Friday, March 9, 2012

Michele Clark & Columbus Park After School Matters participants with Chicago West Community Music Center/Garfield Park students meet legendary South African musician Hugh Masekela at Northwestern University. (Photo by Jeremy Shine)

    Students from After School Matters programs at Michele Clark Magnet High School and Columbus Park, plus participants in Chicago West Community Music Center/Garfield Park had a one-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting Grammy-winning South African musical legend Hugh Masekela and his band as part of this year’s Chicago-Midwest ANC Centenary celebrations. Masekela’s meeting with the teens was courtesy of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, with support from the NU Department of African American Studies, and The Black United Fund of Illinois who provided dinner for the group before they attended a jazz concert at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Northwestern campus.
    W. Side Story/AfriCaribbean Connections is a drumming and dance education program for teens to connect their cultural roots from the West Side of Chicago to Africa and the Diaspora, including the Caribbean. Led by teaching and performing artists VCasanova & JShine, the program is designed to build job skills, develop community and a voice for teens through the cultural arts, while helping youth discover the benefits of exploring the arts.
    Based at Michele Clark High School and Columbus Park, these After School Matters students train in dance and music, research and document their historic heritage, and learn to perform and teach.
    Guest speakers, performances, and collaborative events with area colleges are also a major part of the overall experience. This year, students are focusing on South Africa and the worldwide ANC 100th anniversary activities, so visiting Northwestern University, touring the Arts Circle on campus, and meeting the legendary South African musician and his band backstage was as relevant as it was exciting. Inviting a partner program – Chicago West Community Music Center/Garfield Park – to the Hugh Masekela concert expanded the impact.
    Sharif Walker, After School Matters Area 3 Director, oversees programs at eleven campuses and over 20 community-based organizations serving thousands of Chicago teenagers.

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