Willie Stewart - Rhythm of Africa Music Program

As Published on KnightArts.org

Project: Rhythm of Africa Music Program

Amount: 25,000

About the project: To celebrate African rhythms and history, musician William Stewart will offer percussion classes for children and produce community performances. The project will involve at least 30 teenagers, ages 13-16, with limited musical experience, in an intensive program of music education in rhythm and percussion. The group will work with professional musicians and technicians, create and rehearse musical selections and ultimately perform for schools and general audiences, including the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. The program will strive to create positive behavioral and cognitive impact through the children’s exposure to and intimacy with learning and making music. Another goal is to replicate the program throughout the region to reach more students, schools and communities.

About the winner: Master percussionist Willie Stewart was born in England in 1953 to Jamaican parents who moved the family to Jamaica when he was young. For 23 years he was director and percussionist for the band Third World. Stewart has performed with Stevie Wonder, Eddy Grant, Carlos Santana and Bob Marley. In 1980, he coproduced a 12-hour concert during Nelson Mandela’s visit to Jamaica. A recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal, the “Reggae Ambassador” has adopted the mission to share his knowledge and experience with people of all ages. Working with children, teachers and corporations, he has created performances and workshops on musical techniques and worldwide cultural influences, emphasizing music’s universality and benefits for health, spiritual development, and character building. He remains active as a performer, assembling world-class musicians for concerts locally, nationally and internationally.