Kelvin Anderson Sr. (left), Mayor Robert Garcia (middle), and Cletus Anderson (right) at press conference announcing the historic landmark designation

Long Beach, CA ( -- At the corner of PCH and Martin L. King Ave., in one of Long Beach's most culturally rich black neighborhoods, sits the icon: and now historic VIP Records sign, that once anchored the former VIP Records Store. VIP Records opened its doors in 1978 breaking R&B, gospel, jazz, reggae and blues acts.

By the early 90's, VIP became the World Famous VIP Records and the birthplace of G-Funk by providing the launching pad for Warren G, Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg, who later recorded his first video "What's my name?" on the roof of VIP Records, with the now historic sign.

"The VIP was the place to go if you were a rapper to showcase your skills. VIP is special to me and I take the VIP with me everywhere I go," comments Snoop Dogg in an upcoming documentary titled The VIP Legacy.

In the 90's at a time of heightened gang violence Kelvin Anderson Sr., owner of VIP Records, with the help of producer, Sir Jinx opened up a small studio in a back of his record store to provide a safe haven for young people. It was there that 213, with producer DJ Slice, recorded the demo that would land Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg record deals.

On December 19, 2017, the Long Beach City Council recognized the history and dedication of Kelvin Anderson Sr and VIP Records by voting 9-0 in favor of designating the VIP sign a historic landmark in the city of Long Beach. By Kelvin Anderson Sr.'s side was his big brother, Cletus Anderson who opened the original VIP in South Central LA, in 1967 and went on to open the Long Beach Location in 1978, before it was sold to Kelvin Anderson Sr.

"It's really important that tonight we designate this landmark but it’s really about honoring Kelvin and his family," Mayor Robert Garcia stated. "It should not be lost on us that we have so few historical landmarks that honor first and foremost, the black experience and Black Americans in Long Beach."

Of the 100 historic landmarks in Long Beach, only two has anything to do with African American culture - one of which Craftsman bungalow belonging to the late civil rights pioneer Ernest S. McBride, founder of the local chapter of the NAACP. On a national scale, only 3% of historic landmarks are associated with the African American community, and the VIP sign is the only Hip-Hop or music landmark of its kind in the world.

After 40 years, the historic VIP sign will be taken down on January 11, 2018, and will be stored until a home is secured to build the first Black Music Museum and Multi-Media center.

VIP Records does not own the building the sign is on top of, and the original location, which VIP downsized from in 2012, has since been leased to 7-11 Corporation.

Although 7-11 agreed to work with VIP to preserve the history, 7-11 backed out of the agreement in September of 2017. They went on to open the store, with the help of the local council member, Dee Andrews, the week the sign was designated as a historic landmark.

"A historic landmark development would have increased tourism, property values, and brought much-needed investments to a community that is facing 50% poverty among its kids," comments Shirin Senegal, President of VIP Records. "We encouraged the city to work with us to purchase the original location, but the political will was not there. Perhaps that will change when the reality of what we gave up to 711, kicks in."

"This is a bittersweet moment for us. Taking the sign down after 40 years is not easy, but we will not keep it over 711, a company that does not respect African American history. I feel confident Mayor Garcia and the city will help us secure the right home for The Historic VIP Sign so that we can tell the story of Black Music," says Anderson.

So far, the city has allocated $80,000 to restore and preserve the sign and has committed to help VIP secure a home for the sign. Currently, VIP is working to secure land across the street from the original VIP Location, that is owned by the city, to build its future development.

In the meantime, VIP is slated to open a 5,000 square foot multimedia center and business incubator, within a mile from the original VIP location. The center will be spearheaded by the World Famous VIP Foundation and Ronnie’s House, and will be the first of its kind in the district to foster entrepreneurship and multimedia.

To learn more about VIP Records or for licensing opportunities or collaborations, please visit| You can take a photo with the historic sign no later than Wednesday Jan 10, 2018 before it comes down from the original location where it made history!




