Joelle Lamarre talks Leontyne Price 'The Violet Hour' and 3Arts

Joelle Lamarre as Leontyne Price in “The Violet Hour (Photo credit: Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

Joelle Lamarre is a world renowned soprano. Her voice is emotional, powerful and clear. Her performances around the world have been met with great praise and acclaim. In the summer of 2019 Lamarre made her debut in California when she joined The Long Beach Opera for the World Premier of Anthony Davis Central Park Five.The Singerprenuer reviewed, “… with Joelle Lamarre expertly lending her exquisite soprano to play mother to two of the boys, as well as singing the role of the crime’s victim from offstage.”

In 2017 Lamarre created The Violet Hour. The Violet Hour explores the career of Leontyne Price the internationally acclaimed soprano who was the first African American to become a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera. Lamarre explores Price from her early life up until her final performance of the opera Aida at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1985.

In February of 2020, Lamarre launched a campaign with 3Arts to raise funds in order bring her play The Viiolet Hour to a wider audience via a new cast, crew and new producers.

We spoke to Lamarre about The Violet Hour and why its important to share the story of Leontyne Price.

Why did you write The Violet Hour?

The independence of being a black woman in the 50’s and 60’s in the United States is so important to me. It’s important to express, show and to allow other people to understand what it means to be a single, black and a female entrepreneur. Leontyne Price is the epitome of that and it need to be shared.

What is the importance of this workshop you are creating?

I want to honor Leontyne, but I felt something was missing in the first iteration of the show. So I asked myself: How can I get Leontyne’s story to the level of excellence that she so deserves? What is next for The Violet Hour? 

So I was given an opportunity with 3Arts to have a campaign, and raise $5,000 and 3Arts matches 1/3 of that $5,000.  With funding from this campaign, I’ll assemble workshop readings with professional teams to refine and mount the piece. The first phase will be with a dramaturg, director, and music director to help shape the script and notate changes. Then I’ll hire a cast of singers and actors to learn the piece as key performers. Finally, I’ll bring the crew together for an open-book performance that will be documented and presented to possible producers. This will help expand people’s knowledge of Leontyne’s extraordinary contributions to opera and the music industry in this country.

Talk about the representation of Black faces in Opera. Why is it necessary?

As an artist, Leontyne Price had a larger-than-life presence and a regal demeanor that inspired and touched people deeply, including myself. Early in my career I used to study performance recordings and interviews she gave. I knew I wanted to do a recital one day to honor her, but her story was also important to me as a single, Black woman, and entrepreneur. For me, Leontyne is the epitome of that. 

The Violet Hour production traces Leontyne’s extraordinary journey from the beginning of her career to her final performance of Aida at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1985. For this performance she received a 42-minute standing ovation, the longest in the Met’s history. This piece is ready to be a complete dramatic work that reveals the full scope of Leontyne’s power and what it is to be a live artist of her caliber.

What’s next for you?

This work. My job right now is not to give up on making this show better and to continue to connect my work of the Violet hour with an audience that will appreciate the art that she brought to this world.  My intention is to have a workshop where I’m able to discuss the development, growth and how I can work to make this experience a loving, fulfilling experience that is full of understanding, empathy, compassion, and  complexity. 

What words do you have for those looking to go into theatre?

So here is what I have to share: it’s important when you’re trying to do or go somewhere in your career to really ask yourself how is it that I want to move in my career? Where do I see myself going? because if you can find that, then you can create steps to get to that.-

-Precise

Stream “I’m Dreaming (Don’t Wake Me)” by Precise below.

Erykah Badu's "P—y" sells out in minutes

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu raised a few eyebrows when she announced a few weeks ago that she would be selling incense created from her cut up and burned underwear via her new online store. Badu’s World Market launched on February 20, 2020 at 2:22 pm. Her incense “Badu’s Pussy” sold out 19 minutes later.

Badu has been known to mesmerize men with her feminine wiles. She has now taken it to a whole new level. Her Badu’s World Market twitter page shared the good news.

