NJPAC will host an eclectic celebration of Kwanzaa featuring performances and artisan markets this weekend

holiday cardThe New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) has announced the schedule for their 2015 Kwanzaa celebration, featuring a day of free activities and family-oriented performances on Saturday, December 19 from noon to 5:00 pm. The celebration looks to honor the rich and vibrant heritage of Newark’s African-American community.

The festivities will include a variety of programming that honor the African diaspora’s traditions of family, community and culture, including an array of no-experience-necessary workshops exploring African dance and music, storytelling, jewelry making, drumming and more for both adults and children. An Arts and Crafts Village will be open all day, and the Artisan Marketplace will offer one-shop shopping for holiday gifts.

NJPAC will also present a lively line-up of performances from talented area youths singing seasonal classics, marches, and gospel, including appearances by The NJPAC Youth Chorus, The NYC Marching Cobras, The Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts Middle School Concert Choir and The National Liturgical Dance Network.

Other highlights of NJPAC’s Kwanzaa festivities will include their annual Tribute to the Elders, honoring three pillars of the Newark community: Earl “Street Doctor” Best, founder of Street Warriors Inc.; Deborah Smith Gregory, retired Newark Public School teacher and NAACP Newark Chapter President; and Stanley Terrell, former Star-Ledger editor, author and journalist.

The day will also feature two performances at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in NJPAC’s Victoria Theatre from the acclaimed Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, joined by their special guest, the acclaimed poet and author Sonia Sanchez.

“Kwanzaa is an African-American tradition that focuses on family, so we are understandably excited to be able to invite you and your family to join us at NJPAC for a Kwanzaa Celebration that serves as part of Newark’s 350th Anniversary Celebration,” said Junius Williams, chair of Newark Celebration 350 and the director of the Abbott Leadership Institute at Rutgers University.

Schedule of Events

Artisan Marketplace
Friday, December 18
Saturday, December 19 – 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Sunday, December 20 – Noon to 10:00 pm / 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Prudential Hall Lobby

Kwanzaa Children’s Festival
Saturday, December 19 – Noon to 5:00 pm
At NJPAC’s Center for Arts Education (24 Rector Street in Newark)

FREE Performances in Prudential Hall Lobby

12:15 pm – 12:45 pm: NJPAC Youth Chorus led by NJPAC Faculty, Pastor Chantel Wright

1:15 pm – 1:45 pm: NYC Marching Cobras led by Director Terrel J. Stowers

2:15 pm – 2:45 pm: Folilaye African Drum & Dance Company; Foluso Mimy, Artistic Director

3:15 pm – 3:45 pm: Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts Middle School Concert Choir directed by Jean James

4:15 pm – 4:45 pm: National Liturgical Dance Network

Forces of Nature Dance Theatre: Kwanzaa Celebration with special guest, poet Sonia Sanchez

2:00 PM & 7:30 PM in NJPAC’s Victoria Theatre

Celebrate Kwanzaa with this daringly theatrical company, which combines the element of modern dance, traditional West African dance, ballet, hip-hop, and even martial arts. Visually inventive and creatively brilliant, the multi-ethnic dancers and drummers of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre perform one-on-a-kind programs that are “sizzling…nothing short of sensational, “ says The Washington Post. For tickets: call 888.GO.NJPAC(888.466.5722); online at njpac.org; or in person at the NJPAC ticket office.


Honor Academy Award winning Newark composers Jerome Kern and Ralph Rainger at a History Society event this month

Celebrate the golden age of film and the beautiful scores that came out of Newark long ago at the Newark History Society’s new program “Music in Early 20th Century Newark: The Rise of Jerome Kern and Ralph Rainger, Newark’s Academy Award Winning Composers,”  on November 16.

At the dawn of the 1900s, Newark had a thriving arts scene that produced two of America’s greatest composers in the first half of the century, Jerome Kern and Ralph Rainger. The program will discuss and celebrate the work of these men.