Bishop Edwards of Snowden International School at Copley took first place on Monday, January 29, 2018 with his performance as Troy from Fences at the Boston Regional Finals of the August Wilson Monologue Competition, held for the eighth year by the Education Department of the Huntington Theatre Company, the playwright’s longtime artistic home. Beyonce Martinez of Margarita Muniz Academy was named first runner-up and portrayed Vera from Seven Guitars; Antoinette Webster (Tonya, King Hedley II) of Codman Academy Charter Public School was named second runner-up. The three will receive a total of $850 in prize money, and the top two winners will be awarded an all-expense-paid trip to New York City where they will perform their monologues at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre in the National Competition on May 7, 2018. Airfare, hotel accommodations, workshops, and tickets to attend a Broadway production will be provided in collaboration with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theatres. The national competition is free and open to the public

The August Wilson Monologue Competition celebrates the writing of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company (Atlanta, GA) inaugurated the competition in 2007, and this year marks the 8th year that the Huntington’s Education Department has hosted the regional finals in Boston. Over 640 high school students from 19 Boston area schools participated in the program this school year; the winner of each school competition competed on Monday, January 29, 2018 at the Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

The Huntington’s Education Department staff and teaching artists visited 10 schools in the August Wilson Monologue Competition residency program weekly since October. During their school visits they introduced participating students to August Wilson and the 10 plays of his American Century Cycle centering on the 20th century African American experience. The residency curriculum included work on text analysis and characterization and one-on-one coaching with students in their performances in preparation for the competition. Teachers were also provided biographical materials on August Wilson and his history with the Huntington Theatre Company.  

Due to popular demand from area high schools, the Huntington’s Education Department expanded the August Wilson Monologue Competition program beyond the residency schools in 2015 and participation is open to any interested high school in the Boston or Greater Boston area. These schools are provided with all materials necessary to educate students on the life and work of August Wilson and the schools coach students for in-school competitions and the Boston Regional Finals. This year nine schools registered to participate and eight of those schools sent their school winner to the Boston Regional Finals. 

The following schools were represented at the 2018 Boston Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition: Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School, Another Course to College, Brighton High School, Boston Day and Evening Academy, Boston Arts Academy, Boston Collegiate Charter School, Codman Academy Charter Public School, Community Academy of Science and Health, Dana Hall School, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, English High School, Fenway High School, Dr. William W. Henderson K-12 Inclusion School, John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, Margarita Muniz Academy, McKinley South End Academy, Snowden International School at Copley, Urban Science Academy, and West Roxbury Academy. Judges were local director Benny Sato Ambush, local actor Brandon G. Green, and Huntington Playwriting Fellow Kirsten Greenidge. The accuracy judge was Meagan Garcia, company manager at the Huntington, and the prompter was Noel McCoy, education committee member at the Huntington.

August Wilson’s Century Cycle is a singular achievement in American theatre. Each of the 10 plays is set in a different decade of the 20th century. The Huntington had a special relationship with August Wilson and his work, beginning in 1986 with a production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, his third play in the American Century Cycle. For 25 years, the Huntington served as an artistic home to Wilson, developing and premiering eight of the ten plays of his American Century Cycle before they went on to Broadway. The Huntington completed Wilson’s Century Cycle in 2012 with Wilson’s first Broadway hit, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In 2016, the Huntington produced August Wilson’s memoir and final play How I Learned What I Learned, directed by August Wilson’s longtime collaborator Todd Kreidler 

The competition was created by Kenny Leon (director of Stick Fly, Gem of the Ocean, and Fences at the Huntington and on Broadway and The Wiz Live! and Hairspray Live! on NBC) and Todd Kreidler (adapter of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner at the Huntington), two of August Wilson’s closest collaborators. Leon worked closely with Wilson and directed many of the American Century Cycle plays on Broadway and at major regional theatres, including the Huntington. True Colors Associate Artistic Director Kreidler served as dramaturg for Wilson’s Radio Golf.

“The competition offers students an interactive way to learn about Wilson’s work and how his plays connect with each decade in the 20th century,” says Kreidler. “Students learn about history, social studies, and literature through performing monologues from Wilson’s plays and studying his American Century Cycle.”  

Major funding for the Boston regional August Wilson Monologue Competition is provided by the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Fund at EdVestors The Boston Foundation, Kingsbury Road Charitable Trust, The Lucy R. Sprague Memorial Fund, The Ramsey McCluskey Family Foundation, The Roy A. Hunt Foundation, The William and Bertha E. Schrafft Charitable Trust, and Tiny Tiger Foundation. Funding for the National competition is provided by Delta Air Lines and Aetna.


