Archive for March, 2011

NCCU Students Prepare for Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Students from North Carolina Central University will once again compete against teams from 47 other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge April 10–12 in Orlando, Fla. Now in its 22nd year, the All-Star Challenge is the nation’s only HBCU academic competition. Four-member teams from each school will field questions testing their knowledge of history, science, literature, religion, the arts, social science and popular culture as they compete for grant money for their schools. In all, more than $300,000 in institutional grants will be awarded.

After missing the first year of competition, NCCU students have taken part in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge every year since. Their best showings were second-place finishes in 2006 and 2009. Last year’s team fared nearly as well, making it to the “final four.” In the past six seasons, they have won $68,000 for the university.

The competition will take place at the Hilton Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. This year’s “Great 48” includes schools from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, South Carolina, Delaware, Florida, Tennessee, Louisiana, New York, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. The schools will be split into eight divisions and compete in a modified round-robin format. The top two teams from each division advance to the “Sweet 16” for a single elimination playoff competition. The final two teams will compete for the National Champion title and the grand prize of $50,000.

Daniel E. Clark, a senior majoring in computer science, is the NCCU team captain. His teammates are DeAndre Carter, a freshman art major, Julian Green, a senior political science major, and Kirkland Wilson, a senior biology/chemistry major. Their coach is Christopher Graves, assisted by Clayton Mack, special projects coordinator for NCCU’s Division of Extended Studies; both men were members of the 1997 Honda Campus All-Star Challenge Team. The faculty advisor is Dr. Wendy Rountree, associate professor of English.

Note: The team has practices scheduled at 6 p.m. today, and on Tuesday, April 5, and Thursday, April 7, in Conference Room 2002 of the H.M. Michaux Jr. School of Education on the NCCU campus.

More information

For more information on the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge and a list of the 48 participating HBCUs please visit

HCASC Electronic Media Kit:

HCASC on Facebook:

HCASC on Twitter:!/hcasc

NCCU Jazz Ensemble Shines at Villanova; Vocal Ensemble to Perform at N.C. Museum of Art

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The Jazz Studies program at North Carolina Central University continued its tradition of musical excellence when members of the NCCU Jazz Ensemble competed in the Villanova Jazz Festival Collegiate Competition on March 25-26. The ensemble returned from the festival with six awards: Best Saxophone Section, Best Rhythm Section, Best Trumpet Section, Best Soloist, 1st Place Combo and 1st Place Big Band. As a result of their first place finishes, the Jazz Ensemble opened the evening concert for the American Jazz Repertory Orchestra, directed by Clem Dirosa.

“It was a safe and successful trip and the students did a great job,” said Dr. Ira Wiggins, associate professor in the Department of Music. “The competition was challenging.” Six universities and seven bands competed, including Norfolk State University (two bands), Central Connecticut University, University of Maryland – Baltimore County, Ashland University and Carnegie Mellon University. The last time the NCCU Jazz Ensemble participated in the festival was 2007.

The NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble is furthering its successful season with an invitation to perform at the N.C. Museum of Art’s “30 Americans” exhibit. The ensemble will perform as part of “Jazz on the City Block,” April 29, at 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m., and May 7, at noon, 12:30 and 1 p.m. Admission to the exhibit is $10 and college students are admitted free on Friday evenings, with a current college ID.

The “30 Americans” show highlights the work of contemporary African-American artists in an exhibition organized by and drawn from the Rubell Family Collection, in Miami. Presented in the NCMA’s Meymandi Exhibition Gallery, the exhibit includes 75 works of art using various media. Established and emerging artists are included in the exhibit, highlighting the influence of a previous generation of African-American artists on the current generation. Featured artists include Robert Colescott, David Hammons, Barkley Hendricks, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kerry James Marshall, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Nick Cave, Glenn Ligon, Kehinde Wiley, Mark Bradford, iona rozeal brown, Wangechi Mutu, and more.

For information on the exhibit or the Vocal Jazz Ensemble’s performance, contact the museum at (919) 664-6743.

Durham Arts Council Presents Durham Art Walk Spring Market, April 9-10

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The Durham Arts Council will host the Durham Art Walk Spring Market, a weekend event showcasing Durham businesses along with the latest creative endeavors of over 200 local artists. This event attracts thousands of art enthusiasts for two full days of enjoying great art, music, performances, food and all that downtown Durham has to offer. Event times are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 10th.

“The Durham Art Walk Spring Market is a great way to walk around downtown, check out art in strange places, meet artists, buy some great art and spend time experiencing Durham’s vibrant arts and cultural community,” said Ann May Woodward, Executive Director of the local nonprofit reuse center, the Scrap Exchange. Visitors will discover new restaurants, shops and other interesting downtown businesses where artwork will be displayed.

