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Afro-Semitic Experience to Offer New Perspective on Jazz at Upcoming ODU Concert

Photo of the Afro-Semitic ExperienceThe Afro-Semitic Experience

The Afro-Semitic Experience will perform its repertoire of Jewish, gospel, African American and African music in a free concert at Old Dominion on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Sponsored by ODU's Institute for Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding (IJSIU), "The Days of Awe: Music of Memory and Celebration" concert will be from 4-6:30 p.m. on the University Village Green, at the corner of Monarch Way and West 43rd Street.

"According to the Jewish calendar, that week (The Days of Awe) is of great importance. During the days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, when Jews atone for their sins, one has the obligation to look back at his or her life, to search for his or her ethical achievements and wrong-doings, and to find a better direction for the coming year. We are going to build on that theme and concentrate on America's diversity and resilience," said IJSIU co-director Farideh Goldin.

With its highly accessible ethnic world music mix and ability to get an audience on its feet, The Afro-Semitic Experience is emerging on the festival scene and redefining the jazz concert. This is a band beyond category, offering a mix of spiritual, world-beat, funk, jazz, cantorial, gospel, salsa and swing - soul-driven music. Its concerts are celebrations where the group plays great music, tells stories and offers a positive and meaningful message: Unity in the Community.

In writing about The Afro-Semitic Experience in the Wall Street Journal, journalist Nat Hentoff noted: "Never before have I heard this lyrically powerful a fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire."

Co-founded by African-American jazz pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish American jazz bassist David Chevan for an interfaith Martin Luther King Jr. memorial service in 1998, The Afro-Semitic Experience has gone on to share its music at concerts, workshops and worship services all across the United States, Canada and Europe. Its music is an intricate tapestry of the distinct cultures and heritages of the members of the group. They weave stories and music together as they celebrate and explain the Jewish and African American sacred traditions.

When the group was first formed, its members collaborated on a mission statement: "The Afro-Semitic Experience is an ensemble dedicated to preserving, promoting and expanding the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora." This mission statement is still a central pillar of the group. "Through our concerts, recordings and workshops, we are actively creating an artistic response to anti-Semitism and Racism of all forms," the band states on its website.

The concert is made possible by the generous support of The Helen G. Gifford Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation.