June 20, 2007
Two Treats at the Haley House Café
I had the
privilege of being entertained by vocalist Fulani Haynes and her band
of musicians at the Haley House Bakery Café in Boston, MA. Her group
consisted of Larry Roland, Bass; Mike Shea, Keyboards; and Yusef
Douglin, Percussion. The all newly prepared food at the Sunday
afternoon bunch was fantastic. In addition to the excellent food served
to please the most exquisite palette our ears were fed a great
selection of old and occasionally modern tunes of the Jazz legions.
voice gracefully conformed to the scat style of Ella and to the low
reaching notes and nuances of my heroin, Nina Simone. Not to be outdone
the remaining band members were first-class. The group consisted of
some of Boston’s best players. They blended admirably in the background
while demonstrating real talent during their respective solos. Larry,
Upright Double Bass player, used an unfamiliar ‘modern’ instrument
whereby the output fed a loudspeaker. I had never seen an Upright Bass
like this before; however, it worked! Yusef, Percussion, outdid himself
on the Djembes. His excellent tone, consistency, and rhythm reminded me
of the exceptional quality I heard on my last trip to Senegal, Africa.
The Keyboard, often considered the most constraining instrument,
provided a lush variety of old Jazz tunes. Mike’s adaptive ability on
song after song proved he could ‘hang’ or lead with the best of
A Sunday Brunch at the Haley House with Fulani’s ensemble cannot be
toped. It is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. You hear terrific
music and your stomach enjoys the benefits of food freshly prepared by
the Haley House staff.
Dr. Alvin Foster
Retired Businessman and Music Devotee
Play on Sugar Hill
By Andrea Shea
Listen to story (Real Audio)
BOSTON, Mass. - April 09, 2007 - Katherine Butler Jones is a longtime
leader in education and community activism in the Boston area. She
co-founded the METCO busing program in the 1960s and has also published
a number of historical writings.
At 70, and a mother of eight, Jones is adding one more title to her
extensive resume: playwright.
Her new drama is called '409 Edgecombew Avenue: The House on Sugar
Hill' about her childhood home in Harlem. It's being staged in Boston
by 'Up You Mighty Race,' a Dorchester-based theater company that
produces historical plays about the experiences of black people in
WBUR's Arts and Culture reporter Andrea Shea has more on the story.
TEXT OF STORY
ANDREA SHEA: At a recent rehearsal the nine actors who star in '409
Edgecombe Avenue: the House on Sugar Hill' mill around the theater at
the Boston Center for the Arts...moving props and waiting for
direction. Off to the side Rocque Bridgewaters practices his part.
ROCQUE BRIDGEWATERS: The opening line is: 'I grew up here, when this
house was a centerpiece of the Negro community. Walter White, executive
secretary for the NAACP and his family live next door to our family on
the 13th floor.'
SHEA: The NAACP's W.E.B. Dubois also lived on the 13th floor of this
landmark building in Harlem. Thurgood Marshall was on the 9th. Actor
Paul Robeson and poet William Braithwait were neighbors. And it's said
Duke Ellington partied at 409 Edgecombe Avenue.
KATHERINE BUTLER JONES: It was a fascinating place to grow up,
especially at the time I was living there.
SHEA: That's Katherine Butler Jones. She's been in Boston for 50 years,
but lived in the real 409 Edgecomb from 1936 to 1957, during and after
Harlem's heyday. Jones says the building was like a 'vertical
community' back then, with people from all walks of life living and
working there. Now it serves as the backdrop for her first play. The
set she says, is like a time machine...with its glass doors,
herringbone floor, vintage telephone and gated elevator.
BUTLER JONES: This lobby is really the exact replica of the lobby in
409 I feel like I'm back in the building.
SHEA: But during her twenty-one years in that building Jones says a
very flamboyant and influential woman was never mentioned: Madame
Stephanie St. Clair.
BUTLER JONES: So I wanted to know why is it I haven't heard about this
lady. (laughs) She's not in any of the books about African American
women and the reason is because she was involved in something that was
considered quasi-legal at the time.
