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UC Berkeley women sing, crack jokes for fame and fortune

29 January 2003

By Bonnie Azab Powell, Public Affairs


AUDIO: Listen to the Golden Overtones' performance of "I'm A Woman"
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BERKELEY - Come clap your hands, stamp your feet, and wolf-whistle up a storm on Friday, January 31, in support of UC Berkeley's California Golden Overtones and alum Sumana Harihareswara (Political Science '02). They're among the 15 acts competing at Zellerbach Hall as part of the Apollo Theater Amateur Night on Tour hosted by Cal Performances. The prize: $1,000, two plane tickets to New York, and the chance to wow the fiercely critical Apollo audience in Harlem for fame and fortune.

The Apollo is one of the most historically fascinating venues in show business. In 1935 it became one of the first theaters in America to welcome white and black patrons, not just black performers. So many legends have played there over the years — Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, to name but a few — that the building was designated a historic landmark in 1983. The theater's Amateur Night has launched the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, the Jackson 5, and more recently, Sisqo, D'Angelo, and Lauryn Hill.

    Sumana Harihareswara
Berkeley alum Sumana Harihareswara will perform her comedy routine in front of a packed Zellerbach Hall on Friday, Jan. 31.
Harihareswara, who is clerking at Cody's Books at Telegraph Avenue while polishing her comedy routine, is the only comedy act among the 14 semifinalists. The Golden Overtones, an all-female a capella student group, made it to the semifinals on the strength of their soulful rendition of "I'm a Woman." (See box above to listen to an audio clip of the song from the Overtones' just-released album, "No Boys Allowed," for sale on their Web site.)

The Overtones will pit their harmonizing against several singing acts, including vocalist Mackenzie Marshall (from Concord, CA), gospel rapper Ashlei Williams (Oakland), vocalist Cherelle Fortiér (San Francisco), the Baby Dollz — muppet-wielding vocalists Toya Willock and Alexis Johnson (Oakland), acoustic guitarist and vocalist Dawn Thomas (Northridge), singer Jessica Johnson (San Jose), and New Faces — vocalists Nyere da Silva, Tanya Stone and Carmen Traylor (San Leandro).

The other finalists are spoken-word artist Yejide Najee-Ullah (Berkeley), breakdancing crew Hound Dawg Truckers (San Francisco), experimental percussionist Derique, the Electric Body Drummer (Oakland), hip-hop dancers Triple X Rated (Oakland), and tap-dancing troupe Katie’s Dancers (Martinez).

New York Kings of Comedy/Def Jam comedians Talent and Capone will co-host the January 31 show with Monijae of the TV show "The Parkers," while C.P. Lacey acts as "The Executioner," sweeping off whichever acts displease the crowd — literally, with a broom.

Tickets are $20, $30 and $40: Berkeley students qualify for half-price tickets; UC faculty, staff, senior citizens and other students receive a $2 discount. They can be purchased at Cal Performances' Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall, charged by phone at (510) 642-9988, online, and at the door.