Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Painted Red is a Cell of a Play

Painted Red ran at the Shelter Studio 54 until April 27th.  This writer saw it only days before its close. I am sure some of you heard about the heroine in the play but I can imagine many more of you know nothing about Henrietta Lacks whose living cells was a panacea for the world of medicine in this true life tale.

“Painted Red” tells the story of Lacks as her life progressed from the Tobacco farm to Baltimore, Md., where the family moved in hopes of seeing better times. Tara Taylor does a fine job portraying Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was the unwitting source of what became known as the HeLa cell line.  Since John Hopkins was Lacks only choice of a nearby hospital that accepted people of color in the 1950s, Henrietta went there after falling ill. Dr. Gey (Alan Thurston) discovered a lump in her cervix and cut off a small part of the tumor forwarding it to the pathology lab.  The prognosis was that Henrietta had a malignant epidermoid carcinoma of the cervix.  This was bad news for the mother of 5.

Painted Red was written and directed by Cynthia Stephens and most of the supporting cast played multiple characters, so I will list the Painted Red cast herewith: Michael Broadhurst, Jeff Burchfield, John Cannon, Jeffrey Allen Desalu, Jamyl Dobson, Milton Elliott, Kevin Gordon, Tiffany Nichole Greene, Deaon Griffin-Pressley, Sahirah Johnson, Ro Milner, Liz Morgan, Waleed Richardson, Tony Robinson and Rocky Friedman Vargas.

Lacks received treatment for her cancer via sewn in place radium tube inserts that were removed several days later.  Henrietta was released from the hospital and told to return for X-ray treatments as a follow-up. During her radiation treatments for the tumor, two samples of Henrietta's cervix were removed—a healthy part and a cancerous part.  This was done unbeknownst to Lacks and without her permission.  Cells from her cervix were given to Dr. George Otto Gey. These cells eventually became the HeLa (initials taken from her first and last name) immortal cell line, a commonly used cell line in biomedical research.

Henrietta’s condition worsened, making traveling to her appointments a hardship, so Henrietta asked to be committed to the hospital where she remained until her death.  The cancer had spread throughout her body and Henrietta was in significant pain, unable to even make it to the window to view her family standing below.  To add insult to injury the doctors discovered Henrietta had developed gonorrhea, a venereal disease passed on to her by her husband. Meanwhile, the doctors secretly continued to experiment on Ms. Lacks keeping it secret from her family.  Realizing her impending death, Henrietta begged her family and friends to protect and care for her children.  In the play, Painted Red, family and friends did agree to care for Henrietta’s children but sadly after Henrietta’s death, it would be her very family who would abuse and prey on her children.

Henrietta Lacks’ died at age 31 of uremic poisoning leaving her husband and children devastated. After her death, her family continued to struggle unaware that Henrietta’s immortal cells lived on and were being cloned and utilized by doctors throughout the world, netting huge profits for John Hopkins and medical science.

While conducting research in his lab, George Gey, discovered that Henrietta's cells were unlike other cells.  Hers did something scientists had never seen before: They remained alive and grew, which was miraculous for doctors who ordinarily could not keep cells alive past a few days. Gey isolated a cell from Henrietta, duplicated it and started a cell line.  Henrietta’s cells were the first immortal cell line, so doctors were able to conduct multiple experiments such as polio research wherein in 1954, Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio. The cells were put into mass production in the first ever cell production factory.

HeLa cells have been used in a variety of tests such as human sensitivity to cosmetics, glue, tape and other products. Scientists have grown some 20 tons of Lack’s cells.  There are nearly 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells. The HeLa cells have also been beneficial to HIV-AIDS Research.

In 1973, the Lack’s family discovered John Hopkins' deception when a scientist called to ask for blood samples from the family as part of a genetic experiment. For 40 years or so, researchers continued to cultivate millions, and perhaps billions of Lacks' cells, while her family sought information, to gain a portion of the proceeds and gain control of Lack’s cell line.  At last knowledge, the National Institutes of Health worked out an agreement to give partial control and return of the cell line, but no compensation to the family.  However, the medical establishment must now get permission from the family for further use of Henrietta Lacks’ cell line.

For further information about the life of Henrietta Lacks, interested parties can read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" written by Rebecca Skloot.  I do not know if the playwright and producers of "Painted Red" will again present the show at another time, but if so, please go see it.  It's a turn in the pages of African American history well worth discovering and rediscovering.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Latin Singer Jose Feliciano at Lehman Center May 10th

Multi-Award winning Latin singer, composer and guitarist, Jose Feliciano, will be back at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx after a four year absence.  The singer appeared at Lehman in 2006, 2008 and again in 2010.  So, returning to Lehman Center, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, on Saturday May 10th at 8:00 pm, the day before Mother’s Day, will be like old home week for the musical star.

