Storyteller-bluesman Guy Davis and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble will share their creative process with high school students in Beaufort, S.C., and then release their joyful noises into the wilds of the Sea Islands in public concerts. This arts-education celebration is part of Bridging Cultures & Generations Through Music, an initiative developed by ARTworks, Beaufort’s community arts center.
“We’ve observed that there are racial, cultural and generational audience diversity issues which could be addressed through creative music-based projects,” commented ARTWorks Executive Director J. W. Rone. “Our Bridging initiative is our way of addressing both youth education and audience diversity, of race and age, by enlisting prominent musicians to perform and teach in Beaufort County.”
The goals for the project are to introduce students and the community to the musicians and their art forms, to inspire young musicians regardless of race and socio-economic status, and to encourage audience diversity and assist in bridging cultural and generational divides.
The project is supported by a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through its Arts Education in American Communities program.
Davis will be in residency and in concert at Beaufort Academy on Sept. 29. The son of actors Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Davis made his Broadway musical debut in the 1991 Zora Neale Hurston/Langston Hughes collaboration “Mulebone.” Davis also arranged, performed and co-wrote the music for the Emmy-award winning film “To Be a Man.” In the fall of 1995, his music was used in the national PBS series, “The American Promise,” and in 2003 he toured with Jethro Tull.
Throughout his career, Davis has dedicated himself to reviving the traditions of acoustic blues through the material of the great blues masters, African-American stories and his own original songs, stories and performance pieces.
“I will conduct these classes in layers,” Davis said of his plans for students in Beaufort. “Some students are there to hear the stories, some to see how I put the blues lyrics together, some are musicians I can teach the basics to, and if there’s someone who’s more capable, I can make it more complex. No one will be left out.”
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Spiritual Ensemble’s residency includes two days of vocal music classes at Whale Branch Early College High School and Battery Creek High School. Their work will culminate Oct. 20 in a community performance of “Circa 1871: An Ode to the Fisk University Jubilee Singers” at the Battery Creek High School Performing Arts Center.
Now in its fourth season, the ensemble strives to honor the devout musical tradition that African-Americans formed as slaves after arriving in this country and in particular its relevant history in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The 2012-2013 season marks David Richardson’s debut as director of the ensemble. A noted baritone soloist, Richardson is a recipient of the prestigious Charleston Southern University Horton School of Music Senior Excellence Award for his exceptional work in choral music education.
Visit ARTworks’ website for details and ticket information about both performances or call 843-379-2787.