Film tells you what 'Black' is
,6. Cinema in honor of MIK Day. Acclaimed director Marion Riggs' last
:': film, "Black is Blaygk Aint xplores the African American cultural
ii~~ ~ ~ eperience. It is payng toighitt the Michigan Theater at 9:1.
January 16, 1996
Amazing Boys Choir
By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
When they first marched on stage 41-
strong and wearing matching gray trou-
sers, blue blazers and red bow ties, they
could have just as easily been models
sporting the newest line of Catholic.
School uniforms or Nation of Islam
A egates to a bean-pie sellers conven-
ion. Here was a bunch of "boys" aged
eight to 18 (joined by a handful of older,
miembers) who were to perform some
cute songs, or something like that, like
good little angelic boys do.
"They may look like angels," Walter
J: Turnbull, founder and director of this
all-male choir, proclaimed to a packed
Hill Auditorium crowd. "But believe
me, they ain't."
hile these guys may be no Cher-
ubs, they nevertheless form one of the
most amazing musical groups to ever
grace a University stage. While many
The Boys Choir
Jan. 14, 1996
have at least heard of The Boys Choir of
Harlem, far too few are familiar with
just how much of a delight a Boys Choir
production is. Thanks to Sunday's two-
hour performance, scores ofpeoplehave
gained that insight.
No one in their right mind would
attend a concert expecting to encounter
a child whose age was, until fairly re-
mntly, only one-digit long, performing
ulous solo repertoires written by
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But that's
exactly what 12-year-old Choir mem-
ber Daniel "Big Cheeks" Lane socked
the crowd with. His flawless vocal pro-
jections of selections from "Vesperae
Solennes De Confessore" made more
than one jaw to drop to the floor in utter
At 12 most of us were still trying to
learn the complexities of adding frac-
tions with different denominators, and
here's a kid performing concertos in
The beauty of the Boys Choir mem-
bers is that they are not limited in the
musical genres they perform. The Hill
Auditorium audience saw this when the
choir switched from Mozart to spiritu-
als inspired by the songs of African
slaves. These hymns were sung a
capella, and they were a capella in the
greatest sense of the word.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Billings,
the lead singer for "Every Time I Feel
the Spirit," did an outstanding job. The
choir's vocal fading into and out of the
overall vocal tapestry weaved in "Elijah
Rock" was a true delight. In"I'm Gonna
Sing" the Boys Choir members did a
first-ratejob of melding their different-
toned voices .into a single, multi-fac-
eted instrument of unspeakable power.
Following the intermission, the
"boys" returned, now decked in
matching black slacks, and burgundy
blazers and ties. They performed a
more modernized program beginning
with selections from George
Gershwin. As they sang such memo-
rable titles as "I've Got Rhythm" and
"It Ain't Necessarily So," the choir
members also dazzled the audience
with a great deal of choreographic
movements and skits, which greatly
complemented and enhanced their al-
ready outstanding vocal talents.
The choreography continued as the
Boys Choir began the program's jazz
portion. They danced every movement
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that African American grandmothers
and grandfathers could do before they
became parents - like the zoot-suit
walk, the skat and the lindy hop -
while singing such well-known jazz
tunes as "Take the 'A' Train" and "It
Don't Mean a Thing."
The "Pride and Hope" portion of the
program included two African songs,
"Liya Zula" and "Byede Mandela," both
song in Swahili and both featuring vi-
sions of Africa with the Boys Choir's
traditional, African dance choreogra-
phy. Beginning with the line "Black
boys are born of heroes," the choir's
performance of "We are Heroes" was
an inspirational reminder of the over-
whelmingly positive impact many black
men have made, and continue to make,
in this nation.
Yet the struggle black men have be-
fore them, both within the African
American community and the United
States at large is far from over. Chore-
ographer, and Boys Choir alumnus
Terrance Wright lamented that "people
across this land ... don't understand a
black man" in his lead performance of
the slowly sung "Rough Crossing."
The emotion that flowed through the
room when "Amazing Grace" was sung
is indescribable. This was truly one of
the best songs of the evening; the Boys
Choir of Harlem deserved the standing
ovation they received after performing
this well-known song.