Event feting public television documentary series on Friday, February 9, will be hosted by season ten host Nicholas L. Ashe, star of the acclaimed OWN Network series ‘Queen Sugar’

The evening will include the screening of award-winning director Raoul Peck’s ‘Fatal Assistance’

and a post-screening conversation with film producer Hébert Peck and journalist Maria Hinojosa


Black Public Media (BPM) will commemorate the 10th anniversary of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, its signature public television documentary series about the global Black experience, with Lifting the Veil of Disaster Relief: Fatal Assistance in Haiti, Puerto Rico and Beyond. The event will include a special screening of the season finale Fatal Assistance, by award-winning director Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro), a sobering indictment of global aid policies that failed Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake. A relentless string of natural disasters in the Caribbean, Mexico and United States in 2017 further puts the spotlight on the disaster relief organizations’ responses to tragedies in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and beyond.

Season 10 of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange airs on WORLD Channel every Monday now through February 12 and online on all station-branded PBS platforms, including,,, and on PBS apps for iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. The program will be released to additional U.S. public television stations in February 2018. The program is presented by Black Public Media and distributed by American Public Television with the generous support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.


The event will be hosted by Nicholas L. Ashe, star of the acclaimed OWN Network series Queen Sugar and AfroPoP season 10 host, and include a conversation led by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa with Hébert Peck, producer of Fatal Assistance. BPM Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz and Director of Acquisitions and Programs Kay Shaw will also be on hand as will filmmakers and subjects from the past decade of AfroPoP.


Friday, February 9

5:30 p.m. Press check-in 6:15 p.m. Red Carpet 7:00 p.m. Event begins


Harlem Stage Gatehouse
150 Convent Avenue @ 135th Street

Book Review of Walking With Shadows

Jude Dibia Nigerian Novelist

In Jude Dibia's book walking with shadows,  Dibia's character Abdul says "everyday in a gay man's life, he is constantly hurt by those he loves the most. His family. His friends. And even society. We have to live with the rejection of it everyday. We have to grin and bear it constantly so that other people are comfortable at our expense." But the most important thing that Abdul points out regarding the hurt is that, those who are forced into the position of otherness; unlike those that force them into this position, are conscious of hurting others.

What I begin to question about the construction of otherness is, does a person's individualized possession of power  versus the collective possession of power enables the social creation of otherness as opposed to the internalized creation of otherness. On page 53 of WWS when Adrian's brothers attempt to utilize religion in justifying their hatred of gays, Adrian responds with "the law you speak about has been dictated by the society we live in". 

When an individual creates a concept of otherness, the only way an individual has of exercising their concept of otherness within physical reality is to project that otherness upon either intimate others, those living in close proximity to them, or those that are already engaged with their own internal struggle of otherness; self alienation due to hatred of self brought about by the destruction of the ideal self through outside forces: abusive authority figures, poverty, disease, the list is ongoing. But the fact remains, once an individual's ideal self has been damaged in some way, that individual becomes profoundly disempowered in ways that drastically affects their fundamental ego development. because the individual has faced such devastation at an early age they become Instinctively convinced that others are seeking to harm them further.


Due to this dire situation,  they instinctively attempt to protect themselves by whatever means they possess at their disposal.  Unfortunately due to their innate inability to protect themselves at this stage in their childhood development,  even the normal to day-to-day disappointments of life ranging from not being picked by school mates to participate in school yard games to receiving a failing grade on their report card serve to reinforce their instinctively based belief system of externalized oppression; thus pushing them deeper into a general anxiety disorder. It's easy to imagine the deepening of this disorder within the individual possessing it as they transition from childhood into adulthood; especially if this individual is dealing with conditions of: poverty, racism, or some form of physical disability. The problem of self as a socially acceptable persona versus other, that which is socially unacceptable,  implies a social relationship of the powerful versus powerless; however what is often forgotten or denied by the powerful is that the power they possess is not truly theirs,  but has either been taken  borrowed, or shared.  It's this perception of power that assist in creating varying degrees of social inequality based upon rationalized excuses for socially sanctioned oppression to usurp the personal power of others in order to add to their own either as individuals or as a society. 

