Unsung Sheroes & Heroes of Afrikan Heritage – Exhibition at Dynamix

Unsung Sheroes & Heroes of Afrikan Heritage: Dynamix Skatepark Gateshead, has been celebrating the lives and achievements of sheroes and heroes of Afrikan heritage, giving context and inspiration for the work of artists and activists engaged in challenging racism today.
An exhibition (lead curator Layla Gaye) will run from 16 November to 31 May at Dynamix – see http://www.dynamixcic.org/unsung/
and includes large-scale murals portraits of Afrikan heritage people by artist Dreph, as well as rotating art installations, projections and educational panels bringing to light less known stories. Please share
From 13-16 November, Ghanaian-born London-based artist D’sane Neequay Dreph will be painting large scale murals. There will be an opportunity to meet the artist and for him to share his approach and practice with other artists/aspiring artists. Dreph has been painting since age 12, and his work has taken him around the world, but his work has recently been picked up and celebrated by the UK media, following a series of large scale murals he has painted around London, depicting women of Afrikan/Afro-Carribean heritage who are making significant contributions to their communities.
There are many opportunities for students and other young people to get involved with the exhibition, and with the project as a whole, including various workshops. Check out via the website. Entrance to exhibition and related events is free.
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African-Caribbean What’s On

African-Caribbean What’s On

Freedom City

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You may know the artists, but do you know the story behind them? A great new production called The Story of Reggae is premiered at Sage Gateshead on 5th December.

With an evening of spoken word, music and film, renowned dub reggae master Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell will take the audience on an immersive journey through the first three decades of Reggae in Britain, from the 1950’s – 1980’s.

Opening at 8pm on the 5th December in Sage 2, this vibrant story-telling performance will include live musical performances by Dennis Bovell and his band and recorded spoken word by ‘Dub Poet’ Benjamin Zephaniah and Linton Kwesi Johnson.


Presented by Waka Waka Africa North East and with support from Arts Council England, The Story of Reggae will be an unmissable event for the calendar and a rare opportunity to hear the sounds and national history of this beloved music genre from the mouths of those who helped make it great.

“We are so excited to be bringing our first showing of Story of Reggae to the North East of England for everyone to enjoy. Our main message throughout the show is that reggae deserves its rightful place in the music hall of fame and in history as the foundation of different musical genres, crossovers and hits. We want to chart its movement in Britain and its engulfing of different cultures and people – for example the rock and reggae genres fuelling each other in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The Story of Reggae will depict all of this chronologically with key events and figures in a vibrant performance of live music, various interviews and film – commentated by reggae authority, historian and legend Dennis Bovell.” – Maurice Dezou, founder and producer of The Story of Reggae and co-founder of Waka Waka Africa North East.

The Story of Reggae features live interviews with Linton Kwesi Johnson, Don Letts, Benjamin Zephaniah, Janet Kay, Suggs (Madness), Ranking Rodger (The Beat), Carol Thompson, Karen Wheeler and Jazzy B.

The show will also include the music of Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Janet Kay, Toots and the Maytals, Sister Nancy, Assad, Steel Pulse, Althea and Donna, Millie Small, Prince Buster, the Skatalites, Ken Booth, UB40, The Specials, Matumbe, Black Slate and more.

Tickets are £13 and are available from the Sage Gateshead website or from the ticket office on 0191 443 4661.

Dennis Bovell (otherwise known as Blackbeard) is one of the co-founders for The Story of Reggae and is a renowned Reggae guitarist, solo artist and producer from Barbados. Bovell was one of the key figures on the London Reggae scene in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Bovell co-founded the band, Matumbi, in the 1970’s, one of England’s first self contained Reggae bands. Bovell has also released several albums and solo dub experiments and participated in the BBC’s Reggae Britannia season in 2011. A more extensive bio and track listing can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/77eb63bd-cc38-4044-a23c-c2ff3cfcc610
 Maurice Dezou is the co-founder and producer for The Story of Reggae and co-founder of Waka Waka Africa North East.. Originally from the Ivory Coast, Dezou has many years experience of film and music production both locally and internationally, and has contributed to recordings by various artists such as Boy George and Dennis Bovell.
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The Tempest – Bilimankhwe International – 28 October

28 October at 8pm, tickets £10 from Northern Stage – https://www.northernstage.co.uk/whats-on/the-tempest

This pared-down, intense, urban production of Shakespeare’s last play features the stunning contemporary African dance choreography of Shyne Phiri. It is powerful, passionate, and of course magical. By bringing together artists from Africa and Europe, the company uses the best from both continents to both entertain and move the audience.

The play is about patriarchy, colonialism and power: it is not about race, which is made clear by the casting of a multi-racial cast of native English speakers for Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Trinculo and Stephano, while Caliban and Ariel are Malawian, and native Chichewa speakers. As a colonist who has grown up on the island, Miranda speaks mostly in English but occasionally in Chichewa (for instance when she is berating Caliban).

Full of humour, magic, movement and music, the show is fast paced, urban and exciting. Using simple and effective technology it will appeal to a diverse audience; young and old will see something new, vibrant and exciting in this production.

***PLEASE NOTE: THIS PERFORMANCE WILL TAKE PLACE AT DYNAMIX SKATE PARK IN GATESHEAD  –  Dynamix Skatepark, Albany Rd Junction,, A184, Gateshead NE8 3AT. Performed for one night only at Dynamix Amphitheatre, the last night of the show’s national tour! Please be aware that the venue is not a traditional theatre space, it is a large warehouse, and can be cold, so wrap up warm!

There are free tickets for the show available from Northern Stage Box Office for 16-21 Year-Olds, using the Code ‘Tempest16-21’ and for people with Asylum Seeker or Refugee status, using the code ‘TempestFree’

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Latest What’s On and News

Waka Waka News September 2017

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THE SUITCASE – Powerful South African drama at Northern Stage 14-16 September

Thursday 14 – Saturday 16th September (also with matinee on 16th), at Northern Stage, Newcastle in partnership with The Market Theatre, Johannesburg,
THE SUITCASE – from the novel by Es’kia Mphahlele, featuring live music composed and written by the great Hugh Masekela.
It’s 1950s South Africa. A young newly married couple leave their rural village and disapproving family for the city of Durban. Their goal: to return home, rich and free.
But, alienated in the city, unemployed and poor, Timi starts to lose his moral compass. Desperate to provide for his pregnant wife he steals a suitcase left on a bus not knowing what might be inside; an act which brings frightening consequences, dramatic twists and unexpected turns.

Based on a true story, this evocative, visual and moving production encompasses African storytelling and lyrical music at its very best.
Writer Es’kia Mphahlele is among South Africa’s greatest authors, thinkers and critics. Respected worldwide as a literary luminary, he has published many short stories, essays and novels dealing with issues of race and South Africa’s changing society. Hugh Masekela, legendary South African musician, has written the perfect soundtrack to this powerful piece.
The Market Theatre was founded in Johannesburg in 1976 by Mannie Manim and the late playwright Barney Simon. Known internationally as the ‘Theatre of the Struggle’, the Market Theatre challenged the Apartheid regime and dared to stand up against social injustice, acting as a powerful voice for freedom and emancipation. Over the past four decades, the theatre has evolved into a cultural complex for performance, music, dance and the allied arts. Today, the Market Theatre continues to be engaging, challenging and entertaining

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ASWAD in Middlesbrough! – Saturday 2 September

ASWAD in Middlesbrough! Saturday 2nd September The Longlands Club, TS4 2HF
‘The Lions of Ladbroke Grove’ remain one of the country’s best loved reggae bands. Formed in the late seventies their early hits include “Warrior Charge” and “Three Babylon”, which established the band with a massive following culminating in a UK number one hit “Don’t Turn Around” in 1988
They have toured extensively, playing in diverse locations from London’s Royal Albert Hall and Montego Bay’s Reggae Sunsplash, to gigs in West Africa, Israel and Japan. The band also holds the distinction of having played with each one of the ex-Wailers.
Aswad are now a duo of Angus “Drummie Zeb” Gaye (vocals, drums) and Tony “Gad” Robinson (vocals, bass, keyboards)

Tickets: £17.50 Advance or £20 OTD via 07828 039434, wegottickets.com

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William Bell at Sage Gateshead ! Sat 22 July

William Bell, one of the great soul singers, is at Sage Gateshead Sat 22 July – one of the highlights of “Summertyne” Americana festival.


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Last year William won the Grammy Award for “Best Americana Album 2016” for his album “This Is Where I Live”

