Here we are, smack in the middle of February. It’s Valentine’s Day. The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus weekend in Albany is being held over Presidents Day weekend. Babyface is performing at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden Feb. 14, and it’s freezing cold.
It is with sadness and with joy for the celebration of life that I announce the passing of Mary E. Moultrie. “Mary,” as she was affectionately called, was 83 years old and passed away Jan. 31, with her family by her side at her home in Elmont, N.Y. Services, arranged by her sons Aaron Manley Jr., Cleveland “Kojack” Manley and James Tracey Moultrie, were held at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ on West 116th Street.
Born Sept. 11, 1931, in Charleston, S.C., Moultrie was the youngest and final survivor of seven siblings (Ben, William, Elijah, Maggie, Mazie and Rosalie). She moved to New York in 1953, where she worked at Chock Full o’Nuts on 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue, while earning her nurses aide degree. During family reflections at the funeral service, Aaron Manley, who is a deacon at Canaan, read a letter he had found among his mother’s things. The letter was written sometime in the early 1960s by a lady who patronized Chock Full o’Nuts every morning for breakfast and who always saw Moultrie. The lady was so taken by Moultrie’s kind spirit that she wrote to the president of Chock Full o’Nuts to say what a fine person Moultrie was, and that as long as Moultrie worked there, she would eat there. (Good branding.)
Cleveland Manley, who is head of security at Canaan, spoke of the tongue lashings followed by a good meal his mother would give him while he was growing up at 122nd Street and Manhattan Avenue. Most graciously, he asked the congregation to stand up and give his brother Aaron a round of applause for always being the one to take care of business. At the height of Cleveland Manley’s reflections, he comforted those gathered and reminded them, “God sets things in his place, in his time, where he wants us to be.”
And the people of the church said, “Amen.”
Reflections concluded with a poem by Alijah Manley. Scripture readings were performed by Pastor Francis Davis. The prayer of consolation was given by Deacon Leman McGree. Special music was performed by Canaan male and female choirs. Acknowledgment was given by Deacon Johnnie Davis. A solo was performed by Roberta Miles, who sang the hit gospel song by the Consolers, “May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me.” Only Mahalia Jackson could have sang it better. The Revs. Thomas D. Johnson and Francis David, presiding, gave the eulogy. Rest in peace.
The Kandrake Dance Theatre for Social Change is hosting “Get Lucky: A Friday the 13th Love Festival,” beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the WOW Cafe Theatre, 59-61 E. Fourth St. The first party of the year will have dancing, drumming, tarot card readings, a think tank and more. Visit www.facebook.com/events/937313279626870 for details.
People at the Kandrake are busy, as the new “1001 Nights: Love Stories on Death Row (A Rock Ballet)” promo video has been released. This sociopolitical work featuring folkloric and modern dance, music and storytelling is the story of a queen who is re-imagined as a prisoner on death row. Learn more by visiting http://igg.me/at/Love1001 and see if it’s your thing.
The middle of February also means that we are in the middle of Black History Month. To commemorate and celebrate, the Harlem School of the Arts’ 2015 “Professional Reading” series presents “Revival: Black Stage Works Revisited.” Curated by Paul Carter Harrison, the production explores four significant and underproduced works. The HSA Theatre Department has engaged notable professional actors and directors to present the works to the public. The series runs through March 23 and features “The River Niger” by Joseph A. Walker, directed by Douglas Turner Ward; “Mingus Takes (3),” by Aishah Rahman, directed by Talvin Wilks; “Les Blancs,” by Lorraine Hansberry, directed by Kym Moore; and “Goree Crossing,” by Paul Carter Harrison, directed by Paul Carter Harrison. All readings begin at 7 p.m. followed by a Q&A session with the artists and a light wine and cheese reception. The suggested donation is $10. Shows take place at 647 St. Nicholas Ave. at 141st Street. Visit www.hsanyc.org for more information.
Just to show that we’re not all about the bass, the Museum of Modern Art hosts family films Feb. 21, at 11 W. 53rd St. The featured film is “I Wish.” What do you wish for? Share your dreams big and small with “I Wish” a program of short films from around the world, featuring old favorites such as “Whistle for Willie” by Mal Wittman, based on the book by Ezra Jack Keats. Recommended for kids ages 4 and up. There are many interesting events held at MOMA, so check out www.moma.org for a complete listing.
The Playground Partners of the Women’s Committee hosted its second annual Playground Partners Winter Luncheon at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, with more than 250 guests in attendance. The event began with a festive reception followed by a luncheon, which included a special conversation between designers and New York City mothers Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard and their good friend Alina Cho, former CNN journalist and editor at large for Ballantine Bantam Dell. If you want to know what they talked about, well, you don’t really care what they talked about, just know that the event raised funds for the preservation, care and daily inspection of Central Park’s 21 Playgrounds, and for this we say, amen.
It was the perfect time to head down to warmer territory as more than 200 guests recently did to attend the sixth annual Heart & Soul Gala. Held in the Circle Ball Room at the Breaker’s in Palm Beach, Fla., it was a thrilling evening of dinner, dance and music hosted by actor and singer Gianni Russo, who made his bones with two of the “Godfather” movies. The evening paid tribute to two leaders in the world of dance, Dorothy Lappin, president of the Dreyfoos School of the Arts Foundation, and Jan Hanniford, the dean of dance at the Dreyfoos School. Presenters were last year’s honorees, Ellis J. Parker III and Steven Caras. A beautiful pas de deux was performed by two very talented young performers from the Dreyfoos School of Dance.
The live auction was another highlight of the evening and featured such one-of-a kind experiences and luxury items as tickets for two to attend to CTFD 30th anniversary Pearl Jubilee in New York City for dinner, a performance and a bow on stage with the stars; a two-night stay at the Baccarat Hotel in New York City; two elegant evening gowns by acclaimed designer Carmen Marc Valvo; a Sonia B. 14-karat yellow gold and diamond bracelet; two days at an historic Normandy chateau; and naming of CTFD educational scholarships. The auction helped bring the evening raise more than $157,000.
According to Anka Palitz, arts patron, board member and supporter for Career Transition for Dancers, “I started this annual event to bring awareness of the brevity of a professional dancer’s career. The average age of retirement is 34. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, Career Transition for Dancers is the safety net for all dancers. To date, more than $11 million has been awarded for vital one-on-one career counseling plus scholarships and grants for higher education, entrepreneurial endeavors and certification programs. In Florida alone, we’ve aided 116 dancers.”
Still in the middle of February, you have until Feb. 28 to get to “Dali: The Golden Years,” at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park S. Featured is a rare collection of work from Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The exhibition presents 65 pieces, most if not all of which are on loan from private collectors. Lining the walls of the gallery are the early drawings and prints that make up three full collections, including “The Les Chants Maldoror” (1934), “12 Tribes of Israel” (1971) and “Memories of Surrealism” (1973), each marking a major graphic series in Dali’s career. Perhaps the piece de resistance of the collection is an iconic photo of the artist himself by Anton Perich.
Until next week … kisses