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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University will celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with a presentation about the slain civil rights leader and a performance by a trio of hip-hop poets.
The university’s Black Student Union and Damietta Center will host the program from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the auditorium of the William F. Walsh Science Center on campus. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow; refreshments will be served.
Barry L. Gan, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and the director of The Nonviolence Program at St. Bonaventure, will give the keynote address, “The Real Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
A faculty member at St. Bonaventure for the past 27 years, Gan is editor of The Acorn: Journal of the Gandhi-King Society, and served for two years as co-editor of Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research of the Peace History Society and the Peace and Justice Studies Association. For two years, Gan served as program committee chair of the oldest and largest interfaith peace group in the United States, the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Wednesday’s event will also feature performances by poets Charles Fredrick and a Family of Notes. The trio includes members C-Note, Rob Notes and Michael Strong.
Born in Dunkirk in 1975, Fredrick, otherwise known by his stage name, C-Note, grew up in foster homes without the guidance and support of a functional family. His dream of becoming a famous singer began to blossom at the age of 6. He wrote poetry throughout his youth and at the age of 17, he took the advice of one of his friends and turned a poem into a song.
But amid his love for music, he also heard the streets calling. From age 19 to 33, he spent years in and out of jail for selling drugs. Fredrick said that when he survived a Buffalo shooting in “a deal gone wrong,” he knew God had spared his life yet another time. So in giving his life to Christ, Fredrick brought together other serious artists to form “A Family of Notes.”
Soulful singer Rob McBride, known as Rob Notes, was born in Brooklyn in 1975 before his family moved to Buffalo. The son of an absentee father, he lived with his mother and three brothers.
He fell in love with music at the age of 7 or 8 when he was inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall.” Like Fredrick, McBride spent much of his young life on the streets and incarcerated. Music became his place of peace, motivating him and helping him express himself.
McBride has worked with the company US Production on a number of songs and, in addition to his work with A Family of Notes, has appeared at The Crown Theatre in Jamestown.
Jamestown native Michael Strong was born in 1977 to a single, teenage mother. He was orphaned and later raised by his grandparents.
He was singing from the time he could speak, but it was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album that would lead him on a lifelong journey of music and performing. He starred in many high school musicals and led his choir to three first-place North American Music Festival wins.
Perfecting his rhyming skills to the likes of Ice-T and Tupac Shakur, it would soon become evident that hip-hop was his calling. He majored in theatre arts in college and studied at the Michael Howard Studios in New York City.
Appearing on television and in the anniversary celebration of The Group Theatre at the Actor’s Studio, Strong bought his first studio in 1999 and is now known as one of the best producers in Western New York.
Strong has recorded six albums with his original beats and produced dozens of local hits for a number of artists. Hosting local hip-hop contests and performing in music festivals and clubs across New York, Strong has found a cult following by opening for Twisted, Blaze, ABK, and Kung Fu Vampire. He is now at the top of his game in both style and production.
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