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Oakland Entertainment Veterans Emerge from COVID-19 with New Mission

Their ongoing mission is to explore, identify and make strategic investments and create foundational opportunities that promote job creation and sustainable, generational wealth-building in Oakland’s African American community.

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Photo courtesy of NMG Network via Unsplash

Oakland, like many major U.S. cities, has been severely impacted by recent unprecedented events. The COVID-19 pandemic leads the procession of crises that have shaken the city’s economic foundation and uprooted individuals, communities and businesses.  Arguably, one of the industries hit hardest has been that of arts and entertainment as those venues have been shuttered for well over a year.

The Oakland Business Collective (OBC) is a newlyformed group of longtime friends, all arts and entertainment professionals who decided to join forces, combine resources and make a difference by revitalizing Oakland’s arts and entertainment scene.

Their ongoing mission is to explore, identify and make strategic investments and create foundational opportunities that promote job creation and sustainable, generational wealth-building in Oakland’s African American community.

The principals of OBC have logged well over 200 combined years of show-biz experience.  The six seasoned African American men “of a certain age” specialize in television and film production, theatre production, all aspects of the music business, concert promotion, venue management, tour management, artist representation, hospitality, transportation, staff training and management, food and beverage, marketing, advertising, promotions, sales, radio production and programming, youth mentorship, community services and more.

With the development of five-year and long-term strategic plans in the works and extraordinary relationships in the African American media, small business, sports and community sectors, OBC is not only positioned to pilot the return of arts and entertainment to the city but to restore it to the front and center placement it formerly enjoyed in Oakland.

“I could not be more excited to be part of OBC.  Working with five other distinguished professionals of this caliber is like being a part of the Bay Area entertainment dream team,” said OBC member and Oakland native Marcus King.  “I feel privileged to make history once again in the very place with the same people I started my entertainment career.  I’m humbled to have the opportunity to grow the Bay Area entertainment landscape while mentoring the next generation of entertainment producers and executives.”

King is a veteran film and TV executive producer of vehicles like “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” “Ray,” “Redemption: The Stanley “Tookie” Williams Story,” and numerous television specials.  He’s the co-founder of the Laffapolooza Comedy Festival and Foxxhole Radio.  He’s the former manager of Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning superstar Jamie Foxx and legendary R&B recording artists, the Isley Brothers.

Tony Phruishun Spires, is an executive producer of the TV show “Gimme Five,” former talent producer of BET’s “Comic View” and talent consultant on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam.”  He’s a veteran filmmaker, theatre artist, poet/spoken-word artist.  He’s the longtime manager of comedian/actor Don “DC” Curry and served as the manager of DL Hughley, Laura Hayes and Faizon Love. He’s the founder of the legendary Bay Area Black Comedy Competition & Festival, which helped launch the careers of many notable artists.  He’s also co-founder and producing artistic director of the youth arts non-profit, Full Vision Arts Foundation.

Lionel Bea of Bay Area Productions, has been Oakland’s and the Bay Area’s leading African American concert promoter for more than three decades.  Producer of the famed Stone Soul concert series and the Black Comedy Explosion, he has promoted concerts and tours by A-list artists such as Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Henry Royal has been an entertainment executive for more than 30 years.  As the former proprietor of San Francisco’s DAS Club and general manager of Oakland’s Kimball’s Carnivale he hosted icons such as Eddie Murphy and Paula Abdul and helped launch the careers of legendary Oakland artists: Rap superstar MC Hammer, R&B Sensation group Tony! Toni! Toné! And comedian Mark Curry.  He’s managed tours for A-list artists including: Prince, Sheila E., Lionel Richie, Patti Labelle, and Santana.  He currently is the managing general partner of Royal Paramount Limousine.

Kyle Newport has been a strategic advertising and live event marketing professional for more than 30 years.  He has served as an artist manager, tour manager and promoter representative.  He has worked closely with artists such as: Frankie Beverly, Will Downing, Charlie Wilson and Cedric The Entertainer.

Geoffrey Pete owns Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, the famed entertainment venue and multipurpose banquet facility in downtown Oakland where he has hosted such greats as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, Beyoncé, Sean Penn, E-40, Too Short, Jay-Z, the late Congressman Ron Dellums, Alice Walker, former Senator Barbara Boxer, Johnny Cochran and Vice President Kamala Harris.

For several decades, Mr. Pete has been involved in direct political action to advance the cause of education and economic empowerment for African Americans.  On his OBC membership Mr. Pete comments, “One God, one aim, one destiny.”

Art

Maestro Michael Morgan Conducts San Francisco Symphony

Morgan was born and raised in Wash., D.C., and is recognized worldwide for innovative and thematically rich programs that make connections between a wide range of artists and musical cultures.

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Maestro Michael Morgan

Maestro Michael Morgan, music director and conductor of the Oakland Symphony, will conduct the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA, Friday, July 23, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

The program will include the overture to Gioachino Rossini’s opera “La gazza ladra,” along with a playful Pas de Six from “William Tell.” Louise Farrenc’s revelatory Symphony No. 3 from 1847 takes center stage, while the program concludes with James P. Johnson’s Roaring 20s hit, “Charleston.”

