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Meet the 22/23 Muse Machine Teaching Artists

October 20, 2022 | Features

Through Chapman Cultural Center’s Muse Machine program, schools receive three professional performances onsite during the year — one each of music, theatre, and dance. These informal performances acquaint students with a particular genre or art form by professional artists who also discuss not only the art form and presentation but what it is like to be a practicing professional artist.

The Muse Machine program serves schools throughout Spartanburg County (including 25 Title I schools). In addition to in-school performances, the Muse Machine Program provides teachers with professional development opportunities through an annual Summer Institute for Teachers that offers graduate credit in the latest STEAM and arts integration techniques.

Learn more about this year's roster of Muse Machine Teaching Artists below!

Susana & Timmy Abell, Storytelling/music/puppetry

With 38 years of touring experience, Timmy Abell is one of the Southeast's most popular family entertainers. His CDs have won the highest national awards and he is a recipient of the prestigious NC Arts Council Fellowship for Songwriting. Timmy has performed at The Kennedy Center, The National Theater and in countless schools across the country. Susana Abell is a bilingual puppeteer, writer, and singer with a graduate teaching degree. She has performed and taught on three continents with sponsorship from Carnegie Hall and The Dodge Foundation

Ballet Spartanburg Professional Company

Ballet Spartanburg's Dream, Discover, and Design with STEAM program brings topics discussed in the classroom to life through the power of dance. Ballet Spartanburg has an exceptionally strong educational outreach program that supports the community in a variety of ways. Through community outreach, the beauty of dance and the joy of participation is brought to all segments of the Spartanburg Community.

Ballet Spartanburg's education and outreach programs impact over 15,000 children and adults annually through programs through their Center for Dance Education and beyond. 

Nancy Basket, Native American Storyteller

A contemporary basket maker and fiber artist, Nancy takes her name from the work she does, and from her grandmother, Margaret Basket. She is an artist-in-education in basketry, papermaking, and storytelling in the Carolinas. An accomplished artist, Nancy has researched and shared her basketry and storytelling skills at Primitive Skills gatherings, Powwows, through the National Indian Education Association NIEA as a presenter of traditional and contemporary baskets.

The Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC purchased Nancy's miniature baskets representing many American Indigenous cultures to display in one of their dioramas. The Barnwell Museum purchased her pine needle Cradleboard after it toured the US in the Wyoming Western Show. Nancy shares basketry and storytelling through the Pickens County Museum and Hagood Mill.

mOody bLaCk, “Making Words Move” - Spoken Word & Poetry

Making Words Move is designed to show elementary, middle, high school, college students, and adults the power of words presented in a catchy, exciting, and teachable platform. Moody Black infuses Hip-Hop as he performs personal testimonies in his poems that relate to audiences of all ages. Teachers have shared stories of having teens encouraged to write during his time as a Smart Arts Teaching Artist through the Metropolitan Arts Council of Greenville, SC.

mOody bLaCk transforms lives. In his enthusiastic performances, creative writing residencies, and workshops: mOody provides what each listener, student, and teacher needs- a gentle push in the right direction, an excellent dose of writing technique and the belief that they are writers.

mOody bLaCK is a TEDx performer, a National Award-Winning Poet and Host, a Smart Arts Teaching Artist, Motivational Speaker, Spoken-Word, and Visual Artist, Actor/Voice Over Artist, Chess Instructor, Storyteller and Comedian from Spartanburg, SC who now resides in Greenville, SC. mOody is a product of Spartanburg County Schools, Spartanburg Technical College, Spartanburg Community College, and USC Upstate.

Natalie Daise, Master Storyteller

For more than 30 years, Natalie Daise has developed and facilitated interactive learning experiences for educators, students, and audiences in schools, universities, conferences, and other venues, both nationally and regionally. 

Well known to television audiences via Nick Jr. and Noggin TV’s “Gullah Gullah Island,” her accomplishments include: 

  • 1997 and 1998 IMAGE Award nominations, 
  • 1998 Daytime Emmy nomination 
  • Silver and Gold Parent’s Choice awards 
  • South Carolina’s highest honor, The Order of the Palmetto 
  • South Carolina’s Jean Lacy Harris Folk Heritage Award, given for lifetime achievement and excellence in folk art. 

John Thomas Fowler, Master Storyteller

Storyteller Johnny Thomas Fowler’s performances are brimming with creative story lore, mountain folk music, songs, and folk dance. His stories are timeless treasures of spellbinding narrations, unique voices and character-play all presented with powerful theatrical energy. Johnny’s music is a simple stroll into southern Appalachian folksong heritage presenting sing-along songs, ballads, and old-time tunes played on banjo, guitar, spoons, harmonica, and many other unique folk instruments. He was awarded the prestigious Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, the highest award given to folk artists in South Carolina.

Orisirisi African Folklore, Traditional African music/folk tales/drumming

Pronounced (O-re-she-re-she), a Yoruba term meaning “different things,” Orisirisi African Folklore is a performing arts company formed in 1986 that uses folktales, legends, myths, music, dance, children’s games, and other African-rooted folklore to teach, entertain, and illuminate the beauty and poignancy of African life and culture. 

Orisirisi African Folklore spins yarns of tales that none will soon forget! Audience participation is in every aspect of the performance, which is filled with African stories, drumming, songs, dance and more! 

Charles Pettee, Appalachian Folk music & Oral History

Bring all ears to Charles Pettee! This multi-talented musician employs banjo, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, voice to introduce audiences to the wonderful tapestry of sounds that make up the music of the Carolinas: the music of the Pilgrims, Native Americans, African Americans, Piedmont Blues, Gospel, and Bluegrass. Mr. Pettee offers interactive programs for all ages pre-K-12!

In one of his many programs, “Bluegrass: North Carolina’s Global Music” Pettee picks up the international and historical themes from his “Bluegrass Stomp” program and expands on the concepts for middle and high school audiences. Singing and performing on guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica, Mr. Pettee surveys the development of American folk music over time and shows how NC Bluegrass is a product of many cultures from many parts of the globe.

The Sound of Learning, Motivational Music, Dance & Hip-Hop

Son of Ice (aka Frederick Reeves III) is the founder of The Sound of Learning. Raised in a musical family in New York, Son of Ice is the son of famous rap artist and songwriter Doctor Ice. Frederick aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps. He initially sought to pursue a career as a commercial rap artist but ultimately decided to utilize his musical abilities to provide positive messages to students.

When his son’s teacher suggested he create a rap song for their school, he realized the power that his positive songs had to motivate and inspire students of all ages. Now a husband, father of 3, rap artist, and dancer, Frederick has performed in, and written songs for, numerous schools throughout South Carolina and the East Coast. He seeks to be a role model, inspiration, and encourager, by using his God-given talents to speak to the lives of youth. 

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