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Rarely are performers as at home in Lincoln Center as they are in a Longhouse. Dawn Avery’s Kanienkéha (Mohawk) name is Ieriho:kwats and she wears the turtle clan. Composer, cellist, vocalist, educator, GRAMMY and NAMA nominated performer Dawn Avery has worked with musical luminaries Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, John Cale, John Cage, R. Carlos Nakai and Joanne Shenandoah. She’s toured around the world playing Delta Blues with the Soldier String Quartet, Persian Funk with Sussan Deyhim, and opera with the New York City Opera Company. Committed to Indigenous language and cultural preservation as a musician, educator and participant of Longhouse ceremonies, she leads workshops and produces projects as part of the Native Composer’s Project that began as part of the Idawadadi directed by cultural specialist and Mohawk elder, Jan Kahehti:io Longboat. Dawn Avery tours with the North American Indian Cello Project, in which she premieres contemporary classical works by Native composers. She recently completed her doctoral degree in ethnomusicology on Native Classical composition. Our Fire CD won several nominations in the Indian Summer Awards, New Mexico Music Awards, and Native American Music Awards. Its music can be heard on two recent award-winning films: The Smithsonian’s “Always Becoming” by Nora Naranjo-Morse and “Don’t Get Sick After June: Indian Health Care” by Rich/Heape Films. Her most recent project 50 Shades of Red features music, dance, film, and ritual. Nurturing future generations, Dawn Avery is a professor at Montgomery College.
Christylez Bacon (pronounced: chris-styles) is a GRAMMY Nominated Progressive Hip-Hop Artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, DC. Christylez multi-tasks between various instruments including acoustic guitar, West African djembe drum, and human beat-box (oral percussion), all while continuing the oral tradition of storytelling. He has worked with students of all ages, bringing them together to ‘jam’ or ‘freestyle’ during his interactive school assemblies and workshops.
In 2011, Christylez began a cross-cultural collaborative concert series in Washington, DC, “Washington Sound Museum” (WSM). Since WSM’s inception, Christylez has collaborated with artists from various cultural backgrounds, ranging from the Hindustani & Carnatic music of India, the contemporary Arabic music of Egypt, and the music of Brazil.
Christylez has been a featured performer at the National Cathedral, The Music Center at Strathmore, The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and was the first Hip-Hop artist to be featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He is the recipient of multiple Wammy Awards (Washington Area Music Association,) the Montgomery County Executive Award for Excellence in the Arts, and has been honored as a 2012 “Library Superhero” by Friends of the Library, Montgomery County.
Cited by URBANITE Magazine as one of 10 “Movers and Shakers” in the Baltimore area, pianist/vocalist Eric Byrd has played professionally for over 30 years. Along with his root principles of swing and be-bop, gospel and the blues are essential core elements of Byrd’s expansive performance style. Byrd has performed with such prominent artists as Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Byrd, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Tim Green, Warren Wolf, Jeff Majors, and Yolanda Adams, just to name a sampling of his affiliations. In addition to his own recording efforts as a leader, Byrd has guested on over a dozen CD’s. As an educator Byrd formerly was a Music Lecturer at his alma mater, McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland College), where he completed his undergraduate degree. He achieved his Masters in Music in 2001 from Morgan State University. Eric started the McDaniel College Gospel Choir in 1994 and led it for 17 years. This multi-racial, multi-ethnic ensemble focused their repertoire on African American Spirituals, Traditional Gospel and Contemporary Gospel music. The choir toured the Mid-Atlantic area as well as La Paz, Bolivia and Vienna, Austria. Currently Eric is Minister of Music in charge of all Sacred Arts at St John Baptist Church in Columbia, MD, a 1600+ member church with over 100 staff and volunteers in the music ministries. He directs and is lead musician for several of the church’s choirs and praise teams.
Tina Chancey directs HESPERUS, an early/ traditional music group, playing medieval fiddles, viol and renaissance, Old Time and Irish violin on roots music from Sephardic and blues to early music and contra dance tunes. Her specialty is the five-stringed pardessus de viole; with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts she presented pardessus concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall and Kennedy Center. A member of Toss the Feathers and Trio Sefardi, she is a former member of the Folger Consort, the rock band Blackmore’s Night and the multi-media music theater ensemble QUOG. She teaches, performs, records, improvises, produces recordings, writes articles and directs the SoundCatcher workshops teaching musicians how to play by ear. The Versatile Viol is her series of three CDs featuring the viol in Scots-Irish music, in French baroque music, and in American traditional music. Recently she presented a seminar on renaissance music for the Smithsonian Associates, taught a Winter Term class in improvisation at her alma mater, Oberlin College, and was chosen as a participating artist in the Indy Convergence. Dr. Chancey has been given an Special Education Achievement Award by Early Music America and three Wammies for best classical instrumentalist by the Washington Area Music Association. For more information: http://www.tinachancey.net
Felix Contreras began studying and playing Afro Cuban percussion when he was 15 years old. Over the years since then he added his rhythmic touch to bands playing Latin jazz, salsa, Afro Cuban folkloric, jazz, rock, funk and he even sat in once with a bluegrass band on bongos.
