Before mankind could read or write God gave thou art. May it be through hieroglyphics on the ancient caves of Egypt or the sound of the beating drums that traveled from village to village throughout Africa.
Educating through the arts is possibly one of the oldest forms of communication. The arts are a universal language that we can all understand.
The Academy is dedicated to exposing and educating the world about the culture and heritage of our ancestors, rightfully giving credit to those who have contributed to the world as we know it today.
We are a purpose driven community that desires to preserve, educate and celebrate our culture and heritage via the arts; Hence leaving a legacy for all generations to come.
Honoring your father and your mother is a most important commandment.
Landers "Butch" Pierceis a well-known jazz musician who grew up in the hot bed for arts & culture in Harlem/Queens, New York .New York was “The Mecca” for artists in the sixties and seventies.
In the decade of the eighties, Landers’ recording career led him to Los Angeles where his prominence rose within the close-knit society of the jazz music industry.
He has played with Najee, Evelyn Champagne King, Loose Ends, Himalaya, Lori Janaire, Joey Sommerville, Noel Pointer, Valarie King, Tim Cunningham and Karen Briggs just to name a few.
Under the direction of Billy Sparks and Charles DeBow, Landers transitioned from artist to Tour Marketing Support.
Working with arena artists such as Prince, Janet Jackson, Shelia E, Marcus Miller, Destiny’s Child, Boyz II Men, Larry Graham and Lala Hathaway.
Landers expertise in working with performing artists, event management and his strategic relationships are an integral strength in the entertainment industry today.
The past 10yrs have been without a doubt a digital market and I am constantly on the radar searching for new ways of delivering a new way in this digital diaspora.
Ty Gray-EL. The ‘Minister of Poetry' is an author, activist, internationally renowned spoken-word artist and the founder of Breath of My Ancestors, LLC; a cultural enrichment company.
He is also a certified stress management therapist through the National Association of Drug & Alcohol Interventionist, as well as a certified seminar leader and keynote speaker. He serves as the Chief Communications Officer for the Empowerment Center-DC and the Executive Director of the Hands On the Future youth development program. He is the author of Breath of My Ancestors (Reflections From The Conscience of An African in America), the critically acclaimed 'A Black Woman's Smile' and the author of the award winning cultural enrichment series, 'Ancestors Remembered-Diamonds From Coal'.
The power of the spoken word is evident each time this inspirational story-teller opens his mouth. He captures your imagination by weaving poetry, historical events and present-day facts into a bright celestial cloth that lifts the air, enlivens your spirit and stirs your soul. Ty's narratives and poetry has touched the lives of more than two million people around the world. He has been featured in the highly acclaimed stage plays, 'The Process-Journey to the Dark Side of Addiction, A Black Womans Smile (Why Some Do/ Why Some Don't) Flavors and Urban Therapy '. He has also appeared on the Michael Baisden Show, the Russ Parr Morning Show, BET News, the Pacifica Radio Network and Sirius/XM Radio as well as featured in the Washington Post and Washington Informer newspapers.
When’s the last time you saw Wendy Williams, Diana Ross, Mo’Niique, Whoopi Goldberg and First LadyMichelle Obama in one evening’s performance?Well, all you need to do is catch the Sylvia Traymore Morrison Show the next time she’s in town.
Sylvia Traymore Morrison, originally from Washington , DC , is the only renowned African American Female Impressionist in the country.She is also the first African American Female hired as an associate writer for Saturday Night Live.
She was the first African American Female solo artist to tour and open for Whitney Houston when Ms. Houston was one of the biggest names in the entertainment business.The arenas they performed in sometimes housed well over 30,000 people.
Sylvia has also toured with the Temptations and the Four Tops during Motown’s 25th Anniversary.She has worked with Jeffrey Osborne, Chaka Khan, Melba Moore, Gladys Knight and a host of others.
Her book, entitled "Almost There, Almost...The Many Faces of Sylvia Traymore Morrison" launches on this year and chronicles her career. One chapter showcases her as the Mistress of Ceremonies for theMuhammad Ali Roast at the famed Apollo Theater where almost every major entertainer in the country was present. Another chapter speaks about her performing for the American Troops all over the world.
She is fun to watch and an inspiration to many. Be sure to catch the next show when she's in town!
Crystal began her singing career as a toddler and continued her formal musical studies winning awards and scholarships until she eventually left Boston University to devote time to her flourishing singing career. Soon she was appearing at New York’s top clubs, gaining national acclaim. She was discovered by Steve Allen and appeared on his television show. She also recorded an album for him titled “The Fabulous Crystal Joy Sings Steve Allen.” Of Crystal, Allen said, “She has pure and simple talent and a beautiful style of her own.”
She has traveled all over the US, the Caribbean and Europe in various roles promoting her recordings, acting and directing. After retiring from a career in interior design she moved to Navarre, Florida to return to her first love, singing. For the last ten years Crystal has been Musical Director for the Pensacola JazzFest.
Cultural artist, Sonja Griffin Evans is the internationally acclaimed resident artist for the DeVilliers Cultural Heritage Museum in Pensacola Florida, former Board Member of the Northwest Florida Arts Council, resident artist for the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce and the Art and Entertainment Director for the National Cultural Heritage Intiative; National Black Chamber of Commerce and also owner of the Gumbo Gallery.
Sonja Griffin Evans believes art should encourage and inspire as well as educate, preserve and empower our communities. Her passion and enthusiasm as an artist to artistically record our culture and heritage has driven her to become an art advocate in the community. She has received extensive recognition for her contribution of artwork and time to many organizations.
