Thursday, May 31, 2012

Music at the Olympia - Spectacular June Line-up!

Olympia Music Hall
© Discover Paris!

The line-up of black musicians at the Olympia Music Hall next month is stupendous!

We kick off with Mokobé on June 8th.

Photo from Olympia Music Hall Web site

Mokobé is French of Malian and Senegalese origin. He has enjoyed tremendous success with his music since his solo début in 2007. He donates a percentage of the earnings on each of his albums to buy mosquito nets as part of the effort to combat malaria in Senegal and Mali.

Next up is Al Jarreau on June 10th.

Al Jarreau
Photo from Olympia Music Hall Web site

Jarreau's concert is part of an extensive European tour. He will also appear at jazz festivals in Orleans, France; Milan, Italy; Oeiras, Portugal; Perugia, Italy; and Marseille, France - among numerous other concerts - before returning to the U.S. in August.

Barbara Hendricks wraps up three days of Festival Radio Classique on June 17th.

Barbara Hendricks - Festival Radio Classique flier
Olympia Music Hall flier

She will "hold court" after the concert to sign CDs for her fans. Find her at the Entrée des Artists on rue de Caumartin.

Grande dame Jessye Norman interprets Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin on June 26th.

Jessye Norman
Photo from Olympia Music Hall Web site

Norman was recently on tour in Australia, where she performed in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in April and May. Following her return from "down under," she graced the city of London with a performance at Royal Festival Hall.

Finally, Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef round out the month on June 27th.

Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef
Olympia Music Hall flier

This performance is billed as part of Paris' own Jazz Festival at Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Jamal is to regale his audience with compositions from his new album Blue Moon and then invite Lateef to the stage for the last half of the show.

Visit the event calendar page on the Olympia's Web site (in English) at to listen to the music of each artist and order tickets for their shows. Enjoy!


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Thursday, May 24, 2012

2nd Annual Brothers Spring Gala

Just over a year ago, I published a guest blog posting by Romello Rivers that announced the 1st annual Brothers Spring Gala. Well guess what! It's that time again!

The Brothers Paris are hosting the 2nd Annual Brothers Spring Gala - A Celebration of African-American Culture - on Sunday, June 3, 2012. It will be held at

Le Café Barge
5, port de la Rapeé
75012 Paris
Metro: Gare du Lyon (Line 1) or Quai du la Rapeé (Line 5)
Time: 8 PM until...

Dining room at Le Café Barge
Photo courtesy of The Brothers Paris

This will be an evening of dance, live jazz, hip-hop, soul, gospel and blues music. There will also be an "exquisite holiday feast," along with an African-American art exhibition and poetry.

The Brothers' guest of honor is founder Tannie Stovall.

Tannie Stovall
Screenshot from "Talking to Tannie" video by Joseph Langley

There will be a special birthday tribute to Josephine Baker (b. June 3, 1906).

General admission is 15 euros per person, including one free drink.

Admission is free if you choose to dine. Dinner (55 euros per person) includes apéritif, first course, main course, dessert, wine (one bottle per three persons), mineral water, and coffee.

Reservations are required. To make yours, call: 33(0)1 40 02 09 09 or reserve online at:

For a group reservation of 8 or more, contact:
Richard Allen: 06 64 85 79 39
Zachary James Miller:
Joseph Langley:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

The Brothers Gala is a "3rD Floor" Production.


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Secrets of the Black Bloggers: A Book Review

As the creator of Entrée to Black Paris, I was featured in the e-book Secrets of the Black Bloggers a few months ago. Here is a review of the publication.


Secrets of the Black Bloggers by Zhana takes a fresh look at blogs that focus on topics of interest to people of African descent. This e-book provides readers with the opportunity to go behind the scenes at several blogs to see exactly how they are created and how their creators think.

Through her interviews with fourteen writers, Zhana explores issues such as selecting topics, post frequency, and driving traffic to blogs and monetizing them. The bloggers that she features write on a wide variety of subjects, with business, author, and international blogs predominating. The majority of these writers (twelve out of fourteen)—and all who write about business, authorship, and international topics—are women.

Among other things, each writer presents his or her top three tips for blogging. These are invaluable to newcomers to this form of online communication and for those who are struggling with the medium.

