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Black History Month Wales - Unity Through Music: The Rhythm of the Diaspora

Black History Month Wales - Unity Through Music: The Rhythm of the Diaspora

An exciting and thought provoking programme of events and activities entitled ‘Unity through Music: the Rhythm of the Diaspora’ is to take place across Wales through-out October in celebration of Black History Month Wales 2013.

Given Wales’ vibrant history of world music, coupled with the universal need for freedom of expression and creativity through the arts, the Black History Month Steering Committee have chosen to centre this year’s activities around the theme of music from the African Diaspora. This couldn’t be a more fitting choice, for this year all eyes around the world will be focused on our modest city when Cardiff hosts WOMEX, the World Music Expo in October.

As described by UNESCO, the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, WOMEX ‘brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music… promoting music and culture of all kinds across frontiers.’

With WOMEX drawing attention to the diversity of culture and tradition that makes the global music scene as rich and exciting as it is today, ‘Unity through Music’ promises to be a timely celebration of the wonderful contribution music from Wales’ African Diaspora makes towards this overall scene.

Featuring in this month’s programme, which launches on Friday 27th September, is a specially commissioned performance by Catrin Finch, Wales’ world-renowned harpist, and Ballet Nimba, Wales’ leading African Dance Theatre company. A photographic exhibition by Inga K, documenting the last 3 years of Black History Month in Wales, opens at St David’s Hall on Friday 27th September, as part of the event launch, and will run until 2nd November. A live music showcase celebration, the pinnacle event of the Black History Month season, will be taking place at Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday October 19th, commemorating 5 years of partnership working with Wales’ most iconic performance arts venue.

‘We’re so pleased to once again host the Black History Month Wales Showcase Celebration,’ says Wales Millennium Centre’s Community Engagement Officer, Hannah Wynn Jones. ‘This year’s showcase is set to once again be a truly inspiring and hugely enjoyable event and promises to be the perfect celebration of the diverse music of the Diaspora in Wales as well as Wales Millennium Centre’s 5 year partnership with the Black History Month Wales Steering Committee.’

Following last year’s tremendous success, over 10,000 people are anticipated to attend the 100 + events of the 6th pan-Wales Black History Month season, and so great is its momentum that many of the month’s activities will continue to run across Wales until March 2014. This will include arts and heritage workshops, film screenings, library events and museum activities, along with the development of a Black History teachers’ training programme.

An additional highlight of this year’s programme will be Paul Robeson’s schools’ Legacy for Wales Workshops which will primarily target primary schools from around Wales and highlight the very special relationship Paul Robeson had with Wales and its music. An African American, Paul Robeson made regular visits to South Wales between 1929 and 1939, singing in numerous towns including Swansea, Neath and Cardiff. Refused his right to travel outside America in the 1950s, he sang with the South Wales Miners via a transatlantic telephone cable as part of the now famous 1957 Wales Transatlantic Concert, demonstrating the phenomenal power of music to bring people together regardless of cultural background. Paul Robeson’s musical legacy to Wales will be highlighted through voice workshops, performances and creative art inspired around the ‘Let Robeson Sing’ exhibition.

The origins of Black History Month stretch back to 1926 when Carter G Woodson established African Caribbean celebrations in America. BHM in the UK, which is celebrated in October, has now grown to over 6000 events that recognise the contributions and achievements of Black people to British society. In Wales, the family origins of many black residents link to a number of key ports and in particular Cardiff Docks, which was once a bustling coal port. The sea brought people from all over the world; wherever Cardiff coal ships plied their trade.

For over 150 years, these trade routes were open to huge numbers of sailors from around the world, many of whom settled in Butetown, Cardiff, exchanging their temporary lodgings in boarding houses for new homes with Welsh, English or Irish girls. These families made significant contributions to Welsh life and were Britain’s first multi-ethnic community. Butetown bustled with the babble of more than 50 different languages and people from all over India, the Yemen, Egypt, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, South Africa, the Caribbean, China and more, bringing with them the wonders of their traditions and cultural heritage; food, stories and the arts, including music.

To book your FREE place at this year’s launch or to reserve a goods or information stand at the Showcase Celebration e-mail nisha.patel@diversecymru.org.uk

Also get in touch with Nisha if you’d like to sponsor an activity or discuss a new project.

For further information and the full listing of pan-Wales events visit www.bhmwales.org.uk

Follow @BHMWales #BHMWales and like Facebook/BHMWales

Launch event: Friday 27th September · 4-6pm · St. David’s Hall

Showcase Celebration: Saturday 19th October · 10am-7.00pm · Wales Millennium Centre


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