FolkAid: Healing and Healers

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Introducing the latest installment of the Philly Folk podcast - FolkAid: Healing and Healers!

FolkAid: Healing and Healers expand our understanding of health and healing practices through the lens of folklore. We speak with various artists and heritage bearers in the Philadelphia community to learn how they find therapeutic power in their work and artistry. This program highlights how community endurance and social-emotional wellness can be built and nurtured during a public health crisis. It also delves into healing rituals as well as medicinal plants and recipes from various cultural traditions. 


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The first episode of FolkAid: Healing and Healers focuses on Fatu Gayflor, the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change in Philadelphia. Fatu tells her story of singing in refugee camps in Africa, immigrating to the United States, and how she uses music to cope with the loss of her son during the Liberian Civil War. She explains the powerful work that the chorus does to listen to community members and generate space for dialogue surrounding many issues facing the Liberian community, specifically domestic violence. This episode includes a conversation about musical healing in the time of the Coronavirus, where domestic violence has been labeled a “shadow pandemic”.  Listen to this episode to learn how Fatu utilizes music to create a calming, healing space, grounded in joy, for herself and others.


In this episode, we speak with Susan Hoffman-Watts, a renowned Klezmer trumpeter, vocalist, composer, and arranger. Susan speaks about being a fourth-generation Klezmer and how music is an essential part of her family history. She also discusses the role Jewish folk music plays in the community endurance and cathartic healing. 





In this episode, we hear from Losang Samten, a master sand mandala artist and the spiritual director of several Tibetan Buddhist Centers in North America including the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. A National Heritage and Pew Fellow, Samten once served as the personal attendant to the 14th Dalai Lama and is an expert teacher of this intricate art form. Listen to his story of coming to the United States to create the first public sand mandala in the West in 1988 and learn about the healing powers embedded in this spiritual practice.