Interview with world-renowned Musical Diva – N’Kenge

N'Kenge enchants Broadway Musical Audiences around the world
N’Kenge enchants Broadway Musical Audiences around the world

Recently we had the pleasure of a personal interview with N’Kenge, one of the most accomplished musical artists of this century.  Her accomplishments are too numerous to mention. First opera singer to win the Lena Horne Vocal Competition,  first opera singer to win the New York State talented teen, starred in the world tour of Man in the Mirror Tribute Show to Michael Jackson, starred on West End London in the production of the Genius of Ray Charles, was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding lead actress in arena stage’s production of 3 Mo Divas, she sang for Obama, Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton, did 140 shows in 2014 alone and received a proclamation from New York City Hall for her community work. Oh, she sings in 11 different languages.  So it is a genuine honor to have her give us a personal interview.  Enjoy!

What are your favorite upcoming projects?

I’ve started rehearsals this week for The Golden Apple musical which will be performed next month in the encore series at New York City Center. I’m excited to play the principal role of Mother Hare that doubles as Circe.

This summer will be filled with some exciting projects. In June, I will play the role of Tonya in a Showcase of the Broadway bound “54 The Musical.

I also join Maestro Steve Reineke and the Philadelphia Orchestra in the concert Sophisticated Ladies/Ella Fitzgerald at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

What were your favorite performances?

Probably a combination of making my debut as Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème at Virginia Opera and originating the role of Mary Wells in the Broadway’s MOTOWN: The Musical.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I started singing at 10 years old at my elementary school in the Bronx PS 95. I landed the role of Patty in Snoopy, the Musical, and I got the music bug. All I ever wanted to do from that time onward was to sing and to make people happy through my music. I got a scholarship to get my Bachelor’s Degree at the Manhattan School of Music and a Master’s Degree at the Juilliard School. I was immediately singing with New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, and Seattle Opera once I graduated. Then I got cast in a show called 3 Mo Divas about opera singers who can sing in  eight styles of music. That was the show that transitioned me into the Musical Theater and Pop World.

You have classical training, do you miss performing classical music or do you still work on it?

I still perform classical music with symphonies around the world and was the lead in a Wagner Opera during a vacation break from MOTOWN: The Musical, on Broadway. Probably the first and last time I would ever perform Wagner immediately after doing an eight show week of Motown music. Ha, ha.

When did you realize you wanted to become a singer / performer?

At 10 years old. My fifth grade teacher gave me a chance to perform on stage, and I’ve been addicted ever since. My mom was a huge supporter and was giving me every opportunity to perform – once she realized I had this gift.

Do you have advice for any young people who dream to become singers.

Turning dreams into reality comes with a recipe of hard work, perseverance and passion. Stay focused and develop a circle of people that will support you. Music is a hard career to break into, but if it’s what you LOVE then every step of your journey is worth it.

N’Kenge is such an amazing woman, such an amazing artist, and a genuine role model for kids all around the world.  Learn more about her on her website:   www.nkengemusic.com

PERFORMANCE LINKS

FEVER- LIVE ON WEST END, LONDON in The Genius of Ray Charles

“DEFYING GRAVITY” AT IWF- Performed by N’Kenge

SKYFALL at the Legendary BIRDLAND JAZZ CLUB in NYC

Enjoy more shows on her very own Youtube Channel.

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Rolando Newsletter

January 3, 2017

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.  ~Bill Vaughan

¡Feliz Año Nuevo, Mi Gente!

I have the impression a lot of us stayed up to ensure the old year left.  We made it through a wild, tough year together. We said goodbye to too many beloved cultural icons; from Prince to Bowie to Ali and too many others, from early January to just a week ago, as well as to too many friends and family.  We witnessed turmoil and political resistance in the streets and welcomed in a new American protectionist leadership who’s message is thinly veiled in racism.  I lost my vision in my right eye and just recently gained most of it back.  We’ll all need to keep two good eyes open on this new year!  Let’s hope for the best, but speak out loudly when the time warrants.

