Six-time GRAMMY® Award-nominee Nnenna Freelon has earned a well-deserved reputation as a compelling and captivating live performer, most recently in 2007 on In Performance At The White House to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. At the 43rd annual GRAMMY Awards telecast from Los Angeles, she inspired an enthusiastic standing ovation from 20,000 music industry insiders and celebrities when she took to the stage. Prior to that stirring appearance, Freelon’s performances for the legendary Julie Andrews at the Society of Singers’ “Ella Awards,” Variety’s The Children’s Charity (as a featured vocalist at the Stephen Sondheim Tribute at Carnegie Hall), Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon and at the most famous jazz festivals around the globe have all been rousing successes. On her Grammy-nominated (for Best Jazz Vocal Performance) release, “Blueprint Of A Lady: Sketches of Billie Holiday” (2005), Freelon paid tribute to the quintessential jazz vocalist Billie Holiday. As inventive as ever, Freelon turned these Holiday-associated songs and fulfilled Billie Holiday’s message to all artists: “No two people on earth are alike, and its got to be that way with music– or it isn’t music.” With her own band, and with Ronald K. Brown & his dance troupe EVIDENCE, Freelon turned this into a multi-media music and dance offering unlike any show previously seen! Freelon is a winner of both the Billie Holiday Award from the prestigious Academie du Jazz and the Eubie Blake Award from the Cultural Crossroads Center in New York City.
Kariamu Welsh is a choreographer and professor in the dance department in the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her Doctor’s of Arts from New York University and her MA.H. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is the author of two published books by Africa World Press, Trenton, NJ: Zimbabwe Dance: Rhythmic Forces, Ancestral Voices and An Aesthetic Analysis and Umfundalai: An African Dance Technique. She is the editor of The African Aesthetic: Keeper of Traditions (Greenwood Press, 1994) and African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry (Africa World Press, 1996). She co-edited African Culture: Rhythms of Unity (Africa World Press, 1985). Dr. Welsh is the artistic director of Kariamu & Co.: Traditions. Kariamu is the recipient of numerous fellowships, grants and awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, the Creative Public Service Award of NY, a 1997 Pew Fellowship, a 1997 Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1998 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and a Senior Fulbright Scholar. Kariamu has received many honors and awards including “The Dance Scholar Award” given by the dance department and the office of Multicultural Affairs at Salisbury State University in Salisbury, Maryland on February 2 2009. Norfolk State University and the 26th Annual Black College Dance Exchange gave her the “Award of Excellence” on April 2007. The International Association of Blacks in Dance gave her a “Pioneer” award in 2010.
Maya Freelon Asante is an award-winning artist whose artwork was described by poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being,” and her unique tissue paper work was also praised by the International Review of African American Art as a “vibrant, beating assemblage of color.” She was selected by Modern Luxury Magazine as Best of the City 2013 and by the Huffington Post’s “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know”. Maya Freelon Asante has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including Paris, Ghana, and US Embassies in Madagascar, Italy, Jamaica, and Swaziland. She has been a professor of art at Towson University and Morgan State University. Asante has attended numerous residencies including Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Korobitey Institute and Brandywine Workshop. She earned a BA from Lafayette College and an MFA from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.