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 Wednesday, March 23, 2022

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 $15
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.

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

Artist Websites: 

Secondary Events on Each Event

Artistic Viewpoints

6:30 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Eisenhower Auditorium

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered in Eisenhower Auditorium one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints seating is available on a first-arrival basis.