New Britain City Journal

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NB Residents in African-Inspired Concert July 29


Queen Ann Nzinga Center, Inc. presents its free, family friendly Music from the African Diaspora concert at 7 p.m. on July 29 at the Theater for the Performing Arts at the Learning Corridor in Hartford.

Nzinga’s Daughters, whose members are from Plainville, Bristol and Hartford, headlines the annual show. Also performing are the world-renowned soul singer Betty Harris; Changes, from Plainville and the Boston Area; recording artist Kenny Hamber, from the Manchester area; VOICES, LLC, from Hartford, East Hartford and Bloomfield; Nzinga’s Daughters R&B Band, from Farmington, East Hartford, Hartford, Plainville and Bristol. Production managers and Orice Jenkins and Alvin Carter Jr. both, from East Hartford, will also perform; Lael Williams will be a featured artist.

Betty Harris, of Middletown, who mentors young vocalists in the Queen Ann Nzinga Center programs, will perform a solo. The free concert is geared to all ages, and children are welcome.

Teens from the program who have received vocal training will also be performing solos. They are: Sabrina Jones, of East Hartford; Dillyn Caruso and Tanairy Barton, of Plainville; and Aaleya Hardy, of Bristol. Drummer Willis Moore, Jr., of New Britain, will also perform a solo.

“If you like Prince, Etta James, Mick Jagger, Corinne Baily Rae and Michael Jackson, you’ll enjoy this show,” says Dayna R. Snell, executive director of the Queen Ann Nzinga Center. “All kinds of music have been influenced by music from the African Diaspora. The beats and the rhythms of the music you hear are a contribution from those of African descent.”

The show is designed to appeal to children and adults alike. For example, Nzinga’s Daughters will perform a calypso-style version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day O.)”

The concert will include jazz, Latin, reggae, rock ‘n roll and interactive songs, she says. This is not the kind of concert where the audience is a passive observer; the show sparks audience participation.

“It is the synergy between the audience and the performers,” she says. “You come and you feel like you should join. The music brings you in. The stage, the artists, bring you in and pull you close. We transform barriers. So when you come to the music, you’re not black or white, you’re not young or old, you’re not rich or poor.”

Thanks to grants from the Evelyn Preston Memorial Fund and the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the concert is free so that anyone can attend.

“We do that to break down barriers. We’re in Hartford, in a central location, in a place where everybody is welcome,” Snell says. “We create a place for people to come together to sing, dance and experience the music. We are all transformed – the artists, the audience and the community.”

Doors to the theater at 359 Washington St. open at 6 p.m., and prior to the concert, artwork and photography will be sold at a silent auction to benefit the Queen Ann Nzinga Center’s youth arts and enrichment programs. For information, contact Queen Ann Nzinga Center at or 860-229-8389.

About Queen Ann Nzinga Center, Inc.

The Queen Ann Nzinga Center provides boys and girls, ages 5 to 18, arts and culture programs that empower them to reach their full potential, boosting self-esteem, better grades, a stronger sense of themselves and improved social skills. The program provides participants weekly sessions on African and African-American history, using storytelling, poetry, drama, music, dance and other art forms to build self-confidence and leadership skills. QANC is named for a 15th Century African queen who protected her people from being sold into slavery. The name symbolizes the organization’s aim to empower young people with skills and experiences to thrive. QANC, in its 26th year, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 that serves a diverse, multi-racial and multi-cultural population of children and teens by providing arts and cultural enrichment in a multi-generational setting.

The programs of the Queen Ann Nzinga Center would not be possible without its sponsors: Evelyn Preston Memorial Trust Fund, Greater Hartford Arts Council, New Britain Arts Commission, the Elizabeth Norton Trust Fund, American Savings Foundation, Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin, and Grace C.M.E. Church.