Announcing PFP's 27th Birthday Bash: Big Changes, Great Fun!

Join the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP) for a special 27th year celebration!

PFP Birthday Bash
Sponsored by PECO


Saturday, June 7, 2014
6 PM - 9 PM
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia

Honorees: Nana Korantema Ayeboafo and Elaine Watts

Information on sponsorships, tickets and advertisements can be found here. Sponsorships begin at $200. Advertisements begin at $50. Tickets begin at $30. Make your donation / purchase at PFP's online store. Become an event sponsor now! Or download details and print and send in your donation. NOTE: Advertisements for the program book are due May 1st. Please send 300 dpi jpgs, tiffs or pdfs. Email with questions.

Expect food, fun, engaging activities, a wonderful crowd of people, and an all-around joyful evening! This year marks big changes, includes great performances (with your participation) and it honors amazing women who are inspiring models in folk arts and change. This is your chance to:

* Bid farewell to PFP founder and longtime Director, Debora Kodish, and welcome incoming Director Selina Morales. The Birthday Bash marks a changing of the guard at PFP. Kodish is stepping down after 27 years at the helm.

* Honor the 2014 Folk Arts and Social Change Awards recipients: Groundbreaking percussionists Nana Korantema Ayeboafo and Elaine Watts. Both artistic and social change innovators, Nana and Elaine are dynamic and inspiring women. Each was told that "women can't play drums" and discouraged from playing their chosen instrument. Lucky for us (and for so many others) each persevered. We honor Nana and Elaine for their courage, artistry and knowledge, for the ways in which they have made African and klezmer drumming (respectively) accessible to new generations, and for the inspiration they continue to provide as women and role models,

* Sing with the Liberian Women's Chorus for Change, and dance with Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble. The Chorus is a new PFP Folk Arts and Social Change project: an ensemble that is using Liberian song traditions to address gender violence. They'll perform (and Bash attendees will get to sing along). And Kulu Mele will close the evening out with a participatory bantaba dance (including lessons!)

* Support the Philadelphia Folklore Project and honor people in our region whose work in folk arts and social change is inspiring.

For more information about the 2014 PFP Birthday Bash, to join a committee, or to help, email or call 215.726.1106.

PFP has been cultivating folk arts and social change since 1987. The annual benefit is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of local communities and cultural traditions that matter. And it is a chance to support and advance PFP's work in this area.

PFP's Folk Arts and Social Change Awards annually honor people who have drawn on the power of community-based folk arts and cultural tradition to advance social change in our region (and beyond). The Awards recognize how decades of work have built new futures for all of us: creating community well-being, disturbing the peace of racism and injustice, building self-determination, equity and power. Two awards are being given in 2014.

Nana Korantema Ayeboafo began her lifelong journey into percussion in her North Philadelphia community, studying with men who would become legendary for reclaiming African cultural traditions here. She became a member of the Arthur Hall Dance Ensemble (whose legacy she continues to steward), and made her first visit to Ghana with Hall's group. She formed the first female percussion ensemble in Philadelphia in 1975, one of the vanguard of African American women to reclaim traditional percussion. She writes, "Most importantly, I am a woman doing a kind of music that is historically performed by men." Nana has now spent more than three decades going back and forth between Philadelphia and Larteh, Ghana, studying with master drummers, and learning Akan drumming techniques in the context of religious and healing practices. She trained in traditional healing and therapeutic styles, working especially with Nana Okomfohene Oparebea, priest of the Akonnedi shrine, and mastering language, traditions and protocols as well as drumming and dance. Nana now serves as a representative of this matriarch and spearheads the activities of the Asona Aberade shrine, the first Akan shrine here in Philadelphia. An active performer, teacher, and healer, Nana is receiving The 2014 Ella King Torrey Award for Visionary Work in Community and Culture.

About the award: Ella Kong Torrey helped PFP to get our first grant. Even more important, she encouraged us to imagine possibilities and to follow dreams which could open new pathways. Founder of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts and many other innovative programs, she valued and embodied generosity of spirit.

Elaine Watts is a third-generation klezmer musician, and a critically important, feisty, and enduring link to a particular Philadelphia-style Jewish klezmer sound, rooted in Ukranian and Romanian traditions. Played by the Hoffman family and other musicians at certain times in Jewish weddings, and in the parties that followed, this music became part of a distinctly Philadelphia klezmer repertoire. In other parts of the country, klezmer traditions fell out of favor and were revived in the 1970s; here, largely because of Watts and her family, klezmer never needed to be revived: the family never stopped playing it. The first woman percussionist to be accepted at Curtis Institute, from which she graduated in 1954, Watts has performed and taught for sixty years, working in symphonies, theaters, and schools. Ms. Watts performs with her daughter, trumpeter Susan Watts, in an ensemble called the Fabulous Shpielkehs. In 2007, she was awarded the nation's most prestigious award in the folk arts, an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. Elaine is receiving The 2014 Channavy Lenora Koung Award for Folk Arts and Cultural Heritage Practice.

About the award: Channavy Koung was a wonderful young artist in her family's Cambodian music ensemble, dedicated to carrying on valued artistic traditions. She and her family inspired PFP's early work with local Cambodians, and modeled how persistent devotion to cultural practices, over the long haul, can create hope and possibilities.

PFP inaugurated the first Folk Arts and Social Change Awards in 2012, naming them after people who have been important in shaping PFP's path, and as a means of extending their legacies: activist Rosemary Cubas, artist Channavy Lenora Koung, eminent folklorist Dr. Kathryn Morgan, and arts advocate and administrator Ella King Torrey. Recipients of these awards in 2012 were Lois Fernandez, Germaine Ingram, Louis Massiah, and Debbie Wei. In 2013, awards were given to artists and activists Linda Goss and Eric Joselyn. Read more about them and the 2013 Bash here.

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