Soul Legend, Lenny Williams is Still Here
If you were to ask influential soul man Lenny Williams what makes the difference between those who stay in the game of life and those who are led astray, he’d probably answer, “Love”. While promoting his forthcoming new album, Still in the Game, Williams noted how love has motivated him to continue making music.
“The love I have for my wife; wanting to impress her, have her feel secure and the love she has for me makes me want to do things,” he says.
Those ‘things’ not only include releasing a new album. Williams is transferring the love he has into his community by developing programs to address youth issues. One of the most important projects he has undertaken involves promoting the creative arts, which is in alignment with the mission of the Harlem Arts Alliance.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear of cutbacks in music programs with the arts. So I work with Keep the Music Rockin’ Foundation. Sheila E. gave us $11,000, and $25,000 in brand new equipment,” he says. “Love is what inspires you to volunteer to do those things.”
When it comes to love, soul chanteuse Alice Smith sings about it with a palpable fiery passion. Before a sold out crowd at City Winery she debuted five new songs from her forthcoming untitled EP. Backed by just a drummer and keyboardist she commanded the stage with the sharpness and clarity of her voice, endearing stage presence and stirring songs such as “Cabaret,” “Dream,” “Be Easy,” and her cover of Cee-Lo’s “Fool for You,” which nearly bests the original. Watching Smith receive a standing ovation at the end of her set made one thing clear: She deserves a much larger platform. Granted she has only released one album in 2006, but if the music industry has any justice then Smith will soon reach even greater heights.
Several emerging filmmakers hoping to rise to the top of the film industry were presented at the 19th New York African Film Festival. Before a packed audience, Andy Amadi Okoroafor presented his film Relentless, starring recording artist Nneka. While the film left some in a state of confusion, others applauded it for its ability to present a different perspective of Africa. The latter view was held by the festival’s executive director and founder, Mahen Bonetti.
“In Africa, anyone under 25 has only known warfare and they have to start from scratch and that’s not a bad thing,” she states. “With this generation in films these are kids refashioning what it means to be African. The 21st century is ours for the taking and that is the homecoming.”
If creative Harlem-based and worldwide talent like Smith and Okoroafor want to truly make a lasting impact they should consider Williams’ approach, and stay in the game.
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This article is courtesy of our partner The Harlem Arts Alliance
The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment in Harlem and the greater NYC area.
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