Tyrone Birkett Emancipation Makes a Big Return

By Jennifer L. Warren

CORNWALL – It’s a tradition that traces back almost 60 years: Storm King Arts Center and music.

In addition to acres of inspiring, massive outdoor art dotting the outdoor grounds, bicycle rentals on site, breathtaking mountain views, and even an outdoor elevator, among many other attractions, yes, there are beautiful melodies that fill the Center’s landscape.

Flashback to the 1960’s and you will discover there were concerts held at the gorgeous 500 plus acre venue, nestled in the Hudson Valley. At the time, the grandfather of John Stern, the current Storm King President, oversaw those venues. Today, Stern continues that custom thanks to his encounter with a local, outdoor community music champion, Aquanetta Wright, lovingly known by most as, “The Ferry Godmother.”

“About five or six years ago, some of my staff came to me and said there was an amazing woman (The Ferry Godmother), holding concerts in Newburgh, and I have had a relationship with her ever since, holding about one-two concerts a year here,” recalled Stern, who also cited how there was one day which included seven simultaneous Ferry Godmother music acts happening on his grounds. “Aquanetta brings a following with her, and we are now even working with the Newburgh schools and have an amazing group of people from all over, meeting the needs of a diverse group of people.”

Some of that diversity could be spotted back on Saturday, June 8, when Tyrone Birkett Emancipation returned to Storm King. Retelling slave stories in the form of music, the band creatively adds even more flair, turning them into positive, upbeat melodies. In fact, their most recent Storm King Program took their performance to still greater heights, as they aligned it with the current outdoor sculpture exhibit that enveloped their performance stage.

“I thoroughly enjoyed performing at The Storm King Arts Center on June 8,” said Birkett, whose band includes four others. “As this was our second time there, I knew we would be in the midst of great outdoor installations and landscapes; the setting on a beautiful day formed the perfect combination with the audience.” He added, “Thanks to Ferry Godmother Productions and the staff at Storm King Arts Center for putting together this great event.”

Wright, clad in attire unique to the Ferry Godmother image, was on hand throughout the afternoon, mingling with guests, enjoying every moment of the gorgeous day, stellar musical talent, and something dear to her heart-community bonding. Addressing the audience during an intermission, she was filled with gratitude for all of it.

“It is always amazing for me to partner with Storm King Art Center,” said a smiling Wright. “It is just so exciting to be here; this is really the best of the best, and it really does take a village to make it all happen.”

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