The Lifetime Achievement Award winner is best known for his chart-topping recording of “Light My Fire” which catapulted him to pop superstardom in 1968.  The famed tenor possesses an unmistakable voice and has been influencing pop, soul and Latin music for over two generation, singing in English, Spanish and Italian.  His mega-hits include “Che Sera” and “Feliz Navidad.”  Feliz Navidad has been among the “25 Greatest Holiday Songs of the Century” noted ASCAP. Jose has recorded forty-five gold and platinum records and received nine Grammy Awards.  He has garnered countless honors and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“I continue to count my blessings,” says Jose.  “America has been good to me. My fans are important to me.  But I cannot leave God out, because without God, nothing can happen.  So I do not take my stardom for granted. I try to remain humble.  I think part of being a good entertainer is never forgetting your beginnings so I continue to appreciate everyone who helped me along the way,” stated the very humble Jose who was born blind into humble beginnings in Lares, Puerto Rico in 1945.

“My parents were concerned how I was going to make a living but fortunately I took a liking to the guitar and with continued practice, I perfected it.  Having been born into meager circumstances, I listened to the blues.  I understood the music of Muddy Waters.  I tried to combine my Latin roots with my soul roots.  Outside of Spanish music, I was influenced by singers like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and I listened to a lot of Motown and was very impressed by Stevie Wonder who wrote a lot of his own compositions.  It took a while, but I finally began to write some of my own music as well,” remarked Feliciano.
Feliciano’s major break was in the Spanish market when, after an amazing performance at the 1966 Mar del Plata Festival in Argentina, RCA executives in Buenos Aires asked him to stay and record an album of Spanish music. His first single, “Poquita Fe” was a smash hit, and “Usted” was even bigger. Infusing long-time standard boleros with his own guitar and vocal styling, he became the teen idol of the day. “Being a teen idol was wonderful but it could be scary too.  I could feel hands touching me from all directions and sometimes I would become disorientated.  Finally I worked out a routine where my people would open the car door and form a barrier and I would just run straight ahead until I felt the car and jump in.  This became the routine after every performance,” recalled Feliciano of his teenage idol days.

 Feliciano became a star throughout Central and South America, as well as in Mexico and the Caribbean.  When he met producer Rich Jarrard, it was Jarrard who encouraged the singer to record a Doors’ song “Light My Fire.”  By the time he was 23, José Feliciano had performed the song throughout most of the world and earned five Grammy nominations, winning two for his album Feliciano.  That same year (1968) José caught the world by surprise when he became the first artist to ever stylize and publicly perform the “National Anthem.” It went on to chart the Top-40. With his own style of acoustic guitar, jazz and American vocal inflections, Jose created the pathway for new generations of stylization of the anthem.

In 2008, his album Señor Bachata won a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Tropical Album as well as a Grammy Award for Best Tropical Album.  Fans have enjoyed countless Feliciano songs, which include “Rain”, “Chico and the Man”, “California Dreaming”, “Destiny”, “Affirmation”, “Ay Cariño”, “Ponte A Cantar”, “Cuando El Amor Se Acaba” and “Porque Te Tengo Que Olvidar?.” His latest release in 2012, was The King, a tribute to Elvis Presley.

Tickets for the show can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at 718-960-8833 or by going on line at www.LehmanCenter.org. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

From the Rough To Open in Theaters April 25th

Actor Henry Simmons took time out of his busy schedule to talk with this journalist about his upcoming movie, “From the Rough,” a movie he stars in with Taraji P. Henson, Michael Clark Duncan and Tom Felton.  The movie opened Friday, April 25th.

The film depicts the true life story of Catana Starks, a female Tennessee State men’s golf coach who overcame incredible odds and deep-seated prejudice to become “the first” African-American woman ever to coach an all-men’s team at a collegiate level.

Henry Simmons character Kendrick Paulsen, Jr., is the antagonist to the Taraji Henson character of Cantana Starks, believing that Starks could not handle the position of a men’s golf coach. Simmons talked about his attraction to the movie and about the role he played.  “When I first read the script, I initially thought it was a story that took place in the 1950s and 60s and was shocked to see it took place in the 1980s.  I was shocked to realize that people of color still face those types of barriers.  It’s really is a shame, and for that reason I wanted to be apart of the story and get the story out there so people understand that these things are not part of the past but go on in our recent history” remarked Henry.

