UPDATE FROM BRAVO NIAGARA!
In honour of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), Bravo Niagara! will present the Voices of Freedom Festival to raise awareness of Canada’s significant Black history and highlight the ongoing journey to freedom. Bravo Niagara! strives to foster intercultural dialogue through the arts and will present concerts featuring superstar soprano Measha Brueggergosman, jazz great Wycliffe Gordon, and Grammy Award-winning Cameroonian bassist and vocalist Richard Bona, in addition to a symposium, lectures at historic sites, and free programming for youth.
VOICES OF FREEDOM CONCERTS
September 29, 2017 — Superstar soprano Measha Brueggergosman
7:30 pm, Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines
Bravo Niagara! will present Canadian superstar soprano Measha Brueggergosman at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre’s Partridge Hall in St. Catharines. Noted by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a singer of rare gifts and artistic intensity” and by the Miami Herald for possessing “a superb voice capable of just about everything,” Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman has emerged as one of the most magnificent performers and vibrant personalities of the day. She has won Juno Awards, been nominated for a Grammy, sung to a telecast of over 3 billion viewers at the opening of the 2010 Olympic Games, performed for the Royal Family and Westminster Abbey, and soloed in the great concert halls of Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe.
On September 29, Measha will perform Songs of Freedom, an intensely powerful and spiritual collection of ‘Freedom Songs’ that emerged from Africa via the slave trade to America, then to Canada via the United Empire Loyalist migration and the Underground Railroad. Her latest album Songs of Freedom is a companion piece to the film of the same name, winner of three Canadian Screen Awards, which documented Measha’s own journey of discovering her family’s storied lineage from Cameroon, West Africa to Canada’s Maritimes.
“My ancestors were stolen from Africa and sold into slavery in the United States before finding freedom in Nova Scotia…My people have spirituals, which played a huge part in how my ancestors came to be here – free no longer owner, no longer stolen – on the east coast of Canada.” — Measha Brueggergosman
The performance will feature special guest Wycliffe Gordon. A veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, jazz great Wycliffe Gordon has been named Downbeat Magazine’s Critics Choice Award for Best Trombone (2012-13, 2014, 2016).
Measha will also be joined by the Powerhouse Fellowship Soul Choir and Laura Secord Secondary School Concert Choir.
October 6, 2017 – Grammy Award-winning bassist & vocalist Richard Bona
7:30pm, Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines
Bravo Niagara! and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre will co-present the Ontario debut of Grammy Award-winning Cameroonian bassist and vocalist Richard Bona at Partridge Hall as the finale of the Voices of Freedom Festival. This concert will further illuminate the musical roots of Measha Brueggergosman’s ancestral Cameroon.
In the words of his manager and producer, the legendary Quincy Jones: “Richard Bona is simply one of the most talented dudes on this planet!” Bona has toured and recorded with Pat Metheny, Harry Belafonte, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Mike Stern, and Bobby McFerrin, to name but a few. He appeals to a multitude of audiences ranging from jazz, pop, bossa nova, traditional, afro-beat and funk.
Fans call him “The African Sting,” critics call him a pro, but it is his unique and electrifying style of connecting with his audience that titles him what he really is—a true musician. Richard Bona’s seemingly effortless voice, fierce skills on the bass, unique songwriting/arranging expertise and ability to learn just about any instrument simply from watching, position him as a rare African artist to have established an unscalable reputation on an international platform. Seeking inspiration from his Cameroonian origins, the themes of Bona’s songs address international issues which mirror his desire of using music to take a stance on issues affecting the oppressed.
FREE OUTREACH EVENTS:
- September 28, 2017 (1-4 pm, Niagara Historical Museum): Voices of Freedom Symposium
- September 29–October 1, 2017 (11 am-4 pm, Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre): “North Star” art workshop for children of all ages
- September 29, 2017 (11:30am-12:30 pm, Harriet Tubman Public School): The Spirit of Harriet Tubman performance by actress Leslie McCurdy
- September 29, 2017 (2 pm, Salem Chapel): Lecture by Kate Clifford Larson, the leading authority on Harriet Tubman, at the Salem Chapel BME Church National Historic Site, where Harriet Tubman once attended
- September 30, 2017 (11am–12pm, Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library): Book talk and signing with Measha Brueggergosman featuring her new memoir Something Is Always On Fire (HarperCollins)
September 30, 2017 (1–3 pm, Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre): On Stage with John Parks — dance workshop led by former Alvin Ailey dancer/choreographer John Parks presented in partnership with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.