Visitors to the Durham Art Walk Spring Market will also have an opportunity to see Durham’s own Scene of the Crime Rovers Marching Band making music in the streets and other performing artists like the W.G. Pearson Harp Ensemble and Mallarme Chamber Players. Durham Parks & Recreation hosts Durham Art Walk Rocks! all weekend at Durham Centre with diverse acts from local choirs to Latin bands. Little Jimmy and the Glendales will present Drumming for a Rain Dance, an audience-interactive performance art piece on Saturday and national cancer awareness organization drumSTRONG will present another interactive drum performance on Sunday.

Those who buy a spring plant at the Durham Arts Council will win a chance for raffle prizes including original artwork, craft classes or dinner for 2 at Washington Duke Inn. And while there, they can check out the “upcycled” art offerings of the designers in a special NC State and Scrap Exchange design program. There will also be a “parade” of food trucks along Morgan Street next to the Arts Council including: Only Burger, Pie Pushers, JAM Ice Cream, Blue Sky Dining and the Farmhand Foods Sausage Wagon.

This free event is open to the public and will be held rain or shine. All locations for the Durham Art Walk will be marked with a red dot in their window. Sites include retail stores, artist studios, cafes and other venues within a 10-minute walk from the Durham Arts Council building.

Patron-level sponsors of the event include: Carolina Theatre, City of Durham Parks & Recreation, Golden Belt, Hendrick Durham Auto Mall, Smitten Boutique, Through this Lens, TomSuey Design, Vega Metals, WorkSmart and Yelp! The Durham Art Walk Spring Market is presented and produced by the Durham Arts Council in collaboration with these and many other community sponsors.

For further information on the artists, performers, volunteer opportunities and participating businesses, visit the Durham Art Walk website at or contact Barclay McConnell, Event Coordinator, at [email protected] or phone (919)560-2719.

The John Brown Jazz Orchestra is featured in the documentary “One Night In Kernersville”

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The John Brown Jazz Orchestra recording titled “Setting Standards” is set for release on the Brown Boulevard label later this year. Video footage from the recording session for “Setting Standards” was made into a documentary by filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman of Melloweb. I am so proud to announce that the film was selected to be featured at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival!

Join us for the world premier on Saturday, April 16th at 10:10 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham.

After the film’s premier, we will host a Jazz Party where members of the John Brown Jazz Orchestra will perform. That will happen at the Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham at Midnight following the film.

Preview the trailer:

Trailer for ONE NIGHT IN KERNERSVILLE a short film by Rodrigo Dorfman

21st Annual NCCU Jazz Festival

Friday, March 25th, 2011

The 21st annual North Carolina Central University Jazz Festival will take place on the campus from April 11 to 16, featuring the Roy Hargrove Quintet and jazz vocalist Rene Marie. The NCCU Jazz Ensembles II and III will also perform.

Grammy-award winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove began playing the trumpet in the fourth grade. Midway through his junior year at Booker T. Washington’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Dallas, he was discovered by Wynton Marsalis, who was conducting a jazz clinic at the school. Marsalis invited Roy to sit in with his band. Over the next three months, Hargrove performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson. Hargrove’s talent led to an invitation to perform in the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This led to a month-long European Tour.

In 1997, Hargrove’s Cuban-based band Crisol, which includes piano legend Jesus “Chucho” Valdes and wonder drummer Horatio “El Negro” Hernandez, won the Best Latin Jazz Performance Grammy for the album Habana. And in 2002, Hargrove, Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker won Best Instrumental Jazz Album, Individual or Group, for their three-way collaboration Directions in Music. He has graced the stage and/or recordings of many artists, including Sonny Rollins and Jackie McLean, song stylists Natalie Cole, Diana Krall and Abbey Lincoln, veterans Diana Ross, Steve Tyrell and Kenny Rankin, younger stars John Mayer and Rhian Benson and jazz divas Carmen McRae and the late, great Shirley Horn. Hargrove and his quintet will perform on Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m. in the B.N. Duke Auditorium. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Jazz vocalist Rene Marie has been called one of the greatest and most sensuous vocalists of our time. Her story of finding her voice and self through singing has made her a heroine, and her style incorporates elements of jazz, soul, blues and gospel. Her debut release, Renaissance, included powerful interpretations, electrifying deliveries and impassioned vocals. In 2007, Marie released Experiment in Truth as well as the single “This Is (Not) A Protest Song,” a fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Two years later, she released the sound track for her touring one-woman play, Slut Energy Theory, which follows the character U’Dean Morgan on a journey from sexual abuse to self-esteem. Her latest release, Voice of My Beautiful Country, is a celebration of America and of Marie’s eclectic musical taste. The album runs the gamut in music styles, including everything from Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic rock favorite “White Rabbit” to the traditional folk standards “John Henry” and “O Shenandoah.”