Both men won Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Kern won in 1936 for “The Way You Look Tonight” from the film “Swing Time,” and in 1941 for “The Last Time I Saw Paris” from the film “Lady Be Good.” Rainger won in 1939 for “Thanks for the Memory” from the film “The Big Broadcast.”

The program will be hosted by Guy Sterling, author of The Famous, the Familiar and the Forgotten: 350 Notable Newarkers. Sterling is also a former reporter from the Star-Ledger, where he wrote about musical history in and around Newark. In 2007, he won the ASCAP Deems Taylor award, the most prestigious honor in music writing.

The event is free to the public, and will include light refreshments. The program will take place at 6 p.m. at the historical society located at 52 Park Place in Newark.

Interested attendees are encouraged to RSVP by emailing NewarkHistorySociety@verizon.net or by calling 973-376-8273.

Featured image courtesy of the Newark History Society

Meet the Ironbound: What to expect from a free tour of a renowned Newark neighborhood (besides ice cream and baked treats)

things to do cardWouldn’t it be nice to take a mid-autumn day trip that requires minimal transportation, top-notch food, and fun new acquaintances you’ll have a decent chance of running into again?

This coming Saturday, November 7th, Newark residents and visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy such an experience when Ironbound resident Antonio Valla, an urban planner by day, leads a walking tour through his home neighborhood. The free tour (which requires an Eventbrite registration), one of a series produced by Have You Met Newark?, which has run walking tours in Newark for several years now, will emphasize the neighborhood’s food, culture, and history, and is designed to pique the interest both of newcomers and visitors and of residents who have called the neighborhood home for years. I asked Valla what participants can expect from the jaunt around one of the city’s most renowned neighborhoods.

Andaiye Taylor: What motivated you to create an Ironbound walking tour?

Antonio Valla: At Have You Met Newark? we are always looking for new offerings to celebrate, explore and share Newark’s historic past, exciting present and promising future. We added the Ironbound tour due to popular demand. (We also do tours of Downtown, Lincoln Park and are working on adding additional neighborhoods to the rotation). The Ironbound is a neighborhood that people from all around the region are familiar with. Maybe they’ve been to a great restaurant or seen live music here. We try to get the tour participants off of the main streets and get a feel for the texture and culture of the neighborhood.

Antonio Valla

Antonio Valla and a tour participant clutch boxes from Teixeira bakery during an Ironbound walking tour.

Taylor: How did you come to learn so much about the neighborhood?

Newark is amazing — and the Ironbound is no different — because so much of its history is contained in the hearts and minds of its residents. Most of what I’ve learned comes from asking questions of people who have grown up here and who love to call this neighborhood home.


Taylor: What have been the highlights of your previous Ironbound tours?

On all of our tours we like to go “behind the scenes” to give you a look at Newark’s hidden gems – buildings and spaces that maybe you wouldn’t or couldn’t find on your own.

On this tour we go inside Sport Club Português and inside St. Casimir’s amazing beautiful church building. We also check out the new Riverfront Park on the Passaic River, which is spectacular and so new that many Newark residents themselves haven’t been to see it.


Taylor: Have you ever learned anything from your groups that you’ve incorporated into the tour? If so, what?

That’s one of the things that’s so fun about the tours. We’ve had many people born and raised in Newark who come and share their own experiences, memories and perspectives. It’s so valuable to the other participants on the tour who may be new to the area or experiencing Newark for the first time. My favorite groups are young people from Newark — we do a lot of tours with schools — who bring a fresh perspective on things I might overlook.


Taylor: The Ironbound is known for food. Is there eating involved?

Yes! On this tour we feature Portuguese pastries from Texeira Bakery and ice cream from Nasto’s. For serious foodies, we recently launched food tours under the brand “Nom Nom Newark” and there is an Ironbound tour in the works.  So please follow our Facebook page to hear more about upcoming dates.


