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Willie Stewart receives a Knight Foundation Grant for his multi-faceted workshop and live performance

BROWARD COUNTY – A new music program will acquaint Broward children with world music while enhancing their cognitive and creative possibilities, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Rhythms of Africa, Music Around the World is a multi-dimensional workshop and live performance for teenagers with no previous musical training that places them on stage with professional musicians.

By taking the audience on a musical journey from Nigeria to Ghana, through The Ivory Coast and North Africa, across the Atlantic to Brazil, Cuba, New Orleans, Jamaica, Trinidad and culminating in Florida, Rhythms of Africa is a musical odyssey framed in a seven-week workshop that culminates in performances on October 14 & 15, 2011 at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse.

Willie Stewart, President Solutions in Music, recently received a grant from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of the Knight’s Arts Challenge, for his work to produce Rhythms of Africa, Music Around the World. The program conjures magic in the life of a child, through the inspiration of music learned and performed live for friends and family. “With his deep musical experience, Willie Stewart is the right person to help guide young South Floridians through the beauty and history of African and world music,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts., Knight Foundation. “By learning about different cultures through art, we can bring people together and foster a greater sense of community.”

Willie Stewart’s mission is to show how African-infused rhythms have influenced lives, linking past and present, while demonstrating how drums have gone beyond the Diaspora.

This community celebration translated through the sounds of children drumming in tandem with world-renowned musicians will inspire 30 musical novices, ages 13-16, with the heartbeat of a drum; and teach historical knowledge of rhythm in Africa and its journey to the New World.

Left to right:Carol Stewart, Willie Stewart
Hon. A. Grant-Griffiths, Consul-General of Jamaica
Dennis Scholl, VP-Arts Knight Foundation, Lisa Shaw, Steve Klotz, Stuart Kennedy, Program Associate, Knight Foundation.

A prolific musician, and educator – master percussionist Willie Stewart’s illustrious career includes playing for reggae bands Inner Circle, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and 23 years as director and percussionist for Third World. During this period, five of Third World’s 13 albums produced Grammy nominations. Stewart performed and recorded with Stevie Wonder and Eddy Grant; performed live with Carlos Santana, Bob Marley; and shared the same stage bill with Quincy Jones, Sting, Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams, and U2; and has appeared in numerous videos, and the movie/documentary ‘Prisoner in the Street.’

Scene from Rhythms of Africa held earlier this year.
Photo by: Don Parchment

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