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B.B. King Estate Fight Looms for Family Group, Longtime Aide

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In this May 7, 2015, file photo, LaVerne Toney, center, arrives in Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas. Less than two weeks after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas. Attorneys for King’s designated executor, Toney, have filed documents in Nevada state court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this May 7, 2015, file photo, LaVerne Toney, center, arrives in Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas. Less than two weeks after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas. Attorneys for King’’s designated executor, Toney, have filed documents in Nevada state court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

KEN RITTER, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Just days after blues legend B.B. King was laid to rest near his birthplace in the Mississippi Delta, a battle over his estate is moving from the headlines to the courthouse in Las Vegas.

Attorneys for King’s designated executor, LaVerne Toney, have filed documents in a Nevada court to fend off allegations that King family members were kept away in his dying days, that he was mistreated medically and that his money was siphoned off before he died May 14 at his Las Vegas home at age 89.

“We’re asking the probate commissioner to approve (Toney) as executor and personal representative of the estate,” attorney Brent Bryson said Monday.

“The spurious and unjustified allegations made against Ms. Toney by Patty King, Karen Williams and Larissa Drohobyczer will be dealt with at a later time,” he added.

Among King’s 11 surviving adult children, Williams and Patty King have been most outspoken about the music icon’s care in his final days. Through their attorney, Drohobyczer, they accused Toney and B.B. King’s personal assistant, Myron Johnson, of poisoning him to hasten his death.

Toney and Johnson denied the claims, and Bryson dismissed them as ridiculous, defamatory and libelous.

But the allegation prompted an autopsy by the Clark County coroner the day after a King memorial at a Las Vegas funeral chapel. Results of toxicology tests are expected in several weeks. Police said there was no active homicide investigation.

King was buried May 30 at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Mississippi.

Toney, who managed King’s road show business for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his personal affairs, is the executor named in his will. She declined on Monday to comment. A King daughter, Riletta Mitchell, was second in line, but she died last September

Bryson said Monday the value of King’s estate was being tallied, but wasn’t expected to amount to the tens of millions of dollars suggested during Williams’ failed court bid to wrest guardianship from Toney a month ago.

One court document filed April 29 said one King bank account was believed to have had $5 million in May 2014, and his home was valued at $330,000. It said family members were unable to obtain updated figures or determine the value of King’s road show business or the rights and royalties from his music.

Drohobyczer has said she represents at least five of King’s children who refer to themselves as a family board. She said Monday she’ll file papers this week challenging Toney as executor, and didn’t want to comment before documents are filed.

Three daughters — Williams and Patty King, both of North Las Vegas, and Barbara King Winfree of Houston — declined to comment Monday about the upcoming probate hearing.

They’ve said previously that they want Toney out of the picture.

“We are the King family,” Patty King said. “We are fighting for the King estate.”

Son Willie King of Chicago didn’t immediately respond to messages.

Daughter Rita Washington, the fifth family board member, denied the fight to remove Toney is about money. She accused Toney of misleading family members about King’s finances and blocking them from visiting when King was dying.

“Dad died by himself,” Washington said. “If it was his wish not to let us see him in that condition, she still could have allowed us to visit him.”

In documents filed late Friday, Bryson provided an affidavit from one granddaughter who visited King the day before he died, and sworn testimonials from three doctors saying King was properly cared-for before he died in his sleep.

“Mr. King was able to smile, eat, laugh and watch westerns on television up until the time he fell asleep on May 13, 2015,” the court document said. It noted he never awoke.

King’s personal physician, Dr. Darin Brimhall, said drops that King’s daughters said they saw being administered to King in recent months were atropine, a drug commonly administered to people in hospice care to prevent respiratory congestion and difficulty swallowing.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Arts and Culture

IN MEMORIAM: Autris Paige

Paige performed regularly at Four Seasons’ Yachats Music Festival in Oregon from 1983-2017, with artists from around the world. Puerto Ricans Ilya and Raphael LeBron, soprano and baritone, remember him: “He leaves us with a warm memory of the simplicity that made him great: as a human being, as a friend and as a masterful artist!” Baritone Anthony Turner of New York says: “Autris was the embodiment of class and elegance. He delivered every song with a warm silken tone and economy of gestures. Autris gave of himself, his truth, his joy and love.”  Pianists Dennis Helmrich and Gerald Hecht often collaborated with Mr. Paige said: “Autris Paige was among the most intuitively refined musicians we have encountered: a pure pleasure and a cherished memory.” Pianist Jeongeun Yom, pianist, responds,”Autris will be remembered for his kindness, cheerfulness, and above all for his voice, with which he touched  the listeners’ heart.”

