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Last Sunday, "Africa Sings!" attended the phenomenal SummerStage concert at Central Park, where the dynamic headliner, Hugh Maskela, the legendary South African musician, performer, composer, producer and activist, had the jam-packed crowd going wild. For almost 90 minutes the iconic artist celebrated for his gift and prowess in bringing the verve and passion of South African music to the world, took over Central Park's main stage wowing the crowd with his powerful weapons of song and dance. What a magical performance.
Seven dynamic performers from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, were also featured on the program. Recognized as "the musical voice of a nation's adolescent democracy," the group worked their fiery magic. Their showstopping tunes from their four celebrated albums had everyone moving and grooving.
The Ugandan songstress Somi opened the concert with her sultry blend of African and jazz rhythms. Dressed in a hot pink gown, Somi, who has been compared to the legendary Sarah Vaughn and Miriam Makeba, delivered over and over again, singing in English and three East African languages. Totally exquisite.
The Cesar Award-winning De Bankole, whose credits include "Chocolat," "Otomo," "Night on Earth" and "The Limits of Control," will honor us as the upcoming Cycle 7 host of "Africa Sings!" commencing next week
Davis, the Audelco Award- and Dallas Theatre Critics Forum Award-winning (to mention a few) theater director, just left for Singapore.
Later this month he will be journeying to Taipai as an artist-in-residence at the Taipei Artist Village. Davis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Andrew W. Mellon/Theatre Communications group-New Generations /Future Collaborations grant, the National Endowment for the Arts / Theatre Communications Group Director Fellow (1988-89), and the Taipei Artist Village Artist in Residence (2007, 2010).
Clinton Turner Davis
Joining "Africa Sings!" at the afternoon's dynamic concert was our special guests Clinton Turner Davis, the esteemed theater director and educator, and Isaach De Bankole, the celebrated actor and director.
Clinton Turner Davis graciously discussed several aspects of SummerStage and the concert with me in the following interview:
M: Let's talk about SummerStage and what they bring to New York City.
CTD: All of the concerts and the free activities that occur in New York City...makes New York City an even greater destination in the world, and SummerStage is at the top of the list of these places to be and go and hear some of the best artists from around the world. It is interesting, when I was walking into SummerStage, I was awash in memories of the times that I had spent at various performances in the park that were sponsored by SummerStage in all the boroughs. The only one that I had not been to was Staten Island. And then, when I read the brochure and saw all of those things that were happening...I realized just how large the entire SummerStage event had grown. It is such a wonderful use of the resources of the city for the entire population. It's a gem.