San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild/
Tabia African American Theatre Ensemble
Songs For Humanity:
Gifts From The Ancestors
A Multi-disciplinary Performance
Commissioned by Mosaic America
Dance, Media, Story, Poetry, and Song
Themes of Social/Racial Unrest, Women Power, and Community Unity
Historic Hoover Theatre
1635 Park Ave., San Jose, CA 95126
Songs For Humanity: Gifts From The Ancestors
Conceived and Written by Leon Beauchman in Collaboration with Viera Whye
and Includes the Works of Other Notable Writers
Director – Viera Whye
Stage Manager – Denis Marks
Tech Ops – Bailey Borbas, Simon Dodge, and Jacob Loteff
Brief Talkback and Reception Following Saturday’s Performance
Songs For Humanity: Gifts from the Ancestors calls forth the spirits that were so integral to African culture and to the descendants who lived the American experience. According to tradition, the African Ancestors imparted profound insight and wisdom through rituals that included the spoken word, music and dance. Tabia African American Theatre Ensemble will reinterpret the tradition of calling forth the Ancestors through the artforms that have expressed the strength and compassion of the African American experience. The spirits of ancestors such as Langston Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Billie Holiday, Martin Luther King and others will be evoked during the performance.
Part 1 – The Ancestors
“Blood Flow” by Leon Beauchman
Song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday
“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes
“Blues Song” by Leon Beauchman
“I Too Sing America” by Langston Hughes
“Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey and The Rock
Part 2 – Songs of Women
Song Oh Freedom
“Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth Song “Oh Freedom”
Song “Four Women” by Nina Simone
I Am Somebody by Laura Wayne
Song “I Am Somebody”
“The Party” from The Colored Museum by George C. Wolfe
Part 3 – Unity
Song “Wade in the Water”
“Cosmic African Woman” author Unknown
“More Alike Than Not” by Viera Whye
“Solidarity” Poem by Wesley Flowers
“I Dream a World” by Langston Hughes
Leon Beauchman (Writer, Drummer, Ensemble) is a poet, spoken-word artist, percussionist, singer, lecturer and community activist. He previously performed with Akoma Arts in the Bay area. Songs for Humanity… is his first effort at writing for the stage. He is currently working on his first book, The Great Overcoming: An African American Search for Meaning, Healing and Liberation. Several themes in the play are from the book. His interest in psychology led to obtaining a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology thereby allowing him to explore the healing powers of artistic expression. Leon is an AT&T retiree and served four terms on the Santa Clara County Board of Education. He currently serves as president of the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators (SCCABE) and is working as a mental health clinician in several local schools. Leon has performed with Tabia several times in community shows over the past year, and led collaborations with SCCABE and Tabia on programs for high school students for many years.
Glenna Brambill-Williams (Ensemble/Vocalist) has performed extensively in the Bay Area and Southern CA for over 50 years. Glenna has been a performer/vocalist with Tabia African American Theatre Ensemble for the past 36 years, she has appeared in Holdfast to Dreams, From the Mississippi Delta, and Gee’s Bend among others. Glenna is a Board Member and Elder of San Jose Word of Faith Christian Center.
Mike Fair (Drummer) is an ‘Old World Percussionist’, meaning that he has studied Hand drum Rhythms from ancient West & North Africa and the Middle East. He plays the African Djembe, the African Ngoma, the Arabic Doumbec & Riq (Tambourine) and Tar (Moroccan frame drum). Some instructors and influencers in his nearly 30 year pursuit of the drum are; Mary Ellen Donald and Babatunde Olatungi. Some memorable on–stage performances were with John Belizician, world renown Oudist and Sudanese Oudist, Hanza El Din with the Grateful Dead Rock Band. Mike has performed with Tabia in several of their community shows.
Yvette Glasgow (Sojourner/Ensemble) has performed in several productions with Tabia over the years, including From the Eyes of Mary McLeod Bethune, Gee’s Bend, and other community programs. She is a registered nurse and active missionary at her church Glad Tidings, COGIC. She is an active teacher in the Bible Institute, and just the prayer service. Founder of “A Cup of Cold Water,” she is mom to 2 daughters, and is a proud grandmom to 5.
Tamika Harris (Choreographer/Dancer) Afrikawedance is an ensemble of talented, empowered women of color who seek to create platforms for uplifting culture by way of storytelling, meditations for healing, poetry for enlightenment, and African dance and drum for creating happy spaces of community reaching all ages. Dancers: Iyani lopez-Ison and Yonis Pratt Dancer Drummers: Mohamed Lamine Bangoura, Mohamed Kouyate, and Eric Bli Bi Gore.