The final Boys Choir songs included
the high-powered, contemporary
"Power." Fast-paced singing and danc-
ing brought the house down. Equally
exciting was the group's final selec-
tion, Kool & the Gang's "Celebration."
These kids were having unadulturated
fun on stage. I've never seen so many
kids able to do the tootsie roll better
than I, and I've never seen so many
older people in the audience making
fools of themselves trying to imitate
gyrations that were much to "young"
The Boys Choir of Harlem concert
ushered in the 1996 MLK Day festivi-
ties in the grandest of ways. Putting on
a concert which spanned music's world-
wide history, the Boys Choir of Harlem
members proved themselves to be
among the most musically disciplined
and gifted singers one could ever hope
to find. It was a heartfeltjoy to see these
boys and young men putting all of their
energy into such a positive and enjoy-
able project. This concert made Sun-
day, Jan. 14, 1996, a day many will not
forget for quite some time.
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Cage's 'Las X
By Kate Brady
Daily Arts Writer
"Leaving Las Vegas" is the story of a
lstitute's life. It is also a terribly
realistic look at an alcoholic on his way
down. More than anything else, how-
ever, it is a love story.
Nicolas Cage plays Ben Sanderson, a
flamboyant alcoholic who moves to
Las Vegas in order to drink himself to
death. The camera never shows him
without a drink in his hand. When he
meets Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue,
Sis already determined to off himself
this slow, methodical fashion. He
hires her for sex one night, but instead
they spend the evening talking and
drinking. After Sera eventually brings
Ben home to live with her, these two
lonely souls fall in love.
This is not a typical romance movie.
If it were, she would help him see a
reason to keep on living. Sera would be
egas' leaves little room for comparison
Directed by Mike Figgis
with Nicolas Cage and
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2
great freedom, which is their greatest
show of love. To continue to allow each
other the freedom necessary for real
love, they each must make sacrifices
for the other's sake. The love they find
together is powerful, even in its knowl-
edge of its own brevity and impending
Cage does a remarkable job with his
role as a perpetual drunk. His rages and
withdrawal are very believable, but his
character did not have much dimen-
sion. Thankfully, Cage does provide
the movie's only comic relief, and this
rare escape from the film's darkness are
Although Cage gets top billing, the
story really belongs to Shue's Sera. It is
she who narrates the movie and holds
his crumbling world together. Sera is
the more interesting character. She flows
between the two worlds that she inhab-
its; by night she is the prostitute who
Ben's salvation. That does not happen
here, because this is not a fairy-tale
world. She does not change him and
pull him up from the hole he is in. In this
world, love does not conquer all. For it
to be otherwise would seem like a sell-
The focus is on the love between
these two members of society's fringes,
and the acceptance they have of each
other's lifestyles. They allow each other
can fill any man's fantasy, and by day
she is the lonely women who returns
home alone. Shue's performance is in-
This movie also has a surprisingly
high caliberof talent in its smaller parts.
Julian Sands appears as Sera's abusive
pimp. Richard Lewis is seen on screen
for under five minutes as a sleazy Hol-
lywood producer, a former associate of
"Leaving Las Vegas" is also very
visually interesting, complete with
many strange camera angles. Some-
times the screen shows only half a face
or someone's torso. The camera also
highlights appropriate signs in the city
that relate to the action.
"Leaving Las Vegas" is a powerful
and unusual love story. Somehow this
unique tale manages to a deeper under-
standing, one that everyone will recog-
nize as real.
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Waiting to Exhale Soundtrack
While the movie has rightly garnered
Yvery mixed reviews ("Not as good as
the book," they al l say), the "Waiting to
Exhale" soundtrack is a thumbs-up,
must-buy release. With 16 cuts per-
frmdby 15 of the most well-known
lack, female vocalists - both old-
'hool and new - and produced by
"Babyface, a man infamous for kissing
up to women, the "Waiting to Exhale"
soundtrack is sure to garner more than
Its fair share of black, female dollars.
iBut this soundtrack is no feminist,
male-bashing release. The music it o-
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Panelists will talk about hidden forms of bias
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with featured speakers:
James S. Jackson, Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology
and Professor of Health Management & Policy
Robert Chrisman, Lecturer in English and in Afroamerican
and African Studies, and editor/publisher of The Black Scholar