Saturday, June 20, 2020

Castle of our Skins: Introducing the 2020-2021 Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative in Residence!

Boston, MA – Castle of our Skins, Boston’s concert and education series that celebrates Black artistry through music, is proud to announce its new Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence program, generously funded by donors Arlene and Larry Dunn. This new program invites creative artists from all disciplines to collaborate in various ways with Castle of our Skins throughout the entire season. Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa, the inaugural winner of the Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence program, will create new work(s), co-design at least one Castle of our Skins’ production, and write several thought-pieces for its BIBA (Beauty in Black Artistry) Blog. She will receive a $1,000 honorarium among other support during her tenure. 
Since its inception in 2013, Castle of our Skins has made its mark in the Boston music scene by offering innovative concerts and educational programs that combine music with dance, spoken word, history, fashion design, and other arts. The new Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence program organically aligns with Castle of our Skins’ history of collaborative public programming. “I’m very excited that Castle of our Skins is able to share its platform and welcome a new voice, with a completely different approach and energy, to our season,” Artistic Director Ashleigh Gordon remarked. “And moreover, I’m incredibly grateful for Arlene and Larry Dunn’s generous support to help make sure that we can offer this position in not only this upcoming season, but for many seasons to come.”

The program’s sponsors, Arlene and Larry Dunn, are ardent supporters of new music and underrepresented artists. Their numerous supporting activities include spearheading a composer-in-residence program with the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, contributing numerous articles to I Care if You Listen, and supporting various endowments and emergency relief funds. Additionally, Arlene and Larry, as lifelong social justice activists, resonate with Castle of our Skins’s work and the legacy of Shirley Graham Du Bois. “We are supporting this program because it expands the necessary and important work Castle of our Skins is doing to celebrate and instigate Black artistry,” says Arlene, “and Shirley Graham Du Bois epitomizes the breadth of Black artistry and its impact on the world.” 

Shirley Graham Du Bois, this program’s namesake, was an author, playwright, activist, and composer whose international career led her to study at Oberlin College and the Sorbonne in Paris, work for Chicago’s Federal Theater Project, and later settle in Ghana and Cairo after gaining Tanzanian citizenship. She passed away in 1977 in Beijing at the age of 80, leaving behind a rich oeuvre of plays, biographies for all ages, novels, and musical compositions – a true interdisciplinary creative. 

Tanyaradzwa is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and scholar whose work bridges Zimbabwe’s past and present in order to inform a self-crafted future. Her performance style connects the seemingly disparate worlds of Western classical music and Zimbabwean classical music in a trans-continental hybridity. She will join Castle of our Skins on July 1, 2020, and remain through June 30, 2021. Castle of our Skins is excited to collaborate with Tanyaradzwa this upcoming season and looks forward to welcoming new creatives in the years to come. To stay up to date and learn more about the organization’s work, please visit

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