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Author: Colette GreensteinBerklee City Music Executive Director Curtis Warner and Season 9 American Idol contestant Ashley Rodriguez at Berklee’s 16th Annual Encore Gala.

Les Nubians at Middle East Downstairs

Grammy-nominated and international recording artists Les Nubians were in town for a CD release party at the Middle East Downstairs in Central Square. One of my favorite groups, (although I must admit, I don’t have all their albums), but I’ve appreciated their Afropean style and music ever since their debut album “Princesses Nubiennes” was released in 1998.

The French/Cameroonian sisters, Helene and Celia Faussart, have a distinctive afro/jazz/soul sound with a little bit of hip hop thrown in the mix that draws from the timeless sounds of Miriam Makeba, Ella Fitzgerald, Fela Kuti and The Fugees. They performed most of their songs (including two of my favorites, “Demain” and “Tabou”) and some new ones from their upcoming album “Nu Revolution” for almost two hours backed by an awesome nine-piece band. The band rocked the crowd as the sisters bantered playfully back and forth with the audience.

I enjoyed the show and si vous avez la chance, allez voir Les Nubians (which translates in English to … if you have a chance see Les Nubians).

Heart of the Hub

Discover Roxbury celebrated a night of food, friends, art and fun with their third annual fundraiser, “Heart of the Hub,” at the Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall. WCVB-TV’s Karen Holmes Ward served as emcee and The E-Water Band provided the entertainment. The evening also featured “A Taste of Roxbury” with food provided by several area restaurants such as Haley House Bakery Café (the chicken empanadas were really good); Rudi’s Resto Café and Verve Lounge served an awesome macaroni and cheese; cheesecakes by That’s Yummy and The Savant Project, just to name a few.

Discover Roxbury honored three members of the community for their advocacy and continued commitment to and development of Roxbury’s physical and cultural assets. The 2010 Roxbury Puddingstone awardees included Bing Broderick, director of business and marketing at Haley House; our very own Melvin B. Miller, publisher/editor of The Bay State Banner and Klare Shaw, senior advisor for education, arts and culture at the Barr Foundation.

Joining in the celebration were state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; restaurateur Darryl Settles; Northeastern’s Mimi Hughes, TOUCH 106FM’s Charles and Phyllis Clemons, state Rep. Byron Rushing and former WBZ-TV reporter Sarah-Ann Shaw.

Dinner And A Movie

The Color of Film Collaborative and the Haley House Bakery Café presented “Dinner And A Movie” night which screened the hard-hitting documentary “American Faust:  From Condi to Neo-Condi,” one of the most popular films at this year’s Roxbury International Film Festival. This was my first time attending “Dinner And A Movie” and I had the chance to meet new people, eat healthy and good food, plus engage in great conversation. The dinner portion featured delicious vegetable spring rolls, a wonderful Asian chicken stir fry and a delicious dessert of rice pudding followed by the documentary about Condoleezza Rice and a retrospective film on the Bush Administration. I can’t forget the stimulating conversation moderated by Nina LaNegra of the Roxbury Media Institute after the screening. I’m looking forward to the next one!

Berklee’s 16th Annual Encore Gala

Earlier this spring I attended the “Unsung Heroes” breakfast for Berklee’s “City Music Program” and was amazed at the amount of talent by the kids in the program. When I heard about Berklee’s 16th Annual Encore Gala at the Westin Copley Place, (to benefit their City Music Program), I thought it would be a fun night and it was. The gala occupied two floors of the hotel and the night began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and live music featuring 150 Berklee student, faculty and alumni performing classical, bluegrass, jazz, salsa and other types of music in six different rooms.

During the cocktail reception, I spied Season 9 American Idol contestant (and Chelsea’s own) Ashley Rodriguez and former “Tonight Show” bandleader Kevin Eubanks. Rodriguez was wearing a stunning purple frock from Jessica McClintock and a radiant necklace from J. Crew. She performed Carrie Underwood’s “So Small” backed by the City Music All-Stars during dinner.

The emcee was Emmy Award-winning actor John Larroquette (of Boston Legal and Night Court fame). In addition, there was a silent and live auction with fantastic items such as the Grammy Experience of a Lifetime package which included two tickets to the 2011 Grammy Awards and after-party, four nights at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (one of my favorite places to stay when in the city of Angels) and the Lady Gaga VIP Package to her 2011 Boston show at the TD Garden.

They raised a record $1.4 million and 800 guests were in attendance.  What an amazing night!  

Next up for me is the 23rd Annual Steppin’ Out social event of the year at The Westin Copley Place Hotel. I’m definitely looking forward to the annual gala which begins at 8 p.m. and features nine time Grammy Award winner, legendary pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri with the Brian Lynch Quartet; contemporary jazz saxophonist Walter Beasley; Soul Train Award winner, vocalist Maysa and some Latin flavor by the New York-based octet Mango Blue. Hope to see you!

Coming Up:

Tonight (Oct. 28) —  Ford Forum Hall at Suffolk University presents a lecture and book signing with Condoleezza Rice at the C. Walsh Theatre from 7-8:30 p.m.

Rock the Runway III — Masquerade Ball Fashion Event this Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Boston from 6 p.m. -11:30 p.m. and will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls” hits theaters Friday, Nov. 5.

Two nights of laughter are guaranteed with super-hot comedian Kevin Hart Nov. 6 and 7 at the Wilbur Theatre.  

Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University presents “An Actor and a Gentleman” with Louis Gossett Jr., on Monday, Nov. 8 from 6:30-8 p.m. A book signing to follow the discussion. Admission is free and open to all.

The “M” Awards presents the Battle of the Sexes Hair Show and Competition on Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel at 7 p.m.

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