She has headlined several major festivals, including the Women in Jazz Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Edinburgh Jazz Festival in Scotland and the Shanghai Jazz Festival in China. Winner of the Best International Jazz Vocal CD by the Academie Du Jazz, she has graced the Billboard charts multiple times. She will perform with Doug Richards on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. in the B.N. Duke Auditorium. Doors will open at 7 p.m.

Under the leadership of Dr. Ira Wiggins, NCCU initiated the Jazz Festival in 1990 to expose the campus community and the city of Durham to America’s first indigenous art form, jazz. “The performance of our students at the festival this year will be symbolic of the academic excellence of the Jazz Studies program,” said Wiggins.

Tickets are $15 for the Friday performance, $20 for Saturday and $30 for the package. To purchase tickets, visit

NCCU School of Law Makes U.S. News’ “Most Popular” List

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The North Carolina Central University School of Law has been named one of the nation’s 10 “most popular” law schools in a ranking released by U.S. News & World Report this week. The listing is based on an analysis of admission yield — the percentage of students accepted by a school who choose to enroll.

In the rankings compiled for 2010, the NCCU law school placed ninth, with a yield of 49.6 percent; of 415 applicants accepted by the school, 206 subsequently enrolled. Yale Law School took the top spot, at 80.4 percent, followed by the law schools at Brigham Young University, Harvard University, Southern University, Liberty University, the University of Oklahoma, Regent University, the University of Memphis, NCCU and the University of New Mexico.

U.S. News surveyed the enrollment and acceptance data for 190 law schools to compile the list. The data encompasses 180,479 acceptances and 49,054 enrollments, making the nationwide yield 27.2 percent.

The NCCU School of Law has also been named the nation’s “best value” law school for two years in a row by National Jurist magazine in a ranking based on affordability, bar passage rate and job placement. The reputation for value has brought the school an increase in applications, and it now accepts just 20 percent of those who seek admission, compared with a national average of 39 percent.

“We’re pleased with this ranking,” said Raymond Pierce, dean of the law school. “It is further recognition of our quality of instruction, our affordability and our strong connection to practical applications of the law.”

The full U.S. News report, “10 Most Popular Law Schools,” can be viewed here.

Emmy-winning Reporter to Address NCCU Honors Students

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

During a two-decade career as a national and international reporter for the ABC and CBS networks, Vicki Mabrey has won a series of Emmy Awards for news coverage.

On April 8, Mabrey, a correspondent for the ABC News show “Nightline,” will address honors recipients at North Carolina Central University’s 62nd Honors Convocation.

The ceremony, at 10 a.m. in McDougald–McLendon Gymnasium, recognizes academic excellence by more than 200 NCCU students in a number of categories, from the Chancellor’s Award and University Award recipients — the university’s top honors — to deans’ lists and departmental academic honors.

Mabrey was selected as the speaker because of her obvious pursuit of excellence in her field, said NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms.

“For Honors Convocation, we want students who’ve worked hard academically to enjoy and celebrate someone who has sought excellence in their profession and has been recognized for that excellence,” Nelms said. “Vicki Mabrey fits that bill.”

Mabrey was a pioneer from an early age. At 8, she became the first African-American to integrate her local elementary school in Florissant, Mo. After her degree in political science, she took a job unrelated to the media, but changed careers after seeing a college classmate working on local TV.

She was hired as a production assistant at a Washington, D.C., station in 1983, and was promoted within a year to an on-air general assignment reporter. By 1993, she was a Dallas-based correspondent for CBS News. That year, she received a tip that developments were about to break at the standoff between federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian cult. During a span of 55 days, she provided often-continuous coverage of the standoff.

From 1999 until she joined “Nightline” in 2005, Mabrey was a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes II.”

She is the recipient of four Emmy Awards, two for her reporting on the death of Princess Diana, and for coverage of the Atlanta Olympics bombing and the crash of TWA Flight 800.

NCCU also confers honors for performing arts distinctions, community service, and membership in professional and academic honor societies. Students receive a lapel pin that distinguishes them as honor students, which is worn during the week of convocation and on Convocation day. A reception for honorees, in Alfonso Elder Student Union, follows the convocation.