The man who co-wrote one of the most covered songs in blues/rock music history is also an original “soul man,” and he’s back! William Bell, who wrote “Born Under a Bad Sign” with Booker T. Jones, a tune first recorded by Albert King and made legend by Eric Clapton and Cream, has returned to Stax Records and is ready to retake the limelight. Fresh off of his featured role in the Memphis music documentary “Take Me To The River,” where William and Snoop Dogg performed another of his compositions, William Bell was an early signing by the same legendary label that later released recordings by Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, and The Staple Singers. Bell’s 1961 solo debut for Stax Records, “You Don’t Miss Your Water (Until Your Well Runs Dry),” became one of the fledgling label’s first major hits. The song is now considered one of the finest early examples of soul music, and was covered by many artists, including Otis Redding and The Byrds. But just as his career was taking flight, Uncle Sam came calling via the draft and Bell did a tour of duty in the Army.
After returning to Stax, William released his first full-length album, 1969’s definitive “The Soul of a Bell,” which included the Top 20 single, “Everybody Loves a Winner.” That same year, the original version of “Born Under a Bad Sign” hit it big. The song has since been covered by many cultural icons, from Jimi Hendrix to Homer Simpson. Among Bell’s other hits at Stax were “Any Other Way” (also a hit for Chuck Jackson), “A Tribute To A King” (written on the death of his friend, Otis Redding), “I Forgot to be Your Lover” (later covered by Billy Idol), “Private Number” (a duet with Judy Clay that was a Top 10 hit in the UK), and the Christmastime favorite, “Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday” (recently covered by Warren Haynes and also by Carole King).
After moving to Atlanta (where he is still based today), William struck pay dirt again in 1977 with “Tryin’ to Love Two” on Mercury Records, which became a top ten pop hit and went to #1 on the R&B charts. Since then, Bell has continued to enjoy a distinguished career as a singer, songwriter and producer. He has produced many albums, and his songs have been recorded by such diverse stars as Linda Rondstadt, Rod Stewart and Etta James, among many others. Additionally, his recordings have been sampled by an impressive list of hip-hop and R&B artists including Kanye West, Ludacris, Jaheim and more.
Bell has received the R&B Pioneer Award from Rhythm & Blues Foundation, the W.C. Handy Heritage Award from the Memphis Music Foundation, and the BMI Songwriter’s Award. He is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and is featured prominently in the Stax Museum.
Some of William’s recent live performance highlights include the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center in New York City, Ronnie Scott’s in London, the Porretta Soul Festival in Italy, Billboard Live in Tokyo, and at The White House for the PBS broadcast of ‘In Performance At The White House: Memphis Soul.’ On New Years Eve 2015, William sang three of his songs on “Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny’ for the BBC in London, including a duet with Joss Stone.

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Latest What’s On

Summer 17 newsletter

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We’re delighted to be co-sponsoring the visit to Newcastle on Wednesday 12th July of the fantastic Tunde Jegede. He’s an internationally renowned kora player, cellist and composer who bridges African and European musical traditions. Tunde’s soul-stirring music blends the ebb and flow of traditional kora-playing with his own exciting contemporary compositions. (For those unfamiliar, the kora is a 21-string mandinka harp which, when played in the traditional style, also bears a close resemblance to flamenco and to delta blues guitar techniques).

The show is at 8pm at Newcastle Arts Centre (Black Swan downstairs performance bar), Westgate Road NE1 1SG – opposite the Old Assembly Rooms. Tickets are £10 – £8 concessions and £7 for under 18s. There are also two workshops that Tunde will conduct – see below.

Tickets for concert and workshops available from The Jazz Cafe 0191 222 9882 – or call in there – 25 Pink Lane

In this unique concert, part of his “Testimony” UK tour, the audience will taken on a journey to the heart of the griot culture of Mali, bringing Tunde’s sound worlds and rich musical legacies to life. With re-imagined cinematic imagery of ancient Africa, it is a meditative musical experience – a cultural expression that transcends boundaries.

Tunde Jegede grew up in London where his Nigerian father was artist in residence at the Keskidee Centre, Britain’s first Black Arts Centre, and where Tunde encountered a range of black artists and activists including Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Angela Davis. In the Gambia he studied the kora and the ancient Griot tradition of West Africa; in London he studied the cello and western composition.

As a composer he has worked with many major classical orchestras but also for film, theatre, dance, opera and music theatre productions. He has also worked in the jazz field with former members of the Jazz Warriors and formed his own jazz ensemble, the Jazz Griots. He also keeps his creative diversity intact by writing for vocalists and spoken word artists in the pop, R ‘N’B, Reggae and Hip Hop fields.

There will be a support set of songs from young local rising star Victor Yugire.


1. Workshop and talk for students, musicians and members of the public
An introduction to the Kora (West African Harp) and the Griot tradition that dates back to the 13th century.
60 minutes
Wed 12th July
6pm to 7pm / £10.00
Location – Black Swan, 69 Westgate Rd, NE1 1SG

2. Creative music workshop for musicians and students of music
An exploration of composition from an African perspective. This workshop can be for people of mixed musical abilities and instruments as long as they are able to bring their own instruments.
90 – 120 minutes
Musical competence – Intermediate to advanced
Maximum number of participants – 20
Thursday 13th July
10.30am / £15.00
Location – Upstairs in The Jazz Cafe, 25-27 Pink Lane NE1 5DW


When booking for a workshop please leave your phone or other contact details in case arrangements are changed

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