“I sing because I want Liberian arts to continue and to grow. I sing because I want to pass my knowledge of traditional songs on to new generations of Liberians. I sing because I have a lot to teach the world, and this is my way of doing that.”
Tokay Tomah (b. 1968) is a traditional African vocalist, composer, and recording artist who has dedicated her career to inspiring dialogue about critical issues facing Liberian immigrant communities. As a singer and dancer with Liberia’s National Cultural Troupe, Tomah toured throughout Liberia and internationally in the 1980s. During Liberia’s civil war, she was active in peacebuilding and reconciliation work with the United Nations. In 2002, one of her compositions was chosen as the theme song for the Liberian Women’s Peace Movement, led by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee. After immigrating to the US in 2010, Tomah became a founding member of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, which includes a core group of Liberian singers and dancers: Pew Fellow Fatu Gayflor, as well as Marie Nyenabo, and Zaye Tete. The chorus adapts Liberian folk songs and creates new music in traditional styles, in an effort to generate collective strength and to offer resources for change for Philadelphia’s Liberian community. Tomah is the recipient of a Transformation Award (2014) and an Art and Change Grant (2013) from the Leeway Foundation.
The Philadelphia Ceili Group is an educational organization with an interest in Irish culture, founded in 1958 to preserve traditional ceili and set dancing.
The work of Schumann, Gesualdo, Brahms, and Mozart will be performed to evoke themes of fragility, unconventionality, and playfulness explored by the composers late in their careers.
Recognized as one of the world’s leading conservatories, The Curtis Institute of Music (Curtis) was founded in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Curtis has educated and trained some of the most exceptionally gifted young musicians from around the world for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level.
Cesar Garcia is the founding director and chief curator of the Mistake Room, Los Angeles. A curator, writer and educator, Garcia formerly served as the associate director and senior curator of LAXART.
First Person Arts offers bi-monthly story slams, classes, and an annual festival dedicated to transforming real life into documentary art.
In 2015, Fellows performed and exhibited their work at theaters, festivals, and in museums around the globe, received prestigious awards, and garnered international media attention.
Bowerbird is a presenting organization that showcases over 70 events annually, with a focus on raising awareness of “provocative and divergent musical traditions.”
The PRISM Quartet presents new works composed and performed by Tim Ries and Miguel Zenón.
The Painted Bride Art Center presented the Philadelphia debut of the Dave Holland Big Band in a program featuring new works by the eponymous bassist and composer.
Sanford Biggers’ art frequently references African American ethnography, hip-hop music, Buddhism, African spirituality, Indo-European Vodoun, Jazz, Afrofuturism, urban culture, and icons from Americana.
Kendall’s poetic cinematic voice permeates his experimental documentary films that reflect on, as he says, “the everyday conditions of our everyday lives” in ways that bring together the physical, sensuous and perceptual with the intellectual.
In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, The Philadelphia Inquirer celebrates ten years of Martha Graham Cracker, the alter ego of theater artist Dito van Reigersberg. Poet Major Jackson has published a new book with W.W. Norton & Company, and visual artist Gabriel Martinez opens a solo show at The Print Center this fall. DJ King Britt and performance artist Kate Watson-Wallace will co-curate a new music series as part of the 2015 Fringe Festival in September.