Sweetwater adds music nights to Mavuno event

Joy Ike Trio

Relax to classic jazz melodies or enjoy soulful blues tunes each Friday night in October as Sweetwater Center for the Arts transforms into a nightclub — complete with dim lights and candles — to celebrate African American art and culture in the community.

The Sewickley nonprofit’s Mavuno Festival of African American Art and Culture will focus on African American music during its 21st year with the addition of a weekly music series.

During the month, from 7 to 9 p.m. each Friday, Sweetwater will feature a different genre of African American music.

Tickets, which cost $25 for nonmembers and $20 for members with an advanced purchase, include appetizers and wine and beer.

“It’s a longstanding tradition, not only for Sweetwater, but also for the Sewickley community,” said interim executive director Thomas Walters.

The festival not only provides for new experiences for Sewickley area residents, but gives the artists a chance to showcase their work, Walters said.

“It’s a beautiful celebration of art and artists and African American culture,” he said.

Mavuno was started by a group of people involved in Sweetwater who saw a need to greater celebrate African American art and culture in the area.

This year, it includes a solo exhibition, “Painting with Fabric,” by Columbus, Ohio, resident Don “DonCee” Coulter.

His work, where he uses a knife to cut layers into fibers, focuses on jazz music scenes and urban cityscapes, said Alexandra Watrous, artistic coordinator for Sweetwater.

“There’s memories of his neighborhoods in there,” she said.

The exhibition runs through Nov. 4.

Mavuno will be capped off that day with a gospel brunch, featuring a buffet of “soul food” and a build your own bloody mary bar, Watrous said.

“It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this,” she said.

The St. Matthews A.M.E. Zion Church Choir of Sewickley will perform a few songs, followed by an hour long performance by Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale of Pittsburgh.

Mavuno also will feature hip hop, African drumming and gospel worship workshops during October.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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