Ursula Rucker at Littlefield, New York (July 14th, 2010). Photo by Helen Marie
STORY BY HELEN MARIE
This month, Littlefield a performance and art space in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens area hosted Unite For The Cure, a Breast Cancer awareness event. Support from all angles came from survivors and fans of the artists billed on the featured showcase.
The Voices of Incognito really blew me away with their magnetic stage presence and high energy. VOI’s own Kellie Sae, who lost her mother to breast cancer, wanted to do her part to make a difference. The solution: gathering some the best in international talent to perform, while 50% of the proceeds went to benefit the NYC Susan Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer. The band came in strong with a nice freestyle session as they brought a warm welcome to all who entered. The host was none other than Lenny Green, who has been deemed Air Personality of the Year by Billboard magazine and based on how he mastered the ceremony, he proved to be one of the best in the broadcast industry. His deep baritone voice set the mood and introduced the opening act—the one and only Ursula Rucker!
Rucker’s big, curly crown, tights and shades that adorn her pretty face might surprise you the first time you see her live. Those who have not experienced her magic are surprised at such power and aggressive insight coming from this free-spirited artist. She's the Philly-based, internationally acclaimed poet, recording artist and activist who brought the heat that was oh-so necessary to start off an event of such importance.
Kicking off her performance, Rucker remade the Nina Simone classic “Four Women.” She has a way of capturing your full attention as she maximizes her role as griot and tells you exactly what you need to hear. “Do You Really Want It” asks us if we can handle the truth. This piece directly questioned "how bad do you want to the truth?" The songstress' brutal honesty took time to point out the major contradictions and blatant hypocrisy so prominent in society and in the justice system. She then followed up with “I Am That Nigga” a passionate outpour of her frustration felt for those struggling. Her challenge to all artists said, “Instead of slanging your shit on streets to survive, you should be slanging it on stages and community centers to save lives.” Every syllable was fueled with an intensity that demanded one take a moment of introspection. Well respected for her work, Rucker's presence on this night was nothing short of inspirational.
Adding a little variety to the set, Letitia Guillory then graced the stage, resembling a Creole southern belle as she performed a dramatization laced with humor and a thick southern accent. Corey Glover of Living Color, Hip Hop Medicine Man Supa Nova Slom and author Queen Afua followed. Finally to add the lasting ingredient necessary to make this a night to remember: Voices of Incognito which includes Kelli Sae, Maysa Leak and Karen Bernod did the honor of performing a full set. I left this event feeling artistically well-fed and inspired. Breast Cancer is a disease killing so many women each year all over the world and especially in the U.S. Music is one of the greatest tools that can be used to fight ignorance and unite supporters. All of the acts made another step forward in spreading the word about it's affect, uniting the audience for their cause to aid in women's relief.