“The Ebell Saved Us!” Says Beverley Clarkson of African Americans for LA Opera

November 22, 2022

Beverley Clarkson (Center front) with Ebell members Beverly Johnson, Barbara Lake, Mary Lewis, Delores Kerr and guests, at the AAOLO Black History Month recital at The Ebell, February 27, 2022.

Since Executive Director Stacy Brightman came to The Ebell last summer, there has been much talk of attracting ‘strategic partners’, to expand The Ebell’s profile and footprint in the arts, in social welfare, and in the city of LA as a whole.  But how do these strategic partnerships work in action?

On Thursday, October 17, Ebell member and President of the board of African Americans for LA Opera (AALAO) Beverley Clarkson addressed the Ebell board and told how their partnership with The Ebell has transformed their organization.

African Americans for LA Opera is a chapter of the Opera League, dedicated to increasing the awareness of opera throughout the Los Angeles area and to providing a center for African American opera lovers in Los Angeles.  On a more practical level, it has proven to offer a career springboard for African American opera singers  – notably Angel Blue, Cedric Berry, and Ashley Faaitolaia,  – providing these wonderful musicians with a living in their chosen field – “something which is not easy to attain,” says Beverley.

When AALAO first began, in 2008-9, they would perform in people’s homes, most notably each February for Black History Month, on Father’s Day in June, and one recital in the fall.  It was very intimate, and the audiences loved it.  Then COVID hit and, overnight,  gatherings were prohibited.  So AALAO did what most people did in those dark days: they switched to Zoom.  But performing opera (indeed any collaborative musical effort) proved technically very difficult, the intimacy was gone, and the audience began to tire.

Then Beverley approached The Ebell, who returned to Beverley and her board with a proposition: the Ebell Theatre was dark but the campus could be used for AALAO to perform to good-sized audiences in the fabulous and intimate setting of the President’s Tea Room on the 3rd floor.  And so the partnership began.  The first concert, celebrating Black History month, in February, 2022, was followed by a Father’s Day recital in June, to which AALAO members brought a pot-luck supper for a delightful After-Party, and another on October 16.  Their next recital is planned for February 19, 2023.

“The Ebell saved us,” says Beverley, of AALAO’s partnership with the club.  “We now have a home; and it feels like home.”

Beverley Clarkson, President AALAO and Ebell member