Archive

Archive for October 14, 2015

Leo Adam Biga’s Journey in the Pipeline; Following The Champ, Terence “Bud” Crawford in Africa

October 14, 2015 2 comments

Leo Adam Biga’s Journey in the Pipeline; Following The Champ, Terence “Bud” Crawford, in Africa

This is the first time i’ve posted the stories I wrote about my travels to Africa with boxing champ Terence “Bud’ Crawford just as they appeared in Metro Magazine (http://www.spiritofomaha.com/Metro-Magazine/The-Magazine/). The publisher and editor generously allotted several pages to this rather epic spread highlighting various facets of the two-week trip to Uganda and Rwanda.

NOTE: As originally presented for publication in metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY August 2015 edition.

©by Leo Adam Biga

BTW: My blog features many other stories I’ve written about Crawford.

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815 BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815 BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

BIGA-JOURNEYS-815

Advertisements

The Champ looks to impact more youth at his B&B Boxing Academy; Building campaign for Terence Crawford’s gym has goal of $1.2 million for repairs, renovations, expansion

October 14, 2015 3 comments

Here is some of my latest writing on Omaha’s own two-time world boxing champion, Terence “Bud” Crawford, this time centered around the $1.2 million buidling campaign to make much needed repairs and renovations and to do much needed expansion to his B&B Boxing Academy. The Champ and his friends have a beauiful vision in mind for the academy. See the renderings for the new and improved facility below and read about the heart Crawford has for his community and the role he sees his center playing in being a positive force for youth and young adults. And meet some of the members who train at B&B.

 

The Champ looks to impact more youth at his B&B Boxing Academy

Building campaign for Terence Crawford’s gym has goal of $1.2 million for repairs, renovations, expansion

©by Leo Adam Biga

 

Two-time world boxing champion Terence “Bud” Crawford is putting Omaha on the map with the title bouts he brings here, but he also hopes to steer attention to his B&B Boxing Academy.

The fight world’s focus will once again be on Omaha when Crawford defends his WBO junior welterweight title October 24 at the CenturyLink Center. The Champ wants people to know his roots extend far beyond the fights he has in Omaha to include his nonprofit gym serving youth and young adults in his hometown.

Located at 3034 Sprague Street in a former cold storage warehouse in the very neighborhood he grew up in, B&B is a nonprofit, community-based athletic center with a mission of building body, mind and character. Experienced coaches help members reach goals inside and outside the ring. Positive, structured activities teach confidence, discipline and healthy habits for a lifetime. Crawford started the gym with co-manager Brian “BoMac” McIntyre as a safe haven from the negative street influences that compete for young people’s attention. When Crawford isn’t away training, he and McIntyre are there at B&B, rubbing shoulders with the mix of amateur fighters who frequent it.

But the building housing the gym is in need of total renovation. Antiquated electrical, heating and plumbing fixtures need replacing. There’s no locker room. The single bathroom is shared by males and females. Because the roof leaks, the only thing keeping the Champ and others dry are tarps affixed to the ceiling. The walls leak, too.

Meanwhile, the gym’s reached physical capacity. On warm summer nights the place overflows with members going through their paces – running, working the bags, shadow boxing, sparring. To accommodate the overflow, the doors and fences are opened and the parking lot emptied to create a makeshift outdoor training site. If the numbers keep growing as expected members will need to train in shifts.All of this is prompting friends of the B&B to support a building campaign with a goal of $1.2 million to address the structural needs.

Omaha entrepreneur Willy Theisen is among those supporters.

“Terence and his gym have a true positive impact and he’s committed to B&B,” Theisen said. “He and Brian and the other coaches there do a great job of building champions but I think we must do better as far as the facility goes. We come from a very generous community that gives back and that pays ahead and I think we can get this thing done. A newly renovated building will help Terence and B&B have an even greater impact on the neighborhood and community.”

Currently B&B is only using a fraction of the available space. The vision is to convert the entire warehouse into a spacious, state-of-the-art gym that can also host community events. It is a huge undertaking.

