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Ancestral Communal Listening Experience

November 14 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


In this joyful and immersive gathering, Michael Mwenso, co-creator of The Sound of (Black) Music, along with co-director Shariffa Ali from Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, will create a sense of community and connection by playing recordings of musical forebears who propelled the advancement of the human condition and prompting participants to voluntarily share what they feel and hear in the messages. For this special event, produced by Electric Root, we invite all to come together and recenter through the collective healing, love, and nutritional uplift that’s embedded in Black roots music. 

 This event will take place in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Solley Theater (on the top floor, accessible by elevator) at 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ.

This in-person workshop, happening in advance of McCarter’s main stage presentation of The Sound of (Black) Music*, is FREE and open to the public, although registration is required. 


This is an Arts Council of Princeton and McCarter community partnership event in association with Arts & Ideas – connecting Princeton University and Community partners to the work at McCarter on stage and behind the scenes.  

*For info & tickets to McCarter’s presentation of The Sound of (Black) Music on Nov 17 visit www.mccarter.org 

About Michael Mwenso 


Michael Mwenso’s unique lifelong geographical and spiritual journey has led him to possess a perspective unlike any other in this time. His childhood was rooted in West Africa where he was raised by strong, intelligent African women. As a teenager in London he faced a period of personal uncertainty, as his mother was deported, where he found solace in Black music and where the greatest artists of all time, like James Brown, became his mentors and guiding stars. 

 In his late twenties, Mwenso was brought to New York City by Wynton Marsalis to helm a famed jazz club and his influence profoundly impacted the music and arts scene of NYC. He then built a community across the United States through his vehicle of love expression, Mwenso and the Shakes. Now through the umbrella of Electric Root co-founded with Jono Gasparro – he spends his energy on spreading the message of Black music to uplift, heal and empower individuals and communities across our divided nation. 

About The Sound of (Black) Music, opening at McCarter on November 17

“…one of the most titanically musical nights of my year, brings gospel, soul, and Afrobeat to Rogers and Hammerstein in ‘The Sound of (Black) Music.’”  —The New York Times

An Afrofuturist take on the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, The Sound of (Black) Music fuses jazz, blues, funk, gospel, R&B, hip-hop, and more to pay tribute to the rich, communal history of Black roots music. Brianna Thomas, Chareene Wade, and musical director Vuyo Sotashe lead a dynamic group of more than 20 musicians and vocalists in an electric performance that captures the music’s uplifting spirit. Jazz vocalist Michael Mwenso and producer Jono Gasparro conceived the show—co-directed by Shariffa Ali (Princeton University) and Kamilah Long—in association with Electric Root as a production within a platform, a creative healing space for a troupe of predominantly BIPOC artists. More than just a riff on a beloved musical, the production aims to reclaim the legacy of Black music and highlight its central role in shaping American culture. 

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Event Details


November 14


6:00 pm - 8:00 pm



Solley Theater – Arts Council of Princeton

Princeton, NJ