When most of us think of New York City, we tend to picture the overcrowded subways and drool over authentic New York pizza. However, for Joyce Adewumi, it is the melting pot culture that makes the city a destination like no other. “New York is the people and cultures that are in it. When you experience New York City, you can’t help but love it. For example, you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to taste food from the Middle East or fly to Mali to dress like a Malian,” said Ms. Adewumi.
Ms. Adewumi, a Nigerian American, and an accomplished singer, choreographer, scholar, and educator, has dedicated her life to embracing diversity in New York City. Although she is recognized in Nigeria for her pioneering work in the area of African Modern Dance, Ms. Adewumi is an international sensation. She has travelled the world, performing at various venues in Africa, America, United Kingdom, and Canada.
Now working in New York City, Ms. Adewumi has taken on two major projects in the hopes of celebrating diversity while uniting communities together.
The New York African Chorus Ensemble Inc.( NYACE) is a nonprofit organization based in Harlem, New York City. Ms. Adewumi has been leading this group since 2004, working to showcase the music, dance, and food of world cultures which have made a home in New York City. This February, Ms. Adewumi and her team will be putting on a concert, providing easy access for audiences in the city to experience the music and dances of other cultures.
Reflecting on what the concert experience means to her, Ms. Adewumi said, “What really pulls at my heartstrings is when I see children of one culture dancing to music of another.” She believes that music is one universal language we all speak and removes cultural barriers. Speaking on the magic of music, Ms. Adewumi said, “The colors in music are universal emotions that we feel. Everyone feels happy, sad, melancholy, nostalgic, etc. These are some of the emotions that music elicits in human beings. Music allows us to remember that first and foremost, we are human beings who share the same feelings.”
In addition to being the founder of the New York African Chorus Ensemble Inc., Ms. Adewumi organizes the New York City Multicultural Festival. In 2010, she began working with the New York Police Department to produce the yearly festival. The festival features a variety of cultural groups, such long-time members including the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance and St. Lucian Cultural Organization. Some of the newest groups include the Greek American Folklore society, Korean Traditional Dance of Choomnoori, Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre Joao Grande, and the Filipino Arts and Music Ensemble. Commenting on the festival, Ms. Adewumi said: “This festival is really a celebration of all that is New York; the diverse cultural sight, sound, smell, and people.” She is particularly looking forward to this year’s theme, Ancestral Masks/Masquerades (with the hashtag #TheAncestorsAreComing).
The drive that keeps Ms. Adewumi motivated to run two successful organizations is her belief in unity. Both the New York City festival and the concert incorporates not just minorities, but also European cultures. She believes that everyone has something to learn and share, especially when people are open-minded.
Ms. Adewumi not only has an open mind, but also a deep sense of caring for her community. She helps individuals in Harlem obtain vending licenses in NYC to become successful entrepreneurs. Additionally, she works hard to ensure that low-income families are provided essential resources are available the New York City Multicultural Festival.
Her vision for the next 10 years looks brightly towards the future, hoping the festival becomes one of New York City’s main attractions that will pull in local, national and international participants.
Learn more about Ms. Joyce (as she is known) and the NYC Multi-Cultural Festival: https://multiculturalfestival.nyc/
Also, make sure to attend the teaser event and concert on February 25th 2017 from 4-8PM at Our Lady of Lords School located at 468 W. 143rd Street, New York, NY, 10031 (Harlem).
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