‘Soul Music’ on the violin

Charisa “The Violin Diva” at the Restoration Plaza, Brooklyn.
Photo by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

Violin Diva Charisa entertained the audience during a Brothers Who Cook event at the Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on April 13.

The event hosted by the International African Arts Festival (IAAF) is part of its annual fundraising activities. IAAF showcases exceptional well known artist throughout the year in an effort to preserve the cultural history and significance of the organization.

This year’s July 4 weekend Festival will again be held in Brooklyn’s Commodore Park to celebrate their 44th year and world wide performers and visitors are already scheduled to attend.

The continuous exposure of youths and the community to Black artists whose musical talents span the music spectrum is necessary. Today’s youths must know that many Blacks contributed to, pioneered and enhanced all genres Music in the entertainment world which have now become extinct in public schools or unattainable to the average child.

Charisa says that she has been playing the violin for over 20 years.” My parents put me in an Art school at 4 years old and when the school sent home a letter inviting me to play the violin, my mother asked me if I knew what the violin was. I responded, ‘Yea, you put it on your shoulder and it makes pretty sounds,” she said.

She has been making and perfecting ‘pretty sounds’ since that day. “The intermix in her music is an innovative, Jazz infused take on contemporize soul,” she explains. She has had the privilege of collaborating with outstanding professional Artist such as Wynton Marsalis and Quincy Jones, to name a few. Violinist Noel Pointer, Regina Parker, Nina Simmone and Ella Fitzgerald are some of her preferred artist. She says that the highest compliment she has received is the comparison of her scatting to that of Ella Fitzgerald. Charisa has performed at Jazz festivals throughout the country and won grand prizes in both the McDonald Gospel Fest Competition and the West Oak Lane Jazz Festival competition in Philadelphia, and much more.

Family relationships are extremely important to Charisa. She has an older brother and a younger sister who plays the Cello. She attributes her success to unwavering family support. She says that having ability is not enough, “it must be cultivated. It takes practice and parents willing to make sacrifices to get children where they want to be. They must have someone to invest and support them in all endeavors. They must sacrifice and cultivate.” Charisa believes that the removal of the Arts from school programs is a gross mistake. “Not to have music in schools to emphasize the creative aspect of each child and build future artist is poor planning,” she said and encourages children to “Keep on dreaming; Keep on pushing; the sky is the limit.”

Dr. Segun Shabaka, secretary and executive committee member describes IAAF as a “rich, cultural extravaganza and experience.” Attendees enjoyed the scrumptious and healthy dishes, appetizers, main courses, desserts and drinks, all prepared by the IAAF Brothers Who Burn, which included: Tommy Abney- Benjamin Banneker Academy and IAAF.; Abu’s Bakery; Carl Clay- Black Spectrum Theatre; Pop- Jollof Restaurant. It is said the music is food for the soul, but the combination of such high quality dishes from Brothers Who Cook with this vivacious Violin Diva’s music was an unforgettable experience that is difficult to duplicate. The affair was a vivid example of true ‘Soul Music.”

Participants of the Men Who Cook event.
Photo by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

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