Ankh Ra Amenhetep, vocal coach for Puff Daddy and talent judge for MTV’s Making the Band-4 opened the second half of Maa Sa-Ankh Performing Arts Academy’s 13th annual recital by bestowing a bouquet of flowers on Mut Hefen Sa-Akhi, the school’s visionary, co-founder and director.
Mut, a teacher and composer, started the Academy by teaching piano and keyboard to Brooklyn children, subsequently incorporating lessons in voice, guitar, percussion and music theory.
After the flowers and kudos to Mut, Ankh revived the Wee Rock Band in an encore performance of “Stand By Me;” the five rockers, four–to-six–years-old, had closed the first half of the recital. Urging the audience to sing along, he crooned with a velvet voice. The “Wee” rockers were rewarded with a standing ovation.
Three “Rhythm Babies,” including three-year-old Havana Hyatt, opened the recital’s program. Four-year-old Brice Bryan, has been in the Academy for a year. His mom said that since attending, he is more outgoing in school.
The Sunday afternoon program at P.S. 226 on Caton showcased the progress of the students. Encouraging them and under the watchful eye of Mut or music instructor Motheo Matlala, each student who played keyboard, came out, took a bow, and then settled in their seat to play. After the applause following their performance, each bowed again.
Some like Zenobia Grant enjoyed musical embellishment with Motheo.
“I love the school,” vocal coach Ankh said, during the first half of the recital. “I’ve known Mut for the last 30 years and respect her musicianship. It’s not just a school; she creates a family atmosphere. The school started on the second floor of her home. The students are all her children.”
Referring to the smiling, anticipatory, parents in the audience, he said, “And, she’s brought all these people together.“
Nearing the end of the first half, some students participated in a dialogue “I am Grateful”. One, who read a brief history of Scott Joplin, concluded by saying, “I am grateful for Scott Joplin who made great music for me to play.”