New Touring Artists!

A new school year can mean new teachers, new classrooms, new friends, and a new box of freshly-sharpened number two pencils. Here at Urban Gateways, the new school year means new touring performances! This upcoming school year, we are excited to announce five new shows offered by four new artists.

The first, “Band of Steel: The Courage of Creativity,” is performed by Potts & Pans Steelband, the largest professional steel-band in the Midwest. Matt, Christina, and Anthony lead audiences in a journey through the history of the steel-pan, from its beginnings in Trinidad & Tobago to its use as a modern instrument. In the days of slavery, the first steel-pan musicians were driven to create music through any means necessary. Audiences are sure to be amazed at the diversity of this seemingly simple instrument as they enjoy traditional Calypsos and Socas, western Classical music, modern hits, and even the band’s own blues/calypso fusion: bluypso! (For all ages. Requires access to electricity.)

(photo: artists’ Facebook page)

“Circle of Song” by the Freedom Song Leaders invites audiences to engage with the stories behind the songs and experience the power of communal singing in the African American tradition. Members Zahara Glenda Baker, Shanta Nurullah, Avery R. Young, and Ugochi Nwaogwugwu use African chants, coded-language Spirituals, Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights Movement, and empowering contemporary music to develop universal themes that all audience members will enjoy. (For all ages. Requires 1-2 microphones, preferably wireless. Available Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.)

Musical group Contrabanda performs “Energia: Roots of Latin Jazz,” a lively show teaching us about the melding of diverse cultures that created the genre of Latin jazz. Artists Danny Howard, Brett Benteler, Mark Nelson, Jose Ormaza, and Joshua Shapiro follow the development of jazz music from traditional African songs to American jazz and rock ‘n roll. Through interactive demonstration, audiences will learn the differences between music from America, Brazil, and Cuba. The performance delves into the history and tradition of music in these cultures, spanning from Carnival in Brazil to Mardi Gras in the US. (For all ages. Requires minimum 10’x10’ performance space and access to electrical outlets.)

Well-loved Urban Gateways artist Jeremy Schaefer is prepared to wow audiences with his new show, “Travel Tales.” You may recognize Jeremy from his popular UG show “1,2,3, Story.” Travel Tales follows original characters on epic adventures filled with learning. Participants can explore Mexico, Timbuktu, and Greenland without ever leaving their seat thanks to Jeremy’s creative stories and interactive games. (For grades K-5. Requires one microphone and minimum 10’10’ space.)


Last but not least, Dr. Kashif Powell’s new one-man show “Poetics of the Invisible: Exploring Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man” is an interactive poetry workshop and live performance for high school audiences. Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man, addressed many of the social and intellectual issues that African Americans faced in the early twentieth century. Poetics of the Invisible places Ellison’s novel in conversation with today’s political atmosphere, addressing events such as the violence in Ferguson, MO in November 2014 and in Baltimore in February 2015. (For grades 9-12. Requires clear performance space and access to electrical outlets.)

Touring performances are a wonderful way to get audiences engaged with art. Urban Gateways shows push the boundaries of conventional performances to offer a refreshing mix of education and entertainment. To book an Urban Gateways Touring Performance, please complete our online request form. Or contact Performance Programs Associate Claire Meyers at 312-445-2743 or