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One World Music Festival

Published date: February 18, 2013

As part of its observance of Black History Month, The Department of Mass Communications at Virginia State University is proud to present the legendary Afro-jazz-funk group, “Plunky and Oneness of Juju” in concert on Saturday, February 23.   The VSU Billy Taylor Jazz Studies Ensemble is also scheduled to perform. 

The concert is open to the public and is free for all VSU faculty, staff, and students (with ID).  There is a $10 cover charge for general admission.  Doors will open at (5:30 pm) and the concert will begin promptly at 6pm on the 2nd floor of Jones Dining Hall on the VSU campus.  Seating is very limited. The concert will also be simulcast and streamed live on WVST radio. 

This event, “The One World Music Festival,” is the thesis project of Meagan Whiten.  It is also the inaugural event in an emerging partnership between VSU and the Richmond Jazz Society.   

Jazz music developed from its African-blues New Orleans roots and progressed through the jazz age, swing era, be-bop, cool, hard-bop decades into the 1960’s when avant-garde new music strains were added to the mix.  The creative music of the sixties and seventies could be segmented into free jazz, Afro-centric jazz, and cosmic or spiritual subsets.  By the early 1970’s cosmic jazz proponents included such notables as John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Mtume, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Doug & Jean Carn, and Juju

Led by J. Plunky Branch, Juju was a group of young Afro percussive improvisers based in San Francisco.  The group migrated to New York in 1973 and later to Plunky’s hometown of Richmond, VA where it transformed itself into Oneness of Juju by adding blues and R&B influences and the mellowing dynamics of the vocals of Lady Eka-Ete (Jacqueline Holoman Lewis).  The group’s music incorporated themes of unity, spirituality, universal love and peace; and these were principally conveyed by the enchanting voice of Lady Eka-Ete and abetted by Plunky’s sometimes soaring or searing sax tones. 

African percussion was also central to Oneness of Juju’s music and a succession of outstanding drummers culminated with the addition of Ghanaian master drummer, Okyerema Asante to the group. Since the 1980’s the group has been called Plunky & Oneness and its music and personnel has continued to evolve Incorporating more urban, go-go, hip-hop motifs and employing young talented musicians has kept the music fresh and the production values up to date.  

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