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presented by

The Metropolitan State University of Denver Department of Music

with support from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion


The MSU Denver Department of Music, with support from The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is excited to announce our 2020 Virtual Visiting Artist Series on Music, Race, & Social Justice. Organized by Dr. Elizabeth McLean Macy, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, this year-long series highlights the work of BIPOC musicians, performers, and scholars. 

The series will be streamed live via the MSU Denver Livestream page. MSU Denver viewers can engage with the performers via Microsoft Teams.

Wednesday, September 9: Taína Asili
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Taína Asili

Wednesday, September 9 at 2:30 pm MST
Moderated by Michael Benitez, PhD, VP for Diversity and Inclusion
Watch the recorded livestream

Taína Asili is a New York based Puerto Rican singer, filmmaker and activist carrying on the tradition of her ancestors, fusing past and present struggles into one soulful and defiant voice. Her music combines powerful vocals carrying themes of social justice with an energetic fusion of Afro-Latin, reggae and rock. For over 20 years she has brought the music of love and resistance to venues across the globe – From the Women’s March on Washington to Carnegie Hall to the main stage of San Francisco. After the 2016 election, a bigger audience has caught up to the artist Huffington Post named one of “12 Freedom Fighting Bands to Get you Through the Trump Years.” Her protest songs “No Es Mi Presidente” and “Freedom,” inspired by social movements against white supremacy, mass incarceration, and police violence, have been lauded by the likes of Rolling Stone and Billboard. Taína Asili’s music exudes strength of spirit, and inspires audiences to dance to the rhythm of rebellion. 

October 1: The Dream Unfinished

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The Dream Unfinished

Thursday, October 1 at 5:00 pm MST
Moderated by Brandon Matthews, DMA, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras
Watch the recorded livestream

The Dream Unfinished is an activist orchestra. Its mission is to use classical music as a platform to engage audiences in dialogues surrounding social and racial justice. The Dream Unfinished is an orchestra that looks and sounds like New York City. TDU’s 2020 season The Red, White and Blues will use classical music to spark dialogues on voting rights and voter suppression, and promote greater civic engagement throughout NYC.


October 15: ¡Aparato!

Image of ¡Aparato!


Thursday, October 15 at 5:00 pm MST
Moderated by IPutu Tangkas Adi Hiranmayena, MA, Affiliate Faculty in Music
Watch the recorded livestream

Described as “jarocho punk”, the aural landscape transmitted by ¡Aparato! bridges the terrestrial with the ethereal: earthbound concerns meet the means to transcend, through sound and imagery; a here, now and a somewhere else, something better, both at once. This is a science fiction soundtrack for tomorrow’s Raza, “the people,” time travelers and visionaries. ¡Aparato! embodies the narratives and struggles of the world’s migratory people: Cat (Nancy Méndez) is of Mixtec and Zapotec heritage from indigenous Oaxaca to Anaheim, California. El Tejarocho (Alexandro D. Hernández) was raised between Los Angeles, the Texas-Mexican border and rural Michoacán, México. ¡Aparato! has achieved critical acclaim on NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Top 100 Songs of 2016, OC Weekly, Austin Chronicle and Smithsonian Folkways. ¡Aparato! has performed for audiences at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Latin Alternative Music Conference, Grand Performances (Los Angeles), including national and international tours. Their music continues to draw upon their vision of punk-futurism grounded in the instrumentation of their Mexican and Central American ancestors.

October 28: Bruce Sunpie Barnes

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Bruce Sunpie Barnes

Wednesday, October 28 at 2:30 pm MST
Moderated by Elizabeth McLean Macy, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology
MSU Denver Livestream  |  Facebook Event

Bruce Sunpie Barnes is a New Orleans musician, book author and ethnographic photographer. Sunpie is a 17-year member of the Black Men of Labor Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Big Chief of the Northside Skull and Bones Gang (One of the oldest existing Afro-Creole carnival groups in New Orleans), and the band leader of the popular New Orleans musical group Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots. His latest book and CD project is entitled Le Kèr Creole ( The Creole Heart) which he co-authored with Rachel Breunlin and Leroy Etienne. A former National Park Service Ranger, photographer, former high school biology teacher (30 year), former college football All-American, and former NFL football player (Kansas City Chiefs), Sunpie Barnes' many careers have taken him far and wide. He has traveled to over 53 countries playing his own style of what he calls Afro-Louisiana music, incorporating blues, zydeco, creole jazz, gospel, work songs, Caribbean and African influenced rhythms and melodies. He is a multi-instrumentalist, mastering accordion, harmonica, and piano along with rubboard, talking drum, and djembe. Bruce Sunpie Barnes on SpotifyArticle from The Atlantic

November 12: Aisha Fukushima

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Aisha Fukushima

Thursday, November 12 at 2:30 pm MST
Moderated by Michael Benitez, PhD, VP for Diversity and Inclusion
MSU Denver Livestream  |  Facebook Event

Aisha Fukushima is a Singer, Speaker, Educator, and ‘RAPtivist.’ Fukushima founded RAPtivism (Rap Activism), a hip hop project spanning 20 countries and four continents, amplifying universal efforts for freedom and justice. She is a multilingual, multiracial African American Japanese woman who has lectured and performed around the world. Fukushima’s ‘RAPtivism’ work has been featured on Oprah Magazine, TEDx, KQED Public Television, The Seattle Times, TV 2M Morocco, The Bangalore Mirror, HYPE, and Tour highlights include performing in Nepal, speaking with the President of Estonia about the power of music to create change, and sharing stages with the likes of Bernie Sanders, Emory Douglas (Black Panthers), KRS-One, Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, The Isley Brothers, and M1 (Dead Prez). As a public speaker, Fukushima links themes of hip hop, global citizenship, empowerment, feminism and cultural activism with live musical performance. She was the first non-Native person to deliver a keynote address at Montana’s 2012 Schools of Promise Conference for Indigenous youth and has presented at Stanford University, Yale Law School, Duke University, the National Conference On Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS) conferences, among others.

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