April concerts highlight homeless youth

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April 4, 2014
By: Anthony Ratnaraj // Murphy News Service
Anthony Ratnaraj // Murphy News Service

 

Popular Stick Pounding artist and Grammy Award-nominee Melanie DeMore in April will join One Voice Mixed Chorus – Minnesota’s and the nation’s largest LGBTA choral group – to raise awareness about homeless youths in the Twin Cities.

Jane Ramseyer Miller, One Voice’s artistic director, said she wanted to incorporate the Gullah folk art of Stick Pounding. Miller said she picked the folk art because it’s a “music embodied and movement centered” art form.

Miller and DeMore have talked about a collaborative project for few years. Minnesotans will have a chance to view the folk art with One Voice’s members April 25-27 at the Lab Theater.

The LGBT-focused group will host InsideOUT concert with three non-profits that work with homeless youth and five schools to highlight the challenges faced by homeless youth in the Twin Cities. Miller said about 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person.

“They’ve been kicked out of their families because they’re not following rules or they’re gay or lesbian or transgender,” DeMore said.

She said Stick Pounding is a good way to connect with homeless youths, who are feeling “lost and rootless.” She said when youths pound their sticks on the ground, they’re becoming a community with others and their heart rate rises together.

DeMore said she “took bunch of sticks and really got to spend time with the youth,” when she visited Avenues for Homeless Youth few times.

Stick Pounding is an art form created by African slaves in Gullah Sea Islands and coastal areas near South Carolina and Georgia. DeMore said Gullah people, who were brought to the United States from mostly West Africa nations, started to pound sticks as a way to express themselves musically because drums were taken away from the slaves.

DeMore taught the choir members the origin of the Stick Pounding, so they can appreciate the tradition. Then, she would teach them to do the dance. She said it takes time to learn the process.

“My job is to make them feel really comfortable and enjoy the learning process,” she said.

DeMore said the concert will involve the audience to engage in the “building of communal music family.”

            Anthony Ratnaraj is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.

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WANT TO GO?

Visit One Voice’s website to learn more about the concert:  http://www.ovmc.org/concerts/2014_insideout.html

“InsideOUT!”

Friday, April 25, 2014 • 7 :30 pm

Saturday, April 26, 2014 • 7:30 pm

Sunday, April 27, 2014 • 3:00 pm

Tickets:

Section A $25

Section B $20

Students/Seniors $15 (Section B only)

Ticket prices increase by $5 on day of show and are on sale through the Lab Theater box office, 700 N 1st St, Minneapolis, Minn. 55401. Call (612) 333-7977 for more information.