Brooklyn Legends Week in Review – My Magnificent 6

Dear Readers,

Last month President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I was delighted to see 6 women among this highly esteemed group and 2 are Brooklyn natives. For me it just doesn’t get any better.

It is truly an honor to salute:

Major Bonnie Carroll (Retired US Air Force), a public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (posthumous), the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency and Brooklyn resident.

Gloria Estefan, one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.

Katherine G. Johnson, a pioneer in American space history and a NASA mathematician whose computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Senator Barbara Milkulski, who became the longest-serving female Senator in 2011 and the longest-serving woman in Congress and the first female Senator to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012.

Barbra Streisand world-famous singer, actor, director, producer and songwriter and one of the few performers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony.  Ms. Streisand was born in Brooklyn, NY.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting all of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, especially My Magnificent 6. To learn more about this year’s honorees, please follow this link.



The White House Briefing Room

My Thanksgiving Playlist #6 – “Home”

Dear Readers,

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your day.  I am pleased to share the 6th song on my Thanksgiving playlist, Home by the amazing Ms. Stephanie Mills. She is also a Brooklyn native.

The title of the song says it all – Home. During the holidays we all long to be surrounded by  family and close friends in the comfort of home.  For me this is one of the greatest joys around.


My Thanksgiving Playlist #3 – “I Believe in You and Me”

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to share the 3rd song from my Thanksgiving playlist – I Believe in You and Me by Whitney Houston. There are days when I still cannot believe she is no longer with us. Whitney’s voice was legendary and her delivery was spectacular.

This is my last post for today, but you will be hearing from me tomorrow. For now, please enjoy the fabulous Ms. Whitney Houston.

Have a great evening.


Brooklyn Legends Brunch With the Arts – The Wiz is Coming!

Dear Readers,

Happy Saturday and welcome to Brooklyn Legends Brunch With the Arts.  If you haven’t heard the news, The Wiz is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 3rd and I am so excited.  I have fond memories of my mother taking me to see The Wiz twice during its Broadway run. Each time we sat close to the front and I was ecstatic to hear Stephanie Mills sing her heart out (as my younger self-described it). She was awesome. After my second visit, I knew that I wanted to be just like her. There was one huge challenge – I could not sing; but I could dream. Stephanie’s performance in The Wiz catapulted her onto the world stage. Today she is an accomplished award-winning singer, actress and songwriter. I am also pleased to add that she is from Brooklyn, New York.

The Wiz Logo-

The Wiz Logo-

This week I have seen brief clips of The Wiz and what I’ve heard is pure magic. Stephanie Mills stars as Auntie Em and beautiful rising star Shanice Williams stars as Dorothy. I was so impressed to see Stephanie serve as a powerful mentor to Shanice throughout this production.

This newly created version is filled with star power. I know that we can count on Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Common, and Cirque du Soleil to shine brightly in their roles. What a wonderful way to usher in the holiday season.

For today’s post, I am pleased to share clips from The Wiz for you to enjoyThank you for spending part of your day with us.



NBC – The Wiz


Brooklyn Legends Reading Room – Vintage Black Glamour

IMG_0121Dear Readers:

In late September, I arrived home from work to find my copy of Vintage Black Glamour waiting in my living room. This was truly a welcome treat after a stressful week. As a follower of the Vintage Black Glamour blog, I could not wait to peek inside.  The book was printed in London, so it took some time to reach the United States but it was truly worth waiting for.  I love everything about it.

Just think back to the days when ladies were exquisitely put together from head to toe.  Her hair was neatly coiffed, her dress was pressed, her makeup was perfectly set and her gloves were always close by.  With just one look, it was easy to see the quiet, elegance that each woman conveyed.


This isn’t an admonishment to the ladies we see today; this was simply a different period in our history — yet it really wasn’t that long ago.  I was a little girl who was trying to figure out how to remove my gloves when I got to church without causing too much trouble. After a few stern looks I knew what to do.  Now that I am an adult, I cannot stop looking at pictures from those days.

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Keeping this era of elegance alive for us today is Nichelle Gainer, author of the book Vintage Black Glamour.  It rests on my coffee table, along with a few other favorite items.  Among the pictures of the beautiful women featured in this book, you will find performing legends Lena Horne and Josephine Premice who were born in Brooklyn.  A biography is also included with each entry.

If you are looking for a great holiday gift, or that perfect coffee table book to add to your collection, I highly recommend this one.  For those of you who are close to me, you can guess what you will be receiving for the holidays!

Happy Reading.


Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer

Quintessential Elegance – In Memory of Ruby Dee

Dear Readers,

Another beautiful Legend has made her transition, the elegant Ms. Ruby Dee.  I am so heartened by the many posts about her life and talent.  She was truly one of the giants of stage and screen.  If I live to be 91, I certainly hope that I age as gracefully as she did.

My fondest memory of this Grand Dame was her performance in one of my favorite plays – A Raisin In The Sun, which premiered in 1961.  Ms. Dee starred as Ruth Younger, a steadying presence for her husband Walter Lee Younger, portrayed by Sidney Poitier; her mother-in-law Lena Younger, portrayed by Claudia McNeil and her sister-in-law Beneatha Younger, portrayed by Diana Sands.

A Raisin In The Sun addressed the ever-present civil rights issues of that time – racial discrimination in housing and impediments to economic advancement due to limited employment opportunities.  Despite these challenges, there were three aspects of this story that I am most fond of: the family’s decision to move into their new home in the Lakewood section of Chicago despite attempts to dissuade them, Beneatha’s dream of becoming a doctor, which was rarely seen on film during that time in our history and the prominent status given to each of Beneatha’s male suitors.

Ms. Dee’s appearance in this play (and movie) did not come as a surprise to her family, friends and colleagues.  Like her husband, Ossie Davis, she took an active role in the fight for civil rights and used her status to promote the cause of African-Americans in the entertainment industry.   In 1963 this dynamic couple served as Masters of Ceremonies for the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  When the world said goodbye to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she and her husband were there.  Similarly, when the world bid farewell to Malcolm X, they were also present.  These are just a few examples of their many contributions to the cause of racial and social justice.

Brooklyn Legends joins the world in saluting the life and legacy of the great Ms. Ruby Dee.  She was truly a woman of style and substance.  For me, she had a quintessential elegance that I will always remember.

I would like to close this post with a quote from her daughter: Nora Davis Day:

We gave her our permission to set sail.
She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went



Brooklyn Sounds & Brooklyn Sights – “Born For This”

Dear Readers,

Last month, we made two new additions to our homepage, Brooklyn Sounds and Brooklyn Sights.  Today we have made an update to our Brooklyn Sounds gallery.  Our featured artist is Ms. Stephanie Mills, singing one of my favorite songs  Born For This.

I know that many of you follow our posts on a smart phone or tablet, however these features are best viewed when using a computer.  When you visit our site, you will see both galleries on the left side of the page.  As always, thank you for stopping by.  Please remember to tell us what you think.


Introducing Brooklyn Sounds & Brooklyn Sights

Dear Readers,

Last week we made two new additions to our homepage,  Brooklyn Sounds and Brooklyn Sights.  Brooklyn Sounds features a song from an amazing Brooklyn vocalist, and Brooklyn Sights provides a glimpse of the beautiful places you will find in Brooklyn.

I know that many of you follow our posts on a smart phone or tablet, however these features are best viewed when using a computer.  When you visit our site, you will see both galleries on the left side of the page.  The selections for each will change twice per month.  When you get a moment, please stop by.  Don’t forget to tell us what you think.


Celebrating African Heritage Month

Dear Readers,

For as long as I can remember, the decision to dedicate the month of February to honoring  the achievements of people from the African Diaspora has been met with mixed emotions.

Many people of African heritage have asked, “Why are the achievements of our ancestors recognized for only one month out of twelve?”  They went on to view this designation as insensitive and inconsistent when compared with the years this history was not taught or recognized.

For others, in February 1976, when former President Gerald Ford extended what was then known as African Heritage week to what would become African Heritage month, this was a major victory.  The month-long celebration was embraced as an important way to recognize the significant contributions our ancestors made to America.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  As a nation, we have truly come a mighty long way.

Throughout February, many remarkable Brooklyn institutions will host programs for African Heritage month.  Brooklyn Legends applauds these efforts and receives them in the spirit of celebration.  We embrace the position that the accomplishments of people from the African Diaspora and the Caribbean transcend time.  This is especially true for the heroines you will read about here at Brooklyn Legends.  They embody the grace, determination and hard work which will impact future generations

In honor of African Heritage month, and the first year anniversary of Brooklyn Legends, we proudly salute the phenomenal Brooklyn women we have featured this past year.  The stories that we have shared are archived on our blog.  If you would like to become reacquainted with each one, please use our search browser.

Here’s our salute to another African heritage month, and another year of Brooklyn Legends.  We are proud to have you share this journey with us.  Stay tuned for more highlights of some of Brooklyn’s most dynamic achievers.

Have a wonderful week!


Sharon Jones – A True “Soul Survivor”

Dear Readers,

Well, one thing I believe we can all agree on, it is truly cold outside.  I am not sure if I ever recall temperatures this brutal since I left Syracuse, New York over twenty years ago.

