my mother. She was filled with holiday spirit and loved to decorate the house inside and out. She would buy us so many gifts and toys that sometimes we could not open them all on Christmas day.”
As the holidays approach, there will be laughter and happiness for some and little or nothing for others. According to Nixon The Ella Nixon Drive will change that scenario for as many people as we possibly can! As a producer of Jazz events, Nixon has chosen that genre to bring attention to the annual evening of giving with a theme entitled “Jazz for Joy.”
Nixon has invited all for a night of fun and great music in an effort to gather gifts that will be donated to homeless families and children in foster care, so that they may have a memorable Christmas day.
“This year our guests will sing and dance along to excerpts from the critically acclaimed play “SS NIRVANA” a magical Jazz musical that spotlights legendary Blues & Jazz artists. On Wed. Dec.7, 2016 we will spot light the music of Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole and Bessie Smith,” said Nixon.
In look, costume and sound, the talented cast will cover some of the most popular tunes of each of the legends they portray, as the audience becomes reminiscent of a sweeter time. This year’s drive will feature Lil Phillips who will perform the music of Dinah Washington. Phillips is a well-seasoned jazz performer known for her rich tone and authentic vocal Jazz quality. She has also been slated to play Dinah in the Dinah Washington story.
Rob Fulton, a singer who conveys his musical passion abundantly with the sound of a big band as easily as he does with the intimacy of a jazz trio, will perform the music of Nat King Cole. “Fulton brings chills as he performs the most cherished tunes from the King Cole song book,” said Nixon.
Just back from encore performances in Russia, Antoinette Montague is sure to set the night on fire with her sassy, saucy portrayal of Bessie Smith. As the toast of last Summer’s “Charlie Parker Jazz Festival,” Montague sings and swings both Jazz and Blues with her unrelenting, soulful, signature, groove. “She is a show with in a show that you don’t want to miss,” said Nixon.
Jazz for Joy will be held on Wed. Dec. 7, 2016 from 6-10 pm there is no cover so please bring gifts or gift cards for boys and girls ages 12-19 to Harlem Besame Restaurant, 2070 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., NYC, the exact same space where boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson’s corner bar and restaurant was born. For more information, please call 646 373 3690.
AN INVINCIBLE SHOW FOR THE KING OF POP
By Roz Nixon
On Friday, June 19, “Invincible”… A Glorious Tribute To The King of Pop made its New York premiere at the Apollo Theater in NYC. This totally fabulous production was adorned with precision lighting, timely bursts of fog and of course a collection of MJ’s most memorable outfits. The audience wallowed in rich nostalgia, upon seeing the bejeweled glove, the red leather jacket and the all too familiar ultra-white socks.
“Invincible” is the brain child of Bessie Award winning producer Darrin Ross and comprises Michael Jackson’s top of the chart hit singles while celebrating the unforgettable dance numbers found in Jackson’s videos that went on to become pop culture legend.
With a stellar recommendation from New York publicist Deardra Shuler, Sun Song Productions brought “Invincible” to New York and this multi-media, live performance, extravaganza is a must see. If you are a Michael Jackson fan and you missed the show, then you are in for an exceptional treat when it returns to New York (date TBA). All of The King’s moves, his unique sound and trademark inflections are found in this gala production.
Lavelle Smith Jr., choreographer, dancer and friend of MJ for more than 23 years is firmly at the creative helm as a talented list of artists portray Michael in various stages of his superstar career including Pete Carter, a master dancer and impersonator who reincarnates Jackson’s style to a “T” as well as Jeffrey Perez who is brilliant in songs such as “Billie Jean,” “Thriller” and “Beat It.”
While the cast, its incredibly tight orchestra and a row of soulful background singers effortlessly kept a groove going that sounded “just like the record,” members of the audience were all mesmerized. Song after song brought back memory after fond memory until members of the audience were on their feet more than they were seating.
The audience comprised fans that ranged in age from eight to 80 and they all had a favorite song. Wow, what a phenomenal body of work Michael Jackson left behind. there are people that haven’t been born yet and they will know and love his work just like the fans that were in the world famous Apollo Theater on that Friday night.