Dwight Andrews appointed
festival artistic director

Following in the footsteps of theater and television actor Avery Brooks ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), Emory Music Professor Dwight Andrews has been named artistic director for the 1998 Atlanta-based National Black Arts Festival. Andrews, who is currently in residence at Harvard University for the spring term as the first Quincy Jones Visiting Professor of African American Music, was joined by University President Bill Chace, National Black Arts Festival Board Chairman Michael Lomax, Professor Wole Soyinka and playwright August Wilson in announcing the appointment last Tuesday at the Carlos Museum. "I see the role as part of my own public ministry," said the multifaceted Andrews, who is an ordained minister as well as composer, performer and teacher.

"The life of a president is one of unending joy and special moments," President Chace remarked to knowing laughter. "Some moments are better than others, and this is one of those very good moments."

Andrews, who served as music curator for the National Black Arts Festival in 1994, will provide a "seamless transition and a strong sense of the festival's mission," said Lomax. "He's a vital force in the African American artistic continuum."

One of Andrews first responsibilities as artistic director will be to create ongoing creative programming during the two years leading up to the festival. He plans to host artists-in-residence, ongoing dialogues, readings and classes for all ages. "Arts and entertainment are not the same thing," said Andrews. "We need to start articulating that in a way that's useful for all of us."

In recent years, the National Black Arts Festival has been laboring under the weight of its own success, said Andrews. He plans to be a "facilitator in increasing its support structure as the festival moves toward the next millenium."

A noted scholar of jazz history, popular culture and race, Andrews also has recorded and performed with such diverse artists as Anthony Braxton, Leo Smith and Geri Allen and arranged music for saxaphonist Branford Marsalis' 1992 album, "I Heard You Twice the First Time." "My entire career has never been one of my own making or my own planning," he noted.

Andrews first worked with August Wilson in 1984 when he provided musical direction for Wilson's first play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at Yale Reperatory Theatre. Their collaboration has continued through the Broadway productions of several of Wilson's plays including Ma Rainey, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Fences, The Piano Lesson, and, most recently, Seven Guitars.

The National Black Arts Festival showcases the work of artists in the disciplines of music, dance, theater, film, folk arts, visual art, performance art and literature. Founded in 1987 by the Fulton County Arts Council, the festival now presents the work of more than 1,500 artists of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and South America.

The biennial festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary July 31­p;Aug. 9, 1998. Last year's event had a total attendance of 1.1 million people.

-Stacey Jones

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