Jazz Series Returns to Newburgh Waterfront

By Journalist Ms. Jones

NEWBURGH – Aquanetta Wright, the Ferry Godmother, brought her Jazz Series back to Newburgh on Thursday, August 3rd.

“This is where we started. This is where we really wanted to come back to, ‘to our roots’… We are celebrating ten years… I’m just so excited about it,’ said the Ferry Godmother.

The Walker Valley Marching Band began the show with lots of energy as they marched onto the Newburgh Waterfront at People’s Park. The band consists of young people ages nine and up in the community of Walker Valley, that perform at parades, festivals, and walks.

Joya Bravo wowed the audience with her performance playing an electric violin. Photo: Reginald Lawrence

The word “Awali” in Ibo means “joy,” and Chiku Awali of Rockland County brought just that as they lit up the stage with African drumming and dancing. The African dancers and drummers consisted of children and adults. The founder and Chairman of the Board, Ms. Alexandreena Dixon, affectionately known by Nana Yaa, started Chiku Awali in 2003. She was the former Superintendent of the Taconic Correctional Facility, a women’s medium confinement prison.

“We’re going to start off with our first number and this is called Gundi. All African dance pretty much has a theme. It has meaning. This one is about fishing,” said Nana Yaa about the old Mali Empire dance.

Chiku Awali’s Teens did Tribe, a dance from Guinea, a dance of celebration. Next, was audience participation where Nana Yaa taught Funga. The Intermediate Youth did Kou Kou from Guinea, a fishing appreciation dance. The Teens did Doun Dounba, a dance of strength and endurance from Guinea. Chiku Awali ended with Kaka.

Joya Bravo, though unscheduled, was definitely not unprepared. She wowed the audience with her performance playing an electric violin. The crowd went wild when she began strumming it like a guitar.

Bravo is also a singer, rapper, actress, and writer and has been featured sporting her musical talents in a McDonald’s commercial as part of the “Breakfast is Back” Dollar Breakfast Menu Campaign.

Bravo started playing the violin when she was nine years old.

“My mother raised us in… Kennesaw, Georgia. They had orchestra programs there. I became obsessed with the violin. I started playing like crazy,” said Bravo.

Bravo has played with the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra and Grammy Award Winners the Roots.

Obi Kaye & Those Gypsies ended the evening. Obi Kaye is a World Beat/ Global & Jazz percussionist. He is also a recording artist with several CDs.

The Ferry Godmother fights for the “starving artist” and believes that performers should get paid.

“Every musician that has ever crossed my stage always gets paid… It’s about economic development and about premium quality… When you come to my show you can bet your last subway token that you will see quality on the stage…  I work at trying to bring some of the best of the best… Oftentimes, I would bring people from the Lincoln Center…  We’ve always had multiple Grammy winners every year,” said the Ferry Godmother.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the sponsor for the entire Newburgh Jazz Series.

The Ferry Godmother Productions will have concerts every Thursday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for the entire month of August.

So, bring your lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy some world-class entertainment. For more information about Ferry Godmother Productions visit http://www.ferrygodmother.com.

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