Category: THEATER/FILM

SOLD-OUT PLAY INTERVIEW WITH THE HIGH PRIESTESS:NINA! – MEET THE CAST


posted by Kamaad Tauhid

Robert J. Carmack – KARL LEE the reporter from Ebony Magazine. Robert is a veteran of the theater, producer, writer, poet and musician. Mr. Carmack has over 5 decades in the entertainment field as musician, show producer, promoter or journalist in the genres of Jazz,classic soul, and pop.

Mr. Carmack has worked for, or, with such jazz luminaries as Freddie Hubbard, Doug Carn, Andy Bey, Sonny Fortune, Freddie Cole, Vanessa Rubin and McCoy Tyner.  He founded and co-founded the Atlanta International Jazz Society, and SFBAAAM( San Francisco Bay Area African-American Musicians) a forum of musicians that created their own venues to play in the Bay area. Returning back to Los Angeles after 12 years , Mr. Carmack has organized a Charlie Parker 21 sax salute on Bird’s birthday nationwide salute east & west coast. a tribute to Blue note producer & composer Duke Pearson ,Bobby Hutcherson/Jackie McLean in Los Angeles. Last year He re-created his popular character from The Club Alabam in 2014,(ROBBY ROYALE) to a sell out audience of NAACP Award winning musical, North On South Central Avenue. Carmack grew up in Los Angeles, attended Centennial high school in Compton, Graduated B.A – Theater Arts /Communications at Cal State Dominguez Hills. returning later on in life to grab his MFA-Theater Directing/Production Columbia University,New York. Robert co-founded the awarding-winning Paul Robeson Players  while still attending under-grad college classes. The drama group went on to represent the state of California at the FESTAC, World Arts Festival, Lagos, Nigeria.

I wrote “Interview” out of frustration with the film version that came out a few years ago. However, I looked at the presentation, not as a traditional play or musical , More of an avant-garde /experimental theater type with music, spoken word and dramatic dialog. No set changes, or curtains . its driven by the power of the actors on stage, Nina Simone’s great social protest songs and her important role in the civil rights era. The most unsung of all the characters who played a role during that period.

We begin the story in real-time August 11,1965 inside the lounge of a Pasadena Hotel…

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Jana Wilson- NINA SIMONE, a Los Angeles native, began her thespian adventures on the runways of Los Angeles, donning designer couture fashions. She modeled through college and sporadically, thereafter. Music has always been in her soul, as both parents were talented musicians, in their own right. Her brother plays bass guitar. Her father played jazz piano and her mother continues singing jazz. It’s only likely that Jana would have a love for music, with such rich influences.

Jana began singing in her church choir, then, sitting in on secular band rehearsals, which led to one song, then years of performing three nights weekly, as the featured vocalist, in the 4 Star Award winning   Supper Club,The Sky Room in Long Beach CA . Since then, she’s been professionally performing with various local jazz and R&B groups. Her performance interests led to the theater, where she was cast as Billie Holiday, and additional characters, in the award-winning musical stage play, “North On South Central Avenue.”

“Music, performance arts, television… there are so many interests, gifts and abilities to put to good use. The world is a big stage, and I hope to take a few bows, while I’m here!” – Jana

Pictured L-R: Bobby Pierce – piano, Sonny McBroom – saxophone From the collection of: Arnett Howard

Bobby Pierce, Music Director/Pianist – the former Columbus, Ohio born musician, now a Los Angeles resident is a musician’s musician. Known for his laid-back demeanor and style in personality. He elects to allow his fingers to do his speaking for him. He spent many years in Chicago and New York, working with virtually a Who’s Who in Jazz and Gospel.

Bobby has graced the stage with some of Jazz’s royal members such as Benny Carter, James Moody, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Etta James, and Della Reese along with POP & Soul stars too. Four Tops, Walter Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Joe Williams and Esther Phillips just to name a few. While putting in work at Record labels, Muse and Cobblestone, He was able to garner a Five-star ranking on Downbeat magazine. Pierce is also listed in seven jazz history books including Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of jazz and Listen for Jazz by Anna Bishop.

Bobby is quite proud of his major work with the late Della Reese , where he co-wrote the musical, “The Message is In the Music.

While the consummate classically trained , Jazz and gospel singer, arranger and composer, Bobby still finds time to go out on a few road gigs, and hitting a few local jazz gigs too. He spends most of his time working with choir groups and just being of community service whenever possible.

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Derf Reklaw – Flute,Percussion, has a very positive reputation around the music industry and especially the Leimert Park Village. Derf has worked with this play’s author three times previously over last 4 years. “Derf is the type of musician you don’t have to say much, just let him do what he do” stated Robert J. Carmack Director/Producer. Now we know why Eddie Harris & Ramsey Lewis loved his playing on their group’s recordings and live.

Reklaw moved to LA from Chicago in 1979. He is an artist in residence at several educational institutions including UCLA, Santa Monica College, L.A. Conservatory and View Park Academy. His career has enabled him to play with artists like Herbie Hancock, Aretha Franklin, Eddie Harris, Minnie Ripperton, Ahmad Jamal, Sting and Lionel Hampton. Also  featured guest spots with drummer Billy Higgins, poet Kamau Daaood and original member of the Pharoahs,  Lui Lui Satterfield.

