Ntsang Anye is a student in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Swenson College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, but one of her greatest passions in life has always been music. She was born and lived the early years of her life in Cameroon but moved to the U.S. at age eight. She is one of five children and she says she owes her singing talent to her mother, whom she says epitomizes grace and class. She loved music growing up in Cameroon and her first exposure was at church. She notes, “There was something about the way we praised and worshipped as a kid growing up in Cameroon that made me want to sing.” She has performed in a variety of settings ever since.
Anne Dunn has always loved stories. She grew up surrounded by storytellers: her parents, grandparents, and great-aunts. She was born on the Red Lake Reservation, grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation and currently lives in Deer Lake. Her books of stories include When Beaver Was Very Great (1995), Grandmother's Gift (1997), and Winter Thunder (2001), the latter two published by Jim Perlman of Holy Cow! Press, a founding board member of the Interreligious Forum. Anne's book of poems entitled Uncombed Hair (2005) was followed by her most recent book of stories, Fire in the Village (Holy Cow!, 2016), a collection of 75 stories celebrating her 75th birthday. As Lake Country Journal notes, her book “includes stories she remembers and stories she has written — all stories ‘sent forth as little ambassadors in search of understanding and reconciliation.'” She and daughter Annie Humphrey have performed together in many venues throughout the region.
Sandra Gbeintor was born in Liberia, and soon migrated to Israel due to the war in the country. She lived in Israel until was about seven years old and then moved to New Jersey and more recently Duluth to continue her journey and discoveries. Sandra is a sociologist, spoken word artist, and activist who engages audiences with diverse subject matter and ultimately sides with Love. She holds a degree in sociology and communication, and has worked with many community programs including Girl Power!, Valley Youth, Myers Wilkins Enrichment, Safe Haven Women's Shelter, Neighborhood Youth Services, and Are Poetry Crew. She advocates for women rights, human rights, and civil rights as she pens narratives and performs pieces that foster the cause for liberation and justice. She works with many young people across the state at different stages in their academic and personal development, teaching and coaching poetry, building relationships, and fostering advocacy through the arts. She finds meaning in her work and regardless of the challenges, finds joy doing it.
Annie Humphrey grew up on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota, living in a home “filled with voices made of thunder and nothing could stop it.” She describes her parents as brilliant people individually — her father, a singer and musician, and her mother an artist and poet — but says together they made sadness. Annie notes that each of her parents taught her the beautiful things they knew, and they showed her that she carried their gifts in her hands too. From her father she learned to skin a deer, set a net, clean fish, make maple syrup, harvest wild rice, play basketball, ride a motorcycle, “go without if you can't afford it,” and play guitar. From her mother she learned to draw, paint, sew, write, laugh, wonder, and forgive. Annie says she has four children and two grandsons and “a handsome, Indian, horseman husband” who inspire her spirit and her art. Her albums include The Heron Smiled (2000), The Edge of America (2003), The Sound of Ribbons (2008), Uncombed Hair (2016), and The Beast in the Garden (2017).
Regina M. Laroche, micro-farmer, artist, and retreat guide, practices small scale connectional farming on the edge of Lake Superior. She attempts to explore, express, and live the connections among land, food, community, cultures, art and spirit. The offerings of Regina and DIASPORA ARTS rise from the intersection of art and the unifying stories of humanity, earth, and those with whom we share this existence. Regina's story, dance, creative guidance and work are shaped by her life of small scale farming, family, and community on the edge of Lake Superior. Her life and art are influenced by her mother's rural South Carolina upbringing, her father's Haitian Afro-Caribbean culture, her own travel and cultural experiences, training in spiritual direction, InterPlay, worship with a variety of churches, and a theatre degree from St. Catherine University. Regina has worked with a wide range of ages locally, throughout the country, and overseas. She believes that our bodies and stories are the common ground from which to dance our connections, with ourselves, the earth, each other, and all that is.
Photo credit: Abigail Gentry
Daniel Oluwaseyi Oyinloye is a Nigerian-born artist, storyteller, and community organizer. He arrived in the United States in 2002 with his mother and sister, and after a few years endeavoring to be an engineer in college, discovered his niche in art and performing. His first break as a hip hop artist came when he joined the band 2one8, and since then he's performed as a rapper under the aliases DSP, TommyDan, and Goody Goody. Daniel is the founder and director of A Goody Night, a mobile, artistic storytelling event which platforms musical and visual artists, providing them with the opportunity to interact with their communities and tell their stories. Daniel graduated from University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2008 as a studio arts major with an emphasis in digital arts photography. He works as an independent filmmaker and musician, and his fourth studio album Dawn of Redemption was released in 2016.
Sara Thomsen is founder and artistic director of Echoes of Peace, a non-profit to expand and develop the work of examining critical social issues using music and the arts to build and bridge informed, engaged, and caring communities. Sara is a weaver of song and community singing, at concerts, conferences, classrooms, workshops, retreats, jails, places of prayer, and lines of protest. Sara's songs have won several awards including the Music To Life award for songs of sociopolitical concern. Increasing wonder and awareness, deepening spiritual connection, and widening social engagement through song is at the heart of Sara's work.
Elyse Carter Vosen, Ph.D.
1200 Kenwood Avenue
Duluth, MN 55811