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UNDER THE GRIOT TREE
Black History Month Festival

February 16-21, 2004

Roundhouse, Vancouver, BC
A Mother Tongue Media
& Roundhouse Partnership


This festival featured spoken word and vocals by Tanya Evanson, Vanessa Richards, Ndidi Cascade, CR Avery and Graham Kelly; music by Carlos Joe Costa, Fana Soro, Pepe Danza, Sal Ferreras, Hari Pal, Lincoln Thorne and John Howard; visual art by Ron Selmour and David George; presentations by Eleanor Collins, Lloyd Davis and Siobhan Barker; with curatorial work by Fade to Black Entertainment.

This series of events, featuring master percussionists and spoken word artists, included workshops, a unique drum circle, an evening of short films, an art exhibit and exciting performances allowed the audience to become active participants in the Griot tradition.

Griot (pronounced GREE-OH) is a French word that refers to the West African keepers of oral history. Griots are at once witnesses to the past, interpreters of the present and oracles of the future. They spin the history of the tribe as it was, as it is and as it shall be. Included in a Griot’s job description is storyteller, poet, genealogist, historian, adviser, spokesperson, diplomat, mediator, interpreter, translator, musician, composer, teacher, entertainer, exhorter, warrior, witness, praise-singer and ceremony participant. A single label doesn’t work here. And in this day of multitasking artists, Griot is an appropriate term for those specialists of words and music, who are shaping reality into a great social force which touches the senses, the mind and the heart.

Under the Griot Tree
events gathered the audience, local spoken word artists, storytellers, MC’s, percussionists, musicians, dancers and visual artists from multicultural backgrounds, with an emphasis on local Afro-Canadian artists. The artists presented work which supports the Griot tradition, because Canadians do have Griots in their midst; the challenge is in preserving our stories.
OPENING NIGHT BLESSING
Feb 16, 7:30pm - 9:30pm, free
Exhibition Hall
Hosts: Tanya Evanson / Carlos Joe Costa

Guest Speaker Eleanor Collins

Special guest speaker Eleanor Collins, an elder and performing artist from Vancouver’s African Canadian community, spoke about her family’s heritage and migration to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
VISUALIZING THE GRIOT
Feb 16 - 22
Exhibition Hall
Artworks by
Ron Selmour / David George / Lloyd Davis
An evolving, interactive art exhibition with workshops led by local artists which allowed the community to contribute to this emerging show which celebrates the Griot. Artwork by Ron Selmour and David George, as well as a presentation by Lloyd Davis.
ARTISTS’ WORKSHOPS
Feb 19 - 21, by donation
Exhibition Hall
David George – Collage and Assemblage
February 19, 5:30pm
Lloyd Davis – Black Canadian History
February 20, 5:30pm
Siobhan Barker – Storytelling for children
February 21, 3:30pm
SPOKEN WORD WORKSHOP:  KIN TALES
Tue, Feb 17, 6pm - 9pm, $5
Performance Centre
Facilitators Tanya Evanson / Vanessa Richards
This intensive workshop took participants through the many nuances of the spoken word from inspiration to text, technique to performance in order to help participants be the Griot for their own family.
DRUM CIRCLE
Wed, Feb 18, 7pm - 9pm, $5
Performance Centre
Fana Soro / Pepe Danza / Sal Ferreras / Hari Pal
In keeping with the Griot tradition of educating through the pulsating beat of the drum, this was a rare opportunity to drum in a large circle led by some of Vancouver BC's top percussionists from the African, Asian and Latin traditions.
FILM SHORTS NIGHT
Thu, Feb 19, 8pm - 9pm,
(Bar reception 9pm - 10pm) $7
Performance Centre
Curated by
Lincoln Thorne of Fade to Black Alliance
Filmmakers in attendance
Griot tradition for the digital age. Local African Canadian filmmakers were joined by the Vancouver community in a storytelling feast for the eyes, curated by the Fade to Black Alliance.
YOU BE GRIOT – OPEN MIC NIGHT
Fri, Feb 20, 8:00pm, $5/person
Performance Centre
Vanessa Richards / Carlos Joe Costa / Lincoln Thorne / John Howard / YOU
This open mic spoken word event featured the spoken words of Vanessa Richard with the  musical accompaniment of African Science: Carlos Joe Costa on percussion and flute, Lincoln ThorneOPen mic followed the performance where audience members became the Griots with the band there to listen and support their poetic words.
GATHERING OF GRIOTS
Sat, Feb 21, 8pm, $10-20 sliding scale
Performance Centre
Fana Soro / Pepe Danza / Sal Ferreras / Hari Pal / Tanya Evanson / Ndidi Cascade / CR Avery / Graham Kelly /
Surprise Guest... Blowout celebration of percussion and spoken word.


 Mother Tongue Media