by Sheila Beasley
The Pittsburgh Black Media Federation promised an evening of soulful inspiration and entertainment, and delivered at the annual Soul Café Aug. 19. The event was held at the new 720 Music, Clothing and Café at 4405 Butler St. It brought old and new audiences together to celebrate a renewed era of PBMF, while providing delicious pastries, clothing and music nostalgia. The Soul Café featured some of Pittsburgh’s most talented poets and entertainers with sparkling, succinct style.
|PBMF Members and Soul Café Talent (Photos by Vincent E. Brandon)
Talent for the evening included Michael Vick aka “The Truth” who paid tribute to the strength and beauty of African-American women. Jaquaya Inez shared silky narrations from her book “Life of Expressions: Poetic Testimony.” Donna Baxter, best known as WebMistress and CEO of Soul Pitt Media, revealed her artistic side in a witty, poetic intersection of Black history meets technology.
From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, the triple threat group Harmony, comprised of sisters Ashley, Avery and Alexis, super emanated vivacious energy with an original song titled “I’ll Never Love You Again” that brought the Soul Café audience to their feet. Gelisa Bonner pleasantly surprised everyone with the impromptu reading of her poem “Our Time.” Professor Johnathan White moved the audience from jubilation to angst with his original poetry pieces that covered themes of Black pride and untimely death. With ringing intensity and soothing poise, Bekezela Mguni, enlightened the audience and Soul Café Chairperson Sheila Beasley, ended the program on an inspirational note with vocals to commemorate love.
Within the talent showcase PBMF member Monica Haynes guided a silent auction of deluxe gifts. Membership chairperson C. Denise Johnson encouraged PBMF membership and announced the discounted price for the evening. A special gift basket was presented to Carmen J. Lee, communications officer of The Heinz Endowments, for giving more than 20 years of exceptional leadership and support to PBMF. Lee was also honored as a 2011 New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Women of Excellence awardee. PBMF members Rene Aldrich and Lynne Hayes-Freeland were also honored as Women of Excellence this year. Proceeds from the Soul Café and silent auction benefit high school minority youth from the Frank Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop. The one-week residential program facilitates intensive journalism training that prepares students “to be able to compete at the highest level,” said Co-Director Chris Moore. At the Soul Café Co-Director Olga George, added “we have to keep up hope for our youth and stay passionate about supporting their careers and lives overall.”
PBMF President Tonita Davidson led special thanks and acknowledgement to the owners of 720 Music, Clothing and Café; The Soul Pitt Multi Media and WAMO 100.1FM for promotion and media support; Emmai Alaquiva, CEO of Ya Momz House and executive director of Hip Hop on L.O.C.K.; Kizuwanda “Ki Ki” Raines for door assistance; Ed Gainey, Mayor’s Office, City of Pittsburgh; Vincent E. Brandon, photographer; Sam Suter, videographer and all of the PBMF members and friends who made the Soul Café a success.