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AUTRIS T. PAIGE grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.
AUTRIS T. PAIGE grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

August 17, 1938 – January 12, 2023

AUTRIS T. PAIGE was the youngest child born to Estella and Overton Paige in Sugar Land, Texas on Aug. 17, 1938.  He passed away on Jan. 12, 2023 in Oakland after a brief illness.  He was supported and comforted by his longtime companion Donna Vaughan.

Mr. Paige grew up in Oakland, California where he attended Star Bethel Church and graduated from McClymonds High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Francisco State before pursuing advanced studies in musical theatre at the University of Southern California.

He served in the U.S. Air Force.

In 1971, he made his debut with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, appearing in Candide at the Los Angeles Music Center and at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. He appeared with Ray Charles and the American Ballet Theatre and performed in several musical theatre productions on Broadway including Lost in the Stars; Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope; as Walter Lee in Raisin; and in Timbuktu with Eartha Kitt.

Mr. Paige has also sung with the New York City Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and with the San Francisco Opera. Other opera companies in which he performed include the Seattle Opera and the Glyndebourne Opera in England. He was featured in the PBS film and award-winning EMI recording of Porgy and Bess as well as the recording of the opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

When he returned to Oakland to “retire” he met Dr. W. Hazaiah Williams, Founder and Director of Today’s Artists Concerts (now Four Seasons Arts), who auditioned Paige and invited him to perform on his series. Mr. Paige began a new phase of his musical career.

He appeared many times under the auspices of Today’s Artists Concerts/Four Seasons Arts in New York’s Alice Tully Hall and in venues around the Bay Area in their Art of the Spiritual programs. He was featured in his own Spiritual Journey in 2009. His recently released solo CD, Spiritual Journey, based on this program, has received critical acclaim.

Paige performed regularly at Four Seasons’ Yachats Music Festival in Oregon from 1983-2017, with artists from around the world. Puerto Ricans Ilya and Raphael LeBron, soprano and baritone, remember him: “He leaves us with a warm memory of the simplicity that made him great: as a human being, as a friend and as a masterful artist!” Baritone Anthony Turner of New York says: “Autris was the embodiment of class and elegance. He delivered every song with a warm silken tone and economy of gestures. Autris gave of himself, his truth, his joy and love.”  Pianists Dennis Helmrich and Gerald Hecht often collaborated with Mr. Paige said: “Autris Paige was among the most intuitively refined musicians we have encountered: a pure pleasure and a cherished memory.” Pianist Jeongeun Yom, pianist, responds,”Autris will be remembered for his kindness, cheerfulness, and above all for his voice, with which he touched  the listeners’ heart.”

In 2011, Mr. Paige was featured in Four Seasons Arts’ annual W. Hazaiah Williams Memorial Concert with the Lucy Kinchen Chorale and later with soprano Alison Buchanan. In 2013, he performed his Spiritual Journey II in Berkeley with pianist Othello Jefferson. A second CD entitled Classics and Spirituals was released in September 2013. Pianist Jerry Donaldson of Oakland was a frequent collaborator with Mr. Paige, performing throughout the Bay Area.

A Celebration of Life for Autris Paige will take place Friday, Feb. 3 at 11:00 a.m. at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, 1399 McAllister Street, San Francisco.

A repast will follow the service.

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Art

Richmond Art Center Announces Trio of Winter Exhibitions

Community members can check out Art of the African Diaspora Jan. 18 through March 18 in the RAC’s Main Gallery, with the opening reception being held Saturday, Jan. 21 from 2 – 4 p.m. The exhibition will spotlight the work of more than 120 artists of African descent “through representation, professional development and building a creative community,” per the RAC.

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The Remembrance Project (left). Caption 2: Amanda Ayala Ancestor Wheel 2020 (center). Fulfillment by Cynthia Brannvall, 2021 (right). Images courtesy of the Richmond Art Center.
The Remembrance Project (left). Caption 2: Amanda Ayala Ancestor Wheel 2020 (center). Fulfillment by Cynthia Brannvall, 2021 (right). Images courtesy of the Richmond Art Center.

