One of the vendors at the Great Lakes Folk Festival is the Nyaka AIDS Orphans project. The organization offers paper-bead necklaces and traditional baskets from Uganda. The artists who created them are grandmothers in Nyaka who use the income to support the families affected by the disease.
Jackson Kaguri is the founder of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans project. He was a CNN Hero last year, was featured in Time Magazine in 2010, and is the author of the book, “The Price of Stones,” about building a school for AIDS orphans in his village in Uganda.
Bob Blackman's name is virtually synonymous with folk music in mid-Michigan. He's been associated with the Great Lakes Folk Festival for many, many years. He’s a fixture with Elderly Instruments in Lansing, a real center of folk music in this community. Many people in our audience remember him as a part of the WKAR family. Bob Blackman hosted “The Folk Tradition” on WKAR for nearly 30 years.
Among the dozens of people plying their crafts here at the Great Lakes Folk Festival weekend are members of the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. For 26 years, the Michigan State University Museum has supported master artists and their apprentices who keep our state’s artistic traditions alive. There are nine master and apprentice teams at this year’s festival. Current State’s Kevin Lavery met one pair in a small mid-Michigan town who are turning scrap into sculpture.
The music schedule at the Great Lakes Folk Festival features several Michigan acts this year. They include the swing dance music of Paulette Brockington of Highland Park and the Cuban/Caribbean music of Tumbao Bravo out of Ann Arbor. Artist Joel Mabus is a long-time local favorite. He stopped by the Current State tent to catch us up on his music.
For 13 years, our first guest this evening has played a role in the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Today, Lora Helou is the festival's acting director, and to those of us in the media, she’s been the “go-to” person regarding this event. She offers an overview of the weekend's festivities.