Arts & Entertainment Neighbors

African-American Museum Of Bucks County Hosting South African Multi-Cultural Band

Credit: Submitted

The multi-cultural band of Sharon Katz and The Peace Train, which helped Nelson Mandela end Apartheid in South Africa, is bringing its message of peace and reconciliation to Newtown.

To raise funds for the African-American Museum of Bucks County (AAMBC), Katz and her group will appear in a benefit concert at the Zlock Performing Arts Center at the Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown, on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:45 p.m.

Just days before its Newtown performance, a report about Sharon Katz and The Peace Train is scheduled to air on WHYY-TV’s “On Tour” on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 p.m. WHYY-TV recorded “The Peace Train” at World Café Live in Philadelphia.

The station’s website, in promoting the upcoming show, reads: Singer and songwriter, Sharon Katz used her music as a tool for social change in South Africa. With her band, The Peace Train, she emphasized intercultural harmony and spiritual uplift. Her music helped lay the groundwork for South Africa’s democratic uprising in 1994. Her “When Voices Meet” project brought together 500-member multicultural youth choir, earning the respect and praise of Nelson Mandela himself.” The report explores how music can bring cultures together in a peaceful harmony.

The just released award-winning documentary “When Voices Meet,” chronicles the group’s 20-year musical journey in support of Mandela’s vision.

The spirited program at the college will start with the trailer to the documentary followed by a performance by Sharon Katz and her five-piece band presenting traditional South African songs. Katz lives in Philadelphia and Durban, South Africa.

“We like to bring people together with our music,” she said. “The project really carries that message that we are all equal — we are all members of one human race. We have been very successful. We were just in northern California and worked with communities to bring people together of all cultures and all races.

“This band has been Nelson Mandela’s cultural ambassador,” Katz said. “We travel with Mandela’s vision for a peaceful non-racial society.”

Katz and her group have traveled all over southern Africa, west Africa, Israel, Palestine, Panama and many other countries, but particularly all over America. “We’ve been to all of the states. We’ve been busy.

“I founded the project in 1992, which is a 25-year commitment to peace and unity through music,” she said.”

“The music is very relevant for the time we live in,” she said. “There’s division in the society in the United States. I would hope to see more unity with culture in all of our races and backgrounds.”

On stage, the musicians wear bright, colorful and traditional South African clothes, which are made by the Zulu people.

The band has also performed at women’s events and black history events at the community college.

“It’s a fusion of African, jazz, folk and funk,” she continued. “Funk just has a really good beat and you can dance to it. We give a lot of good positive messages in our music.”

Katz, who plays the electric guitar, sings with another vocalist in the group. There is a dancer, a drummer, a musician who plays keyboards and a bassist.

For tickets and/or to donate to the Sharon Katz and The Peace Train performance, visit Tickets can be purchased through the mail. Checks can be sent to the African American Museum of Bucks County, 215 E. Richardson Ave., Langhorne, PA 19047.

Tickets are: $40 adult; $25 student 12 or over, $35 members; $45 at door. Group of 10 or more – 10 percent off total cost of tickets; Children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

For more information about the museum, call Linda Salley at 215-760-1205.

About the Museum

Linda Salley of Levittown, a former administrator with the New York Board of Education, is the president of the African-American Museum of Buck County. She moved here after 9/11. The concept of the African American Museum of Buck County began in the fall of 2013, a dream of the late Harvey Spencer, a longtime resident of Langhorne. He gathered together a small group of friends and members of First Baptist Church of Langhorne and shared his story and dream that he always desired a location where children and adults could go to learn the rich history of African Americans in Bucks County.

Salley said her board’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the African-American experience, focusing on: historical information about the African-American legacy, from our roots to the present day; educational programs which demonstrate the importance of African American history; and culture to everyone.

In 2013, Spencer spoke with Salley and a few other ladies about starting a museum. “We didn’t have a name,” she said. “He didn’t know about a business plan or strategic planning. We worked hard creating a name, goals, a mission, putting a strategic plan together for the AAMBC and that was the beginning of my personal involvement pursuing our dream.

“Harvey Spencer’s dream became ours,” she continued. “In.2016, I have the esteemed honor of serving as the president of the AAMBC. I work with a remarkable Board of Directors and Advisory Board. We are a great team with great goals. We are working diligently to acquire a building, where we can showcase objects of art and bring more educational programs to everyone.

“In the past three years, “Salley said, “we have provided educational programming activities and tours to over 350 Bucks County families and youth. Some of the activities we have engaged in are African American history tours, an Underground Railroad tour, and presentations at Bucks County schools, museums, churches and community events.

“With the help of friends, members and sponsors, we will continue our mission to educate and provide a cultural outlet for families to learn more about the contribution of African-Americans.”

About the author

Petra Chesner Schlatter

Petra Chesner Schlatter