Tag Archives: Bill Banfield

Professor Bill Banfield: Reflections On Harry Belafonte and the Needs for ‘New schools of Arts Activism”

billb-300x200Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, and public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.

 

During the week of March, 3, 2014, Berklee engaged itself in a series of concerts, talk-ins, and film showings on the life and work of Harry Belafonte. The culminating celebration was a night of his music performed expertly by an incredible array of Berklee’s best, and then the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Belafonte. My purpose here is to raise up a few ideas: sustaining themes that connect us to the practice and methods of artistic social action. I was blessed to have been able to sit and have a long chat with this inspiring figure. Harry Belafonte, and the work of artists and social activism in the world, is a model of immense importance and relevance today. Artists and educators have an important duty to shape our times with knowledge of this side of the work of music. Harry Belafonte and people who marched and worked in the civil rights days had to put themselves in the shoes of other people, and possessed a kind of not sympathy, but empathy.

billandbelafonte

Professor Bill Banfield and Harry Belafonte

 

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Professor Bill Banfield: Being a Musician Today—What’s Your Frame of Reference?

billb-300x200Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, and public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.

The main question I want to pose in this spring season is: What kind of contribution are you really ready to make as a musical citizen in our society, culture?

Nobody ever wanted music to be a drink of holy water, but I came up as a young musician when music was notes played and sung by musicians; that’s music. So what happened to mainstream popular music?

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Professor Bill Banfield: Behind the Scenes of Stardom

billb-300x200Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and  director of the Center for Africana Studies and  programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts,  cultural criticism, and history.

I had been waiting to see Lisa Fischer and hear what she sounded like, breathed like, live in person. We have all been pleasantly stunned by 20 Feet from Stardom. This is a film about the lives of the background singers. The film follows the behind-the-scenes of singers Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, and Jo Lawry. On January 16, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards.  Continue reading

Mississippi scholarship winners announced in more intimate confines

The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band. From left: Saxophonist Mario Castro, bassist Lenny Stallworth, drummer Taylor Gordon, and keyboardist Eric Finland.

The Berklee Mississippi Exchange Band headed to the Delta Blues Museum’s outdoor stage, ready for their first set of the day.  It would be during the Juke Joint Festival debut by a Berklee group when the summer scholarship winner would be revealed.  Both contenders, with family members and close friends were stage side, waiting, smiling politely, keeping cool.  The two young women in all of their composure made an impression, and were an example to emulate when, suddenly, we realized that there were no drums or backline on stage.

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The snare drum rolls in Clarksdale for the summer scholarship applicants

From left: Kyleen Thomas and Paula Thompson, Delta Blues Museum Arts & Education Program students.

I can’t imagine what the two young women have been thinking since their scholarship auditions at the Delta Blues Museum on Thursday.  Jacquline Gooch and Paula Thompson, students from the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts & Education Program, were both outstanding.  Gooch, 19, accompanied herself on a guitar with a sliver of worn wood below the sound hole that looked like a scar.  I imagined the hours she’s played her instrument, writing her own songs and learning others.  Thompson, 15, stood with the microphone in hand and sang for a small audience of family and museum staffers.  Kyleen Thomas, 12, another museum student, played bass while instructor Daddy Rich played guitar for Thompson.  Rich, museum gift shop manager Chris Coleman, Berklee professor Lenny Stallworth and I judged the two singers and multi instrumentalists.  It’s hard to choose one of them when there are two talented and deserving hopefuls. Continue reading