SHEA: And now Madame St. Clair is at the center of Jones' new play. An
immigrant from Martinique...St. Clair was known as the 'Harlem Numbers
Queen' in the 1930's. She was rich and powerful...and while she held
her own against some of the toughest crime bosses in New
York...including Lucky Luciano...the Queen also bought advertising
space in the local paper to speak her mind...and to encourage people in
her community to vote. It's these contradictions that make St. Clair
such a juicy character, according to the play's director, Akiba Abaka.
AKIBA ABAKA: So how do we bring them all together, where do we find the
truth, how do we create a truthful character on stage that's not
stereotypical and that's not unchallenging at the same time.
SCENE FROM PLAY: 'So you think you can come into Harlem and run numbers
on these so-called stores, well I'll show you how welcome you are.'
SHEA: Actress Fulani Haynes is Madame St. Clair in the play.
SCENE FROM PLAY: 'If you don't get out of Harlem now something worse
will happen to you.'
ABAKA: The name of our company comes from a speech given by Marcus
Garvey, he once said 'up you mighty race you can accomplish what you
SHEA: Akiba Abaka is in her late twenties and founded 'Up You Mighty
Race' six years ago. It's based in Dorchester, and early on Abaka says
the company focused on classics about the black American experience.
ABAKA: You know in the past we've done the work of Lorraine Hansberry
and August Wilson, Ed Bullins and some of the more noted writers. As we
continued to develop what I saw was that we could develop our own plays
and so that's what inspired this season which is called 'news from the
SHEA: Locals such as Katherine Butler Jones and her first-ever play
'409 Edgecombe Avenue.'
KAY BOURNE: Theater is a collaboration, so that's not so rare. What is
rare is the subject matter and its relationship to Boston.
SHEA: Kay Bourne was Arts Editor for 'The Bay State Banner' for forty
years. Now she's working on a book about black presence in the Boston
arts scene over the centuries. Bourne attended a reading of '409
Edgecombe Avenue' before it was fully developed into a play, and says
'Up You Mighty Race' director Akiba Abaka is doing something that isn't
often done in Boston.
BOURNE: There are many theater artists in Boston who have been somewhat
neglected, among them playwrights. If you don't get your plays done you
don't grow as a playwright. Akiba is being quite courageous to do new
playwrights because frankly the critics slam new playwrights unless
they're well-established and come from New York.
ABAKA: I don't think we have anything to lose by welcoming new
SHEA: Again, Director Akiba Abaka.
ABAKA: I don't really look at it as risky...to go from thought...to
text...to stage...to performance that's a great ride.
SHEA: It's been more than a great ride for activist-turned-playwright
Katherine Butler Jones. Jones says she's always loved theater...even as
a kid in Harlem...but thinks the scene here is lacking.
BUTLER JONES: Obviously there are not enough plays that are done that
do indeed address the community of color, so that's an issue that needs
to be raised to the surface, and the limited opportunities for actors
of color, that needs to be changed. So there's a lot of room for
improvement in Boston in that area.
SHEA: And, in light of the recent spate of violence in Boston,
Katherine Butler Jones says she hopes audiences will hear the message
that's central to her play: that we're not going to make it unless we
For WBUR I'm Andrea Shea.
Boston Elders Services presents the 2nd
Annual UNITED FOR ELDERS EXPO today, JUNE
15, 11am - 6:30pm at The Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic
Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Roxbury. The exposition will be a great
opportunity for Boston's elderly community and their caregivers to
network and learn about a wide range of services that are currently
available. It will also allow members of the elderly community to have
an in-depth dialogue with their local and State Representatives
concerning issues that are important to them and their caregivers.
Maureen Feeney, President of the Boston City Council, will present the
keynote address during the open-forum town meeting from 4-5:30 pm.
