It is our pleasure to introduce you to Five Women Performance Ensemble. Under the auspices of Celeste Bateman & Assocs., LLC and founded in 2015 by Celeste Bateman, the group consists of five talented poets, writers, singers and performing artists whose mission is to promote the works of women poets, writers, playwrights, singers and songwriters. Performing songs, original poems and the works of known and lesser-known women poets and writers, the ensemble is available for bookings. Fee: NEGOTIABLE
FIVE WOMEN BIOGRAPHIES
Celeste Bateman (Producer/Founder) is an arts administrator, booking agent and publicist. As an arts administrator, she traveled nationally and internationally and in 1995 she was one of 10 arts administrators selected by Americans for the Arts to participate in an arts study tour in Northern Ireland, courtesy the British Council. She founded her company, Celeste Bateman & Assocs., LLC, in 1997 and has worked with numerous national and international clients booking her artists, particularly poet/playwright/author Amiri Baraka for whom she served as exclusive agent for nine years and publicist for 12. In 1999, she wrote and produced the Gospel play, We’ve Got the Victory which was performed in New York City and at various venues in New Jersey. One of her short stories was published in PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley’s book Keeping the Faith which won an NAACP Image Award in 2003. She has served on the Boards of numerous organizations. She is the Director of ELMART Theatre Service which takes audiences to the Black theater and other points of interest to the Black community. She holds a B.A. in Theater Arts & Speech from Rutgers University and an M.A. in Communication Arts from Montclair State University.
Kim Armstrong (Alto) is a Grammy Award-winning singer and performer who is a native of Newark, New Jersey. Ms. Armstrong has graced the stage with artists such as Kenny Loggins, Shirley Caesar, Michael Bolton, Bette Midler, Cissy Houston, Donnie McClurkin, Mino Cinelo, David Sanborn, Darlene Love and George Benson to name a few. Additionally, she has opened for Gladys Knight and The Emotions. She has recorded with Black Ivory, Queen Latifah and the late, great Ray Charles. She appeared on The Bobby Jones Gospel Show, and American Idol Gives Back – Season 9 as a back-up singer for Joss Stone & Jeff Beck. Additionally, she’s appeared on the TV-One Television Network Devine Restoration and the Emeril Lagasse Food Network Channel. She performed at the US Tennis Open with the internationally known Stefanie Minatee & Jubilation Choir. She has toured extensively throughout Japan, Russia and the Caribbean. Ms. Armstrong is the 2015 Garden State Film Festival Feature Film Soundtrack Winner for her song, “Where Are You Now?” from the highly anticipated film Clipped Wings They Do Fly about mental illness. Ms. Armstrong is the Sleep Study Coordinator at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center where she’s been employed for 29 years.
Caryl R. Lucas (Alto) is a motivational speaker, author and certified life coach from New Jersey. She is the President/CEO of Coach On Call, LLC, an empowerment company that produces women’s reinvention seminars, youth leadership and bully prevention assemblies at schools and colleges. Her areas of expertise are Professional and Personal Development, Youth Development, Communications, Public Speaking, Strategic Outreach & Marketing and Self-Publishing. Coach Caryl is the founder of Unstoppable Girls, a nonprofit organization, which provides an annual retreat and programs for girls, ages 11–21. She is a former news reporter at The Star-Ledger newspaper and spokeswoman for the New Jersey Secretary of State’s Office. Today, Coach Caryl specializes in women’s issues, overcoming adversities, building self-esteem and youth empowerment. Caryl is a gifted public speaker and holds a B.A. in English from New Jersey’s Upsala College where she minored in Journalism and Theater. She is co-author of Fearless: A Bold Approach to Reinventing Your Life and author of Aunt Sarah’s Recipes for Spirit-Filled Life and Unstoppable Girls Gratitude Journal.
