Mwenso and The Shakes return to center with virtual concert starting Feb. 3

“There are charismatic people, and then there’s Michael Mwenso,” NPR said of the multi-genre artist and cultural historian. “The leader of Mwenso and The Shakes is full of energy, charm and most importantly, joy.”

The ensemble will return to the Center for the Performing Arts with a virtual concert featuring mashups of funk, blues and good vibes. A live moderated conversation with members of the ensemble will follow the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, Penn State debut of the virtual concert, which was recorded at a New York City studio in December and commissioned by Duke Performances.

After the Center for the Performing Arts debut, the streamed concert will continue to be available for viewing until 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10. Visit Center for the Performing Arts online for more information.

Contributions from the members of the Center for the Performing Arts and a grant from the University Park Student Fee Board help make the program free of charge.

The program is part of the Center for the Performing Arts 2020–2021 “Up Close and Virtual” season plus the Fierce Urgency Festival, the center’s commitment to celebrating Black artists and sharing their stories.

There are charismatic people, and then there’s Michael Mwenso, The leader of Mwenso and The Shakes is full of energy, charm and most importantly, joy.” –NPR

Since making his Eisenhower Auditorium debut with The Shakes in the touring production of “Harlem 100” in 2019, Mwenso has become a familiar name at the Center for the Performing Arts. He hosts the monthly “Meeting the Moment” livestream artist discussions.

Joining Mwenso on vocals are Vuyo Sotashe, drummer Kyle Poole, bassist Russell Hall, keyboardist Mathis Picard, saxophonists Anthony Orji and Christian Cummings, and percussionist-tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman.

The group released its debut, “Emergence [The Process of Coming Into Being],” in 2019.

“These songs are anthemic — an explosion of ideas and sounds wrapped around familiar instrumentation,” NPR wrote of the group’s debut release, 2019’s “Emergence [The Process of Coming Into Being].” “You’ll also find that joy … which blends jazz, R&B and spoken word in a live album that feels like a Broadway show.”

Watch Mwenso and The Shakes perform “No Regrets.”

Geisinger and Northwest provide support for virtual presentations by the Center for the Performing Arts.

Visit “Up Close and Virtual” for more information about forthcoming events.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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