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The Chronicle Interviews a Proud Geechee Lady
Published:
8/12/2015 4:36:06 PM


Celebrated cabaret performer and playwright Sandhi Smalls Santini poses for a photo during her family’s picnic on Edisto Island. Photo: Hakim Abdul-Ali
 
By Hakim Abdul-Ali


"The Chronicle" had the pleasure of interviewing the vivacious entertainer and playwright Sandhi Smalls Santini on August 1, 2015, on scenic Edisto Island at Mrs. Santini's sister's beautiful home on the island.

The interview occasion was at a gala family summer get together, and it was a wonderful occasion to witness as Sandhi and her family displayed what Afro-family and friends do when they love each other and share good times.

Sandhi Smalls Santini is a respected actor, renowned worldwide singer and international cabaret performer, who has literally performed all over the world in a long and rewarding career. In our interview, it was revealed that Sandhi has performed in exotic places like Bangkok, Thailand; Seychelles, Africa; Istanbul, Turkey; Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; and Munich, Germany; and the Caribbean, among other varied far off global locations besides performing regularly in Italy.

This graduate of Howard University School of Communications in 1979, where she received a B.A. in journalism with a Theater Arts minor from the university's College of Fine Arts, is currently seeking funding for a unique play that she's written, developed and performs about a legendary South Carolinian, the incomparable Eartha Kitt. The play is called "The Last Chanteuse," a solo performance theatrical project performed exquisitely by Sandhi, who deeply feels connected to the memory and spirit of the late, great Miss Kitt.

After completing an intensive playwriting course at Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theater, where she studied the craft under skilled professors, and she was encouraged to and eventually wrote the play about Eartha Kitt. It's a one woman play that tells the highlights, including the ups and downs of Miss Kitt's meteoric entertainment and fantastic life's journeys from Sadhi's very respectful perspective and spiritual vibes about the peaks and valleys of this incredible and unique superstar of stage, screen and music.

The play, lasting approximately an hour and a half, is a one act stage play with five separate scenes, featuring nine signature Eartha Kitt songs that are skillfully woven into the play.

It's to be noted that Mrs. Santini, forever a gracious and polite soul, worked at "The Chronicle" as an intern doing humanistic stories on her beloved Lowcountry happenings with emphasis on the Sea Islands environs during the summers of the late '70s of her undergraduate collegiate tenure. She mentioned fondly in polite terms how she appreciates and owes so much to "The Chronicle's" heralded founder, Mr. "Jim" French, Sr., for giving her an advance opportunity to hone her writing skills.

Sandhi Smalls Santini currently lives in New York City and calls Manhattan home. She is a widow and her late husband was a successful restauranteur from Rome, Italy.

One thing that I noticed about Mrs. Santini during the time that I was around her and her relatives at their family's affair was that they were very proud of their family's Lowcountry origins. Sandhi made it very well known to me that she takes tremendous pride in being from South Carolina, and especially that she's a cultural Geechie lady through and through.

Being in Sandhi Smalls Santini's presence is like being around a gracious, sophisticated woman of the world who is so down to earth that because she's very personable and real. There's nothing phony about her as she spoke about her Carolina roots with genuine adoration.

No matter where she's been in the world, she lets everyone know that she's still very much Sandhi from Edisto Island, South Carolina, a proud, petite and immensely talented African-American sister, who exhibits classy soulfulness. And along with all of her entertainment accolades, she's still and always will be a proud Geechie lady.
 

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