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Bob Lee Bassist, Music Producer,Composer, photographer, videos,etc.

bio material not available at press time

 

 

 

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Interview with the High Priestess has been sold out for 4 WEEKS.

those with tickets will be watching and listening at the World Stage  4321 Degnan Blvd. L.A., California. 90008 8PM

Doors open at 7PM

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Media:RJC Mediatainment Group/Hipster Sanctuary.Com

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COMING FEBRUARY 1 2018 MEET THE CAST FROM INTERVIEW WITH THE HIGH PRIESTESS:NINA!


JANA WILSON / NINA SIMONE

Actress/Singer/Model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert J. Carmack – Actor/Writer/Producer/Musician/Poet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview With the High Priestess:Nina!

Mar. 3rd 2018 @ World Stage Performance Gallery

4321 Degnan Blvd. LA California, 90008

Ticket sold Exclusively Online only@ http://www.eventbrite.com

general information or media 951-840-7120

blues2jazz2003@yahoo.com / @blues2jazzguy

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMING 2018 INTERVIEW WITH THE HIGH PRIESTESS:NINA SIMONE ~ ORIGINAL PLAY


an Original Play by Robert J. Carmack – Black History Month

COMING  to the Los Angeles area  February 2018

The Actors

Ms. Jana Wilson as

High Priestess Nina Simone

~in Loving Tribute~

 

 

 

 

 

Robert J. Carmack as    the Reporter~Karl Lee

written,produced and directed ~R.J.Carmack

Music-Poetry-Drama

HOWLIN’ BLUES and DIRTY DOGS ..BIG MAMA THORNTON STORY 2014 BEST PLAY


written & photographed by Robert J. Carmack  @blues to jazzguy

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Big Mama & Bardu Ali at the Juke!

Howlin’ Blues & Dirty Digs opened on Sunday, June 8.  The star of the play, Ms Jewell Tompkins IS Big MAMA. One of the first thing you notice as she moves into the spotlight, she is a full-figured woman, but not the hulking  six footer Big Mama was at the time. Even ballooning up to 300 pounds at one point in her hey day. The one thing that is clear, Jewell Tompkins  is a consummate thespian. She attacks the character by not trying do the obvious. a tortured soul, Willie Mae had many personalities. She showed the dignity of this blues-woman and how she had to do what she could to survive in a Man’s business. Even that was hard Because, “Singing the Blues” was a “Black thing” in the 40s & 50s. Many times she was up against some of the best blues people in the country. Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins, Lead Belly, Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt just to name a few.

I was able to liken her life story to another great  musician  with a bitter/sweet life, Charlie Parker. I was totally entertained from start to finish, and at times ,a little misty-eyed, because of her demise, by prejudice , racism, sexism, alcohol, and felonious Men.  She had to grow up so fast, she never had time to be a kid. Her education came in the back of Juke joints, boarding houses, and back seats of cars.

Jewell is able to take the well written script and embrace all of the beauty of Willie Mae Thornton.   In one scene , she’s on the road, Having fun playing the Blues, drinking and partying, Impresario Johnny Otis comes back into the club afterwards and say to the band, They’re not getting paid. Big Mama straightens her hat, walks into the club owner’s office, ask  in a low tone for the Money , and after he told her to get out of his face “telling him what to do with his money”

“I don’t want your Money, I want my Money”..she balled up her fist and used all 300 lbs of brute force on his unsuspecting body, until he submitted and gave up the money.. Lol! “I did what I had to Do!”    She had a Rep, for not “taking no mess off of nobody”. I again thought Carla Clark’s directing  was on point . Not going for the obvious and relying on the craftsmanship of the actors. many scenes were again reflecting what her “Inside” was all about. Mostly when  Big mama had to confront nefarious men about Money, relationships,etc.

Her father  was a real  mean man ,who abused her brother and her in their childhood, it was probably at the seat of her many problems.

 

 

Caliope 2 more

 

The singing by Tompkins is sublime, and at one point, reminded me of a young Aretha-like sound in her approach to the blues.. You feel the church presence in her life and that  resonated into the character.. I often found golden nuggets of acting skills in both cast in general, but especially in Jewell Tompkins performance. This play is too good to be missed, too good to not be recognized again by the L.A. drama critics when they hand out the awards for Best Play & Best actress.

Howlin’ Blues and Dirty Dogs is well supported by a veteran cast of ensemble players. Another stand out is Philip Bell , who portrays two characters, from L.A. music history  Bardu Ali and singer Johnny Ace . who, after becoming one of the hottest acts of the early 1950s Rhythm & Blues era, committed  suicide.   I highly advise you to RSVP or call ahead to theater regarding tickets, as there is limited seats available. For more information call 310-910-0392  or, email us at     perceptioniii@aol.com

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Philip Bell as Johnny Ace