Taylor: What’s in it for people who already live, work, or play in the Ironbound?

Whether you’re a first time visitor to Newark or a lifelong resident this tour will take you to unique and interesting places and start conversations. Maybe you know the Ironbound’s cuisine, but do you know about the neighborhood’s long struggle for environmental justice? We try to feature guest speakers as well who speak directly about what they know best.

For more Newark walking tours, follow Have You Met Newark? on Facebook. The team behind the tours also organize food tours via Nom Nom Newark, which hosted its first event in early October.

At Mount Pleasant Cemetery, tours and trick-or-treating on Halloween

This Saturday, October 31, 2015 historic Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Broadway in Newark will give both residents and visitors to the city an opportunity to celebrate Halloween with candy, trick-or-treating, and a chance to explore some of Newark’s most hallowed history. The cemetery is the site where many of Newark’s best known residents are buried.

Names like Edison, Halsey, Clinton, Ballantine, McCarter and Ward will be brought to life as volunteers recreate memories of the most prominent citizens from Newark’s past. Here are buried Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Attorney General of New Jersey during the Civil War and later a U. S. Senator and Secretary of State; John F. Dryden, founder of Prudential Insurance Company; Samuel A. Ward, composer of the music for America, the Beautiful; and Peter Ballantine, founder of Ballantine Brewery.

The event organizers invite visitors to come dressed in their best Halloween costumes and take guided tours – or wander alone – through the cemetery. Candy and treats will be free to all comers, and can catch a glimpse behind the façade of one of Newark’s best kept secrets.

The event will kick off at 2:00 p.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, and members of local historic associations and groups will be on hand to share a bit of history about Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors will have the chance to view everything from simple graves to elaborate mausoleums designed in architectural styles ranging from Romanesque and Egyptian-Revival to Baroque, Victorian and Art Deco.

The rain date for this event is November 8. This event is being sponsored by the Landmarks & Preservations Committee in cooperation with the Mount Pleasant Cemetery Association; the Newark Arts Council; City of Newark and the Municipal Council; the County of Essex, Joseph D. Vicenzo, County Executive; and Newark Public Schools.

Pictured above: The tomb of New York Mayor George Opdyke, Mount Pleasant Cemetery, 375 Broadway Street, Newark, New Jersey. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NJ,7-NEARK,37-C-1. Used via Creative Commons license.

Golden era hop-hop lineup will take the stage at NJPAC for ‘Masters of Ceremony’ concert

entertainment cardLater this fall, a lineup of six hip-hop acts who saw the height of their popularity during the 90s, but have pushed their relevance and influence into the present day, will take the stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for Masters of Ceremony, a rap concert that will see its second staging this year.

The lineup has almost completely flipped versus the previous show, which took place this past April. That show featured Mobb Deep, Rakim, EPMD, DMX, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, and Kid Capri. The upcoming November 25th show will again star Rakim, and will also feature KRS-ONE, The Lox, Ja Rule, Lords of the Underground and Black Moon.

Tickets range from $54.50 to $104.50 and are on sale now at Ticketmaster.

Support HIV/AIDS awareness at La Casa de Don Pedro’s talent show

Local performers can showcase their talent for a cause, at La Casa de Don Pedro’s talent show to benefit AIDS awareness this weekend.

The talent show will take place on Saturday, October 17 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robert Treat Hotel, located at 50 Park Place in Newark.

The event is meant to raise awareness about the severity of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community, as part of National Latino AIDS Awareness Month.

Talent show performers will battle it out for a $1,000 cash prize. The event will also include free raffles, food, information tables and health screenings for guests.

The judges of the acts include Emi Antonio, a Dominican singer; Amanda Erazo, also known as the Ecuadorian singer La Negrita Chavelona; and Ariagna Perello, owner of a modeling agency in Newark.

The event is free and open to the public. It is made possible by a number of local sponsors, and Sent from my iPhone

Many are expected to attend the talent show, as last year’s event had more than 500 in attendance, according to La Casa de Don Pedro. For more information on the event contact La Casa de Don Pedro at 973.624.4222.

