Thursday, August 13, 2009

Andre Leon Talley | The Peoples Champ

Andre Leon Talley is awesome. I had the opportunity to meet him during an event at the Faison Firehouse honoring James Baldwin.
Let me tell you why you gotta love Mr. Talley. He is a self made, all around success story who's opinion holds the weight of a on a neuton star He's a Southern Boy who was raised by his Grandmother. She tought him the meaning of luxury as she hand washed laundry and encased the beds of her home in perfectly flat and crisp corner folded sheets. Andre Leon Talley is Awesome.

Harlem, NY On Sunday, August 2, 2009, George Faison, Founder/Artistic Director of Harlem’s new Faison Firehouse Theater created and hosted the Special Event celebrating the 85th birthday of one of America’s most celebrated author James Baldwin. The standing room only event was not only attended by family and friends of James Baldwin; but, people of the literary, performing arts and entertainment communities who were influenced by him.

"Those who say 'It can't be done' are usually interrupted by those who are doing IT!” say, Faison,

“… we are preparing the next generations of leaders here in Harlem.”

Honored speakers who shared part of their late afternoon at the Firehouse were: Playwright/Poet, Amiri Baraka; Award Winning Poet, Sonia Sanchez; Editor-at-Large of Vogue Magazine, Andre Leon Talley; Nephew of Mr. Baldwin, Trevor Baldwin, Sister-In-Law of Mr. Baldwin, Helen Baldwin; Protégé, Alexa Birdsong, Historian & Writer, Herb Boyd; Musician & Singer, Genovis Albright and Chair, English Dept. Howard University, Eleanor Traylor.

James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987)

American writer, noted for his novels on sexual and personal identity, and sharp essays on civil-rights struggle in the United States. Baldwin also wrote three plays, a children's storybook, and a book of short stories. He gained fame with his first novel, GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN (1953), a story of hidden sins, guilt, and religious torments. In this and subsequent works Baldwin fused autobiographical material with analysis of social injustice and prejudices.

"If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sigh, No more water, the fire next time!"

(from The Fire Next Time, 1963)

James Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York City, as the son of a domestic worker. Illegitimate, he never knew his own father and was brought up in great poverty. When he was three, his mother married a factory worker, a hard and cruel man, who also was a storefront preacher. Baldwin adopted the surname from his stepfather, who died eventually in a mental hospital in 1943. In his childhood Baldwin was a voracious reader. When he was about twelve his first story appeared in a church newspaper. At the age of 17 Baldwin left his home. After graduation from high school, he worked in several ill-paid jobs and started his literary apprenticeship.

"And it seemed to me, too, that the violence which rose all about us as my father left the world had been devised as a corrective for the pride of his eldest son, I had declined to believe in that apocalypse which had been central to my father's vision; very well, life seemed to be saying, here is something that will certainly pass for an apocalypse until the real thing comes along. I had inclined to be contemptuous of my father for the conditions of his life, for the conditions of our lives. When his life had ended I began to wonder about that life and also, in a new way, to be apprehensive about my own."

(from Notes of a Native Son, 1955)

In 1983 Baldwin became Five College Professor in the Afro-American Studies department of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He spent his latter years in St. Paul de Vence on the Riviera, France, where he died of stomach cancer on November 30, 1987.

About the Faison Firehouse

The Faison Firehouse Theater is home to the American
Performing Arts Collaborative (APAC), a not-for-profit (501c3) organization co-founded by Tony Award Winner, George Faison in 1997. For more than thirty five years, George Faison has been a driving force in the theater as well as film, video, television, concert dance, concert staging, television commercials and trade shows. George is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important directors, choreographers and writers is known for his uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence and the production and nourishment of socially relevant art and artist. He has a keen eye for recognizing emerging talent such as S. Epatha Merkerson, Debbie Allen, Stephanie Mills, Phylicia Rashad, Eartha Robinson, Gary DeLoatch, Shedrack Anderson, Jackee and Hinton Battle among others.

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