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Benny Cruz Y La Buena Vida

Benny Cruz Y La Buena Vida has become known as the “Ambassadors of Latin Music” in the Midwest. Their high-energy performances include salsa, merengue, mambo, cha-cha and other Latin American rhythms. They have performed at the Henry Ford Museum, Crossroads Village, Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit African Museum, Tiger Stadium, Cobo Hall and the Pontiac Silverdome, to name a few. Benny Cruz, a certified vocal music educator, has given Latin music workshops at major universities, school districts and libraries in Michigan. The hands-on workshops take the audience on a musical tour to learn about the rhythms associated with Spain, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Puerto Rico. “The New Year’s Eve Jubilee was fabulous! Your family is such a professional group!” (Jayne Haas, New Year’s Eve Jubilee representative)

Biakuye: Music and Dance Ensemble

Among the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa, Biakuye means unity. It is the spirit of unity that brings the Ghanaian and American members of Biakuye together to perform traditional African music and dance. Biakuye educates audiences about African culture and its global influence in performances that entertain the ears and eyes through music, dance and costumes. Biakuye’s presentations include workshops that engage the audience in music and dance participation as well as concert performances.

Dulcimer Days with Wanda Degen

Award-winning folk musician and singer Wanda Degen presents an educational and entertaining program featuring traditional and contemporary songs and instrumentals with the autoharp and hammered and mountain dulcimers. Specializing in participatory family concerts, she performs for preschoolers, senior citizens and all ages in between. Themes for a program include Appalachian Spring, Dulcimers & Dinosaurs, Michigan in Song, Dulcimer Days Patchwork (a medley of the above) or A Traditional Christmas. Wanda owns ten mountain dulcimers she can bring for hands-on instruction. She offers a favorite workshop for festivals and in the classroom visitations.


The Detroit News said, “If the Pied Piper had been twins, odds are he would have been Gemini.” San and Laz are a musical celebration for children and the whole family! The twin brothers’ beautiful voices, stage full of instruments, sparkling original songs and traditional music from around the world make for a truly delightful show. Gemini’s recordings have won awards from the American Library Association, NAPPA, Early Childhood News and Parents’ Choice magazine. In 2000, Gemini began their 27th year of performing throughout the country in schools, concert halls (sometimes with symphony orchestras) and festivals, often involving local children’s choirs in their concerts.

Griz Prusik

Singer-songwriter Griz Prusik has appeared at pow wows, shipping and lighthouse festivals, art fairs and concerts halls all the way from the rugged shipwreck shores of Lake Superior to the quiet manatee-haunted rivers and coves of Tampa Bay. A veteran of television and radio, he has written over 300 songs and has four compact discs to his credit.

Hayden Carruth: The Roots of American Song

Music educator by trade and performing ethnomusicologist at heart, Hayden Carruth brings together passionate musicality and technical expertise to trace the roots of American song. With autoharp, banjo, bottleneck and other guitars, harmonica and whistles, this songwriter and collector crafts lively performances that integrate entertainment, education and inspiration. A seasoned performer with hundreds of concerts across the country to his credit, Mr. Carruth is a popular choice for concerts, workshops, school programs and festivals.

Jabali Afrika

Jabali Afrika from East Africa’s Kenya is a truly multifaceted group with its own unique mixture of fusion and African rhythms. Original compositions and traditional African music come alive on a wide variety of instruments, accompanied by vocal harmonies that form the foundation of modern rock, jazz, blues and more. Add talented dancing and choreography, topped off with stunning African tribal costumes, and you have a multicultural experience that will leave your entire audience enriched, educated and entertained.

Kevin Collins

Kevin Collins is a respected percussionist who shares his love of African music through lively, participatory performances. He brings with him an impressive collection of traditional percussion instruments from Africa. Children and adults will find his performances entertaining and educational as they learn what a “DeJemba” is and get the chance to play! In addition to his professional work performing with big bands and his own group “The Music Mechanics,” Collins works extensively with children. He directs an ongoing African Drum and Dance Troupe in Flint. He has presented many concerts and participated in arts education programs in Flint and throughout Michigan. His experience and enthusiasm combine to provide a unique musical experience.


Les Ross, Sr.

Les Ross, Sr. plays traditional Finnish-American/Scandinavian folk and dance music on harmonica, including haunting waltzes, lively jenkkas, rockin’ schottisches, melancholy immigrant love songs and up-tempo polkas—music that was popular in the “old halls” years ago. Typically accompanied by his band, Ja Ystävät (and friends), he plays in a unique northwoods or lumberjack style, an almost lost old-time method. “Les is one of the few remaining masters of the style,” according to the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA). He is the only Finnish-American folk artist and only performer from the northern Great Lakes area invited by NCTA to participate in the prestigious National Folk Festival. His 1998 recording of Finnish-American folk and dance music led to numerous radio, television and festival appearances, including interviews and performances on Minnesota Public Radio and NPR’s All Things Considered.


Oktoben German Band

An enjoyable experience awaits audiences of the Oktoben German Band. Performing a variety of music including marches, ethnic folk songs and dances like the Scottish waltz and polka, the band chooses the right combination of music to make any performance memorable. Programs are narrated in English and German with fun and interesting stories behind many of the songs. Oktoben’s music has been enjoyed at Octoberfests, ethic festivals, art fairs, private parties and community concerts.