 There are two ways to harness and channel an individual's personal power into a society so that it can pursue various collective endeavors: coercion/force either through peer pressure or physical violence; cooperation an agreement between various individuals to pool collective resources in order to accomplish goals that are mutually beneficial to both parties. When we were children playing in the school yard, we had to determine who were outsiders and who were accepted group members. It's possible that Adrian's sister-in-law unconsciously utilized Peer pressure to manipulate Adrian into marrying her sister. Notice Her statement about Adrian "he was perfectly happy alone with his books and minding his business, but I felt that he would be perfect for my sister". Despite possessing unconscious knowledge that she might be off about Adrian, she is more concerned about her own needs then Adrian's. In short she is acting out of selfishness disguised as concern for her sister's wellbeing. 

Walking with Shadow is a definitive look at how potentially "gay men" may see themselves and remain unaware of who they are as individuals; let alone as part of a group. It also explains why some gay men may seek out heterosexual relationships with women; particularly women seeking relationships with men that possess qualities similar to women. "Walking With Shadows" is a book that should be read by straight women; though it's written by a gay man. It's a must read - especially for mothers raising potentially gay sons.  


Tony Award nominated artist and Top Girls director Liesl Tommy and Huntington Trustee Neal Balkowitsch will be honored with the Wimberly Award at the 2018 Spotlight Spectacular on Monday, May 7, 2018 at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. The Huntington’s festive annual event raises money to support the Huntington’s programs, including its award-winning youth, education, and community initiatives that reach more than 33,000 annually. The Spotlight Spectacular co-chairs are Carol G. Deane, Maria and Daniel Gerrity, and Ann and John Hall.

“Neal Balkowitsch has been an incredible advocate and longtime supporter of the Huntington Theatre Company,” says Managing Director Michael Maso. “As a Huntington Trustee, Neal has supported the Huntington through his innovative catering company MAX Ultimate Food. He is a steadfast and unwavering leader and a warm and caring friend to many. It is an honor to recognize Neal’s contributions with this year’s Wimberly Award.”

Neal Balkowitsch moved to Boston in 1989 to manage Pine Brook Country Club in Weston, and under his direction, Pine Brook established itself as a premier private club. He founded MAX Ultimate Food along with his business partner Dan Mathieu in 2001 and has provided countless impeccable and outstanding experiences for his clients and customers, including the Huntington Theatre Company. MAX has been an avid supporter of many major arts organizations and non-profits throughout Boston and Massachusetts.

“My admiration of Liesl Tommy’s work goes back to our days at The Public Theater in New York, and one of the things I am most proud of in my tenure at the Huntington is welcoming her into our artistic family,” says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “Liesl has been a part of a transforming artistic energy at the Huntington and her profound direction of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Raisin in the Sun, and Ruined have been defining moments in the company’s history. I know her work on Top Girls next spring will be nothing short of incredible, and I’m looking forward to celebrating all of her artistic achievements at the Spotlight Spectacular in May!”

Liesl Tommy was born in Cape Town, South Africa under apartheid. When she was 15 years old her family moved to Newton, Massachusetts. Tommy was an early lover of theatre and was active in theatre at Newton North High School. She first stepped into the Huntington Avenue Theatre as a teenager in 1987. “I first encountered the Huntington when I was in high school when we saw August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. It was an experience that changed my life and opened up my eyes to what theatre could be and what theatre could do,” says Tommy of her experience.

The Spotlight Spectacular will be designed by Rafanelli Events. The lights come up at 6pm at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts and will feature a cocktail reception, a live auction offering one-of-a-kind items, a seated dinner provided by MAX Ultimate Food, the presentation of the Wimberly Awards, and entertainment. The Gerard & Sherryl Cohen Award for Excellence will be given to two Huntington staff members who consistently go above and beyond in their contribution to the company. Guests will also have the opportunity to “Sponsor a Class” in support of the Huntington’s student matinee program and other education initiatives.

For more information about the event or to sponsor a table or purchase tickets, contact Kirsten Doyle at 617 273 1503 or

The 2017 Spotlight Spectacular honored Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Tony Award winner Billy Porter. The event raised over $1,000,000 and was attended by over 500 guests.


Neal Balkowitsch has served on the Huntington Theatre Company board since 2009. He moved to Boston in 1989 to manage Pine Brook Country Club in Weston. Under his direction, Pine Brook established itself as a premier private club with its well-appointed care of membership and highly praised food and beverage operation. Mr. Balkowitsch’s attention to detail and impeccable taste became indispensable in all aspects of the special events operations at Pine Brook and further cultivated as co-owner of MAX Ultimate Food. Having been active on several boards, Mr. Balkowitsch now sits on the boards of the Huntington Theatre Company and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a member of the Corporation at Perkins School for the Blind.

