International Studies & Programs

GYAN Welcomes Performing Artists to MSU

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Published: Friday, 10 May 2019 Author: Global Youth Advancement Network

GYAN partnered with organizers of the former Great Lakes Folk Festival to showcase Michigan’s cultural heritage during a concert at MSU. Under the theme of American Cultural Traditions, GYAN invited Michigan-based musicians to perform and answer questions about their art.

On June 11, 2019, two musicians put on 30-minute performances, followed by 10-minute Q&As, at the Wharton Center. The first performer Jahshua Smith is a Detroit-based hip-hop artist who expresses his experiences as a black man through his music. Smith, a MSU alumnus, is passionate about African American studies and works as a residential counselor for at-risk youth.

Hip-hop is a prominent and recognizable aspect of American culture, and Michigan cities like Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids all have strong ties to the genre. Like hip-hop, Latin music and culture are important parts of Michigan’s cultural heritage.  

female mariachi group photo from detroitRepresenting Michigan’s Mexican culture at the concert was the women-led Mariachi group, Mariachi Femenil Detroit. Through their performances, the musical group promotes gender equality in music and performing arts.

According to their gofundme page, “Mariachi Femenil Detroit helps give a voice to female artists of all ages while fusing musical and leadership development with cultural education and empowerment.”

The concert was part of GYAN’s inaugural Global Youth Advancement Summit, which convened up to 200 young people from 30 different countries to address global inequities. The musical performances served as an educational experience, as the audience learned about Michigan’s culture through its musical roots and how this culture intersects with issues of inequity.