I’m starting my first week of the year with three nice public appearances, all at locations I haven’t seen in a while.  This Thursday Jan 5, I return to Piacere in downtown San Carlos from 8-11pm.  We had a blast there closing out 2016 with many Peninsula friends I hadn’t seen in years.  Lots of great energy, singing and dancing.  Let’s keep the ball rolling and swing by!  Details below.

Then on Friday January 6, after three months away, I finally return to Maria, Maria in Walnut Creek from approx 6-9pm.  Time flies when you’re busy…  Let’s reconnect!   Details below.

And on Saturday January 7, after FOUR months away, I finally return to Maria, Maria in Danville, also approx 6-9pm.  This is my shout-out to my Far East Bay friends.  Swing by!  Details below.

Remember too, to make your reservations for Saturday January 14, “An Evening with Rolando Morales and Carlos Reyes” at the Sausalito Seahorse with our World Class band.  We’ll have my musical monsters ready to go: bassist David Belove; Latin percussionist/vocalist and Grammy winner Omar Ledezma; Brazilian drummer Celso Alberti; and of course Paraguayan harpist/violinist Carlos Reyes and Yours Truly on guitar, guitar synth and vocals.  It’s next week, so make your reservations now.  Details below.

Here’s the rest of your brand new January Calendar.    See you at the show!

Ciao,

Rolando

PUBLIC PERFORMANCES FOR JANUARY 2017 

Thursday Jan 5, Piacere, 727 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 9070, 8-11pm.  After almost 4 years away, Rolando finally returns for a set of appearances at this fine Peninsula restaurant that takes you on a culinary tour of Italy.  Rolando will take you on a sensory tour of the Americas and beyond on solo guitar and voice.  Come along for the ride.  www.piacererestaurant.com, (650) 592-2040.

Friday Jan 6, Maria, Maria Cantina, 1470 North Broadway, Walnut Creek, approx 6-9pm. After almost 3 months away, Rolando finally returns to Carlos Santana’s Walnut Creek tavern to perform on solo guitar and voice in the Restaurant Room.  Flautist Bob Harrison may sit in.  Swing by and greet the New Year with old and new friends!  (925) 820-2366, www.mariamariarestaurants.com.

Saturday Jan 7, Maria, Maria Cantina, 710 Camino Ramon Road, Danville CA, approx 6-9pm.  After almost 4 months away, Rolando finally returns for a rare Saturday night at Carlos Santana’s  elegant Danville location.  Bring friends and let’s welcome the New Year together.  Who knows when I’ll be back!  (925) 820-2366, www.mariamariarestaurants.com.

Saturday Jan 14, “An Evening with Rolando Morales and Carlos Reyes,” Sausalito Seahorse, 305 Harbor Drive, Sausalito, approx 8:30-11:30pm.  After months away, these two passionate musicians finally return to The Seahorse to put on their unique show at this fun waterfront restaurant and club.  The great Paraguayan harpist/violinist Carlos Reyes and passionate guitarist/vocalist Rolando Morales will play a short set in duet to close out the dinner hour, followed by a concert and dancing to the World Class Rolando Morales Group featuring from the Pete Escovedo Orchestra, the rock-solid bassist David Belove; from Brazil, the amazing drummer from Airto and Steve Winwood, Celso Alberti; Grammy-winning Latin percussionist/vocalist Omar Ledezma; from Paraguay, the thrilling violinist and harpist from Arturo Sandoval and Steve Miller, Carlos Reyes; and the powerful Rolando Morales leading the journey on guitar, guitar synthesizer and vocals.   Don’t miss it!   $15.  Make your  reservations at (415) 331-2899. www.sausalitoseahorse.com

Saturday Jan 21, Pairings Cellars, 310 Main Street, Pleasanton CA 94566, 8-11pmRolando returns to this new, exciting social hotspot in downtown Pleasanton.  This new wine bar features fine wines, tapas and Rolando Morales performing his broad repertoire on solo guitar and voice.  Free! www.pairingscellars.com, (925) 398-8846.

Thursday Jan 26, Piacere, 727 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 94070, 8-11 pmRolando returns to this fine Peninsula restaurant that takes you on a culinary tour of Italy.  Rolando will take you on a sensory tour of the Americas and beyond on solo guitar and voice in the fun, lively bar area.   www.piacererestaurant.com, (650) 592-2040.

