By Michael P Coleman

gucciblackface

This past weekend, the media served up a lot to think about.

First, we had Gucci’s “blackface” sweater.  One look at it and you should all be tossing your Gucci purses and bags in the trash. 

Within hours of launching the sweater, Gucci pulled it from retail locations and their online store, claiming they didn’t know that blackface was considered offensive, and that the social media outcry would lead to a “teachable moment” with their team. 

For the full article by MPC, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/12214-michael-s-mind-s-eye-gucci-s-blackface-sweater-virginia-s-lt-governor-and-the-grammy-s


By Michael P Coleman

DeJuan Thompson is one of the impressive cast that just presented The Wizard Of Oz at the Gallo Center For The Arts in Modesto.  Even from where I was perched near the back of the theatre, Thompson’s seemingly boundless energy and charisma, along with his million dollar smile, lit the place up.  Watching him singing and dancing onstage, I wondered whether we were watching the next Savion Glover or Sammy Davis Jr.

Thompson earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts In Musical Theatre from Coastal Carolina University in 2016.  Fewer than a handful of years out a college, he is masterfully playing multiple roles on the current Oz tour.  When The Mayor of Munchkin City and a Crow threaten to steal the show from Dorothy and Toto, you know a star is born! 

As it turns out, the 25 year old wunderkind has a history with The Wizard Of Oz, having made his stage debut playing The Tin Man in his elementary school’s production.

“It was bizarre when I found out that I’d booked this tour,” Thompson said during our EXCLUSIVE interview.  “I started with Oz in grade school, and in college, my first regional production was The Wiz.  I really can’t get out of Oz!” 

For MPC's full article, visit http://www.sacculturalhub.com/item/12147-hub-artist-profile-actor-singer-dancer-dejuan-thompson

Connect with DeJuan Thompson at http://www.dejuanthompson.com/

Connect with freelancer writer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

 

By Michael P Coleman

Rising country star Kane Brown has sidestepped the sophomore slump with his daring new Experiment album, which debuted atop Billboard’s all genre Hot 200 Albums chart.  Brown has gone from YouTube sensation to the big time in no time.  

Experiment showcases very well-written songs with unforgettable hooks and notes of classic R & B and rock blended with errant steel guitars and fiddles. 

“Coming from my first album, I still didn’t feel accepted by Nashville,” Brown said shortly before Experiment’s release. “So, for this album, it was like a second chance.”

Brown’s husky baritone is perfectly suited for Nashville, and the man undoubtedly turns heads in that town, looking more like Drake than Garth Brooks or even Kenny Chesney. The up-and-comer seems to revel in upsetting the country apple cart, eschewing the traditional cowboy hat and boots, ripping up the jeans, and getting more tattooed and pierced with each project.

And if Experiment is an indication of Brown’s future in country, I’m here for it.  The new album is even stronger than his excellent 2017 self titled debut album, with standouts including the lovely “Live Forever” and “Homesick,” the raucous “Short Skirt Weather,” the chill “Weekend,” and the contemplative “American Bad Dream,” which gives the middle finger to Nashville’s legendary, sometimes misplaced “patriotism” — and the MAGA crowd. 

Give Experiment a listen, even if you’re not one of country’s core fans.  From the sound of this album — and the look of Kane Brown — he isn’t, either!  

Kane Brown’s new Experiment is available at all major digital outlets and at retail. 

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

Freelance writer Michael P Coleman is available at michaelpcoleman.com and on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

HUB REVIEW - Elvis & Me: An Evening With Priscilla Presley
 

By Michael P Coleman

Have you ever been invited into a famous person’s living room for a long, intimate chat?

Me, either!  But hundreds of us got to experience what that might feel like last night at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, after Priscilla Presley strolled out on stage, flashed a brilliant smile, got comfy in an easy chair, and talked for 90 minutes about her life with the King Of Rock & Roll. 

Click here for MPC's full review.

Go to galloarts.org to check out their full performance schedule. 

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

Go to michaelpcoleman.com to connect with the freelance writer behind this piece, or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.


By Michael P Coleman

Strolling around downtown Sacramento before a movie at the Crest Theatre, I discovered Mother.  It’s a vegetarian soul food restaurant. 

In a nutshell, Mother serves a muther of a meal.  

The Chicken Fried Mushroom Po Boy is incredible, although the bun is a little voluminous for me — I wanted more mushrooms.  You will not believe that a cow didn’t give the ultimate sacrifice to put that Carrot Nut Burger on your plate.  The collard greens were good, but a little on the vinegar-y side and a little tough — overall, they made me miss Grandma Coleman’s. 

