Connected Through Culture

Connected Through Culture

World musicians offer inspiration

NWA Democrat-Gazette

“When people think of jazz, I think they [imagine] one thing in particular, and this one is just going to blow the doors off of whatever they think.” — Jennifer Wilson, WAC public relations director.

“Michael Mwenso is a bandleader and an entertainer — he’s definitely a showman and soulful and funky. … He’s [part] of this new wave of young performers that are really embracing jazz, but they’re connecting it to hip hop and soul and just high energy, super-high energy.” — Robert Ginsburg, WAC jazz curator.

Comprising artists from all over the world and incorporating all those cultures into their music, Mwenso & The Shakes is a collective that grew out of the traditions of jazz to establish an innovative group of performers spreading messages of love, light and self-empowerment.

“It’s definitely one of the most complex, but also very spiritually rewarding art forms,” bandleader Michael Mwenso says of the genre that is the foundation of the group. “It deals with not only the ancestral stories of [those who came] before and the body of work they created, which remains with us, but also [through it, you] feel the world and feel it at a high level of expression. It’s a very unique understanding of, [and way of] looking at humanity, jazz. Because it deals with so much of the mind and the body and the spirit and the soul.”

Stories — both ancestral and contemporary — weave their way through the performance as the singers, musicians and even tap dancer on stage encourage audiences to have love in their heart, believe in themselves, engage with their greater purpose and to have no regrets. They offer a dynamic way of presenting music Afropop Worldwide calls “a sparkling, surprising, emotional and musical roller coaster.”

“We try and almost make the shows be like a service where people can come and congregate and try and get some sort of a deeper [connection to their] road and them within it,” Mwenso adds. “We try and leave people with a purpose when they come and hear us play.”



Mwenso & The Shakes

WHEN — 8 p.m. Sept. 14

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $10

INFO — 443-5600,,

FYI — A dance floor will be available in front of the stage for this lively and engaging show. Please be aware that the first few rows of seating may have an obstructed view.

Categories: Music