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Meet the Playwrights of Summerfest: Rosalinde Block

Meet the Playwrights of Summerfest: Rosalinde Block

Born and raised in St. Louis, Rosalinde Block was classically trained for a career as a concert pianist. Alas, her mother’s dreams flew out the window the minute Rosalinde was old enough to turn on a radio. KATZ and KXLW, the two AM soul stations in the St. Louis area, were the source of great R&B throughout the week, Cajun and Zydeco on Saturday night, and of course, gospel all day Sunday. St. Louis being one of the gospel hubs of the U.S., Rosalinde and her father would take Sunday drives through the inner city neighborhoods where they could hear music pouring from the many storefront churches. Those memories have since transformed themselves into some of Rosalinde’s most edifying musical moments. Years later she would perform her songs in many of the wonderful gospel churches in the New York area.

As a tween, Rosalinde worked her way backstage to hang out with Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Marvelettes and many more of the great Motown artists. During the ‘60s, wonderful music could be heard on a shoe string. For her 13th birthday, her dad took her to  hear Marvin Gaye perform at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. From the Beach Boys she learned not to ooh and ahh, but rather to “unhh.” These are the musical roots that would shape her career as a songwriter.

Four years at Sarah Lawrence College then NYC in 1974. In a matter of weeks, she was picked up by Columbia Records and was recording her demos at the original CBS Studios on 52nd Street with such session greats as Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Richard Tee. The early ‘70s found her peddling songs up and down Sixth Avenue and showcasing them in venerated NYC clubs such as The Bottom Line, The Bitter End, The Village Gate and Tramps. She was recommended to Al Kooper as a back-up singer—her first US tour. Rosalinde  played the keyboards for The Impalas of “Sorry, I Ran All The Way Home” fame. The Impalas shared the bill with Tito Puente.

She joined the BMI-Lehman Engel Music Theater Workshop. In 2005-2006 she wrote music and lyrics for an off-Broadway show. Songs from that project are now being developed for a film musical. From 2008 through 2011 Rosalinde totally switched gears, singing in the Creflo Dollar World Changers gospel choir. Since then she has been re-working her material. Summer 2012 she created a music video, working with a fresh young rapper.

Over almost-40 years, not only has Rosalinde worked in clubs, concert halls, and cabarets, but she has also performed on cruise ships and played more piano bars than she would care to count. Her vast repertoire of standards has also been well utilized as she has performed for audiences in hospitals and nursing homes. As a crossover artist, Rosalinde found niches in New York jazz clubs as well as the Jazz Vespers series at St. Peter’s Citicorp Center. She has performed in “Women in Jazz” festivals, the New York Daily News Summer Concert series and “First Night.” On the inspirational end, bringing her songs into local gospel churches with some of the finest choirs in the NY community has been among the high points of her career.

The multi-talented Rosalinde is also an author and has written and illustrated many children’s books and is presently working on a volume of memoir essays. As a teacher, Rosalinde ran arts/music programs at several inner-city schools. She participated in the Mentors and Protégés program under the auspices of the New York Philharmonic/ Barnes & Noble Young Composer Series; there she drew from her classical training, helping kids create their own compositions. She also created an art program for Phoenix House, where she has volunteered weekly for many years. Rosalinde continues to teach art and piano privately.

“The Rosalinde Block Party” is the name she gives to her ever-evolving sound— a lively blend of r&b/pop/jazz and gospel. Bringing in a steady stream of stellar talent to help record and perform her songs, Rosalinde’s music will always remain the seat of her soul.

You can find her show Drama of the Gifted Grown-up at the NY Summerfest July 20-23

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Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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