Black History Month Featuring James Leva & Cheick Hamala Diabate

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Saturday February 18 – “Black History Month Featuring James Leva & Cheick Hamala Diabate” 8:00 PM. Admission $15 Adult, $7.00 Student with student ID. From Africa to Appalachia, Multimedia event traces the roots of Southern Mountain Music. James Leva is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter whose music is deeply rooted in Appalachian tradition.  He learned much of his fiddle, banjo and vocal repertoire from great traditional masters such as Tommy Jarrell and Doug Wallin.  Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he performed with seminal traditionally focused groups that were exploring the boundaries of Appalachian music.  Bands such at Plank Road (with Al Tharp and Michael James Kott), Ace Weems and the Fat Meat Boys (with David Winston and Chad Crumm), and the Hellbenders.(with Bruce Molsky and Dave Grant) performed throughout the US and Europe and their recordings were widely influential.   In the 90’s James formed the Free Will Savages with Dave Grant, Al Tharp and Dirk Powell.  The Savages made two classic recordings, performed at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival where Jerry Douglas pronounced them “the perfect marriage between Ralph Stanley and the Sex Pistols.”  Spin magazine writer, the late Renee Crist, dubbed the Savages’ radical new sound as the vanguard of “Appalachian World Beat”. http://www.jamesleva.com

Cheick Hamala Diabate is a West African historian in the Griot tradition, and a world-recognized master of the ngoni, a Malian traditional instrument. A sought after performer, lecturer, storyteller and choreographer throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Canada, Cheick Hamala began touring in the U.S. in 1995. His performances have been featured at such notable venues as The Smithsonian Institute, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest and many of the top festivals across the US. A steward of the 800 year-old tradition of the Griot, the storytellers of West Africa, Cheick Hamala shares the oral history, music and song of his culture as it was passed on to him from birth by parent to child. At an early age, Cheick Hamala easily mastered the ngoni, a stringed lute and ancestor to the banjo. He later learned to play the guitar from his uncle, legendary Super Rail Band guitarist Djelimady Tounkara. Whether playing solo, in a traditional trio, or rocking with his full 10-piece orchestra, Cheick Hamala always reflects the historical integrity of an important art form with a rich tradition stretching back hundreds of years to the formation of the Great Malian Empire. Finally Cheick and James will play together.