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Nolan Williams, Jr. Presents First Kennedy Center Colloquium Celebrating African American Foodways

Presenting GRACE: Beyond the Stage to highlight the historic contributions African Americans have made to the nation's culinary industry.

Award-winning Producer, Artistic Director, Composer, Cultural Curator, and Social Practice Resident at the Kennedy Center, Nolan Williams, Jr. will present a colloquium celebrating African American foodways with celebrity chef Carla Hall and friends on Saturday, July 9th from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Kennedy Center REACH, Skylight Pavilion. The event is free to all.

Williams, who just finished the successful run of his new musical GRACE at Ford's Theater, continues the conversation of family, food, culture and the indelible gifts we receive in our communities.

The day will be a discussion about the historic role African Americans have played in the development of our nation's culinary industry; meeting pioneering founders of local Black-owned restaurants; hearing great music inspired by Williams's research (including selected songs from the musical GRACE); and tasting mouth-watering African American cuisine.

The list of participants promises interesting and thoughtful conversation featuring: Celebrity Chef Carla Hall, NMAAHC Museum Curator Joanne Hyppolite, Ph.D., professor and author Psyche Williams-Forson, Ph.D., Washington City Paper Food Critic Crystal Fernanders, Philadelphia Inquirer Food Editor Jamila Robinson, Ben's Chili Bowl Owner Virginia Ali, Owner of Carolina Kitchen Dr. Lance London, and Co-Founders of DMV Black Restaurant Week Erinn Tucker-Oluwale, Ph.D. and Furard Tate. The afternoon will also feature tastings of African American cuisine curated by Celebrity Chef Rock Harper, restaurateur and winner of Hell's Kitchen Season 3, and performances by Broadway and Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Kevin McAllister; award-winning actress, recording artist and musician Anitra Raquel; Canadian-born songstress and inspirational recording artist Monique Steele Griffiths; and music director and piano conductor Leigh Delano.

This event, a first of its kind for the Kennedy Center, is presented under the auspices of the Center's Social Impact department. Under the leadership of VP and Artistic Director of Social Impact Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the Center has launched several initiatives in recent years to foster greater diversity at all levels of its programming. According to Joseph, "Our Social Practice Residency is a sibling to our Culture Caucus and Millennium Stage programming. It's another important way by which the Center is bridging cultural divides in our community and broadening its investment in our local creative economy."

As the inaugural Social Practice Resident, Williams's first project was an October 2019 workshop of his Civil-Rights-themed theatrical production, STIRRING THE WATERS ACROSS AMERICA. That production was launched for a national tour in February 2020 that was upended by the pandemic.

Now, according to Williams, "I am presenting GRACE: Beyond the Stage to highlight the historic contributions African Americans have made to our nation's culinary industry. This is the history that inspired me to create my musical GRACE. And, whether or not you are one of the 20,000+ people who flocked to see GRACE at Ford's earlier this year, you will undoubtedly connect with this cultural experience. It promises to be a memorable afternoon of great conversation, tasty food, inspiring music, and community building."

GRACE: Beyond the Stage: A Colloquium Celebrating African American Foodways will take place on Saturday, July 9th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm at The Kennedy Center REACH in the Skylight Pavilion, 2700 F St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20566. Admission is free. Registration is required.


An award-winning producer, artistic director, composer/lyricist, and cultural curator, Nolan Williams, Jr. has dedicated his professional career to the curation of works that illuminate issues of civil rights, social justice, and cultural curiosities. Since 2003, Williams has helmed NEWorks Productions, one of the nation's leading producers of inspirational-arts projects. His extensive body of creative work includes directing and producing the 2021 NEWorks documentary, Mayor Muriel Bowser presents... Becoming Douglass Commonwealth, which chronicles Washington, D.C.'s long and complicated journey towards statehood and is the recent winner of seven Telly Awards for global excellence in television and video, including the coveted Gold Prize for Best TV Documentary.




From This Author - Grace Cutler


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