Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Entertaining choices for celebrating Black History Month

Martin Luther King Jr. Banner , The Diversity Store

During February we celebrate Black History Month, and there are superb entertainment choices available for children and families.

The following suggestions include: live performances; books, music and video, and are presented according to calendar dates as these events or products become available to the public.

You may wish to bookmark this page to revisit throughout the month.

DVD and Books

A new DVD was released on February 1, 2011, from Scholastic Storybook Treasures: DUKE ELLINGTON…AND MORE STORIES TO CELEBRATE GREAT FIGURES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY.

Based on stories that highlight African-American musical greats this excellent DVD was produced and adapted for the small screen by the award-winning Weston Woods Studios.

Each of the four engaging stories, which originated as a best-selling children’s book, is presented with beautiful illustrations, music and expert narration by such notables as: Forest Whitaker; Phylicia Rashad; Samuel L. Jackson, and Billy Dee Williams.

The 70-minute DVD includes a special read-along feature and extras that promote discussion.

DUKE ELLINGTON…AND MORE STORIES TO CELEBRATE GREAT FIGURES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY has a suggested retail price of $14.95, and as of this posting, best pricing is available through Amazon.com Marketplace starting at $7.96 plus shipping and handling.

For information about each story included in this DVD, simply follow the provided links. The four featured stories included are: Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (based on the story by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney); Ellington Was Not a Street (based on the story by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson); Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of Vocal Virtuosa (based on the story Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney), and John Henry (based on the story by Julius Lester, illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

Live Performances

Hasan Bakr and Kevin Hylton are consummate performers of African music who delight children, parents and caregivers in their use of traditional instruments from around the globe that include the Kora, shekere, steel pan, mbira, bamboo flute and hand drums, which provide authentic rhythmic music that invites audiences to clap and dance along.

One performance only on Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 11:00 a.m., at Symphony Space, Leonard Nimoy Thalia, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City – Tickets are priced at $11 to $20.

For more information follow this link to Symphony Space or contact the box office directly at (212) 864-5400

Also, on Saturday, February 12, A Story Worth Telling with Jerry Pinkney – a special presentation for children and families at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art that covers Pinkney’s 50 years of creating art for some of the finest picture books for children.

Patrons will meet this award-winning illustrator and learn all about his earliest works, to the culmination of his receiving the prestigious 2010 Caldecott Medal.

This event is FREE with a standard museum admission.

To learn more about Jerry Pinkney visit www.jerrypinkneystudio.com

The presentation begins at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 12, 2011, at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art , 125 West Bay Road | Amherst, MA 01002. For further information phone: (413) 658-1100, or Fax: (413) 658-1139, or Email: info@carlemuseum.org

You can also visit their website at |www.carlemuseum.org

Music CDs

On February 22nd, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings releases A Life of Song featuring the “First Lady of Children’s Music,” Ella Jenkins in her 29th release for the label since 1957.

This newest recording from the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Winner is part of the African American Legacy Series, and is a joint production of Smithsonian Folkways and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A Life of Song is an engaging compilation of music that reflects Jenkins’ own childhood, growing up as an African American youngster in the multicultural city of Chicago.

Thoughtful recollections of her own childhood are interspersed with songs that include some call-and response numbers, which encourage children to sing along. Jenkins is joined on this album by Rita Ruby on guitar and students from Chicago's Donoghue Elementary and Horace Greeley Elementary schools.

Renditions of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” and "One Two Three O'Leary" are but two of the memorable tracks on this 21 track CD. All songs are available to preview by following this link to the African American Legacy Series: A Life of Song, where the full CD is available for $15.00 or downloadable for $9.99 with liner notes included.

To see a newly released video tribute to Jenkins, please follow this link.

Fun and funky is this soon-to-be released CD, Wheels on the Bus from Groove Kid Nation, launching at retailers nationwide on Tuesday, March 8, 2011.

The brainchild of Los Angeles based keyboardist/record producer and recording artist Rodney Lee, whose 20-plus year career has brought him full circle as a musician and father, Wheels offers up a kid-pleasing mix of classic tunes such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the “Alphabet Song” along with some new originals, all a' la foot stomping, grooving funk-style, delivered by a prominent group of musicians who capture the rhythmic beat and youthful joy of today’s generation.

Lee says, “When I was a kid, the music on Saturday morning cartoon shows like Fat Albert, the Jackson 5 and The Banana Splits made a big impression on me,” He adds, “After the birth of my son (now 2), I looked for this kind of funky children’s music and couldn’t find what I wanted to hear, especially, over and over. So I decided to do what I do: make music with some groove to it.” And, that Lee has done.

To sound sample all ten tracks for Wheels on the Bus, follow this link to Groove Kid Nation where you can learn more about this recording project that provides needed donations to CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that fights poverty. Ten percent of the wholesale price of The Wheels on the Bus is dedicated to CARE.

For placing advanced orders for Groove Kid Nation’s Wheels on the Bus, please visit Amazon.com by following this link.

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