Arts

Hillside drama students present ‘A State of Urgency’ this weekend

By Jock Lauterer

November 10, 2021

In response to the crisis of gun violence in Durham, the Hillside High School Drama Department, under the direction of legendary director Wendell Tabb, presents the original play, “A State of Urgency,” subtitled, “A call to action to stop gun violence.”             The play will run this weekend with four performances at Hillside High School, […]

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UNC-CH honors Black music faculty trailblazer, Martha Flowers

By Jock Lauterer

January 23, 2021

Martha Flowers came to the front door prepared for her photo shoot, looking every bit like a diva — dressed for a concert, pearl necklace, and a smile that could – and did – light up Broadway. Diva; I may not know what that means technically, and I have a hunch its like when someone […]

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The Talk: a message for our times

By Jock Lauterer

June 11, 2020

Of late, there has been much talk about “the talk.” Now, a year and a half after a dramatic play by the same name debuted in Durham, a video version will begin streaming for a month, beginning today, Friday, June 12. (See details below.) “The Talk” dramatizes the frank conversation a black father must have […]

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‘Beginning of an era’: Durham artist commemorates activists

By Julia Masters

April 2, 2020

Crouching with a power tool in hand, Durham artist Stephen Hayes pressed chicken wire over an aluminum base and drilled it into place. Soon the structure was covered in smooth slate, and the acrylic top covered in a collage of old news clippings and photographs was placed on top. This marker now sits permanently outside the […]

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Durham organization helps abuse survivors heal through art

By Victoria Johnson

Durham native Monica Daye was sexually assaulted in a church when she was 11. “My whole life completely changed,” she said. “I went from an A/B student — outgoing, dancing — to being a student that was failing with D’s and F’s, rebelling, cursing teachers out and getting in trouble.” When she was 19, Daye […]

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African dance class creates lively community at Hayti Heritage Center

By Anthony DeHart and Matthew Audilet

For more than 15 years, a group of dancers and drummers – some experienced, some not – have come together once a month at the Hayti Heritage Center on Old Fayetteville Street for its Hayti Rhythms dance class. The class offers community members the chance to practice movements from the African diaspora and listen to […]

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Hallelujah! Swing School empowers students by honoring the past

By Landon Bost

February 13, 2020

Hillside High School’s “Hallelujah! Swing School” returns for the second consecutive year for Valentine’s weekend in honor of John Henry Gattis’ “Mr. G’s Swing School.” The production honors the past and inspires the next generation of leaders from Durham. The play is produced and directed by the esteemed Hillside drama teacher Wendell Tabb, who has […]

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‘See you next week:’ 23-year-old Wednesday night open mic going strong

By Andrew Dundas

“Our first rule is…?” Brett Chambers called over packed tables painted in dim lights from the stage. “Have fun!” the crowd shouted in unison. And fun they had. Laughter and conversation filled The Blue Note Grill, 709 Washington St, for over an hour before any performance. When the music did start, people grooved in their […]

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Duke’s film festival introduces attendees to aspects of African culture

By Victor Hensley

Mainland Africa is approximately 4,030 miles away from Durham, but Duke University is working to narrow the gap by bringing African stories to the campus community through film. This month Duke is hosting its fifth-annual African Film Festival, featuring stories from around the continent. The four-week festival, organized by the university’s Africa Initiative, will hold […]

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Immerse yourself in the fifth annual Black History: Artists’ Perspectives Exhibition

By Gianna Tahan

The Hayti Heritage Center presents its fifth annual Black History: Artists’ Perspectives Exhibition to bring African American artists together and honor the black experience. Five years ago, curator Willie Bigelow, who is a Durham resident and artist, came to Hayti Heritage Center Executive Director Angela Lee to design an exhibition that pays tribute to Black […]

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Art gallery celebrates Black History Month, gives voice to local artists

By Matthew Audilet

A Durham art gallery launched an exhibit Feb. 10 highlighting seven local African American artists in celebration of Black History Month. Cecilia Henaine de Davis, owner of the 11-month-old Cecy’s Gallery and Studios, acknowledged the importance of giving a voice to local artists — especially those whose voices are often silenced. “I selected a collection […]

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Hayti Heritage Center celebrates jazz drummer Max Roach

