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 Salimah Ali

I thought the first time I met Salimah was when she was taking pictures at the funeral of photographer Collette Fournier’s mother.  To my surprise, at the repast, we started talking and mentioned an event that she said she was at earlier that spring of 2004 that I had also attended.  She said she was in the group photo taken, so when I got home I found the photo and there we were standing next to each other, with my hand on her shoulder. I do not know why I put my hand on her shoulder because I never introduced myself before or after the photo. Was Salimah just another invisible person at an event? Most of us had focused on Kathleen Cleaver and Mayor Willie Brown, two icons of Black politics. Was she someone to stand next to in a brief quick snapshot of life? During this journey, many of us are out of focus. The funeral put a telephoto lens on life; made me take a closer look. – Cay Fatima

Salimah Ali Born in Harlem now residing in Jamaica , Queens , Salimah Ali started writing poetry, but her love of photography became more prominent. Interested in photography since the age of fifteen, she evolved while attending LaGuardia Community College in 1972. Ali ’s love of photography propelled her to enroll into the Fashion Institute of Technology as a photography major. The Fashion Institute (FIT) was a catalyst for her photo career. Salimah put her love of photography to the professional test. During the Mid 70's through the mid 80's she photographed such celebrities as Earth, Wind and Fire, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Eartha Kitt, Patti LaBelle, Grace Jones and others. Her work has appeared in Essence Magazine, Ms. Magazine , Black Enterprise, USA Today, Newsday, The New York Times, LA Times and The Washington Post. 

“Photography was love at first sight – it is an extension of my insight to the world and the people around me; it is my second child, my first being my daughter Jamilah Aisha , meaning beautiful alive. Both have given me strength to continue on.”  - Ali www.salimahali.com

Sherry Rayn Barnett

Here is a talent I have only interacted with via the Internet. I came across her work when I searched through sights when I first learned to surf the net. I think I just looked at her name and something said just click that one. When I came across her site, I found we had a lot in common and loved her images of performing art icons. She too is an accomplished musician, the music led her to photography, and the photography led her to the music. Cay Fatima

Sherry Rayn Barnett began taking pictures as soon as she was able to hold her first pint-size Kodak Brownie box camera. OK, not a true "Brownie" - it was turquoise blue. She began to focus on the things around her that caught her eye … beginning with her B&W cat, her friends and anything in her small, but great outdoors. Growing up in a creative and musical suburban Forest Hills (NYC) household, Barnett simultaneously began a love affair with music. Fortunately, she quickly moved on from an early obsession with the accordion to a lifelong love of the guitar. Sherry attended The High School of Performing Arts as a classical guitar major and began photographing the music - and the musicians around her. While still in high school, she had her first magazine cover published by a national dance magazine and became the photo editor for the Performing Arts yearbook. She alternately began photographing concerts and then escaping the city to seek out anything that appeared to be non-urban and connected to nature. As part of the New York "underground press" of the late 60's & early 70's that developed, Barnett began to photograph the culture and the musicians that provided the soundtrack for it. Relocating to Southern California (L.A.) in the mid 70's provided a new landscape of musical inspiration that Sherry has continued to draw on. www.sherrybarnettphotography.com

  Kwame Brathwaithe The year, 2006, marked 50 years of Kwame’s involvement in Black arts and culture and 49th year in photography. Kwame is planning a 50-year retrospective, which comprises of several exhibitions, “From the Harlem Renaissance to the New Melanian” -covering the arts movements from the Renaissance to today; “Great Moments of Soul”, a photographic exhibition covering historic and otherwise important musical events that he has covered over the years, i.e, “The Motown Revue” at the Apollo Theatre in 1963 which featured the first appearance of “Little Stevie Wonder”, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes. The exhibit will use wall text of poems and excerpts from the articles Brathwaite wrote while covering these events.

               Kwame's photography business has taken him to over twenty countries in Africa , Europe and the Caribbean on more than 25 international trips. He also has had the honor of being selected by several heads of state to document their travels in the U.S. , including President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea , Maurice Bishop of Grenada . He also participated in a grass roots fact-finding mission to investigate the land issue in Zimbabwe. His coverage resulted in a magazine article entitled, “Among his most treasured images are his international coverage of the funeral of his namesake, Kwame Nkrumah, the independence of Namibia and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela; the latter two events are amongst the things that he had fought for more than thirty years through his active involvement in the African liberation struggle.


Lu Figgs

 After my uncle Richard , came Lu. A social worker friend of my mother, Lu was a big, black, bald, mass of a man who loved all things jazz.  Imagine a bigger blacker Mr. Clean and you have Lu.  Lu took me to my first out of town assignment. As a teenager, the first Congressional Black Caucus Convention was so exciting. The evening of the banquet Lu forgot his photo credentials. If you saw Lu, his massive size said let him through. A fifth degree black belt, he had hands like sledgehammers. While all the other photographers were clamoring over Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lu moved over to the far end of the stage and waited. Eventually Gladys came over and posed for us without any inference from pushing and bumping photographers. After Lu retired, he moved away from New York and I did not hear of him again until a friend of his, Dewy Register emailed me after he Googled Lu’s name and found my website. What I learned was that Lu died alone without his next-of-kin to be found. Dewy was able to obtain just four of his photographic works, with the rest either destroyed, lost or in the archives of Oberlin University .

