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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Saturday May 18th 2024

Spears and Commodore, at the Dakota and in the Community

4.40b-v38#6-Dakota-Review-photo-smallBy Raymond Jackson

Dennis Spears and Ginger Commodore performed at The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant May 18th. They sang many popular melodies, including a stirring rendition of, “Unchanged Melody”. .

After receiving a personal backstage greeting representing The Alley Newspaper, I asked about their hometowns. Spears said, “I was born in Toledo, Ohio, but I grew up in Mangham, Louisiana. It”'s near the more familiar Monroe, Louisiana, so I say I”'m from Monroe.”

They performed Louisiana style rhythms and scatting dedicated to Sue McClain who had died the day before. McClain had many remarkable and exciting accomplishments over the many years as a musical promoter for entertainers and audiences here in the Twin Cities.

Spears said, “I was raised by my grandparents in Louisiana, but I have been here for 33 years, making me a Minnesnowtan, or whatever you call those foolish enough to stay here and survive the winters.”

When asked “what is it that keeps you here”, he replied, “I am so into family and community. Ginger and I have a great family base here, through “Moore by Four”, and other work. This is such a strong artist community— very artist friendly. That”'s why I stay here. I do, however, want to make enough money, so I can retreat to somewhere warmer in my elder hood.”

Ginger responded, “I am actually from Des Moines, Iowa, and my family transplanted up to Minnesota, one by one, so most of us are here now. I stay because this is a great place to raise our kids, family and to do community outreach. Dennis and I have a large, similarly connected, community that we perform for. We live in the community and Dennis does a lot of work in the community, making this a place that you just don”'t want to leave.”

Dennis Spears, has done a lot of work in the Phillips Community , and is currently the Artistic Youth Director at The Capri Theater in North Minneapolis.

Ginger continued, “Being a part of “Moore by Four” has given us great opportunities. We”'ve traveled the world, shows in Europe, Italy, Finland, Portugal and Spain, to name a few.”

Spears said, “I am now doing some of the same type of work as Mother, who was a social worker, working with young girls who are at risk and displaced. As artists we are changing the lives of kids, who people have been told, they have no hope, they have no dreams and it is not only coming from the streets but also the homes; where these kids feel like they have no voice. We are teaching them that through theater, music and the arts, that yes, they do have a voice, and tell the world that they are somebody special, they are a child of God. Follow your dream, and find out what that richness is inside each and every one of you that is given to all of us.”

Wow! What great and inspirational words.

At The Dakota Jazz Nightclub on June 9th: John Sebastian, and on June 19th and 20th, is, Ramsey Lewis & Dee Dee Bridgewater.

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