March 4th 6:00 to 9:00 pm
at UCLA’s Northwest Campus Auditorium
“Exceptionally accomplished, lifts the solo dramatic genre to heights rarely reached”
Akuyoe Graham’s autobiographical one-woman show “Spirit Awakening” at UCLA follows her progression from her native Ghana, where she was a princess of a royal tribe, to her upbringing in London, to her eventual incarnation as a young actress on the Manhattan cafe society scene.
A reprise of a 1992 production that has since toured widely, Graham’s piece contains a cast of finely honed characters, including Graham’s own youthful self and an intrinsically racist British school head who seeks to squelch Graham’s otherness. In addition to Graham’s exceptional performance, an evocative stage design and beautifully performed music by Jayson Fann give a palpable sense of the color and warmth of Graham’s West African childhood.
Queen mother Nana Odede Akuyoe Graham of Ghana, West Africa is a critically acclaimed actress, writer and founder of the Spirit Awakening Foundation and crowned queen of Ghana. She has been named “Angel of the Year“ by the Children’s Life Saving Foundation, “Artist of the Year” by Artshare LA, and been given a “Local Hero Award” by A Season for Non-Violence LA, and the Pasadena Police and Fire Department for her work with at risk youth and teens in the juvenile system. In 2007 Akuyoe received the Landmark Entertainment’s Miriam Makeba Award for her “outstanding” work as an actor. Akuyoe created the award winning writing program, “Rights of Passage/Unmasking your Authentic Voice” and the Spirit Awakening Foundation. The foundation oversees the implementation of her program for teens and incarcerated youth. The California State Department of Justice has recognized Rights of Passage as “innovative and effective” in the areas of youth gang violence prevention.
Jayson Fann is a musician, visual artist, director, producer and multi-cultural arts consultant. He performs, designs and produces hundreds of concerts and educational programs annually. Jayson brings his expertise in Pan African visual arts and music with a emphasis in Afro Cuban folkloric, Jazz, Brazilian, Ghanaian, and Yoruba music to the Spirit Awakening Production. Jayson is the founder and director of the Big Sur Spirit Garden, The Esalen International Arts Festival, and the Ashé Esemble. Through these diverse projects he weaves together a rich tapestry of performing artists dedicated to a common vision and spirit of cross cultural unity. Jayson currently is touring as percussionist for Nigerian Singer songwriter Iyeoka Okoawo.
His other credits include performing, touring and recording with the legendary Babatunde Olatunji and the Drums of Passion Ensemble, recording and touring with renowned Chilian artist Viviana Guzman, performing, sharing the stage with and presenting such artists as Alegria Latin Jazz Ensemble, jazz artist Renee Wilson, gospel and soul artist Vernon Bush, Babatunde Lee, legendary Brazilian artists Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, jazz artist Hannibal Lakumbe, Brazilian jazz singer Claudia Villela, Jackeline Rago and the Venezuelan Project, John Santos, Danjuma & Onola of Nigeria, and many others.