My name is Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. I was born in New York in 1967 and was born with a physical disability (cerebral palsy). Being both Black and disabled, I’ve always had questions about race and disability.
I grew up in an activist family and became active in issues that faced my Black and disabled communities. At an early age I realized that both of my communities, Black and disabled, did not recognize each other and because of this fact I continued to search for some kind of balance with my two identities.
In school I found out that very few professors or students knew about Black disabled people in history -- from slavery, to the music industry, to activism. Outside of the educational system and my communities, I started to educate myself on the rich history of Black disabled people.
Because my father was into Black music, I started my research on Black disabled people in music and found out that most of the early blues artists were Black and blind or had other types of disabilities that forced them to make a living from singing on street corners all over the South and North: artists like Cripple Clarence Lofton who had polio but used to dance and was known as one of the creators of boogie-woogie piano.
A lot of these Black disabled musicians didn’t get their dues and were discriminated against. The story of Cortelia Clark, who was a blind blues singer, singing on the streets of Nashville, is one of many true stories of Black blind/disabled artists in the early stages of the development of the music industry. Although Clark won a Grammy for his 1967 song, the appropriately titled "Blues in the Streets," he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he couldn’t afford to buy a ticket. The following day he was back on the streets trying to earn money to pay rent.
First the bad news: Passing Strange, the critically acclaimed Broadway Show about a young musician’s journey through sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, will close on July 20th in New York at the Belasco Theater. But the good news is that director Spike Lee plans on making a film version of the musical.
Written by native Angeleno and local musician Stew --who has played in such bands as Gutbucket, The Lullabies and most notably The Negro Problem-- and longtime musical collaborator Heidi Rodewald, formerly of Wednesday Week and also TNP, Passing Strange was originally work-shopped at the Sundance Institute in Utah and the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley before becoming an off-Broadway sensation last year. Passing Strange opened in February on Broadway to rave reviews and received seven Tony Award nominations, winning the prize for Best Book for its co-creator and star, Stew.
Overall, the musical will have played 165 performances and 20 previews by the time it closes at the Belasco Theater. Live stage footage will be shot on July 19 at both the matinee and evening performances, so all you west-coasters still have time to buy a plane ticket and reserve a couple of seats.
Their live set was built around "Turn On Your Lovelight," "Woke Up This Morning," "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Get On the Right Track Baby."
Their name seems to be a reference to the St. Louis Union Station, a train station famous, like many things in St. Louis, as having been the biggest and busiest thing in its field way back when. Its archways are designed so that one can whisper into them and someone else can hear you clearly on the other end, a design feature with no apparent practical applications, save simple amusements in a simpler time. It was largely built of limestone taken from Indiana, probably just to remind the Hoosiers who's boss, as the state of Missouri is entirely made of limestone and they're the nation's leader in lime production.
Truman having a laugh at St. Louis Union Station
In the 1970s, the station was bought by Amtrak. They ended operations soon afterward and relocated their operations to a building the unhealthily train-obsessed refer to as Amshack. Now it's a mall where tourists watch the guys at the Fudge Factory put on a show and the Footlocker has a basketball hoop with the backboard autographed by the D.O.C.