As one of the bloggers featured in the book, I was curious to read the responses of fellow interviewees regarding what they enjoy most about blogging. I love the research aspect most, but suspected that others would have a wide range of sentiments about this topic.

I was right! Responses included getting feedback for expanding thoughts and refining ideas and strategies, providing analysis and viewpoints that others have not considered before, connecting with people and inspiring them, and freedom to discuss whatever one wants without censorship. Our motivations are as varied as our blog content.

I was most pleased to see Adrianne George and her Black Women in Europe blog featured in the international section of the book. Adrianne is one of the most dynamic women I have encountered on line and I strongly recommend that you visit her blog!

If you are thinking of starting a blog and want some insight into the process, problems, and priorities associated with blogging, Secrets of the Black Bloggers is a great resource.


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Thursday, May 10, 2012

7th Annual Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade, Slavery, and Their Abolition

Today France observed its 7th annual Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade, Slavery, and Their Abolition.

As has been customary since the first commemoration in 2006, an official ceremony was held in the Luxembourg Garden. A few drops of rain fell but the weather was fairly warm for the occasion. The garden was closed to all but those who had been invited and security was tight at the one entrance that was open for the morning ceremony.

Tom and I arrived in time to position ourselves close to the gazebo, which was bedecked with a colorful backdrop that included a photo of the garden's sculpture Le Cri, L'Ecrit and the plaque that pays homage to the slaves of the French colonies. This is where the ceremony took place.

Gazebo at the Luxembourg Garden
© Discover Paris!

Christiane Taubira, author of the French law that declares slavery and the slave trade a crime against humanity; Lilian Thuram, former soccer player and founder of the organization Education contre le Racisme (Education Against Racism); and François Durpaire, president of the movement l'Appel pour une République multiculturelle et postraciale (Call for a Multicultural and Post-racial Republic) were among the VIPs in the audience.

Lilian Thuram and François Durpaire
© Discover Paris!

Guadeloupan actor Greg Germain acted as Master of Ceremonies. He briefly explained how the ceremony would proceed and listed the names of the dignitaries that would attend the event. He then read poetry while we waited for them to arrive.

Greg Germain
© Discover Paris!

The dignitaries included Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë; Françoise Vergès, president of the Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery; Jean-Pierre Bel, president of the French Senate, and none other than President-elect François Hollande! Nicolas Sarkozy, current leader of the French Republic, was announced by Germain as being part of the group, but he did not attend.

President-elect Hollande and the other dignitaries walked around the garden to greet those standing at the chain barrier between the crowd and the gazebo and then took their places on the stage.

The President-elect followed by the press
© Discover Paris!

President-elect François Hollande
© Discover Paris!

Françoise Vergès and Mayor Bertrand Delanoë
© Discover Paris!

Germain and fellow actor Nicole Dogué then read moving passages from the works of Edouard Glissant, Aimé Césaire, and Patrick Chamoiseau.

Greg Germain and Nicole Dogué center stage
© Discover Paris!

The culmination of the ceremony was an impassioned speech by Senate President Bel. He noted, among other things, that the Loi Taubira was passed unanimously by the Senate. He acknowledged the presence of several historians and anthropologists from the seven European nations that perpetrated the Transatlantic Slave Trade - England, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, and France - who stood behind and to the left of the podium on the stage. He spoke of the work that they and others are doing to uncover details about slave life and the Middle Passage.

Senate President Jean-Pierre Bel
© Discover Paris!

President-elect Hollande did not speak at the ceremony, but was interviewed by the press afterward.

At the end of the ceremony, attendees were invited to stroll around the garden to enjoy its beauty and to see the sculpture and commemorative plaque.

Le Cri, L'Ecrit (2007)
Sculpture erected in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in France
Fabrice Hyber
© Discover Paris!


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Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Invention of the Savage - Exposition at the Musée du Quai Branly

Tom and I went to the Musée du quai Branly to see the exposition entitled L'Invention du Sauvage (The Invention of the Savage) last Sunday.  We were there for almost four hours and I still did not feel that I had explored the exhibit thoroughly!  It is so densely rich with information and images that a second visit is required to fully grasp the information presented.

What you will find at this temporary exhibit (open until June 3, 2012) is a chronological presentation of paintings, posters, photos, objects, and film of men, women, and children who were brought from their native lands to the North American and European continents to be displayed as "other."  At first, they were viewed as curiosities.