Born in Stamford, Ct, the son of Aurelia and Henry Simmons, Sr., Henry is one of three children. Simmons earned a basketball scholarship to Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire where he earned a business degree.  After college Henry took a job in financial management but it didn't last because Simmons was attracted to acting first and foremost.

Simmons' first acting gig was as a hot-headed youth in the movie “Above the Rim” with Tupac Shakur.  He went on to appear in movies and TV, most notably as Detective Baldwin Jones on the ABC police drama “NYPD Blue.”  He also played Queen Latifah's boyfriend in the 2004 action/comedy film “Taxi.” He had a leading role in "Shark," a CBS drama starring James Woods. Simmons also appeared in World's Greatest Dad”, "Man Up!" and besides “From the Rough," his next movie will be "No Good Deed," starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson.

“Professionally I enjoyed the opportunity to play someone in From The Rough, that I rarely get a chance to play.  Someone who is perceived as evil, I guess.  That is a color I don’t normally play.  I want to stretch and grow as an actor and this role presented that opportunity.  I did not have a problem playing the character but did have a problem with the character. People like that whatever their reasons may be, may have good intentions or what they believe are good intentions.  My character felt he was doing his best for the school by removing Ms. Starks from her job.  But actually what he was doing was destroying people’s lives, “remarked the talented actor.  “I tried to show that this man was racked with insecurity.  His insecurity was one of the reasons he had a problem with strong women.  I think one of his other issues was he felt unappreciated.  You know it’s funny but you cannot work to get respect.  However, if you do your work respectfully, than you gain respect.  If you do things looking for respect or look for approval that is where it causes problems. You have to work to the best of your ability and let things fall where they may.”

"From the Rough" was actor Michael Clark Duncan’s last movie.  Henry Simmons talked about working with the soulful Mr. Duncan.  “When Michael Clark Duncan passed it was an absolute shock. I knew that he was sick but I thought he was going to be OK.  But when he passed, I was in shock for days.  I couldn't understand how a man so good with such a big heart, so giving and generous, a great man could be taken away,” remarked Henry.  “I prayed for Michael, he stayed on my mind; I just could not believe he died.  But I was so grateful to have had the chance to work with him. Professionally, when Michael showed up on the set he brought an element of warmth that was not present in the script.  The man was so talented.  Personally it was a pleasure knowing a man like that.  He walked into a room and filled the room with his voice, his personality and his warmth.  The man loved life; you could see it in his smile.  You could see his heart.  He was a gentle giant. That is what he was.  He will be missed.”

Mr. Simmons did not meet Cantana Stark during the filming of the movie. “I did have an opportunity to meet Ms Starks at the premiere of the movie.  She seemed a woman of intelligence, class, and strength. There is a great deal of warmth about her.  She is a woman who commands respect and certainly deserves respect,” stated the actor whose movie “No Good Deed,” will be out in September.
Fellow cast members in “From the Rough” include Tom Felton, known for his role in Harry Potter, LeToya Luckett (original member of Destiny’s Child), John Bailey (Little John), Justin Chon, Paul Hodge and Ben Youcef.

Interested parties can learn more about FROM THE ROUGH via www.fromtherough.com or to listen to my radio show interview on BlakeRadio.com, Rainbow Soul, see http://www.blogtalkradio.com/blakeradio/2014/04/24/topically-yours--actor-henry-simmons

Monday, April 21, 2014

Magic Johnson Theater Screening Nadine Patterson’s “Tango MacBeth” on April 23rd
By Deardra Shuler

Award winning Filmmaker/writer/producer, Nadine Patterson, will be screening her film “Tango Macbeth” at the Magic Johnson Theater in Harlem, located at 2309 Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Manhattan, (124th St and Frederick Douglas Boulevard) on Wednesday, April 23rd from 6:30-8:15 pm.

“Tango Macbeth’ will be Ms. Patterson’s first feature film. Some of her documentary films include “I Used to Teach English,” which won her the Golden Apple Award via the 1994 National Educational Film/Video Festival in Oakland, Ca.; “Anna Russell Jones Praisesong for a Pioneering Spirit” which won Best Documentary 1993 via the African American Women in the Arts Film/Video Competition in Chicago; “Moving on with the Dreaming,” winner of the Prized Piece Award from the National Black Programming Consortium; and “Toda El Mundo Dance” selected by the 2001-2002 Council on Foundations Film and Video Festival.  Her other notable works include “Shizue” screened at the Museum of Modern Art in NY and “Release” shown at the Constellation Change Dance Film Festival of London. 

