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Courtesy of Monica Washington Padula

Monica Washington Padula is a trailblazer in Kalamazoo. The multi-instrument, classically trained musician and music educator of African-American and Indigenous descent operates her own piano studio. She’s on a mission to get more children of color fired up about playing instruments.


Courtesy of Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Sonya Bernard-Hollins once produced a coloring book about prominent Black graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools, among them former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Now she’s at it again—this time she’s created a coloring book of firsts of Kalamazoo African-American women and a similar coloring book of firsts about local African-American men. And she’s involved her all-girls Merze Tate Explorers travel and community-service group in the project.


Courtesy of Buddy Hannah

Kalamazoo leader Buddy Hannah was born in Miami. But by age 10, he found himself living on a farm in Georgia with his grandparents. Hannah, who is Black, recalls that his newly adopted small town had an historic structure in the middle of the road, a slave market, where enslaved persons were once bought and sold. Hannah says it’s still there. He's 73 years old.


Chris McGuire Photography

At 7 pm on Wednesday, Feb 17, pianist Lori Sims will appear in a recital of Bach, Chopin and Dutilleux on the Western Michigan University School of Music's Live and Interactive! series, playing a Steinway Spirio piano.  It plays like any other Steinway D, says Sims, but is also able to capture the mechanics of her playing at an ultra-specific, microscopic level, and record it for playback -- or even duplicate her playing on another instrument in another location. Cara Lieurance spoke with Sims about the Spirio and the music she'll perform. The pieces seemed to want to be played during a year of COVID-19 isolation.


A screenshot from a virtual meeting with 12 participants.
Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

Western Michigan University Trustee Ron Kitchens is leaving his job as the head of a local economic development agency and heading south to take a similar position in Birmingham, Alabama. But Kitchens says that’s no reason to quit Western’s Board.

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