“Pessimism is a Self-Fulfilling Malady”

Doubt – Death – Disillusion?  

I have grown tired of living in a world full of hate and hurt.  Whenever I begin to break out of such limited thinking and living, I found that so many negative energies seemingly exist just to put me back.  I’m often reminded that…

“Pessimism is a Self-Fulfilling Malady” 

orlando-patterson

That was the profound quote that stuck with me from the 2016 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.  The quote came from professor Orlando Patterson, co-author and editor of The Cultural Matrix: Understanding Black Youth.  His speech was powerful and best of all, unapologetic.  Dr. Patterson is 76 years of age, and even though I may not agree with every word that he says or writes, it is refreshing and empowering to hear an elder speak with such courage.   Check out this article on Patterson and The Cultural Matrix. Continue reading

Lift Up the Smoke Screen! Umojah Nation CD Release

The long-awaited debut album for our reggae family called Umojah Nation is set!  Check the flyer for details and get Ready, Ready to join us!  – Peace

www.umojahnation.com

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Joining us on stage will be throwback Umojah, Hybrid Shakedown and Passport Project

www.umojahnation.com

Ugandan Kids Choir – Inspiring!

Sometimes you don’t know where inspiration will come from.

I am about to start a bucket drumming club with youth at the local Harvey Rice School in Cleveland on Tuesdays.  Since proclaiming that I would start such a club, I have been in need of a push – just a little nudge to give me some motivation.  I had no idea what was coming!

I was invited by a Sista of mine to attend a presentation of the Ugandan Orphans Kids Choir some months ago.  I received constant reminders about the upcoming show, but still didn’t quite remember.  That’s the busy life!  However, on the morning of the show, I got that final reminder and rushed out the door to find Imagine Academy in Cleveland’s Harvard neighborhood to see the performance.  As I pulled into the parking lot I felt this energy.  There were a number of cars parked as well as the large, nicely painted van for the Childcare Worldwide organization.  I was excited!

As soon as walked in the school auditorium, it was time for the show to start.  I would very soon find the inspiration that I needed.

Enjoy…

 
UgandanChoir

 

 akofena

On the Ngoma Vol. 2 – Umojah Nation at Jilly’s

So, after a small hiatus (it seems), Umojah Nation hit the stage this past weekend at Jilly’s  in Akron and we had an amazing time.  I have so much fun with my band mates, we are such a family, and in many ways this has helped sustain my inner being.  I have had periods of severe creative droughts, usually due to drastic changes in my environment, like when I moved to Cleveland from the mid-south.

Admittedly so, I was lost for a while and wasn’t creating much of anything.  This went on for a while until I began working at the Solon Branch of Cuyahoga Public Library.   There I worked side by side with my supervisor who played guitar and allowed me to bring in small hand drums to play for children at various programs.  From there, I was introduced to a couple of playwrights and got involved in a stage play called These People out in Chagrin Falls, OH.  After that, I began to get that hunger back.  And now, the creativity flows daily and I am so excited to be alive and in these moments, surrounded by wonderful people who nurture me in the arts and also allow me to be myself.

With Umojah Nation, I feel the reggae music from a deep spiritual place.  The heartbeat that drives the music automatically puts me in a place of connection with the ancestors, with the struggle and hope of the Diaspora, as well as that of humanity.  I am blessed, and I am thankful.

 

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Navigating the Arts Vol. 7 – An intro to Afrobeat

I’ve been slowly creeping into the Afrobeat world lately (at least in Cleveland).  It all started when I went to the Femi Kuti concert at Beachland Balllroom a couple of years back.  We were straight up blown away by the sights and sounds.  It was colorful and loud, but that was okay because there were about 20 people on stage, from the rhythm section to the singers and dancers to the horn players to the auxiliary.  I felt like I was on the mother continent; it was hot and the music was pumping!

So, since then I went to see the Fela Broadway musical and man, what an evening.  Fela was off the chart good.  I must admit, I was rushing because I got off work late and couldn’t pick out the right Afro garb – it was a special event you know?!?  Of course someone was mad because I was late.   After rushing in the theatre, we quickly found or seats and for the next two hours took a journey into the musical, political, spiritual world of Afrobeat and its origins.  I just found out most recently that my cousin Eddie once spent quite a bit of time with Fela Kuti in Nigeria.  I was like, you have got to be kidding me!!!

Well, just so happens that now I have performed in the genre twice (to date) with Fiscal Spliff out of Cleveland.  What an amazing time we’ve had, with more to come!  We played at Take 5 in downtown Cleveland last evening, and got some wonderful reviews form the audience.  It was simply exhilarating, so much fun.  I played percussion:  congas, bongos, etc.  We actually have another performance in the next weeks.  I can’t wait!