“Shakespeare has a strong connection to the African American community.  Did you know that A. Phillip Randolph was an amateur Shakespearean actor?  He was, and he did amateur productions in his Church.  He even considered acting as a career prior to going into activism and labor politics.  Because he was grounded in Shakespeare and theater, it helped him as a public speaker with his oratorical speeches and as a political organizer.  Fredrick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr., also studied and knew Shakespeare” informed Patterson.

Born in New York but raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Nadine Patterson attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA., where she won her Bachelors studying theater production and economics.  She earned her Masters in Instructional Media at Westchester University where she learned about documentary film production and television.

“For 15 years, I worked in public television. I was a producer/director and cameraperson
at the School District of Philadelphia’s Cable Access station.  We produced some of the first distance learning interactive programming. We had programming wherein we taught  Elementary Chinese (Mandarin) or taught people to speak Swahili.  It was very diverse, multicultural and educational.  I wanted to go into narrative cinema so I applied to the London Film School where I earned a Masters if Art, her second Masters.  While in London, I learned the craft of cinema from some of the best filmmakers on the planet,” remarked Nadine, who has always enjoyed using her imagination and telling stories. She started her first journal in first grade and has been informing people about varied cultures ever since.

Filmmaking encompasses, design, business, makeup, theater, music, poetry, costuming, writing, directing, researching, photography, et al.  Therefore, in order to be an effective filmmaker one must know all of the disciplines.

“I have a deep fascination with history.  It is important to know the historical context for which my movies are being set. In terms of Tango MacBeth, Shakespeare is a transitional author who’s work is somewhere between old English and contemporary English.  A lot of the phrases we use today in our English were created by Shakespeare. He looks at issues of race and gender.  He looks at issues of male/female marriage relationship which is a very contemporary issue. 

“In my film, “Tango MacBeth,” we looked at the relationship between Lady Macbeth and her husband MacBeth, who were like the power couples of today who work as a team to achieve great things.  But what happens with many people of today as in my story’s case, is once some people achieve great wealth and power, they lose sight and become greedy and power hungry. Like our political system of today. The question becomes what do we do as people in the community to stand up to this type of warped power structure? 

“I have an open casting system in my play wherein I cast the best actor for the part, irrespective of race or gender,” continued Nadine.  “I think people will be surprised to see how emotional engaging my film is.  The audience sees people that look like them.  People look at Tango Macbeth and see this is a movie for them.  It’s a very multi-cultural film.  You are in a theater with a company that is rehearsing MacBeth.  It is a documentary and narrative film about a rehearsal process. This is what makes it unique.” explained the producer/director/filmmaker.

Brian Anthony Wilson plays MacDuff.  He was Detective Vernon Holley on “The Wire.”  Alexandra Bailey, a Shakespearean actress, plays Lady MacBeth. This is her first feature film role.  Carlo Campbell plays MacBeth, and also in the film is the wonderful dancer Justin Bryant who plays Prince Malcolm. The music is by Lenny Seidman and the choreography by Zane Booker.

Nadine owns and operates her own production and consulting company, Harmony Image Productions with her mother Marlene G. Patterson. In 2011, she published her first book Always Emerging which regales her experiences as an independent filmmaker.

For those parties wishing to learn more about Nadine Patterson and her films, go to www.Tangomacbeth.com

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vanessa Williams “After Midnight”  Is Pure Joy                                                                                                              by Deardra Shuler

Vanessa Williams took time out of her busy schedule to talk to this writer about her role in “After Midnight” which she presently appears in until May 11th with Dule Hill as her leading man.  After Midnight is at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, located at 256 West 47th Street (Between 8th Avenue and Broadway) in Manhattan.  She replaces Toni Baxton who was featured until recently with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds.

With “After Midnight,” I feel I have been lucky to have yet another challenge -- when one door closes another opens” remarked the talented performer.  “I have been able to jump from genre to genre which I suppose comes down to my having a musical theatre background.  I majored in theater in college so I have had acting, music and dance training as well as theater.  It’s a great discipline because I get a chance to flex and use different muscles depending on where the job is and I get a chance to work with a phenomenal cast of talented performers,” stated Vanessa.

