Young Leaders is just around the bend. One week from today I will be giving y’all a lewk inspired by the legendary corporate outerwear game of Olivia Pope when I traipse up into the St. Louis American Foundation’s 10th Annual Salute to Young Leaders Awards and Networking Reception on Feb. 20 at The Four Seasons. I don’t want to give too much of my ensemble away, but if you see someone twirl up out of a fabulous winter white cape to reveal an opulent matching belted peacoat and alabaster shaded leather gloves, it’s probably me. Last week I named names, so as we countdown the days, I will simply remind everyone that the cream of the crop as far as the present AND the future will be occupying the sixth floor of the Four Seasons from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. So if you want to be mingling in the best company as far as rising stars, you absolutely do not want to be absent. And regardless of how you are already moving, you will leave the building wanting to do even more thanks to the spirit filled inspiration that Rebeccah Bennett serves up as mistress of ceremonies. Be sure to get your tickets if you don’t have them already. Visit www.stlamerican.com or call (314) 533-8000.
STL representing at the Oscars. I was so happy to see Bruce Franks Jr. walk the red carpet of the Academy Awards in Hollywood as the subject of Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan’s Academy Award nominated film “St. Louis Superman.” Listen, I remember back when he was rocking the mic as Oops in the Building. Seeing him go from rapper, to activist, to politician to Hollywood A-Lister brought my heart joy over the weekend, do y’all hear me?! And even though “St. Louis Superman” didn’t take home top honors in the “Documentary Short” category, I couldn’t be prouder of Bruce if I tried. But I will tell you what; another St. Louis superman did clutch a golden trophy. That’s right, David Steward II and his Lion Forge Animation was among the producers for Matthew Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce Smith’s “Hair Love,” which earned a “Best Animated Short” Academy Award Sunday night. That’s right. There is a black man right here in our city with an Academy Award to his credit. I all but wrote my own acceptance speech when the news broke early in the awards – and was almost late to see Jill Scott so that I could see the win live and in the flesh. And shout out to his sister Kimberly Steward for being one of only three African American women producers with a film that earned a “Best Picture” Oscar nomination, along with Oprah Winfrey and Octavia Spencer (who won as a producer of “Green Book”). I’ll tell you what, don’t let anybody convince you that we need to look outside of our own area code for inspiration, because we are and have always been major contributors to the culture!
Phenomenal Jilly from Philly. Jill Scott came to St. Louis to slay – and did exactly that as she celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” Sunday night at The Fox. It is my favorite of all the Jill Scott albums – and we all know she has some bangers. She did not disappoint, and performed the whole doggone thing and hardly anything else – which gave all of us our life and reason for being. There was not a seat to be had as she gave us a show she seemingly started preparing for as soon as she released that album 20 years ago, because the whole thing was flawless from start to finish. That shape was snatched, that face was beat to the gawds and those edges were laid. As she went track by track to remind us why she was our best friend in the head from the get! I also love how she changed some of the lyrics to show that she was a grown woman and a lowkey savage. I think I might hop in her DM’s to ask if her stylist can get that self-portrait embroidered Afrocentric kimono in a 2X for a friend of a friend. I am the friend of a friend. All the folks came through with seat slayage. Dameon Christian, I know folks thought you were serving drive through car wash realness with your custom jacket, but your Harley Quinn homage was not lost on me. If I go through and name all the folks that were giving me life at the show besides J-I-L-L- S-C-O-T-T, I would be here all night, so I will keep my focus on Jill. I will say that even though I know the year just started – despite that long January that makes me feel like I’m already in July – she’s going have the show to beat for 2020’s best of.
Hot African vibes at Pepper. Listen, I know y’all know I keep saying that my boy Ono is a sure thing as far as clocking wins for parties up in the club, but I have to say it again after Saturday night at The Pepper Lounge for AFroLituation. Don’t blame me because I have to keep saying it. Blame him because he keeps doing it. The crowd was so deep that the heat and humidity probably felt like home for the native Africans. I wish I had been able to get there sooner into the vibe when they were deep into the African music. If y’all haven’t heard the new crop of stars coming out of the diaspora, they are a whole entire vibe. I was hoping to juke to Burna Boy, but quite honestly, the crowd was so tight that I could barely expand my chest wide enough to take a deep breath, let along hit an Atilogwu step. I know this to be true by how I got swept up in the in that “Swag Surf” as I tried to head towards the door to make my exit. I thought that wave was going to carry me to the coast of the Mother Land.
A night for black love and black music. For those of you who have been off the grid in Coronavirus quarantine, I thought I would remind y’all that the 2020 St. Louis Music Festival is going down Friday (that’s right on Valentine’s Day) at the Chaifetz Arena. I’ve seen all of the acts on the bill more than once recently, but that doesn’t make me any less excited to see SWV, El DeBarge, Teddy Riley, Blackstreet, Jagged Edge and Bobby Brown take me back to the 90s and beyond. I’ll be the first to admit that Bobbaye and El have mixed bags over the years, but when he came to town as part of RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike) he held his own and gave us a show. And El didn’t disappoint at the Urban Expo either when he hit the stage this summer.