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Local nonprofit brings musical acts to Lexington for free performances

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The Seipp/Sheets duo poses for a picture before a concert
courtesy Seipp/Sheets Duo
The Seipp/Sheets duo poses for a picture before a concert.

A Lexington non-profit is bringing two musical acts to the Commonwealth this fall for free performances open to the public . Here's a preview of the organ and trumpet duo, and the African drum and dance troupe.

  Musicians Chuck Seipp and Randall Sheets are a trumpet and organ duo coming to perform in Lexington this weekend.  Begin nat of music Seipp played trumpet for the United States Army for 32 years and Sheets was the ceremonial organist at Arlington National Cemetery.  Nat of their music Seipp says the Washington D.C.-based pair will be featured in concert Sunday afternoon, entertaining an audience at Faith Lutheran Church with patriotic and inspirational music. 

“What’s really unique about this duo is a couple of things. Is because of our background, it’s important for us to honor veterans in our concerts. So, with at least one piece, we will do a tribute to veterans,”  said Seipp.

The retired Sergeant Major said the other unique aspect of their concerts is that they perform everything to video.

  “It can be very humorous. It highlights the music that we’re playing. Like with the patriotic pieces, they’re very moving pieces that we do. The one that we’ll be doing in Lexington will be an actual ceremony of a funeral ceremony for Arlington National Cemetery from start to end.  We will play the song America and you will be taken on a tour of what it’s like to witness a military funeral in Arlington National Cemetery. So, it’s quite moving," reported Seipp.

 The accomplished musicians call their hour-and-a-half performance The King of Instruments and the Instrument of Kings. The duo has performed at venues in 25 states. Chuck Seipp said this is their first show in Lexington.

  “We have uplifting things that we do and entertaining things that we do. We have a silent movie that we’ll be doing. It is so funny. It’s called a trip to the moon. One of our arrangers did an amazing job of putting music to each scene that highlights that particular silent movie. It’s a 1902 silent movie,” said Seipp. 

 The concert is one of the free events presented by the Harstad Fine Arts Series. Kerstin Wendroth is president of the non-profit organization. She said the intention of the series is to build community through free and public offerings of the arts. 

  “We make every effort to reach people of different ages and different backgrounds just to come together and enjoy the arts,” explained Wendroth.

Students with Bi-Okoto's drum and dance class learn African drumming.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Students with Bi-Okoto's drum and dance class learn African drumming.

 On a recent Saturday morning children and adults with Bi-Okoto’s drum and dance theater prepared for the show they will bring to Lexington in November. The Cincinnati-based School of African Cultures performs and teaches internationally. Nigerian-born Funmilayo Ajamufua is Bi-Okoto’s programs coordinator. She said the non-profit’s mission is to preserve and share African heritage. She teaches drumming, dancing, and cooking.  

  “Bi-Okoto envisions a society where every individual is proud of their culture while appreciating the culture of other people. So our mission is to preserve, share African culture using authentic African music, drumming, you know, all of it,” said Ajamufua.

 On this day children from ages five to twelve drum and dance with teacher and performer Olushola Benjamin. Benjamin was born in Nigeria. 

“Right here in Bi-Okoto we teach dances and drumming from different parts of Africa. We do Guinea, Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, you name it. We teach different dances and drum patterns from different parts of Africa. So, this helps them have historical knowledge about all the countries not just United States,” explained Benjamin. 

Children with Bi-Okoto's drum and dance class learn special dance for upcoming performance.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
Children with Bi-Okoto's drum and dance class learn special dance for upcoming performance.

Benjamin said the performers dress in colorful African garb. They usually dance, drum, and sing. And a teaching component is incorporated into the performance. 

 “Lexington, we’re coming, get ready to dance with us,” said Benjamin.

The children's African drumming class at Bi-Okoto is led by Olushola Benjamin.
Cheri Lawson
/
WEKU
The children's African drumming class at Bi-Okoto is led by Olushola Benjamin.

 Along with performances like that of the Seipp/Sheets Duo and Bi-Okoto, the Harstad Fine Arts Series also presents occasional art exhibits. 

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Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.
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