Elder Edward Babb Honored for His Work with 
Brass Band McCollough Sons of Thunder
This past November marked a special occasion for Elder Edward Babb, lead trombonist and director of McCollough Sons of Thunder, the renowned "shout" brass band and longtime Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) collaborator. In commemoration of his fifty years of service, The United House of Prayer For All People hosted a tribute to the elder statesman in Harlem, celebrating his tremendous contributions to the church and the brass ensemble that created a movement with its influential sound. The tribute featured eight venerable shout bands from across the country including the Sweet Heaven Kings, Clouds of Heaven, and, of course, McCollough Sons of Thunder.   
Elder Edward Babb (seated center) with The McCollough Sons of Thunder

One of the less recognized, but highly influential musical forms, the shout band is a tradition deeply rooted in the African-American church which quickly gained wider recognition in wider circles. The McCollough ensemble features an all brass instrumentation with accompanying bass drum and cymbals rounding out the sound. A gospel choir and marching band all rolled into one, the McCollough shout band replaces human voices with brass while maintaining gospel music's choral harmonies and dramatic presentation.


At age 13, Edward Babb was gifted a pawnshop trombone from a family friend. He never took music lessons and never learned to read music. Despite his lack of formal training, he earned the coveted position as leader of McCollough at the early age of 18. As the youngest member of the band, he composed songs through melodies heard in his head, hummed those melodies into a tape recorder and mentally arranged them for each instrument of the band. He still uses this method to transcribe his music-- a testament to his prodigious musical abilities.


Elder Babb has received national notoriety from performing at Carnegie Hall to The White House, and international acclaim through taking his band across the world from Morocco to Australia. In 1997, Elder Edward Babb was awarded the highest honor the United States of America bestows upon any traditional artist, The National Heritage Fellowship Award, presented by the National Endowment for the Arts.  


Elder Edward Babb has devoted his entire life to ministering to people through his trombone. He humbly once said, "It was my desire to play the horn to inspire someone to feel the spirit of God." We graciously thank Elder Babb for generously sharing his music to all people of all faiths.    
                                                                                              - Kaisha S. Johnson
Jewish Women's Voices
Galeet Dardashti and Muhabbat Shamayeva  
We're looking forward to two upcoming programs featuring leading exponents of diverse Jewish vocal traditions. On Wednesday, January 28, 7:00PM, CTMD is helping to sponsor the release of 
Toyznt Tamen = A Thousand Flavors, a new recording by Yiddish singer and songwriter Miryem-Khaye Seigel at the Museum at Eldridge Street.

The album features original Yiddish songs as well as adapted repertoire - from dynamic theatrical gems to subversive folk songs - presented with humor, passion, and an ear for dialects. Seigel will be joined by an all-star cast of leading NY klezmorim-- Michael Winograd (arranger, clarinet), Patrick Farrell (accordion), Alicia Svigals (violin) and Rémy Yulzari (bass). 
Then on Wednesday, February 25, 7:00PM at Symphony Space's intimate Thalia Theater on the Upper West Side, we're partnering with the Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage and World Music Institute to present Jewish Women's Voices of the Turko-Persian Diaspora. The program promises to be a fascinating showcase of two exquisite voices: Bukharian Jewish singer Muhabbat Shamayeva, one of Uzbekistan's leading vocalists; and singer/composer Galeet Dardashti, heir to a family tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicians including her grandfather, the renowned classical singer, Yona Dardashti.