Carolyn Jones (Ensemble/Vocalist) is a native of Louisiana who has been singing for as long as she can remember. Carolyn has traveled extensively spreading her gift to all who wants to hear. She was a lead vocalist for AKOMA Arts, The Gospel Harmonettes of San Jose and has performed with the Eddie Gale Orchestra. Carolyn has sung at many churches and graced the stage of some of our local venues such as The San Jose Jazz Festival, The Monterrey Blues Festival, Yoshi’s, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle and Festival in the Redwoods just to name a few. When Carolyn is not on stage singing, she models, primarily for WAKEFIELD BOUTIQUE, Oakland, CA. Carolyn performed with Tabia in their production of Fragrance of Freedom the story of Harriet Ann Jacobs.
Sharon Moore (Ensemble) is a member of Tabia, performing in their touring show, and in their productions of Gee’s Bend, Before It Hits Home, Jar the Floor, Fences, Dance On Widow’s Row, The Trial of One Short Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae, Waiting To Be Invited, Steal Away, Flyin’ West, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, Langston Live, and Long Time Since Yesterday. She recently performed in Tabia’s virtual reading of Front Porch Society (can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube), Power of Arts Convening, and Black Voices Ego Tripping. Sharon retired from teaching in 2014 after 38 years. During the course of her career, duties included: Assistant Principal at Chaboya Middle School in the Evergreen School District, coordinating and supervising a district-wide Literacy Alive Program, being a mentor teacher, piloting textbook material, managing a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment in the elementary and secondary classrooms, and working with diverse groups within the school community. She enjoys attending theatre and film festivals, concerts, and traveling.
Natarshia Moseley (Ensemble/Vocalist) makes her Tabia stage debut in this production! She made her first appearance with Tabia in their virtual show, the “Power f Arts Convening” earlier this year. She is a creative artist in both her professional and personal life, with a degree in marketing and digital art. Natarshia has performed in church-produced plays and skits, praise dancing, and sang in ensembles that backed many BayArea artists. Natarshia counts it a blessing to bring the message of joy and happiness to audiences and enjoys good food, family, and traveling.
Khalilah Ramirez (Dancer) is a performance artist, author and educator located in the Bay Area. Her original performance art, The Dance of Peace, has evolved into two books, a college course as well as an uplifting form of self-expression for the entire community. Khalilah is known as “The Peace Dancer” because her performance art engages all participants on the level of love, harmony, and healing. She has continued this work in multiple cities, states and countries for over a decade through her dedication to teaching dance & movement arts professionally to all ages. Khalilah specializes in making dance joyful and accessible for everyone using the following tenets: Movement As Our Medicine, The Power of Play, and The Magic of Music. When not busy writing or performing on stage, Khalilah serves as a Professor in the Dance department at The College Of Adaptive Arts in Saratoga, CA.
Cheryl Scales (Ensemble/Vocalist) is a practicing artist able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to her work, career, and a public audience as a blues and jazz vocalist, actress and through her community involvement with marginalized populations. Cheryl has an extensive career in acting as a member of Tabia African Theatre Ensemble for over 30 years performing featured roles in many of their plays The Dance on Widow’s Row, and “For Colored Girls…among them. In addition, she has performed for the San Jose Stage Company in productions of Beehive and Avenue Q. She studied jazz vocals under the direction of Roger Letson, at DeAnza College, and the Jazz School in Berkeley, studying with Madeline Eastman and Kitty Margolis. Her singing style is greatly influenced by three diva’s of jazz, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn and Nina Simone and she has shared the stage with phenomenal musicians such as Larry Vuckovich, John Handy, Ricardo Scales, Eddie Marshall, Walter Savage, and Calvin Keys. She has worked with The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women performing and mentoring incarcerated women and women who are HIV positive on stage and in community settings. Cheryl’s one women show, Mirror, Mirror of My Soul has been produced locally and nationally at the National Black Theater Festival. Cheryl has been employed with San Jose Multicultural Artist Guild as an office manager for several years to support her performing activities.
Rev. Asim L.F. Shannon (Voice of the Ancestors) is Founder and Servant Leader of “Ade Insights Ministries.” He served as the Assistant Pastor of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY from Oct 2016 to Jan 2018; this coming after a 20 yr journey as a licensed minister, a 15yr journey as a consecrated Elder, and a 10 journey as an ordained clergyman. Rev. Shannon is a Spiritual Life Coach, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, and Licensed/Ordained Minister.
Viera Whye (Director) has managed the artistic, business, and administrative aspects for Tabia from its inception in 19 85. She has directed several of Tabia’s productions, including For Colored Girls…, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, Long Time Since Yesterday, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Home and co-directed Dance On Widow’s Row. Viera has numerous stage, and video/film credits as a professional actor in the Bay area. She received her B. A. in Theatre & Sociology from Towson University, in Baltimore. She received her MA in Theatre Arts from San Jose State Univ. Viera successfully combines art and technology in her current role as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist at Intel, and was employed as a Telecom professional for 30+ years. Viera has received numerous awards and recognition, she was one of the inaugural Black Legends Award recipients in 2015, and the Whye-Piper Arts award continues to be presented in her and David Piper’s name. In 2020, she was selected as one of the “100 Women of Influence” by Silicon Valley Business Journal. Other recognition includes the AKA Sorority Regional Arts Award, Community Service Award from the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators (SCCABE), the SCl Human Relations Award, an “Excellence in Leadership” Award from the SJ NAACP, “Woman of the Year” Award from National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Silicon Valley )NCBW-SVC). She is an active member of AKA-Eta Rho Omega Chapter, NCBW-SVC, and The Links of San Jose. Viera is proud and privileged to be Mom to the most precious beings in her life, her two handsome and witty sons Copeland Bryan and Courtney Bryan. Viera established Stir the Soul Productions, LLC in 2021 and is proud to join in with SJMAG as a producer of this project.
