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"Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance"

February 10, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – "Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Recital Hall on Western Illinois University's campus as part of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs Masters of Chamber Music Series.

"Of Ebony Embers" is a music theatre performance that explores African American music and poetry of the 1920s and 30s that helped shape the Harlem Renaissance. The performance examines the lives of African American poets such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay through the eyes of muralist Aaron Douglas, played by writer/director Akin Babatunde.

The work features a trio of musicians portraying a Harlem jazz band and playing pieces by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Jeffery Mumford and George Walker. The ensemble includes Tahirah Whittington, cello; Hugh Hinton, piano; and Michael Paola, percussion.

The hope, says Babatunde in the role of Douglas, was that "our poetry, our art, our music would transcend the boundaries of race and culture."

Babatunde has been in resident company member of Trinity Rep, Providence, RI; Alley Theater, Houston, TX; La Mama Theatre, New York City; and the Dallas Theatre Center. He has worked on "Shakespeare: Midnight Echoes," "Before the Second Set: A Visit with Satchmo" and "Blind Lemon Blues." He has also appeared on shows such as "Law and Order" and "Wishbone."

Tickets ($15 for the public; $10 for senior citizens and free for WIU students with a valid ID) are available at the Hainline Box Office, (309) 298-2900, from noon-5 p.m. weekdays, or at; click on "Get Tickets."

The BCA show is made possible though contributions from the Illinois Arts Council and the Performing Arts Society.

For more information, contact Mike Musick, coordinator of cultural events, at (309) 298-3571, or

Posted By: Sarah Tomkinson (
Office of University Relations