Gullah stories, songs featured in BCC presentation at Fowler Hall

August 30, 2013  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Gullah stories and songs will take center stage Thursday (Sept. 5) at Fowler Hall when Ron and Natalie Daise present "Dream Weaving Gullah Stories & Songs."

The 7 p.m. performance is sponsored by Purdue University's Black Cultural Center as part of its Fall Cultural Arts Series, which is exploring Gullah culture. The presentation will include customs, beliefs, folkways, language and heritage of the Gullah people.

"The strongest retention of African-American heritage is in the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands," said Renee Thomas, director of the BCC. "The origin of the Gullah culture is connected to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Many enslaved Africans labored on the sea island rice plantations, lived for several centuries in relative isolation and maintained strong community life. That allowed them to preserve more of their African culture than any other group of blacks in the U.S."

Ron and Natalie Daise starred in and served as cultural consultants for the "Gullah Gullah Island" television show on Nick Jr. from 1994-98. It was named one of the 10 best children's shows by TV Guide in 1996 and in 1997 was nominated for a daytime Emmy in the preschool series category. The show was nominated twice for the NAACP Image Award and won two Parent's Choice Awards.

Ron, a native of St. Helena Island, S.C., and Natalie Daise have been performing together since 1983 and were married in 1985. They then began touring with their show, "Sea Island Montage," based on Ron's book "Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage," in 1986. The performances were based on stories from oral histories of elderly St. Helena Island residents.

In addition to the 7 p.m. performance, which is free and open to the public, Ron Daise will conduct a choral master class "Down by the Riverside & Other Spirituals," at 2 p.m. at the Black Cultural Center, 1100 Third St., West Lafayette. Thomas said participants in the class are encouraged to come ready to sing, clap, stomp and enjoy. 

Writer: Greg McClure, 765-491-9751,

Source: Renee Thomas, 765-494-3091,

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