By Victoria Johnson

January 30, 2020

Jazz legend Max Roach’s drums beat again Saturday night when five local musicians interpreted his rhythms to about 50 listeners at the Hayti Heritage Center. The concert, called “Freedom Day: A Tribute to Max Roach,” celebrated one of the most important drummers in modern jazz history, the Hayti musicians said. A North Carolina native born […]

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Durham Kidznotes tunes up for benefit concert at DPAC

By Molly Weisner and Landon Bost

While most Durham public schools remained quiet last Saturday morning, Fayetteville Street Elementary School’s parking lot was full.   Out of cars ambled K-12 students from Durham and Raleigh, some shouldering black instrument cases nearly half their height.  As the sunlight warmed the January nip in the classrooms, young musicians in the Kidznotes program warmed up for a full afternoon of practice.   […]

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Durham residents dance like nobody’s watching

By Cheyenne Beasley

April 24, 2019

Aubrey Griffith-Zill describes “ecstatic dance” as something that “happens when our thinking mind gets out of the way and our body is able to move uninhibited by thought.” And judging from the Friday night crowd at the Living Arts Collective, it is gaining popularity in Durham. Each session opens with a circle to go over […]

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Black Issues Forum revives discussion on Durham’s black-owned businesses

By Samantha Perry and Sabrina Berndt

Although the 22nd annual Full Frame Documentary Film Festival has come to an end, UNC-TV will continue highlighting the work of award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson throughout the month. On Tuesday, April 23, UNC-TV will premiere Nelson’s most recent documentary, “Boss: The Black Experience in Business.” The film touches on rarely discussed stories of black entrepreneurship […]

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Bull City Laughs hitting the road for fun

By Tianna Degraffenried

April 8, 2019

Black excellence has done it again with five African-American males starting their own comedy show. It’s not just a regular comedy show with a venue, but a comedy show on a school bus. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a school bus. The first Bull City Laughs bus tour rolled out on March 15 to a sold-out […]

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Filmmakers highlight emotional struggles faced by immigrants

By Samantha Perry

March 27, 2019

When Grace Beeler began teaching English as a second language, she was shocked by the stories refugees had to share. “If everyday Americans could hear the stories that I hear at work they would have a lot more compassion for refugees,” Beeler said. “They would understand why they need to come here, why we should […]

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New gallery honors Durham artist before grand opening

By Sabrina Berndt and Elisabeth Beauchamp

When Jacqueline Jones inherited her cousin Mable’s artwork, she knew she was taking on the responsibility of protecting part of Durham’s artistic history. An art exhibit honoring Mable C. Bullock took place at Cecy’s Gallery & Studios on March 1 and 2 from 6-9 p.m. The event was open to the public and marked the […]

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Black Poetry Theatre explores masculinity in the workplace in its latest production

By Natasha Townsend

February 27, 2019

The Hayti Heritage Center buzzed with nervous energy hours before the 4 p.m. showing of “Inside Studio Real: A choreopoetic sitcom” on Feb. 23.  The play, written by director Dasan Ahanu, involves poetry, movement and emotion. Ahanu, 44, is from Raleigh and has been an artist since the ‘90s, he said. He has performed original […]

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‘As an Act of Protest’ battles racism on screen at Durham’s Shadowbox Studio

By Hannah Towey and John Bauman

Filmmaker Dennis Leroy Kangalee had set out to create a masterpiece. Less than one year after his debut film, “As an Act of Protest” was released, Kangalee sent that masterpiece flying off the balcony of a hotel in Germany. Kangalee’s independent film is a 144-minute-long drama whose unedited, anti-Hollywood aesthetic and emotionally raw acting seek […]

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John Gattis’ hit musical ‘Swing School’ returns to Hillside High

By Will Shropshire

After 47 years, “Swing School,” a community favorite production for many decades, returned to the stage at Hillside High School. The Hillside High School Drama Department – under the direction of Wendell Tabb –  put on four performances of its new adaptation, called “Hallelujah! Swing School,”  from Feb. 15-17. The production has long been a Hillside […]

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‘I’ve never seen any performance comparable to this one:’ ‘The Talk’ resonates with PYO members

By Adrianne Cleven

A performance just isn’t a performance without an audience. And some unique members of the audience during Sonny Kelly’s performance of his play, “The Talk,” added extra significance to the experience on Feb. 17. “The Talk,” which centers around themes of racial oppression and resilience, has been making waves across Durham and Chapel Hill since […]

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Hayti celebrates fourth annual Black History: Artists’ Perspectives Exhibition

