So excited to finally return to the African continent for the first time since the pandemic started.
It's about time
We've been quietly working on making this in-person visit work since early 2021. Following two successful residencies in 2017 and 2018 respectively in the Chipata and Copper Belt regions — at one year into the pandemic, the Cultural Affairs office at U.S. Embassy Lusaka reached out to me to propose a virtual program for some music students in the region.
Since things seemed to be "opening back up" around the world in spring of 2021, I suggested a hybrid option wherein we do some activities via video conference, and then follow up with a "deeper dive" in-person program "ASAP".
Sometimes ASAP is longer than we'd like
The online program came off without a hitch - and for once I was able to call upon a host of colleagues from around the world to pop in and contribute their two cents (read more here).
The in-person program, however, has been a long time coming. A full 2 years later we're finally set to pick up where we left off and continue exchanging professional skills and experiences with our new found Zambian colleagues this September.
Partners old and new
I'm especially excited to reconnect with colleagues near and far, as well as working with a few new-to-me partners. What can I say, I'm a jazz musician - I like a little taste of the unknown with every interaction ;-)
Though Daniel and I have performed and taught together on a number of occasions, this will be the first time we're hitting the road just the two of us for a full tour. I'm seriously looking forward to it! His musical acumen speaks for itself plus, he's a seasoned pro for these Cultural Ambassador tours for the U.S. State Department. How cool to have the opportunity to make music together, and with our local colleagues for a whole week!
Speaking of local colleagues... I was introduced to bassist par excellence David Kasochi on our first tour in Zambia in 2017. This gentle soul and bad-ass musician were an excellent addition to our workshops and public performances on the ground. I'm so glad we finally have the chance to get together with his whole band this time! I guarantee we will be laying down the grooves.
Arts Envoys & American Voices
To date, all of my cultural ambassador programs on the African continent have been run through the Africa Regional Services office in Paris — and I am super grateful for all they do and have done for us!
That said, I am equally excited to be working directly with the Washington office this time and am eager for our first experience travelling under the Arts Envoy program as its administered by American Voices.
It's such a blessing to me and my colleagues at Arts Embassy International to broaden our base for potential residency opportunities.