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Rhythm and Race: A History of African American Music in Grand Rapids


Last May, the public had the first of two opportunities to preview a work-in-progress from the filmmaking students at the West Michigan Center for Technologies and Arts. This instructor-led, student-produced documentary titled, “Rhythm and Race: A History of African American Music in Grand Rapids,” would go on at each screening to gather feedback from the community to strengthen the piece. 

Fast forward a year later and after many additions and edits, on May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Celebration Cinema North the finished product will be unspooled with a free public viewing. 

Highlights of this design-feedback process include the most recent discovery of Al Green’s time spent in Grand Rapids, which the student filmmakers have now captured and folded into this presentation. 

The most recent addition is an exclusive interview with Curtis Rodgers, who co-founded the Grand Land Recording Company in Grand Rapids and is credited as the first record label to sign Al Green.

In short, we have an amazing historical work about to be revealed to our community and you will not want to miss it. 

Following the Celebration Cinema screening will be a public reception in the Wave Room featuring a short panel discussion with the student production team members. Please take a moment to RSVP here.

In addition, this exciting, new project through a partnership with Comcast’s Local On Demand channel will be made available for all Michigan Comcast subscribers to screen at home and on streaming devices. 

“Rhythm and Race” explores how music genres have influenced social justice, advanced equity for African Americans, and served as a platform for bringing awareness to injustice and racism. 

So get to the theatre on Thursday night to see it live, or if you can’t make it, be sure to tune in starting on Friday, May 11 to view at home. 
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