The newly outfitted gym will add a second ring, more punching bags, new exercise equipment, a dedicated fitness-weight training room, meeting-activity spaces and offices. The renovations will also include boys and girls locker rooms and showers, and a community outreach kitchen that can be used for serving meals to the kids as well as hosting special events.

Friends of B&B such as Theisen, along with B&B Advisory Committee members Jamie Nollette Kenneth Patry, Jay R. Lerner, Jason Caskey and Garth Glissman, invite people to help build a gym and give youth a fighting a chance.

For donation inquiries, contact campaign manager Jamie Nollette at jnollette@pipelineworldwide.org or (623) 824-3273.

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

B&B’s Boxing Academy Renovation-verion4-100515

Tiffany White-Welchen delivers memorable performance in “Lady Day”

October 14, 2015 5 comments

Tiffany White-Welchen delivers memorable performance in “Lady Day” –

 

“WHITE-WELCHEN PERFORMANCE MAKES THIS A MUST SEE.” Betsie Freeman, Omaha World Herald.
“TIFFANY’S PERFORMANCE IS TRULY REMARKABLE.” Loyal Fairman, The Nonpareil
“LADY DAY DELIVERS RAW EMOTION…INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE” Betsie Freeman, Omaha World Herald.
“A HEART-WRENCHING PLAY WITH INCREDIBLE MUSIC…” Loyal Fairman, The Nonpareil

 

Tiffany White-Welchen, LMHP, LPC, NCC

 

Let me add to the rave reviews Tiffany White Welchen has received for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Performing Artists Repertory Theatre production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Choose whatever words of praise you wish to describe her performance – bravura, tour de force, scintillating, lights out, brilliant, mesmerizing, moving, multi-layered, multi-textured – and they all apply to what she does in this show. While the play is an often dark, despairing look at the low down ebb of Holiday’s final days, it is also funny, profane, provocative and ironic, just like the great jazz singer herself. Holiday went through some hard, harsh things but she probably didn’t think of her own life as tragic the way we do from the outside looking in. White-Welchen intimated as much in an interview she gave me. Holiday lived a raucous life and she did it on her own terms. While she made some bad choices and had some real dirt done to her, she wasn’t about regret.

White-Welchen sees similarities between her life and Holiday’s – from their shared experience growing up around lots of men to navigating life as an African-American woman to encountering discrimination.

“Most people see this beautiful, elegant woman on stage with a sleek ponytail and gardenias in her hair when actually she could curse like a sailor and hang with the guys like nobody’s business. That’s a parallel with my own life. I have three brothers and I’m very much a Tom boy. However, I’m pretty girly at the same time. It’s pretty awesome to be able to take those sides of me and kind of magnify them with a Billie Holiday twist, of course.

“I appreciate how she had to overcome so many difficult things that were happening to African-Americans at that time. There were times she couldn’t appear on-stage with Artie Shaw’s band until it was time for her to do her numbers. She’d get off the bus, perform, and then go right back on the bus when everybody else got to stay on the bandstand. And there were times she was supposed to sing with the band and venues said, ‘No, we’re not going to allow an African-American in our establishment,’ and the band would have another singer fill in for her.

“I really admire the fact she was able to get over such adversity.”

In the play White-Welchen courageously goes to some raw, naked places emotionally. She deserves credit for being willing to expose herself that way.

Performing the song “Strange Fruit” that deals directly with the lynching horrors blacks faced in the South is a harrowing thing for White-Welchen.

“I was really surprised one night when I started crying really hard during that particular song. Singing it gave me a chance to relate to what my grandmother and my great great granmother must have gone through and it makes me think about some deep-seated issues that have happened to me as African-American woman and about the lessons my mother taught me and about some of ugly parts of life I have to accept. I try to capture all that in that one song.

“I asked Mr. C (director Gordon Cantiello) to allow me to sing the very beginning of it acapella because I wanted people to get a sense of what was really going on at the time, to feel what it was like to go through those times, and to feel my pain as Billie Holiday.”

