Initially, it may seem a stretch to imagine Harlem Renaissance writer, Zora Neale Hurston tapping her toes, bobbing her head, and reciting the lyrics to hip-hop songs. Yet, there is a vital connection between Hurston and hip-hop culture which was revealed following the “Zora Neale Hurston” play, presented as part of The National Black Touring Circuit’s Black History Month Play Festival at the Castillo Theatre.
After Kim Brockington’s tour de force performance of Hurston, she explained that the latter’s use of colloquialism is the equivalent to hip-hop’s popularization of slang. “The Harlem Renaissance, like hip-hop, created words and it became a whole new language,” she says. “Zora would [have] loved hip-hop since she was of that tradition.”
Hurston certainly loved writing. According to her niece and biographer, Lucy Anne Hurston, we can expect to see more previously unpublished works released before the end of 2013. Hurston’s niece couldn’t reveal if the forthcoming books are in the vein of her classic on love, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
If a book on romance is what you’re seeking then try Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together by David and Jamillah Lamb. The Lamb’s are the team behind the long-running play, “Platanos Y Collard Greens,” which was presented at the Baruch Performing Arts Center with special guest star, Royce Reed. While the play suffers from a weak script, their book is more interesting, in particular Lamb’s notes on how the economic downturn forced him to mature as a mate. “I learned your inner peace should not be based on what’s happening externally. You should have inner peace that goes beyond that,” he advises.
If anyone is a role model for inner peace, it is legendary artist Franco the Great. During his exhibition at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Franco revealed that the security gates of storefronts on 125th Street that he has painted for the past 25 years are nearing extinction. Apparently economic forces are leading to the removal of the gates. Still, he remains hopeful as he calls on businesses to help preserve his works. “Since the new businesses are moving in with such a force, they should help relocate the gates,” he states. “The public will look upon them not as selfish corporations, but ones that want to help.”
Visual artist Barbara “The Doodle Queen” Russell is all about support, especially mentally ill patients after being accepted into the Lincoln Arts Exchange program. “My art workshops reduce their stress levels. I highly recommend it for a low cost mental health technique to calm your inner spirit.”
In other news, Jaylene Clark of the play “Renaissance In the Belly of a Killer Whale,” won first place at the Apollo Theatre’s “Amateur Night” and competes again on February 29th. Clark’s spoken word carries on the legacy of Hurston by infusing it with colloquialisms, slang, and the rhythm of hip-hop. If Hurston were still alive, she’d probably be in the front row at the competition, cheering Clark on.
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This article is courtesy of our partner The Harlem Arts Alliance. For more information on HAA please visit: www.harlemaa.org