Co-produced by The Artist Café - Also Hosting A Meet The Artists After-Party

Vocalist Samirah Evans and trumpeter Haneef Nelson will present an evening of tasty Jazz and Blues music ladled with a little New Orleans spice backed by a smokin' rhythm section including keyboardist Ben Kohn, bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Conor Meehan. Additional performances by Iyawna Burnett, Fynta Sidime, Jocelyn Pleasant and Asaad Jackson of The Lost Tribe, and First Generation Ensemble.


(Tickets also available at the door)


On April 22 2023, Shout! Elevate! Inspire! will be held at Springfield Technical Community College in Scibelli Hall.

We are excited and honored that regional and renowned musicians are coming together to share an incredible evening of music to support youth voice and leadership, the arts, and social justice - the focus of the Performance Project! 


Haneef Nelson - Afro-Caribbean & neo-soul inspired jazz musician and composer
Samirah Evans - Dynamic and soulful vocalist from the New Orleans jazz scene
Iyawna Burnett - Poetry that dances in spaces of the personal, deep family connection, and social justice
Fynta Sidime - Global multidisciplinary artist, actress, singer, dancer, & storyteller
Jocelyn Pleasant - Founder and lead drummer of The Lost Tribe, a drum-centered Afro-funk fusion ensemble
Asaad Jackson - Also known as DJ Stealth, member of The Lost Tribe
First Generation Ensemble - Selections from Mother Tongue performance

Since 2006, the Performance Project Annual Benefit Concert has been our main fundraising event of each year, helping to sustain our work with Springfield and Holyoke brilliant and amazing BIPOC, immigrant and refugee youth: First Generation and Ubuntu Arts Community in Springfield, and our Ubuntu Arts Community in Holyoke, as well as our work with youth who are incarcerated and in treatment, and our school and community residencies and collaborations.



 Haneef Nelson -- You can hear the lineage of all of the great trumpeters past and present in every note he plays. - Hal Weary, Professor at California State University. Haneef Nelson, Composer/Arranger, Bandleader, Sideman, Musical Curator, and Educator, is making his mark and solidifying his place as one of the pillars in his community. Nelson has performed and recorded with jazz legends including: Avery Sharpe, Yoron Israel, Chico Freeman, Ricky Ford, Dee Alexander, Steve Davis, as well as numerous others. Nelson is renowned for his commitment and versatility. No stranger to Springfield, Nelson has lived in the Greater Springfield Area for several years. He continues to tour and perform nationally and internationally. @neefjazz on social media.


Samirah Evans --...Sultry, sometimes silken, always smoking hot vocals and vibrant stage presence. - Owen McNally, Jazz Corridor, WNPR. Following her 1990 debut at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Samirah Evans was featured for 15 consecutive years, performing as a lead or featured vocalist, becoming a fixture in the prestigious clubs and concert venues throughout the Crescent City. Evans has toured North and South America, Europe and Asia, sharing stages with a multitude of legendary artists, including James Brown, B.B. King, Dr. John, Levon Helm, Aaron Neville, Charles Neville, Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, JrPoncho Sanchez, Bob Dorough, Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Trombone Shorty and Sam Kininger, and Sheila Jordan. Samirah Evans is a skilled, energetic vocalist who fosters a magnetically charged relationship with her numerous fans. - Eugene Uman, Director of The Vermont Jazz Center.


IYAWNACROPIyawna Burnett -- Iyawna is a writer, performing artist, activist, and mother of two who joined First Generation when she was 15. Active in the program for seven years, she co-authored and performed in the ensemble pieces Ripple Effect and Fo n ale (we must go), and she co-authored and co-directed the subsequent piece, Tenderness. She has been a powerful role model to First Generation members and has seven years experience as a peer counselor for members struggling with family addiction and incarceration. She has also co-facilitated First Generation workshops in DYS facilities. Iyawna has been a First Generation leader since the age of 16, and at 28 has just moved into the role of Co-Director. She is also a lover of PURE HUMAN CONNECTION! She recently published her first book of poetry, My Mothers Garden.


FYNTACROPFynta Sidime -- Fynta is a Guinean-American multidisciplinary artist, dancer, playwright, singer, and devised theater-artist. She is also a former First Generation ensemble member. She now serves on the Board of Directors, offers artistic support to ensemble members, and is often invited to perform with First Generation. Sidime recently completed her two-year MFA program at Columbia College Chicago and Arthuas LISPA Berlin. In 2019, she obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Art from Hampshire College, focusing on Theater and Dance. Sidime has also studied dance in Cuba and West Africa. As a multidisciplinary artist, her work is deeply rooted in multicultural mediums and transpersonal narratives that reflect social and cultural issues, identities, and rituals. Having spent part of her adolescence between Kankan and Conakry, Guinea, weaving all her languages into her craft is essential to her. Fynta performed as a guest artist in Sokio Rios piece, From the refugee camp, and has appeared in dancer/choreographer Marilyn Syllas performances as part of the Five College Dance Concert series in Western Massachusetts. Fynta's goal is to open an international theater company in her homeland of Guinea, West Africa, that will serve her global artistic community. Some of Fyntas work includes Je Suis La 2017, an original piece about three artists journey from different cultures and nationalities; Instrument du corp 2017, a dance piece about a celebration of women; Tending Little Me 2019, an original work about intergenerational trauma and resilience. Tragic space 2021, an adaption of the Greek mythology Madea; and Cire 2022, an original piece about a Guinean heroine who dreams about traveling to the moon. Fynta is currently working on a new full-length physical theater piece exploring liminal space, dreams, and consciousness, and she will be premiering it as part of her company next summer.


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