Amplifying Black Voices in Family Music

Kukuza Fest

Sept 19 & 20 • 3-5 pm ET / noon-2 pm PT

Streamed Live via WEE Nation’s YouTube page


Kukuza is Swahili for amplify, and this festival amplified Black Voices with a spectacular lineup of Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated artists with live performances across a range of genres.  


If you missed Kukuza Fest, you missed a history-making event.  For the first time ever, there was a virtual two-day festival amplifying Black voices in family music.  It was powered by WEE Nation Radio, a Black-owned media company owned by yours truly, Uncle Devin.

Kukuza Fest Videos

Day 1

Day 2

It was organized in association with the Family Music Forward Collective and we had over 13 thousand worldwide views in over four countries on all of our social media accounts and growing.  Children and family music will never be the same.


The event was hosted by Emmy winners, Pierce Freelon and Markette Sheppard and featured the following artists and special guests:


Shine and the Moonbeams, Monique Martin, Father Goose & Irie Goose, Quynn Johnson, Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas, Uncle Devin, Tequitia Andrews, Renee Georges, Divinity Roxx, Dan + Claudia Zanes, Erika Alexander, SaulPaul, Alphabet Rockers' Tommy Soulati Shepherd and Tommy T3PO Shepherd, Ella Jenkins & Tim Ferrin, Joseck Asikoye of Jabali Afrika, JC Stringz, Rissi Palmer, STEMusic's Roye Moye III, Uncle Jumbo, Reggie Harris, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. and Aaron Nigel Smith.


While there, please like, subscribe and share our channel on YouTube so you don't miss any of our upcoming videos.


Kukuza Fest is powered by WEE Nation Radio in association with the Family Music Forward Collective.  


Become a Kukuza Sponsor!


Your sponsorship will support our amazing artists, and provide seed money for more initiatives designed to amplify Black voices and make Family Music more inclusive for all. Your sponsorship will also support the growth of WEE Nation Radio, a free 24/7 online family music radio station featuring Jazz, Hip Hop, World Music and more which typically are not included in mainstream radio and media.


Be part of our effort to make Family Music more inclusive. JOIN US AS A SPONSOR TODAY!  Help sponsor our next Kukuza Fest, WEE Nation Radio and Family Music Forward initiatives.


Your sponsorship will help fund


  • programs and strategies to accelerate Black artists at any stage of their careers

  • production grants for Black Family Music creators

  • advocacy efforts to make Family Music more inclusive and diverse


Or make a tax-deductible donation


For more information email music@weenationradio.com

To get email updates about Kukuza Fest, and learn more about Family Music Forward’s efforts to make Family Music more equitable, Join our mailing list or email familymusicforward@gmail.com for questions.

Funds Donated So Far 

Fundraising Goal: $60,000

FEATURED ARTISTS

Ella Jenkins

Through more than 50 years of groundbreaking efforts, Ella Jenkins, aptly nicknamed the “First Lady of Children’s Music,” laid the groundwork for the field of children’s music and inspired generations of children’s music leaders who have followed in her footsteps.

Her first recording, Call and Response, released in 1957 on Moses Asch’s Folkways Records (now Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) has never been out of print and remains a bestseller. Her discography currently lists 40 releases. In 1990 Jenkins received the Pioneer in Early Television Citation from the National Museum of American History. She is also the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (1999) and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (2004). In 2009 she received a United States Artists Fellowship. Jenkins is one of only 12 persons to be recognized as a Legacy Honoree of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage.

Tim Ferrin

Tim Ferrin is an independent filmmaker in Chicago specializing in documentaries, educational and arts programming, and non-profit video. Selected by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowment for the Arts’ History Film Forum as an Emerging Filmmaker, he has produced programs for National Geographic Channel, PBS, and cable television. He has also created programming for a diverse list of organizations including Lincoln Center, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainability Consortium, Northwestern University, and Major League Baseball.

His current project, Ella Jenkin's film, will be spotlighted at Kukuza Fest Day 2.

Aaron Nigel Smith

For more than 15 years, Aaron Nigel Smith has worked to educate, empower and entertain youth and families around the world. He teaches chorus & drumming in Oregon & Washington through 1 World Chorus, Young Audiences, and the Right Brain Initiative.

His most recent album, In Our America, made its debut at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Charts. His 2015 release, Celebrating Bob Marley also spent several weeks on charts. In 2012, he and 1 World Chorus released a debut CD, Welcome to the Village, to critical acclaim. People Magazine and USA today recognized the project as one of the best children’s releases of the year and the CD received a Parents’ Choice Award. His 2010 CD, Everyone Loves to Dance, also received a Parents’ Choice Award and recognition in People Magazine.

