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The NOLA accordionist, singer, and educator TERRANCE SIMIEN, “a Zydeco Master” who “delivers soul worthy of Stax greats,” (Rolling Stone) brings a touch of the bayou to our annual Ezra Jack Keats Family Concert. Presented with support from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which is dedicated to highlighting the importance of diversity in children’s illustrated literature and has created many programs that support children and educators as well as public libraries, schools and other institutions, the day will include readings from the great Brooklyn-born children’s book author’s works by Celebrate Brooklyn! favorite DAN ZANES, complete with video projections.
Long before multicultural characters and themes were commonplace, Ezra Jack Keats crossed social boundaries by breaking the color barrier in mainstream children’s literature. With his 1962 classic The Snowy Day, Keats portrayed a children’s world of tenements and empty lots as a backdrop for games, dilemmas and friendships, as well as the happiness, loneliness, fear and courage that children experience the world over. He believed strongly that children of color should see themselves as heroes in picture books. His feel for city life was based on his own childhood in Brooklyn.
Terrance Simien embodies a similar spirit of inclusiveness. For over 30 years, the two-time GRAMMY award-winner and 8th generation Louisiana Creole has been shattering the myths about what his indigenous Zydeco roots music is and is not. In 2007 his music was included in The Princess and the Frog, which was set in New Orleans and featured Disney’s first African American princess. It was not his first teaching moment: Simien’s groundbreaking Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco program for student, youth, and family audiences debuted in 2000 and has helped to build culturally literate young performing arts patrons everywhere. Simien has received countless awards, grants, and recognition for his work and artistic contributions as a respected Cultural Ambassador for his state and country.