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Mill Valley Artist, Sudha Irwin’s art to wear pieces are enchanting.

Mill Valley Artists Sudha Irwin creates timeless pieces of art to wear.
Mill Valley Artist Sudha Irwin creates timeless pieces of art to wear.

Sudha Irwin has chosen metal arts as her medium of expression for inspirations she derives from the natural world that surrounds her in Mill Valley, California and from her travels around the world. She has been working in silver, gold, and precious and semiprecious stones for over a decade.   Sudha has travelled the world and written about natural beauty as a journalist for major magazines.  After raising her kids, she now raises our standards for grace and beauty.   Her timeless objects and art to wear will surely turn into heirlooms.  Enjoy your visit www.sudhairwin.com

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Beverly Reiser creates new art collection: Contemplative Reflections

Beverly Reiser - On and On the tears must fall
Beverly Reiser – On and On the tears must fall

Beverly Reiser has been a prolific artist who has been exhibited all around the world.  For the past year she has started in a a new medium, pastels. We hope you enjoy her latest collection.

interactive multimedia installations using sound, video, and computer graphics:

ARTIST / CO-DEVELOPER

Vital Journey / Virtual Heart: a walk-in interactive multimedia installation for Exploration Place, a children’s science museum in Kansas, which takes children on a virtual journey through the human circulatory system, lungs and brain. Visitors complete the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange using life-size video capture and interactive game technology. In collaboration with Gyroscope, Inc., and Vivid Group opened in April, 2000

 

ARTIST

private_loves/public_opera: A walk-in video “garden” with website which collects love stories, allows you to add your own love story. The web site is athttp://www.ylem.org/private_loves/public_opera/, San Francisco, Art Institute, Walter McBean Gallery, San Francisco, CA Dec.- Jan. 1996-1997, a collaboration with Barbara Lee

ARTIST

Que Viva Tu Recuerdo: Altars And Offerings for the Days of the Dead

An altar/ installation dedicated to the memory of Remedios Varo, Oakland Museum, CA, Oct. -Nov 1995, a collaboration with Lucia Grossburger Morales

 

Under the name of LIFE ON A SLICE:

( These are collaborations with Hans Reiser, Bill Fleming and Kimberley Edwards.)

ARTIST / CO-DEVELOPER:

VOICE GARDEN: LABYRINTH OF LOVE, LABYRINTH OF DESIRE, an interactive multimedia CD-ROM

 

Come, Human, spin in my Web! – A ride thru an A.I.’s persona

An A.I. sends an invitation out to Humans to visit the “web”. If they take up the invite, they adventure into either the “Cerebral Cathedral” or the ” Feral Forest”. Eventually they arrive at one of four possible endings having altered their own “data structure” or the environment.

 

Temple of the Goddesses – A virtual sacred space.

As the visitor moves thru the shrine complex they are engaged in various episodes (depending on the visitors response ) by goddesses Venus, Nemesis, the Psychedelic Cyber Pagan, etc. There are four possible endings with numerous episodes along the way.

 

The Phosphorescent Samurai and the Geisha Snail A surrealistic fable

Two inter-species mutants start on their ‘hero’s journey’ and, depending on choices made by the viewer along the way, are transformed accordingly. There is a final revelation unique to each of the eight possible endings.

HEART THEATER, Exploration Place, Wichita, Kansas opens April, 2000

PRIVATE_LOVES / PUBLIC_OPERA, San Francisco Art Institute, Walter McBean Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Dec.- Jan. 1996-1997

2DO FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE VIDEO Y ARTES ELECTRONICAS, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1996

INTEGRATED HEMISPERES: Woman/Art /Technology, Blasthaus, San Francisco, CA, May – June 1996

BURNING MAN FESTIVAL, South of Market Arts Center, San Francisco, Aug. 1995, 1996, 1998

INTERACTIVE COMMUNITIES, SIGGRAPH 95 Conference , Los Angeles, 1995

JUPITER AND THE COMETS, a program/event produced by the

Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astophysics, 1994

THE UBIQUITOUS ART ZONE, the ACM’s Multimedia ’94 Conference, San Francisco, Ca, USA, Oct. 1994

