World rhythms beatin Silverthorne |

World rhythms beatin Silverthorne

Special to the Daily Self-described African slave descendants collectively called the Black Hands Drum Ensemble share their stories through drumming, dance, poetry and song at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Silverthorne Pavilion's Celebrations Around the World.

SILVERTHORNE – For too many decades, white people have written African American history. Now Keith Gill and his Black Hand Drum Ensemble convey their own cultural experiences.The self-described African slave descendants share their stories through drumming, dance, poetry and song at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Silverthorne Pavilion’s Celebrations Around the World.The event helps introduce Summit County students and residents to a variety of cultures through booth displays, food and entertainment.”Celebrations Around the World serves to strengthen community bonds and education by introducing residents, at all age levels, to their neighbors’ beliefs,” said Christina Carlson, executive director of Summit County’s Family and Intercultural Resource Center. “This is an opportunity to promote immigrant integration as residents of different ethnic backgrounds communicate their cultures through music, food, dance and fun.”

Rhythm of the heartGill and his seven-piece ensemble wear multicolored or earth-toned attire, play an array of drums ranging from djembe to djun djuns, add traditional instrumentation such as sherkere (gourds covered with beads) and claves (two sticks) and tell stories through dance and song.”Our intention is for our people – African American people – to be able to share with the world our own culture through our own experience, our own vision and our own mouth instead of other people presenting it,” Gill said. “The main thing people get is an appreciation of our culture – a sense of enlightenment and joy. What we bring is interactive. No one has ever been able to sit still when we perform because the audience becomes a part of what we do.”The ensemble will demonstrate the various instruments and the roles they play. For example, there can be 20 different drum parts before musicians add any other instrumentation, he said.”The drum connects with the heart, and (people relate) because everyone has a heart,” he said. “Your heart, as it beats, it beats like a drum. Listening to the drum is like listening to a big heart beat, and it beats inside each person’s body.”Most of the world music was born out of Africa, so no matter where you go – even Asian music – you can still hear the African in it. If you get rid of the instrumentation on top of the basic beat the drums carry, then you’ll see you’re dancing to the drum itself.”

Growing diversitySilverthorne resident Carrie Brown originated the idea for Celebrations Around the World in 2001 when the town sponsored a contest at the pavilion grand opening asking people to create a signature event. She envisioned an educational event celebrating diversity.For the fourth year in a row, fourth graders will spend the day visiting booths highlighting specific cultures, such as West African, Asian, Norwegian, Eastern European, French and Hispanic. At night, the pavilion opens to the public with free food samples from each booth and entertainment.This year, the event will offer the largest number of booths – six total – including a new Canadian booth.

“It’s grown in leaps and bounds,” Hodgell said. “Every year, we serve more food and try to upgrade our talent.”It opens people’s eyes that there is cultural diversity up here. It’s my favorite event. All children need to know we’re all human even though we’re from different backgrounds.”And adults seem to enjoy it just as much as kids do. Last year, about 500 people attended the evening events, said Becky Hodgell, pavilion event assistant. Wednesday and Thursday, attendees and students can visit booths and get stamps on passports issued at the door. The event is free.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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