February 8, 2011
Contact: University Relations
In recognition of Black History Month, the University of Baltimore will host its fourth annual African American Arts Festival, highlighting the many artistic and cultural contributions of black storytellers, dancers, playwrights and musicians. The festival will take place Feb. 24-25. It is sponsored by the UB International and Multicultural Student Services Office and Spotlight UB, and will be held in the Student Center Performing Arts Theater, 21 W. Mt. Royal Avenue. (Attendance details below.)
African storyteller Janice the Griot will begin the celebration on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 11:30 a.m., with a spirited re-telling of traditional myths. A native Baltimorean, Janice Curtis Greene has been telling African, African American and multicultural stories for more than 20 years. She is president of the Griots' Circle of Maryland and a member of the National Storytellers' Network, the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Network of Biblical Storytellers. She also serves as resident griot for the National Association of Black Media Workers in Baltimore. Greene mesmerizes her audiences with folklore and will expand the hearts and minds of the student audience gathered for the African Heritage Festival.
Immediately following the storytelling session, the African Heritage Festival will take place at noon. Featuring choir and dance groups from the Baltimore Lab School, the Empowerment School, the Patterson Park Public Charter and the KIPP Ujima Village Academy, this event will provide a showcase for some of the city's best black student performers. The Baltimore Lab School, a division of the Lab School of Washington, is a strong advocate of integrating arts into the curriculum.
Both the storytelling and the student performance are free to the public.
Thursday's programming continues with a production of Bootprints at 8 p.m. A powerful play in which playwright and UB alumnus Latonia Valincia explores being a woman of color in America, Bootprints is a one-woman show featuring local actor Tammalia Engram. The play was part of the Spotlight UB 2009 Emerging Voices Project summer reading series, and has grown to include a full choir since that iteration.
The production of Bootprints is free to the public.
The festival concludes on Friday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. with a premiere concert featuring jazz pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, accompanied by double bassist legend William Parker. An NPR May 2007 review called Baltimore-based composer and musician Gilchrist's style "a sort of twisted, funky, neo-juke-joint avant-gut-bucket." The February 2006 Jazz Times labeled Gilchrist's work as "Gothic pianism" and the City Paper in December 2005 said that "nobody has more fun making music than Lafayette Gilchrist."
Gilchrist last performed on the UB stage in September 2009 during the Spotlight UB staging of T.S. Elliot's The Wasteland. American free jazz double bassist, poet and composer Parker has long been a member of saxophonist David S. Ware's quartet and in Peter Brotzmann's groups. Parker has recorded and performed with many musicians; his 2008 release Petit Oiseau was chosen as one of the best jazz disks by The Wall Street Journal, BBC's Radio Three, The Village Voice and PopMatters. This UB concert marks the premiere merging of these two jazz greats. Tickets for this event are $5 general admission.
For more information about UB's African American Arts Festival, contact the Theater Events Office at 410.837.4053 or e-mail email@example.com.
This production is part of Spotlight UB.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Affairs and the Merrick School of Business.