The Liberian Women's Chorus for Change
The Liberian Women's Chorus for Change brings the power of Liberian traditional song to the forefront of efforts to make communities safe and strong. Composed of renowned singers and dancers from Liberia -- Fatu Gayflor, Marie Nyenabo, Zaye Tete, and Tokay Tomah -- the Chorus inspires awareness and dialogue about domestic violence and other concerns of Philadelphia-area Liberian immigrants. The Chorus was formed in response to these artists’ own community research which found that local Liberian immigrant women have a hard time accessing resources and getting the support they need. Together, these award-winning performers create music intended to encourage women to make their voices heard, and to take positive steps forward.
There are an estimated 15,000 (or more) Liberians in the Philadelphia region. Most moved to the U.S. as refugees during the years of civil war (1989-2003) in their homeland.
The Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change initiative connects artists, community members, scholars, social service and cultural workers and activists of different generations. Together, they consider how best to foster change through the respectful and innovative combining of folk and traditional arts with social justice activism. Individual Chorus members have lost children to war; some have asked soldiers, though music, to lay down their weapons. All are now residents of the Philadelphia area. "We want our families and community members to have access to information and resources that will allow them the chance to flourish, with dignity, in their adopted home," says Chorus artistic director Fatu Gayflor. Stories evoked publicly, through song, have become the starting point for conversations leading to propositions of imaginative and, it is hoped, realistic paths to addressing pressing concerns.