Shamayeva's diverse repertoire includes Central Asian classical shashmaqam, folk songs and popular estrada music. She's participated in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, and is the subject of two documentaries. The innovative Dardashti is especially known for multi-disciplinary projects, and her edgy all-female mizrahi (Middle-Eastern Jewish) ensemble, Divahn.
And stay tuned for news about an upcoming Yiddish Zingeray on March 18th at the new City Lore Gallery!
For more information, go to our events page.
Verite Sou Tanbou Wins Award for Outstanding Service to Haitian Culture
Daniel Moise demos djouba dance.
Daniel Moise demonstrates djouba dance, accompanied by Jean-Mary Brignol and friends on drums at VST's "Konbit Zaka" program, May 2014 at
the Flatbush Public Library.
In September CTMD's Haitian Community Cultural Initiative,

Verite Sou Tanbou, was honored to receive an award from New York's Haitian community "for outstanding and dedicated service to Haitian culture," from Haitian dancer/dance educator/ choreographer par excellence,  

Peniel Guerrier and Kriye Bode, the annual symposium on Haitian dance which Mr. Guerrier founded and which his dance students organize and perform. VST is a dialogic partnership between CTMD staff and Haitian community leaders and traditional artists. 


Since 2011, VST's planning group members have produced three seasons of educational Haitian traditional music and dance programs for New York's Haitian community and the general public. In the 2012 season VST (then known as Ayiti Fasafas) presented Louvri Baryè: Opening the Gates, a three-part concert series celebrating Haitian traditional singing, drumming, and dance in New York City. The series showcased 18 local Haitian singers at South Oxford Space in Brooklyn. At Roulette, the group partnered with La Troupe Makandal to support a great gathering of Haitian drummers and musicians who paid tribute to the life of NEA National Heritage Fellow Frisner Augustin (a master Vodou drummer who passed away unexpectedly in February 2012). Finally, the Initiative gathered together five of New York's best Haitian traditional dance/music ensembles in a program honoring Haitian dance pioneer Jean-Léon Destiné, in collaboration with El Museo del Barrio, in July 2012.


Highlights from our 2013 season include a tribute to renowned New York Vodou priestess (manbo) Mama Lola, featuring the Haitian roots music ensemble KONGO, led by Oneza Lafontant, and other Haitian dancers, drummers, and singers, and the One Island: Two Houses symposium, in partnership with City Lore and St. Francis College, on Haitian rara, Dominican gaga, and these musics' socio-historical context. VST's 2014 series theme was Vodou Is Nature! The final program in this series was a djouba dance workshop/ drumming session accompanied by short lecture presentations about environmental conservation, herbal/medicinal plant lore, and Kouzen Zaka, the Haitian spirit of farm workers and agriculture.  

Setting up altar for Zaka Fest
Oneza Lafontant of KONGO sets up a display of foods associated with Kouzen Zaka, the lwa (spirit) of farmers and agriculture, at VST's Konbit Zaka program in May.

Verite Sou Tanbou currently plans another three-part series of performative workshops in 2015 that will continue to educate about the African roots of Haitian traditional arts and culture. The proposed series title is Jete Dlo (Libation), with workshops on the social and ceremonial roles of singers, drummers, and dancers in Haitian culture. VST moves forward into its next season with a deep appreciation for the Kriye Bode award, and the vote of confidence from the Haitian community which the award signifies.                             --Eileen Condon, Ph.D.    

Interns: The Heart and Soul of CTMD!
Clara Byom

We want to highlight CTMD Internships and the wonderful opportunities they offer young folklorists, ethnomusicologists and anthropologists to immerse themselves in cultural presentation and advocacy work. We cannot sufficiently emphasize how CTMD's many projects, including programs, event and workshops, Community Cultural Initiatives (CCIs), ongoing research, documentation, and archiving all benefit from the enthusiasm and service our interns provide. 


One of our recent graduate interns, Clara Byom, of University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, describes her CTMD Internship:


My projects included editing Dave Tarras (klezmer clarinetist) concert footage from 1978 in preparation for a Dave Tarras Tribute webpage, transcribing interviews with Dave Tarras, digitizing and cataloging Michael Alpert's field recordings, writing an article on Joe Aaron-a klezmer clarinetist from Milwaukee, assisting with the FolkColombia en el Parque 2014 event, as well as some general archival and office work.  


Throughout the summer not only had I learned more than I had in any college course, but I'd become the most knowledgeable person on the contents of Michael Alpert's field recording collection (aside from Michael himself, of course) and one of the few people who has viewed the Dave Tarras interview footage thoroughly. 


