Providence, RI—The FirstWorks Live—Music at Roger Williams Park free concert series continues this month with Latin Jazz, Red Roots Americana and Afro-Brazilian-inspired tap performances in the gorgeous outdoor setting of The People’s Park. Presented in partnership with Roger Williams Park Conservancy and the Providence Parks Department, the summer concert series extends through September with indigenous performing-songwriter Thea Hopkins on September 19, and New York City-based tap ensemble Music From The Sole on September 24.
“FirstWorks continues to make the outdoors the new indoors—bringing our community together around global artistry in the beautiful landscape of Roger Williams Park,” said Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director. “We’re committed to creating transformative cultural experiences and inspiring creativity for our audiences and the Rhode Island students who participate in our FirstWorks Arts Education program.”
Performing-songwriter Thea Hopkins brings her program, “In the Roundhouse,” a celebration of traditional and contemporary Indigenous music, to the FirstWorks stage at the Dalrymple Boathouse Lawn on Sunday, September 19, 2021, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Hopkins was inspired to create “In the Roundhouse” after performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on a day chosen to honor Native American artists as part of the grand opening of their REACH theater complex in September 2019. A member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Hopkins describes her music as “Red Roots Americana.” Her song, “The Ghost of Emmett Till” won the Grand Prize of the 22nd Great American Song Contest in March 2021 and her EP “Love Come Down” was nominated for a 2019 Indigenous Music Award in the folk category. Honored by the Western Arts Alliance in 2019 as a Native Launchpad Artist, she’s performed on prestigious stages in the U.S. and Europe, from The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to the Summertyne Americana Festival in Newcastle, England.
Hopkins will be accompanied by Native American flutist Hawk Henries, a member of the Chaubunagungamaug band of Nipmuck, a people indigenous to what is now southern New England. Henries has been composing original flute music and making flutes using only hand tools and fire for over 25 years. His musical compositions are a reflection of his thinking that we each have the capacity to make a change in the world. He has presented his music and shared his words at Harvard Divinity School/Harvard Graduation, Northeastern University, Brown University, Abbe Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Museum). Henries is committed to music as a traditional art form and as a vehicle for building bridges of communication and mutual respect.
Dawn Dove, Narragansett/Niantic Elder will conduct an opening blessing at the start of the performance. Dove is a cultural educator and traditional knowledge keeper whose life work is dedicated to the continuation of the culture, language, and traditions of her people. Dove is a published author and editor most recently included in “Dawnland Voices, An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England,” edited by Siobhan Senier, and co-edited “Through Our Eyes, An Indigenous View of Mashapaug Pond,” with Holly Ewald. The performance will be followed by an Artist-Up-Close Conversation from 6:00-6:30 p.m.
Thea Hopkins’ performance is funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies. Presented as a FirstWorks Earth First program, with support from National Grid Foundation, CDQ Charitable Trust and Nordson Corporation Foundation.
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