Jazz, blues, gospel, even rock 'n' roll have their roots firmly planted in the black community, where music has blossomed like nowhere else. What few realize is that blacks also have a long tradition of classical music. So hats off to Dr. Samuel Floyd, the founder of the first ever Black Music Repertory Ensemble, a, 13-member musical group dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the black musical heritage. Tonight's debut features newly discovered and newly composed pieces by Will Marion Cook, Scott Joplin, David Baker, and T.J. Anderson. It's a benefit for the ensemble and Columbia's Center for Black Music Research at 7 at Columbia College's Getz Theater, 72 E. 11th St. Admission is $50. For more, call 663-9465.
Ruben Blades has never been a typical salsa singer. While others sang about new dance steps and doing it all night, Blades talked about street violence, better education, and love's ambivalence. His career has been enigmatic and intense: a Harvard law grad, he first appeared on-screen in Crossover Dreams, a tiny, wildly successful independent. When Robert Redford offered him the lead in The Milagro Beanfield War, Blades opted for a lesser, meatier role. Blades will be in town tonight with Brazilian performer Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman) hosting a special premiere of Redford's movie to benefit the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, the Bilingual Education Committee, and the Chicago Latino Cinema. There will be two simultaneous screenings, one in English, the other in Spanish, beginning at 8 at McClurg Court Theatres, 330 E. Ohio. Tickets are $15 or $25 for the film and a reception that starts at 6:30. For further information, call 748-1503 or 870-4122 between 9 and 4:30.
The fashion call for the season is anything goes--not just in skirt lengths, but in fabrics and accessories. It's a pretty damn important issue--even the Tribune recently editorialized on how women have become more independent in their fashion choices. Women in Fashion, an all-day affair from 8:30 to 3, will try to pinpoint trends as well as dispense advice on skin care, makeup, and hairstyles. It's at the Center for Community and Continuing Education, 10900 S. 88th Ave. in Palos Hills. There's a $30 fee. Call 371-3800 for details.
The literary scene is often defined bicoastally, with the emphasis on the east. PEN Midwest, the regional chapter of the international writers association, shifts the focus to the locals with its premiere Discovery Reading tonight, designed to showcase midwest writers on the rise. Taking center stage will be John Jacob, Deborah Pintonelli, and Jerome Sala, three of our finest. The reading is also an opportunity to visit the new Chicago Filmmakers space. It's still pretty raw--sawdust is in the air and the stage probably won't be finished in time--but its promise is evident. It's at 1229 W. Belmont, at 7:30. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 281-8788.
It's not likely the audience will break into choruses of "I've Been Working on the Railroad," "Paddy Works on the Erie," or "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill"--all railroad tunes from the iron horse's heyday--but Railroading: Locomotives and Equipment should prove a fun lecture for a leisurely Sunday afternoon. Patrick C. Dorin, the author of several train books, will talk and present slides at 2 at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark Street at North Avenue. Admission to the museum is $1.50 for adults and 60 cents for children and seniors. For more information, call 642-4600.
With El Salvador's death squads on the prowl again and American soldiers eyeballing Nicaraguans near the Honduran border, there's ample evidence that deportation to Central America ensures tragedy for many undocumented workers. Yet the Reagan administration refuses to acknowledge the need for asylum for the many who will be victims of political persecutions if they're returned to their homes. You can stand up and Just Say No to La Migra at an interfaith vigil at 2 today at the Broadview Detention Center, 1930 Beach St. in Broadview. Call the Chicago Metropolitan Sanctuary Alliance at 899-1180 for details.
The Man With the Golden Arm wasn't a surprise simply because of Frank Sinatra's startling portrayal of Nelson Algren's habit-kicking junkie. When the movie debuted in 1955, audiences were shocked by the blunt depiction of shooting up in Chicago's heroin houses. You can take another look today at 5 at the Public Library Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. The flick's free and part of the city's celebration of Algren and his writing. Call 346-3278 for more information.
Will it be Cher's Italian old maid from Moonstruck that takes home the Academy Award, or Meryl Streep's street drunk? You can match wits with Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel when he predicts Oscar winners tonight. It's part of the Francis W. Parker evening course program, from 7:30 to 9 tonight only; $15. 330 W. Webster. Call 549-5904.
Baby-faced alderman Edwin Eisendrath will collect kudos and take his licks today from a panel of 43rd Ward activists and journalists when he faces a State of the Ward meeting at 7. Eisendrath will start with a brief address about his wacky first year in office and his future plans. The panel will ask questions and then the audience will get its chance. DePaul Concert Hall, 800 W. Belden. It's free. Call the Lincoln Park Conservation Association at 477-5100 for more information.
Fortune is unlikely to follow a stint at Cabaret Voltaire's Open Mike (with no microphone), but notoriety is surely in the offing. Bring your babbling prose and your huddled muses and expound to one and all. The fun starts at 8 at 1860 N. Elston, and you can read or hang out for free. For more, call 489-7792.
"Somebody gave me magic and all I have to do is let it go," says Joyce Scott, whose talent in writing and in the visual and performance arts abounds. Her environmental art installation, Through the Veil, opens today with a reception from 5 to 7 at the Textile Arts Centre, 916 W. Diversey. At 7, Scott will present a slide lecture, Three Generations of Afro-American Artists: The Caldwell/Scott Families, about the artistic legacy of her uncommon family. The exhibit is free; admission to the lecture is $5, $2.50 for students and seniors. For more, call 929-5655.
Edmund White's quasi autobiography, A Boy's Own Story, took the reader along on a sexual and emotional adventure that started in adolescence and ended in young adulthood. The pain and pleasure of being on one's own is the central theme of The Beautiful Room Is Empty, White's new book. White will sign both books today at 7 at Unabridged Books, 3251 N. Broadway. For more information, call 883-9119.
It's easy to blame psychological problems on substance abuse. While the two are often related, they can also exist independently, making therapy difficult and confusing. Double Trouble: When Substance Abuse Isn't the Only Problem is the topic in a series of talks and workshops at Hartgrove Hospital, 520 N. Ridgeway, from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. It's free, but advance registration is requested. For more information, call 722-3113.
Most photographers would kill for a Hasselblad camera. The German-made equipment is top of the line and has great snob appeal--which should help draw scores of aspiring Annie Leibovitzes to the get-together with Ernst Wilde, a company rep who will answer questions about the equipment. Wilde will be on hand at the monthly meeting of the American Society of Magazine Photographers at 6:30 at the West Bank, 833 W. Chicago. There will also be a new Hasselblad-NASA multi-image presentation and raffle prizes. Admission is $2 for ASMP members; $5 for nonmembers. Call 525-2054 for more information.