Invited guests include: Governor Deval Patrick; Mayor Thomas Menino;
Commissioner Eliza Greenberg, Commission on Affairs of the Elderly;
Secretary Jennifer Davis Carey, Executive Office of Elder Affairs;
State Senator Diane Wilkerson; Dudley Area Businesses and Dudley Main
Streets; Live Music Performances by the Central Boston Elders Services
choir. Free to the public. Fulani Live Productions (Jazz Collabrative)
Played Creative and Standards Jazz Standards For The Luncheon.
Collaborating With Vocalist Fulani Haynes Was
Bassist-- Larry Roland, Pianist -- Mike Shea And Percussionist -- Yusef
EDGECOMBE AVENUE: THE HOUSE ON SUGAR HILL"
by Katherine Butler Jones
directed by Akiba Abaka
Madame Stephanie St. Clair … Fulani Haynes
St. Clair’s Henchman; Mr. Braithwaite … Rocque Bridgewaters
Nathan … Michael Nurse
Wilber … Santo Cupon
Meme Clark … Ramona Alexander
Grandmother … Deama Battle
James Jones … Eric Daley
Gladys White … Pamela Lambert
Madam Futtam … Lau Papides
Eunice Carter … Christina Marie Bynoe
Sufi Hamid … Keith Mascoll
EDGECOME AVENUE: THE HOUSE ON SUGAR HILL, courtesy of Up You Mighty
Race, is Katherine Butler’s Jones’ lengthy history about her former
Harlem address, now a designated landmark, and the people who lived
there in the 1930s and 40s; in this, her first play, Ms. Jones
alternates between the powerful Mme. St. Clair who ran a numbers racket
and faced stiff competition from the mob and everyday life at the 409
where Nathan the doorman and Wilbur the elevator man gossip in the
lobby, the tenants come and go through the glass doors (the same doors
through which the audience enters) and where the elevator arrow always
points to the third floor (Mme. St. Clair), the eighth floor (Meme
Clark, a hairdresser-confidante) or the thirteenth floor (the snooty
Gladys White); other tenants include Sufi Hamid, who marries Mme. St.
Clair but soon strays, and Attorney Eunice Carter who clashes with Mme.
St. Clair on legal vs. illegal issues as well as their contrasting
backgrounds (American Negro vs. Caribbean Negro). Thus the evening
rambles despites its smart, well-researched dialogue, and Ms. Jones is
determined to have Mme. St. Clair remembered as a forgotten Great
American (albeit a dubious one), her chosen path being one of necessity
rather than vaulting ambition --- there is no bridge between this
tigress and the wide-eyed innocent, in flashback, being given a charm
before departing for America; even her being sentenced for attempted
murder becomes a cry of injustice, instead. Only the St. Clair-Eunice
scenes strike sparks, especially when the former offers to join the
latter in cleaning up their neighborhood --- sadly, a premise soon
dropped --- ah, what drama could have been wrung from such a pairing!
As conceived, Mme. St. Clair is all mask and furs but Fulani Haynes
polishes her surface to a dazzling shine; Christina Marie Bynoe is such
ballsy fun as Eunice that it’s a pity she doesn’t have more to do, and
Michael Nurse is warm and golden as the all-seeing, mostly-all-knowing
Nathan; I’ve seen Mr. Nurse on past stages and he remains a welcome
presence, anywhere, anytime. Peter Colao has transformed the Plaza
Theatre into a tundra of simulated floor-tiles, giving 409 EDGECOMBE
AVENUE an epic, timeless quality --- even the elevator with its glowing
green interior becomes fascinating, after awhile --- but, oh, that one
set-piece that comes thundering at you in the dark, not once, but
"409 Edgecombe Avenue" (5 - 21 April)
UP YOU MIGHTY RACE
any Harlem cabbie to take you to 409. He’ll drive you straight to the
neighborhood locals call "Sugar Hill", stopping directly in front of
the swank thirteen floor apartment building on Edgecombe Avenue. The
address was that well known in the heyday of Harlem when it was a
community-on-the-go for people of color. Among the Black leaders and
celebrities, mingled in with more ordinary residents, who lived at 409
in the 30's were NAACP stalwarts Thurgood Marshall, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois,
Walter White, and poet/anthologist William Stanley Braithwaite
(formerly of Boston).