Denis Marks (Stage Manager) has worked with Tabia on numerous productions over the years: He directed Yellow Eyes, and wrote an Anti-Tobacco show performed by youth in Tabia’s summer program, he was the Stage Manager for The Eve of Jackie Wilson, Jar the Floor, Monk & Mirror, Mirror of My Soul, and production Manager For the World Is My Home. Denis has worked for several theatre companies throughout the Bay area and as a Theatre Professor.
Bellarmine Belles: Bailey Borbas, Simon Dodge, and Jacob Loteff (Media Op, Light Op, & Stagehand) graciously stepped in at short notice to assist with this production. These talented Bellarmine students are members of the Theatre Dept at Bellarmine College Prep. Thanks guys!
Artistic Director’s Notes: We are so excited to return to live theater for first time in-person in 2 years! Coming back to the theater has been a daunting task, many obstacles tried to get in the way, but we have pushed through, and as I always say “where there is a will there is a way.” It has been a challenging time for us all as the world seemed to turn itself upside down; but borrowing a thought from Sojourner Truth “all of us together can turn it right side up again.” We are pleased to honor our ancestors in this multi-disciplinary production showcasing dance, music, song, storytelling, and poetry in a compelling and dramatic way. I Hope you learn something, I hope you feel something, I hope you do something motivated by this performance. I hope you know you matter and others matter, that all voices are heard and all are seen. All praises to our ancestors who make us who we are!
Tabia continues to be committed to present Black American culture without apology. Celebrating and embracing the spirit of a people; and boldly sharing it with the world. Tabia will continue to present powerful and meaningful plays. As you travel through life, remember these words of August’ Wilson “you have to take the crookeds with the straights. …and we all have a song to sing.” Tabia thanks you for your support! We ask that the Master Spirit continue to “unify us…don’t divide us. Take Wings.” Viera
San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild, Inc.
Board of Directors
Kim L. Warren
Arlene Sagun – Day of the Dead/Latinx Theater
Viera Whye – Tabia African American Theater Ensemble
Tabia and SJMAG extend sincere thanks to our faithful supporters and welcomes new friends. Your support and continued patronage are very meaningful to our organization and we look forward to seeing you in the future. Please sign our mailing list, if you have not done so. If you are interested in being a Board member, Volunteer or making a Donation please note it in the guest book or contact SJMAG at 408-272-9924.
For their tremendous support of this production we give special thanks to Priya, Usha, and Glady of Mosaic America, Leon Beauchman and Santa County Alliance of Black Educators (SCCABE), and The Links of San Jose. Thanks also to David Ferlauto, Bellarmine College Prep Theatre Instructor and students Bailey, Simon, and Jacob, Susan Rojas, our wonderful Ushers, Donald Davie, Lesley F. Shannon, Volunteers, Tabia members, SJMAG Board Members, and Staff at Local Color.
Produced by the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild, Inc. and Mosaic America. SJMAG is funded in part by grants from National Endowment for the Arts, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Office of Cultural Affairs, the City of San Jose, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates, in partnership with California Arts Council-a State Agency, and the Castellano Family Foundation. As well as Sponsorships and partnerships with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority-Eta Rho Omega Chapter, The Links of San Jose, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women- Silicon Valley Chapter, and Individual Contributors. We thank and acknowledge Tabia’s “Starring” Individual Contributors: Teresa Morley, Reginald Swilley, harry Isom, Deborah Watkins, Greg Lane, Antoinette and Vern Battiste, Mary Cates, Josephine Miles, Rita Daniels, DeAnna Pursai, Angelina and Rick Upton.
The San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild’s mission is to unite and serve communities by conducting cross-cultural arts programming reflective of the experiences of African Americans, Women, and Chicano/Latinos. SJMAG produces and presents artists of diverse cultures in high-quality performances and offers arts programs to educational and community organizations. Through its programs and activities, SJMAG works to hire, develop, and serve artists of color, encourage multi-ethnic audiences and volunteers, and develop collaborations that reflect the diversity of the region.
Please consider making a donation so that we can continue to bring African/African-American theatre and culture to our community!
SJMAG, 25 N. 14th St. Suite 505, San Jose, CA 95112;
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