by New Pittsburgh Courier Editorial Staff
by Tene’ Croom
For New Pittsburgh Courier
“I loved it! The music she sang from Jill Scott and Roberta Flack brought back wonderful memories, and there was something for everyone.”
That was the response from just some of the scores of people who packed into the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty to see J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark return home to perform her spectacular show, “The Ladies Who Sing With The Band.”
She was sassy and soulful covering the music of legendary singers spanning genres ranging from the jazzy music of Nancy Wilson to the neo soul sounds of Jill Scott. J. Rosalynn even paid tribute to the great Leontyne Price with a powerful rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now” from “Porgy and Bess.”
“I sang jazz in one of the greatest jazz cities, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for years to pay for my classical voice lessons. One of my most cherished memories was sitting in with the great Lionel Hampton Jazz Band in Dijon, while on tour in France with the prestigious Classical “Heinz Chapel Choir,” Smith-Clark says.
In keeping with her commitment to exposing children to the beauty and benefits of the arts and arts education, she provided a free dress rehearsal performance for youth in the East Liberty area.
Smith-Clark is the founder of Opera Noir, an African-American nonprofit arts organization with a mission to promote cultural diversity in classical arts and music – sites located both in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
Her mantra for Opera Noir is – “The stage should reflect the world that we live in; children of color must have access to the same cultural opportunities, and level of training as their counterparts in more affluent neighborhoods. Only then, will Symphony Orchestras, Opera, and Ballet Companies reflect more diversity in both their make-up and their programming.”
Target, AAA, Starbucks, Darryl and Judge Joseph Williams, as well as Bishop Loran Mann
so graciously answered the call for sponsors to “The Ladies Who Sing With The Band.” Because of their financial support Smith-Clark can continue toward her commitment to help children of color, no matter their background, get consistent, comprehensive, and sequential arts education.
J. Rosalynn is proud to have on her team celebrity stylist and costume designer Kirk Johnson, President of b. – vain couture. Kirk is credited with creating outfits for a number of legendary singers, including Patti LaBelle and Shirley Caesar.
September 1, 2013 on CBS Pittsburgh
"Opera Noir Presents Classical Soprano J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark in the West Coast Premier - 'Then Sings My Soul.' J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, nationally recognized and highly acclaimed classical soprano, will grace the stage on February 3, 2012 at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, Oakland, CA in a staged concert performance of 'Then Sings My Soul.' This riveting 'site-specific' concert performance explores the role of faith and music in the African American journey towards social justice. Joining Ms. Smith-Clark in this much anticipated evening of song and oratorio, is award winning actor of stage and screen, Hawthorne 'Big Red; James. The concert performance of 'Then Sings My Soul' on February 3, 2012, begins at 7:00 PM at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, located at 3900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609."
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.operanoir.org. For sponsorship, publicity and further information contact Glass House Communications at 510.691.8687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opera Noir will be presenting “Soul Sistahs,” a sassy, soulful stage show featuring J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, on February 19-20 at The El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. The show celebrates the legacy of African American female performers in Jazz, Blues, R&B, Hip Hop and, of course, classical music. The journey of song and dance begin with the fabulous “La Baker,” Miss Josephine Baker, and moves on to celebrate great divas, funky and otherwise, including current Hip Hop-Neo “Soul Sistahs.”
“Soul Sistahs” is an artistic expression of Opera Noir founded by J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark’s on the philosophy of blending and embracing the rich cultural heritage of African Americans in the arts. “This show is my way of celebrating all that I have been exposed to in terms of music and dance, and how it has informed me as an artist and as an arts educator. I am especially proud that, in conjunction with this production, Opera Noir will expose more than 1,000 students from underserved communities, including children from special needs classrooms and campuses, to free student dress rehearsals and question and answer sessions with the artists and production staff,” states Ms. Smith-Clark.
Show times for “Soul Sistahs” are 7:30 pm on Friday, February 19 and 7 pm on Saturday, February 20. Special discounted tickets are available for Saturday night’s “Target Family Night” performance. For tickets or more information, please call (323) 936-9892 or visit www.operanoir.org.
The West Coast Premier - "Then Sings My Soul" - Proceeds To Benefit Opera Noir's Youth Educational Outreach Programs
Faith in the Bay
Ms. Smith-Clark has been lauded for her full and rich, lyric soprano voice with simmering high notes and a lovely floating pianissimo that delights audiences. In addition to being blessed with a beautiful voice, Ms. Smith-Clark possesses an elegant and commanding stage presence. Hawthorne James, while possibly best known for his menacing performance as the villainous Manager, “Big Red” in the Robert Townsend movie, “The Five Heartbeats”, is a classically trained actor with numerous stage and screen credits. Both Actor and Soprano will be under the capable stage Director of critically acclaimed and award winning Director Zadi Ife.
The performance, much like the evolution of the African American worship experience, combines the haunting melodies of Negro Spirituals, the simplistic beauty of Traditional European Hymns and Anthems, the provocative and soul stirring strains of Gospel Music, as well as movements from Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Concert”. Powerful Oratorio works in the performance include excerpts from James Weldon Johnson’s “God Trombones”, excerpts of speeches of great African American pioneers and leaders, and reenactments of scriptural passages that mirror and inform the African American Experience. Produced with passion and enthusiasm by Kosmond Russell, writer and producer of“The Visit” starring Billy Dee Williams and Hill Harper, “Then Sings My Soul” promises to be a landmark production in the lexicon of both concert and theater, celebrating the contributions of African American Artists and Visionaries.
Concerned by the lack of performing opportunities for classical artists of color, J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark founded Opera Noir to “promote cultural diversity in the classical arts”. Ms. Smith-Clark is passionate about giving back to the youth in every community she touches and as a result of that commitment, she will offer a FREE Master Class to 200 youth during the West Coast tour stop in Oakland, CA. During the Master Class, students from various arts schools will have the opportunity to perform before the stars and Director of "Then Sings My Soul" and receive feedback on their performance techniques that include commanding the stage, character development, and professional etiquette.
The concert performance of “Then Sings My Soul” on February 3, 2012, begins at 7:00 PM at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, located at 3900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.operanoir.org. For sponsorship, publicity and further information contact Glass House Communications at 510.691.8687 email@example.com.