Interfaith Winston-Salem, Carolina Blues Fest, and The Healing Blues Project

Interfaith Winston-Salem, Carolina Blues Fest, and The Healing Blues Project

1:18pm May 16, 2014
Carolina Blues Fest
Carolina Blues Fest

We’ve all heard that hackneyed phrase “music is a universal language”, and it’s true by the way, but today we’re going to get specific. For example did you ever stop to consider the true healing power of the Blues? Or what about the ability of music to spark interfaith dialogues? Those are just some of the heady topics that’ll be floating around here today compliments of The Healing Blues Project’s Ted Efremoff and Dave Fox, as well as Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn, Interfaith Winston-Salem’s Jerry McLeese, and Green Street Church United Methodist Church’s Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter. They're all building musical bridges that span faith and racial divisions. World renowned jazz ensemble The Afro-Semitic Experience paves their way and we’ll talk with Experience co-founder, bassist David Chevan too. Then, before the musical magic subsides, the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is here to remind us that the thrill is never gone from great Blues music. It’ll be performed outdoors by some of the world’s most accomplished Blues artists when the Carolina Blues Festival returns to Greensboro this weekend. 

Interfaith Winston-Salem and the Afro-Semitic Experience

As a member of the very tail end of the "Me" Generation, I’m [David Ford] often inspired by folks who break out of their self-absorbed shells and do their part to make other people’s lives better. Jerry McLeese is one of those guys.

Two years ago, Jerry McLeese founded Interfaith Winston-Salem, and last summer he led the effort for Winston-Salem to join the International Compassionate Cities movement. Mark Strauss-Cohn is the Rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, and Kelly Carpenter is Reverend of Green Street United Methodist Church.  

About eight years ago, they brought the Afro-Semitic Experience to town for an interfaith weekend of unbelievable jazz and learning. It’s a unique jazz group 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. 

Anyway, last month the Afro-Semitic Experience returned to the Triad 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.

David also caught up with Afro-Semitic Experience co-founder, bassist David Chevan by phone from his studio in Connecticut.

The world-renowned jazz ensemble Afro-Semitic Experience, presented a free community jazz jam last month with an interfaith dialogue at First Baptist Church, in Winston-Salem.

The group also joined the First Baptist-Highland congregation as part of a Lenten service, moved on to Temple Emanuel for their Shabbat service and rounded out their stay with a Sunday morning service at Green Street Church. 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".

On Sunday afternoon, May 18th, Interfaith Winston-Salem is sponsoring an interfaith youth tour. Area middle school and high school students can visit Protestant, Catholic and Islamic worship centers on one Sunday afternoon, and they’ll top off the tour with a free pizza party.  Everyone's welcome.

This is an opportunity to learn more about the worship traditions and worship places of your neighbors and begin to build new understandings and friendships. The tour begins at Highland Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem with registration at 1:45 p.m. It moves on to Holy Family Catholic Church around 3 p.m. and to the Annoor Islamic Center in Clemmons around 4 p.m. Here's Rabbi Mark’s blog:

Carolina Blues Festival

The 28th annual Carolina Blues Festival heads to downtown Greensboro this weekend in beautiful Festival Park. It’ll feature a veritable who’s who of blues talent live in concert all day long and a new segment called The Gospel of the Blues the brainchild of local scholar/lecturer/performance artist and storyteller Logie Meachum.

Carolina Blues Fest is a 100% grassroots volunteer endeavor. It’s the primary fundraiser for the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society. As you may have guessed, they’re dedicated to promoting and preserving this incredible American blues art form. Arguable none have been more dedicated than PBPS Trustee, and longtime Carolina Blues Festival Chairman John Amberg. He stopped by to talk Blues.

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Trustee, and Carolina Blues Festival Chairman John Amberg. The Festival is Saturday, May 17th at beautiful Festival Park in downtown Greensboro.

It’s the longest running blues fest in the southeast—coming up on 30 years—and the stage will be graced once with many a blues legend. With 8 performers on stage throughout the day, kids under 12 get in free, and it’s all under the big tent rain or shine. Carolina Blues Festival 2014 is the primary fundraiser for the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society.

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 due out later this spring memorializes the personal struggles of nearly a dozen participants in living music.  The Healing Blues project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Greensboro College faculty cross-disciplinary artist Ted Elfremoff, composer, pianist Dave Fox, art students Julia Fergus and Gabrielle Harvin. Also involved are the Interactive Resource Center—a day resource center for people experiencing homelessness—Greensboro Area Songwriters, and storytellers from the Greensboro community.

Greensboro College faculty cross-disciplinary artist Ted Elfremoff, composer, pianist Dave Fox. We’ve been sampling from early takes from The Healing Blues CD. The last stories have recently been gathered and the collaborators intend to complete the recording by the end of Summer 2014. The "Healing Blues" CD release celebration concert will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, October 5th, at Gail Brower Huggins Performance Center, Odell Building, Greensboro College.

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