By Andrea Chase
In conversation after a watch party for A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-subject and co-director (with Ben Proudfoot) Kris Bowers said that part of the reason he wanted to make the film was because the Emmy™-winning composer thought his grandfather, Horace Bowers, Sr., was a hero. A hero who should be celebrated. He also wanted to have an in-depth conversation with him while the 91-year-old was still with us. The result is a tender and intimate portrait of strength, joy, and how family shapes us.
By Kim Nalley
A 1938 portrait, when she appeared at Cafe Society in NYC with a swatch of gardenias in hair hairstyle, which from then on became her trademark. (Photo by George Rinhart)
Billie Holiday. Her name is eponymous with the phrase “jazz singer.” There is no jazz figure so well-known, yet shrouded in mystery, as Lady Day. Many important details of her life and her musical genius have been overshadowed by a lurid interest in her love life and drug use. Recently some articles based on faulty interviews emphasize her persecution in Hoover’s war on drugs without realizing this was a fact of life for all African American jazz musicians. I do not see the same attention given to Miles Davis’s or Charlie Parker’s drug use or their abusive relationships. Davis’s and Parker’s “women” are not given a megaphone to comment on them, and I never have seen their musical genius attributed to drug use. I sometimes see the hardships of being a Black man highlighted but I do not see the same courtesy given to Miss Holiday.
By Dick Fregulia
When asked to review the new Billie Holiday documentary “Billie, ” my first concern was whether it would play as a Hollywood melodrama or as a true musical testimony to the jazz vocalist legend. My preference was for the latter, but the film actually achieves an impressive balance between the gritty details of her life and the beauty of her singing.
A collection of Billie Holiday photos, posters, album covers, and videos plus a selection of Kim Nalley performances of Billie’s songs.
By C.J. Hirschfield
When the feature documentary Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives was released in 1977, it rocked my world. I already loved documentaries, but this one–widely considered to be the first feature film about lesbian and gay identity–by gay people, quickly became a symbol of the emerging gay rights movement. I was living in glorious San Francisco at the time, where the film premiered at the Castro Theater. Directed by six people collectively known as the Mariposa Group, it took five years, and over two hundred interviews with gays, to complete the historic project.
BY C.J. Hirschfield
About my home town of Oakland, a recent Washington Post article wrote: “Protesters want to defund the police. Homicides and violence are spiking. In Oakland, ideology and practicality collide.”
It was a wonderful juxtaposition shortly thereafter to watch the excellent new documentary Alice Street, which shows Oakland at its multicultural, peaceful, protesting best.