Hopefully today’s post will warm your heart.  I invite you to spend a few minutes becoming acquainted with the legendary Sharon Jones, soul queen and leader of the Dap Kings band.  And yes, she is a Brooklynite.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings enjoy a wide following in the music world.  They are the spearheads of a revivalist movement that aims to capture the essence of funk/soul music, just as it was during the height of its popularity in the mid 1960s through mid 1970s.  I first learned of Sharon and the Dap Kings while reading a book published by More Magazine,  287 Secrets of Reinventing Your Life: Big and Small Ways To Embrace New Possibilities, in 2011.

More Magazine

More Magazine

Sharon provides a riveting account of the challenges she faced, professionally and personally, hence the title “Soul Survivor Sharon Jones.”  She tells her story candidly, yet gracefully.

In 2007, four years before she is interviewed for this book, 24 of her friends and family members died, include a brother, and her mother suffered a minor stroke.  In 2011, she endured another personal challenge when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

The next two years would bring a new set of challenges.  In 2013, shortly after supporting her mother during this painful time, Sharon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Her last treatment of chemotherapy was less than one month ago on New Year’s Eve.  I can think of no better way for Sharon to celebrate a new chapter in her life.

Several years ago, I watched my father struggle with stomach cancer, which he eventually succumbed too.  This was one of the most difficult moments in my life.  I refer to this time as “my years of silent pain.”  This was a topic that I rarely discussed.  I buried the pain and anxiety deep within my spirit, for this was the only way I could be strong for my father and my family.  Reading Sharon’s triumph, reminded me just how much inner fortitude we each have during life’s more challenging moments.  Though painful, we do survive.

In the January 23, 2014 edition of The Big Issue, Malcolm Jack shares his interview with Sharon.  They discuss her health, her triumphant return to the stage and, most important of all, the “new Sharon”.   I found her story to be compelling and inspiring.  Rather than summarize the interview,  I thought you might enjoy hearing from Sharon – in her own words.

Today I’m in Manhattan at a hotel. We had a rehearsal with the band because we’re recording Jimmy Fallon’s chat show [Late Night with Jimmy Fallon] on Thursday and Friday. Saturday morning I’ve got CBS News, then Saturday evening I’m flying out to LA. I’ll be on Conan, then The Tonight Show. Then I go to Canada to do some shows. Then I’ve gotta go to the doctor and take a CAT scan to make sure the cancer is out [last June Sharon had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour]. So everything’s going crazy.

Sharon performs on Conan,

Sharon performs on Conan,

I want to get back into the music because music is my happiness.These last few months people have been like, “What you been listening to?” and I haven’t been listening to anything. I’m confident that my strength is going to come back for touring – the doctor said a couple of weeks. Even just getting back into doing interviews and stuff is forcing me to be where I have to go. It’s all part of me getting well.

I’m still feeling the effects of the chemo – it still hasn’t gotten out of my system yet. New Year’s Eve was my last treatment. There’s no hair on my head, no hair in my nose but it’s all happening and I’m just bearing it. It’s part of what I have to do. I’m still a little weak. If I had to perform tonight I couldn’t.

I thought I wasn’t ever going to be able to play this Give The People What They Want album live. I really thought I was going to die. I had pancreatic cancer stage two. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers. People who get to stage three and four never survive.

The album was supposed to come out in August. We were getting ready to tour it then, and we just had to stop everything when I got sick. But they did let Retreat out as a single. After being sick, it changed the whole meaning of that song. Instead of me telling this guy to retreat, I’m telling my sickness, this cancer to retreat. Get behind me: I’m back to give y’all what y’all want, which is old soul music!

My whole eating has had to change. I do green drinks now – I need all the vegetables I can get. My drink in the morning is about 13 different ingredients – spinach or kale or sprouts, and a banana or some grapes to make it sweet. When I drink this stuff it’s like – wow! That had a lot to do with my healing. That’s been a big change in my life, to eat differently.

I think this first show in New York, on February 6, is going to be something special. I’m so excited. For me it’s going to be like a new beginning. This whole Sharon is a new Sharon. I’m not going to have my little dresses on – they’re still hanging in the closet but I’m gonna get them back – I want everybody to know!

Brooklyn Legends is proud to celebrate with Sharon Jones on her amazing recovery.  She will be performing at the Beacon Theater on February 6th.  For tickets, please visit Ticketmaster.

Enjoy the rest of the week!


Big Issue Interview –
More Magazine – 287 Secrets of Reinventing Your Life
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings –