Skip to main content

M. Nahadr & Ntozake Shange Live (and in Film) in NYC

From a media release:

M. Nahadr, "I Found God In Myself" in For Colored Girls

Tour Schedule- New York, NY

Monday, November 8
Featuring Ntozake Shange
Wednesday, November 10
Monday, November 15
Wednesday, November 17

All shows part of the Poetic Heritage Festival @ Nuyorican Poets Café
236 East 3rd Street
Tix: $12, All shows 7:00 pm

Sometimes in life we get lucky.  Our paths cross with someone who inexplicably changes us forever.  You could certainly say that when internationally acclaimed performance artist, M. Nahadr, and award winning playwright and poet, Ntozake Shange met, something just like that happened.

Improvised sound and free spirits.  New York-based performance artist, composer, and stunning vocalist M. Nahadr (also known as Mem Nahadr or just "M") and critically acclaimed poet/playwright Ntozake Shange channel both, with distinct, diverse voices that compound and confound notions of difference and identity.  From a silent meeting sprung a sonically rich friendship, now culminating in collaborative performances on the big screen and the intimate stage.

"Our friend Claude wanted to introduce us and asked me to pick Ntozake up at JFK," M. recalls. "We completely, immediately resonated and it was wordless. Our meeting was completely wordless, and it was wonderful."

Shange and M. have nurtured this silent tie and bring their unique understanding to multimedia fruition. Shange's words inspired M.'s uplifting, swirling anthem, "I Found God In Myself (Ntozake's Song)," featured in Tyler Perry's film For Colored Girls (Lionsgate; November 5 release), featuring Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, and Macy Gray, among others.

M.'s distinctive looks and multi-octave powerhouse of a voice set her apart, yet also led her to a revelation of our shared humanity, our common difference. "I was a little girl that looked like Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap, living in an all African-American neighborhood in America," she recollects. "What I experience on Planet Earth as a person with albinism is the oneness of one story told. Everyone has the experience of being different. Period. That's the lowest common denominator."

This insight, this embrace beyond identity politics blossomed into innovative off-Broadway performance pieces-some with Shange's participation-as well as striking albums ( EclecticIsM, 2009) that rush gracefully between hard-grooving funk and freewheeling, tender ballads.

"When I first hear her, I thought that M. had fallen from the sky; her voice was tying the heavens to the ocean, because of the range of it and the holiness of it," Shange explains. "I don't mean holiness in a religious sense, but the inescapable 'sacredness' of her voice, as if there were a holiness in her voice that could lift you off your feet."

At the heart of M.'s work lies something she found she shared with Shange: the spark kindled by free jazz and its invitation to open improvisation. They will explore this approach further at the Nuyorican, as part of Shange's acclaimed stage work, Lilianne: Resurrection of The Daughter.

"I found it so interesting, our shared interest in free jazz," reflects M. "Ntozake is so highly educated and her work is so respected, but her inspiration was free jazz, creating in the moment."

This improvisational urge, while sparking a creative friendship with the poet, pushed M. into a heartfelt response to Shange's words, to the closing poetry of her complex, polyphonic exploration of women's lives and fates. Shange had invited M. to compose something for that critical moment, something Shange felt truly represented the essence of her poetry. The resulting song was eventually woven into Perry's film version.

The task proved daunting at first. "I meditated on it for a few months. It felt agonizing," M. smiles. "I did take my time, however; I didn't want to create something that was contrived. I waited for the inspiration. One day, at the eleventh hour, I woke up at 8 am, wrote the song, and immediately felt relief. I was so happy: I knew it was honest."

M.'s soulful reaction to Shange's glorious declaration of acceptance and love falls squarely in the r 'n' b realm, while keeping M.'s signature edge. "I Found God In Myself (Ntozake's Song)" moves from Shange's words to M.'s, in a gospel-inflected statement of discovered joy.

This song, dedicated to Shange, will be exclusively available on iTunes November 1.

Beyond her work with Shange, M.'s deep-digging voice and unique beauty will be featured in an upcoming independent French film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (daughter of the notorious Serge) and produced by Lars von Trier, scheduled for release in January 2011. Hot on the heels of her film appearance is a new album, Mem, due out in April.

