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Jamaican Reggae Legend Willie Stewart Jams With Students At Broward Center

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The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, designated as the county’s first international cultural embassy by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, has given students a passport to other cultures through its interactive “Arts Inspires…” annual workshop, which has featured artists such as Romero Britto and Pablo Cano. 

Recently during “Arts Inspire… Jamaican Rhythms,” percussionist Willie Stewart led a drumming workshop for 60 fledgling musicians from Winston Park Elementary and Parkway Middle School.  Stewart, who has performed around the world and with legendary performers such as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, Sting and Michael Jackson, educated students on the influence and impact that Africa has had on Jamaica’s people, rhythm/music and culture.  The workshop was presented by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the School Board of Broward County with participation by the Jamaican Consulate.  

“With a significant Jamaican community in South Florida, we are pleased to partner once again with the Broward Center to educate, celebrate and promote Jamaican culture to local students,” said Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths of the Jamaican Consulate. 

The Abdo New River Room of the Broward Center was the backdrop for the workshop, where students were first introduced to percussion instruments from around the world.  They then focused on musical concepts such as rhythm, timing and beat; tonality and harmony; performance techniques; and the role of percussive music forms in ritual and culture.  The workshop culminated with a performance by Stewart and the students, who demonstrated the rhythms they learned during the workshop to an audience that included School Board of Broward County members Maureen S. Dinnen, Phyllis C. Hope, and Benjamin J. Williams; The Honorable Sandra Grant Griffiths of the Jamaican Consulate; and representatives from the participating schools. 
“The School Board of Broward County is committed to educating the total child,” said Maureen Dinnen, of the School Board of Broward County.   “The arts are a critical component of our educational programming, kindergarten through 12th grade.   In the workshop, we saw students energized, excited and inspired to meet and learn from Willie Stewart.  We are proud to participate in such a rewarding program that offers our students enriching and memorable educational experiences.”

More than two million students have attended educational programs at the Broward Center through the nationally award-winning Student Enrichment in the Arts partnership program with the Broward Center and Broward County Public Schools.  The two organizations also collaborate on initiatives which encourage literacy skills among pre-school and elementary school children.

“Collaboration has always been central to the Broward Center’s mission. Our partnership with Broward County Public Schools allowed us to create the “Arts Inspires…” program, which connects talented artists in our community with our students and helps them learn about the rich mosaic of cultures we enjoy in South Florida,” said Broward Center President and CEO Kelley Shanley.  “I am delighted that the event focused on the tapestry of cultures that have influenced Jamaican music – and highlighted the richness of Jamaican culture.  Our partnership with the Jamaican community, which started with the Jamaican Consulate in Miami and continues to grow, has allowed us to bring many exciting Jamaican events to the Broward Center.”

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