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Oyibo Afoaku
Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center

Emma Cullen
Union Board

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, June 14, 2006

IUB's Juneteenth Freedom celebration to feature performance by Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa

June 14, 2006

NOTE: Toby Foyeh is available for interviews. Call the contacts listed to make arrangements. A photo also will be available.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University and its Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will present the eighth annual Juneteenth Freedom Celebration on June 24 in Bloomington, featuring internationally acclaimed Nigerian musicians Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa.

The celebration, which is free and open to the public, again will begin with a community parade that will start at 10 a.m. at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., and conclude at Bloomington's Bryan Park, 1100 S. Woodlawn Ave. Festivities will continue at Bryan Park until 4 p.m. and will include other ethnic music, food, multicultural vendors and recreational activities.

In the event of inclement weather, the parade will be cancelled and the Juneteenth celebration will be held inside the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

Foyeh and Orchestra Africa's music is a melting pot created out of a unique fusion of traditional Nigerian Yoruba music with Highlife, Afrobeat and various Western elements. Foyeh began performing music at an early age in Ibadan and Lagos. A band he formed with high school friends went on to tour America as Hugh Masekela's Ojah band.

Although he essentially is a self-taught musician, Foyeh has studied music at the Berklee College of Music and Howard University, and he now is a resident of the United States. He has lived and performed at festivals frequently across North America, the Caribbean, Japan and Europe. He is an established artist in Nigeria, where his previous album had two hit singles, "Ore mi" and "I'm on Fire." A new album, "Lagos-Ilu Eko," will be released this summer on the Kameleon label.

He composes, arranges and produces, and is the lead male vocalist. Orchestra Africa features traditional African instruments such as the Gangan (also known as the Talking Drum), Bata drums, other assorted percussion instruments, flutes, guitars and synthesizers. Backup singers and dancers in traditional African dress are a feature of the band's live performances.

Foyeh and his band are scheduled to perform from 2:15 to 3:45 p.m. They will be preceded at noon by a performance by the Indianapolis-based Blackberry Jam Band and a drumming workshop at 1:10 p.m. by Austin Okigbo and Mamou.

Long celebrated among African Americans, Juneteenth observes the end of slavery in the United States, said to have occurred two and a half years after the end of the Civil War, when word of the Confederate surrender finally reached the furthest corner of southern Texas. Juneteenth is a day set aside to honor the memory of those who endured slavery and those who progressed from slavery to freedom.

Offering welcoming remarks at 11 a.m. will be Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor John Whikehart and IU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Richard McKaig. They will be followed by a keynote speech to be given by community leader Delia Alexander, a graduate student in folklore at IU and co-host of the WFHB radio public affairs program, "Bring It On." Charles Sykes, executive director of the African American Arts Institute, will offer closing remarks at 3:55 p.m.

The sponsors for the festival are WFIU-FM, Ivy Tech State College, the City of Bloomington, Union Board, IU Bloomington's black student organizations, the Dean of Faculties Office, the Office of the Vice President for University Relations, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, the Diversity Education Office, Multicultural Initiatives, Residential Programs and Services, and the IU Foundation.

For more information, contact the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at 812-855-9271 or