Art From the Ground Up
10:51 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Creating a 'Weave of Culture' with the Kente Arts Alliance

Mensah Wali and Gail Austin of the Kente Arts Alliance.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Kente Arts Alliance is an organization whose mission is to present art from the African diaspora. TV and radio personality Chris Moore says they are “a great civic resource” and believes that if they weren’t here, “there would be a void.”

Brooklyn native Mensah Wali and Pittsburgher Gail Austin founded the organization in 2007 and have presented a wide variety of artists to Pittsburgh audiences. 

Wali terms it a “weave of culture.” The word Kente is West African in origin and describes a type of cloth common in Ghana.

They brought spoken word artists “The Last Poets” to Pittsburgh as that notable ensemble celebrated its 40th anniversary. Many consider them to be the progenitors of rap and hip-hop.

Violinist Billy Bang came to town for a Kente Arts Alliance Veterans Day production. Bang was a veteran of the Vietnam War, and much of his music reflected his experiences there. He combined native Vietnam folk musicians and a jazz combo to create a unique cultural blend.

The next Kente Arts Alliance presentation will be in late October and will feature Randy Weston’s African Rhythms Quintet.