Suddenly I had material to discuss with the most senior scholars and experienced performers I was meeting and I had made a huge amount of material more accessible for future researchers.  Additionally, the staff at CTMD are incredibly supportive and were eager to connect me with scholars and musicians throughout the city that benefited my own research.  I'm certain that I will look to my two months at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance as a critical time in the development of my career.


We are very grateful to all our interns and welcome further interest in the CTMD Internship program--Jorge Arevalo Mateus, Ph.D. 


Cherish The Ladies
Thirty years ago, CTMD (then the Ethnic Folk Arts Center) worked with ethnomusicologist/musician Mick Moloney to create a concert series, recording and tour showcasing a group of high school girls in the Bronx who were learning Irish music from their fathers, and stepping out as up-and-coming players. The project helped launched the careers of a number of celebrated performers, including Joanie Madden (flute/tin whistle), Eileen Ivers (violin), Mary Coogan (guitar) and Cathie Ryan (vocals). Well three decades later, Cherish The Ladies is still at it, enjoying an international status as ambassadors for women's participation in Irish folk music, as well as traditional music worldwide. The ensemble will be celebrating the anniversary with a  special concert on March 7th at Symphony Space.
In another thirtieth anniversary to celebrate, congratulations to Zlatne Uste, NY's leading Balkan brass band, which recently presented the thirtieth annual Golden Festival at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. The festival was attended by a record audience of thousands who came to see more than 50 groups perform over two evenings. The first seven Golden Festivals were held at CTMD's old performance space on Varick Street, and we've been honored to be a partner as the festival has grown to become the largest Balkan music festival in the Western Hemisphere.

Touring musicians-- the US Department of Transportation has implemented new rules on instruments as carry-on luggage. A helpful article about the changes can be found here.
We were sad to learn of the passage of Walter Kuhr of Main Squeeze Accordions. Kuhr was a local evangelist for the wonders of the accordion across a myriad of musics, and we always found his shop in the East Village to be a welcome refuge when we've needed to flee the musical mainstream. To read the NY Times obituary 

In the Yiddish music world-- Congratulations go to Henry Sapoznik, Sherry Mayrent and the rest of the team at Living Traditions, which recently presented its 30th winter KlezKamp in the Catskills. Sapoznik previously announced that this past December's workshop would be the final winter for the influential program, which has trained thousands of Yiddish music performers. Meanwhile, KlezKanada, held each August in Quebec's beautiful Laurentian Mountains, is accepting applications for its wonderful youth scholarship program, allowing up-and-coming musicians and artists 35 and under an affordable way to attend the week-long Yiddish folk arts program. Our friends at Yiddish Summer Weimar have also announced dates for their camp, a mecca of Yiddish music in Europe, consisting of multiple week-long sessions from July 18-August 16. Also, we are happy to see the return of the Jewish Music Institute's KlezFest from August 18-21 in London, England. A bit closer to NY (only a bit), Klezmerquerque (Albuquerque) will be featuring our friends and local Tantshoyz regulars Jake Shulman-Ment (violin), Benjy Fox-Rosen (bass/vocals) and Steve Weintraub (dance) in a workshop being held from February 13-15.

Many thanks to Alwan for the Arts for partnering with CTMD to present the 4th Annual Maqam Fest, which featured CTMD Touring Artists Shashmaqam and Yuri Yunakov, as well as the legendary New York Armenian-American clarinetist/saxophonist Souren Baronian. Thanks also to all of the APAP presenters from around the country who attended. We're already looking forward to next January for the 5th Annual!

Our new favorite website is the Atlas of Plucked Instruments.
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For more information about coming events and the work of artists in New York's ethnic music and dance scene, go to our website. Please consider joining as a member to support our work - our membership page can be found here. And join our social media community by "liking us" on Facebook.

Beat of the Boroughs is produced by CTMD staff, for comments or questions, contact editor Pete Rushefsky