Levy Lee Simon Launches His Memoir “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I”: A Literary, Conversational, and Musical Event.

(L-R) Levy Lee  Simon and Laura Cathcart Robbins have a discussion about his memoir "Odyssey Towards the Light" during Levy's book launch

Host Cindy Marinangel guided the event alongside moderator Laura Cathcart Robbins, with performances by Kaylene Peoples "Romantic Bossa-Nova" & Michael Camacho. In attendance were many of LA's elite.

The actor/director/playwright Levy Lee Simon, a prominent figure in the theatre world, known for his huge body of work including The Bow Wow Club, (winner of the Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best Full-Length Play) and for performing on Broadway with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Kentucky Cycle, adds author to his list of roles unveiling his memoir, Odyssey Towards the Light. The event had top-tier entertainment, engaging dialog, big reveals, and an elite, attentive audience that was presented an unforgettable evening. Most guests were very familiar with the multi-award winner and activist, but that night, discovered a few new things about the now published memoirist.

Book Cover and back of "Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1"
Levy Lee Simon's book "Odyssey Towards the Light: Book 1

Held at Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles on December 8th, 2023, Levy Lee Simon’s book launch officially ushered in his role as author. The respected playwright is no stranger to accolades, honors, and awards for his acclaimed works. Highly respected as a thespian, activist, director, screenwriter, and playwright, Levy Lee never thought he’d become an author until his sister urged him to tell his life story. Simon reflects on that conversation recalling, "My sister told me years ago that I should stop what I was doing and write my autobiography because I’ve had such a wild and crazy life. At the time, I was a long way from writing it or thinking I could write it."

Picture of happy book owners from Levy Lee's book launch
(L) Host Cindy Marinangel holds up Levy Lee's book to the audience.(R) Happy book owners at the event hold up Levy Lee Simon's memoir.

Immersed in the memoir writing workshop conducted by Los Angeles–based novelist, essayist, and teacher Jill Schary Robinson, Levy Lee Simon found structure and discipline attending Jill's sessions every Sunday for about seven years. Recognizing the necessity of producing pages weekly, he embraced the timeline representing his life. On the evening of December 8th, 2023, Simon opened the portal, inviting readers to join him on a poignant journey—an "odyssey" tracing his life as a Black man/child in America. From the streets of Harlem in the 70s to HBCUs during his college days, his ascent to professional theatre and Broadway, and traversing the roaring 80s filled with parties and drugs, a fall from grace and a descent into darkness with NYC’s landscape, only to rediscover his path back to the light makes his story an enthralling tale—a memoir encapsulated in “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I.”

The Evening’s Events:

Simon’s much-anticipated book launch had an intriguing cast of characters just like his plays. Starting with Actress/Filmmaker/Dancer/Producer Cindy Marinangel who hosted 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.

Michael Camacho at the Book Launch at Greenway Ct Theatre
Singer Michael Camacho says something in honor of Levy Lee Simon's memoir.

Up next was jazz and Bossa-nova recording artist Kaylene Peoples (also KL Publishing Group founder) who performed her highly touted show "Romantic Bossa-Nova." Kaylene engaged the appreciative audience with her recorded versions of “Berimbau,” “Spain,” and her signature version of “One Note Samba.” Performing with her was Bunny Brunel, Grammy-nominated bassist and founder of CAB who is known for his tenure with Chick Corea; percussionist Christian Moraga (Arturo Sandoval); and guitarist Joe Calderon (Dianne Reeves).

Collage of Kaylene Peoples "Romantic Bossa-Nova"
Kaylene Peoples Romantic Bossa-Nova performs with (R) Bunny Brunel, Joe Calderon, and Christian Moraga at "Odyssey Towards the Light" book launch

Marinangel then introduce Levy Lee Simon who took command of the stage and orated excerpts from two chapters of “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I,” which was just a teaser from his 354-page memoir. Levy Lee held the audience in the palm of his hand with his highly seasoned, theatrical flair. The captivated crowd requested he continue reading excerpts from the book. One audience member remarked about Simon’s imposing command of the stage. Following his recitation was 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.”

Levy Lee Simon's Book Launch
Levy Lee Simon reads and excerpt from his memoir

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 I.” Simon revealed during his interview that there is a “Book 2” coming, that he is almost done with the first draft.

