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Watch: KNKX's Studio Session with ACE from Northwest African American Museum

Courtesy Northwest African American Museum

KNKX was proud to present a studio session showcasing the heart-stirring vocals of Northwest African American Museum’s (NAAM) choir, the African American Cultural Ensemble (ACE) during Black History Month 2022. The event incorporated songs recorded for KNKX with some of ACE’s previously-recorded videos. It also featured KNKX Grooveyard host Stephanie Anne Johnson’s interviews with folks from ACE, and NAAM’s President and CEO LaNesha DeBardelaben.

Within the African American tradition, choirs have always played an important role in keeping Black heritage and Black ancestral stories alive through singing spirituals, freedom songs, and songs of hope. ACE was created in 2020 “to help inspire collective healing at a time when our country was confronted with racial reckonings due to police brutality, economic inequality and trauma from the pandemic. Since its creation, ACE has graced communities virtually and in-person with the ultimate mission of inspiring hope, help and healing through heritage and song.”

KNKX is excited to partner with NAAM and ACE for a program that feeds the soul and renews the spirit.

Stephanie Anne Johnson’s ability to entertain and uplift is what made them a great host for KNKX’s Grooveyard show, heard Saturday afternoons from 1-4 p.m. The music in the show mixes eras and digs into the history of soul-jazz from the 60's and 70's and blends it with contemporary soul, funk, and blues. Stephanie Anne is a Tacoma native who has been singing since they were young. They’re a classically trained vocalist who is also a fine guitar player and songwriter. Stephanie Anne attended Pacific Lutheran University and heads the group, The Hi Dogs performing Americana, soul, country, folk, and gospel. They have opened for acts that include Mavis Staples, Cedric Burnside, and Black Joe Lewis. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Johnson is so affecting. Their mantra, after all, is “Find your joy and go there.”

LaNesha’s passion is to drive success for Black museums. She specializes in organizational leadership and management, institutional programming, and strategic engagement. Prior to joining NAAM, LaNesha was Senior Vice President at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. With three masters degrees, respectively in museum studies, history, and library science, LaNesha is currently pursuing a PhD, and serves as national president of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) Board of Directors. She has global experience with museums and libraries in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, England, Germany, and Israel, and is involved in both the International Council of Museums and the International Women’s Forum.

Jason has been utilizing his educational and musical skills for many years. He studied at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA in Communications Studies with a minor in Music Composition. After college, Jason taught and performed music for Seattle Public Schools and also within private schools in the Seattle area. He has conducted and has written original compositions for theater and writes and produces music for recording artists.

Longtime Seattle musician, composer/arranger and music educator, Kent Stevenson, is excited to be part of the ACE Choir music team at NAAM. In addition to performing with the ACE Choir, Stevenson, who has performed in numerous local theatre and choir productions, composes music for children as well as liturgical choral music and music for shows. Stevenson is music director of the 12 noon gospel mass at St Therese Catholic Church, Seattle.