Literary Brilliance, Bossa-Nova Magic, and LA’s Elite Celebrate Levy Lee Simon’s “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1”

“Odyssey Towards the Light is a compelling and unputdownable page-turner. Levy Lee Simon’s remarkable story invites readers to walk in his shoes, witness harsh realities, and share in lessons learned on the path to redemption and success. A gripping memoir, a life boldly lived—a truly unforgettable and enlightening journey.” – AGENDA Magazine
Laura Cathcart Robbins of ‘Stash,’ Romantic Bossa-Nova’s Kaylene Peoples featuring Bunny Brunel, NY entertainer Michael Camacho, and others, ushered in memoirist Levy Lee Simon to celebrate his milestone achievement at Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, on December 8th, 2023. The event showcased Simon’s multifaceted career and personal journey.

A prominent figure in the theater world, Simon has garnered accolades, including the Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best Full-Length Play for “The Bow Wow Club.” His Broadway presence was highlighted by a memorable performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Kentucky Cycle.”

The event drew an elite audience, including notable guests such as Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (“Cooley High: The Jacksons”), Patricia Gillum (Producer and Real Estate Mogul known for the movie “Angel”), Rico Anderson (TV Actor), Roberta Freeman (R&B vocalist known for her work with Guns N’ Roses, Pink Floyd, and Mary Wilson’s Supremes); Ty Granderson Jones (“Con Air”), and Kevin Foster (TV writer for “Monogamy”).

The journey to authorship began when Simon’s sister encouraged him to share his wild and compelling life story. Immersed in a memoir writing workshop led by novelist and essayist Jill Schary Robinson, Simon found the structure and discipline needed to bring his 354-page memoir to life. “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1” traces Simon’s life as a Black man/child in America, from the streets of Harlem in the ’70s to HBCUs, professional theater, Broadway, the roaring ’80s, and a subsequent fall from grace, only to rediscover his path back to the light.

A surprise guest, former owner of the renowned Kate Mantillini’s in Beverly Hills, engaged Simon in a thought-provoking discussion about race in America, showcasing the relevance of Simon’s memoir. The audience, familiar with the iconic but long-closed restaurant deemed “Oscars Haven,” was captivated by the dialogue, highlighting the far-reaching impact of Simon’s storytelling.

The Evening’s Entertainment:

Actress/Filmmaker/Dancer/Producer Cindy Marinangel hosted and engaged the audience that evening. At the start of the festivities, she introduced and brought to the stage Michael Camacho, a prominent NYC entertainer and former club owner as the opening act. Camacho, formerly with the Billboard charting group Sly Fox, beautifully serenaded an Al Jarreau cover, engaging with his broad melodious vocal range, singing a Capella to a mesmerized audience and setting the tone for the book launch. Camacho’s performance was deeply appreciated, receiving fervent applause as he ended the song and bowed his head, offering Levy Lee Simon well wishes for the success of his memoir.

Following Camacho was Kaylene Peoples, an award-winning jazz and Bossa-nova recording artist/producer. Kaylene featured Grammy-nominated bassist Bunny Brunel. Also performing with her was guitarist Joe Calderon (Dianne Reeves) and percussionist Christian Moraga (Arturo Sandoval). The quartet put on an exciting performance, each soloing beautifully. Known as a singer/musician, Kaylene always enthralls, as she sings in several languages and adds a special touch by incorporating her flute. Peoples performed her recorded versions of “Berimbau,” “Spain,” and her signature piece “One Note Samba.” “Romantic Bossa-Nova,” has received much acclaim in Portugal and Brazil since the release of the album. After the performance, Kaylene asked the audience to join her in celebrating Levy Lee Simon for such a huge accomplishment in completing his beautiful memoir—the reason for the evening!

Laura Cathcart Robbins, a NY Times Best-Selling author for her memoir, “Stash: My Life in Hiding” and podcast host for “The Only One in the Room” was up next to interview Levy Lee Simon. Robbins interviewed Levy Lee Simon on stage in an engaging, deeply researched probe. Having read his book already, she came equipped with poignancy—queries directly related to Simon’s new book release. Author-to-author, she interviewed him about his approach to memoir-writing and opened dialog about some of the sensitive topics in the book. One thing that stood out the most was her compassionate inquiry about exposing oneself in the memoir writing process to which Simon informed that it was a lot easier than he thought it would be and had no issue with recounting his past; he put it out there for the world to see and is at peace with that decision. “Why write a memoir if you’re changing the facts,” said Levy Lee Simon about “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1.”  Simon revealed during his interview that there is a “Book 2” coming, that he is almost done with the first draft.

The event concluded with book signings, capturing the essence of literary splendor with musical brilliance. Levy Lee Simon’s “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1” is now available for purchase, offering readers a compelling glimpse into the life of an artist, activist, and now, a celebrated author.

Here’s what they’re saying about “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1.”

Keith Randolph Smith, Actor:

“Levy Lee Simon is a champion in life, exemplifying a hero’s journey for our times—courageous, valiant, audacious. Following Levy on his pilgrimage to light is rewarding, a portrait of an artist fired up in the kiln of Harlem, USA. Levy is an original, pulling you into his light—a life authentically lived.”

Tanna Frederick, Actress:

“In Levy Lee Simon’s Odyssey, readers embark on an unbeatable journey of hope, faith, and perseverance—a testament to the human spirit. Simon’s stories, gritty yet innocent, wise yet spirited, brilliantly delve into a life resounding with the roar of a lion and the learned elegance of a cat. A must-read.”

I was told once that I wear Harlem on my chest like a badge of honor.  I guess that was supposed to be an insult, but it wasn’t, because I flaunted it.  I am proud of where I’m from.  Besides, it was all I knew.  There was nothing to compare it to.  Over the years when I told people (especially white people) I’m from Harlem, they gave me that look—you know that look.  That “You’re from Harlem?” look.  People were always intrigued to meet me, a Harlemite.  There were looks of amazement, suspicion, even fear.  Suddenly, I was not “just” a Black guy anymore.  I was a Black guy from Harlem, and that placed me in a category all by myself.
— Levy Lee Simon 

For purchase information of “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1,” visit KL Publishing Group.”

About Levy Lee Simon:

Levy Lee Simon, an award-winning playwright, actor, director, and producer, is known for his transformative storytelling in theatre, film, and literature. With an extensive body of work, including Broadway performances and acclaimed plays, Simon continues to contribute to the industry’s evolving narrative, inspiring and catalyzing change.

Media Contact
Company Name: AGENDA Magazine
Contact Person: Abigail Leammon
Email: Send Email
City: Los Angeles
State: California
Country: United States