Two musicians find friendship during quarantine.
Harlem is certainly all aglow with festivities, fine dining and people from all walks of life coming together uptown to enjoy themselves and pay tribute. “Pay tribute to what?” you say. “Many things,” I say, and everything that’s good, right and true about Harlem.
The 29th Mount Sinai Crystal Party celebrated the unification of the seven Mount Sinai health care facilities as they literally joined forces under one gloriously decorated tent to announce the newly established Mount Sinai Health System. The unification now includes all seven hospital campuses: Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Brooklyn, Mount Sinai Hospital, Mount Sinai Queens, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Roosevelt and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, in addition to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The event was hosted by Mount Sinai trustees Marc Lipschultz and Steve Hochberg and their wives Jennifer and Hillary Lane, respectively, so you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that the event raised more than $3.7 million.
According to Peter W. May, chairman of the combined boards of trustees of the Mount Sinai Health System, “Our new, integrated health system doubles our former size and expands access to exceptional health care to millions of people throughout the greater New York metropolitan area and beyond.” Following his remarks were those of Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System, who stated, “We are now one of the largest and most sophisticated nonprofit health care systems in the country, which will enable us to always put medical and scientific innovation at the forefront of all that we do.” This is wonderful, but what I want to know is, do they take Obamacare?
There amongst the 1,000 or so attendees were Victor Franklin and my girl Carla Harris, who is a phenomenal woman. Not only is she a financial consultant extraordinaire, she is very involved with St. Charles Borromeo’s church choir, the Gospelites. Harris can preach, and she can sing. In fact, you haven’t heard anything until you hear her sing “No Cross, No Crown.” That’s right, “if you think you should always be up and never going to be down,” you can’t carry the cross, you can’t wear the crown. Can I get a witness?
The Church of the Intercession in all of its gothic splendor set the stage as the Harlem Opera Theater presented Benjamin Britten’s “The Burning Fiery Furnace,” directed by Michael Sisk. Well-known and much beloved fashion designer Stephen Burrows designed the costumes, while the special effects, including the fiery furnace, were expertly executed by Jessica Scott, from the studio of puppeteer Basil Twist. Part of the story unfolds with a selection performed by the three princes: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. You know them, right? The eight musicians, directed by Harlem Opera’s musical director, Gregory Hopkins, led the somber processions through the church, which began and ended the performance. Breathtaking!
You can look for the all African-American cast to perform all three one-hour operas of “Parables for Church Performance” in one program sometime in June. This will be the first time ever that an all African-American cast will perform such a feat in America. Bravo! Among the high rollers in the audience were Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower, Lloyd Williams and Louis LeBlanc, former first lady of the state of New York Michelle Paige Paterson with Deborah Bancroft, and Nicole Miller.
After the riveting performance, guests scurried down to Cecil’s. Jason D. Williams and his band had flown in from Memphis, Tenn., earlier in the day to play nonstop music until those on the dance floor cried uncle. Williams, in case you didn’t know, is Jerry Lee Lewis’ son. Lewis, in case you didn’t know (and I didn’t), was a rock ‘n’ roll singer-songwriter who composed “Great Balls of Fire.” And I thought Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind” was the one who coined that phrase. Lewis also composed “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” which I thought was Smokey Robinson’s song, as well as “Tutti Frutti,” which I most definitely thought belonged to Little Richard. Oh well.
Happy birthday, Malcom X. It all seems like yesterday when the Black activist and human rights advocate was telling us how to make it in America and be respected citizens of the world who are mindful of the needs of others, while building our own empire. Those were the days. Birthday wishes also go out to Kathy Sharpton, Carol Fields, Layna Trotman and Larry Coldwell.
For those deciding what to do with the kids this summer, there is a great summer science program offered to children ages 8-12 at BioBase. Latasha Wright, who heads up BioBase, has developed an engaging, interactive and fantastic curricula that really inspires curiosity and problem solving. As part of the program activities, students will work with and be mentored by scientists as they collect microscopic life-forms from the BioBase’s 4000-square-foot green roof, local community gardens and parks. With the help of the $80,000-plus university-grade microscopes, they will then use their data to create their own short film that explores these ecosystems.
Other activities include LEGO Technic and Mindstorm robot building that will teach students scientific concepts and teamwork while they use their imagination and creativity. Students will take home their own robots at the end of the program. Outdoor activities will also take place every day, weather permitting.
There are three one-week-long sessions beginning July 7-July 25, the last of which is “Girls in Science Week.” Campers may attend more than one session, but the curriculum for each session is similar. The day begins at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. There is one teacher for every three campers. And if this wasn’t enough, a healthy, freshly prepared lunch will be provided each day, in addition to snacks. BioBase is located in the brand-new, state-of-the-art Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York (402 E. Eighth St., third floor).
The cost is $575, plus a $100 materials fee per week. Need-based financial aid is available (apply for aid as part of regular camp enrollment form). To receive a 20 percent deposit, apply before May 31.
Until next week … kisses!