Music, artists and film festival featured during Black History Month

A series of films, concerts, workshops, artist talks and community events will usher in Black History Month this February, under the title Performing Diaspora 2010: Celebrating Black History Month through Expressive Culture – Afro Diasporic Women in Focus.

Produced by York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, Performing Diaspora 2010 is designed to serve as a catalyst to bring York and the surrounding community together to celebrate and engage with African and African diaspora arts and culture. The aim of the Harriet Tubman Institute is to strengthen the understanding and leadership necessary to develop prosperous, harmonious multicultural communities.

The celebration starts with the International Research Film Festival: Slavery, Memory, Heritage & Contemporary Forms, a special feature of this year’s Performing Diaspora 2010, which runs until Friday, Feb. 5. It features films which address issues of slavery in its past and contemporary forms, as well as films that explore issues of culture, memory and citizenship among descendants of African slaves in several different societies worldwide. Film screenings will be held during the evenings in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, and at 280N York Lanes, Keele campus. Admission is free.

A series of live presentations celebrating Black History Month will begin with "An Afternoon of Gospel Music", featuring members of the York University Gospel Choir under the direction of York Professor Karen Burke (left), on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 4 to 5pm at the Yorkgate Mall (northwest corner of Jane and Finch, just east of Hwy. 400). Admission is free.

Performing Diaspora’s feature concert, “Afro Diasporic Women in Focus”, showcasing gospel artists Amoy Levy and Nicole Sinclair-Anderson (right), will follow on Feb. 20. These Toronto-based singers will be backed by a band led by drummer Larnell Lewis, an accomplished musician who is well-regarded in Toronto’s gospel and jazz communities. The concert will take place Saturday, Feb 20, at 8pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Admission is $15 or $10 for students and seniors. For tickets, visit the Box Office Web site or call 416-736-5888.

Left: Amoy Levy

Black History Month will wrap up with two days of intensive sessions with Brooksie Harrington (below right), an English professor at Fayetteville State University in the United States. His residency will include a vocal master class and a lecture demonstration on his travels with the first lady of gospel, Shirley Caesar. Everyone is welcome.

In keeping with the theme of Afro Diasporic Women in Focus, Harrington will read directly from his book Shirley Caesar: A Woman of Words. The lecture demonstration will take place Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 4pm in 280N York Lanes, Keele campus. The vocal master class will take place Thursday, Feb. 25 at 5:30pm in 245 Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Admission is free.

Performing Diaspora is presented in partnership with York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, the Department of Music, the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre, Burke Music Inc. and others.

For more information about the presentations, including the films being screened as part of the film festival, visit the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African People’s Web site.