Foreclosure Prevention Forum at NCCU

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Homeowners in North Carolina facing foreclosure can receive free legal advice at a public forum, “Community Education Day: What to do When Facing Mortgage Issues,” on Saturday, March 26, at 10 a.m. in the Turner Law Building on the campus of North Carolina Central University. The event is free and open to the public and is part of the NCCU School of Law Foreclosure Prevention Project in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

“This event is for people who are facing foreclosure, who have questions about their mortgage or are seeking information about loan modification programs,” said Timothy Peterkin, legal writing professor and director of the NCCU Foreclosure Prevention Project. “We are excited to have the opportunity to serve North Carolina’s citizens in this manner. NCCU Law has students working to prevent foreclosure through a hands-on approach.”

The forum will offer individual meetings with foreclosure defense attorneys, information sessions on foreclosure prevention, explanations of government programs that assist homeowners in foreclosure and various foreclosure prevention strategies. Attendees should bring all foreclosure and loan documents to assist the attorneys reviewing cases.

Appointments are encouraged but not required. To schedule an appointment with an attorney or to attend the forum, call (919) 530-6079.

The North Carolina Central University School of Law is home to an award-winning, nationally ranked clinical legal education program. The clinic operates from a model law office that provides a professional atmosphere for clients. As one of the most comprehensive programs in the Southeast, the legal clinic offers law students a clinical experience that suits their professional goals. Professors supervise the live-client clinics and also teach the skills courses that are critical to advocacy. Eleven clinics are offered: Dispute Resolution, Civil Litigation, Criminal Defense, Criminal Prosecution, Domestic Violence, Family Law, Juvenile Law, Pro Bono, Small Business, Street Law and Veterans Law.

Melvin Sparks

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Melvin Sparks, a much-in-demand soul-jazz guitarist who recorded with virtually all of the great organists of the late ’60s and ’70s and pioneered a sound that borrowed from Grant Green and Sly Stone, died on March 13 . He was 64.

Sparks was at his best playing a muscular, groovy rhythm guitar behind organists like Leon Spencer and Charles Earland, breaking out occasionally with a melodic, groovy solo. He was a mainstay at Prestige during the ’70s, where he was a first-call session guitarist noted for his pulsating twangy feel.

Two of my favorite albums featuring Sparks are Leon Spencer’s Louisiana Slim (1971) and Charles Earland’s Infant Eyes (1978).

Here’s Leon Spencer on Mercy, Mercy Me with Sparks keeping jazz-soul time.

And here’s Charles Earland’s Thang from 1978 off of Infant Eyes, with Sparks running a string-bending solo. Also on the date: Bill Hardman (tp), Frank Wess (fl,ts), Mack Goldsbury Melvin Sparks, Grady Tate (d) and Lawrence Killian (perc).

Terell Stafford Quintet: Live At The Village Vanguard

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

The composer Billy Strayhorn was responsible for some of the most exquisite melodies in the history of jazz. You’ve surely heard some of his tunes, if not necessarily his name: He mostly wrote them for the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Jazz musicians know of his genius, though. The trumpeter Terell Stafford certainly does; his upcoming album This Side of Strayhorn interprets nine Strayhorn tunes as straight-ahead jazz, circa 2011. He and his quintet will celebrate the release of this recording live at the Village Vanguard in New York, and WBGO and NPR Music will be on hand on opening night for a live audio/video broadcast and webcast on Tuesday, March 15 at 9 p.m. ET. This page will host the audio/video feed, a live chat and archived recording.

This Side of Strayhorn largely features Strayhorn’s more celebrated tunes — “Lush Life,” “Day Dream,” etc. — in a plainspoken, tasteful style. Stafford’s band, however, has also workshopped a number of lesser-known tunes, which will hopefully crop up in performance. Pianist Bruce Barth had an important hand in these arrangements; he’s part of Stafford’s regular cast, which also includes the busy Peter Washington on bass, Tim Warfield on saxophones (coming in from rural Pennsylvania) and Dana Hall on drums (coming in from Chicago).

Stafford came to the jazz forefront the time-honored way — by spending valuable time as an apprentice in bands of veteran bandleaders like Bobby Watson and McCoy Tyner. Most of his gigs still come as a sideman; when you can play in almost every setting on both trumpet and flugelhorn, you get phone calls. He also directs the jazz program and teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia. But he’s carved out time for his working band, and there’s a document to prove it. In 2005, a nearly identical ensemble to the one appearing here recorded Stafford’s previous album, the live CD Taking Chances. (In 2009, another nearly identical ensemble recorded Hall’s debut as a leader, Into the Light.)

Terell Stafford plays in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the big band in residence at the club on Monday nights, so he’s no stranger to the venerated venue. But starting on March 15, he gets to move up from the back row for a week.