By Letoya Stairs, Rhythm of Africa Music Program & 2010 Knight Arts Challenge Winner
Seventeen children. Two schools. One hour of rehearsal. Thirty minutes to shine. Many Beats. One Rhythm
The challenge seems complex, but the mission is simple. Share the power of the arts with children and watch them discover who they are and how they impact the world in which they live. Seventeen first time percussionists, students of Harmony After School Program and Eagle Academy Charter School, discovered the Rhythm they had within. After just one 60 minute workshop with Reggae Ambassador Willie Stewart, the students were introduced to music around the world through the ancestral Rhythms of Africa. The young percussionists, led by Willie, former drummer for the world renown reggae band Third World, transformed their lesson in to a dramatic performance at A Beat of Art, a preview party hosted and sponsored by The Venetian Arts Society, Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale Nova Southeastern University and Solutions in Music to celebrate the opening of the Museum’s major summer exhibition, The Art of Caring.
This performance is a small sampling of the upcoming production Rhythms of Africa, a recent recipient of the Knight Arts Challenge Award. The show will take place October 15, 2011 at Parker Playhouse . The compelling percussion performance of 60 at-risk students complimented by an array of accomplished international musicians will be led by Willie and will take attendees on a musical journey around the world.