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Kokanko Santo, Ngoni Artist

Posted on 8 March 2014 | 9:13 pm — 

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Recital Hall, Simons Center of the Arts

Thursday, March 13th, 7:30 pm

College of Charleston welcomes the songbird from ancient Malian hunters.

Join us for a rare night of music with Kokanko Sata Doumbia – one of Mali’s most prominent Wasulu Songbirds, and the only known female to have mastered the kamelen ngoni (boy’s harp).  Kokanko’s original songs will enchant you.  Her versions of traditional hunters’ songs of the West African Savannah will bring you glimpses of the music which graced the Rice Belt of early America in the 1700′s – from Charleston to New Orleans.

Kokanko was raised as an accompanist musician – playing gourd drums and percussive scrapers for other musicians.  Though coming from a powerful lineage – her father is an honored blacksmith, and her mother a jeli.

For Kokanko is a “Bird of Wasulu” – a songbird from the ancient Malian hunters’ culture – whose job is to offer guidance through music and sing for the well-being of the community.  In the words of Toumani Diabate’s producer Lucy Duran, Kokanko’s work makes public “the voice of hidden women’s discourse (hereditary songsmith) – Kokanko knew no Malian man would teach her more specifically,  how to play the “boy’s harp” – the kamelen ngoni.  (The ngoni came across the Atlantic during the slave trade; its sound eventually transformed to the banjo and blues in the U.S.)  So she built her own, and taught herself how to play.  First learning the traditional songs of her village, praising particular hunters and Allah, Kokanko quickly developed her own style at once tender and unflinching.  These songs are of the strength of women, relationships between the sexes, and the importance of tolerance and understanding.

 

 

FOL Brings Celebrated Poet Kevin Young to C of C

Posted on 29 October 2013 | 11:11 am — 

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Award-winning poet Kevin Young will give a poetry reading on November 6, 2013 at 7PM in Alumni Hall, co-sponsored by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the African American Studies Program, and the College of Charleston’s Friends of the Library. Young’s visit to the College of Charleston is in conjunction with the exhibition Renee Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman (October 18-December 14).  The traveling exhibition, originated by the Halsey Institute, explores the contours of the African American experience and the existence of an underground system of African-derived folk beliefs known as Hoodoo or conjuring. Through the use of mixed media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and photography, Stout gives a glimpse into this shadowy world, which has origins in herbal medicine, root work, and a belief in the spiritual attributes of plants and animals. Kevin Young was commissioned to write an essay and series of poems based on Stout’s work for the exhibition catalogue. Entitled Book of Hours: An Evening of Poetry & Conjure by Kevin Young, the reading will feature poems from the Stout catalogue along with an assortment of older and newer works.

Kevin Young is the author of eight books of poetry, including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, winner of an American Book Award, and Jelly Roll, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. Young’s book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness was named a New York Times Notable Book for 2012, and won the 2013 PEN Open Book Award.

He has an A.B. in English and American Literature from Harvard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University. He is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing & English and Curator of Literary Collections & the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.

About Young’s work, the poet Lucille Clifton has said, “This poet’s gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American.”

Tonight! Evening Performance at CofC Communications Museum

Posted on 27 March 2013 | 12:44 pm — 

    Les Amis Music of the World Performing original and improv Eastern European influenced music. March 27, 8:30pm. Free John Rivers Communications Museum. College of Charleston. 58 George St. … Read More