Sunday, July 20, 2014

Footsteps of Mandela at Riverside Church

On Friday evening we went to Riverside Church in upper Manhattan for the Footsteps of Mandela (FOM) program on what would have been Nelson Mandella's 96th birthday. Hotlanta Vocal Posse and FOM Interfaith Chorus performed Stan Satlin's Aurotorio Amercana  and Joel A. Martin's Requiem for Peace as part of an evening-length program.  We ran into Carole Markel and her husband Richard Cramer (far left and far right) and Cydonia Boonshaft, Debra Rapoport's sister. (Cydonia's husband Barry was sweet enough to snap this photo.)  Note that Carol and Jean are both wearing Carol's huge hand-painted wooded gumball necklaces.

The event was a celebration of the life (not the passing) of Nelson Mandela, and the setting was the magnificent Riverside Church.

Man of the hour, composer Stan Satlin, and Jean.

Cydonia, Debra and Valerie.

After celebratory remarks by Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., UN Consul General George Monyemangene and Congressman Charles Rangle,  the beautiful and colorfully dressed Thuli Dumakude and Thokoza performed "Sawubona Mandela" and got the joint rocking from the get-go.  Drums of the World also performed.

Although not professional, the video gives you an idea of the space and the sounds:

Broadway star Liz Callaway's rendition of Bob Dylan's  "Blowing in the Wind" left Jean teary-eyed.  Another highlight of the evening was Simon Estes' "Old Man River" from Showboat.  The tall and handsome seventy-six year old Estes used to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. He has become an advocate for the program which provides insecticide treated mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria which we were told kills a child every 60 seconds in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Needless to say, we each donated a net.

Amy Little from Atlanta sang "Keeper of the Song" from Stan's Auratorio Americana. She is wearing woven beaded earrings from

Everyone was invited onstage as part of the event.  To the left of tall and handsome Simon Estes is the evening's host, Jeremy Hassell (from MTV & VH1) and Stan is to the left of Jeremy.

People onstage and in the aisles clapped, danced and sang along.  The video gives you just a taste of the joyful noise: 1FOMThuliDumakude&thokozaIdiosyncraticFashionistas071814x.

The gathering of the clan:  We all got together after the event. Left to right: Julia Sotas (Winnipeg), Jean, Debra, Amy Little (Atlanta), Mary Lou Alsentzer (Lancaster, PA), Janet Holloway (Lexington, KY) and Stan. Mary Lou and Janet, who have known Stan for over forty years, came to New York to see his work performed.

Jean met singer, actress and vocal arranger Ntomb'Khona Dlamini who performed with Thuli Dumakude & Thokoza. (She is the one in pink on the far right.) She is appearing with Jimmy Mngwandi and Danny Lerman at the Iridium Jazz Club on Sunday August 10th at 3 PM for an afternoon of African vocals and Jazz.

While many of the attendees were either from or had visited South Africa, all of the attendees dressed for the occasion.  We were seated right behind these two gorgeous divas who were singing and dancing along to the music in their colorful outfits and head wraps.

These two ladies, who were wearing black, white and grey, looked great.  If you look closely, the shawl on the lady on the right is covered in black skulls.  The colors in her friend's walking stick echoed those in her long neckpiece.

Crystal Kilgore, Storyteller Extraordinaire, was seated right behind us.  Her business card says: "Stories Galore: The Wonderful World of Storytelling".*

Mary is a friend of and was seated next to Crystal.

This lovely lady -- Mae -- was waiting for her niece, Ann, who had performed in the show.

After changing clothes, tall and talented Ann emerged from backstage.

Another beautiful lady in yellow was wearing a beaded necklace that she'd gotten in South Africa.

Members of this trio were rocking the black and white look!

After a week of extremely depressing world news about the Malaysian airliner blown out of the sky and the growing conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Mandela event was a wonderfully positive, restorative experience!

*Crystal's 24-hour voicemail number is 212-592-3391.


  1. That looks like a wonderful event - thanks for letting me attend vicariously! A very stylish and colourful bunch of attendees and performers for sure. For some reason I can't get any sound on the videos.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! A festive event with great significance. Everyone, including the two of you, looks radiant and happy!

  3. What a fun time this event must have been. Riverside Church has some awesome things going on which I would love to attend.....I live in California so it's a little difficult. Thank you for this post....

  4. I've often thought of Mandela as I try to digest what is going on in the world, and I'm uplifted by these images. A beautiful celebration for an extraordinary person. Congrats to Stan (and Debra:-) and as always, you both are luminous as you share your evening and new friends with us. XXOO

  5. The music must have been amazing. A powerful celebration indeed.