Ethnic Heritage Ensemble to perform at Lyric Theater



by Katherine Dixon

In celebration of African American History month, UK’s student run radio station, WRFL, is bringing the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble to the Lyric Theater Friday, February 11. The ensemble’s musical form is a fusion of contemporary jazz and traditional African instrumentation and rhythm.

“The opportunity to collaborate with such a unique group is something WRFL had to jump onto,” said Matthew Mullinax, WRFL’s promotion director and a UK art administration sophomore.

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been involved with African American History celebrations for over 35 years. The ensemble was founded in 1976 after percussionist Kahil El’Zabar graduated from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Led by El’Zabar, a composer and writer, the ensemble’s performance marks a distinct moment for the historic Lyric Theater.

The theater was vibrant social spot from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. The Lyric housed fashion shows, films, vaudeville acts and concerts. The theater offered a strong sense of community; many African American owned businesses developed in the surrounding area.

Now the theater has re-opened after 47 years, ready again to provide a place to explore art and tradition.

“I’m definitely going for the rare music performance but I’m also looking forward to seeing the new renovations made on the theater,” said telecommunications senior Nathan Smith.

Chester Grundy, director of the Office of African American Student Affairs and the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center said the new Lyric is giving young people a sense of themselves; a sense of direction, purpose and meaning.

“The deepest sense of possibility is expressed through the art we create,” Grundy said. “El’Zabar is a multidimensional artist who is deeply rooted in African American music and traditions.”

This collaboration between the sponsors, the university and the Lyric proposes a distinctive partnership that represents the student facet of Lexington and the cultural community interest and offers great opportunities for the future.

WRFL in association with the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center, Outside the Spotlight Concert Series, Good Foods Co-Op, and Jazz Arts Foundation are sponsoring this free event that will begin at 8:00 p.m.

“I think this performance will be very well-received and I hope that this event helps solidify the notion that the Lyric is back and ready to be an essential piece of the arts in our community,” Mullinax said.