Harlem 100: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary
of the Harlem Renaissance
featuring Mwenso and The Shakes
with special guests Brianna Thomas, Michela Marino Lerman, and Vuyo Sotashe
Created in collaboration with the National Jazz Museum, Harlem 100 captures the sights and sounds of Harlem when legendary artists such as Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes, and Billie Holiday made Harlem the cultural center of the country.
Hosted by Wynton Marsalis-mentored bandleader and singer Michael Mwenso, the multimedia show presents the most exciting Harlem musicians and dancers in a modern variety show. It pays homage to the presentations made famous in the Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, and other celebrated venues of the Harlem Renaissance.
“The music doled out by Mwenso and the Shakes is effusive, overflowing with elements of classical jazz, blues, world music, and tap. When played live, this amalgam of ideas and musical references has garnered the spiritual jazz-outfit with a reputation for energetic sets and genre-pushing inventiveness,” notes a writer for allarts.wliw.org.
The band has become popular in New York City, in part, through its late-night sessions in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s intimate Dizzy’s Club.
“Not many bands in the orbit of jazz today can begin to approach the crowd-pleasing threshold of Mwenso and the Shakes,” writes a WBGO.org reviewer. A Jazziz writer calls the band “a unique troupe of global artists presenting music that merges entertainment and artistry.”
A native of Sierra Leone, Mwenso moved to London as a youngster and by his early teens found himself on stage with soul-music great James Brown. Members of the Shakes come from far-flung places such as South Africa, Madagascar, France, Jamaica, and Hawaii.
In addition to Mwenso, Harlem 100 will feature tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman and vocalists Vuyo Sotashe and Brianna Thomas.
Featuring the music of Waller, Ellington, Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters, Harlem 100 celebrates one of the most influential artistic movements of our country and gives insight into Harlem then and now.
Emergence [The Process of Coming into Being], the debut album by Mwenso and the Shakes, was released last month.
Artists will engage in a discussion with audience members after the performance.
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Foxdale Village, A Quaker-Directed Continuing Care Retirement Community
Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support for engagement programming related to this performance.
This event is part of a season-long focus, The American Experience: Through an African-American Lens.