By Sabrina Berndt

February 13, 2019

Four years ago, Hayti Heritage Center presented the first Black History: Artists’ Perspectives exhibition to honor African-American artists. Now an annual event, Hayti opened the 2019 exhibition on Feb. 1. The exhibition began in 2016 when Willie Bigelow, an artist and Durham resident, approached Angela Lee, the executive director at Hayti, to bring an event to […]

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Playwright grapples with growing up while black in ‘The Talk’

By Diane Adame

A black playwright has turned his personal experience into the play, “The Talk,” through dramatizing a difficult conversation he had with his son about the racialization of America. Sonny Kelly, a UNC-Chapel Hill doctoral candidate and performer in “The Talk,” wrote the play in 2015 after explaining the 2015 Baltimore protests to his then 7-year-old […]

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How longtime filmmaker Lana Garland saved the Hayti Heritage Film Festival

By Jack Frederick

Longtime writer, producer, director and now-Durham resident Lana Garland fell into filmmaking because a movie spoke to her. Literally.  In 1989, Garland bought a ticket to see Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing,” the iconic movie she says was “revolutionary” for the budding black film industry. In the film, she was moved by a […]

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Kidznotes performance in ‘Carmen’ tests the bounds of vocal range

By Diane Adame

January 31, 2019

Kidznotes musicians used their opera voices to tell the dramatic French love story of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen.” The students performed as the children’s chorus alongside the stars of the North Carolina Opera on Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 at the Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh. The opera performance featured hypnotic choreography, human drama and popular hit […]

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Golden Belt artists adjust to new studio spaces after relocation

By Johnny Sobczak and Cameron A. Rogers

January 30, 2019

There is a new era beginning at the Golden Belt campus in downtown Durham, an art gallery that has been the home of major artistic projects for the community. Golden Belt, originally known for its textile factory, is now embracing the many arts cultivated in the Durham area thanks to fresh ownership. In 2016, Scientific […]

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Threehouse Studios celebrates community through yoga, music, dance

By Keeley Gay

The white, vine-covered building situated along Durham’s American Tobacco Trail is more than it appears. What used to be an old, small Piggly Wiggly has been transformed into a community-focused dance, yoga and music studio. Threehouse Studios opened their doors to the public on Oct. 22, 2017. The idea of a multipurpose studio was developed […]

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Hip-hop aerobics dances into Holton

By Cheyenne Beasley

Looking more like a club than a county recreation center, Durham residents “got lit,” at the county’s only hip-hop aerobics class in the Holton Career and Resource Center. Holton located at 401 N. Driver St., was the former East Durham Junior High School before it was renovated in 2009 with the help of the city, […]

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Kidznotes’ free Winter Concerts this weekend

By Cindy Chen

December 14, 2018

  Kidznotes, the Durham-based non-profit music program devoted to giving kids a passion for music, is back with their annual Winter Concerts. This year’s first free concert will be held Fri., Dec. 14, 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Fayetteville Elementary School located at 2905 Fayetteville St. The second concert will be presented in the same […]

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Photo essay: The original Colors of Purple

By Cameron A. Rogers

November 22, 2018

The Hillside High School Theatre Department, under the leadership of veteran director Wendell Tabb,  launched its fall production season by bringing “The Color Purple’ to the stage. Durham VOICE photographer Cameron Rogers was there to capture these images. Before the production begin on Nov 9, African dancers graced the stage at Hillside High School, giving […]

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BlackSpace and The Revenge of the Afronauts

By Isaiah Ball

October 22, 2018

  Located on 212 West Main Street is a unique recording studio. The “BlackSpace” is an Afro-futurism digital creation space home to Durham’s youth. This makerspace offers the youth a “wokeshop” series offering personal training in the digital and creative arts including videography, spoken word poetry, puppetry, coding, 3D printing and electronic music production. Kids, […]

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Rehearsals underway at Hillside for “The Color Purple”

By Cheyenne Beasley

October 10, 2018

Hillside High School’s award-winning drama department is in rehearsal for ” The Color Purple,” a musical version of the classic novel,  produced and directed by veteran drama teacher Wendell Tabb, November 9-11, at Hillside High School theatre auditorium, 3727 Fayetteville St. There are almost 100 students working to create the production, including actors, dancers, offstage […]

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Saturdays are better at the Farmers’ Market