La Casa de Don Pedro is a community-based organization in Newark that provides comprehensive services and provider of comprehensive services for residents.  Their programs include child advocacy, family well-being, educational and employment opportunities, and self-suffiency programs. For more information you can visit www.lacasanwk.org.

Featured image courtesy of La Casa de Don Pedro

Celebrate black women in the media at the 2nd Annual Black Women Trailblazers in Media gala

things to do cardAll are welcome to an evening of celebration and discussion of black women in the media field at the 2nd Annual Black Women Trailblazers in Media Gala, on October 23. The event, hosted by OMG Enterprise, will feature cocktail networking sessions, an award ceremony, and media personality panel and question-and-answer session.

Makeba Green, a 21-year old student, author, and media entrepreneur, will host the evening. The media gala is a fundraiser for OMG Enterprise’s annual scholarship for high school seniors and college students. According to OMG a portion of the funds raised will also be donated to a self-care organization in memory a friend of Green’s, who took her own life.

The keynote speaker will be Sakina Spruell Cole, a business journalist and the CEO of Cole Media Inc. Cole has previously been a senior editor at Black Enterprise Magazine, a producer on CNBC’s Suze Orman show, and was a communications director here in Newark. Panel speakers include media personalities and leaders Shannon Lanier, Christian Wright, Shanna Van Ness, Victoria Washington, Sherri Jones and Taneshia Nash Laird.

Award ceremony honorees include Staci Hallmon-Bazzani, national sponsorship director of Essence Magazine; Stacy Tisdale, senior personal finance editor at Black Enterprise; public relations executive Candice Nicole; Patrice Harrison, founder of Ambassador United; and Marjorie Harris, press secretary for the office of Mayor Ras Baraka.

The gala will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 50 Branford Place in Newark. Tickets are offered at varying prices and can be purchased online. General admission is $100, non-profit admission is $30, college student admission is $25 with a valid student identification, and VIP admission is $200.

Featured image courtesy of OMG Enterprise

Pumpkin Recipe Contest highlights upcoming Fall Block Party Celebration in Newark

Greater Newark Conservancy is looking for Newark’s best pumpkin recipe. Entries will be judged at the Conservancy’s annual Fall Block Party on Saturday, October 17th from 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. at the Judith L. Shipley Urban Environmental Center, 32 Prince Street in Newark between Springfield Avenue and South Orange Avenue.

All contest participants must register at the Conservancy’s outdoor learning center on Prince Street. You must fill out a recipe card provided at the time of registration, including all ingredients and steps, and present the card to the judges along with your pumpkin dish at the event.

Bring your pumpkin dish and recipe card to the Fall Block Party by noon. No late entries will be accepted. All entries, both savory and sweet, will be tasted and judged in different categories including a People’s Choice Award. The free pumpkins and registrations are limited and available on a first-come, first-service basis.

In addition to the pumpkin recipe contest, the family-friendly Fall Block Party will feature informative gardening and cooking demonstrations, crafts and activities for kids, a plant sale, local vendors and non-profits, and the Conservancy’s Youth Farm Stand featuring fresh, locally grown produce.

The Conservancy will also be represented at the Newark Celebration 350 event at Military Park on October 17th, participating in the Peace Parade and providing fresh, locally-grown produce for sale at a Youth Farm Stand.


Founded in 1987, Greater Newark Conservancy’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities through environmental education, community gardening and urban farming, beautification of neighborhoods, job training opportunities and environmental justice.

For more information about the Pumpkin Recipe Contest, contact Nutrition Coordinator Megan Sweet at 973-642-4646, ext. 14. For more information on the Fall Block Party or other Conservancy programs and services, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, contact Greater Newark Conservancy at 973-642-4646 or visit CityBloom.org.

