She has been advocating for the children of Africa all her life, and her accomplishments are staggering to behold. Most notable is the 1992 formation of her 500-voice multiracial choir and the subsequent organization of the Peace Train, a group of 150 children and musicians (including Ladysmith Black Mambazo) who rode the first-ever interracially populated train across South Africa in support of a peaceful transition to democracy and the election of Nelson Mandela as president.
Since that time, Katz’s continuing humanitarian fundraising efforts have benefited multiple generations of children. She performs worldwide with a variable number of musicians, singers, dancers and workshop leaders to entertain and spread the message at venues large and small, like Carnegie Hall’s World Music Series, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Disney World’s International Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Smithsonian Institution’s African Art Museum, Alaska’s Performing Arts Center, the Des Moines Civic Center, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Festival, Joe Papp’s Public Theater in New York City, Bethlehem’s Musikfest, the Philadelphia Art Museum, World Café Live and numerous college campuses.
Now based in Philadelphia, Katz is currently traveling with a small band of musicians and dancers. Judith Drabkin of High Falls recently met the South African mountain-mover at a Women’s Music Circle held in Voorheesville and says, “She’s a lady who’s put her life on the line. She talked about the non-profit Friends of Peace Train, about building a school cut off from water and electricity where children walk six hours a day to go to school. Then she said the Peace Train was coming through the area to perform in Boston on the 30th, and did I know anyone in my area that would like to host a concert? All of this happened four weeks ago!”
Drabkin immediately approached Cliff Rockmuller, who runs the “One World” music series for the Center for Creative Education, and Sharon Katz and three members of the Peace Train – dancer/vocalist Wendy Khethiwe Quick, bassist Junius “Pop” Wilson and drummer Eric Roberts – were booked into this Friday, April 29 slot at Marbletown Multi-Arts (MaMA) in Stone Ridge. Nominated for the Grammies’ Best World Music Album list for its first US release, the group is known for its eclectic range highlighting the pulsating sounds of South African vocals, rhythms and harmonies with Zulu dance.
MaMA is located at 3588 Main Street in Stone Ridge. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance are $20 in advance, $25 at the door on concert night, children half-price. Call (845) 687-4143 or e-mail Cnrock@aol.com for reservations and information.