Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

Spoleto Festival USA

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

New York City, London, and Rome are all known for their cultural arts. You can see a ballet performance, stage show, or opera easily in any of these cities. But sometimes you don’t have to go that far to see a festival with world-class performances. The Spoleto Festival USA takes place in one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the United States—Charleston, South Carolina.

The festival was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene, and others who sought to create an American counterpart to the annual Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Since its inception, the festival has presented more than 200 world and American premieres.

So why did they choose the southern city of Charleston for such an event?

Simply put, the city is full of amazing architecture—including theaters, churches, and other spaces that prove ideal for these kinds of live performances. At the same time, the Charleston offers an intimate and charming feel to the festival while still being cosmopolitan enough to attract supportive audiences from around the globe. The result is a successful world class festival celebrating decades of breathtaking performances.

If you’ve never been to Charleston, here’s a taste of “The Holy City.”

What’s your favorite thing about Charleston, South Carolina? Share below.

Learn about the Spoleto Festival’s 2010 performances, while enjoying the southern scenery.

Photo: Language and Storytelling Southern Style

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Experience vibrant Gullah traditions in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The Lowcountry areas of South Carolina and Georgia are known for many things: good music, excellent food, and continuing southern traditions. But there are no communities in the South that have preserved their history, culture and language quite like the Gullah people.

The Gullah, who originated as slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries and eventually created their own communities, have preserved their language, which is based on English with strong influences from West and Central African languages such as Mandinka, Fula, Mende, Vai, Akan, Ewe, Kongo, and Kimbundu. There are an estimated 250,000 people who still speak the Gullah language today. One of the most famous speakers is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who grew up in the coastal region of Georgia.

Their storytelling traditions have successfully blended not only their African traditions, but their historical experiences in America as well. The result is a collection of trickster tales that teach youngsters moral lessons while celebrating ancestor tales of clever and self-assertive slaves, the most well-known being Br’er Rabbit.

The Gullah language was originally believed to be a showing of low socio-economic status and corrupted African Americans from learning proper English, but in the 1930’s and 1940’s a linguist named Lorenzo Dow Turner did a study of the language based on field research in the coastal areas. He identified over 300 loanwords from African languages and found people in remote seaside communities who could recite songs, stories, and count in the Mende, Vai, and Fulani languages of West Africa. Today, the Gullah Festival in Beaufort, South Carolina celebrates these longstanding cultural traditions.

Have you been to the Gullah Festival? Share Below.

If you haven’t been to the Gullah Festival, check out The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum Presents: Word, Shout, and Song: Experiencing South Carolina’s Gullah Traditions and join the celebration!