Skip to main content

A 10-day festival is celebrating Minnesota's emerging black artists

Comedy, dance, theatre, poetry, photography, music, painting, and even aerial arts.

When Josh Wilder and Jamil Jude arrived in Minnesota they felt the isolation of being young black artists in the mostly white Twin Cities theatre scene. And they figured black artists in other fields felt it, too.

So a couple years ago they got some financial backing and held a three-day festival to showcase the talents of the metro area's young black artists.

Now The New Griots Festival is back with a much bigger 10-day run at the Guthrie Theatre's Dowling Studio. This year's lineup includes poetry, theatre, dance, improv comedy, photography, an aerialist, painting, and music.

Besides more performances, the scope of the festival has also expanded compared to 2015. The motivation then "was really selfish, to be honest," co-founder Jamil Jude tells MPR News. "We just wanted to get to know other artists that looked like us."

This time around the expanded festival, which started Thursday, includes classes and panel conversations as well as performances.

The name of the festival comes from West Africa, where griots preserve the history and oral traditions of their cultures through storytelling, music, and songs.

A sampling of the festival

You can learn more about the 10 artists performing during the festival from The New Griots or from the Guthrie, but here's a taste:

Miss Coco Nostal'jah is performing Stay?, in which the aerialist tells the story of a love triangle "...through movement presentations of partnered balancing, dance, and aerial circus arts."

Shaina McCoy is a painter whose classes will include one called Self-love Through a Painter's Stroke.

April Gibson is a poet who will read from a collection titled The Black Woman Press Conference: Dear Everybody Who Ain't a Black Woman.

Arthur "LA" Buckner will perform The Drum Clinic: How Do YOU Improvise? which includes "different approaches in transforming imitation into improvisation."

The classes are all free. Tickets for each performance are $9 apiece and can be purchased through the Guthrie.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 7.45.44 PM

Tyre Nichols: Initial police version of events bear similarities to George Floyd killing

Memphis PD said Nichols complained of 'shortness of breath' following 'confrontations' with police, who in reality violently beat him.

George Floyd, protest

Twin Cities authorities preparing for community reaction to Tyre Nichols video

The ATF division in St. Paul sent out an alert out of "an abundance of caution."

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.

ShutterflyGoogle

Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.

millcitymuseum_hr1

Mill City Museum in the running to be named best history museum in the U.S.

The museum offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.

HolmgrenMugRamseyCo

Man charged with attempted murder of White Bear Lake police officer

Daniel Holmgren Jr., 33, was being served an arrest warrant at the time of the incident.

image

Gallery: 1,000-acre Wisconsin resort listed for nearly $4.3M

The lush landscape features a creek and private lake.

school bus

Alert after Woodbury students approached by strangers asking if they want candy

Valley Crossing Elementary School urged parents to go over safety information with their children in response to the incident.

basketball unsplash stock

North St. Paul basketball cancels Eden Prairie game after opposing coach's reinstatement

Head Coach Cornelius Gilleylen said he let his players decide amongst themselves.

Related

A 10-day festival is celebrating Minnesota's emerging black artists

Comedy, dance, theatre, poetry, photography, music, painting, and even aerial arts.

A tiny Minnesota town is getting its war hero back

There'll be a funeral for him more than 75 years after he died.

A tiny Minnesota town is getting its war hero back

There'll be a funeral for him more than 75 years after he died.

A troupe of Minnesota kids just got one of the biggest circus awards

Circus Juventas becomes the first American group to win the award.

A troupe of Minnesota kids just got one of the biggest circus awards

Circus Juventas becomes the first American group to win the award.

Where did Earth Day come from, anyway?

A guy from Wisconsin was inspired by a book, lots of college students, and an oil spill.

How SPAM won the war, and 4 other things to know as it turns 80

Poetry. War. Comedy. Hawaii. SPAM is 80 years of Americana in a can.

St. Paul celebrates Minnesota immigrants with the city's first skyway art exhibit

The first public art exhibit in the skyway's 50 years is now open.