Pictured here with my friend and platonic boo Carl Nelson (left) and me (center), my fellow Atlanta University Center brother Matthew Morgan (right), a Clark Atlanta University grad, and I were in school around the same time. We had about two years in common as he came into college and I completed my matriculation at Morehouse. Through the years, he's continued to impress me with his commitment to the arts. Currently, he's showing up like a champ as Associate General Manager of Harlem Stage (www.harlemstage.org), a component of Aaron Davis Hall. One of its new venues and ventures is The Gatehouse, which is adjacent to Aaron Davis Hall on Convent Avenue and West 135th Street. It is an extraordinary, late 19th-century landmark structure that was used to distribute water from the Croton Aqueduct in Westchester County to New York City. It was transformed by Harlem Stage into a flexible, 196-seat performance, rehearsal, and support space. "Matt" invited me out to the open house to see this 100-year-old Romanesque Revival-style stone and granite facility up close. We toured and observed features like modern lighting, quality sound systems, and an elegant balcony facing lower Manhattan - all demo'd to cunning effect as we witnessed live performances from area artists, enjoyed great southern eats from "Spoonbread Too", and enjoyed the company of the "fabulous" as only Matthew can bring together (He's ever the party thrower!!!). It was great to see some old friends from the business, including fashion guru and "Sister 2 Sister" contributor Walter Greene, who introduced me to his lovely friend Donna Dove, a designer, who does awesome work with really intricate and decorative detailing (www.donnadove.com). Radio personality and community leader Jean Parnell (of Harlem Community Radio, WHCR 90.3) was there and - along with Carl Nelson - always makes me smile to the point of unstoppable laughter. Jean - at 70-something - is known for always doing an amazing "split" at her birthday party each year. She also taught Alicia Keys in elementary school many years ago, when she was "Miss Parnell" (www.whcr.org ). This picture is from a night we all spent at Lotus for the "Bling" book party. My good girlfriend Olivia Scott was in the house. She is also a member of the "Listening Experience" I've mentioned to you that my Morehouse brother Eddie created for a small group of 'music lovers' who share their favorite songs (from different categories). (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/1/15/-but-i-need-a-friend.html) She also is responsible for hiring me last year to host a Motorola/Boost Mobile event "Music Biz 101", a symposium for college students to learn the good, bad, and ugly of the music business (excerpted along with some of my other recent work on the following link:http://184.108.40.206/prileyfreelancedemo1.wmv). It was a blast! Well, Olivia, my fellow Scorpio soulmate, tells me she's headed for the altar with the love of her life, Al, and I couldn't be happier for her. Also, another actor/friend Charles Wallace was there. He is working with the New Professional Theatre on programs, including a production I'm anxious to see: "Single Black Female", which he and his colleague/also a hair older (to me) Spelman sister Sheila Kay Davis, are thinking about erecting at The Gatehouse. They liked the space. The New Professional Theatre (www.newprofessionaltheatre.org/) is a 501c3 non profit organization that survives on pledges from
foundations, corporations and individual giving. Some foundations that have funded them include The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Carnival Cruise
Foundation, and Bloomberg. Still, their budget remains small and they are always seeking new sources. So, check out the site and if you are for the arts, see if there's something you can do. Amidst all of this networking and such, we all sipped on "Cristallino", a cava from Spain, made in the style of champagne, but with Spanish grapes. The bottle costs about $9.99 and you can get it from "Harlem Vintage: A Wine Experience" at 2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd. and 121st Street. (WWW.HARLEMVINTAGE.COM). GREAT NIGHT!
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