As part of the cast of “After Midnight,” Ms. Williams does 8 shows a week.  Normally a performer is able to rehearse at least 3 weeks before working in the show, but in her case, Vanessa only had one week of rehearsal and then went straight into the show. “Yes, it was a short rehearsal period; however, I get a chance to sing some amazing standards in the show, songs like “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Stormy Weather” and Sunnyside of the Street, et al.”  I’m able to both sing and dance in the show and the music is pure joy.  The energy is electric and the talent is extraordinary so it’s been fun every night,” said Williams.  “This is all music from the 1930s and 40s.  Duke Ellington did all the arrangements. In fact, Wynton Marsalis first did the show at City Center about two years ago.  So the musical has traveled its road having started off as a concept then becoming a Broadway show, “explained the singer/actress/Broadway star.

“After Midnight” is a 90 minute show without intermission.  Generally the orchestra is in a pit but in this production the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars band is a featured part of the show and is allowed to demonstrate their own outstanding musical talents during the show.

“From the very beginning of the downbeat, you are on a ride.  The audience can’t stop tapping their feet. But it’s the Harlem Renaissance era right up on stage.  It’s our history, our songbook.  These are melodies you can’t get out of your head and is an important part of our legacy” continued Vanessa.

The After Midnight producers also feature a slot called the Special Guest Star.  Although all the special guests do the same four numbers naturally they do it in their individual keys.  “In my case,” said Vanessa, “I dance.  So, I get a chance to do new choreography that has never been done by anyone else.  I am sure whoever comes after me will bring their own particular talents and specialties to the role as well.  It’s a joy whenever I am doing Broadway because it is something I love.  Dule Hill is back in the show after some time away but he is back headlining with me, I know people may have seen his television show and may be unaware that Dule started off as a dancer.   He has a background in tapping.  Maybe some of you remember him in the “Tap Dance Kid,” explained Ms. Williams.

I chatted with the entertainer about her roles in Ugly Betty and then later in Desperate Housewives. Vanessa discussed how actors must get used to immersing themselves into different roles.  “I was Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty and then was dropped into Wisteria Lane for my role in Desperate Housewives.  Actors find themselves a different character in a different field and ambiance. Of course there are different writers and whole lot of different people to work with.  After 4 years of Ugly Betty I bonded with the ensemble cast, so naturally I miss the people in that show.  You become a family.  As an actor you take what you are given and emerge yourself into the moment. I stay in touch with my Ugly Betty cast members and even after I leave “After Midnight,” I will stay in touch with some of the wonderful people I’ve met in the show.”  

When Vanessa ends her engagement in “After Midnight”on May 11th she is planning a 2-week tour in Japan.  Then back to the US where she will resume her role in “Trip to Bountiful” with Cicely Tyson and Blair Underwood in Los Angeles who takes over the role that Cuba Gooding filled in NY.  Bountiful will run in LA until November 2nd.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Awakening Heart
By Deardra Shuler

Do not let your hearts grow cold
nor for money your virtues sold
Heed you not with all discerning
the great earth warning, the seas are churning
Earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires burning?

Do not be blinded by uncompromising greed
Let your vision and common sense intercede
Cannot you see for all its stalling
Bound by corruption, our nation's falling?

When comes the panic, when you can't trace
monies in banks, shutting doors in your face
When rich sit on cans in the middle of a street
now forced with the poor for food to compete.

Yet they keep making merry while times are so hairy
Saying that's them, not me, so no need to worry
While ignoring the signs of the great social destruction
Living lives of unpreparedness without interruption.

What will you do as it all unfurls and the day finally struck?
Unwilling to rise up, you are now mired and in the muck
Time for real self determination and inner examination
Oh Divine, "Don't Save the King!" Save the people of this nation.

Open your hearts embrace brother to brother
Love your families, your sisters and your mother
Cooperate and no longer compete
Rebuild this world. Change the mold. Be bold
until your honorable mission is accomplished without defeat
Rebuild now! Before the price is too steep
Hone in your consciousness a new world, whole and complete.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


As a journalist, Deardra Shuler has written hundreds of articles, as well as edited newspapers and books. She is well versed in the English language having an excellent command of the language. She has tutored through the Literacy Volunteers and even worked with people from other countries to help them acclimate themselves to the American society and grasp and comprehend the English language, as well as learn to read and write it via use of phonics.

If you are looking for an editor for a particular project, such as Book & Article Editing, be clear on what you expect the book editor to do. Editors can make your book clear, logical and well organized. They help structure your information, check facts and references, correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in order to process a well honed book appropriate for your readership. Editors proof read and can critique your work to let you know what improvements are needed. Make sure you advise the book editor whether they will be working with you on the structure and ideas of your book or article or whether they will just do copy editing? The clearer you are with your expectations the more functional the editor will be in terms of giving you what you want.

Deardra Shuler is also available to teach English, writing and vocabulary to those having difficulty in those areas. She knows how to use the mechanics of the media to your advantage She draws on many networks to get you the attention, recognition and awareness you deserve and to influence prospects, customers, opinion leaders, donors, and the general public.

Ms. Shuler has a worldwide listenership on the BlakeRadio Network, Rainbow Soul, via her show Topically Yours. Guests have the opportunity to be heard nationwide and in 140 countries which includes continents such as: North America, South America, Central America, Asia, Africa, the South Pacific, Australia, Europe, The Eastern European Block, China, The Arab Republic, etc. Individuals who are seeking to promote themselves or market their companies and products have access to this venue and an Internet audience that pulls in about 50,000 listeners a day.

Having written over 1000 celebrity profiles, Deardra Shuler can be relied on to give sound judgment and expertise concerning the media as well as use her network of radio, political, business, social, media and philanthropic contacts.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Blues Guitar Genius B.B. King Brings Lucille to Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

One of the most famous guitarists in the world of Blues, B.B. King, will be appearing at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 19th at 8:00 p.m.  Known around the world, at age 88, King is an unstoppable musical icon who is still going strong and touring to this day.
Born on September 16, 1925, in Itta Bene, Mississippi, Riley B. King (a.k.a. B.B. King) is also a songwriter, singer and blues musician, whose blues hits and classics include “3 O’clock Blues,” “Woke Up this Morning,” “Live at the Regal,” and “Bobby “Blue” Bland Together for the First Time” and Payin’ the Cost to be the Boss.” In the R&B genre, “You Don’t Know Me” rose to #1. “Please Love Me,” “You Upset Me Baby,” “Sweet Sixteen, Part 1” and “Don’t Answer the Door, Part 1,” hit at #2. His crossover hit “The Thrill is Gone,” won King two Grammy Awards and the Hall of Fame Award. These are among the numerous awards he has accumulated during his lengthy career.
Mr. King has collected a number of guitars over the years.  “Yes, I have an extensive guitar collection, but my guitar of choice is a Gibson custom Lucille,” remarked King who named his guitar Lucille after an incident in Twist, Arkansas, when 2 men while engaging in a brawl knocked over a kerosene stove, setting fire to the hall where B.B. (Blues Boy) was playing.  Rushing outside to escape the flames, King remembered he left his guitar inside.  He rushed back to retrieve it in the knick of time, almost costing him his life.  Later, King learned the fight was over a woman named Lucille, prompting King to trademark his Gibson guitars ever since, calling them Lucille.
Lucille has been good to B.B. who developed a unique and very identifiable style of playing the guitar. Influenced by Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker, King developed a precise and sophisticated style of vocal-like fluid string bends and a shimmering left hand vibrato that many electric blues and rock guitarists have emulated.  “I listen to all kinds of music and they all have something to offer,” said Mr. King in terms of the development of his music and musical style over the years. His humane bent includes supporting a non-profit organization that provides free musical instruments and instructions to underprivileged public school children.  The program is called Little Kids Rock wherein Mr. King sits on the Honorary Board of Directors.
Married twice, B.B. King is reported to have several children and grandchildren.  When asked by this writer how Mr. King would like to be remembered, the King of Blues stated humbly, “I would like to be remembered as a person who loved people & loved sharing my music with the world.”  
King has lent his name to several clubs throughout the years.  His clubs include: B.B.'s Blues Club on International Drive in Orlando, Fl; his Blues Club on Beale Street in Memphis, TN and another in Nashville, TN; B.B. Blues Club in West Palm Beach, FL,  Foxswoods Casino in CT, a Blues Club at Universal City Walk in Los Angeles and a B.B. King Blues club located in Times Square (42nd Street) in New York City.
Books written about King include his autobiography entitled “Blues All Around Me” written by David Ritz and “The Arrival of B.B. King” by Charles Sawyer.
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West in the Bronx.  Tickets for the B.B. King concert can be purchased at the Box Office by calling 718-960-8833 or going on line at www.LehmanCenter.org. The Center is accessible via the #4 and D trains or if driving, via the Major Deegan Expressway and Saw Mill River Parkway. Parking is $5. Tickets are selling fast, so get your tickets early.