As the semester comes to a close, students will have the chance to experience a soulful West African innovator perform his own blend of Central and Western African music styles. Cheikh Lô will be showcasing his art along with an accompanying band at the Michigan Theater tomorrow. Lô is known as a singer, songwriter and percussionist.
Arts & Eats tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the U-M Alumni Center and at 8 p.m. at Michigan Theater
This performance is part of a series of events put on by the University Musical Society called “Arts & Eats,” during which students are invited to share a meal with likeminded peers before the performance. Previous “Arts & Eats” events have featured John Malkovich presenting theatrical opera and a performance by the Grammy Award-winning UMS Choral Union. Also included in the price of a student’s ticket is a discussion by someone with valuable knowledge to share or an interactive event relating to the upcoming performance.
This week’s concert is an example of the diversity of performances UMS helps students experience. Lô creates his own form of music by blending many genres and styles, including reggae, funk and flamenco. His acoustic melodies are accompanied by his soulful voice and lyrics, which he sings in four languages: English, French, Wolof — a language spoken in Senegal — and Jula, a dialect spoken in Burkina Faso.
“He’s just provided a lot of insight to his music and he’s such a unique artist,” said Truly Render, UMS press and marketing coordinator. “Really, it’s a wonderful performance, and it showcases our world-music series at its finest. It’s all this kind of wonderful hybrid that I think kind of typifies the whole concept of world music.”
While guest speakers have prefaced previous acts, this final event of the semester will be accompanied by a lesson in traditional Senegalese dance. Senegalese artist Idy Ciss will be leading the lesson, complete with live Dun and Djembe drummers. This additional lesson is being presented in collaboration with UMS by Heritage Works, a Detroit-based cultural arts organization that allows students to experience the many cultural aspects that go along with musical performance.
“These events are becoming more social, more interactive and more activity-based so they’re really designed to be conversation starters as opposed to talks or lectures,” Render said.
In this event and “Arts & Eats” events of the past, UMS has helped make a home for the arts here on campus.
“I think it’s really important and really special that Ann Arbor brings in these artists from all over the world,” Render said. “You can go on a mini-vacation and experience the finest music from Africa, a great theater company from the UK, a wonderful dance company from France. … So, it’s like having access to the whole world — it’s right at your doorstep.”