Written by Karina Kacala   
Published on Wednesday, 03 February 2016 10:30


LiveConnections Celebrates Black History Month with Educational Music Programs


Up to 800 Students Will Participate in Six Sessions Dedicated to the Sounds and Rhythms of African-American Musical Traditions


WHAT: African-American Spirituals: Roots and Revelations
WHEN: Monday, February 22
Session 1: 9:30-10:45am
Session 2: 11:15am-12:30pm

WHAT: Rhythmic Body
WHEN: Tuesday, February 23 and Wednesday, February 24
Session 1: 9:00-10:30am
Session 2: 11:00am-12:30pm

PHILADELPHIA - LiveConnections, Philadelphia’s innovative musical matchmaker, presents three days of interactive Bridge Sessions, their signature educational programming, in honor of Black History Month. LiveConnections Bridge Sessions offer a unique approach to music education that highlights collaboration across musical styles and cultural backgrounds and explores the ways adults and youth can communicate, share ideas, and build connections. Sessions are highly interactive and engage participants in hands-on activities that offer an inside experience of the music. The February sessions reveal the West African roots of various contemporary dance and musical forms. Close to 800 students are expected across the three days of programming.

On February 22, participants will explore the musical tradition of spirituals from their origins in West African music to more contemporary interpretations in gospel, blues, and hip-hop. This session features Allen Pinkney on vocals, Luke Carlos O’Reilly on keyboard, and Kwasi Burgee on percussion.

The Bridge Sessions on February 23 and 24 connect movement and music using polyrhythms, the Brazilian martial art capoeira, West African dance and hip-hop, and trace how music has evolved across generations and cultures in the African diaspora. They feature Lela Aisha Jones, movement artist; Alex Shaw, percussion; and two guest percussionists.

These three dates of Bridge Sessions are geared for middle and high school students from across the Philadelphia region. Participating schools include Fitler Academics Plus, William McKinley School, Science Leadership Academy, Olney Charter High School, Freire Charter School, Freire Middle School, Christopher Columbus Charter School, Our Lady of Confidence Day School (a school for students with intellectual disabilities at Bishop McDevitt), and Ardmore Avenue Elementary (William Penn School District).

LiveConnections Executive Director Melinda Steffy says, “By involving students as active participants in the music-making, Bridge Sessions allow students to connect with traditions and ideas that may be new or less familiar to them. Through these February sessions, we hope students will gain a deeper appreciation for African and African-American music traditions that have been influential in shaping American culture and popular music today, and that they’ll be inspired to add their voice and creativity to the conversation.”

Kelly Davenport, Head of Freire Charter School, says, “As an under-resourced school serving 99% low-income African-American students, it is essential that we provide our students with enriching experiences that they might not be exposed to otherwise. These [Bridge Session] experiences have been among the most educational and inspirational for our students and staff.” Sixth-grader Simone says, “[LiveConnections] opened my mind to new things when [Bridge Sessions] showed me the connections between different cultures.”

Each year, LiveConnections presents 50 Bridge Sessions reflecting a variety of musical cultures and topics, and will reach approximately 6,000 participants from 40 schools and organizations in the 2015-2016 school year.


ABOUT LIVECONNECTIONS: LiveConnections inspires learning and builds community through collaborative music-making. Since our founding in 2008, LiveConnections has re-imagined the landscape of live music and music education through unique collaborations that join artists from different genres to highlight how music crosses cultures and creates bridges of understanding. Our programs reach people who would not normally experience this kind of music—such as youth from urban schools and people with disabilities—as well as musically adventurous audiences. We offer three signature programs, all based out of our partner venue World Cafe Live.

•    Bridge Sessions are interactive, educational performances for urban youth and special needs populations, along with in-depth residencies and workshops.
•    LiveConnections Presents features six collaborative concerts designed for adventurous music-lovers.
•    LiveStudio offers live video streaming for underserved audiences unable to travel to the venue.
For more information, visit

LiveConnections Presents is supported in part by the Presser Foundation and the Kal & Lucille Rudman Foundation.

PLEASE NOTE: LiveConnections is a nonprofit organization in residence at venue World Cafe Live. All programs are created, presented and funded entirely by LiveConnections and should not be attributed to World Cafe Live.

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