Posts tagged Urban Culture
Celebrating Mary Carter Smith's Life and Legacy

by: Olayinka Lawal

Next Generation joined Baba Bunjo Butler,  Dr. David Fakunle, Duane “Djembe” Hinton, Kendell and Karron, Rodney 'Prince' Moore, Brother Nile to celebrate Queen Mother Mama Mary Carter Smith.  On a rainy February 4, 2018, The National Blacks in Wax Museum held almost 100 people to celebrate our most esteemed ancestor. Hosted by Dr. David Fakunle, the presentation began with an emotionally stirring reading by Dr Joanna Martin; an original Mary Carter Smith poem dedicated to Dr. Elmer Martin.  Baba Bunjo Butler was next with an original piece called "I Love Being Dark" which was performed with the cool virbrato of a jazz musician. Then brother Nile came out and told the story of Harriett Tubman in front of a large quilt and explained the meaning of the hidden messages sewn into quilts and journey through the underground railroad.

Growing Griots Literacy Learning Program graduates were awarded certificates for continuing to share in the African Oral Tradition. One of the awardees, Rodney 'Prince' Moore gave a fiery performance, their ode to the 'Black Boy'.

Rodney 'Prince' Moore

Rodney 'Prince' Moore

Next Generation began with drumming and gave libations to our ancestors in song, dance, and acting. They discussed how violence in our communities has become normal and the cycle must end. Next Generation's performance closed with West African dance. 

The evening ended with the powerful and uplifting "Soliders" performance by the duo KenRon. Guests dined and shared stories about their memories of Mama Mary Carter Smith as they slowly trickled out of the museum.   

Ms. Deborah Fakunle with the wax figure of Queen Mary Carter Smith

Ms. Deborah Fakunle with the wax figure of Queen Mary Carter Smith

Next Generation

Next Generation

KenRon performing "Soldiers"  

KenRon performing "Soldiers"  

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Nevus

Mama Rashida and Mama Kay 

Mama Rashida and Mama Kay 

African Urban Culture: Bucket Basics
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By: Stevanie A. Williams

There is a rhythm to everything we do in life, the way we breathe, the way we walk, the way we talk, how we communicate and move through our day. This rhythm is innately put into us as we hear our mother's heartbeat in the womb. Somewhere along the way as we come into ourselves the recognition of that rhythm is lost or tucked behind scars of frustration and fear. Artists Charles Watson, Jumoke Ajanku, and Stevanie Williams have found a way to reconnect young scholars of Baltimore City to their core sense of rhythm and instrumentation using a basic bucket and a pair of sticks. 

Four days a week, scholars from Pre-K to fifth grade sit down with these artist and learn to create poly rhythms (many rhythms coming together to make one) simular to those of traditional West African culture. All three artist incorporate information and knowledge of these rhythms, how they are played, the names of traditional drums, the meanings for each rhythm and how this music is the birthing place of the music that most inner city youth listen, dance to and enjoy today.  Through the use of the bucket scholars are shown how to use simple materials to make music. How to create their own rhythms and sounds that immulate life and put them together to make one beat that everybody can move to. 

Scholars around Baltimore are excited to participate and encouraged to use the bucket as a new instrument.  A tool to say that the best things can come out of using what you have and working together to make anything beautiful, funky, and fun. Being drummers themselves, Charles, Jumoke, and Stevanie not only instruct but play with the scholars as an example of teamwork and unity, giving each scholar a piece of what being a musician in the community is all about.  Each artist has a teaching style both simular and unique that gets the scholars involved and learning, excited to share with the school community and families in a performance given at the end of each quarter. 

African culture and Urban Culture have again become one, and through the use of the bucket and basic traditional drumming another generation has been given the chance to change and cultivate the sound and look of music.