Ms Badu is clearly pleased via her response on instagram.

View this post on Instagram

Www.baduworldmarket.com @baduworldmarket

A post shared by THE UNICORN (@erykahbadu) on

The world is changing and soon Ms Badu will have the entire world under her spell. “Badu’s Pussy” is taking up space all up in 2020.

-Precise

Stream “It’s On Me” by Precise below

Anderson Cooper rips Rod Blagojevich apart, calls him on Bulls—t

Former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich who was just granted clemency by Donald Trump is currently on his press run. He stopped by CNN to voice his concern when it comes to prison reform.

Anderson Cooper was not feeling him. Blagojevich asked Anderson to join him in the fight to reform the criminal justice system. Anderson Cooper called BS and tore him a new one.

Stream “That Ol’ Boom Bap” by Precise

Ben Gordon opens up about suicide attempt ‘ I thought about killing myself every single day’

Former NBA player Ben Gordon submitted an essay to The Players Tribune. In that essay he details the struggles he has with mental health. He also speaks to a failed suicide attempt.

In 2004 Gordon made himself eligible for the NBA draft after winning a national championship with the University of Connecticut. He was picked by the Chicago Bulls.

In 2005 Gordon won Sixth Man of the year as a rookie. His NBA career ended with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2017.

“There was a point in time where I thought about killing myself every single day for about six weeks.” Gordon wrote

He shared that in the season right after his last year in the league he would start having panic attacks.

Gordon details the feelings of despair and loss of identity he was plagued with daily. He shared that he felt as though he was in purgatory. Describing the feeling like a black cloak suffocating his soul.

When it became unbearable Gordon took matters into his own hands. “I took one of those heavyweight jump ropes — the thick rubber ones — and I tied it around my neck. Got a chair. And I hung myself, for real.” Gordon wrote.

He did not die in the attempt because in the midst of it he recognized that he wanted to live.

Gordon admits that this illness has been with him since he was a child. He was left wondering who created God since God created everything. He shared that it was a loop going on in his mind.

Gordon has since gone to therapy and appreciates being able to share his thoughts.

“It helped me work some things out. But more than anything, I think it helped me embrace the fact that — it’s like, Yo, B, you’re different. And that’s alright.” wrote Gordon

According to The National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Among men aged 18–44 who had daily feelings of anxiety or depression, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic men (26.4 percent) were less likely than non-Hispanic White men (45.4 percent) to have used mental health treatments.

The NIH also report that suicide is the third leading cause of death for African American males ages 15 to 24.

The national suicide hotline website is below.

suicidepreventionlifeline.org

For help with mental illness go to nami.org

Stream “Speak Life” by Precise

Trump frees Rod Blagojevich from prison

President Trump just commuted the 14 year prison sentence of former Governor of Illinois Rod R. Blagojevich.

Blagojevich was convicted for trying to sell Barak Obama’s vacated Senate seat. He was trying to make some coin off of it.

Blagojevich was sentenced for his crimes on August 17, 2010 after an investigation that lasted over 2 years. Blagojevich had a retrial in 2011 but he was not successful. Many of Blagojevich’s supporters felt his sentence was too high.

It seems as though Trump felt the same way and he did something about it. While boarding Air Force One on his way to a four-day trip to the west coast Trump simply stated “Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich.” Trump continued “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.”

Illinois is no stranger to corruption. Four of the last seven governors went to prison. Rod Blagojevich (Governor 2002-2009), George Ryan (Governor 1999-2003), Dan Walker (Governor 1973-1977) and Otto Kerner (Governor 1961-1968) all share this distinction.

I’m curious to know what Blagojevich is feeling right now. What do you think is the first thing he will do upon his release?

Share in the comments.

