Saving The Slave!

The once famed civil rights epicenter is up for auction, and Sarah Wolff, with her 501 (c) 3, New Brooklyn Theatre, are trying to save it. The Slave Theater became a Brooklyn civil rights landmark in the early 1980s, when community activists like Al Sharpton and Alton Maddox came to the political foreground during rallies at the theater, and racial tensions in New York City were running high. Now it sits empty, but not devoid of history. The history held therein is not something we should just tear down and let fall out of sight because all too often we forget the history the sculpted us as a nation.

The New York Times articulated the state of affairs best: “As real estate developers pour money into the neighborhood around it, the theater is at the center of a bitter dispute over not just ownership rights, but also competing visions for a neighborhood landmark.”

“Behind the shuttered gate lies a tangled story of lost millions and alleged foul play, in which a wealthy African-American judge was placed against his will into court-ordered guardianship and died, seven years later, broke and in debt.”

In response to the ongoing court battle, Sarah started a Kickstarter program to raise $200,000 for the initial down payment on the property in an effort to restore its crumbling stage, and to preserve its place in the American civil rights movement.

Should they not succeed, the city of the New York will foreclose and it will be auctioned off to developers that will tear it down.

We cannot let the lights go dim for this beacon of hope and change, nested in the heart of Brooklyn!

Honoring The Greats

The Broadway actress and singer Raissa Katona Bennett will be joining Colin, this week on The Colin Lively Show. She is hosting, and the producer of, the Concerts for City Greens (formerly The Concerts for Tudor City Greens), which is dedicating four of this summer’s free, outdoor concerts to the music of its illustrious song contest judges.

The award-winning series, that brings the sounds of music to heart of Midtown, will showcase Ann Hampton Callaway (September 12) and Michael John LaChiusa (October 3). These four – plus David Friedman and Matthew Parillo – are serving as judges for the first Concerts for City Greens Songwriting Contest. (The quadruple-platinum songwriter and Today Show regular David Friedman provided the theme of last summer’s concert finale, and Matthew Parillo, a two-time Emmy Award-winning MTV Networks executive, has yet to begin his songwriting career.)

I am very excited to talk to Raissa about the happenings in the New York City cabaret scene, and her role with the Concerts for City Greens.