Jersey City, NJ - We could try to describe in words just how enjoyable it was to film the wedding of Patrice Covington and Elijah Bland (better known as The Blands). However, we felt that this video along with the awesome story below published by The New York Times would give you a better perspective of just how made-for-each-other these two are. Enjoy!
Published: April 1, 2011 by New York Times:
Patrice Covington and Elijah Bland
When Patrice Covington tells people she found her husband on Craigslist, she is quick to clarify that it was on “Gigs” and not “Men Seeking Women.”
It was July 2008, and Elijah Bland, a neo-soul singer-songwriter, needed a female backup singer for his musical group, the Soulcentric Band. Half a dozen women responded to the Craigslist want ad he’d posted. But none were right.
Jay Gomel, then Soulcentric’s guitarist, said: “Some couldn’t sing on pitch. Patrice came in and blew it all away.”
Although Ms. Covington, who hails from Norfolk, Va., had been in New York for only three months, she brought with her considerable regional theater and national tour experience.
Mr. Bland had an impressive creative résumé of his own; he was a self-taught musician, a graphic designer and the producer of his two albums.
He invited Ms. Covington to audition for him in the atrium lobby of a Times Square hotel. Before the meeting, however, he listened to a demo recording on Ms. Covington’s Web site. It left him so certain of her credentials that when they met he hired her without so much as a note being sung.
As they got to know each other in the band, they learned that both were in other relationships, neither of which had been going well. “We were just hanging out as friends,” said Mr. Bland, now 28, “and I was trying to help her through her struggles. My relationship was falling apart. Hers was falling apart.”
It was a friendship that Ms. Covington quickly came to value. “I was really excited to have a male friend that was straight,” she said, “and wasn’t trying to get with me.”
But those around them began to suspect that Mr. Bland had a crush. “He came to her apartment to pick her up for rehearsal,” said Evelyn Addo-Wallace, a friend of Ms. Covington. “I thought, Why’s he picking her up when he’s not picking anyone else up? He came all the way to Harlem from New Jersey. I said, ‘Honey, this is something else.’ ”
When the couple performed together, they seemed to click. One of Mr. Bland’s songs, a duet, is called “Sugar High” and is about being “high” on a mental connection with someone.
“Every time we did it, it became more and more real,” Mr. Bland recalled.
One day, a month after they met, Mr. Bland, a native of Hackensack, N.J., came to Manhattan to spend time with Ms. Covington. They sat on a bench in Columbus Circle. “We were talking about all the ‘stuff’ we were going through with the other guy and other girl,” Ms. Covington, 27, recalled. “I realized we each had what the other one wanted. Neither of us said anything, but I later found out he felt the same way.”
She broke off her other relationship not long after that. Then, just before a gig in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, they were walking down the street with their “arms around each other’s shoulders in a friendly way,” Mr. Bland recalled. “I remember smelling her hair. It was kind of intoxicating.”
They sang “Sugar High” that night. In the car after the performance, Mr. Bland, in the front passenger seat with Ms. Covington behind him, named his tune. “I got this text message from him,” recalled Ms. Covington, “that said: ‘I can’t take it any more. I have to tell you this. I think that you’re beautiful inside and out and I would love the chance to make you happy the way you deserve to be.’ ”
Pleased and surprised, she replied, “Are we supposed to start dating now or ... ?”
For their first date, they arranged to meet at an A-train stop in Harlem at 10 a.m. for what Mr. Bland promised would be a surprise. But Ms. Covington, not a morning person, overslept. He tried calling and sending her text messages from the station entrance for an hour.
“I kept thinking, There’s got to be a reason I’m still here,” he said.
Ms. Covington woke at 11 o’clock. Horrified, she called him immediately, jumped out of bed and ran out without showering, applying makeup or doing her hair.
Unfazed by the delay, Mr. Bland took her to Madame Tussauds on 42nd Street, which Ms. Covington had been talking about visiting. Once there, they hammed it up for photos beside wax figures of Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and President George W. Bush, and then ate at the McDonald’s nearby, which Ms. Covington described as “the most expensive McDonald’s in the country.”
At the end of the day, Ms. Addo-Wallace recalled, “Patrice called me and said, ‘Evelyn, I think I found the one.’ ”
That November Mr. Bland had a booking at the River Room of Harlem. Ms. Covington, who had been cast in a tour of “Ain’t Misbehavin’, ” was too busy with rehearsals to sing backup, but went to watch. Mr. Bland was sick, and Ms. Covington tended to him between sets, making sure he drank his tea. She also got to know his mother, Roberta Bland, who was in the audience. Having seen Ms. Covington’s nurturing side, Mr. Bland said, “That was the first time I really felt like it was a relationship.”
She soon left on her tour, and over the next seven months, Mr. Bland attended dozens of performances of “Ain’t Misbehavin’. ” James Lambert III, a friend of Mr. Bland, said he asked him, “ ‘How many times you seen the show, bro?’ and he just made excuses.”
Mr. Bland explained: “I love very hard. I’m both feet in, both elbows and knees, all the time.”
As the tour wound on, he sent her “these really mushy text messages,” Ms. Covington said. “I would think: This is so corny. I don’t think it’s going to work.”
Ms. Addo-Wallace said: “I used to yell at her. I would say: ‘You have a man who is honest with you, tells you what you want and is “loving up” on you. This is what every woman wants. What is your problem?’ ”
After the tour’s end in May 2009, the couple moved in together in Harlem. For a songwriter, domestic bliss can lead to the death of the muse. Mr. Bland, whose day job is as the assistant general manager of the New York Sports Club in Clifton, N.J., has not released a recording in two and a half years. But he has written a song for Ms. Covington that she hasn’t heard. “I want the next thing I do to be a clear reflection of the different place that I’m in,” he said.
That September Ms. Covington was cast in a national tour of “Dreamgirls,” understudying the role of Effie White and going on to share the role with the actress.
Her rising feelings for him helped her performance, she said; when she sang “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going,” Effie’s defiant song to her lover-manager, Ms. Covington would imagine losing Mr. Bland. Emotionally, she said, “it was like hitting the jackpot.”
In February 2010, as “Dreamgirls” was beginning its Los Angeles run, Mr. Bland flew out there with her and proposed.
The couple were married on March 25 at the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City, where the Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor Jr., a Baptist minister, officiated. The wedding program was a Playbill, and the table cards were backstage passes.
In her vow to Mr. Bland, Ms. Covington thanked “our good old friend Craig for this union.” At the reception she surprised her bridegroom with “Love You I Do,” a song from the “Dreamgirls” film.
Ms. Covington once feared it would be impossible to be a performer and build a family. She no longer does. “I’ve had a lot of girlfriends who have been on Broadway,” she said, “and they have kids or they’re pregnant and they’re dancing around. That’s possible for me now.” The two are also thinking of making an album together. “There’s a couple of really legendary husband-and-wife groups,” Ms. Covington said. “Ashford & Simpson, Ike and Tina.”
She then paused and added with a laugh, “But we don’t want to be like Ike and Tina.”
See the full story: nytimes.com/2011/04/03/fashion/weddings/03VOWS.html
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