Community Works Honors Craig Harris

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(Left to right, A. Peter Bailey, Bob O’Meally, Barbara Horowitz, Pat Wagner, Dianne McIntyre, Craig S. Harris and Elombe Brath. Photo credit: Hubert Williams of Images Of Us).

Much has been said and written about the Harlem of yesteryear.

Its cultural renaissance of the 1930’s reached International acclaim and produced a multitude of historical icons. During the Civil Rights Movement, Harlem once again took center stage as one of the central campuses to address, strategize and champion in equal rights.

On the heels of Community Work's ground breaking “harlem is... project” which celebrates, documents and honors current heroes and sheroes of today, internationally renowned trombonist Craig S. Harris extends Harlem's journey with his experimental multi medium project entitled  - “TriHarLenium.” 

This ground-breaking commissioned work, which is being produced by Barbara Horowitz and Voza Rivers, captures the consistent evolution of Harlem over the last thirty years. “It’s so important that we document and begin to tell our own stories Instead of letting others tell them”, said Mr. Harris who moved to Harlem in 1976. Through music; full scale performances; film screenings and archival exhibitions the TriHarlenium attempts to weave the untold stories of Harlem circa 1976- 2006.

The voyage began Tuesday, November 14, on the campus of Columbia University where a select group of panelist, all intimate friends and associates of Mr. Harris, reminisced and shared with a pack audience Harlem 1976 – 1986. Patrice Wagner, a Harlem educator and community activist, discussed the numerous protests and boycotts held in Harlem including the march to protest the Atlanta Child Murders. 

She along with co-panelist Elombe Brath, a respected Harlem elder, collectively shared Harlem’s political climate and global presence. Diane McIntyre, a respect choreographer and A. Peter Bailey, former editor of EBONY Magazine and editor of Malcolm X’s official news organ the Blacklash, discussed Harlem’s cultural significance and shared intimate stories of contemporary performers and actors such as Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashaad, Denzil Washington, Samuel Jackson, who cut their acting teeth Uptown.

The highlight of the evening was Craig S. Harris’s sketched interlude. Accompanied by a three piece band, Mr. Harris, a cutting edge composer who has collaborated with such artists as Lena Horne, The Four Tops, Sekou Sundiata, and Nona Hendryx, evoked the spirit of Harlem’s pass circa 76 – 86. With the “bip and bop” of his trombone, precision teasing from the drum and deep plucked strokes from the upright base, Harris carefully sketched a psychedelic portrait of Harlem’s black-powered-afro hay days.  The kaleidoscopic production raced along a funky groove culminating with a breezy conclusion that left the audience hungry for more.

TriHarLenium is the first commissioned work of the harlem is… music project, which is the newest component of Community Works’ harlem is… series that celebrates the history and legacy of music in Harlem through exhibitions and public programs. The landmark citywide public art project which celebrates Harlem’s heroes, history and culture through touring exhibitions and public programs, is created by Harlem public school students who research and document the people and places of their vibrant community.

Community Works is a leading arts-education organization founded in 1990, with the mission to build bridges between diverse cultures and neighborhoods by using the arts as a tool for social and personal change, and sharing community stories that connect us all. The organization currently serves over 300,000 people throughout NYC each year through acclaimed performances, workshops and exhibitions.

New Heritage Theatre Group (NHTG) is under the artistic leadership of Jamal Joseph and is the oldest not-for-profit Black theater in New York City.  Originally established in 1964 as the New Heritage Repertory Theatre by the late Roger Furman, NHTG was created to present entertaining, informative and quality productions that preserve and institutionalize classic works of Black theater.

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