Just before the close of the event, Levy surprised Kaylene Peoples by asking her to talk about the publishing/editing process of “Odyssey.” The two of them talked about how they came to retain her company to publish his book. Six degrees of separation—Sheryl Aronson, an award-winning journalist who contributes to several magazines, in 2018 at her book launch for her memoir which was also published by KL Publishing Group, connected Simon and Peoples. During that discussion, there was a surprise guest in the audience, an owner of the famous Kate Mantilini’s in Beverly Hills. The LA audience knowing about the renowned but long since closed restaurant that catered to the entertainment industry and deemed “Oscars Haven,” sat up and took notice as he asked Levy his question about Blacks in America as one of the topics inside of Simon’s memoir. The activist that Simon is, graciously responded with no spoilers about the content of his memoir and light-heartedly told him he’d just have to read the book to find out.

Levy Lee Simon at his book launch
Levy Lee Simon hugs his friend R&B singer Roberta Freeman.

After the final event at the launch, Levy greeted his guests and signed books. Sheryl Aronson & Sasa Photos photographed the event.

Overall, the evening was a huge success. Here’s what people are saying about “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I.”

Actress Tanna Frederick praises Levy Lee Simon's Odyssey as an inspiring journey, highlighting its resilience and wisdom.

AGENDA Magazine describes Levy Lee Simon's memoir, “Odyssey Towards the Light,” as a compelling and unputdownable page-turner, offering readers a rare opportunity to walk in his shoes and find inspiration in the face of adversity.

Actor Keith Randolph Smith commends Levy Lee Simon as a life champion, describing his journey as audacious and courageous—a portrait of an artist living authentically and boldly.

In attendance that evening were the following guests: Actor Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (“Cooley High: The Jacksons”); Producer and Real Estate Mogul Patricia Gillum known for the movie “Angel”; Rico Anderson, TV Actor; R&B vocalist Roberta Freeman who is best known for her work with Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, and Mary Wilson's Supremes; Actor Ty Granderson Jones (“Con Air”); and TV writer Kevin Foster (“Monogamy”).

Outside the book launch posing for a photo before starting the event
(L-R) Laura Cathcart Robbins, Levy Lee Simon, Kaylene Peoples, Kevin Foster

Levy Lee Simon’s “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I” is available for purchase wherever books are sold. Visit KL Publishing Group’s website and find out more about Levy’s memoir, email at [email protected].


Levy Lee Simon, an award-winning writer, actor, director, and producer, is an MFA graduate of the University of Iowa Playwright’s Workshop. Notable achievements include a Best Supporting Actor Nomination by the Colorado Theatre Guild for "In the Upper Room" and two NAACP Best Playwright nominations. His acclaimed For the Love of Freedom trilogy, including "The Bow Wow Club," winner of the Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Award, showcases his commitment to transformative storytelling. A former cast member in the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony-nominated "The Kentucky Cycle" on Broadway, Simon also made his mark in over sixty plays Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and regional theaters across the country.

"The Last Revolutionary," his feature film, premiered at the Pan African Film Festival, and is now available on Amazon Prime. An artist-activist, Simon collaborates with renowned theaters such as The Robey Theatre Company, Greenway Arts Alliance, National Black Theatre Festival, The Workshop Theatre, New Federal Theatre, Algonquin Productions, The Black Spectrum Theatre, NJoy Productions, St. Croix - Center Stage, The Freedom Theatre – Philadelphia, Karamu Theatre - Cleveland, Circle Repertory, and the Marietta Theatre, GA, among others, shaping the cultural landscape. A member of the Actor’s Studio – Playwright/Directors Division and the Tent Playwright’s Collective, he continues to contribute to the entertainment industry's evolving narrative. Levy Lee's dedication to inspiring and catalyzing change is evident in his extensive body of work, including his insightful and impactful storytelling in a leading role on Broadway, such as "The Kentucky Cycle," and his based-on-a-true-story play, "God, the Crackhouse and the Devil."

(By First Take PR)

Original Source of the original story >> Levy Lee Simon Launches His Memoir “Odyssey Towards the Light: Book I”: A Literary, Conversational, and Musical Event.

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