While living in California he studied Japanese taiko drumming and learned a bit of Arabic drumming from an oud player from Saudi Arabia.
Early on he had to choose between making music professionally and his other passion, journalism. As a result, he has essentially funded his musical passion with a career that taken him to newsrooms in his home state of California, Miami and now for National Public Radio in Washington, DC.
He is a co-host of NPR Music’s Altlatino in which he continues to indulge that musical passion with a weekly program about Latin Alternative music while he continues to gig after work or on the weekend.
Josh Dukes is an All-Ireland champion accompanist and a highly sought after music teacher in the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. area. A multi-instrumentalist whose talents embrace the guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, flute, and tin whistle, Josh has established a reputation for providing sensitive, tasteful support for traditional Irish music. As a young high school student, Josh studied the oboe, tenor/alto saxophone, drum set and baritone horn. Outside of the classroom, he learned the art of ancient rudimental drumming under the tutelage of Dominick Cuccia, a widely respected instructor/performer in the fife and drum community. In 1997, Josh enlisted in the Army and has since earned the rank of Master Sergeant , currently serving as one of three Drum Majors for the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, “The Official Escort to the President,” the only military unit of its kind. Josh continues to perform Irish music, having shared the stage with such renowned musicians including John Doyle, Paddy Keenan, Billy and Sean McComiskey, Brendan Mulvihill, Skip Healy, Zan McLeod, and Myron Bretholz, and he can be seen performing regularly with The Old Bay Ceili Band. Josh lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Judy and two daughters, Mya and Olivia.
Alan Jabbour is a Floridian by birth and a violinist by early training. The folk revival drew him into studying folklore and folk music as a graduate student at Duke University in the 1960s. During that period he documented and apprenticed with many oldtime fiddlers in the Upper South, especially Henry Reed of Glen Lyn, VA, whose repertory of oldtime tunes has become legendary. Alan’s albums as the fiddler for the Hollow Rock String Band became benchmarks of the oldtime music revival from the 1960s on, and the documentary albums and Library of Congress websites he has produced and edited have likewise become benchmarks. Since his retirement from the Federal government he has devoted more time to folklore research and oldtime music performance. His recent Decoration Day in the Mountains (coauthored with Karen Singer Jabbour) provides the first published portrayal of the folk tradition of Decoration Day in the Upland South. As a musician he has produced several books, CDs, and videos and appears regularly in concerts, festivals, camps, and workshops around the country and abroad.
Loretta Kelley has been performing on, teaching and writing about the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) for more than 25 years. She has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion and American Radio Company, and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Performance Today.” She is a regular teacher at the Nordic Fiddles and Feet Scandinavian music and dance camp and at the Annual Workshops of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America, as well as at innumerable local workshops throughout the US. She has made over 20 study trips to Norway and has placed highly in many fiddle competitions there. Her playing has been featured in an hour-long radio program on Norwegian radio. Her recording with Andrea Hoag and Charlie Pilzer, “Hambo in the Snow,” was nominated for a GRAMMY award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category. Loretta is currently the president of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (www.hfaa.org).
Strathmore Artist in Residence Nistha Raj has been regarded as “stunningly skilled in western and eastern classical music” by the Washington City Paper. Nistha is emerging as a fresh voice in creative and world music. Her recently self-released debut album, “Exit 1”, funded by the Sparkplug Foundation, has been described as “edgy, innovative, and clearly awe-inspiring…Indian fusion at its best” (Inside World Music). A versatile musician, Nistha pursues new horizons by melding tradition with contemporary innovation – lending her talents to the Jazz trio The Fourth Stream, collaborations with Grammy nominated hip hop artist Christylez Bacon and six-string electric cellist Wytold; and recording on rock band NRI’s album. A distinguished performer and teacher in the Washington, DC community, Nistha has performed at the United Nations, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. Nistha is a recipient of multiple grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, including the 2012 Artist Fellowship.
Phil Wiggins, Blues harmonica player, singer, songmaker and teacher, was born on May 8th, 1954 in Washington D.C. He learned from some of the most notable acoustic blues musicians in the area: Flora Molton, Ester Mae “Mother” Scott, Chief Ellis, John Jackson, Archie Edwards, John Cephas, and others. He performed with Flora Molton at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 1972-1976, where he met John Cephas. He performed with John as the Blues duo Cephas and Wiggins for over 30 years. As ambassadors of the Piedmont Blues, Cephas and Wiggins took their music all over America and the world. This included such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, and the White House. Phil served for 5 years as Artistic Director for the Centrum Blues Week in Port Townsend, Washington, and has taught at numerous music camps dedicated to perpetuating traditional Blues for over 25 years.
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