Aaron Nigel Smith joined the cast of the PBS Kids show, Between the Lions in 2008. In 2009 Aaron and his wife of 19 years Diedre, formed the non-profit 1 World Chorus with the mission of promoting peace internationally through choral singing, drumming and multimedia production. More than 5000 youth in Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Kenya & Jamaica have participated in 1 World Chorus programs.

Joseck Asikoye of Jabali Afrika

Jabali Afrika is an Afro-Rock jam band, formed by former members of the Kenyan National Theatre. The band currently consists of original members, the brothers Justo and Joseck Asikoye, as well as Dumisizwe Bhembe, who joined the band "mid-stream."

Jabali Afrika began in the early '90s, composed of dancers, singers, and drummers from the Kenyan National Theatre. The band chose its name from the Kiswahili word for "rock," jabali, and included Afrika as a reminder of its heritage. Initially performing traditional Kenyan songs, the group gained the attention of the Kenyan National Talent Search, leading to international tours organized by African Heritage.[1] The band would soon arrive in the United States and based itself in the Pittsburgh region. In 1996, the band gained attention by appearing in an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, performing the song "Tree, Tree, Tree".

Robbi Kumalo

Robbi Hall Kumalo is a veteran in the field of family music. She has over 40 years of experience entertaining children around the world and have touched over 1 million children over this time period. She has performed with Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, Rod Stewart, and the list goes on. She also speaks five languages.

STEMusic - Roy Moye III

Roy Moye III, also known as “The Singing Engineer” is a passionate advocate for Diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). He is an Aerospace Engineer with multiple years of industry experience and happens to be an accomplished singer.

After experiencing the lack of Diversity in his industry, Roy saw the need for change and decided to create the company STEMusic LLC. His company has a mission to inspire the next generation of multicultural STEM professionals through engaging and entertaining music. Roy is often creating songs with Lyrics all about STEM and he brings them to life in his high energy STEMusic Concerts.

JC Stringz

JC Stringz is a 19-year-old violinist, guitarist, and pianist from Killeen, Texas. JC has been influenced by some of the greatest in the business ranging from BB King to Bach. JC has shared the stage with two-time Emmy award-winning violinist Damien Escobar and international violinist Daniel D.

JC Stringz sets the mood with soul ballads, R&B old school hits, and fiery blues. JC takes you back to the "good old days" and keeps it current with today's hottest hits. He knows your flavor, whether he is playing the violin or guitar, JC Stringz makes you want to move.

JC is currently a college sophomore and active solo musician. He hopes to continue sharing his gift and making people smile.

FMF

Family

Music

Forward

Changemakers for Racial Equity

The Family Music Forward Collective brings together a diverse group of individuals who care about Family Music.

We are committed to transforming Family Music by supporting Black artists, children, and communities and by dismantling individual, institutional, and systemic racial bias within the industry.

We envision a time when Black artists will have equitable visibility, opportunity and compensation within the Family Music industry, and when all children and families will have access to performers and music that welcome, reflect and celebrate them. We believe that liberation of Black artists and families is liberation for all.

FMF members and collaborators:

WEE Nation Radio (Devin Walker, Lolita Walker), Shine & the Moonbeams (Shawana Kemp), SaulPaul, Pierce Freelon, Alphabet Rockers (Tommy Shepherd, Kaitlin McGaw), One World Chorus (Aaron Nigel Smith), 123 Andres (Andrés Salguero, Christina Sanabria), Little Miss Ann (Ann Torralba), Karen Kalafatas, Mil’s Trills (Amelia Robinson), Alastair Moock and Brittany Parker

DONOR/SPONSORS

Mo Phillips

Ben Gundersheimer

Wendy Morgan of Wendy & DB

Cathy Stough

Adventure Theatre & ATMTC Academy

Katherine Dines

Dana Cohenour

123 Andres

Bee Parks and the Hornets

Red Yarn

Stephen Harrington

Keith and LaTisha Chase

Galen Brandt

Two of a Kind

Veronica Matthews

Black Student Fund

Valerie Smalkin

Elena Moon Park

Alastair Moock

Strand Theatre - Maine

Amelia Robinson

Abir El

Lori Henriques

Katie Beth Ryan

Renee Collins Georges

Anya Kuminiec

Catriona McWilliam

Elizabeth Buchanan

Lucy Kalantari

Homeless Children's Playtime Project

David Kinnoin

Kathy O'Connell

Tom Smith

Donna Wright

Stephanie Rothschild

Esther Crow

Joanie Calem

Okee Dokee Brothers

Treehouse Shakers, Dance-Theater for Young Audiences

Jay Sand

Johnny Bregar

Carrie Schymanski