Museum Press

Transcending Continents
A Black History Month Celebration

February 11, 2014

For Immediate Release:
Lydia Viscardi

Bridgeport, CT... The Housatonic Museum of Art in collaboration with Shanna Melton of Poetic Soul Arts presents Transcending Continents: A Black History Month Celebration in the Performing Arts Center of Housatonic Community College at 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, CT on Thursday, Febuary 27, 2014 from 6 - 9 pm, free and open to the public. This event includes artists from Senegal, Antigua and America who will explore how music, poetry and storytelling create a spiritual communication that transcends continents to create a psychic connection. Stories of love and ancestry that are universal are conveyed through the gift of art. Featured performers Bideew Bou Bess accompanied by Tony Vacca, along with Gina LeVon Simpson, Tenisi Davis and Iyaba Ibo Mandigo use words and sounds to share their experience. For further information contact Shanna Melton: , or call 203-572-4937.

About the Poets:

Iyaba Ibo Mandingo

​Poet, painter, writer, actor and playwright, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is a native of Antigua, West Indies, who came to the US in 1980 as a young boy. His earliest exposures to the arts were through his mother, a professional singer, and his grandparents, a tailor and a seamstress who first introduced him to colors and patterns, paving a path to the many ways of expression: drawing, painting, sculpting, writing and performing. Mandingo studied fine arts at Southern Connecticut State University and today teaches in and around the tri-state area as a Master Teaching Artist.

Mandingo appears regularly as an international performance poet. US venues include Nuyorican Poetry Café, Brooklyn Moon, and Next Door Café. He was the keynote performer at the 2011 Westchester, NY Poetry Festival. He was recently seen at 59E59 in Deb Margolin’s The Expenses of Rain (Laura Barnett, director.) Mandingo is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, 41 Times, Amerikkan Exile, and his latest, 40 days & 40 nites of write. His new novel, Sins of My Fathers, was released in 2013. He is a New York Theatre Workshop Summer, 2011 Artist in Residence. Mandingo was awarded a national Percent for the Arts Program artist grant, as well as grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and multiple commendations from the Nassau County African American Museum. His artwork has been included in over a dozen group and individual international shows. Gina LeVon Simpson

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Gina LeVon Simpson moved to Bridgeport in 1982 with her two children. Her professional career started at the Maria Regina College in Syracuse, NY, where she started working for the Westcott Youth Organization writing poetry, and acting in Public Service Announcements. She expanded her capacity to reach a wider audience by using her talents and showcasing the best of Bridgeport. As a producer at Sound View Community Media, she received two awards. Simpson has performed one woman shows, skits, poetry, drumming and presented workshops at many functions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Ghana, West Africa, and in local community centers, libraries and churches. She was the Playwright and Creative Director of “The MAAFA Influence - Evoking the Pain of the Past…Building a Strong and Powerful Future” from 2004 through 2010. This original production showcased in Connecticut, Brooklyn, NY, and Aiken, South Carolina. Simpson is a minister, consultant, poet, storyteller, illustrator, producer, writer and director who passionately seeks to inspire, encourage, and teach through the many gifts she has embraced since childhood.

Tony Vacca and Bideew Bou Bess

Tony Vacca's Senegal-America Project combines the spectacle and spectacular performance of internationally renowned percussionist Tony Vacca and the West African hip-hop group Bideew Bou Bess. Vacca brings his American perspective to the African Balaphone, gongs and assorted other percussion instruments. Bideew Bou Bess, one of Senegal’s most popular and innovative bands is comprised of three brothers: Beydi, Moctar and Ibrahima Sall. They combine ancient griot traditions with global-minded contemporary Hip-Hop sounds. Together the four musicians create a very high energy, interactive cross cultural extravaganza.