The Afro-Semitic Experience, FaithAction International, Diana Greene, and The Healing Blues

The Afro-Semitic Experience, FaithAction International, Diana Greene, and The Healing Blues

2:27pm Dec 12, 2014

The Afro-Semitic Experience

Two years ago, Jerry McLeese founded Interfaith Winston-Salem, and last summer he led the effort for the city to join the International Compassionate Cities movement. Mark Strauss-Cohn is the Rabbi at Temple Emanuel, where the goals of the church are tied directly to the Ethics of the Fathers: Torah, worship, and deeds of loving kindness. Kelly Carpenter is Reverend of Green Street United Methodist Church fighting the good fight for equal rights and inclusion for all, and presiding over one of the most diverse congregations in the entire Piedmont. 

In the spring, this dynamic trio brought the Afro-Semitic Experience to town for an interfaith weekend of unbelievable music-making and learning. The Afro-Semitic Experience is a unique New York-based jazz fusion ensemble. It’s made up of six members ranging in color from white to black, and, in terms of religious heritage, from Jewish to Christian to Muslim.

The band’s music is a unique mix of spiritual, world-beat, funk, jazz, cantorial, gospel, salsa, klezmer, soul-driven music.

The Afro-Semitic Experience arrived in the Triad with a mission to entertain while simultaneously sparking dialogues of tolerance and faith and building bridges of understanding. Kelly, Mark and Jerry dropped by to share stories about how they integrated the Afro-Semitic Experience into their own worship and learning experiences.

All in a day or two’s work for The Afro-Semitic Experience. Their concerts are celebrations with great music, story-telling, and a positive and meaningful message: Unity in the Community. Their new album is "Jazz Souls on Fire," where the band pays tribute to some of their favorite composers with pieces by Leon Thomas, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and others.  

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FaithAction International House

For nearly two decades, FaithAction International House has served and accompanied more than 20,000 new immigrants. They’ve provided educational trainings, multicultural and interfaith dialogues, and community building events for tens of thousands more throughout North Carolina. FaithAction’s mission is to turn strangers into neighbors in order to create a better community for all Greensboro citizens, and their outstanding work here in the Triad is being recognized.

Earlier this year, The Greensboro City Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring the work of FaithAction International House, making Greensboro the nation's first "Stranger to Neighbor" City!

The non-profit keeps a full calendar with "Stranger to Neighbor" dialogues like Building Bridges through Soccer. They also open dialogues by holding musical and theatrical events. Faith Action’s David Fraccaro and Endy Mendez stopped by to talk with David about the organization, the plight of undocumented workers living in America, and their original stage production “Out of the Shadows: Stories of Hope and Courage from Our Newest Immigrant Neighbors.”

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Diana Greene

Diana Greene makes multimedia stories that explore our sense of identity, place and memory. She’s long been fascinated by both the everyday and the intimate truths that we so often keep hidden deep within ourselves. Chip Bristol is a Chaplain at Prodigals Community. For years he’s been exploring new ways to blend the creative with the spiritual all in the context of twelve-step living, his writing, and painting.

The traveling portrait and essay exhibit Finding Home: Portraits of Courage brought Diana and Chip together to empower the men recovering from addiction at Prodigals Community to share their intimate truths, and to support their decisions to live clean and sober lives.

Last week, Diana’s new film The Final Rummage received its first public screening at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem. The 25-minute documentary celebrates stories from the people of all walks of life who made the annual, local Junior League rummage sale a beloved 60 year tradition, and explores the ritual in its last dance.  

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The Healing Blues Project

The Healing Blues project invites folks experiencing things such as homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or abuse to share a story about the challenges they face with a participating songwriter. The songwriter collaborates with the storyteller in writing and performing their song for a fascinating new recording.

The Healing Blues CD memorializes the personal struggles of nearly a dozen participants in living music. It’s an interdisciplinary collaboration between pianist, composer, and Greensboro College Associate Professor of Music Dave Fox, Greensboro College faculty cross-disciplinary artist Ted Elfremoff, and art students Julia Fergus and Gabrielle Harvin.

Also involved are the Interactive Resource Center—a day resource center for people experiencing homelessness—and Greensboro-area, songwriters, and storytellers.

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