“I am thrilled to be helping the San Francisco Symphony share all the wonderful things they do with a wider and more diverse audience’, said Morgan.

Morgan’s ties to the San Francisco Symphony stretch back to 1994, when he first led Concerts for Kids performances.

Morgan was born and raised in Wash., D.C., and is recognized worldwide for innovative and thematically rich programs that make connections between a wide range of artists and musical cultures.

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Art

BIPOC Writers to Showcase Live Readings of New Anthology ‘Essential Truths’

The free, virtual event will begin with an invocation by Berkeley Poet Laureate Rafael Jesús González and will feature 18 BIPOC writers and poets in lively readings and presentations.

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Essential Truths the Bay Area In Color/WriteNow! SF

Oakland Asian Cultural Center in partnership with Write Now! SF Bay will host an East Bay Showcase of its latest anthology “Essential Truths on Thursday, July 22. 

The free, virtual event will begin with an invocation by Berkeley Poet Laureate Rafael Jesús González and will feature 18 BIPOC writers and poets in lively readings and presentations.

Among those performing and reading are: Avotcja, Clara Hsu, Danny Ryu, Darzelle Oliveros, Dianne Leo-Omine, Elmaz Abinader, Kelechi Ubozoh, Karen Seneferu, Kimi Sugioka, Sandra Bass, Shirley Huey, Shizue Seigal, Sridevi Ramanathan, Susana Praver-Pérez, Tiny (aka Lisa Gray-Garcia), Tony Aldorondo, Tureeda Mikell, and Wanda Sabir. 

To register for this event, which begins at 7:00 p.m., visit https://oacc.cc/event/essential-truths-east-bay/. A complete list of Oakland Asian Cultural Center readers’ affiliations can be found here: OACC READERS

Write Now! SF Bay, an organization that has helped 350 writers and artists create with their free and low-cost programs and provided a safe community where BIPOC feel free to express themselves, has published its fourth anthology.

“Essential Truths, The Bay Area in Color,” is its fourth anthology. The collection of 130 Bay Area BIPOC’s poems, musings, and art was edited by Siegal, the founder/director of Write Now! SF Bay.

“Our work is not always polished, but it arises from the lived experience of grappling with real issues of the day,” Siegal said. “We may write in the vernacular or English may be our second or third language. 

“If our rhythms are unfamiliar, ask yourself why—is our work inflected by other tongues and vernaculars, rusty from disuse, scattered by stress or trauma, struggling out silence, or hastily scribbled on borrowed time? 

“Old ways are dissolving, and change is in the air. BIPOC arts and activism have been here all along. Now we are stepping into the light,” Siegal said.

The contributors are Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color, and LGBTQ communities along with a few white allies who run the gamut from poet laureates to high school students to college professors and beyond. 

Since 2015, Write Now! SF Bay has been led by and for BIPOC Bay Area writers and builds multicultural solidarity around their unique identities as people of color and reclaim their culture and history, personal and community well-being as well as civil liberties and social justice.

“Essential Truths, The Bay Area in Color” is published is available for purchase at $17.95 by visiting https://www.writenowsf.com/essential-truths

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Activism

Haitian American Artist Brings His Vision, Gift to State’s COVID Campaign

The artworks, created by the Grammy-nominated visual artist Serge Gay Jr, were commissioned to encourage people to continue to take safety precautions against COVID-19 even though the state reopened last month, according to the governor’s office.  

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Serge Gay Jr. at Art Attack mimicking a playboy bunny in one of his paintings. Photo by James Chiang.

California’s “Your Actions Save Lives” art campaign recently unveiled two “Safety First” murals in San Francisco. The artworks, created by the Grammy-nominated visual artist Serge Gay Jr, were commissioned to encourage people to continue to take safety precautions against COVID-19 even though the state reopened last month, according to the governor’s office.
One is located in the Castro and the other in the Tenderloin, — two well-known districts steeped in the Golden Gate City’s famous history of Leftist political organizing and the visibility of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) people.
The Tenderloin mural, which he dedicates to the city’s transgender community, was inspired by the idea of, “breaking free because during the pandemic, we were all just home and kind of stuck there,” said Gay.  His second artwork is located at 2390 Market St. in the Castro.
The state says the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign equips Californians with information about what they can do to help stem the spread of COVID-19.  To get the word out, it partnered with The Center at the Sierra Health Foundation and 20 local artists across the state to reach communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Gay, he celebrates the Tenderloin for its inclusion of Black and Brown people. The message behind the mural places an emphasis on freedom of movement following the COVID-19 pandemic and encourages the public to get vaccinated, says the artist whose collaboration with film director Matt Stawski clinched him a Grammy nomination for “Best Short Form Video.”
“I wanted to really kind of also showcase our trends visibility,” said Gay.
Gay pays homage to his Haitian roots through his artwork which celebrates various Black communities in the Bay Area — African Americans as well as African and Caribbean immigrants, he explains.

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