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African Influences on American Music (Griot to Hip Hop)

Offerings Education Main 4
  • Culture | Africa, American History
  • Format | Workshop, Cultural Field Trip, After School Program, Community Event
  • Discipline | Music, Literary Arts
  • Level | Grades 3 to 5, Grades 6 to 8, Grades 9 to 12

In understanding the heritage of the West African griot, or praise singer, students learn the foundation upon which today’s rap and hip hop artists work. Here, students develop an educated understanding of music’s communicative ability. Through studying and practicing musical call-and-response and polyrhythms and by uncovering the secret meanings of coded slave spirituals, students learn music’s communicative and social significance.

Artists

Vickie Tanner

Vickie Tanner is a writer and actress of stage and screen. Vickie is part of the original American cast of the critically-acclaimed STOMP, in addition to joining the National and European tours of the production. She acted in the world premiere of TANTALUS, written by John Barton and directed by Ed Hall and Sir Peter Hall. She holds a B.F.A in Theatre from the California State University at Long Beach, and studied the Meisner technique with Maggie Flanigan in New York City.

Marsha Perry Starkes

Marsha Perry Starkes is a multifaceted musician who combines traditional African instruments and musical forms with contemporary influences. Her recordings include Bird Lives! Through the Neo Bass Ensemble, Hit It! and Bebop meets Bass. She sings and plays the music of Africa, Latin America, North America, and the Caribbean. Marsha holds a B.S. in Theatre Arts from Marygrove College in Detroit, MI.

Juanita Faulkner

Juanita Faulkner is a classically trained soprano who has studied with renowned performers from the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Numerous awards include the Frank Colasanto and Grace E. Long award, the Connecticut Opera Award, the Baltimore and Metropolitan Award. She has performed extensively in recitals, musical theater, operas and church services in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, and Canada.

Rachel Kara Perez

Rachel Kara Perez is an award-winning singer and theatre artist based in New York City. Rachel Kara is a new addition to the Symphony Space Global Arts faculty. As a teaching artist, she is involved with a number of organizations, using theatre, music, and dance to educate and uplift New York City and immigrant youth. Rachel Kara’s musical repertoire ranges from classical to Afro-Cuban Jazz, and she has appeared as a featured vocalist in concert at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center Out Of Doors, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Rachel Kara views teaching as her activism, and the arts as an invaluable social justice tool to build community, promote critical thinking, and ultimately to foster empathy. Rachel Kara received her BA from Marymount Manhattan College and her Master of Music in Classical Voice from Manhattan School of Music.

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