LaRhonda Steele (Portland) is a gospel singer and songwriter recognized as one the region’s best rhythm and blues vocalists. She has been dubbed "The First Lady of Portland Blues”—a title of leadership that she lives up to as she shares songs that carry forth directly from her spiritual life-force. For LaRhonda, singing is not just something she does—it’s who she is that she brings to the stage.
Andrea DiPalma Yansane's blog
Wambui Machua is a traditional Kenyan chef, entrepreneur, and owner of Spice of Africa, a Portland-based African restaurant. When the Oregon Folklife Network had the pleasure of talking with Machua, she told us gathering people around food is her passion because “food brings people together and makes them happy!" She gets to fulfill this passion while practicing and sharing her traditional African culture.
To listen to Mic Crenshaw (Portland Oregon) perform is to be drawn deeply into a poetics of Truth in action. For good reason, he is one of the most respected hip-hop artists and MC’s in the Northwest and is prominent on the national and international scene as a performer, educator, and political activist. His work connects artists across geographic and political boundaries, reminding us that we’re all responsible for building a future that works.
Norman “The Boogie Cat” Sylvester (Portland) has aptly described himself as being “totally dedicated to the soul healing force of music” and when watching or listening to him, this is self-evident. He crafts an inclusive and communal musical environment where each listener is invited—with sound, emotion, and story—into a space where they can see themselves reflected.
As the first installment of the Oregon Black Artist Spotlight Series, WACAI’s Executive Director, Andrea DiPalma Yansane had the privilege to interview Baba Wague Diakite on a live stream between Zoom and Facebook Live on Thursday, October 15.
Thursday, October 15 until the end of November WACAI will be engaging in a small series of interviews, blogs, and social media posts designed to put a spotlight on seven Black cultural artists throughout the state of Oregon to elevate their work and discuss how racism affects their lives.
This past Saturday, August 8 WACAI participated for the first time in the Willamalane Children’s Celebration. This annual event is traditionally held in person every August at Day Island Park in downtown Springfield, but due to the physical distancing regulations this year’s event was done in a drive through format at Dorris Ranch.
Polaris Dance Theatre held its 10th Annual Galaxy Dance Festival this weekend and in response to the social distancing regulations that are in place, went VIRTUAL! The festival which was aired on Facebook Live was filled with a diverse schedule of dance companies that included genres such as West African, Bollywood, Bharatanatyam and Odissi, Kathak and Afro-Brazilian, Contemporary, and more.
After months of being shut up in the house under quarantine and as the summer season rolls out full steam, it is a thrill to be able to return to some of our favorite activities! For us at WACAI that means dance class! Alseny Yansane’s All-Levels African Dance class will return to Xcape Dance Academy’s studio A (1645 Oak St) on Wednesdays, 6-7 pm from July 8th to August 19th.
N'Gawa whose name means "Mother Hawa" in the Susu language is, Alseny Yansane, our Co-founder and Artistic Director's Mom. After 3-4 years of hyper-tension and a series of strokes which left her physically depleted and in tenuous health, she passed away on Wednesday, June 17th at 1 pm Conakry time.