J. ROSALYNN SMITH-CLARK (Photo by Nana Kofi Nti)
by Tene’ Croom
For New Pittsburgh Courier
“I loved it! The music she sang from Jill Scott and Roberta Flack brought back wonderful memories, and there was something for everyone.”
That was the response from just some of the scores of people who packed into the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty to see J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark return home to perform her spectacular show, “The Ladies Who Sing With The Band.”
She was sassy and soulful covering the music of legendary singers spanning genres ranging from the jazzy music of Nancy Wilson to the neo soul sounds of Jill Scott. J. Rosalynn even paid tribute to the great Leontyne Price with a powerful rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now” from “Porgy and Bess.”
“I sang jazz in one of the greatest jazz cities, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for years to pay for my classical voice lessons. One of my most cherished memories was sitting in with the great Lionel Hampton Jazz Band in Dijon, while on tour in France with the prestigious Classical “Heinz Chapel Choir,” Smith-Clark says.
In keeping with her commitment to exposing children to the beauty and benefits of the arts and arts education, she provided a free dress rehearsal performance for youth in the East Liberty area.
Smith-Clark is the founder of Opera Noir, an African-American nonprofit arts organization with a mission to promote cultural diversity in classical arts and music – sites located both in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
Her mantra for Opera Noir is – “The stage should reflect the world that we live in; children of color must have access to the same cultural opportunities, and level of training as their counterparts in more affluent neighborhoods. Only then, will Symphony Orchestras, Opera, and Ballet Companies reflect more diversity in both their make-up and their programming.”
Target, AAA, Starbucks, Darryl and Judge Joseph Williams, as well as Bishop Loran Mann
so graciously answered the call for sponsors to “The Ladies Who Sing With The Band.” Because of their financial support Smith-Clark can continue toward her commitment to help children of color, no matter their background, get consistent, comprehensive, and sequential arts education.
J. Rosalynn is proud to have on her team celebrity stylist and costume designer Kirk Johnson, President of b. – vain couture. Kirk is credited with creating outfits for a number of legendary singers, including Patti LaBelle and Shirley Caesar.