Liberian Women's Chorus for Change: Fatu Gayflor, Marie Nyenabo, Zaye Tete, and Tokay Tomah, 2013. Photo by Anna Mulé, courtesy of the Philadelphia Folklore Project.
Renowned Liberian singers perform traditional and newly composed songs, inspiring dialogue and action around current pressing community issues. This program is part of the Center-funded project Chorus for Change, through which the Philadelphia Folklore Project works closely with local Liberian artists to develop "pop-up" public performances that interpret the Liberian immigrant experience through music and song. Chorus members Fatu Gayflor, Marie Nyenabo, Zaye Tete, and Tokay Tomah are singers, dancers, and songwriters who lost their children to war, and asked soldiers, though music, to lay down their weapons. All are now residents of the Philadelphia area. This event is free to the public.
Philadelphia is home to some 35,000 Liberians, including many immigrants who have experienced war, loss, and displacement in recent years. These pop-up performances take place in identified areas where Liberians live and gather, including shopping centers, cab stands, and churches. The Chorus for Change gives talented women in this community the agency and wherewithal to openly discuss these histories with their fellow Liberians, as well as related issues of domestic and gender violence, through forms in which they have fluency, bringing tradition to the forefront in an unexpected way. The project is a concentrated effort to forge dialogue between genders and generations about violence in Liberian history, and to encourage others to share their own stories, with the potential to inspire meaningful social change.