This Week on One Detroit, Arts & Culture:
Tapping Into Their Roots: Detroit Sugarbush Project Collects Sap From Rouge Park As Cultural Practice
Late February and early March are known as sugarbush season, a time when the sap begins to run through maple trees, and for members of the Detroit Sugarbush Project, it’s the time they head out to Detroit’s Rouge Park to tap into the park’s maple trees and start collecting sap. The practice is a cultural tradition meant to connect indigenous people to their heritage and ancestors as much as it is a spiritual process that reminds them of their connection to the Earth.
One Detroit contributor AJ Walker joins the Detroit Sugarbush Project members — David Pitawanakwat, Dr. Shakara Tyler and Alexis Chingman-Tijerina — for a day in Rouge Park collecting sap to learn more about the process of making maple syrup and how the group has been trying to revive the cultural tradition. Plus, Antonio Cosme, of the National Wildlife Federation, explains how projects like this are helping to provide a sense of healing for communities of color.
A new live performance arranged by vocalist Joan Ellison is paying tribute to the iconic American actress and singer Judy Garland’s centennial. As Ellison takes her “Get Happy” show on the road across the nation, singing works from Garland’s original discography, she’s also planning to arrange a follow-up orchestral show featuring works from some of the great female artists of American music.
WRCJ 90.9 FM radio host Cecelia Sharpe sat down with Ellison for a look at Judy Garland’s legacy as an actress, singer and charitable woman, supporting the civil rights movement and other causes for equality. Plus, Ellison takes us behind the scenes to hear how the show got started, what it’s like to recreate Garland’s original tunes and the importance of keeping her music alive in the modern-day.
As a youth-focused organization, Mint Artists Guild Executive Director and Co-founder Vickie Elmer started the organization to offer a place for Detroit youth to nurture their creativity and also learn how to have a lucrative career in the arts, but now she wants their voices to play a larger part in the organization’s programming. That’s when the organization elected to add 23-year-old Alexis Bagley, a long-time participant, to the organization’s board as vice president, speaking on behalf of the youth involved there.
One Detroit contributor Marcus Green meets up with Bagley to hear how she feels about being elected the organization’s board vice president and more about her evolution as an artist. Plus, Elmer shares the types of support and resources the Mint Artists Guild makes available to Detroit youth interested in visual arts.
After reading gruesome news headlines of the Russia-Ukraine war overseas, inspiration to foster hope and find a way to help them out struck for University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance masters student Valentin Kovalev. Kovalev, a Russian saxophonist, immediately called his Ukrainian friend, and pianist, Alexander Polyakov. In a sign of solidarity, the two came together to perform one of composer Modest Mussorgsky’s most famous works, “The Great Gate of Kyiv.”
“I think I really changed my mind about how I feel about this music after the 24th of February,” Kovalev said, “I see this music completely in a different way as it is a sign of hope for me and lots of other people.” The saxophone/piano arrangement played by Kovalev and Plyakov was created by Japanese composer Jun Nagao.
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