Katherine Butler Jones)
Butler Jones’ play, "409 EDGECOMBE AVENUE" about her childhood home,
which she describes as “a slice of life in Black America in Harlem,”
focuses on Madame St. Clair. The flamboyant Stephanie St. Clair, an
immigrant from Martinique, was once the richest woman in Black America.
She made her fortune by organizing a gambling operation, and had, at
the height of her illegal business, forty runners and numerous security
guards important in her battles against Dutch Schultz and other
gangsters eager to take over her clientele.
residing at 409 in Jones’s play is Eunice Hunton Carter, the first
Black woman to work as a prosecutor in a New York D.A.’s office, and
the only woman and only African American on Thomas Dewey’s staff
prosecuting organized crime (which convicted Charles "Lucky" Luciano).
Carter wants nothing so much as to put St. Clair away for running a
numbers racket. (Carter’s grandson is Yale law professor Stephen L.
Carter, author of the best selling, unconventional mystery novel
'Emperor of Ocean Park,' who came to academia after serving as Supreme
Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s clerk.)
however, while these two women butted heads when it came to the law,
they had in common a passion for improving the lot of Black people.
Carter had, since a tiny child, been involved in her parents’ goal of
opening up the services of the YMCA to people of Color, an activism she
continued into her adult years. St. Clair operated a center for French
speaking Black immigrants to Harlem where they could learn English and
were encouraged to become U.S. citizens. She also bought space
regularly in the Black community newspaper, 'The Amsterdam News,'for a
column run with her photograph in which she on the one hand taunted the
likes of Dutch Schultz, yet also urged readers to register to vote.
battle royal between two celebrated figures in the Harlem of the 30's,
“409 Edgecombe Avenue,” has its debut in a production from Up You
Mighty Race theater company. Directed by the esteemed artistic director
of UPYM's Akiba Abaka, the historical drama opens April 5 for a three
week run in the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539
Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End. Featured in the nine person cast
are Fulani Haynes as Madame St. Clair and Christina Bynoe as Eunice
Carter. Tickets are on sale at A Nubian Notion and
www.bostontheatrescene.com or call 617-933-8600 for more information.
"“The Best House on
Moves to the South End"
409 EDGECOMBE AVENUE is
Katherine Butler Jones’ sprawling valentine to the glamorous place
where she grew up. The stately Harlem building (now a historical
landmark) was a magnet for the Harlem Renaissance elite, an address
everyone knew, whose halls echoed with art, music, politics and
The Up You Mighty Race
production (playing at the BCA through April 21) featured Fulani Haynes
in a tour de force performance as the mighty queen of the numbers game,
a formidable woman who kept Dutch Schultz and the mob out of her
territory, wrote a weekly newspaper column and defied the authorities
every step of the way.
The play unfolds GRAND HOTEL
style, like the famous film in which we meet each resident and hear
each person’s story against a historical backdrop of famous names and
events. There’s even an aspiring actor named James Jones who works at
409 but we’re left to speculate if his stage name added an “Earl.” The
rest of Harlem royalty earns at least, and often much more, than a
mention from the playwright.
Jones takes a while to set up
the queen’s set-up but when she does, the drama literally explodes.
(Until then, it’s anybody’s guess just what the real focus of the play
is, partly because all the other residents are so fascinating.)
Swirling around the charismatic Mme. St. Clair are a fiercely loyal
doorman/confidant ( played with wry comic finesse by Michael Nurse), a
husband-pinching fortune teller (Lau Lapides sizzles as the sexy seer)
and an endless stream of bodyguards, henchmen and tony party-goers.