Until then, M. is savoring her work with Shange. "I get to sing to and with a healing poet," she sighs. "It was an act of trust on Ntozake's part, because of our shared resonance, and I love honoring that."

Not only will this song, "I Found God In Myself," be featured in the upcoming major motion picture, the adaptation of one of Shange's most revered works, M. and Shange will share the stage at the film premiere, and for a series of spoken word and improvised free music performances at the Nuyorican Poets Café November 8-17, 2010 at 7 PM. (see details above!)


What Else Is Hot This Week?

Harlem Stage Digital Event: A Drop Of Midnight October 13 & 15 2020

From a release:Harlem Stage Digital Event:
A Drop Of Midnight
October 13 & 15 2020A two-part conversation with Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité and his creative team around the developmental process of creating his autobiographical theater project, A Drop of Midnight. In this conversation Jason will take us on his journey to becoming one of Sweden’s chart-topping hip-hop artists and a best-selling author. He’ll also share the story of how a mixtape from Brooklyn traveled across the waters to the tiny village of Lund, Sweden and altered the course of his life forever. We will examine the impact of hip hop music and culture on the globe. How has hip-hop united communities of color globally?  How do you translate a personal story into a universal truth? How do you build a creative team? How has the current climate of social justice informed your artistic practice? Jason will read excerpts from the play and share some of the music. October 13—Part IIn this conversation A Drop of Midnight author…

Review: Night of the Kings / La Nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte

Night of the Kings
La Nuit des Rois
by Philippe LacôteA France, Côte d'Ivoire, Canada and Senegal co-productionNow Playing In The New York Film FestivalImageAfter Venice and the Toronto Film Festival, Philippe Lacôte's Night of the Kings has moved on to conquer New York City. A young pickpocket (Koné Bakary), is incarcerated in the giant La MACA prison, the largest in Côte d’Ivoire. The prison offers a hostile atmosphere, where the guards have long given up keeping order and the prisoners run the show, albeit confined within the prison walls. They dance, sing, and mingle at will in a common area called The Jungle. There is a violent power struggle between Lord Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), who runs things, and the younger leaders of other factions. Blackbeard is old and infirm, and he knows he can't hold on forever. But, he does want to hold on long enough to leave on his own terms. Blackbeard designates the newcomer as the new storyteller - the griot - called Roma…

So You Can't Go: Six Ways To Travel Virtually

So You Can't Go:
Six Ways To Travel VirtuallyTravel is limited for most of us in the world these days. For Canadians, it depends on the province you live in, but with the border to the US still closed, and other options limited at best, virtual travel from the couch can provide at least a view with a difference at a time when you may well need it most. Google Cardboard – VR On A BudgetYou don't need a lot of cash to get into travel via virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a line of VR viewers that are, well, made of cardboard, and are priced starting at $12CAD.If you check out this link, you'll find out how to download the software to your smartphone.At this link, you can get yourself an actual Google Cardboard for a hands-free VR experience. Google Cardboard apps offer a variety of ways to experience our beautiful planet, including Google Earth itself, which can take you anywhere, along with apps to view museums and cultural artifacts, and more.Ascape VRAscape has a huge l…

Modern Romanticism | Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings (Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)

Modern Romanticism:
Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings
In praise of mysteries
(Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)Composers: Stanley Grill
Performers: Camerata Philadelphia, Stephen Framil, Brett Douglas, Deubner, Peggy Pei-Ju YuCheck Out The Release On Innova RecordingsAmerican composer Stanley Grill is about to release another album of his work, so I thought I'd catch up on the last one, And I Paint Stars with Wings. 
His work with Camerata Philadelphia and others on the release is melodic and evocative, modern romanticism with achingly sweet harmonies. Grill's goal is to use his music to encourage thoughts of world peace, most obviously evidenced in Pavanne (for a world without war) for string orchestra. It's part of his Music for Peace project, composed, as described by the composer “after having made a decision that my music needed to serve another purpose besides the obvious one of touching the hearts of those who listened to it. However unlikely of success, t…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …