When an event is billed as the “first annual” it means there will be more to come in the coming years. Anyone who attended the Celebration of African-American Arts: Past, Present and Future on Feb. 20 at the Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks will want this to be true.

SENSATIONAL BEATS—Ibeji Drum Ensemble.

Event co-chairs Barbara Owens and Isaiah Dent put together a healthy program of artists that highlighted the significant artistic talent in Pittsburgh during a one-night festival. The crowd enjoyed members of the Langston Hughes Poetry Society as they recited poetry and sang hymns. The group “Chosen” was a crowd favorite with an original song titled “Step Up Ya Game.” Look for these ladies to do big things. Bea and Tony Mitchell along with Aboubacar Camara made up the drum ensemble, Ibeji, and warmed up the room with their moving drum beats.

This arts celebration had something for everyone. The Pentecostal Temple Praise and Worship Team & Dance Ministry “Glorious Overcomers,” the MAC (Mid Atlantic Contemporary) Ballet, the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble and rap artist Terrance Moses also known as Sergeant Streetz were all on the program.

It’s not too late to appreciate the art at the Father Ryan Arts Center. A display of photographs by Christopher Chapman, original art by Vanessa German, African designs by Isaiah Dent, quilts by Tina Brewer, the photographs of Teenie Harris, Donavan Wilburn, the art of Brandon Jennings, Ethelin Ekwa, Saihou Njie, LaGene Patterson and Willie Dawson will remain on display through March.

I was proud to emcee this event along with McKees Rocks councilwoman Wanda Jones Dixon. The Father Ryan Arts Center is located at 420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks, Pa., 15136.

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