Madeleine de la Martinique
Le Masurier
Oil on canvas, 1782
National Museum of Natural History, Paris
 © Discover Paris!

As time progressed, they were thought of as "specimens" of inferior rank on what had been conceived as a hierarchy of humanity.  As such, they were people who "could and should" be dominated by European powers. One of the most interesting items displayed to illustrate this way of thinking is the cephalometre (cephalometer), an instrument designed to measure various dimensions and angles of the skull.

Dumoutier's Cephalometer
© Discover Paris!

The European tradition of exhibiting people from foreign lands began in the 15th century with Christopher Columbus and the transport of Indians from the "New World" to the royal court of Spain.  Indians from North America would come to fascinate Europeans and white Americans for centuries.  Inuit peoples (Eskimos), North Africans, Egyptians, black Africans, and Australian Aborigines were also transported for private shows and public spectacles - the latter included circuses, theatrical performances, colonial expositions, and human zoos.  Such events reached the height of their popularity during the 19th century.

Brite Okabak, Eskimo
Henri Cordier
Plaster, 1884
National Museum of Natural History, Paris
© Discover Paris!

Les Zoulous
Jules Chéret
Lithograph poster, 1878
Collection of research group ACHAC
© Discover Paris!

Poster, 1898
Collection of research group ACHAC
© Discover Paris!

Interestingly, we learn that France once considered people from several areas that are now part of the country as "other."  Bretons, Alsatians, and Savoyards were specifically mentioned in this regard.  According to the information presented, because these groups were strongly encouraged to abandon their cultural identities to become "French," they were exhibited at fairs and expositions so that people could observe these cultural distinctions before they disappeared.  The Alsatian "village" at the exposition at Nancy portrayed in the poster below was located alongside African "villages."

Poster advertising the Alsatian "village"
C. Splinder (Royer et Cie, ed.)
Poster, 1909 
Collection of research group ACHAC
© Discover Paris!

"Far West" shows depicting various Indian wars in the United States become wildly popular in Europe and the rest of the world during the first part of the 20th century.  The museum's exposition devotes a large area to this topic.  A beautiful black-and-white film montage of photographic portraits of Sioux Indians who appeared in William J. Cody's Wild West show is featured here. The photographer was Gertrude Käsebier, a transplanted New Yorker (originally from Iowa) who became fascinated by the show.

Indian headdress and film presenting photos of American Indians
© Discover Paris!

One panel in the exposition talks of the return of the remains of exhibited individuals who died in Europe to their countries of origin.  The most famous of these persons is Saartjie Baartman, whose remains were repatriated from France to South Africa in 2002.  Other countries have done the same - Belgium returned the remains of several Congolese persons who died during the Brussels International Exposition of 1897 to Congo in 1999 and Switzerland (University of Zurich) returned the remains of five Fuegians to Chile in 2010.

Saartjie Baartman, The Hottentot Venus
J. Barré
Oil on wood, c. 1810
National Museum of Natural History, Paris
© Discover Paris!

The exposition focuses largely on the theatrical performances and expositions that took place in Paris, but also presents information on events and concepts that originated elsewhere in Europe and in the United States.  The international success of Barnum and Bailey's "Greatest Show on Earth" and its influence on the exposition of persons with malformations or other physical abnormalities is presented, as is the widespread adaptation of the prototypical itinerant village developed by Carl Hagenback, director of the Hamburg Zoo.  The tragic story of Ota Benga, a Congolese Pygmy who was exhibited at the Bronx Zoo in the same enclosure as an orangutan and who eventually committed suicide because he could not return to Africa, is represented via the bust that was made of him in 1906.

Bust of Ota Benga
Plaster, 1906
American Museum of Natural History, New York
© Discover Paris!

The last display that you encounter before leaving the exhibit is a contemporary, French-language film projected on three walls that depicts the "others" of today.  Among those featured in the film are a young man with Down Syndrome, a gay couple, a female gypsy, and a black man.

The didactic panels that explain the progression of the exposition are printed in English as well as French, but the labels for the more than 500 pieces that are exhibited are in French only.  Audioguides are available in multiple languages and the English version is very well done.  The exposition is very dimly lit, so photography is difficult.

Despite the limited presentation of information in English, I highly recommend visiting this exposition.  The visual impressions alone will strike a chord and inspire you to learn more.


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