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Flushing Town Hall to host last Mini-Global Mashup series of the year with ‘US-Africa Meets China’ concert

Newman Taylor Baker/WashboardXT will collaborate with Feifei Yang on Sunday, Dec. 12 at Flushing Town Hall's final Global-Mini Mashup series for the year. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

Flushing Town Hall will host its last Common Ground: Mini Global Mashup concert series for the year with “US-Africa Meets China” on Sunday, Dec. 12. 

This will be the fourth concert in Flushing Town Hall’s monthly series, which “mashes up” unique pairings of musicians from different practices and cultural identities. The small, intimate configurations pair distinct solo or duo artists in collaboration to create entirely new sounds rooted in old traditions. 

The venue’s upcoming concert will feature renowned jazz drummer and washboard player Newman Taylor Baker/WashboardXT and Feifei Yang, an Erhu and Banhu performance expert and vocalist whose talents are revolutionizing the global music scene. 

The series has been curated by acclaimed clarinetist, pianist, composer and educator Frank London of The Klezmatics, and includes a post-show talk with the artists after each performance. 

“It will be fascinating to hear how Newman and Fei Fei approach their encounter and find common ground. Chinese and African-American roots music have nothing in common, historically or musically. But through deep listening to each other, profound mutual respect, and a sense of endless curiosity and creativity, they will make new music out of disparate sources,” London said. “It’s what makes these concerts so exciting for audiences.”

Baker is a virtuoso on the washboard and a world-renowned drummer, as well as a teaching artist, composer and vocalist. He began his journey with the washboard in 2010 as a member of The Ebony Hillbillies — the only NYC-based Black string band. 

Since then, Baker has been featured with Vienna Carroll and The Folk on “Harlem Field Recordings,” their debut CD, and has appeared in venues such as New York Public Library 42nd Street; Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn; Columbus Coffee Szczecin, Warsaw and Poznan in Poland; The Glasshopper Nagoya in Japan; The American Folk Art Museum; and The Clemente in New York. 

Baker’s debut CD, “Drum-Suite-Life,” features his compositions highlighting the various musics created by the drum set in African American culture. As a master drummer, he is featured in the world-renowned Matthew Shipp Trio. 

An international teaching artist, Baker has taught at Rutgers University-Newark, Widener University, Livingstone College, correctional institutions, public and private schools, music conservatories in the U.S., Poland, Japan and Italy. Baker has received awards, grants and fellowships from NYFA, NEA, Meet the Composer and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Yang is an award-winning musician, performer and groundbreaking arts entrepreneur. Hailed as “The Chinese Huqin Girl Stepping into Hollywood” by Sinovision, she is a Huqin (Banhu and Erhu) performance expert and vocalist whose talents are revolutionizing the global music and entertainment scenes.  

Yang has contributed her talents to notable venues and institutions including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Barclays Center, the United Nations, Summer Stage, the New York Fashion Week, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York, among several others. 

She has also served as a judge for the China Central Television’s (CCTV) China Youth Talent Show Contests; the Fifth Annual American Youth Talent and Art Contests; and China’s National Youth Music Competition in Liaoning Province, China. She is a dual 2017 Global Music Award Winner – Female Vocalist & Popular Music. 

Yang began her music training with the Huqin, the Chinese two-stringed fiddle, at the age of 9 in northeast China. She was the only student studying the Banhu to be accepted to the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in 2003. Four years later, her combined achievements led her to earn the honor of Outstanding Graduate Student of all of Liaoning province’s colleges, and in 2007, she became the very first master’s recipient for Banhu in the conservatory’s history. 

She was the first-place winner of the AWZG Chinese Young Artists Talent Selection. Additional merits include the Best Creativity Award winner in CCTV’s “Chinese New Year Gala” U.S. Talent Hunt. Along with her conservatory training, Yang holds additional masters degrees in education from Adelphi University and arts and cultural management from the Pratt Institute. She is also a member of the Chinese Musician’s Association and Liaoning Traditional Chinese Orchestral Music Association.

Flushing Town Hall’s Common Ground: Mini Global Mashup series first kicked off in September with Haiti Meets Middle East, featuring Haitian singer Emeline Michel, Israeli guitarist Dan Nadel, and their piano accompanist Yayoi Ikaw.

It then continued in October with Balkan Romani Meets Ukraine, featuring Eva Salina, Peter Stan and Zhenya Lopatnik, followed by Yiddish Meets Argentina, in November with Lorin Sklamberg, Sofia Rei and JC Maillard.

In the new year, audiences can look forward to the series’ continuation with Southern Italy Meets Senegal (Jan. 9), Korea Meets Armenia (Feb. 13) and India Meets Egypt (March 13).

To learn more about the Mini-Global Mashup series, visit flushingtownhall.org.

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