White-Welchen said she has come to realize that the deep cross-currents of Holiday’s life with social events of that time make the play a valuable and moving instructional tool.

“I didn’t realize I was teaching a history lesson on stage until I saw and felt the interaction from the audience.”

Having the responsibility to express all the potent themes and colors of the play while remaining true to Holiday and all her brilliance and dysfunction is a tall task for a performer who never leaves the stage except for intermission.

“I had never done a one-woman show before. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The greatest challenge for me is to clear my mind of any issue or anything going on in my life and to forget all the hats I wear and to get up on stage and just perform. So I have to forget that I’m a mom, that I’m the director of a department. I have to forget about my mother in the audience, I have to forget about anything that bothered me during the day, because if I take that on stage with me it will distract me.

“I’m able to bring all those things with me on stage in other shows where I’m not on all the time, but not with this one because I’m up there by myself the whole time. I have to concentrate my energy so that I hold the character and the audience and never release them.”

Credit also goes to director Gordon Cantiello for pulling those depths out of her. These two artists have a long working history and the trust they’ve built allows White-Welchen to invest all of herself in this demanding role. She knows Cantiello will support her when she goes out on a limb. White-Welchen told me there are moments, lines and lyrics that are particularly difficult for her to deliver because they trigger her own personal losses and heartaches but she muddles through anyway to serve the play.

“There is a moment in the show where Billie talks about losing her father and I’m very much a daddy’s girl, so when I get to that part of the show there’s times I can emotionally go there and other times that I can’t. I think it’s because I don’t want to think about that my own father isn’t here anymore. He was my greatest fan, he came to every show. My mom is at every show and I know how much she misses him.

“In that scene Billie talks about singing at a bar in Harlem and getting a call telling her her father’s dead and she went back on stage and sang. When she tells that part it’s very emotional for me.”

Informing her portrayal of the troubled Holiday is White-Welchen’s expertise and experience as a mental health therapist.

“When people talk to me about their issues you can barely hear them, their voice changes, the pain is so hard it’s hard to come up with the words as they tell me their most horrifying stories. What I try to do in the show is to express how much my pain is, not by crying or shouting but by being silent or speaking in a faint voice.”

She said the experience of portraying such pain has affected the way she deals with clients.
“I guess it’s given me a level of sensitivity that I may not have had before. When you are in this field for so long you kind of become callous to it and I think by playing her I’m a lot more sensitive now and I’ve talked to staff about making sure that when people tell their story we’re not re-traumatizing them. So my level of sensitivity and empathy have definitely been enhanced by playing Billie Holiday.”

Cantiello is glad to have someone as perceptive and seasoned as White-Welchen in the role.

“I couldn’t ask for a better performer, actress, singer than Tiffany,” Cantiello said. “As a behavioral therapist, she brings a lot of understanding and compassion to the role. For me, understanding the amount of suffering Billie Holiday had to endure in her lifetime brought me to tears. I just knew Tiffany would be perfect for the part and she’s certainlly proved to be.”

Omaha has many outstanding vocal and theatrical talents and White-Welchen is among the very best because she’s the total package. This is a showcase part and she’s completely up to its challenges and opportunities. She does justice to all the Holiday signature tunes but her renditions of “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit” are worth the price of admission alone.

Kudos as well to music director Ric Swanson for the tight numbers and his piano accompaniment.

Helping draw us in is the intimate, immersive performing space that’s just right for the one set production.

“The venue is perfect for immersive cabaret style theatre,” Cantiello said. “It gives the audience a chance to be a part of the story. Our new theater at the Crossroads is that type of space. A perfect space for ‘Lady Day.'”

The limited run of “Lady Day” is soon coming to an end and so act now and reserve your seats for one or more of these remaining performances:
Friday, October 23 at 7pm
Saturday, October 24 at 7pm

Tickets can be purchased by calling 402-706-0778. All tickets are $35 for all shows.

The theater is located in the Target wing at Crossroads Mall. Park in the Northeast parking garage on the lower level and enter the Northeast entrance. Enter the lobby and make a right. Look for the PART signs.

%d bloggers like this: