Valerie Naranjo, professional percussionist and member of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” band, will present the 2016 Riley Lecture in Women’s and Gender Studies at Alfred University (AU) on Monday, April 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Knight Club, Powell Campus Center.
On the previous evening, Sunday, April 3, the AU Performing Arts Division will host Naranjo for a public performance at 7:30 p.m. in Miller Theater.
Both events are open to the public; admission is free.
Naranjo’s Riley Lecture, “Breaking Gender and Cultural Boundaries: A Conversation with World-Renowned Percussionist Valeria Naranjo,” will be presented as a discussion between her and Dr. Vicki Eaklor, AU professor of history. (Eaklor teaches courses such as “Queer American History,” “Women in Society,” and “Queer Hollywood.” She earned a doctorate in American intellectual/ cultural history from Washington University, St. Louis.) The conversation promises to be educational and lively, and will be followed by a Naranjo performance.
Earlier in the day, Naranjo will speak in classes on campus.
Originally from Southern Colorado, Naranjo is an accomplished percussionist, vocalist, composer and clinician. She is most widely known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard music.
Naranjo’s connection to AU is from her relationship with Eaklor, who was her first percussion teacher. Also, Dr. Luanne Crosby, professor of voice and chorus, studied African drumming with Naranjo for two summers in Fairbanks, AK. Crosby and Eaklor nominated Naranjo to be the 2016 Riley Lecturer.
In 1996, Naranjo and kuor player Barry Olsen garnered a first-place award for their playing of the gyil’s traditional repertoire in Ghana’s Kobine Festival of Traditional Music. Naranjo has performed with Broadway’s “The Lion King” and has collaborated with other artists such as The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, and Tori Amos.
Funding for the Sunday concert is provided by the David and Elizabeth Miller Performing Arts Fund and the Gender Studies Program.
AU annually hosts the Elizabeth Hallenbeck Riley and Charles P. Riley Lectureship in Women’s Studies. Charles Riley and Elizabeth Hallenbeck Riley were AU graduates, Charles in 1935 and Elizabeth in 1936. Elizabeth was a local activist involved in women’s rights issues. Their daughters, Pamela Riley Osborn ’62, Patricia A. Riley ’65, and Melissa Riley sponsored the lecture series in memory of their parents. The Riley sisters’ gift is a completion of the memorial Charles Riley had planned for his wife but had not completed before his death.
Past Riley lecturers include:
2015 - Nadine Strossen, past president American Civil Liberties Union, professor of law, New York Law School, “Sex, Gender, and Civil Liberties on the American College Campus”
2014 – Dr. Kathleen Basile, Ph.D., AU Class of 1991, lead behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, “Sexual Violence Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control: Examining the Gendered Nature of Sexual Violence and the Importance of Public Health”
2013 – Dr. Liz Abzug, professor of urban studies, Barnard College/Columbia University, “Women, Power and Politics in the 21st Century”