Pamela Lambert amuses as the
haughty NAACP society matron, Christina Marie Bynoe dominates as the
take-no-prisoners district attorney, Keith Mascoll slinks about (in a
cape!) as the two-timing firebrand and Deama Battle shakes the ether as
Mme.’s charismatic grandmother. At my performance, director Akiba Abaka
niftily stepped in to portray the resident hairdresser (based on the
playwright’s mother), an inviting woman who came to know everyone’s
Akiba lets the action draw out
slowly--- like a skein of yarn unrolling for the knitter--- so that we
can savor every nuance of the story. It turns out the playwright has
enough material for two plays and that’s just Act I! Peter Colao’s set
is dramatic all by itself, from its black & white parquet tiled
floor to its gold-wreathed columns. The set even replicates the period
elevator, complete with cheeky operator, Santio Cupon.
Joy Adams’ costumes for Haynes
are perfection, from the elegant, chocolate chiffon creation---topped
with drop dead period furs--- right down to her black velvet evening
coat and diamond earrings. Adams bathes Mme. in crimson for her
bloodcurdling meltdown scene and strips away all the carefully design
pretense for her heartbreaking downfall. See 409 EDGECOMB for Haynes’
rollercoaster ride to fame.
Edgecombe Avenue" (5 - 21 April)
YOU MIGHTY RACE
- Boston Center for The Arts,
539 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA
- 1(617) 427-9417
It just so happens that I saw the play on Saturday but did not know
that you were the actor playing the part of the Policy Woman. After the
play one of my friends mentioned your name and I was aghast that I had
not known that it was you I was watching. I very much enjoyed
the show and was there because I know who Kathy Jones is, as several of
my friends do, and we wanted to see what she had accomplished and to
support her. I will be passing the word around to others to
go to see "409 Edgcombe St."
I will certainly keep you in mind for future events where your talents
would be very much appreciated and hope to get down to Haley House to
hear you sing on the first Sunday. I am so pleased that Christley put
me in touch with you.
Co-President of Zonta
Williams - The Word
HALEY HOUSE BAKERY CAFÉ SUNDAY JAZZ BRUNCH
House Bakery Café is
open for brunch every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to
3:30 p.m. While you eat a delicious, nutritious and affordable
brunch, you can also enjoy live jazz music performed by a different
artist each week. The first Sunday of each month features the music of
the talented vocalist Fulani Haynes. To enhance your dining experience,
Haley House offers elegant glassware, newspapers to peruse, a warm,
friendly atmosphere as well as an extraordinary waitstaff, bottomless
coffee, fresh fruits and juices and a baked goods buffet. All entrees
are $14 and menu items include everything from Pulled Turkey Hash to
the Belly Buster Biscuit and Egg Sandwich and new menu items have been
added including Oven Fried Herbed Chicken and Waffles and Steak and
Eggs. Seating is on a first‑come, first‑served basis. Haley House is
located in the Dudley Square area of Roxbury at 12 Dade
Street, just off Washington Street, one and a half blocks from Melnea
Cass Boulevard. Free parking is available.
Williams - The Word
Sunday, I visited the Haley House Sunday Brunch with friends and had an
absolutely scrumptious meal. For the second week, Fulani Haynes
performed. Her smooth, sultry voice filled the room and is
well suited for the small but intimate setting. Many thanks to
the Chef DiDi for keeping me in the loop.
some of the history of Jazz Fulani Haynes has
a very nice way of making it attractive to those who may not
know a lot of the history of the musics past. She also gets others
involved during the show/sets by inspiring those younger to come up on
stage and dance to the varied rythms which creates energetic freedom
jazz _expression which is a joy to watch.
Fulani is also
very concerned of the woman's role in this music,
not just women being pushed into the background, due to the music being
very much male dominated.
AS A POPULAR/JAZZ SINGER SHE STANDS OUTFRONT.
Ward, production percussionist who has performed with
Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Stitt, Howard McGhee,Sonny Rollins, Eddie
Harris,William (CAT) Anderson, Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, Billy
Skinner,DOUBLE JAZZ QUARTET and Salim Washington , The Roxbury Bues