By Arielle Cummings

October 8, 2018

  Saturday! The day that everyone looks forward to. What better way to enjoy a relaxing Saturday morning, than at the Durham Farmers’ Market? The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. April through November and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. December through March. The market also offers a mid-week market, […]

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“The Glory Train” gospel musical comes to Durham

By Cameron A. Rogers

September 21, 2018

Determination, faith and humor. These are just a few words Karen Lewis, the niece of one of the actresses and a member of the Antioch Baptist Church uses to describe tomorrow’s gospel musical, “The Glory Train.” For the last three years for Black History Month the Drama Ministry of St. Matthews in Greensboro, N.C holds […]

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Evan Nicole Bell: Documenting through photography

By Corin Hemphill

April 20, 2018

  Through the exhibit “Faith in Color: A Photographic Exploration of Race, Religion, and America in Tribute to C. Eric Lincoln,” a Duke senior aims to change people’s perceptions. The exhibit is on display in the Duke University Chapel until May 1. Evan Nicole Bell is from Columbia, Maryland,  a planned community founded by Jim […]

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The Scrap Exchange celebrates 27th birthday; Reuse Arts District grows

By Marissa O'Neill

April 11, 2018

  On Earth Day weekend, April 20-21, the Scrap Exchange will celebrate both its 27th birthday and the grand opening of its new store, Scrap Thrift. It will also host its second DIY (Do It Yourself) Fest for the Durham community. The Scrap Exchange, founded in 1991, bought its current space, a formerly abandoned church, […]

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Black History: Artists’ Perspectives Exhibition at Hayti

By Lamel Batts

March 29, 2018

  During February, the Hayti Heritage Center hosted its annual Black History: Artists’ Perspectives exhibition with powerful art by various artists. The free exhibition was curated by Willie R. Bigelow, who is also an artist featured in the exhibit. Bigelow started the exhibit in 2016, hoping to feature African American artists and showcase their artwork […]

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Art in the name of science

By Antony Nganga

March 28, 2018

  Like some other artists with studios in Golden Belt, Christine Hager-Braun, arrived at art through an unlikely path. She holds a doctorate degree and is a biochemist who has had her share of runs in the lab and in class. She has pored over microscopes searching for an HIV vaccine.  Some wonder why she […]

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Hillside alumna leads Dance Company to be named best overall in dance festival

By Zayrha Rodriguez

Back in 2006 the Durham native, Valencia Lipscomb, was the second freshman in the history of Hillside High School to make it to Company—one of two dance groups in Hillside Dance Company. Twelve years later, Lipscomb is the teacher for the Hillside Dance Company, which includes the two dance groups called Company and Sting, as well […]

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Welcome to Wakanda: What Black Panther means to us

By Corin Hemphill

March 18, 2018

Online fundraisers with the hashtag #BlackPantherChallenge are trending. Teenagers in Durham get to see the first black comic book superhero on the big screen. Black Panther is a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The latest blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is helmed by a black […]

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Durham’s new trail will add color and connect communities

By Tessa Platek

February 28, 2018

In busy urban areas, sometimes there’s nothing better than escaping the city to enjoy nature. An addition to the West Ellerbee Creek Trail is making it easier to do for more of Durham’s residents. “It’s going to connect people to parts of Durham they haven’t seen before,” said Jessica Kemp, Durham senior project manager in […]

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Hillside drama teacher changes lives through international theatre

By Kenzie Cook

For the last 31 years, North Carolina Central University graduate Wendell Tabb, 55, has headed the theatre program at Hillside High School. In this time, he has transformed the humble high school stage to something more akin to professional theatre. Since 1995, Tabb has directed the International Professional-Student Theatre Exchange Program allowing drama students to […]

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ZenSoFly talks music and how RDU receives it

By Baleigh Johnson

  ZenSoFly is a Raleigh-based rapper, DJ, radio personality on 92.1, and producer. With her different forms of expression, ZenSoFly has many people paying attention. Her talents reach out to a variety of people and environments like festivals, club venues, and museums, but most of her performances are in Durham. “Durham has been really supportive […]

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Durham Arts Council displays “America Wants” by Owen Daniels

By Kelcie Frye

February 14, 2018

Turning photos into powerful messages, Owens Daniels is using photography and digital art to make a statement about relevant social issues of the moment. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Daniels considers himself a “hybrid North Carolinian.” A retired military veteran, Daniels got his start in photography at the U.S. Army Photographic School of Cartography. He is […]

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