Live Caribbean Music for Black History Month
Jeff Lamson – General Assignment Reporter
Caribbean music with island and soul food start off Black History Month in Connecticut Hall.
Open to all, the Black History Month Luncheon hosted students and staff for lunch and late breakfast while the Caribbean Vibes Steel Drum Band featuring Conroy Warren provided the entertainment.
Students and staff danced with the folk storyteller that the band had brought along as well as the band members, while those who were not as willing to be involved took pictures on their phones.
“I felt it would be a nice way to bring our campus community together,” said Multicultural Center Director, Dian Brown-Albert.
To kick off Black History Month at Conn Hall, the Multicultural Center, Residence Life and Chartwell’s Food Services teamed up to provide the entertainment and cuisine for the event for the cost of a meal plan card swipe or $7.
The band mostly played covers of well-known songs in an island, steel drum style. Towards the end of the event, they played a Billie Holiday cover of “Strange Fruit,” and a medley of, “What a Wonderful World,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “Blowin in the Wind,” and, “God Bless America” in their own style.
Throughout this performance, the band was encouraging audience participation which moderate success. Some students immediately smiled when they walked in while others looked indifferent.
While the music played in the background, attendees were able to sample food of the Caribbean Islands and what was described by Brown-Albert as soul food. The menu consisted of curried goat, plantains, southern-style fried chicken, cornbread and creole stir-fry. Brown-Albert says that the Caribbean food is a new addition to this event that has been running for some 4 to 6 years.
On the tables were little informational flyers describing famous black people and their accomplishments. This, said freshman studio art major, Taylor (T.J.) Thomas, was a, “really nice touch,” and the, “cherry on top,” of all the events aspects.
Brown-Albert said the goal was to, “appreciate the people who’ve come before us, [and] learn about their contributions…” She also said it was, “a chance to honor”, “celebrate,” and, “connect.” She said that it was to raise awareness which leads to knowledge which leads to action.
While Brown-Albert says that this lunch was not necessarily the only right way to start off Black History Month, the scheduling of this event just worked out to be that way.
Held at Conn Hall every year, Director of Residence Life, Robert DeMezzo, said that this was one of the ways that ResLife is trying to do more programing at Conn Hall. Since it does not require students to depart from their pre-existing patterns to attend such events.
ResLife, who helped the Multicultural Center fund the budget for the band, also helped pick a date for the event. On the partnership with both the Multicultural Center and Chartwell’s, DeMezzo said, “We’re not the experts when it comes to any specific type of programming, so you’ll find us talking to [a] variety of different offices for assistance.”
Claiming to be, “a Conn Hall person.” DeMezzo said that he was satisfied with the food and wishes he could have gotten to try more of it as well as talk to some of the band members. He also believes that they met the goal saying that the event was, “lively,” observing that lines were longer than usual.
Thomas was pleased with the event after seeking it out and say that the organizers did “a really good job.”
Photo Credit: Jeff Lamson