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Spike Lee is pictured with Leslie Morris and New England Patriots Running Back Sammy Morris at the “Conversation with Spike Lee” held at Boston University’s George Sherman Union Metcalf Hall. (Photo: Colette Greenstein)

Just flew in from celebrating the holiday weekend in Los Angeles with my friend Keli Davis. We couldn’t have picked a more beautiful weekend to be out there. The weather was just gorgeous and we had a blast sightseeing, shopping and meeting up with friends. We hung out at The Grove in L.A., the pier in Santa Monica, and, of course, did a scenic drive up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu.

The only celebrity sightings on this trip included Lionel Richie on Rodeo Drive, (sadly, he didn’t belt out “Hello” to me) and actor Jon Tenney from TNT’s “The Closer” strolling through The Grove. But before I hit L.A., I had a busy week here in Boston.

Exhale Magazine launch party

Banner Publications, Inc. and Huntington Theatre Company hosted a launch party at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, for the fall 2010 issue of “Exhale,” the new women’s health and lifestyle magazine.      

It was a fabulous party that featured an eclectic and diverse group of women (and a few men) from Ayanna Pressley, Geri Denterlein and Jacqui and Wayne Budd to Lisa Simmons, Erin Duggan, Digna Gerena and Marina Kalb of Portobello Road.

The guests mixed and mingled and were able to shop from such boutiques as Chestnut Hill’s Portobello Road.  Plus, there was a special performance from Company One’s Summer production of GRIMM with Exhale cover model and playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s adaptation of “The White Bride and the Black Bride.” In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, WCVB-TV’s Kelley Tuthill hosted the event and the fabulous Elisha Daniels were on hand with their book “You Can Do This!  Surviving Breast Cancer without Losing Your Sanity or Style.” Proceeds for the book sale were donated to the Ellie Fund.

YWCA Breakfast at the Back Bay Events Center

I was invited to attend the YWCA’s annual “Elevating Lives Breakfast,” which despite the early time of 8 a.m. (for me), it was very informative. I didn’t really know anything about the organization and my impression was that it really wasn’t relevant to today’s woman.

Boy was I wrong.  In fact, the mission of the YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Founded in 1866, YWCA Boston is America’s first YWCA.

Today’s YWCA provides critical direct services in the community. They include mobile health and wellness education for women and girls; breast cancer survivor support; adult, interracial community dialogues; youth civic engagement, and financial literacy programs for working women.  

The YWCA raised $52,000 and well over 200 guests attended the breakfast. Some of the wonderful women who supported the breakfast included: Marilyn Anderson Chase, Kathy Murphy, Christy Egun, Rhian Gregory, Carla Bettano, Sandra Sims-Williams, Liz Gruber, Yvonne Garcia, Jeanette Beltran, Lisa Pickard, and Stephanie Millon.

Eric Benét

I saw Eric Benét last year at the Berklee Performance Center and loved the show. When I heard that he was coming back to town (this time at Showcase Live in Foxboro) I knew I wanted to see him again. I had the chance to get a “sneak listen” to his new album “Lost In Time” along with a sit-down one-on-one interview. Here’s what the Grammy nominee had to say about his latest project.

What happens between albums … while you’re living your life?

You try to have as much normalcy as you possibly can when you put a record out. Depending on how successful the record is, it usually ends up being a mad barrage of activity in the months prior to and the months after the release of the album.

Typically, I like to have a little time to chill — be with family — and that will be a few months and then it’s usually time to start making another record. I wish I was one of those artists that always wrote songs and just had a bunch of songs to choose from. I usually tend to start writing when it’s time to start thinking about another record and I’ll just go sit somewhere and write songs for the album.

So, what prompts you to start thinking it’s time [to make another album]?

 It’s a couple of things. It’s mortality (and he chuckles about that) and feeling like … on average the lifespan of a recording artist is about five years and I should have been dead about 12 years ago. So, I know that I can’t just hang out with having new material out there too long. I’ve had my moments in my career when I’ve sat back and chilled and didn’t have something out for like five or six years. I can’t do that anymore. I think with this particular project, “Lost In Time,” I’m very optimistic about the run we’ll have with this. If Warner-Reprise wanted to we could go four, five singles deep into this record and I could be on the road touring for a couple of years.

What made you decide to use live musicians for this album?

Technology is great and a lot of ways it sucks. It’s comical to me that the idea doing an all live album is a novel concept, but it is. You know, because usually if an RandB artist is going to do an album that’s all live it’s either considered alternative RandB or it’s kind of an underground high-brow thing. But the music that I grew up with … that is how they made popular RandB. You had to have musicians that could play their ass and singers that didn’t need anything like auto tune or a pitch corrector. Singers that could pour their hearts out and it could resonate.

I found with the release of my last album “Love and Life,” I did a song called “You’re The Only One.” That particular song was a homage to early 1970s soul and RandB. That resonated strongly with the fans and I made some new fans. And so, I realized that people were hungry for something that was very reminiscent of that time. And so, I decided I want to not just do one song I wanted to do a whole album that is live, raw, real and sounds like it could have been produced and written back then. 

It was a fabulous show! He opened with “Love Don’t Love Me” and “Spiritual Thing” and ended the night with a fun and funky version of “Georgy Porgy.”  Ladies, I know the real question on your mind is “Is he as gorgeous in person as he is in his videos?”  Yes, but let’s not forget the brother can sing. There’s no doubt about that. Fantasia opens for him on his tour beginning Nov. 4 in Richmond, Va. and the album “Lost In Time” hits stores on Nov. 30.  

Conversation with Spike Lee

Wearing his New York Yankees sweatshirt and baseball cap, Spike Lee came to BU’s George Sherman Union Metcalf Hall to speak to students, filmmakers and community members alike on his life’s work and the ability of film to effect social change. “The Conversation with Spike Lee” was sponsored by The Roxbury International Film Festival, Boston University’s College of Communication and Dean of Students, and The Color of Film Collaborative. There were 1,000 people in attendance and it was amazing to see how he completely captivated the audience with his stories on how he got his start as a director, his passion for telling stories and what it takes to make it as a filmmaker. Spike was honest, real and open about his experiences as a filmmaker.

Kudos to BU student Lawrence Alex Reed for being the force behind this wonderful collaboration!

Coming Up:

On Oct.14, Grammy-nominated international recording artists Les Nubians headline a CD release concert at the Middle East Downstairs in Central Square, Cambridge.

The Color of Film Collaborative presents “Dinner and a Movie” at the Haley House on Friday, Oct. 22. The special screening will be the documentary American Faust: Condi to Neo-Condi.  

The 23rd Annual Steppin’ Out for Dimock Gala, featuring Eddie Palmieri, Walter Beasley, Rachael Price, Maysa and more will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Westin Copley Place.

If you would like me to cover or write about your event, e-mail me at inthemixwithcolette@gmail.com.