Wednesday, February 26, 2014

KCKCC Recognizes West Wyandotte Library for Assistance in NEH Series

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College is starting to honor those that help to make last year’s National Endowment for the Humanities Series a success.

Tuesday, Cherilee Walker, dean of humanities and fine arts at KCKCC, presented a donation of jazz CDs to West Wyandotte Library. The library hosted all of the events in 2013 related to the series, “America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway.”

“This will add a lot of high quality jazz CDs to the library that we could not get through our normal vendors,” said David Thomas, audio/visual services supervisor at West Wyandotte Library. “This time, we were able to go through Amazon and find some really good gems that we otherwise would not have been able to get.”

The series, which started in February 2013, looked at different genres of music and the people who influenced them. KCKCC was awarded a $2,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities last year to fund the series, and the college was the only applicant in Kansas to receive the grant funding.

The various episodes that were scheduled throughout the year focused on genres such as the Latin influence in American music, with focus on the mambo and hip-hop; blues and gospel; Broadway; swing; country/bluegrass and rock n’ roll music. In addition the films that were shown, each episode featured a group discussion on the genre and often, a musical guest. All of the events were free and open to the public.

NEH Supplemental Personnel included:
  • Blues & Gospel - Dr.  Marvin Hunt, Dean of Business & Continuing Education, also a regionally-known blues guitarist let everyone in the audience try to play his slide guitar and Shawn Derritt, Director of the Student Advising Center, shared his recently-released CD of gospel favorites.
  • Broadway & Tin Pan Alley - Breanna Danielle, KCKCC alumnus now adjunct instructor in theatre, performed several modern Broadway selections with local choreographer, Guy Gardner.
  • Swing - English/Humanities faculty member Polly Hawk served as a guest scholar, discussing the rise of all-female bands during the big band era and KCKCC pianist Mike Ning accompanied Dr. Cherilee Walker, Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, on various jazz standards.
  • Country & Bluegrass - Dr. Mike Pettengell, professor of English and fine arts radio host, made introductory comments and performed on mandolin and    Betse Ellis and Chad Brothers, regional artists sponsored through Folk Alliance International, played a few favorites and invited everyone to sing along.
  • Rock - Jim Krajewski, coordinator of English, served as project scholar and brought his acoustic trio to share pieces composed by Bob Dylan.
  • Mambo & Hip Hop - Awilda Olson, coordinator of languages, provided cultural context and Enrique Chi, lead vocalist for a KC bilingual rock band and Roger Suggs (aka “Vigiliante”), a staff member in KCKCC’s Community Outreach program, performed.
“All-in-all, it was a great experience,” Walker said. “The lines between performers and audience members blurred, as everyone had an opportunity to share thoughts, talents. I look forward to the next opportunity for such a worthwhile collaboration.   “

Local partners that helped to sponsor the series were KCKCC, West Wyandotte Library and EL Centro, Inc. National sponsors of the event are the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Library Association and Tribeca Flashpoint.

“Rock music is probably our highest circulating genre, but jazz is right up there,” Thomas said. “It is still circulating really well, so these will be some outstanding choices to offer to the community.”

For more information about KCKCC’s Humanities and Fine Arts Department, contact Cherilee Walker at 913-288-7269 or by email at For more information about the NEH, visit the website,