Colleen Hawks (Soprano) lives in New York City and is married to actor Jeff Pierce. Her Broadway debut was in the smash hit Smokey Joe’s Cafe where she performed the role originated by DeLee Lively. She was also in the smash hit Broadway show The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman and most recently in Shrek the Musical as Fairy Godmother and the Voice of the Bluebird. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree she moved to L.A. where she performed for Disney, playing such singing roles as Snow White, Cinderella and Ariel (The Little Mermaid) both on TV and stage (including tours to London, Paris, Munich, Holland, and China). She has lived in Japan, Korea and Holland. She has also traveled worldwide performing on cruise ships; from the Amazon in Brazil, to Mexico, Canada, the South Pacific, Australia, Hong Kong, and Alaska. Colleen’s Off-Broadway credits include the original premiere of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, Dr. Sex (Phoebe), and a principal role in Shake That Thing! Other favorite roles include Mrs. Johnstone in Blood Brothers, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Paulette in Legally Blonde, the title role in Sugar , Laurey in Oklahoma! and Polly in Crazy for You. Feature film credits include The Guru with Heather Graham and Marissa Tomei and The Narrows. She has been featured on CBS’s As the World Turns and both Law and Order: C.I. and S.V.U. Colleen has numerous private voice students, regularly choreographs for the Bronx High School of Science’s Spring Musical, teaches Musical Theatre at Broadway Performing Arts and is currently directing Thoroughly Modern Millie for Pied Piper Productions. Colleen also teaches in school residencies for voice and musical theatre through Together in Dance and NJPAC.
Cynthia “Lady Rose” Roberson (Alto) Singer, songwriter, educator, entrepreneur and mother is just a few titles this multifaceted women proudly embraces. As a dedicated mother, School Media Specialist for Newark Public Schools, author and creator of RITTA BOOK Enterprises, this modern day educator is using her gift of creativity and artistic accomplishments to enhance the quality of learning through what she calls, “the Arts in Language Arts.” Lady Rose uses the arts: of music, drama, poetry, with arts and crafts, to inspire creative and critical thinking through an array of exciting and engaging Language Arts-based activities. In an interactive, hip and fun-filled way, she stresses the importance of life-long literacy skills and academic achievement for audiences of various ages. As a singer and songwriter, she has floored audiences from Green Bay, Wisconsin with the late great Ray Charles to Sapporo and Tokyo, Japan. Lady Rose is a unique inspirational artist — inspired by talented individuals such as Anita Baker, Yolanda Adams and India Arie. One thing remains very clear, Lady Rose’s strong smooth, natural, emotionally-charged style remains uniquely hers. Candid and powerful, she positively rivets the focus of all who listen and totally commands the attention of those who dare to really hear her.
Gail Lou (Musical Director/Piano/Vocals) is a product of Vaux Hall, NJ. She is a vocalist, musician, songwriter, arranger, actress and musical director. Her performances and recordings include R&B, House, Gospel, Musical Theatre and Jazz. Currently concentrating on her jazz influences, she is writing songs and melodies she hopes become jazz standards. She has worked with such jazz stalwarts as Calvin Hill, Wayne Cobham, Chico Mendoza, and JoeHam. Her professional musical theatre credits include one-woman pieces Billie, featuring the music of Billie Holiday and I’ve Got A Mind to Ramble –with the music of Alberta Hunter. Her single “Another Day” is part of producer Bobby D’Ambrosio’s House music project Here I Am. She also recorded “You Got the Vibe” on DANCE BABY Records and “Hidden Lover” with D. Mills. Gail has sung Gospel background vocals at Carnegie Hall in New York City with Carla Harris and Cissy Houston. Gail and songwriting partner Shawn Lucas created Light & Sweet – An American Tea Opera a souazz (soul and jazz) piece, and 7 Good Ways, a musical celebration of Kwanzaa. Gail Lou has studied advanced jazz vocals with Marion Cowings at Jazzmobile and jazz arrangement and composition under jazz great Jimmy Heath. Gail Lou holds a B.A. in Vocal Music Performance from Montclair State University. She is thrilled to have been a part of the Together In Dance family, a Brooklyn-based teaching artists program. Gail Lou would like to “shout out” her husband (Andre), daughters (LC and TS Rose) and her Dad, Lou Freemen.
Ronnell Bey (alto) was born into what quite a few refer to as Newark “musical royalty, Andy and The Bey Sisters. Now continuing to expand her horizons as a featured solo and group artist, she has appeared on stage and in concerts throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia. She has worked with such notables as Amiri Baraka, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Wolfgang Lackerschmid (in Germany), poet Sekou Sundiata and producer Bobby D”Ambriosio. She has performed in numerous theatrical productions nationally and internationally and is the recipient of an Obie award for ensemble performance for Eli’s Comin’ which featured the music of the great composer/singer, Laura Nyro. Ms. Bey holds a B.A. in Theater Arts & Speech from Rutgers University.
