Jerry Jenkins and his drums will be featured in a program on West African music at Alcorn State University. Jenkins will offer a historical look at African music and give demonstrations of how the music was played. He also will discuss its value as well as its impact on today’s culture in Southern Mississippi.
Jenkins’ presentation is titled “‘A Look at Mande’ (West African) Culture through Traditional Music.'” It will be held at Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023 at 1 p.m., in Dumas Hall, Room 107, on the Lorman Campus of Alcorn State University.
“My lecture will focus on the music of Pre-Africa and what it was like,” Jenkins said. “We will look at the music and the people of that time period. Today we separate our artists from the community. But what are the benefits of bringing them back together?”
Jenkins said he would engage the crowd as he often does in other presentations. He said he would bring extra drums for this purpose.
The event is hosted by the Southwest Mississippi Center for Culture & Learning and Alcorn State University School of Arts and Sciences. Teresa Busby, the center’s executive director, said the “program is the first in the center’s Coffee & Culture series for fall 2023.” The presentation is free to the public.
“We are delighted to host Mr. Jenkins at Alcorn State University,” Busby said. “His interactive presentation will delve into the influence of West Africa on American culture. He uses music to tell an important story and to engage his audiences.”
Jenkins is originally from Chicago, Ill. He grew up in Vicksburg but now lives in Jackson. His work as a musician and educator has taken him across the state and to cities outside of Mississippi.
In February 2022, Jenkins played the drums and portrayed King Sori in a play on Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim held at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. The play was titled, “Isabella and the Prince: ‘Overcoming Struggles Through Courage & Faith.” It featured local historian Jeremy Houston as the Prince and Shella Adams, an actual descendent of Ibrahim, as Isabella.
During his performance with the drums, Jenkins moved throughout the room and engaged the audience by having several people play the drums along with him.
Jenkins has presented at the Two Museums in Jackson and Juneteenth events in Vicksburg. He said he’s also performed for the Jackson-George Regional Library System on the coast. In addition to his performance at the museum, Jenkins also has given presentations at Concord Quarters, working with Debbie Cosey, the property’s co-owner.
Jenkins has been a lifelong student of African music. He is a member of the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau. He also is listed as a performance artist on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Artist Roster.
According to the commission’s website, Jenkins “provides engaging programming structured around West African stories, dramas, and Djembe ensemble music.” Jenkins teaches various levels of advanced techniques in Djembe drumming and Mande culture through music.
“His unique approach to interacting with the audience creates a deeper and more meaningful experience,” it states.
For more information on Jenkin’s presentation, call 601-877-6551. To request disability-related accommodations, contact the Disability Coordinator at least five days in advance at 601-877-6460 (office) or email at [email protected]