Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters Organized in 1992, the Shouters embrace and preserve the historical and cultural heritage of the Geechee legacy through song and dance. They have performed at numerous venues and festivals including the Smithsonian Anacostia Festival, Beaufort Gullah Festival and Sapelo Island Cultural Day Festival. The Shouters will open the workshop with an interactive performance on Sunday evening.
Erskine Clarke, Historian, Professor Emeritus of American Religious History at Columbia Theological Seminary. Dr. Clarke is the author of Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic that won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in 2006 and By the Rivers of Water: A Nineteenth Century Atlantic Odyssey. He will speak on Monday, setting the stage for the week.
Peter H. Wood, Historian, Professor Emeritus of American History at Duke University. Dr. Wood is author of Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial American and Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion, one of the most influential books on the American South.Dr. Wood will speak about the connections between Africa and America.
Emory Shaw Campbell, Cultural historian, author of Gullah Cultural Legacies. The former Executive Director of Penn Center and past Chairman of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, Dr. Campbell has led efforts to create connections between the Gullah people and the people of Sierra Leone. He will share how his “sense of self” has changed over time.
Ron Daise, Cultural historian, educator, television actor in Gullah Gullah Island, author of Gullah Branches, West African Roots and chairman of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Mr. Daise uses songs, poetry, prose, creative non-fiction, photographs, and his own unique voice to involve scholars in a vibrant journey to Gullah cultural and historical roots.
Leroy Campbell, Visual Artist. Mr. Campbell’s artwork is exhibited in galleries and institutions throughout the United States, as well as in Japan and Africa. He has evolved a unique artistic style, which features distinctive figures and references to cultural traditions and rituals from West Africa. Mr. Campbell will share his recent work including “The Newspaper Series.”
Georgia Sea Island Singers, discovered by Alan Lomax in 1935, the Georgia Sea Island Singers have traveled the world inspiring audiences with the songs, stories, dances and games of the Gullah culture. Led by Frankie Quimby, the Georgia Sea Island Singers will teach and perform slaves songs, ring plays and clapping games in an interactive manner that adheres to the tradition.
Cornelia Bailey, Cultural historian, author, storyteller, community activist and one of the forty-seven remaining Gullahs on Sapelo Island. Her autobiography, God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man, is a very successful example of a mainstream publication by a Geechee author. Ms. Bailey will share her life story, traditional Gullah stories and her efforts to preserve Sapelo Island.
Mary and Wilson Moran, Cultural historians, descendants of Amelia Dawley, the women whose singing linked the Gullah tradition to Sierra Leone, and subjects in the film The Language You Cry In. They will close the workshop with stories about their family history, “Amelia’s Song” and their journey to discover their ancestral roots in Sierra Leone.
Karen Wortham, Tour Guide, First African Baptist Church, the oldest Black Church in North America, and African American Tour of Savannah. Ms. Wortham has delighted and inspired visitors with her knowledge and unique gift of telling the story of this country’s “peculiar institution,” slavery.
Robert Stephens, Project Co-Director, Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut and Savannah native. Publications include: “Beating For Sàngó: The African Origins of the Bàtá,” The International Journal for Africana Studies, “Etta James: A Biography,” in Black Women in America, 2nd ed. He will present a session on Gullah music traditions, discuss the use of primary source documents and mentor teacher projects.
Mary Ellen Junda, Project Co-Director, Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut with expertise is in choral conducting and American folk songs. Dr. Junda has three recordings of folk songs for children and recent articles in College Music Society Symposium, General Music Today and the International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies. She will present on secular music styles and mentor teacher projects.
Lisabeth Miller, Project Coordinator, DMA Candidate at UCONN, Arts Administrator, and professional singer. Ms. Miller will organize the logistical aspects of the workshop to make sure that all goes as planned and will provide support to participants as needed.