Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Event Slides Per Node 1415

  • A diverse group of nine artists dressed fashionably stand on a line on a stage and look at the camera.

Mwenso and The Shakes
Hope-Resist-Heal: A Celebration of Black Joy

7:30 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

New date: This concert was rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

When Mwenso and The Shakes opened the Center for the Performing Arts fall 2021 season in September, it had been almost nineteen months since the center had presented an in-person performance. It didn’t take long for the animated Harlem-based band, performing in front of a capacity crowd on the Eisenhower Auditorium patio, to shake the cobwebs off the venue.

“After a few years of not hearing — first of all, music this good and second of all, music this good live — I’m really happy I came to this because it was great,” a first-year international relations major told The Daily Collegian after the concert. “It was amazing and something new.”

“It was really electrifying, and there was never a dull moment,” a fourth-year sociology and history major added. “It was very exciting and very therapeutic, and I enjoyed it a lot.”

The Black roots band will return for the spring 2022 season when it performs Hope-Resist-Heal: A Celebration of Black Joy — this time inside Eisenhower. Band members will also participate in a variety of engagement events as part of a multiday residency.

Jazziz writer calls Mwenso and The Shakes “a unique troupe of global artists presenting music that merges entertainment and artistry.” A New York Times critic describes the genre-spanning band as “intense, prowling, and ebullient.”

A native of Sierra Leone, Michael Mwenso moved to London as a youngster and by his early teens found himself on stage with soul-music great James Brown. After organizing a late-night jam session at Ronnie Scott’s, a London jazz club, Wynton Marsalis hired Mwenso as a musician and a curator at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

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Adult $38
University Park Student $5
18 and Younger $28

Patricia Best and Thomas Ray
Charlotte Zmyslo
Nancy Gamble
Nancy Wolf

Mwenso and The Shakes is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Fierce Urgency Festival, with a theme this season of Hope-Resist-Heal.

This project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, made possible through support from the Mellon Foundation. 

A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Artist Websites: 

Secondary Events on Each Event

Listening Session with Michael Mwenso

6:00 pm Monday, March 21, 2022

134 HUB-Robeson Center

FREE and open to the public

Partners: Paul Robeson Cultural Center and its director, Carlos Wiley

Musician and educator Michael Mwenso will joyfully guide attendees through the powerful gifts buried within Black roots music and will demonstrate how he actively listens to music — alone and as part of a community. Through this two-hour exploration of recorded music, participants will learn to understand that Black roots music contains the Black experience. It embodies the spirit and memory of a people who weave together traditions of the African diaspora with expressions in the United States, the Americas, and beyond.

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Michael Mwenso, will be offered in Eisenhower Auditorium one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. AnneMarie Mingo, assistant professor of African American Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State, will moderate. Artistic Viewpoints seating is available on a first-arrival basis.