On Monday, August 2, five cultural organizations are coming together to host Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture.
Celebrating Communities will be held virtually from 10 AM to 9 PM and promises to have something for everyone.
The London Heritage Council, London Children’s Museum, Fanshawe Pioneer Village, Museum London, and Eldon House have curated over 40 performances, tutorials, demonstrations, cultural discussions, and more for a day full of interactive virtual programming for Londoners to enjoy.
It’s hard to choose with so many great options, but here are ten you won’t want to miss!
Mary Lou and Dan Smoke
Indigenous Elders Mary Lou and Dan Smoke have spent decades sharing Indigenous stories, teachings, and ceremonial practices. Mary Lou is Ojibway Nation, from Batchawana, on Lake Superior, and Dan is Seneca Nation from the Six Nations Grand River Territory. They have hosted The Smoke Signals Program since 1990 and continue hosting it on Radio Western with interviews with Indigenous cultural workers and advocates from across Turtle Island.
For the Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture, the Smokes were filmed underneath the Peace Tree in Ivey Park, near the Fork of the Thames. The tree was planted three decades ago as a gesture of healing after the Oka Crisis in Quebec.
Learn from them online at 11:15 AM on Monday, August 2nd.
Najwa Zebian Poetry Reading
Lebanese-Canadian activist, author, speaker, and educator Najwa Zebian draws from her experiences of displacement, discrimination, and abuse. Inspired by Arabic poetry and novels, she uses words to encourage others to build a home within themselves; to live, love, and create fearlessly.
Listen to London, Ontario-based Najwa Zebian read from her third book of poetry, Sparks of Phoenix, during Celebrating Communities online at 1 PM.
Drives The Common Man
London-based Mi’kmaw artist, Andrew Joseph Stevens III, also known as Drives the Common Man, blends his passion for rock and pop and creates nostalgic alternative pop. After teaching himself guitar and piano at the age of 12, he began to produce and write his own music. In 2020 he released his first single, Night Vision, and recently released a second single, Logged Off, with the video premiering in July.
His performance for Celebrating Communities was filmed in front of London’s historic Engine 86 and features a combination of original and cover songs. Find it online at 7 PM on August 2nd.
Ritesh Das’ Tabla Ensemble
Tabla maestro Ritesh Das recently moved to London from Toronto. Born in Kolkata, India, Das began studying music in 1972. He moved to Toronto in 1985 and began teaching tabla on a full-time basis. He is the founder and artistic director of the critically acclaimed Toronto Tabla Ensemble. He has performed across Canada, Europe, and Australia, released seven albums, and composed pieces for documentaries, commercials, and dance choreography. Tabla is made up of two hand drums and is a popular percussion instrument across the world. The playing technique is complex and involves extensive use of the fingers and palms in various configurations to create a wide variety of sounds and rhythms.
Enjoy an introduction to Tabla from Ritesh Das and experience a Youth Tabla Ensemble performance. Find it online at 2:40 PM during Celebrating Communities.
Canadian Country Recording Artist Genevieve Fisher was born and raised in London, ON, with Indigenous roots from Chippewa of the Thames First Nation. She has earned nine Top 50 hits on both Billboard’s BDS and the Canadian National Country Charts, including her most recent release “Playing Favourites.”
Hear her sing virtually from Fanshawe Pioneer Village at 1 PM on August 2nd during Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture.
A favourite during Pride, Drag Storytimes first began in San Fransisco in 2015 to “inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others.” In this well-loved tradition, London Drag Performers Galaxy Rose and Tobias Engorged will be each be singing a song and reading a book as part of the celebration.
Grab the whole family to watch them read and sing online at 10:15 AM on August 2nd.
519 School of Hip Hop Workshop
London’s 519 School of Hip Hop provides a fresh take on arts, culture, and history education through the core elements of hip hop: graffiti, rhythm and poetry (RAP), deejaying, breaking, and knowledge. Enjoy a quick introduction to the world of Hip Hop and breakdancing with a workshop and performance by instructors from 519 School of Hip Hop.
Follow along with 519 School of Hip Hop online at 2:40 PM during Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture.
Coming Up Roses
Musical duo Coming Up Roses is made up of childhood friends Justine Jongepier and Noelle Carey. They have been performing together since 2016 and endearing audiences with their sunny folk melodies and rich harmonies. With their soaring vocals, upbeat music, and creative acoustic sound, Coming Up Roses are a fresh dose of sonic sunshine.
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For Celebrating Communities, Coming Up Roses were filmed at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, performing a mix of covers and original songs. See them perform online at 7 PM.
The Alfredo Caxaj Latin Jazz Ensemble
Most Londoners know Alfredo Caxaj from the wildly popular summer festival SunFest, but did you know he also performs in a latin jazz group? Originally from Guatemala, Alfredo has been living in London for over 30 years and is a vital part of London’s art and culture scene. Alfredo teamed up with the writing skills of Peter Hysen to form this 7-piece ensemble, which focuses strictly on Latin Jazz.
Watch a 45-minute performance of The Alfredo Caxaj Latin Jazz Ensemble as part of Celebrating Communities. Find their performance online at 8 PM.
The King Cruff Collective
Multi-Forest City London Music Awards nominee Solomon Marley-Spence, known professionally as King Cruff, was born in London, ON, but spent most of his life growing up in Kingston, Jamaica. The foundation of his music is hip-hop, but he often throws in elements of reggae, dancehall, disco, and funk. Led by King Cruff, this collective packs a powerful Hip Hop punch. Typo, Jag, Huligin, and Solo YT lay down rhymes that tell complex stories featuring DJ SCND.
Enjoy their dynamic performance online at 7:30 PM during Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture.
Options for Everyone
And be sure to check out all of the other activities and performances planned for August 2nd’s event on the London Heritage Council website. There are another 30+ for you to enjoy, including a zine-making workshop by LondonFuse’s own Oshi Rathnayake at 3 PM!
Celebrating Communities: A Celebration of Connection, Kindness, and Culture has been made possible by the Government of Canada and the City of London’s Culture Office.
This post has been powered by the London Heritage Council. The London Heritage Council gives a voice to London’s past, promoting heritage projects and advocating for London, Ontario’s cultural sector.
Feature image courtesy of Drives the Common Man.