Posted on January 24, 2017 by Tia Lalani

This Thursday, Augustana welcomes Garth Prince, African vocalist, singer-songwriter and teacher, along with his 8-piece band to perform a free concert, sponsored by our annual theme: colour.

Photo courtesy of africansong.ca.

Garth Prince’s passion for music came from a place of resistance, a refusal to accept the segregation enforced upon him while growing up under Apartheid in South Africa.

Born in Cape Town South Africa and raised in Namibia, it was at 15 that Prince joined a youth choir, to which he credits his understanding of how music brings people together.

“One place you could go was to this choir where it didn’t really matter what language you spoke or what group you were put into by the government, people just got together to sing and focused on the things they liked about each other. Because I did that for ten years, it’s something I took with me.”

The notion that music brings people together is not something that Prince simply learned from his time spent in choir, but a mantra that has informed the rest of his life. As a current Moscato Youth Choir ambassador who regularly performs in schools and theatres, Prince has also held a number of musical residencies and is currently starting his own small community choir in Edmonton, the city he now calls home.

Prince and his band, equipped with a variety of instruments just as eclectic as the band members themselves, will be performing at the Jeanne Peter & Lougheed Performing Arts Centre this Thursday evening at 7 pm, for a free concert that is open to the public, and hosted by Augustana’s annual theme: colour.

The annual theme seeks to bring the campus community together in a variety of ways, including performances, lectures, exhibits, and is meant to relate to a wide-range of subjects. A number of faculty talks centered around colour have already been offered this year on the subjects of physics and how colour is seen, art and how colours can be layered to produce different effects, biology and how animal species use their coloured bodies, and psychology, in terms of the brain’s perception of colour. Prince’s performance will dig into the concept of colour even more by exploring how colour is intimately connected with constructions of racial and ethnic categories, something that informed Prince’s childhood.

There are a few more ways that Prince’s performance will resonate with the annual theme. “It’s world music, combining traditional African music with some Western influence, so the music will have some colour to it in a sense,” said Kara Blizzard, public services librarian and chair of the annual theme committee. “There’s also the wide variety of instruments being used – people who are watching may not have seen these instruments being used before. And Garth himself will bring a very colourful presence, he’ll be telling stories in between songs.”

Prince performing in Germany, as part of the Mascato Youth Choir. Photo courtesy of africansong.ca.

You can also expect some audience participation, something that Prince incorporates into all of his shows. “Usually there are a couple of songs where I ask the audience who wants to come up and learn an African dance while the band plays – it’s like a little workshop right on stage. That’s pretty much going to happen,” he laughs.

His upbeat energy comes through even over the phone, and coincidentally, the energy is one of the things he loves most about performing. Another is being able to introduce people to different kinds of music.

“Because I came from a time and a place where there was segregation based on something like colour, one of the reasons I love doing what I do is to introduce people to music from a part of the world where people are different, and are a different colour, but still have so much in common.”

 


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