Art Hounds celebrate Black storytelling

Elisha Minter, who goes by Mother Minter, tells a story.
Elisha Minter, who goes by Mother Minter, tells a story about her grand aunt's biscuits during a performance by the Black Storytellers Alliance inside the Women's Correctional Facility in Shakopee on March 9, 2019. The group is marking its 30th festival this week.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

Updated: 3:50 p.m.

Verlena Flournoy Matey-Keke has long enjoyed the work of the Black Storytellers Alliance in Minneapolis. This year marks the 30th Black Master Storytelling Festival, which will livestream on April 10, 17 and 25.

The free series of events will include music and storytelling by artists from Minnesota and around the country. Danielle Daniel emcees. Nearly half of the 14 storytellers are from Minnesota.

Matey-Keke loves history, and she appreciates the role that storytelling has long held in passing down Black history and lessons. Having once taken a class with the Black Storytellers, she says she has learned best storytelling brings characters to life.

Melvin Carter Jr. joined the St. Paul police force in 1974.
Melvin Carter Jr. joined the St. Paul Police Department in 1974 and served nearly 40 years on the force, initially one of only a handful of Black officers among the ranks.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society Press

Actor T. Mychael Rambo calls our attention to a virtual play from the History Theatre that celebrates the Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul. “Diesel Heart — Part 2” follows the life of Melvin Carter Jr., who grew up in Rondo, joined the Navy, and returned home to serve as a police officer for over 25 years. His son, Melvin Carter III, is the mayor of St Paul. The play was written by Brian Grandison in collaboration with the elder Carter. It’s directed by H. Adam Harris.

The first act of “Diesel Heart” originally premiered as a virtual show, and “Diesel Heart — Part 2”  includes several new scenes in Act 2 on Carter’s law enforcement experience. Tickets are available here. The reading of the show is available for streaming Monday through April 18.

This week marks one full year that the Twin Cities Jazz Festival has been livestreaming concerts. Jazz singer Connie Evingson has performed at one such streamed event in the past, and recommends upcoming shows. This Thursday at 7 p.m. the Mac Santiago Quartet performs, with Santiago on drums, Dale Alexander on piano, Aaron Hedenstrom on sax and Billy Peterson on bass. Their performance will stream live from the Dakota stage.

Up next Thursday: the Twin Cities group Ticket to Brasil plays “bossa nova, samba, and all that wonderful stuff that makes you want to move,” Evingson said. Performances are free, with donations appreciated.

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