The down-home music sung and played by this family group evokes memories of a time when music was created and performed in kitchens and parlors, community halls or fresh-swept barns. They perform renditions of songs from Ireland, Michigan, Britain and Appalachia, accompanied by varying combinations of mandolin, flute, tin whistle, dulcimer, concertina, fiddle, harmonica, guitar, bodhran and bones. Ourselves gladly plays “unplugged” for quiet locations but will bring a sound system as needed.


Owain Phyfe

Singer and recording artist Owain Phyfe has become a popular phenomenon by taking the music and lyrics of Renaissance times and bringing their full content and emotions into the lap of the 21st century. Whether as a solo performer accompanying himself on the ancient guitar-like instrument known as the chitarra battente or with his “New World Renaissance Band,” Owain Phyfe sincerely communicates songs in a dozen different languages, from the very distant past, in what The New Age Journal describes as “a timeless alchemy of emotional relevance.” Phyfe refers to the passion for this bardic adventure as “musical chivalry.” Gramophone Magazine puts it more simply: “Owain Phyfe has a fabulous voice.”

Prevas Brothers

The Prevas Brothers—Nikolaos, Panayiotis and Aristides—have been composing and publicly performing Greek folk music in their own unique style since 1955. They are Michigan’s first Greek-American instrumental and vocal ensemble. The Prevas Brothers have performed throughout America, Canada and Greece and on television, radio and recordings. They have received awards from the United States Army and the American Red Cross for charitable appearances. They also explain the songs in English.


SongSister Julie Austin & David Mosher

SongSister Julie Austin, “Best Children’s Per-former” (Metro Parent Magazine), and her SongBrother, David Mosher, feature a unique blend of humorous, energetic and irresistible children’s music in a sing-along, move-along concert, guaranteed to have your hands clapping, toes tapping and fingers snapping! Julie sings, tells stories and accompanies herself on guitar, jawharp and autoharp while David joins her on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, bass, guitar and vocals. All songs are interactive, with audiences dancing, moving, singing and using gestures or sign language. Since 1986, Austin has traveled throughout the country as a Wolftrap Master Artist, a High/Scope consultant and an early childhood specialist. She has made several nationally acclaimed recordings, including 1999 Parent’s Choice Silver Honor’s Winner, Fandagumbo, which was produced by David Mosher.


The Collecting Consort

The Collecting Consort’s fresh and expressive performances captivate audiences of all ages. This talented duo’s personal and gentle warmth creates an instant rapport for you as they entertain and educate through a sensitive blend of music, drama, stories and narration. Celtic harp, keyboard, hammered dulcimer, whistles and flutes touch your heart with appealing arrangements of familiar folk, classical and contemporary music. Their concerts and school programs may explore your special themes, recreate your local history or enhance the “Character Counts” pillars. Workshops/residencies for groups (including special and alternative education) creatively explore all artistic media. They have released 16 commercial recordings and produced numerous radio specials.


The Gratitude Steel Band

The Gratitude Steel Band/Eguana-En-Ekele (Yoraba language) has six shows to choose from: Caribbean, Reggae, African, Classical, Hawaiian and World Jazz. Students learn about the history of the steel drums, music style, geographic locations and composer contributions. This information is scaled to grade levels K–12 and all ages. Hands-on experience and visual aids are included in these fun programs. This fantastic array of cultural music enhances fun, social understanding and cultural awareness. All shows end with or include limbo and conga line fun. Join the Conga Train!


The Storytellers

The Storytellers enhance the art of storytelling with world music. Their highly acclaimed concerts for children and families feature heart-warming tales, beautiful music, a bit of humor and some very interesting musical instruments. Their unique instrumentation includes didgeridoo, steel drums, donno, udu, cuica, djembe’, m’bira, berimbau, balafone and more. The Storytellers have toured extensively for over 20 years, showcasing Audrey Allison’s wonderful, animated style of oratory. Study guides available for K–6 schools.

Tiana Marquez

Tiana Marquez performances feature African-American spirituals and original songs, all interwoven with stories she has created. She offers a selection of programs that entertain and teach multicultural audiences important aspects of African-American history. Schools, libraries and educational institutions are especially interested in these programs. She also has performed concerts and sacred music at church, community and civic programs. She holds a master’s degree and has released four albums.


Tom and Chris Kastle

The Kastles grew up in Chicago, cutting their professional teeth at legendary venues such as the Earl of Old Town. They played pubs while pursuing graduate degrees in human ecology, then traveled to Europe to collect songs and stories. In 1985, they became immersed in the history, ecology and culture of the Great Lakes, serving as crew and later instructors and captain aboard tall ships. Their experiences are documented in brilliant performances and critically acclaimed recordings.


Tom Hodgson: Music for Mother Earth

Take a musical journey on the spaceship earth. Learn how it works and what can be done in school and at home to keep it clean and green for all to enjoy. This is an ideal program for elementary school assemblies, youth groups, nature centers, libraries and family-oriented festivals. Audience participation is encouraged. Supporting materials are included. The program, Music to Celebrate the Great Outdoors, is also available for general audiences.




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Copyright © 2001 Glo Gem Productions, Inc.
Last modified: October 16, 2001