The 50th annual Vivian Robinson Audelco “The Viv” Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theater will take place on November 28 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., from 7:30 to 10 p.m. .
Some of the many award presentations will include Pioneer Awards to Peggy Alston, Ben Horney, filmmaker and educator Jamaal Joseph and LaZette McCants. McCants became an AUDELCO volunteer in 1983 after meeting Flora Polk, who was the organization’s volunteer coordinator. Over the past 40 years, McCants has worn a variety of AUDELCO hats, including a member of the Board of Directors and Nominating Committee, event planner/coordinator and volunteer coordinator in promoting and building audiences for performing artists african americans
“My enthusiasm and appreciation for the visual and performing arts is expressed as I spread the word and encourage people to look at the bigger picture of art and what it means to our culture. The art it crosses all borders: racial, religious, gender and economic”. In 2010, McCants formed an informal group, Volunteer Divas & Divos Plus—Volunteers for Arts, Culture and Community to continue to foster the revived spirit of volunteerism.
The Board of Directors Award will be presented to New York Beacon entertainment editor and reporter Don Thomas, who stated, “I am very grateful for this award. My thanks to Jacqueline Jeffries. I am very happy to see that the Vivian Robinson’s vision remains strong.” The award will also be presented to New York State Representative Inez Dickens (70th District), Walk Tall Girl Productions President Marcia Pendleton and renowned radio host Jeanne Parnell. “Well, it’s about time,” laughed the popular radio personality. “No, seriously, Vivian Robinson, who was on my radio show many times, had a wonderful idea [in] starting this whole event reflecting the importance of black theater [and] recognizing those off and on stage.”
On this 50th anniversary, all praise and love goes to Vivian Robinson, who founded AUDELCO in 1973 because of her great love of black theater. He formed the non-profit organization, which stands for Audience Development Committee, while still working at the News from Amsterdam in the marketing department. More importantly, his soul purpose was to generate more recognition, understanding and awareness in black communities and to promote better public relations and develop strong audiences for non-profit black dance and theater companies, as he noted A. Peter Bailey in an article he wrote about Robinson in the early 1980s. One of the co-founders was Robinson’s best friend, Mary B. Davis. Together they were like Thelonious Monk and Charlie Rouse; they made great music together that has stood the test of time. Together, these two persevering women probably saw more black plays than anyone else in history. During those times, the non-profit black theater circuit included The National Black Theatre, Negro Ensemble Company, Roger Furman Theatre, Voza Rivers New Heritage Theater Group, Billie Holiday Theatre, Black Spectrum, Crossroads Theater of New Jersey, Woodie King Jr . New Federal. Theater at the Henry Street Settlement and others. Robinson played an important role in bringing these theaters together to form a family.
The AUDELCO Recognition Awards were created because Robinson felt that the great actors and actresses who performed in all those wonderful black non-profit plays (his favorite word) should be honored just like Broadway actors.
Hey Rim Jeon, born in Seoul, Korea, has a very prestigious reputation as a jazz educator, recognized as the first Korean professor at Berklee College of Music. Since 2010, she has been active as an assistant professor in the Piano Department at Berklee College of Music. Since 2018, she has used her experience as an associate professor in the Piano Department at Berklee College of Music.
As a pedagogue she has the basics and the theory definitely in place, but can she play? Their latest album “Groovitude” contains nine tracks that will excite jazzhead ears; features inventive re-imagined versions of travel standards, memorable originals, the Korean folk song “Spring in Hometown” and the Korean pop song “100 Years of Promise.” It takes Louis Armstrong’s popular hit “It’s a Wonderful World” and turns it into a corny number that swings in every direction. For his rendition of “100 Years of Promise” he performs whispering cascades of dance tunes. Jeon’s rendition of the Beatles’ 1965 hit “Michelle” remains a heartfelt ballad under his playing with roaring bass lines from bassist John Lockwood. Their original tune “Daughter’s Dance” is one of the few up-tempo tracks, straight-ahead piano riffs, smooth yet swinging with warm, vibrant tones with bassist John Lockwood and drummer Teri Lyne Carrington stretching out. The pianist is supported by three-time Grammy Award-winning Berklee College classmate Teri Lyne Carrington on drums and John Lockwood on bass (Tracks 1-6), and drummer Yoron Israel and bassist Greg Holt (Tracks 7-8 ).
Jeon tickles the keys like his piano hero Oscar Peterson, whose album “We Get Requests” (RCA, 1964) permanently changed his musical direction from classical to jazz at age 17; has traces of Ahmad Jamal. “Since he was classically trained, when I heard him and was told that he improvised, that certainly caught my attention. I was fascinated by his playing and the idea that you could invent music instead of just playing what was written.”
“I’m making my personal experience universal. Every song on this album has a special meaning for me, and I hope it touches your heart. I recorded this album while my father was fighting cancer,” said Jeon . “I wanted to listen to nice, relaxing music while I was fighting for my life. But after two and a half years of the pandemic, I can’t think of a better time to release this record. My dad couldn’t hear it, but I’m happy to to share it with you in a spirit of love and hope”.
The album is available on all social media platforms: Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify and visit his website at heyrimjeon.com.