Harlem Stage in New York Director Simone Eccleston Named Kennedy Center’s 1st Director of Hip-Hop Culture 

Simone Eccleston (photo via nbcwashington.com)

article by Jordan Murray via nbcwashington.com

The Kennedy Center announced their first director of hip-hop culture and contemporary music Wednesday. Simone Eccleston, currently the director of programming at Harlem Stage in New York, will assume the role March 13. Eccleston’s new role will include leading a center-wide commitment to hip-hop culture and contemporary music, which includes R&B, soul, folk and roots, indie, world music and Latin music, according to a release.

Eccleston will also work as a partner with other areas of the Kennedy Center to highlight the collaborative nature of hip-hop music. The program will also aim to increase opportunities for community involvement and participation. Hip-hop is based on five core elements — deejaying, emceeing, break-dancing, graffiti writing and knowledge of self — the Kennedy Center said, all of which build and transform communities through art and action.

“With the Kennedy Center serving as the preeminent home for our nation’s arts and culture, the creation of a programmatic platform for hip-hop culture is deeply significant,” Eccleston said in a statement. She also said hip-hop culture has influenced and contributed to every aspect of American society and helps drive innovation and creative expressions across many different disciplines. “It is also an important catalyst for community building, activism and empowerment.”

Kennedy Center Senior Vice President Robert van Leer said the nature of hip-hop culture can create collaborations with the dance, theater, music and education programs. “We are thrilled to have an arts administrator of Simone’s caliber join us — someone who can lead that exploration of what hip-hop at the Kennedy Center can become in the coming years,” van Leer said in a statement. “And we believe it is the Center’s responsibility to develop and elevate thought-leaders like Simone to champion the bright future of our nation’s cultural institutions.”

Last March, the center appointed MC, rapper and record producer Q-Tip as its first artistic director for hip-hop culture.

To read full article, go to: Kennedy Center Names First Director of Hip-Hop Culture | NBC4 Washington

Q-Tip Named Kennedy Center’s 1st Artistic Director of Hip-Hop

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

Q-Tip (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Maeve McDermott via usatoday.com

Before last year, Kennedy Center hosting hip hop shows seemed like an unlikely prospect.

But after hosting Kendrick Lamar’s sold-out performance with the National Symphony Orchestra last year, the center’s 2016 season includes its first hip hop culture series, bringing on rapper and producer Q-Tip as their first artistic director of hip hop.

The social justice-oriented rapper is best known as a founding member of the seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, and has worked with many of music’s biggest names, including Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, the Beastie Boys, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Pharrell Williams.

The Kennedy Center, which celebrates John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday this year, announced details of six events celebrating different facets of hip hop culture, including a poetry slam, a teach-in and a dance competition. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and soprano Renee Fleming were also appointed at-large artistic advisers for the 2016-2017 season, according to the AP.

“This new programmatic platform recognizes Hip Hop’s contributions to global culture and its role in promoting values such as courage, freedom, justice, and service,” the center announced in a release.

To read more, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2016/03/08/q-tip-named-kennedy-center-first-hip-hop-director/81485882/

Kendrick Lamar Will Perform ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ Songs At the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar (photo via theurbandaily.com)

A live band rendition of To Pimp A Butterfly is in high demand, and you’d have to look no further than Kendrick Lamar‘s performances on Stephen Colbert‘s shows to know why.

Lamar has been performing cuts live with a backing track, but that changes for one day later in October. The star will perform To Pimp A Butterfly songs with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center on October 20, according to the Washington Post. Nas performed with the orchestra last year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Illmatic.

article by bjosephsny via theurbandaily.com

Obama Names ‘Scandal’ Creator Shonda Rhimes To Kennedy Center Board

The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts is about to get a taste of some Olivia Pope – kind of.  On the day of the Season 10 debut of Grey’s Anatomy, President Barack Obama today used some of his patronage power and appointed Shonda Rhimes, the creator/EP of the medical drama and Scandal, to the Center’s Board of Trustees. Obama also appointed the Carlyle Group’s CEO David Rubenstein Empire Global Ventures’ CEO Alexandra Stanton, Chicago art gallery owner Amalia Pera Mahoney, FI Investment Group CEO Frank Islam and Entravision Communications’ CEO Walter Ulloa to the Board Thursday as well. “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead,” said Obama in a statement when making the announcements.

