Marguerite Mariama

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The activist/artist…Marguerite Mariama began singing and dancing as a 2 year old in Chicago. “Precocious and passionate, she was always called upon to regale relatives in the windy city and in Thomaston, Georgia, where she spent every summer of her childhood, occasionally performing in her great aunt’s café or ‘juke joint’. Young Marguerite sang the jazz, blues and gospel she heard in her home. One of her favorite singers was Mahalia Jackson, Thomas A. Dorsey’s protégé. Years later she would be trained and mentored by Dr. Lena McLin, Dorsey’s niece. She also stood out in her dance classes. “

My teachers taught the most important lesson of performing - giving myself to the audience, connecting with their spirit - making them feel something.” Later, as an honors student, at Harlan high school, she continued her dance training, played French horn in the band, and led the first alto section of the choir, directed by McLin. As a college student she majored in sociology, minored in black studies and co-founded the African/modern dance troupe - MUWARA DADA.

The young dancers studied with Katherine Dunham in East St. Louis, who, at the time, sponsored African dancers from that continent to teach in her center. “Sitting at Katherine’s feet was awesome, she reminded us of our social responsibilities as young artists.” This served to affirm her earlier experiences: “As a teen, I marched in protest of social injustices and educational inequities, and tried to stage a one-person sit in at a whites-only lunch counter in Atlanta (“my aunt discovered where I had gone and quickly snatched me out of there”). “One of my proudest moments was participating in a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from city hall to Soldier field in Chicago.”

Traveling around the Midwest, MUWARA DADA used dance as a means of social commentary accompanied by African drums and the music of artists such as Nina Simone. Marguerite graduated from Southern Illinois University with a graduate degree and headed to New York City where she studied and performed with former Dunham dancers, Livinia Williams and Charles Moore. While a professor at several colleges in the City University of New York (CUNY), she resumed her musical instruction: classical vocal work with Kenneth Stroman and jazz training with Amina Claudine Meyers, Muhal Richard Abrams, and at The Williamsburg Music Center, with Gerry Eastman. Jimmy Sigler, pianist and composer for Gamble and Huff - and Dinah Washington’s last music director - was Marguerite’s mentor and accompanist. They worked together for 14 years until his death…her CD is his final recording. Marguerite also studied with be-bop legend, Barry Harris. And, as a member of his Vocal Orchestra, she was privileged to be directed by and work with Coleridge Taylor-Perkinson, Lena Horne’s musical director.

With national and international experience as a big band and small ensemble jazz and blues vocalist, Marguerite has appeared in numerous music festivals including the Chicago Blues Festival, The South Shore Jazz Festival, Ravinia Festival, The Henry Street Music Festival (NY), The Hyde Park Jazz Festival (Chicago), and New York Concerts in the Park. She has been a musical guest on numerous television shows including BET Jazz, and co-produced and hosted the Sounds of Sikia music series for WYCC-TV in Chicago. During extensive tours of Asia, including China, Taiwan and Singapore, she was voted most Popular Vocalist by Dr. Chan, a leading critic in the region. Marguerite has performed with Barry Harris, Chico Freeman, Buster Williams, Eric Reed, Stanley Banks, Russell Malone, Lonnie Plaxico, Jimmy Sigler, Jeff Haynes, Lui Satterfield, Famadou Don Moye, Jesse Cheese Hameen, Coleridge Taylor Perkinson, Norman Hedman, Kwame Steve Cobb, Curtis Robinson, Gerry Eastman, Hassan Hamid, Michael Logan, Chuck Webb and others. She has numerous acting credits, including theatre, television and film. She was an advisor to “The Blues” a PBS documentary on the history of blues music, produced by director, Martin Scorsese and made a cameo appearance in director, Mark Levin’s segment on Chicago Blues. As an actor, Marguerite has performed in theatre, film, commercials and print, and has won critical acclaim on New York City stages in both ensemble and solo productions. She is a member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

The educator:
Over the last 35 years, Marguerite Mariama, Ph.D, founder and president, of From The Inside Out, Inc., and the non-profit organization, Tomorrow’s Village, Inc. (501c3), has been a leader in creating specialized pedagogy designed to empower urban student social, emotional and academic success through an assortment of non-traditional modalities.

Her diverse background serves as a foundation for launching innovative educational and creative work that is transformational in depth and scope. The projects are informed by her training and experience as an educator and performing artist. As a strategist, she is a critical resource in analyzing organizational strengths and weaknesses and developing conceptual frameworks for problem solving and growth. Curricula are designed to engage, challenge, and inspire participants to their highest possibility. Performance Pedagogy (her personal empowerment methodology), a 25+ years proven strategy, has been used with diverse populations including underemployed and unemployed women, K-12 and college students, administrators, teachers, and parents. The Performance Pedagogy approach, which includes critical and higher order thinking skills training, among other approaches – is particularly effective with urban populations, enabling them to redesign their lives and make positive life choices. The outcomes have been extraordinary: Students become more engaged in the learning process. Their attendance improves, grade levels increase, there is a decline in verbal and physical abuse, fear of public speaking is conquered, and there is an upsurge in retention and college enrollment.“ I find that most youth are eager for information that offers a more positive outlook for their future. In fact, they’re starving for it. Unfortunately, many of them leave schools with a narrow and distorted vision of themselves, un-prepared to assume their role as healthy, productive, contributing citizens. Without the proper life skills, the consequences for them - and our society as a whole - are dire.


As educators and stakeholders, our mission is an urgent one. To save our youth, we must develop and support new learning strategies that get their attention and facilitate their transition from basic to critical thinkers who make positive life choices. Clients have included Boards of Education in New York, Chicago and Long Island, The United Negro College Fund, The City University of New York, City Colleges of Chicago The Chicago, Urban League, Illinois Head Start Association, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Links - Incorporated, Jack and Jill - Incorporated, Queens and Brooklyn New York Libraries, The Cosby Show, Ravinia Festival, the New York State Legislature, The Institute for Student Achievement STAR Program (Gates Foundation funded), Yew Chung International School in Shanghai, China and Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. She has also been a consultant to The Cosby Show - and a variety of celebrity clients including musician, Miles Davis. She was an advisor to the PBS documentary on the history of the blues, produced by director Martin Scorsese - and made a cameo appearance in one of the segments. Marguerite Mariama is a Southern Illinois University Distinguished Alumni award recipient and an Illinois Humanities Council Road Scholar. Dr. Mariama holds a Ph.D. in Performance Education with a specialization in African American Musical Culture from The Union Institute and University, and lectures and performs worldwide.

WEB: http://graytalentgroup.com/talent/marguerite-mariama/

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