A multicultural celebration called “Good News” is featuring original music and traditional rhythms from India, Panama, Puerto Rico and the Ivory Coast. See the performance Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.
With a large cast of singers, dancers and musicians, the performance will feature original music and lyrics by Milwaukeean Kiran Vedula infused with traditional rhythms and the energy and electronic sounds of hip-hop and house music.
Vedula is a musician, producer, and educator who combines hip-hop and experimental electronic music with traditional folk influences from around the world. He creates compositions, performances and youth programs that are entertaining, vulnerable and culturally relevant, with a focus on studying history and building community.
Vedula spent his teens and 20s actively performing with bands, working as a DJ, producing records and honing his craft while studying with important academic mentors – namely Martin Jack Rosenblum and Jeffrey Hayes – whom he said opened his mind to deeper perspectives on the history of music and culture.
He created a media-based mentorship program for middle- and high-school students with the mission of honoring, educating and inspiring. Over the past 15 years, Vedula has worked with thousands of preteens and teens making beats, songs, music videos, short films and hosting live events, while creating a variety of music and dance-based work with professional artists across the country.
In 2021, Vedula founded Flutes at Dawn, the name of which is derived from a metaphor for the moment of inspiration, to enrich and expand his work with youth, families and communities in Milwaukee and beyond. Flutes at Dawn is a nonprofit specializing in music, dance and digital media.
“Our focus is on building compassionate, meaningful relationships, creating opportunities for multigenerational community building, and offering fun, educational programming that promotes cross-cultural understanding, appreciation, and competency,” he said in a news release.
In the Summer of 2021, Vedula and his wife, Karlies Kelley, started a new offering through Flutes at Dawn called the Community Spirit Choir.
“We were experiencing a lot of fatigue and confusion from the onslaught of advertisements and political and cultural divisiveness throughout the internet and mass media,” he said. “Our goal was to connect with people in real life, to have real conversations and to tap into a higher vibration that would lift our spirits during a difficult time. It turned into a multicultural church with no specific religious language, a spiritual space where each individual benefitted personally by leaning into the group. Embracing our vulnerability and imperfectness was essential.”
Vedula found something special about this way of communing.
“This is the spirit and creative direction of ‘Good News,’ and many of the songs in the show were written for and first sang by the Community Spirit Choir,” he said.
An album of all the music from the show will be available for purchase starting Nov. 17. All proceeds go to providing community-based music and dance workshops through Flutes at Dawn (flutesatdawn.org).
Vedula previously produced “Hip Hop DNA,” a live show exploring the evolution and interconnectedness of 100 years of American music and dance, while paying homage to the roots and influence of African, Latin, Eastern and European traditions. With a 10-piece live band, and a large cast of dancers and guest vocalists, it presented in the form of medleys, mashups and reinterpretations that focus on popular hip-hop/rap songs from the 1980s to present day, and the blues, jazz, soul, funk, disco, and traditional songs that were sampled to create those hits. Tickets for “Good News” can be found online.