By Denise Martin
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Legendary Hip Hop artist Kurtis Blow about the one-of-a-kind Holiday Spectacular the Hip Hop Nutcracker. I asked Kurtis how he got involved with the production and he replied, “Bill Stephanie came to one of my shows 11 years ago and he came backstage and told me about a new project called the Hip Hop Nut-cracker. I went to the rehearsal. I opened the door at J Pack, and I saw these kids break dancing and doing power moves. They were doing all these incredible acrobatics. They had a DJ that was playing these funky beats under this classical music. I thought I had to be a part of this. The fusion of music was very important to me. I was the first supporter of the fusion of rap and other genres. That was very special to me. I was the first to do Rock and Roll on my first album and the first to do County and Western rap on my first album a song called Way Out West. I was the first to do Reggae with the Fat Boys in 1984. When I saw this classical music the timeless music of Tchaikovsky. The DJ with the funky beats under this classical music and the kids out there break dancing to this classical music. I said I must be a part of this. That was eleven years ago, and we have been going strong ever since.”
Kurtis explained how the Hip Hop Nutcracker has evolved over the eleven years of the show. Kurtis began, “We owe it all to our leader, our main chorographer Jennifer Weber she comes up with all these incredible amazing additions and transitions…She is out there acquiring the greatest talent. We have an all-star dance team, and they change up every few years. A lot of the story is still the same we have a Drosselmeyer, we have a Byran Nutcracker. We have a Maria Clara. The story is still the same but the additions that she made was she added a violinist that does collabs with the DJ who plays those funky hip hop beats all night long. There’s a couple of sections where the violinist comes out and does collabs and they go back and forth trading with each other and that’s amazing!”
I asked Kurtis to tell me about his heart transplant. Kurtis began by telling me that he was on tour…” I was going through heart disease heart failure in 2017 and I died for 6 minutes and came back to life. I feel like I was resurrected. It was a miracle blessing. Four or five heart operations and the last one being a full heart transplant. I am a walking living breathing testimony that God is still in the miracle business. I’m so grateful and thankful to all my friends and family all around the world who have been praying for me throughout this ordeal and I thank you for your prayers. Our prayers were answered. All I can say is that I’m so grateful. Every day that I wake up I thank God. Every morning that I wake up I thank God.”
This year is the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. I asked Kurtis what that meant to him. Kurtis replied, “That means it’s a blessing, a miracle blessing. I remember back in 1979 being the first artist to release a song on a major label for Hip Hop in the culture. People were just saying it’s a fad. It’s not going to be around that long; we will get over it. But here we are 50 years later! So, I am grateful and thankful, to all the media, radio DJ’s, podcasters, on air personalities, newsprint, and magazine. All of you guys made this possible. We thank you for your support for all these years and my hat goes off to you. Because with-out people like you, there could never be brothers like me. I thank you for playing my Christmas rap all these years. Every year. So, thank you.
I asked Kurtis what it’s like to work with Jennifer Weber the director/choreographer? Kurtis said, “Jennifer is amazing. I call her the Woman King. She does a great job acquiring talent and making changes that adjust to modern times. Like new dance teams. There’s this one guy that she just hired; his name is Batista. He’s from the Congo and he moved to America three weeks before we went out on tour. If you see this kid, you could never tell that he is not from New York. Big shout out to Jennifer Weber, Randy, Eva Marie Price, and the whole MJ Pack team for believing in us, believing in Hip Hop, believing in the theatre and the collaboration and the fusion and the remixing of this classical story to turn it into a Hip-Hop Holiday Season Extravaganza. The Hip Hop Nut-cracker.”
Kurtis plays the MC and Host of the show. Kurtis described his part in the performance by saying, “I come out in the beginning, and I get everyone prepared for what they are about to see. I take them back to the old school and sing a medley of Old-School Hip-Hop songs. I get them ready. have them standing up, dancing in the isles, and throwing their hands in the air making a whole lot of noise. Then I sing a song at the end of the into called New Year’s Eve. Then we start the show. At the end of the show, I the Breaks… We leave everyone revitalized and inspired to spread Love during this magical Holiday Season. That is our theme. Love conquers all and we have a whole lot of fun. People leave the show with a whole lot of love on the inside. That’s our job.
If you are looking for something to do with your family or friends consider checking out the Hip Hop Nutcracker on Sun- day, December 10th.. For tickets call The Victoria Theatre at (937) 228-3630 or go to www.daytonlive.org.