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January 9 , 2006

Renowned Bassist Bakithi Kumalo to Perform at Farmingdale State

In honor of African-American History Month, the Distinguished Speakers Program of Farmingdale State University of New York will host Bakithi Kumalo and the South African Star Band on Tuesday February, 14 at 11:00 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. in Roosevelt Hall Little Theatre.  The Distinguished Speakers Program sponsors lectures and performances throughout the academic year to enrich the lives of the college community and citizens of Long Island.

Americans first became aware of Bakithi Kumalo as one of the most talented living bassists, following the release of Paul Simon's Grammy Award winning Graceland album in 1986. He is renowned for his soulful and sinuous bass lines which played a major role in making Graceland so comfortable to American ears. Graceland and Bakithi's African-inflected fretless bass lines thundered out a countdown for the abolition of apartheid and brought South Africa's injustices to America's political forefront.

In addition to Bakithi's ongoing relationship with Paul Simon, he has recorded and toured with Harry Belafonte, Gloria Estefan, Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan, Jon Secada, Herbie Hancock, Mickey Hart, Laurie Anderson, Grover Washington Jr. and Bob James among others.

The February program will feature an ensemble of extraordinary musicians that includes South African penny-whistle saxophone whiz Morris Goldberg from "The Rosie O'Donnell Show", and South African drummer Anton Fig, the drummer on "Late Night with David Letterman." In addition, Bakithi's American-born wife, Robbi Hall Kumalo, a well-known singer who is an award-winning star of children's music, will be part of the program.

Bakithi possesses a unique musical style combining the traditions of his homeland with influences encountered in South America (especially Brazil), the Caribbean and the USA, including South African traditional folk, contemporary jazz, salsa, and electronica. Bakithi and his band use music and narrative to describe their experiences in South Africa living under apartheid.  Band members Morris Goldberg and Anton Fig provide a look at the oppressive nature of apartheid from a different side, as white South Africans. Not everyone is aware that, during apartheid, white musicians broke the law to play with black musicians.

Bakithi Kumalo and The South African Star Band will perform two 1 hour sets. In addition to performing and moderating the program, Robbi Kumalo will interview the three South African musicians to help the audiences learn of their varied experiences, and she will also encourage questions from the audience.  The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call Dr. Charles Fishman, Director, Distinguished Speakers Program at 631-420-2687.