Pan-African Arts

My first exposure to folk musical instruments was during my childhood in Georgia, when I would watch my father and friends making and playing nail-keg drums, musical glasses, gut buckets washboards, kazoos, and such, at weekend gatherings.

Although I soon began making instruments myself, it wasn't until early adulthood that I actively began to craft traditional African instruments, the techniques having been learned through observation and informal study with fellow crafters in the U.S. and abroad.

My handiwork is similar to that of other artisans in the U.S. in that they share the same broad outlines. Mine differ from that of most, however, in that I make every attempt to adhere to traditional dictates and avoid incorporating such innovations as to render the end product unrecognizable as a traditional instrument.

The following are the settings in which my instruments have been featured: (1) an exhibition in conjunction with the Africando/Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce symposium "Doing Business in Africa"; (2) "Florida Folklife: Traditional Arts in Contemporary Communities" (a five-city statewide exhibition curated by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida (Miami, FL); (3) an exhibition during a Kwanzaa celebration at the Broward County Main Library (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); (4) a three-month exhibition at Borders Books & Music (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); and (5) the Geechee Kunda Museum & Cultural Center (Riceboro, GA), where my handicrafts are included in the permanent collection. As well, my instruments have been used in live performances and on recordings by a number of local and nationally known musicians.

In 1997 I was one of six artists statewide selected as "master artists" (mbira virtuoso Jomo Faulks being my apprentice) in the Florida Department of State's Folklife/Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. Additional honors include (1) a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Customs Service (Miami, FL); (2) a Blue Ribbon award from the Georgia Gourd Society Show (Perry, GA); and (3) an Award of Merit from the Fiesta in the Park Art & Craft Show (Orlando, FL).

Memberships: AmericanGourd Society; Writers Net; Editorial Freelancers Association.

Place Categories: Dance-Music and Places

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