SUNY Ulster will host several musical performances and a display in honor of Black History Month, which is celebrated each year during the month of February. Musical styles influenced by African traditions such as jazz, dance hall, hip-hop, and rhythm and blues will be the focus this year. Keith Marks, a jazz flutist, Gavin di Different, a Caribbean Dancehall-style DJ, and Joakim Lartey, a drummer and storyteller, will perform during February. In addition, an “In Memoriam” slideshow will be on display throughout the month honoring notable African Americans who passed away in the last decade.
Jazz flutist Keith Marks will perform on Tuesday, February 5, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Student Life Dining Hall in Vanderlyn Hall, (snow date Wednesday, February 6). Called “an infectiously funky Pied Piper of jazz flute,” Keith has studied flute since the age of 14 and has performed in clubs and colleges around the United States. He seeks out venues where his music can educate, heal, and communicate to broader audiences. He has held engagements at Pete Seeger’s Clearwater Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Japan Art Association at Kykuit in Tarrytown, the African-American Institute, and a private party honoring former South African President Nelson Mandela. He has released two albums, “In It” and “Foreign Funk.”
Local DJ Gavin di Different will play a selection of Caribbean Dancehall music on Friday, February 22 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Student Life Dining Hall. Originally, from Montego Bay, St. James, Jamaica, Gavin is now a New York based rapper, singer, songwriter, DJ, producer, and engineer, cultivating a mixture of hip-hop/rap, R&B, and dancehall/reggae.
Joakim Lartey will perform African drumming and storytelling on Wednesday, February 27 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Student Life Dining Hall. Joakim was born in Accra, Ghana. He studied at Prempeh College in Kumasi, Ghana and then at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and The Creative Music Studio in Woodstock. Joakim has performed with Natalie Merchant, Jack DeJohnette, Baba Olatunji, and John Hall, among others. He cofounded and was the lead singer of critically acclaimed Worldbeat/Afro-funk band Futu that performed at Woodstock ‘94. He teaches drumming and rhythm to individuals and groups.
“In Memoriam” slides of notable African Americans who have passed away in the last decade will also be on display. The display was created by the SUNY Ulster Student Government Organization. These slides will be showcased outside of the dining hall on the digital monitor and on SUNY Ulster social media channels.
Lorraine Lopez-Janove, Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Ulster, says, “In the words of Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s NMAAHC, ‘African American History — and its celebration throughout February — is just as vibrant today as it was when Carter G. Woodson created it over 90 years ago. There is no more powerful force than a people steeped in their history. And there is no higher cause than honoring our struggle and ancestors by remembering.’ Let’s continue remembering and celebrating the lives and contributions Black and African Americans have made in this country and in the world.”
Visit sunyulster.edu or call 688-6042 for more information. All events are free and open to the public.