|Posted on November 30, 2010 at 11:44 PM||comments (1)|
Some twenty-odd years ago following a long run as the lead in the touring company of The Wiz, I returned to New York City where, for the very first time, I hung out my shingle as a vocal teacher. As they say “Build it and they will come,” and before long my studio was doing very well and the vocal growth in my students and in myself was remarkable. As they progressed, I presented my students in mini concerts and recitals. Eventually the time came for me to appear in concert to demonstrate my skill to my students and to reintroduce myself to the New York concert audience, and so I scheduled a debut concert at Lincoln Center’s Merkin Hall.
Just before the night of my performance, my student Dwayne Allan Foster, whom we affectionately called “Dudley Do Right,” presented me with a pair of gold and mother of pearl cufflinks with matching studs. The beauty of his gracious gift and the spirit in which it was given was that this set had been given to Dwayne by his grandfather when he graduated from college. To me it was the ultimate compliment, and I have worn them ever since for every important singing engagement. It gives me immense comfort as I dress for a performance knowing that I carry this spirit and tradition forward with me.
Like so many old friends who lose touch over time, Dwayne and I renewed our friendship through Facebook; he is now married and the father of beautiful twin daughters, and I have shared with him the numerous performances I’ve given over the years, always wearing what I’ve dubbed my “magical” cufflinks. On Sunday, November 21st, my wife Etta and I participated in an inaugural performance of a new opera company and I thought it appropriate to write Dwayne and let him know his beautiful gift again graced my cuffs. His response was as magical as the cufflinks: “It’s good to know that you take my grandfather and me with you on stage every time”.
Sadly, I never met Dwayne’s grandfather, but he was still living when his grandson passed the gift on to me and Dwayne told me he had championed my role as his grandson’s teacher/mentor, a magic we share to this day.
|Posted on August 17, 2010 at 1:43 AM||comments (2)|
The query letter and the proposal are both completed. I sent the query to a world-class literary agent giving her a little background on the story and asking if she would be interested in representing it, and she wrote me back asking to read the proposal. Yee Haw!! I e-mailed her the 130 page proposal (the average proposal is 30 to 60 pages, but Kamal's story is so chock-full of blood, sweat, tears (of joy and despair), laughter, and love....and sex that It was difficult to select three chapters so I sent them all). What has been written so far follows our hero's adventures from birth to age 24.
So now we wait....
|Posted on July 5, 2010 at 11:02 PM||comments (0)|
I have chronologically spent more than a few decades on this planet, and a gift most rare is to arrive at this place in time with real friends present just as they were at the beginning.
My good friend Bob DiPaolo called today to say hello and to reaffirm what we mean to one another. With that, he gave me license to tell his part in my life story. We grew up together in Roxbury, Massachusetts and have known each other from the first grade, through graduating from high school in the same class, to the present day. Bob is the genuine article--"My Friend."
On this same day I was able (because of my ghostwriter) to locate Jeremy Ives. Thank God for the Internet! I was a young Balletomane with a great gift for the discipline of dancing the Ballet. I was taking classes at the American Ballet Theatre on 57th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Jeremy at the time was dancing with ABT later moving on to the New York City Ballet and then to the Metropolitan Ballet where he danced for 15 years. When I got him on the phone today we were both speechless for a moment; not since we were in our twenties had we spoken. We were inseparable in our youth! Now, he with a 41 year old son and I with sons aged 42 and 44 shared a conversation that confirmed what we were then and what we are today, "Still Friends." Jeremy, too, was adamant about sharing our story.
|Posted on June 6, 2010 at 12:20 PM||comments (0)|
When we began this project, we thought it would take five weeks or so. However, the magnitude of all the information necessary to give an accurate account of a wonderful career was far more than was anticipated.
Last night “my alter ego” and I reached an important milestone, we finally amassed enough material to submit as a proposal for publication; we even created a book trailer with the invaluable help of my brother Rafik.
So we move forward with great confidence and assurance.
Let me hear you say Yeaaaaah!!!!!
|Posted on May 12, 2010 at 10:25 PM||comments (1)|
Recently we all had to say goodbye to one of the greatest gifts to the world of Art, Miss Lena Horne. To digest her passing for me is a moment of a loss so tremendous; we who have had successful careers know that it was because of men and women of her excellence and bravery. We truly stand on her beautiful shoulders.
