Pablo Batista is a master percussionist based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. He has performed, recorded and toured internationally since the 1980s with renowned musicians across genres, receiving the rare distinction of having performed on Grammy-winning releases in jazz, R&B and gospel. Pablo worked with Grover Washington, Jr. since 1985, and served as his touring percussionist 1991-1999. Between 2000-2012, Pablo recorded and toured with Alicia Keys, performing alongside her at such venues as the 2010 World Cup ceremonies in South Africa for an estimated audience of over one billion viewers. Pablo has received grants for research on Afro-Cuban percussion and composer commissions from organizations including the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Pablo leads his own ten-piece Mambo Syndicate salsa conjunto. As an instructor, he has taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, as well as taught low-income students at schools and community centers in North Philadelphia.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/08/2020.
Keith Brintzenhoff is an autoharp musician and school teacher by profession based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. He studied autoharp with leading musicians including Bryan Bowers, Bonnie Phipps, and Becky Blackely, and was a consultant for the large size autoharp built by Folkcraft Instruments of Connecticut. He is an expert researcher on the mountain dulcimer and its Pennsylvania German connections. Keith also plays guitar and old-time banjo, and has performed solo, duo or with his band the Toad Creek Ramblers both in Pennsylvania and in Germany. He has performed in venues including the Hershey Museum and the Historic Schaefferstown, Der Dutch Peddler Homecoming (Ohio), and has served as musical advisor for the Kutztown Pennsylvania German Festival. His performances in Germany included a tour for the 700th anniversary of Switzerland Fescht in his ancestral hometown. Keith has also recorded music for various videos and films.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/05/2020.
Daniel de Jesús is a painter, composer, and songwriter versed in the worlds of visual and sonic tapestries. They hold a degree in fine art form the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and have exhibited their work throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Their musical practice includes building beats, ambient sonic spaces, and string arrangements with vocals, and their work has been described as Baroque pop and Neo-Goth, filled with dramatic themes based on mysticism, the occult, and Latin American lore. Daniel de Jesús has nine studio recordings of their original music and performs with orchestras and rock bands in the region and around the world. Their projects include collaborations with painter and performance artist David Antonio Cruz, singer songwriter Courtlyn Carr, and the Bearded Ladies Cabaret. They have performed at venues across the world including the Park Ave. Armory, Millennium Park Theater, and World Café Live.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/24/2020
Fawziyya Heart is a singer/songwriter based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in the city, she has been influenced by the Philly music scene. Her music is a funk-infused blend of jazz, blues, and soul with anthemic lyrics calling for social change and self-transformation. Fawziyya has performed, recorded, and written several songs with global house music collective World Town Sound System alongside Grammy award winning percussionist Pablo Batista (Alicia Keys/Grover Washington Jr). In 2020, Fawziyya prepared for the release of her debut EP, featuring her own original songs and an array of Philly talent. The songs on the EP are produced by Philadelphia’s legendary Chuck Treece, who remixed songs for Amy Grant and Sting, and played bass on “The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel. Trap Rabbit’s Logan Roth has co-arranged the songs and added his distinct sound to the tracks.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/26/2020.
Dot Levine is a Philadelphia-based entertainer, bandleader and producer. As a singer and guitar player, they specialize in many genres, most prominently 1920s jazz music. Dot has performed with their group the Singular Band, as well as with the Mahogany Stompers, a duo with percussionist Julius Masri; the Howling Kettles, an old-timey trio with members spread across the United States; and groups such as the Perseverance Jazz Band. Dot is also a dedicated teacher, an active producer, and has worked extensively as a live sound technician. They build electronic instruments and equipment to use in their recording studio and in their solo experimental project, Fink Tank. In March 2020, Dot founded Dottie’s Serenade Service, which provides individually tailored socially distant performances in the age of pandemic and has expanded beyond Philadelphia to New York City, Boston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/18/2020.
John Stevens is an accordion player and polka musician based in Swoyersville, Pennsylvania. In 1995, he founded the John Stevens Polka Band. The band has released eighteen cassettes and albums, including Doubleshot Preview (1995) and Come On Let’s Dance (1996). They have performed across the United States, appearing at festivals including Pillar Polkabration (CT), Pulaski’s Big Polka Celebration (WI), Polka Spree By The Sea (NJ), The Bethlehem Musikfest (PA), Polka Fireworks (PA), and Polkamotion By The Ocean (MD). In 1997 their song “Everyone’s having Fun” was named number one tune of the year on the Jolly ST. Nick’s Polka Revolution show heard over WPHB 1260AM in Houtzdale, PA. The band has been on numerous Television shows including Pennsylvania Polka, The Jolly Joe Timmer Show, Let’s Polka, and The Bethlehem Musikfest.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/30/2020.