Lu Figgs photographer, writer, jazz lover grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and obtained his master’s degree in social work and for over twenty years worked as an alcohol an drug counselor for Nassau County.  An expertly trained black belt martial artist who, studied with the legendary Masoyama, knew and photographed jazz legends, many of whom he photographed at one of Long Island’s classic jazz clubs, Sonny’s Place. Figgs used available light and for the most part, used b&w film for his subjects.


Norm Harris

  Norm and I grew-up in Lakeview and attended the same high school. My friend Bernard James told me about his work and we were able to connect and work together as staff photographers at Entertainment Media News Services.  When I saw him a few years ago, he was the staff photographer for one of the arts organizations who give music concerts at the Planting Fields Arboretum on Long Island . Of course, he bragged to every one back stage that he and I were kicked out of a Janet Jackson concert.  A very proud moment for him I imagine. Cay Fatima

    Norm Harris a native New Yorker was born in Harlem during the “hey day” of the jazz club scene, has been photographing music and politics for quite sometime.  During his early childhood he was constantly exposed to the spirited messages and elegant rhythms of the genre as his parents regularly played the music of artists such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Billy Holiday, Ells Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker. Norm’s “Jazzin’ Blues photos, comprising over 500 stock images of legendary and emerging artists are his contribution towards maintaining a focus on this “experience” as the singularly unique American art form. In addition to visual art, Harris is a science educator on the college level.  www.normharrisphotos.com


Rowena Husbands

  Ms. Husbands came to my attention from a friend sending me an email about an event. In the email was the profile of Husbands, which after reading I said I have to meet this woman. I thought I could just Google her name and her information would pop up. That proved futile.  Then, I guessed my photo guru Ronnie Wright may know, and sure enough, he was on the money. Upon talking with “Ro” I enjoyed our hour long talk about the industry and invited her to be a featured artist.  Her style reflects what is hip, new and fresh in her genre of publicity photography. Cay Fatima

 Rowena Husbands, is one of the most sought after and requested African- American female celebrity photographers in the business. She has a celebrity clientele that boasts a black book of names only a star-struck fan would dream of having. Her celebrity work has adorned the pages of The Dolce & Gabana Music Book, Vibe Magazine, The Source, Ebony, Billboard, Right On, Sister 2 Sister, Rolling Stone, Bre, and Hitz magazine. Her lens is her work of art so to speak and through it she captures some of today’s most influential figures in the world of entertainment.


Bernard James

  Bernard and I are exhibiting a second time together. I feel like a mother hen. I grew-up in the same neighboring Long Island community as Bernard and befriended his older brother Everett as well as his many relatives [there are a lot of James ’]. On my first trip to Saratoga JVC Jazz Festival, we connected.  After returning home, we linked and I consider him one of my very gifted protégés in the field of live performance jazz photography. There is an art to available light photography, and Bernard has mastered not only the technical side of the genre, but the compositional/stylistic side as well.  I remember taking him with me on a Najee shoot. He wanted to use a flash, feeling his subject was too dark, but what we learned together is that it is the richness of the stage lighting that gives depth to live performance photography. The flash washes out the rich colors and the subtle stage lighting. We ended trusting the available light.  As a founding staff member of Entertainment Media News Services, I trusted Bernard with precious assignments, such as Miles Davis , Anita Baker , Betty Carter and Ray Charles . He always came back with winners.  When I see his work at other exhibits, I sometimes well up with tears of pride and admiration knowing how hard he works on his craft and the excellence that is produced. – Cay Fatima

    Bernard James is a Long Island MTA bus driver by day and for the past 15 years; he has spent his nights photographing jazz artists at clubs and concerts. Growing up in Rockville Centre , Long Island , Bernard has combined his love of jazz with his hobby photography. He has photographed many of the legends of jazz such as Nancy Wilson , Ray Charles and Lionel Hampton . His collection of jazz artists now number more than 150 performers. In addition to musicians, Mr. James has expanded his niche to include landscape and candid people photography.  His exhibits include the Rockville Centre and Hempstead libraries, Nassau Community College , Hempstead Town Hall and the Nassau County African-American Museum .  Bernard is a long-standing member of the Long Island Black Artist Association.


Ronnie Wright

 I met Ronnie Wright at a Budwiser Superfest concert in Philly over 20 years ago. The next time I saw him he had a camera in his hand and the rest is history. Ronnie is the master backstage, on the runway, red carpet, at the club, A-list celebrity event photographer.  For his genre, he is the “it” man. The go to guy for publicity photography. He has always stayed grounded. He introduced Rowena Husbands to the art. When I could not get in touch with Husbands when I wanted her in my exhibit, Ronnie had the digits and the hook-up. He has clout, influence, power and access. In his field, that is what you need to stay alive in his world. He is the man!

  Ronnie Wright has been a professional celebrity photographer for 26 years.  Currently the house photographer for BET’s 106 and Park, Ronnie ’s photo credits appear on many of the magazines you pick up off the stands. In 2002, he was awarded “Master Urban Fashion Photographer of the Year”. Whether it is “new school” or “old school”, Ronnie has photographed them all. Michael Jackson , Alicia Keys, Nelly , The O’Jays, Quincy Jones, Barry White, Luther Vandross, Rick James, Mariah Carey, ZZ Top, Lou Rawls and Sting are just a small few. Look for Ronnie at all the awards shows, fashion shows and the everyday “I Love New York ” show. www.myspace.com./ronniewright_photographer

{At press time we were not able to print the bios of Everett James and Harold Rhynie}

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