An African American Odyssey
An African American Odyssey: celebrating African American history
Posted on 02/07/2019


On Saturday, March 9, 2019 the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts presented An African American Odyssey showcasing a variety of award-winning artists and performers, including Northwest Tap Connection,  Blues Queens and Jazz Royalty, and award winning author and storyteller Kathya Alexander.  In addition, an exhibit of African artifacts from the Karshner Museum collection, art projects, activities for kids, and an art exhibit from The Pacific Northwest African American Quilters Association, which is dedicated to the preservation and sharing of the evolution of African American quilting, added to the wonderful free family event.Rescheduled African American Odyssey

• Northwest Tap Connection inspires and teaches youth from underserved communities to comment on social issues through the physical expression of dance. The social justice dance studio in Seattle has won numerous awards. Director Melba Ayco has won numerous accolades including the 2009 Seattle Mayor’s Art Award, the 2017 African Town Queen Award, and the 2017 Martin Luther King Medal of Community Service Award for District No. 2 of the City of Seattle. Ayco is all about discipline and positive thinking. She wants the students in her classes to learn not just the intricacies of dance and the history of each style, she wants them to find inspiration in who they are and where they come from — then use that inspiration to achieve great things.

 • Joe Seamons and Tina Dietz of Blues Queens and Jazz Royalty are master musicians and singers who, with bassist Forrest Marowitz, will trace jazz and blues in the US through masterful and beautiful songs.  "Vintage jazz and blues singer Tina Dietz is known for blending her powerful voice with stories about the history and origins of her music, shining a light on singers and tales that have been forgotten by the country that created them. Tina uses her music to help explore her unique background as a black woman from the rural Pacific Northwest. Whether belting Bessie Smith numbers or crooning original songs, her performances are defined by her combination of grace, playfulness, and elegance.”  The Stranger

Joe Seamons, who has been singing since a young boy, a songster who loves the history of American music and African American Odyssey agendaloves to tell its story. “The origins of American music came from a pure musical spirit of people rising out of oppression, slavery, poverty, and hard times into a celebration unique in American history.  Although they have been traditionally referred to as ‘blues,’ ‘folk,’ , ‘jazz’
 or ‘country’ artists, they couldn’t be bound to one stream of musical expression. They roamed the country throwing down songs that were popular in the churches, show places, and homes of America. When the phonograph and radio were invented, their repertoire became limitless.”
Terry Roland, No Depression

Joe Seamons was awarded first place in the International Blues Challenge’s solo/duo category after only 3 years of performing as an American roots music duo.  Joe Seamons loves to play, share and spread the 'gospel' of American musical roots.

 • Kathya Alexander is a writer, actor, poet, playwright and teaching artist. She will share 'African American Stories from the Head and Heart'. She has been awarded Seattle’s City Artist Award from the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture; was a 2007 Writer-in-Residence at the prestigious Hedgebrook Women Writer's Retreat and won the 2002 Fringe First Award at an Edinburgh Festival. Growing up in the south as a child in the 60s, the civil rights movement greatly impacted Kathya’s life and continues to influence her writing. Her novel, Keep-A-Livin', explores the familial and communal relationships of a negro girl against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. The novel also explores the spirituality that was an integral part of Kathya's childhood, especially the church and the spirit world that was an essential part of her early existence.

In addition, The Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Arts exhibited some of its more unique artifacts from their African collection for the week of the festival.  Also, The Pacific Northwest African American Quilters Association shared beautiful quilts from their members in an exhibit in Gallery 2. 

Families made art, learned to dance, wrote some poetry and enjoyed the performances during this free family event partially funded through a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission and the Nation Endowment of the Art (NEA).  

The next event on the Karshner Museum & Center for Culture & Arts' calendar is a very special presentation by the Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre called 'Coyote Tales'. Add this to your family calendar, fun for kids of all ages! 

Tears of Joy