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Lincoln Center celebrates Black History Month with free concerts

DAMASO REYES Special to the AmNews | 2/1/2012, 6:23 p.m.

History is not simply about facts and figures, names and dates. It's about the art and culture that binds us together. This month, America will spend 29 days celebrating Black history in this country. There will be speeches, parades and noble thoughts, but what better way to celebrate our culture than with our music? Lincoln Center's David Rubenstein Atrium will be presenting a series of eclectic and free concerts during the month of February.

On Saturday, Feb. 4 at 11 a.m., the internationally renowned Harlem Gospel Choir will bring their uplifting message to Lincoln Center. For those of you who maybe haven't been to choir practice in a while or have never had the pleasure of seeing this exceptional group of vocalists live, get up a little early and get in the spirit.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m., the National Jazz Museum All Stars will celebrate the life and work of that extraordinary musical genius Duke Ellington with a concert entitled "Drop Me Off in Harlem: An Evening of Ellingtonia." Musician and jazz historian Loren Schoenberg will lead the evening's event, which will not only feature the great composer's work, but also give audience members a unique insight into the world of the Harlem Renaissance, with archival film footage from the Jazz Museum that will be screened. Whether you are a fan of the Duke or want to expand your knowledge of this part of America's musical history, it will be an evening to remember.

But history is not just about the abstract past, it is also about our present. To that end, the Nick Rolfe Project will be performing on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 8:30 p.m. at the Rubenstein Atrium. The keyboardist and singer songwriter who lends his name to the group has diverse influences from Sting to Stevie Wonder. The group-which features Gene Lake on drums, Daniel Sadownick on percussion and bassist Chulo Gatewood-mixes funk, pop and soul into a unique blend.

The same evening will also feature a more classical performance from Imani Uzuri, who will be playing songs from her forthcoming album, "The Gypsy Diaries." The Black female composer and vocalist blends music from Morocco to Japan, the United States and beyond to create a musical landscape in which the sum is far greater than the parts.

As winter settles into your bones, warm up your soul with some engaging and free music at Lincoln Center! Admission to these events is free, but seating is very limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center is located on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd streets in Manhattan.

For more information, call (212) 875-5350 or visit www.LincolnCenter.org/Atrium.