July 24 - July 30, 2014

SHELDON RODEN: The Prince of Soul

BY C.S. HOWARD...Sheldon Roden, one of Sarasota’s favorite Westcoast 2014Black Theatre Troupe members, is reprising the role of Marvin Gaye in a new version of the show called “Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul”. The show, a revised version of “Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music” from WBTT’s 2011 season, runs now through August 10th.

This original show, written by WBTT’s founder and artistic director, Nate Jacobs, begins in the 1950s at the start of Gaye’s career with Motown and follows its twists and turns until his untimely death in the mid-80s. A gifted, innovative and enduring talent, Gaye blazed the trail for the continued evolution of popular black music from the powerful R&B to sophisticated soul to an intensely political and personal form of artistic self-expression.

TEMPO News sat down with Roden to talk about how he has evolved as a singer, actor, and more specifically, Marvin Gaye.

TEMPO: How old were you when you started singing and when did you realize you could actually “sing”?

SR: I started singing at age 6 or 7, more seriously at age 12 or 13. It was then that I realized that singing was something I really wanted to do. While in high school, I gave it up for awhile but after a few years, I went back to it. People would tell me that I could sing but I was still not convinced that I could.

TEMPO: How do you think you have evolved as “Marvin Gaye” – from the first time you did his music to today?

SR: I feel connected to Marvin. I had a chance to visit Motown where I learned a lot about him as a singer. I talked to (Motown founder) Berry Gordy, and I met his wife, Janis. They helped me evolve into his character. I read books about him and spent countless hours looking at videos and listening to his CDs. From that, I began working on my voice and mastering some of his moves.

TEMPO: What is it about Gaye’s music that you like?

SR: Marvin touched me in such a profound way. I like to say that we are “brothers from another mother” – another generation. A lot of the particulars in our lives are identical. Even though we are from a different lifetime, we share a lot and I feel in tune with him when I sing.

TEMPO: What are your three top Marvin Gaye songs?

SR: “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On” for sure, and there’s a tie between “Precious Love” and “Pride and Joy”.

TEMPO: How long have you been with WBTT and how did this journey begin?

SR: I’ve been with the company since early 2009, so about five years now. To be honest, I really didn’t want to do theatre in the beginning. I was approached by (artistic director) Nate Jacobs about working with the company. I said no, I wasn’t interested. But after he had a conversation with my mother and asked her to talk to me about it – well, you know how we listen to our mothers. She encouraged me to give it a try because I didn’t know what God had in store for me.

TEMPO: How do you feel about it now?

SR: I really didn’t think it would impact me as much as it has. I had mixed emotions in the beginning about the music. Having grown up in the church with my grandmother as my spiritual leader, it was very, very difficult at first. But she said to me that it’s not about the religion but about your relationship with God. So with her blessings, I realized that this is what God wants me to do.

TEMPO: Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Have you set any goals for yourself?

SR: One day, I would like to do Broadway or go on tour. I definitely want to keep doing what I’m doing now. This has been quite an experience and journey for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have accomplished more in the last five years that a lot of people my age and I owe a lot to my family for their support. God has caused me to be a bridge to help pave the way and present opportunities for aspiring young artists and I am blessed because of it.

TEMPO: Outside of WBTT, what do you do – both professionally and “for fun”?

SR: I love jet skiing and traveling. Professionally, I worked at Verizon but left in 2011 to pursue this dream. I own my own funeral escort business, Florida Highway Traffic Control.

Jacobs, too, is very proud of Roden’s success, and had this to say: “Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul” is an original work that I wrote for Sheldon after he appeared in the “Motown 60s Revue”. When I saw that show, I knew I had a real R&B singer. Sheldon is one of the most talented young men I know in this community. I see his potential and I see him as a role model for other talented young people. I am excited about working with him. He is respectful, kind and a good person to work. That’s a big part of his appeal. His Christian upbringing and anointing play an important part – he has the favor of God.”

Sheldon is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Roden and the grandson of Sam and JoAnn Roberson and James and Mae Roden.


BY MWEZI DAKE...The 6th Annual “GREATNESS BEYOND MEASURE” Teen2014 Summit is coming to Sarasota for three fun filled, informative and inspiring days, August 1st-August 3rd hosted by BMW of Sarasota and Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota. This year the event’s cost is only $5.00!! The theme this year is “Rising to Greatness” and it is evident this year will blow the roof all the past years just by the talent and activities going on. Greatness Beyond Measure focuses on providing young people, ages 12 – 19 with invaluable life - skills and lessons, character building, brainstorming, team building, career and education goal – setting and incredible fun.

The three days in August will be filled with celebrity guests, activities and inspiring music and life changing moments.

Celebrity guests include Actor, Educator and Entrepreneur, Lamman Rucker, best known for his lead roles in Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” “Meet the Browns ”and “Why Did I Get Married I & II”. His most recent national television movie was “Where is the Love” which aired this past May.

Also, appearing is the Craig Lewis Band, national recording artists, actors and 2014YouTube sensations. The Craig Lewis Band has shared the stage with Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Jennifer Hudson and more.

In addition to Lamman Rucker, The Craig Lewis Band is a phenomenal duo hailing out of Atlanta, GA. They were discovered on YouTube by Tyler Perry and since that time, have been a part of Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” cast, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and shared the stage with some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names, such as: Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino.

As if this isn’t enough talent Daisy Saunders, founder of Big Eyes International and author of Big Eyes…Big Eyedeas for Achieving Optimum Success in Business and in Life and “Envisioning the Possibilities,” is a speaker, trainer, and consultant who helps organizations create a culture that allows people to flourish and maximize their potential. Her personal motto is envisioning the possibilities. The strength of Daisy’s message comes from personal experience. She was one of nine children born to sharecroppers in Quincy, Florida. By all odds, Daisy should not be a success. But, she learned early on that it was possible to take control of your life and change it. She learned the skills necessary to move from a life of mediocrity toward a rich, fulfilling, satisfying, successful life.

Daisy resides in Sarasota, Florida. She is a member of the National Speakers Association.

But wait! The list of AMAZING PEOPLE isn’t over yet; joining the Summit will be ALEXIS ANSLEY - LEX AND POOCH STYLING, Original Clothing Designs, and Orlando, Florida. Alexis is a Booker High School and University of Central Florida Graduate. Founders, Alexis Ansley and Latarica Singletary coalesce to produce a fresh view on today’s style with focuses on culture, individuality, and authenticity, Lex & Pooch searches to bring out the fashion maven in all of their clients.

GBM also plays host to seven teen events and activities geared toward “Empowering Teens For Life . . . To Believer, To Achieve. GBM provides a unique opportunity for over 400 hundred teens, locally and across the state, to showcase their creative & artistic gifts with a purpose through activities such as: · Stomp the Violence Step – Off, · GBM Idol Competition,· GBM Career Mixer,· Basketball Play-Offs,· Motivational Speakers,· Celebrity Entertainers & Speakers,· GBM Shark Tank,· GBM Empowerment Sessions,· GBM Scholarships,· Praise in the Park Family Cookout.

This is an event you don’t’ want to miss!! Contact GBM also plays host to seven teen events and activities geared toward “Empowering Teens For Life . . . To Believer, To Achieve. GBM provides a unique opportunity for over 400 hundred teens, locally and across the state, to showcase their creative & artistic gifts with a purpose.

The kick-off begins Friday, August 1st at 7pm. Saturday’s registration is 9am.-10am and Sunday August 3rd, Greatness Beyond Measure Basketball Playoff are 2pm-5pm.

For more information and list of schedule times call (941) 735-5261 or melsthomas1@gmail.com.