Billy Higgins Birthday Celebration to Support the World Stage

On Saturday, October

16 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. an extraordinary group of jazz musicians and spoken
word artists will perform at Bryant Temple AME, 2525 W. Vernon Avenue in
Leimert Park, to celebrate Billy Higgins Birthday. Billy Higgins, who passed away in 2001, was a
legendary jazz drummer and visionary community leader. The performance will celebrate Higgins life
and the $20 entry fee will support his legacy by raising funds for the World
Stage Performance Gallery. Performing
artists include Kamau Daáood, Phyllis Battle, Oscar Brashier, Clayton Cameron,
Cornell Fauler, Dale Fielder, Richard Grant, George Harper, William (Bill)
Henderson, James Leary, Jacques Lesure, Phil Ranelin, Michael Session, Nolan
Shaheed, S. Pearl Sharp, Dwight Trible, Trevor Ware and many more.


In 1989, Billy Higgins and poet and community art activist, Kamau Daáood, opened the World Stage Performance Gallery. These visionary artists shared a desire to
create a space of encounter for all kinds of artists. Musicians, poets, dancers, anyone with a
creative spirit could come together to develop and share their art. This synergistic space provided the seed for
alternative arts movements that flourished in Leimert Park in the 1980s and
1990s and continues to define the community today. Jawanza Dumisani, who moved to the community
in 1996, remembered an efflorescence of community art and engagement that
transcended the physical space of the World Stage. On Wednesday nights people came from all over
the city, packing the space and flowing out onto the sidewalks.


Around the corner, Richard Fulton a Vietnam Veteran who suffered years of homelessness but maintained a vision for developing a community space
for jazz, chess, and conversation, opened Fifth Street Dicks Coffee Company. Open around the clock with tables on the
street and great music, the site became part of Leimert Park’s dynamic
community arts movement. Cultural
historian George Lipsitz recounts that the World Stage was the product and
producer of black founded and directed art spaces in segregated Los
Angeles. In the 1960s and 1970s, musician
and composer Horace Tapscott, another active participant in the World Stage, created
the Pan-African People’s Arkestra and, later, the Underground Musicians
Association specifically in Tapscott’s words to, “preserve, teach, show, and
perform the music of Black Americans and Pan-African music, to preserve it by
playing it and writing it and taking it to the community.”


The World Stage remains an integral space for community arts and education whose influence transcends its walls. As its mission states, The World Stage Performance Gallery is not a space but a spirit. The Monday drum workshop and Thursday night Women’s
African Drum Circle contribute to a Sunday afternoon drum circle that plays each
week in Leimert Park, drawing people from all over Los Angeles and sounding a
rhythm that echoes through the streets. Participants
in the Anansi Writers Workshop, described by some as a spiritual space akin to church, with featured readers that include
fiction writers, poets, performance artists, vocalists and musicians with
stories and poetry and writers and the Saturday afternoon Backporch Fiction
Workshop, have earned book contracts carrying the voice of the community to a
broader audience. And the jazz and vocal
workshops and performances draw a global audience to Leimert Park.


Recently, the World Stage promoted a new board of directors to help ensure that it not only maintains its visionary role in the community, but
also grows and contributes to a vibrant arts space in Leimert Park. But the World Stage needs support. The performance at Bryant Temple promises to
be an extraordinary event that you should not miss. It offers a chance to hear beautiful music
and poetry, to celebrate the amazing life of Billy Higgins, and at the same
time to contribute to promoting the World Stage’s creative programs. Don’t miss it! For more information about the event and the
World Stage visit their website at: http://www.theworldstage.org/




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