On Friday, Nov. 2, Morikeba Kouyate will be sharing songs of West Africa with an audience of third graders from Montgomery County at the Lyric Theatre, courtesy of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee on International Initiatives.

Kouyate, born and raised in Senegal, hails from one of the oldest griot families in West Africa. Griots, or jelis, employ stories and songs to pass along centuries of history to each new generation. Kouyate is an accomplished performer, famed in Senegal and in the United States for bringing the six-stringed kora into conversation with jazz.

According to Brett Shadle, associate professor of history at Virginia Tech, Kouyate’s performance will help third graders with one of their SOL (standards of learning) areas that pertain to the Empire of Mali (1200s-1600s), which covered parts of modern Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and other nations in West Africa.

“Griots are the oral historians of these parts of West Africa,” said Shadle. “They convey stories about kingdoms, rulers, historical events, and leading families over the course of centuries.”

Kouyate will also perform again at 3 p.m. on Nov. 2 in Pamplin 31. That presentation is free and open to the public.

This event is also sponsored by the Virginia Tech Center for the Arts, a Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series Grant, a College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Departmental Diversity Award, the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, Department of English, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Department of History, Department of Political Science, Department of Religion and Culture, and the School of Performing Arts and Cinema.



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