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African dancer and drummer will perform and teach

Kwesi Brown will perform throughout the week in celebration of Black History Month.

Kwesi Brown, an internationally acclaimed African dancer and drummer, will perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Lamberton Hall, as well as at several other campus and community events during a week-long visit to Lehigh.

His performances are sponsored by ArtsLehigh and the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Lehigh in celebration of Black History Month.

On Monday, Feb. 20, Brown will lead a masterclass with drummers beginning at 10 a.m. in Room 215 of Coxe Hall. He will conduct a movement workshop from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday. (Space is limited, but reservations can be secured through e-mail to inartleh@lehigh.edu.)

Brown is also slated to perform for students at Doneghan Middle School and Holy Infancy Elementary School, and will be the featured guest for the First Family Literacy Night, in partnership with the Local Council for Promoting and Supporting Early Literacy through the Arts (PACELA). Founded in 2005, PACELA includes more than 30 partnering organizations to connect children, teachers and caregivers with art for effective school readiness.

From Africa to Europe to U.S.

An artist from Cape Coast, Ghana, Brown says he grew up torn between Christian religion and traditional beliefs of his ancestors. His grandmother was a fetish priestess who insisted that he participate in all ceremonial activities, and his father was a Methodist preacher who disapproved of his son’s participation in “heathen rituals.”

His punishment for doing so often involved spending weekends at a Cape Coast Methodist mission house and studying the Bible. But the young boy’s fascination with traditional music continued, and eventually blossomed into a lifelong pursuit.

Brown gained admission into the University College of Education in Winneba, where he graduated with a diploma in music education. His formal training in Western music, combined with his passion for and expertise in traditional music, left him uniquely qualified to teach and coach other young musicians.

He eventually moved to London, where he served as artistic director of the Osagyefo Theatre Company and continued to teach African music and dance in various schools throughout Europe. His intellectual journey led him to the United States, where he earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. He went on to become involved in several community service programs, in which he worked with children to acquaint them with the transformative power of music and artistic expression.

For more information about Brown’s visit, please call Silagh White at (610) 758-5774.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006

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