Breya “Blkbrry Molassez” Knight (poet) is a Newark, NJ Queen filled with various unique qualities of life — art, music and literature. She is a fearless vessel created from the mightygeneration of women who raised her; the freedom-fighting of he late poet and community activist Amiri Baraka; soothing inspiration of Maya Angelou, the teachings of her Weequahic High School English teacher Rob Hylton and the music of phenomenal Newark women singers and songwriters Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Rah Digga, Faith Evans and Sarah Vaughan. She adds a mixture of Gospel and hiphop to her words of poetry. Breya is a self-published author of three books and recently released her first poetic CD project City Limits — a variety album showing youth and others citywide, statewide and nationwide that there is no limit to what one can do…especially if you believe in God. She is a free artistic spirit, always ready and willing to share the gifts God gave her. She is the “poetic diabetic,” as she meets the challenges of this disease that severely affects the African American community.
Kelly ‘GreenLight’ Thomas (alto) — artist, activist and educator — was raised in East Orange, New Jersey with roots in Alabama and The Commonwealth of Dominica. Kelly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Theater from the NYU Steinhardt School of Music, Education and Culture. Kelly also holds a Sound and Music Integrated Practitioner Credential from the New York Open Center. Currently Kelly teaches for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Sadie Nash Women’s Leadership Project. She also co-manages a Creativity and Wellness studio with the Essential Elements Collective at Newark’s Gallery Aferro.
Praise for Five Women (2016)
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon traveling down memory lane to the oldies. It was a great afternoon.
~John W. Johnson Jr., Ph.D., Executive Director, Newark Celebration 350
Beautiful picture ladies and the performance was absolutely show-stopping! Thank you all. ~ Myra Lawson
The show was awesome! ~ Pamela Slater
Victory! I enjoyed myself, please do that again! ~ Dr. Albert Lewis
Enjoyed the performance! Excellent choice of song list. Thanks! ~ Denise Sanders Brooks, The Wise Women Center, ECC
The event was great, keep building your audience you are on to something!!!!!! ~ Gary Campbell
Great performances! ~ S. Quattlebaum, Ph.Ed.
A most beautiful performance, Ladies. ~Loretta Walker
Celeste Bateman – You deserve it all Celeste. The fantastic work that you do is not only informative, insightful – it’s fun too. ~ Unknown
Yes, what a wonderful program and inspiring performances!! Awesome!! Thank you Celeste Bateman and 5 women!!! ~ Dorothy Knauer
Congrats Celeste Bateman on the Five Women show! I laughed, I sang, I cried, and I cheered! A musical tour de force in front of an enthusiastic, packed house at the FREE Newark Public Library, recognizing Newark Celebration 350, and honoring famous women of Newark’s past–Connie Francis, Whitney and Cissy Houston, Melba Moore, Queen Latifah and more. So glad I caught this show amidst a huge weekend of Newark goings-ons.
~ Jeremy Johnson, Executive Director, The Newark Arts Council
Dear Sistah Celeste,
I have seen 5 Women 3 times and each performance has been different!! You all are so soulful and spiritual and make the audience shout and holla each time!!! The performance at the library in March celebrating Newark famous women artist was absolutely fabulous!!! Everyone could sing their hearts out especially Lady Rose when she blew Whitney’s ‘I will always love you’ out of the water!!! Whew! she brought the house down – Celeste, thank you for bringing these talents to the forefront – Kim, Caryl, Lady Rose and your new soprano (Colleen). Their voices are still ringing in my ears (LOL) – Keep up the good work – You all are FABULOUS! (Your dance moves Celeste ain’t bad either!!!)
~ Ivy West
Praise for Five Women (2015)
The evening was absolutely powerful, impactful and inspiring! I was moved and filled with joy by your performances!!! I wanted more and I look forward to the next one! You are definitely phenomenal and talented women! Thank you for an outstanding performance and enjoyable evening!
What a wonderful, uplifting, inspiring performance. It was a collective group hug of sisterhood. Congratulations. Well done!!!
I found the evening extremely moving. I really enjoyed it.
Art House Productions, Jersey City, NJ
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! What a gift tonight’s performance was… you are just absolutely amazing!! amazing!! Thank you (and all the women artists) for sharing your talent and gifts through this joyful, serious, creative, awesome performance with me and so many others in our community. Thank you!!
With admiration and gratitude. (PS- It was so great to have so many young women there too!!) ~Dorothy Knauer
Last night everyone on the second floor of the Newark Public Library was taken on a poetic and musical journey with Five Women that was whimsical, profound, funny, uplifting, inspirational and downright bluesy – all in one trip (night)! Five Women are a must see! Everyone – including the band – did an exceptional job and I look forward to hearing more and more from them in the future!