April 8, 2010
I spoke with Mwalim (Morgan James Peters) of Mashpee on March 28 outside the Nimrod Restaurant in Falmouth, where he performed as part of a fundraiser for the Masonic Temple’s Angel Fund. (The fund supports children in need. Mwalim is a presiding member of a Prince Hall Freemason lodge.)
Mwalim describes himself as a Black-Wampanoag performance artist and arts educator. His name is pronounced “mwah-leem,” which means “teacher” in Ahramic. In Wampanoag, his name is “Kukutumtunup” or “Speaking Turtle,” which also means “teacher.”
Mwalim is unique and multitalented: he is a singer, pianist, percussionist, composer, performance artist, record producer, author, poet, playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and professor of English and African American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
In the first video clip, below, he talks about his first two CDs, “The Bass Mint Brothers” and “The Liberation Sessions,” as well as his third, which he expects to be released in October. His music can be describe as R&B, jazz, soul, Afro-beat, or house music (a style of electronic dance music influenced by soul, funk, and disco.)
“The Liberation Sessions: Soul of the City” is an imaginative CD, reflecting not only Mwalim’s musicianship, but his personal philosophy and his sense of humor. The CD is presented as an hour of programming on a black urban radio station, WBAR-FM (Black Ass Radio), “where the DJs sound cooler than you can ever hope to be.” The DJ, Bob B., is very cool, silky smooth, and the music is earthy R&B, cool jazz, and very engaging. We hear the reverberating station jingle, the news with Ron E. (about the demise of black urban radio stations), and lots of good music.
The album has been nominated for many awards (Best R&B CD, Best Spoken Word CD, Best Producer, Best Caribbean Male Vocalist, Best R&B Single, and Best Caribbean Singel for “Dem Big Girls”), and deservedly so. Mwalim’s music video of “Dem Big Girls,” which he sang at the fundraiser, is on Youtube.
Mwalim also spoke to me about his recent appearance in “Porgy & Bess: Music and Stories,” which was presented March 5 to 7 by the Cotuit Center for the Arts. As Morgan James Peters, he gave the pre-performance talk, an interesting and informative discussion of African Americans in the theater. He also played the role of Sportin’ Life, singing, ““It Ain’t Necessarily So,” a song he has incorporated into his musical act.
For more information on Mwalim, see his websites:
Mwalim’s Word Lounge,
his MySpace page,
his CD Baby page, or
his Facebook Fansite. Mwalim knows how to communicate.