By opening the Gumbo Gallery, located in historic Belmont and Devilliers Pensacola, Sonja played a major role in breathing new life into a once dying community. Her collaboration with the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce to develop the Forgotten Communities Art Program for the National Cultural Heritage Initiative has intensified her passion to achieve her goals for the future - providing for continued growth and diversification in the arts.
She is diligently focused on building an art industry that will create generational wealth in our communities -providing an incubator and primary source of representation supporting multiculturalartists.
She desires to affect change through her art both economically and spiritually.
Sonja Griffin Evans and her business, the Gumbo Gallery, have won many prestigious awards, as a recent Onyx Award Nominee, Evans has been featured on television, on radio broadcast and in many publications.
Not unlike Leontyne Price, Kebra’s vocal talent has given her a grand stage to make an even grander entrance into the Gospel world. Kebra’s unique classical, operatic style, brings a unique sound to the urban gospel genre. A songstress as well as a pianist, Kebra uses not only her creative writing skills, but also her vocal talents to bring to life the songs on her last album, “Kingdom Understanding!”
Her video: “Troubles” has appeared on B.E.T., Christian Music Channel and Promo Only. In addition, her debut video was selected in the first round of the B.E.T. music awards for Best Gospel Song and Video along with being featured in the Los Angeles Black Expo. Kebra has also had the honor of opening up for Grammy and Stellar Award winner Tye Tribbett.
A graduate of Claflin University in South Carolina, she received her B.A. in music education and while doing so she was a member of the Concert Choir at Claflin and lead in many performances in the U.S. and Europe. A proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Gamma Chi Chapter; Kebra has performed at many of the sorority’s events throughout the United States. While a graduate student at the University of New Orleans, she often performed at many of the jazz clubs in the New Orleans area.
Kebra’s working on her next album, Under The Influence, which is set to be released in summer 2011. The album title comes from her belief that as Christians you should not conform to society’s views or standards; but instead operate under the influence of God and the Holy Spirt.
The first single and video from the album, Beautiful, will be released in April 2011.
Kermit Griffinis one of America's top cultural chef's.
Griffin, who earned his bachelors degree in Hotel Resort and Tourism Management from the University of South Carolina is a member of the Culinary Federation of America and brings more than ten years of culinary experience.
Having started his career as a Saucier/Sous Chef at Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia, PA, he honed his fine-dining skills and garnered experience in banquets and catering with a focus on fresh ingredients and sustainable food products.
As Assistant Production Manager for the global food service management corporation, Sodexo at the Marine Recruit Depot in Parris Island, SC, Griffin, a US Navy veteran, planned daily meals and supervised a team of 22 cooks and stewards in serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily for 1,200 personnel.
For four years, Kermit served as Executive Sous Chef at the Beaufort Inn in Beaufort,SC and most recently as Executive Chef at the AAA four-Diamond Inn featured as one of the Top Ten Inns in America as rated by Conde Naste during his term as Executive Chef.
Most recently he has been Chef de Partie at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hilton Head, SC, Executive Sous Chef and Executive Chef at a fine-dining restaurant (winner of the James Beard award) and opening of the popular Bobby Joe's on Dataw Island, South Carolina.
His experience includes overall responsibility for menu development and implementation, budgeting and cost controls, P&L statements, hiring and training of staff and the introduction of sustainable cooking programs.
Chef Kermit Griffin has appeared on television broadcast and writes a bi - weekly column for Savannah Now.
A Taste of Culture™
Cultural Chef Kermit Griffin
Named a master teacher by the state of Florida in 1988, Ora Wills retired from teaching in 2003 after a thirty-year career teaching English in the public schools of Escambia County and another twelve years as an adjunct instructor in the English Department at the University of West Florida. Ms. Wills is the editor of two volumes of Images in Black: A Pictorial History of Black Pensacola and co-editor of five volumes of the locally popular collection of stories, poems, and personal histories, When Black Folks Was Colored. She has been published locally in Emerald Coast Review, Pensacola Magazine, The Legend, When Black Folks Was Colored, The Hurricane Review, OutFront Magazine, and occasionally writes Viewpoints that appear in The Pensacola News Journal. Her unpublished works include Talking To The Night: a Collection of Poems and Recollections of Family Life, and Fish Head Soup and Sassafras Tea, a collection of prose memories of growing up in Pensacola. Ms Wills has one daughter, Angela, who lives and works in London.
Ms Wills is a product of the public school system in Escambia County, having attended Spencer Bibbs Elementary School, Booker T. Washington High School and Junior College, graduating from high school in 1952 and from the junior college in 1954. She was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Education from Florida A and M University in 1956 and a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of West Florida in 1978. She graduated in the top four in her class in high school and in the top five per cent in college. She was named Teacher of the year twice at Tate High School, English Teacher of the year by The Escambia County Council of Teachers of English, was among the top five teachers in Escambia County in 1989, and served as president of the English Council during the l980s. She chaired the School and Community sections of self studies at both Wedgewood High School and Tate High School during the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools evaluations of both schools for accreditation.
Having developed an intense interest in developments in education over the last forty-five years, she is devoted to improving the way children are educated in America’s schools. She has, in collaboration with Georgia Blackmon, created ARTS QUEST, a venture to bring low-income African American and other children to arts-related events in Pensacola with both background study of the works on which the performances are based and follow-up discussion comparing both the written works and the performances. She is one of the incorporators of the Emerald Coast Children’s Promise Zone, which is to be modeled on Geoffrey Canada’s Children’s Zone in Harlem which the incorporators hope to be operational in 2011.