My personal moment with Miss Horne was brief but absolutely magical. While I was on tour with The Wiz (National Company) in Los Angeles, Miss Horne attended our show; I was starring as Mr. Wiz at the time. She came to my dressing room and paid me one of the finest compliments I've ever received: that because of my rendition of the song "If You Believe." she was moved to record it. We all remember her film version of this song.
All I can say is:"There'll never be another like her." I'm truly saddened at The Loss of an Icon.
|Posted on May 3, 2010 at 11:29 AM||comments (0)|
Not surprisingly, the creation of this book project is a monumental undertaking; what was thought to be a one-month timeframe in which to prepare a book proposal for presentation to publishers is now entering its fifth week. Kamal has been a stage performer beginning at the age of five to the present, and he has preserved a warehouse-full of articles, publicity, and memorabilia from which to draw, along with his phenomenal memory.
I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, but Kamal is able to channel decades-old events and relate them to me as though they happened just yesterday. That is what is so magical about his life story, his ability to transform himself back into those stages of his life which then, for his listener, appear current--the work of a gifted actor. He has recorded and continues to record exhaustive hours of interview tapes for the book.
Each time we discuss a segment of his life, tangents sprout leading to related historical occurrences which then must be investigated and confirmed--keep in mind that Kamal's career spans dance, music, and theatre. Authenticity is vital to the publishing of a life story (remember the James Frey fiasco), and every event must be fact checked. So the research continues. We will sell the book based on three full chapters and a synopsis of the remaining material to be covered in the book, Kamal's credentials, a list of similar books by other authors, and an overview of the project. There's a lot of work to be done, and we'll keep you apprised of our progress.
I am so proud to be a part of this exciting project!
|Posted on April 17, 2010 at 11:09 AM||comments (1)|
I didn’t realize how emotional it would be to go back in time to the earlier days of my career, remembering colleagues and great moments in American music and theatrical history. When I think of the names of the giants I have been blessed to have shared the stage with, I'm overwhelmed. There are stories that involve names like Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, Ed Sullivan, Paul Robeson, Gwen Verdon, George Balanchine, The Bolshoi Ballet, and Vera Volkava to name a few.
I used to edit my credits when I was younger, thinking how dated I became!!! Now I realize my good fortune to have lived such a rich and unusual artistic life. Speaking of "Only in America," it could only have happened here!!!
Please send all your loving thoughts to help this project move with all ease and grace.
|Posted on April 5, 2010 at 11:09 PM||comments (1)|
My great uncle Judge William Aaron Heathman (1873 - 1973) was an amazing man whose accomplishments were truly exceptional. In my memoir we find that he made an extraordinary contribution to the legal system of America and to the self esteem of African American people. I will relate stories of his losing and regaining eyesight, remarrying in his seventies, driving his own car well into old age, and remaining on the bench until he was 100 years of age. It is with tremendous pride that I include my great uncle William A. Heathman in my story.
|Posted on April 4, 2010 at 11:19 PM||comments (0)|
My performance yesterday was exactly what it should have been, the culmination and climax of many years of professional experience.
I think it was Maria Callas who said "We should be our own critics, having the integrity to admit ones decline, failures, and/or excellence." In my youth I could not have given this kind of knowing and skillful performance. It is with a healthy ego that I can say that in the autumn of my career I demonstrated vocal health, artistry, beauty and ease of tone. Judging from the spirit of the performance, my audience felt the same way.
|Posted on April 4, 2010 at 8:15 PM||comments (0)|
The Countee Cullen Library in the Schomburg Center for Research hosted Kenneth Kamal Scott in Concert yesterday, April 3, 2010.
This was a very well attended concert which included artists with whom Mr. Scott shared the Broadway stage over 40 years ago. A segment of Mr. Scott's recital honored the great Black tenor Roland Hayes (1887-1977), during which we were reminded that we stand on the shoulders of men and women such as he. Mr. Scott's upcoming memoir explores a wealth of personal and professional anecdotes acknowledging the significance of this foundation in his life.