You can also follow news from the Conservancy through social media at Facebook.com/GreaterNewarkConservancy plus Twitter and Instagram – @Citybloom87.

Official parties announced for this weekend’s Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival

things to do cardThe 14th annual Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival kicks off this weekend, and the thousands of expected visitors who will take in dozens of art exhibits by scores of participating artists can also look forward to the three official parties that will commemorate the yearly event.

Branding and marketing company The Honors Program, which produced a well-attended and highly rated live music festival at Military Park this summer, is again bringing a roster of critically acclaimed artists from a wide variety of genres to provide entertainment in Newark, this time at the Open Doors parties.

On Thursday, October 15th, the festival will officially kickoff with a benefit party at Skylab rooftop lounge (810 Broad Street). The party will feature sets by The Twilight Tone, Mr. Reed, Alpenglow, and DJ P-Soul. Proceeds for the event, which costs $40 per ticket (available on Eventbrite), will be donated to the Newark Arts Council’s education and community programs, and guests will also receive free wristbands valued at $10 that entitle them to exclusive deals during the run of the festival.

Then on Friday, October 16th, the Open Doors Gallery Crawl will be followed by a party at Index Art Center (237 Washington Street). Organizers suggest a $5 donation at the door, and entertainment will be provided by soul/electro musician Suzi Analogue, synth/pop band Salt Cathedral, poet Boshia Rae-Jean, DJ Dana Lu, and dance duo Fever High.

The festival will wrap on Sunday, October 18th with a closing party at 765 Street (intersection at Broad and Bank Streets). The free party will include performances by DJ Slink, rappers Dougie F and Cash the Deadman, and indie rock band Terrible Terrible. Food and drinks will also be served at the closing party.

Download the Newark Arts Council’s festival app from your mobile device using URL http://my.yapp.us/OPENDOORS.


Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival to hit Newark this October with more than 50 events

things to do cardMore than 6,000 people are expected to turn out to the Newark Arts Council’s Open Doors Citywide Arts Festival 2015 this month. From October 15th through the 18th, art enthusiasts will enjoy a gallery crawl, weekend studio tours, parties and a parade across more than 40 venues throughout the city.

Attendees are encouraged to purchase an Open Doors wristband for $10. The wristband enters you to win a hotel stay, Jazz Festival tickets, and a Newark Museum membership. It also gives wearers discounts at local Newark businesses to promote exploration and support of the city’s offerings. Wristband wearers will also be given priority admission to the Gallery Crawl after party at the Index Art Center on Friday night.

The weekend festivities will start early on Thursday, October 15 with the Open Doors Rooftop Party. The benefit event will take place at the Hotel Indigo at 810 Broad St. in Newark.

The party will support the Newark Arts Council’s arts education and community programs. Tickets are $40 and attendees will receive an Open Doors festival wristband.

On Friday, October 16 the festival will feature a Gallery Crawl throughout Newark to spotlight local art. The event will be followed by an after party at the Index Art Center, located at 237 Washington St. in Newark. The party will feature live performances from artists of many genres. It will run from 9 p.m. to midnight, and there is a $5 suggested donation at the door for admission.

The larger Newark community will come out together on Saturday, October 17, to celebrate the opening event of Newark’s 350th anniversary. The festival will kick off the celebration with their 8th Annual Creation Nation Art and Peace Parade, featuring a procession of “Animodule sculptures.”

The sculptures are the works of thousands of Newark children and youth. The parade is part of a free day of family friendly events in Military Park that will run from 11 a.m to 5 p.m.

After a jam-packed weekend, the Open Doors festival will conclude with a free official closing party. The event will be held at 765 Broad St. in Newark from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and feature food, drinks, DJs and live music from local emerging artists.

Festival goes should also download the festival app to unlock promos, prices and other added features athttp://my.yapp.us/opendoors.

Wristbands and tickets for events can be purchased at http://newarkarts.org.

Featured image courtesy of the Newark Arts Council.