PLEASE TOUCH ! , VIDEO SCULPTURE, Regional Center for the Arts,

Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, CA, Jan, 1994

THE INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE, INTERACT ’93, conference of ACM’s SIG Computer Human Interface and INTERACT ( European ), Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 1993

LIFE ON A SLICE, tour of German University Art galleries, Feb.-May, 1992

SIGGRAPH ART SHOW ’92, Chicago, July, 1992

IMAGES DU FUTUR ’92, LA CITE DES ARTS ET NOUVELLES TECHNOLOGIES DU MONTREAL, Canada

TOMMOROW’S REALITIES: HYPERMEDIA, SIGGRAPH, Las Vegas, 1991

INTERACTIVE ART, Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics, NASA, U.C. Berkeley

AMERICAN LIGHT ART, Takashimaya, Tokyo, Japan, 1989-90

NEO-NEON, One Market Plaza, Art Programs Inc., San Francisco, 1987

EXPANDED VISION: NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN ART, Jack Gallery, New York City, 1985

interviews, articles, & books:

Art & Technology at the Mining Co. web site, featured artist in Mindscapes on 11/06/97

LEONARDO, ( the cover of) Journal of the International Society for Arts Sciences and Technology, MIT Press, Vol. 29 #1, 1996

Microsoft’s magazine, feature: Art on the Internet: Rare Birds in Cyberspace, by Dominic Gates, http://home.microsoft.com/reading/features.asp, Feb. 26,1997

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM OF ELECTRONIC ARTS ’96, CD ROM produced & distributed by MultiArtDisc, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 1996

ARTWEEK, article on art & technology by Barbara Fisher, Jan., 1996

 SIGGRAPH ’95 MULTIMEDIA CD-ROM, a publication of the ACM ‘s SIGGRAPH, 1995

COMPUTERS & GRAPHICS , Pergamom Press , and the IEEE’s COMPUTER GRAPHICS ,Special supplement joint issue edited by Carl Machover, “Aesthetic Considerations Unique to Interactive Multimedia” , May,1995

NEW SCIENTIST, “Netropolis”, “An Elephant Dancing” by Claire Neesham, April,1994

ARTISTS DATABASE CD-ROM , Project Intercommunication Center, Tokyo, 1993,1994,

ART IN THE ELECTRONIC AGE, by Frank Popper, pub. by Harry N. Abrams,1992, Paris, France

LEONARDO, Journal of the International Society for Arts Sciences and Technology,

San Francisco, CA, Jan, 1994

TECH-NATION, interview by Dr. Moira Gunn , National Public Radio, Aug, 1993

GD3D, GRAPHIC DESIGN IN THE THIRD DIMENSION, Ken & Leigh Cato, published by Graphic Sha, Tokyo, 1992

VERBUM, JOURNAL OF COMPUTER AESTHETICS, San Diego, CA, Dec. 1991

LET THERE BE NEON !, Vol. II, by Rudi Stern, NY,NY, 1991

CONTEMPORARY NEON, by Rudi Stern, NY, NY, 1992

NEW YORK TIMES, Business Section 3, The New Hollywood, Sept. 1991

COMPUTER GRAPHICS, Magazine of the I.E.E.E., Art in Virtual Reality, May, 1992

CYBER ARTS, published by Harper- Freeman, ed. by Linda Jacobson, Summer ,1992

offices & awards:

President of Ylem/ Artists Using Science And Technology , PO box 749, Orinda, CA, 94563, 1985-1999

Advisory Board, International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology, San Francisco, CA, 1989-2000

Currently Chair of the Advisory Board

MicroTimes Magazine on it’s “MicroTimes 100”, their list of 100 people who’ve had a significant influence

on the computer industry, Dec., 1995

designer / co-founder / director (until 1999)

Ylem’s Art on the Edge, an art gallery on the world wide web: http://www.ylem.org/

External Advisory Panel member to Xerox PARC Artist-in Residence Program, 1993

Honorary Distinction in Interactive Art, PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA, Linz, Austria, 1992

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Artist Highlight: Laurent Mercier

Laurent Mercier and John Lee Hooker, Jr.
Laurent Mercier and John Lee Hooker, Jr.