 

By Kathy Chouteau | Richmond Standard

The Richmond Art Center (RAC) has announced its lineup of three winter exhibitions, including Art of the African DiasporaConnected Always and The Remembrance Project, on display at its galleries Jan. 18 through March 18, 2023.

Community members can check out Art of the African Diaspora Jan. 18 through March 18 in the RAC’s Main Gallery, with the opening reception being held Saturday, Jan. 21 from 2 – 4 p.m. The exhibition will spotlight the work of more than 120 artists of African descent “through representation, professional development and building a creative community,” per the RAC.

Artists Derrick Bell, Cynthia Brannvall, and Pryce Jones will be featured in the exhibition and community members can find the Art of the African Diaspora print catalog at the center for info about open studios and satellite exhibitions off-shooting from the RAC event. Learn more about the exhibition https://richmondartcenter.org/exhibitions/art-of-the-african-diaspora-2023

Amanda Ayala’s exhibition, Connected Always, will take place in the RAC’s South Gallery Jan. 20 through March 11, 2023. An opening reception is set for Saturday, Jan. 21 from 2 – 4 p.m., while a free Ancestor Wheel Workshop and artist talk open to everyone will be held by the artist Saturday, Feb. 18, 12 – 2 p.m.

Connected Always will see Ayala — who identifies as a Xicana indigenous visual artist — explore our ancestral connections through her latest works. The interdisciplinary Santa Rosa artist runs workshops “that combine artist liberation and social justice for people of all ages,” per the RAC, and will have one as part of her continuing Ancestor Wheel project during her RAC exhibition. Find out more about Ayala’s exhibition at: https://richmondartcenter.org/exhibitions/connected-always/.

The third winter exhibition, The Remembrance Project, will be shown in the Community Gallery Jan. 18 to March 18, with the opening reception being hosted Saturday, Jan. 21 from 2 – 4 p.m. The Remembrance Project Workshop will be held Saturday, Jan. 28 from 2-4 p.m. and a book talk with Sara Trail will happen on Saturday, March 4, from 1-2:30 p.m.

The Remembrance Project is not only “a cloth memorial of activist art banners commemorating the many people who have lost their lives to systems of inequity and racist structures,” per the RAC, but also two special events for community members — the aforementioned workshop and book talk.

The Social Justice Sewing Academy is presenting the cloth memorial, which has been created by volunteers nationwide “to help educate and inform communities about the human impact of systemic violence,” said the RAC.

The community can coalesce with others fighting for social justice and remember those lost to violence, while also learning about the academy’s work, through two related special events. A workshop on Saturday, Jan. 28 will blend craft, art and activism, while the founder of the academy, Sara Trail, will give a talk and book signing of her work Stitching Stolen Lives on Saturday, March 4. The events are free and available to community members of all ages. Learn more about The Remembrance Project at https://richmondartcenter.org/exhibitions/the-remembrance-project

The RAC is located at 2540 Barrett Ave. in Richmond. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the exhibitions and events are free and open to the community.

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Bay Area

Parade Planned to Honor Historic Pinole Valley High School Football Season

The Spartans football team captured its first ever state title last fall, defeating Mendota High 34-21 in the Division 7-AA California State Championship. The victory marks the first time a West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school has earned a high school state football title.

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Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.
Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

By Mike Kinney

A parade is being planned to celebrate the Pinole Valley High School football team’s historic championship season, Principal Kibby Kleiman said. School officials are considering holding the parade on Feb. 4, 2023, although an official date has not yet been confirmed.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

The parade will start at the Pinole Valley Park and will proceed to the Pinole Valley High School football field. The high school’s marching band, cheerleading squad and color guard will participate, along with clubs and service organizations connected to the school.

“It will almost be like a mini homecoming event,” Kleiman said.

The Spartans football team captured its first ever state title last fall, defeating Mendota High 34-21 in the Division 7-AA California State Championship. The victory marks the first time a West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) school has earned a high school state football title.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

Photos courtesy of Pinole Valley High School.

The Spartans earned their bid to play in the state championship after defeating Justin-Siena (Napa) 7-0 on Nov. 25, 2022, capturing their first North Coast Section title in 43 years.

Kleiman noted the team will also be recognized in a ceremony at Pinole City Council in February.

“We could not be prouder of the level of support coming from the community and the school,” he said. “It is wonderful to feel valued and honored. We are extremely proud of our Spartan football team!”

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