freda payne

Freda Payne

*Los Angeles – Target [email protected] African American Museum, presented a program in celebration of Women’s History Month.The title of the program “From Servitude to Independence-The Successes of our Matriarchs.”

As the program states,the event highlighted African American womens enormous contributions locally,nationally and globally.This entertaining program featured actors,singers,spoken-word artist and musicians gathered to present a special tribute to African-American women.The program was co-hosted by Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter and Freda Payne.CAAM Executive Director,Charmaine Jefferson extended welcome and greetings on this extremely warm afternoon.

The program got under way with a talented 5th grade honor student,Kalia Thompson.She honored the civil rights movement and the legacy of Rosa Parks.Kalia has won 1st Place in her school oratorical contest three years in a row.She is very interested in acting and has appeared in episodes of Grey’s Anatomy,Criminal Minds,and the Disney pilot Austin and Alley.

Youthful spirit continued in the performance of the New Millenium Dance Team under the leadership of Krystle Braxton.The New Millenium Dance Team specialized in hip-hop,modern and African dances.The dance team took the crowd back to church during their crowd pleasing dance routines.

Pinkie Washington presented the first of three musical tributes to African-American Women singers.She shared a short program from her new show Ella and Her Fellas,held at the Hollywood Studio Bar and Grille.The show will feature surprise guests,with Pinkie interpreting Ella’s favorite songs with her own spark and glamour.Ella Fitzgerald was known as the “First Lady of Song”.Pinkie’s set featured the tunes “Moonlight in Vermont,” “One Note Samba,” “Night in Tunisia,” and concluded with “A-Tisket,A-Tasket” with plenty of audience participation.

Loren Riley is another talented composer and accompanist.He performed several original compositions as well as a tune by Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive” in keeping with the program and the current exhibit Women Game Changers,Less Known,Here Celebrated,currently on view at the California African American Museum until March 29,2012.

target sundays group shot

Nita Whitaker LaFontaine,Kelsey Johnson,Charmaine Jefferson,Ruth Adkins Robinson,Freda Payne and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter

Vocalist Lynette Dupree performed the second musical tribute to another African American legend,Mahalia Jackson considered “The Queen of Gospel.” She was accompanied by Ron Bishop on piano.She received a standing ovation after her set that featured “Even Me,” “Way Up,” “Come Sunday,” and Didn’t it Rain.”

Nita Whitaker LaFontaine returned to CAAM to grace the stage to sing a tribute to Ms.Ruth Adkins Robinson with the tune “I Know I’ve Been Change”(Since I’ve Known You).This tribute was to honor Ms.Robinson for her tremendous contributions to California African American Museum.The final musical tribute honored the memory and legacy of Whitney Houston.Nita Whitaker LaFontaine wowed the crowd with “Yes,Jesus Loves Me,” “You Give Good Love,” “How Will I Know,” “I Have Nothing,” and “I’ll Always Love You” hitting all of the high notes just like Whitney.Nita Whitaker LaFontaine has my vote to play the lead role if there is a movie made about Whitney Houston.Ms.Whitaker LaFontaine received a rousing standing ovation after her set.

Kelsey Johnson performed at spoken work piece to the music of John Coltrane.Ms.Freda Payne performed a timely tune in honored of the men and women in the military “Bring the Boys Home.”

Adam Jackson and The Full Spectrum Band closed out the program on a high note.Target [email protected] featured the popular and engaging Community Art Projet guided each month by local professional artist Teresa Tolliver.DJ N’Namdi added his special musical touch in between acts.One of a kind arts,crafts were offered in the CAAM Plaza.

Museum attendees were encouraged to visit the CAAM Galleries throughout the day to view the current exhibits:

“Kings in California ll” which ended on March 4th,2012

“Places of Validation,Art & Progression,” on view through April 1,2012

“Women:Game Changers,Less Known,Here Celebrated,through March 29,2012

“Justice,Balance and Achievement:African Americans and the California Courts,through May 20,2012

“Gallery of Discovery”,ongoing exhibit

CAAM has some wonderful special events and programs lined up for the month of March.Please visit for more information or call (213)744-7432,or visit in person CAAM,600 State Drive- in Exposition Park.Target [email protected] is generously funded by Target Corporation.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer,music reviewer and photographer.Contact him via: [email protected].