Rhimes was a big supporter of Obama’s campaigns for President as both a donor and even worked in a phone bank with Private Practice actress Kate Walsh for the candidate. Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres tonight on ABC with Season 3 of the D.C. political drama Scandal set to launch on October 3rd.

article by Dominic Patten via deadline.com

Kennedy Center to Host Hip Hop Festival in 2014

Rapper Nas attends Moet Rose Lounge Presents Nas' Life Is Good at Bagatelle on July 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Moet Rose)

Rapper Nas attends Moet Rose Lounge Presents Nas’ Life Is Good at Bagatelle on July 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Moet Rose)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hip-hop artists including rappers Nas and Somalia-born K’naan will take center stage in an unexpected place next year: as part of next season at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

The center announced Tuesday that its 2013-2014 season would include the weeklong festival “One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide.” It will also feature an international theater festival featuring works from at least 10 different nations and new American works in theater, opera and music.

The center is one of the nation’s busiest performing arts centers, with more than 2,000 performances scheduled.  The 2014 hip-hop festival will open with Nas rapping with musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra Pops playing music from his classic debut album “Illmatic.”  The festival will also feature Puerto Rican musicians Calle 13 and a graffiti exhibition.

Copyright 2013 article by Brett Zongker, The Associated Press via thegrio.com

Maya Angelou and John Lewis Named 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom Honorees

Images

Poet Maya Angelou and civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga, are among the 2010 winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.  President Barack Obama will present the awards to them and the other thirteen honorees early next year, the White House announced Wednesday.  Other winners include President H.W. Bush, investor Warren Buffett, plus St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial, Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.  Obama’s bipartisan gesture in picking the first President Bush for the honor is not unprecedented. Former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, awarded a Medal of Freedom to former Republican President Gerald Ford.

“These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place,” Obama said. “I look forward to awarding them this honor.”  The medal is presented to people who have made notable contributions to U.S. interests, from cultural achievements to security matters.  The full list of winners:

–George H.W. Bush was America’s 41st president, and previously vice president and CIA director. He also worked with Clinton to raise money for victims Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

–Merkel is the first woman and first East German to serve as chancellor of a unified Germany.

–Musial is a Hall of Fame first baseman who played 22 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals.

–Russell is the former captain of the Boston Celtics and first black man to become an NBA head coach.

–Yo-Yo Ma is a world renowned cellist who has won 16 Grammy awards and is known for his interpretations of Bach and Beethoven. He played at Obama’s inauguration.

–Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and helped organize the first lunch-counter sit-in. In 1965 he led the Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala., march for voting rights and was brutally beaten along with others in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

–Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, is a famed investor known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his prescient business sense. He is also a generous philanthropist.

–Angelou is a prominent poet, educator, filmmaker, producer and civil rights activist.

— Jasper Johns, an American artist whose work has dealt with themes of perception and identity. He is considered a major influence on pop, minimal and conceptual art.

–Gerda Weissmann Klein, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who founded Citizenship Counts, an organization that teaches students to cherish the value of their American citizenship.

–Dr. Tom Little, an optometrist murdered last August by the Taliban in Afghanistan as he and nine others returned from a mission to provide eye care in the Parun valley of Nuristan. The award is being given posthumously to Little.

–Sylvia Mendez, a civil rights activist of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent.

–Jean Kennedy Smith, a Kennedy family member who served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland and is the founder of VSA, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that promotes the artistic talents of children and adults with disabilities.

–John Sweeney, AFL-CIO president from 1995-2009.

–John H. Adams, who in 1970 co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, a prominent environmental advocacy group.

article content via Associated Press and businessweek.com