World-renowned vibraphonist to speak, play at ISU

April 1 2008

A world-renowned vibraphonist is coming to Indiana State University to not only meet with students, but also to perform for the community.

Cecilia Smith will lecture and play with a jazz ensemble to illustrate her talk in the Cunningham Memorial Library's Events Area, at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 10. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“She’s someone who has achieved a high degree of success in jazz, and she is someone who has created a practical career in what some consider an impractical field. Her music and experiences will appeal to a wide variety of people,” said Kenan Foley, lecturer of African and African-American studies.

Smith’s visit to ISU is in conjunction with Foley’s Women in Jazz class, a special topics course he developed in the African and African-American studies program.

“This semester we’ve been investigating the experiences of women of color in jazz. In particular, issues of gender and racial bias, black feminist thought and social prohibitions placed on women performers as well as the creative dimension of African-American music,” Foley said. “The concept here is to give the students the chance to interact with Ms. Smith informally, and to provide the opportunity for them to connect the ideas presented in class with one who has lived the experience as a practitioner of the music.”

This class session is open to all interested ISU students and will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on April 10, Room 234 Fine Arts Bldg.

During the evening lecture, Smith will discuss her role in arts enrichment education with disadvantaged youth as well as her work as performer, composer and archivist. She will discuss the ideas behind her original composition, “Dark Triumph,” which was listed as one of the top 10 compact disc releases of 2006 by All About Jazz. This work traces the life of an African American senior citizen, who dedicated herself to serving others as a nurse and then as a volunteer with the Red Cross and the Peace Corps.

“She will discuss her experience as a woman of color performing jazz in America,” Foley said. “Anyone who comes will come away with a new understanding of the arts world.”

Smith also is the founder and director of the Mary Lou Williams Resurgence Project, which she developed after studying Williams’ work for the past five years. Williams wrote and arranged for such greats as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, and she was friend, mentor and teacher to Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie.

As a professional composer and recording artist, Smith has been granted a number of commissions and grants for her composing abilities, including the current one from The Joyce Foundation in 2008. She is currently one of the leading vibraphonist of the four-mallet technique in the United States. Smith is also the first woman to release material on vibraphone on a national and international level. She has performed in concert halls, nightclubs and festivals throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia and frequently has been highlighted as a performer on national radio and television broadcasts.

This event is sponsored by the department of African and African-American studies, ISU library, the department of history, the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action and the Research Center for Local History and Culture.

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Contact: Kenan Foley, Indiana State University, lecturer of African/African American studies, at 812-237-2554 or a kfoley2@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@isugw.indstate.edu

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/270337820_jPnsv-D.jpg

Cutline: Cecilia Smith / Courtesy photo

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Story Highlights

Cecilia Smith will lecture and play with a jazz ensemble to illustrate her talk in the Cunningham Memorial Library's Events Area, at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 10. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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