“Students learn about life in different cultures via the artists and their stories, instruments and music. It awakens their curiosity in life beyond what they know.” – Brooks Butler, Claxton Elementary School Music Teacher

Next week, Buncombe County will transform into a cross-cultural community – buzzing with curiosity, vibrating with rhythm and connecting through art and music. Two times a year, our cherished nook in the Southern Appalachians welcomes world-renowned artists with global perspectives and deeply immersed cultural roots to share their passions and traditions with a multi-generational audience. And the experience does not just begin at LEAF Festival.

Starting this weekend, Visiting Teaching Artists will descend and ascend from all corners of the world – Doctor Nativo of the Mayan regions of Guatemala, Digging Roots representing Winneway and Batchewana First Nations, Richard Wood & Gordon Belsher bringing Celtic-folk to Appalachian-folk by way of Prince Edward Island, LEAF International Costa Rica and LEAF International Mexico teaming up for a First Nations and Aztec heritage ensemble, Edwin Salas sharing the authentic stories of modern-day Central American Latinos, Nex Millen passing along the principles of Hip Hop culture by way of the streets of Philadelphia,  Kaia Kater shaking up the Appalachian-folk history with her Afro-Caribbean roots, Asheville’s-own Secret Agent 23 Skidoo elevating the voice of the child with whimsical high-energy, to Mid-Eastern U.S. staple Darrell Rose stirring it all together in percussion that weaves rock, jazz, African, Latin and reggae rhythms. At LEAF, these artists will bring their homes to our doorstep.

In the days leading up to LEAF, each of these extraordinary Culture Keepers will share their time and craft with local schools during 2 – 4 day residences, showcases, workshops and Cultural Exchanges all over Buncombe County. Thank you to Claxton Elementary, Oakley Elementary, Ira B. Jones Elementary, Pisgah Elementary, Owen Middle School, William W. Estes Elementary, Avery’s Creek Elementary, FernLeaf Community Charter School and Owen High School for welcoming these artists into their schools, embracing and encouraging cultural arts education for all of their students in a recognition of the power of culture to transform and ignite global citizens, from K – 12th grade and during the rest of their lifetime.

Be a part of the experience yourself by checking out the final showcases of the Visiting Teaching Artists with their students all weekend long – look for the yellow hand symbol on the schedule!