But man, oh MAN those sprouts!

Click here to read MPC’s full review.

Connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com, follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

By Michael P Coleman

Believe it or not, it was forty years ago that Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the rest of The Wiz’s gang eased on down the road in that 1978 feature.  Later that fall, movie audiences learned to believe a man can fly in Superman: The Movie

I saw both films within weeks of each other. I was 13 years old.  That “double feature” may have very literally saved my life.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicides are on the rise in the United States.  In more than half of all deaths by suicide, the victim had no known mental health condition when they ended their life. 

Just last week, I was touched by media reports of three different deaths by suicide, one of which being a 9 year old girl.  Those stories moved me to open up about my own brush with suicide, and how two movies literally convinced me to take another path when I was just a kid and had my whole life ahead of me.  My hope is that by sharing my story, I can help start a dialog and remove the stigma of mental health and suicide — and maybe help save a life.

People often ask me about why I always have a Superman insignia on, or why I listen to Diana Ross so much.  For the first time, here’s that story! 

Click here to read MPC’s full feature. 

If you are thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  It provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org

Connect with Sacramento-based freelance writer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com, follow him on Twitter at @ColemanMichaelP,  or just walk up and say “hi” to the black guy in the Superman shirt.

By Michael P Coleman

I attended the second of a two night engagement at Davies Hall Saturday night, as Vanessa Williams joined forces with the San Francisco Symphony and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir for a weekend of holiday cheer.

The Choir’s first half of the concert was excellent, with highlights being a stirring rendition of “Silent Night,” two distinct takes on the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, and a traditional spiritual, “Lord, How Come Me Here” that had the entire house silenced one second and enraptured the next.

After a brief intermission Williams took over, strutting on stage in a striking blue dress that was more than befitting a diva.  Launching into “Dreaming,” the 55-year-old phenomenon effortlessly delivered pitch-perfect performances of her own hits and holiday classics, as she revisited highlights of her legendary career.

It wasn’t surprising that Williams saved her signature song, “Save The Best For Last,” for the end of the show.  It was surprising that she sang it, and everything else, so very well.  Her voice has lost none of its warmth, depth, range, or beauty over her three decades as a recording artist.

sweetestday williamsOther highlights were the inclusion of more obscure songs from Williams’ impressive catalog, including “Constantly” from her The Sweetest Days collection and “Love Is,” performed with her music director, Rob Mathes, standing in for Brian McKnight.  No one missed McKnight; Williams and Mathes were magic together.  

Williams ended the show with a rousing, Baptist church-worthy “Rise Up Shepherd And Follow” with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.  They left us, like every great performer does, wanting more. 

Hats off to the San Francisco Symphony for their commitment to presenting programs that bring all of Christmas’ best together on one stage.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s Holiday Soul event. 

Mike Coleman headshotonly nologo 300

 Connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com, of follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

 

By Michael P Coleman

VanessaWilliams Photo Credit Gilles Toucas 350When Vanessa Williams takes the stage, it’s hard to know exactly what she’s going to do.  She’s a riveting comedic and dramatic actress, and a master on the dance floor.  She’s also a brilliant singer, having topped a number of Billboard charts including pop, R & B, jazz, classical, gospel, and holiday music during her 35 year career. 

Williams is joining forces with two other musical treasures, the San Francisco Symphony and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, for two evenings of Christmas favorites.  They’ll perform December 7 and 8 at Davies Hall in San Francisco.

During our recent EXCLUSIVE chat, Williams revealed that the two San Francisco performances will be as much of a thrill for her as they will be for those fans who will be lucky enough to be at Davies Hall. 

“Getting a chance to hear all of my arrangements with a full orchestra is a treat for the audience and for me, as well,” the 55 year old superstar said of the upcoming shows.  “There’s nothing like live musicians playing real music.  The show will be made up of beautifully sounding instruments in a beautiful music hall.”  

“We’ll do “Dreamin’,” “Save The Best For Last,” “The Sweetest Days,” and “Colors Of The Wind,” for sure, and then a few from the Christmas albums: “Star Bright,” which is one of my favorites, “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Rise Up Shepherd And Follow,” which is my gospel one.”

Click here to read MPC’s full feature, including more of his EXCLUSIVE conversation with the legendary Vanessa Williams!