Zaye Tete

2018 PEW FELLOW
Updated
18 Jun 2018

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Zaye Tete with the Liberian Women's Chorus for Change, Women Against Abuse press conference at Love Park. Photo by Leslie Malmed Macedo.

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Zaye Tete in performance at World Cafe Live. Photo by JJ Tiziou.

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Zaye Tete, 2018 Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“I want Liberian traditional songs and dances to remain vital in Liberian communities here in the US, in my homeland, and anywhere else Liberians have settled because I believe they carry and communicate values that help us face life with zeal, humor, compassion, and intelligence.”

Zaye Tete is a Liberian vocalist, composer, and dancer dedicated to sharing and reinterpreting traditional music and connecting Liberian Americans with their heritage across generations. Tete describes the traditional songs she performs as being full of “beautiful metaphors and parables [that] help us consider choices about how to be in this world, and help ground us as immigrants.” As a singer with Liberia’s National Cultural Troupe, Tete toured throughout Liberia and internationally in the 1980s. During Liberia’s civil war, she spent several years in refugee camps in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where she founded a cultural troupe for refugee children, in collaboration with an international non-governmental organization. In 2004, Tete immigrated to the US and became a founding member of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, with Fatu Gayflor (2014 Pew Fellow), Marie Nyenabo, and the late Tokay Tomah (2016 Pew Fellow). Tete is featured in the 2017 documentary film Because of the War, alongside members of the Women’s Chorus. She is the recipient of a 2015 Transformation Award and a 2010 Art and Change Award from the Leeway Foundation.