“I Heard That”: Diva Patti Austin; San Francisco Black Film Festival in Good Hands!

by Rochelle Metcalfe on November 24, 2009

Sunday night caught singer PATTI AUSTIN’S closing weekend engagement at Yoshi’s San Francisco – what an evening! Swear I didn’t know the lady when she strolled on stage, asked sistuhs KAYKO and WANDA HUMPHREY “is that Patti?” The lady had a total new look – loss of weight, long shoulder-length tresses – no longer Black, but a light streak tint! Took me a few minutes to adjust!

All was well when she segued into an R&B medley of hits that included my fav “Baby Come To Me,” 1982 duo with vocalist JAMES INGRAM. Patti did his vocal range as well – TERRIFIC! A little over 90-minutes, she and her terrific band, 3-back-up singers (8 in all) gave us a great show – the evening showed Patti’s wit – a little RISQUÉ, kept the audience laughing, sassy, feelin good about herself, and where she is in her life and career; next year, 55 years since starting in show biz at the age of four.

The Grammy-winning extraordinary DIVA mixed it up with groovy sounds from soul, pop, jazz and standards – swinging out on “The Ability to Swing,” “How Do You Keep the Music Playing,” (another hit duo with Ingram); serious jazz scat, whistling, vocalizing “So Good”; about life and change expressed when she sung “It’s All About Me,” and the economy, war, people in need, did “Lean On Me”.

Backstage to stay hello – THE LADY LOOKS WONDERFUL – hair color gorgeous, trim in stylish sweater, pants, boots. She said to me “I remember this beautiful face!” We embraced! YES, during the 90s interviewed her at the Huntington Hotel, when she was in town to do a major gospel performance for GLIDE church. Stayed in touch with her for several years via phone until she moved to New York. At the time she was living in Marin County with her mom (sad to hear she passed about five years ago.) I wanted to linger longer to talk, but personal friends were waiting to speak with her.

HEADS UP! R&B singer PEABO BRYSON scheduled to perform this weekend at YOSHI’S Oakland, CANCELED – JOE SAMPLE and LALAH HATHAWAY will headline! Darn, I was set to check out foxy PEABO!

The SAN FRANCISCO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL (SFBFF) WILL SURVIVE! The legacy of AVE MONTAGUE, Founder/Executive Director SFBFF continues through the spirit of her son, KALI O’RAY and KATERA CROSSLEY. New co-directors! Usually held in June, the Festival’s future put on hold after Montague’s sudden passing earlier this year in January.

Therefore it was GOOD NEWS when invitations were received to attend the Reception and Film screening Gala to CELEBRATE his mother’s legacy, held at the African American Art and Culture Complex (AAACC). KALI hosted the special event to introduce himself, insure those interested SFBFF will continue in June 2010. Those enthusiastic volunteers who supported Montague through the 10 year life of the Festival were excited ready to MOVE FORWARD!.

The event, held on the third floor of the complex, walls surrounded with artful images of NINA SIMONE, vibrant conversations, nibbling tasty hors d’oeuvres and light beverages. Percussionist OSCAR MYERS, leader of the hot STEPPIN’ Band, performed African rhythms. AAACC staff on hand – LONDON BREED, Executive Director; TAMIKA CHENIER, Program Manager, SAMARA RIVERS, Visual Arts Coordinator; and EARL HALL, Building Manager.

A screening produced by MEGHAN MITCHELL (1300 on Fillmore hostess) who worked with Montague, and LANCE BURTON, of Fillmore Planet (check out his production in Yoshi’s lobby); both works excellent in recalling memories of Montague by several media personalities, that included this writer.

Guests included: AAACC artists-in-resident THOMPSON SIMPSON, Director AfroSolo Theater Company; TREVAR BOOKER, Marketing and Public Relations, Alioto’s on the Wharf; pretty photographer ELISE EVANS of JoyGirl Productions Graphic Design Company; Media legends – BILL and BELVA DAVIS-MOORE; delightful San Francisco educator VIRGINIA MARSHALL; JOHN McCARTNEY, Founder/CEO, West Coast Black TV Network; JOILEEN HECTOR-RICHARDS, San Francisco Business and Professional Women Organization; GWENDOLYN MARKHAM, HARRIET BYRD …

Two noted dynamic Publicists who support SFBFF – TONI BECKHAM of PR Etcetera ; and KAREN LARSEN of Larsen Associates who deal with films (also worked with Tom Mazzolini and the San Francisco Blues Festival); TWINS – MELANIE and MELORRA GREEN, Founders INFIN8sync. ARE AWESOME! Last Thursday evening they presented a wonderful presentation at AAACC, “BRING Your Own Arts (BYOA), entitled, SIMPLY NINA! Independent artists from around the Bay Area came together for a SPECIAL TRIBUTE to Dr. NINA SIMONE, dynamic woman, activist, singer who penned UNFORGETTABLE PROTEST material, covered jazz, folk, rock, pop and gospel, who went into lengthy self imposed EXILE in France, returned to the states in 1993. She passed April 21, 2003.

AAACC is a creative, vibrant place to gather for special events, browse the exhibits! AFRICAN AMERICANS ESPECIALLY NEED TO SUPPORT THE FACILITY!

SPORTS NOTE – Despite the loss, 30-24, PROPS TO 49er ROOKIE wide receiver MICHAEL CRABTREE – THE REAL THING – caught his FIRST NFL TOUCHDOWN Sunday against the GREEN BAY PACKERS!!!


E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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