Stream “That Ol’ Boom Bap” by Precise

Jalaiah Harmon receiving credit for her dance is 2020's great Black History moment

Jalaiah Harmon and Stefanie Harmon (mom) (Photo credit: Jill Frank for The New York Times)

The NBA got it right on a few fronts this year. They held the All-Star game in the greatest city in the world, they leveraged the greatest artists for entertainment and they finally gave Jalaiah Harmon credit for her TikTok dance craze. Two days ago I didn’t know who 14 year-old Jalaiah Harmon was. Today she is a young Black girl getting the credit she deserves.

TikTok is the latest social media platform to take over the world. The app is like a mash up of Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Vine. It’s biggest users are pre-teens and teenagers. It is the platform Lil Nas X can credit his meteoric rise. Someone heard his song “Old Town Road”, made a challenge out of it and it took on a life of its own. Lil Nas X uploaded his song to TikTok in 2018 and by 2019 he was breaking all kinds of records, getting kicked off the country music charts and collaborating with Billy Ray Cyrus. By 2020 he was one of the biggest artists in the world winning Grammy’s. You can trace his success directly back to the app.

K Camp’s song “Lottery” is the latest song to make it’s rounds around the popular app. His song sparked the Renegade Challenge. A challenge created by Jalaiah Harmon a young Black girl but popularized by White teen TikTok influencer Charli D’Amelio.

Jalaiah created the dance back in 2018 alongside her friend in 2018. But, as these things usually do they take on a life of their own. They get catapulted into pop culture and someone else not only gets credit but gets paid for it.

A New York Times Writer Torey Lorenz did some digging around the dance craze and discovered that Jalaiah was responsible. She interviewed her for the publication and the word started to spread. Black Twitter caught wind of this and it was a wrap.

K Camp took notice and filmed a video with Jalaiah and her friend doing the dance to his song and posted it to twitter with a message. on Valentines day. “Thank you Jalaiah and Skylar for helping make lottery the BIGGEST song in the world,” he tweeted.

Now, lets fast forward a bit. I go to cover the NBA All-Star celebrity game and I see a group of 3 young White girls being followed around the Wintrust Arena. Kids were going crazy for them. Evidently they are social media influencers known as the TikTok girls who were flown out to reap the rewards of their influence. They probably were not aware of the swell of support Jalaiah was getting to be recognized for her creation.

The NBA took notice and flew Jalaiah out on a days notice to receive her due in front of one of the biggest audiences in the world.

In a world where Black people have routinely been overlooked for their accomplishments, this one social media moment feels like a win. This moment makes Black History Month that much sweeter. Justice moving at the speed of social media is sweet.

Jalaiah deserves this and hopefully this grows into a monetized opportunity. In the meantime at the speed of social media she made her debut at All-Star 2020 then connected with the TikTok girls. This may not be what Dr. King was speaking of directly, but it kind of is.

Stream “I’m Dreaming (Don’t Wake Me)” by Precise below.

Chance the Rapper performs explosive Halftime show with surprises at NBA All-Star 2020

Chicago was the most gracious host to the NBA All-Star Game this year. Chance the Rapper gave a spirit filled performance during halftime. He even brought out a few surprise guests. The mood of the evening was beautiful. Chance really did an amazing job. Check out the video to see who came out.

Stream “It’s On Me” by Precise

Chaka Khan gets destroyed for her version of the national anthem

R&B songstress and legend Chaka Khan is getting read the riot act for her rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at All-Star 2020 in Chicago. The ten time Grammy winner hit her own notes and she has every right to.

Twitter and the rest of the internet had jokes.


These days all the non-doers have something to say. Chaka deserves her respect and her version is original and powerful. Check the video below and see for your self.

Stream “We ill” by G.R.A.C.E and Precise below

Common does emotional tribute to Kobe and Chicago at NBA All-Star 2020

Common continues to represent the excellence Chicago creates. A few days after winning MVP at the celebrity game he performs a tribute that is uplifting and tear jerking. The love Common has for Chicago comes through his poetic bars. The feeling is motivation for greatness. Check out the video for yourself.

Stream “It’s On Me” by Precise below