Liesl Tommy is an award-winning stage director and will return to the Huntington in 2018 to direct Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls. Her previous directing credits at the Huntington include A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Ruined. Her other credits include productions of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed (Broadway and The Public Theater/NYSF) starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (Tony Award nomination for Best Director), Macbeth (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Harrison River’s Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Appropriate (Signature Theatre), Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Good Negro, UNIVERSES’s Party People, and A. Zell Williams’s Urban Retreat (The Public Theater/NYSF), Les Misérables (Dallas Theater Center), Hamlet (California Shakespeare Theater), The Piano Lesson (Yale Repertory Theatre), and John Kander/Greg Pierce’s musical Kid Victory. Ms. Tommy is the recipient of an Obie Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Pioneer of the Arts Award, Lillian Hellman Award, Alan Schneider Award, NEA/TCG Directors Grant, New York Theatre Workshop Casting/Directing Fellowship, and the inaugural Susan Stroman Award from the Vineyard Theatre. Ms. Tommy facilitated the inaugural Sundance East Africa Theatre Director’s Lab and is a member of the Board of the Sundance Institute. She has worked at Dallas Theater Center, California Shakespeare Theater, Center Stage, and Sundance East Africa, among others. Ms. Tommy serves as a program associate and artist trustee at Sundance Institute Theatre Program.


Amazing Things Art Center,160 Hollis Street, Framingham, MA, 01702, 508 405 2787

Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, 02473, 617 923-7631

Bank of America Pavilion, 290 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210, 617 728-1600

Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston, MA 02116, 617 747-2261

Blackman Theatre, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, 617 373-4700

Blue Ocean Music Hall, 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury, MA 01952, 978 462-5888

Boston Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617 426-9366

Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, 617 259-3400

Boston Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, 617 638-9345

Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617 266-0800

Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St., Cambridge, MA 02141, 617 577-1400

Cape Cod Melody Tent, West Main Street, Hyannis, Cape Cod, MA 02601, 508 775-5630

Chevalier Theatre, 30 Forest Street, Medford, MA 02155, 781 395-1732

Colonial Theatre, 111 South Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201, 413 997-4444

Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617 824-8000

Firehouse Center for the Arts, One Market Square, Newburyport, MA 01950, 978 462-7336

Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge Street, Worcester, MA 01608, 877 571 - SHOW

Jacob’s Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA 01223, 413.243.0745

Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA 02115
617 868-5885

Longy Conservatory of Music, 27 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, 617 876-0956

Lowell Summer Series, Boarding House Park, French and John Streets, Lowell, 978 970-5200

Maudslay Arts Center, Newburyport, 95 Curzon Mill Road, Newburyport, MA 01950, 978-499-0050

Mechanics Hall, 321 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608,, 508 752-5608

Moseley's on the Charles, 50 Bridge St, Dedham, MA 02026, 781 326-3075

Museum of Fine Arts, Remis Auditorium, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02116, 617 267-9300

Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan Street, Fall River, MA 02721, 508 324-1926

Natick Center for the Arts, 14 Summer St, Natick, MA 01760, 508 647-0097

Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston, MA 02108, 617 482-0650

Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, East India Square, Salem, MA 01970, 978 745-9500

Plymouth Memorial Hall, 83 Court Street, Plymouth, MA 02630, 508 747-1622

Reagle Players, 617 Lexington Street, Waltham, MA 02452, 781 891-5600

Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington, MA 02474, 781 646-4849

Rogers Center for the Arts, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike Street, North Andover

Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street|, Roxbury, MA 02119, 617 849-6322

Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138, 617 496-2222

Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA 01966, 978 546-7391

Showcase Live, 1 Patriot Place, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA 02035, 781 461-1600

South Shore Conservatory, 1 Conservatory Drive, Duxbury, MA 02043, 781 749-7565

South Shore Music Circus, Route 3A, Cohasset, MA 02025, 781 383-9850

Springstep, 98 George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA 02155, 781 395-0402

The Fine Arts Center, 151 Presidents Dr., Amherst, MA 01003, 413 545-2511

Villa Victoria, 85 W. Newton Street, Boston, MA 02118, 617 927-1735

Wang Theatre, Citi Center for the Performing Arts, 270 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617 482-9393

Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116, 617 248-9700


2018 BOOKS