Laurent Mercier was born in France in 1967. He spends a good part of his childhood on the road with his parents who are working in the music industry. Later he studies at the « école nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts » in Paris. He started his career as an independent multimedia artist, organizing collective exhibitions. He also worked with the publishing firm, Association for the Development of Multimedia Literature.

He exhibits regularly at the Galerie Donguy, 57 rue de la Roquette, in Paris. He organizes collective exhibitions from the artist action group created by Michel Journiac. He takes part in events on the subject of the artist condition and status in the society, in institutions like Unesco.

He joins Jacques Donguy in his publishing structure “Association for the Development of Multimedia Literature.”

He eventually created his own school “Studio Mercier” where he trains CG Artists, who are working currently in international production studios. He created his own production studio Callicore which allows him to provide services to musicians without any of the restraints often found in major media conglomerates.  Laurent Mercier, in short, has devoted his life to break through boundaries and to bring genuine, true art and freedom to his creations counter-balancing the boredom of what he calls “the cultural dictatorship of corporate media”.

Now with his own company, Callicore, he is in charge of all aspects of its projects, from pre-production to post-production, and retains a relatively independent and free nature. It is working out well for Laurent Mercier and his artist clients.  They won a Webby Award with John Lee Hooker, Jr. with the animated music video ”Blues ain’t Nothin’ but a Pimp” and expanded Callicore’s service offer with music production and music publishing.  More than a collaboration, John Lee Hooker Jr and Laurent Mercier developed the strong bond of a real brotherhood. Among the many illustrious artists co-produced by Laurent Mercier are a variety of projects with John Lee Hooker jr, Arrested Development, Carbon Silicon,The buzzcocks, The Meteors, The Washington Dead Cats, Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg, We Are The Fury, CAKE, Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker, Clinic Rodéo, Dr Feelgood and recently Iggy Pop.

Iggy Pop’s rendition of the classic “La Vie en Rose.”

At Callicore Studios, Laurent Mercier is the producer, director, CG artist, who collaborates with Marius Legrand, producer, lead animator, and are supported by their production assistant Anaelle Majidate.

Washington Dead Cats fun video of a groovy nightmare blues song.

One of the first collaborations between Mercier and Xavier Semens, who joined Callicore in 2006, was the animated video for Phantom Rider, a song from the 2007 album, Hymn for the Hellbound, by the British psychobilly group The Meteors. That same year, Callicore produced an animated video for Sound of a Gun, by the British punk band The Buzzcocks (the initial video was considered too violent for broadcast television, and a second, less violent version was released).

Callicore created the animated video for Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But a Pimp, a song from John Lee Hooker, Jr.’s Grammy Award-winning album, All Odds Against Me. The video portrays Hooker as a comic book character, “Bluesman”, who plays in clubs at night and cleans up the streets during the day. The video was a Webby Award honoree in the Special FX/Motion Graphics category in 2009. An image from the video was featured on the album’s cover.

In 2008, Callicore produced its first video for Carbon/Silicon, a band founded by Mick Jones, the former guitarist for The Clash, and bass player Tony James. In 2010, the studio produced the video for hip-hop group Arrested Development’s Bloody, as well as for When We Were Angels by Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, a project of former Ramones drummer, Marky Ramone.[2]

In 2011, Callicore created the video for Cake’s Long Time, a track from the band’s comeback album, Showroom of Compassion. In an interview with Cake singer John McCrea, Mercier said the gloomy mood of the video, which follows the plight of a man and his monkey imprisoned in a dystopian world, was inspired directly by Cake’s music, which reminds him of “melancholy things.” McCrea was impressed by the video’s general movement and choreography, which he suggested are often lacking in music videos, and appreciated how Mercier perceived the non-humorous side of Cake’s music.

Callicore produced and directed videos for artists such as Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker, Eagle-Eye Cherry and Dr. Feelgood, from 2011 to 2013. The studio has continued its collaboration with John Lee Hooker, Jr., with several videos featuring the “Bluesman” character created for Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But a Pimp.

You can learn more about Laurent Mercier via his website, wiki, and facebook page.

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