LEAF Highlights & Milestones
1995-2019 : Celebrating 24 Years!
In our fast moving world, we often move on to the next thing or next event and forget to stop, embrace and celebrate our successes. LEAF has been out in the community creating and building programs, community & collaborations.
LEAF Highlights 2019-2017
- LEAF Schools & Streets along with Buncombe Co. Schools Awarded National Distinction by John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts!
- LEAF receives Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) Matching Grant to build LEAF Global Arts Center!
- Reader’s Digest recognizes LEAF as one of the “Top 10 Outdoor Festivals Your Kids Will Love This Year“
- LEAF International Rwanda Culture Keeper David Kwizera opens for Ozomatli
- LEAF – Bequia Kids On Pan open their own music center.
- The LEAF Rwanda JR Troupe makes their grand debut on the main-stage of the Tour Du Rwanda concert series with more than 15,000 people in attendance.
- LEAF International Mexico made their first ever festival appearance after 10 years of partnership.
- 7 LEAF International Haiti members teach cultural exchanges at several locations in Asheville including the Christine Avery Center, Burton Street ONEmic Studio & a 5-day residency at TC Roberson High School.
- 10 LEAF International Guatemala Cultural Expeditioners embrace the traditional customs & music culture of Guatemala.
- 2nd LEAF Cross country cultural exchanges with LEAF International Tanzania & Rwanda.
- Culture Keeper Dramane Dembele creates a partnership with the SOS d’Abobo Orphanage to teach classes 3 times per week. His classes quickly reached full capacity in a matter of days.
- Costa Rica Culture Keeper Alexis Rodriguez published his second book, Ji Tara Kri Deka. This book is infused with traditional Ngabe stories and poems to help the youth connect to their traditional Indian roots. Ji Tara Kri Deka is in 35 schools & 5 Indian Territories throughout Southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.
- LEAF International partner, Burial Beer Co release the Golden Feather Pale Ale, the second Mardi Gras Indian beer dedicated to New Orleans Culture.
- 10,500 + Youth served with LEAF Schools and Streets programming!
- 840 children participated in Resident Teaching Artist classes.
- 208 Easel Rider events rolled through with visual arts in Buncombe county!
- 11 community focus events with ULEAF unfolded in local areas.
- Mtx Xpress Best of WNC 2017 Hall of Fame:#1 Nonprofit That Serves The Arts, #1 Cultural or Arts Event , #1 Local Music Festival, #1 Music-Related Nonprofit, #1 Event or Festival For Kids, #1 Local Festival To Camp Out At
- 3 long time LEAFers, 2 Staff, 1 LEAF Schools & Street Culture Keeper, and 1 LEAF Schools & Street youth journey to Haiti for the LEAF International Cultural Expedition. This year all participated in Prosjekt Haiti’s annual summer camp – supporting global arts education for more than 80 youth from Saint Luis du Sud. As the community continues to recover from the damage of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the importance of preserving Haitian arts & culture is needed more now than ever.
- LEAF International Rwanda Culture Keeper David Kwizera gets his first ever vacation. While in Asheville, David worked hard to connect and secure sustainable housing for the LEAF Intore Dance Troupe.
- LEAF International Tanzania & Rwanda headline the twice annual Orange Peel performance along side culture keepers Masankho Banda, Adama Dembele, Stephanie & Gregory Laforest, and Grandfather Mazatzin. This performance alone brought in a youth group of more than 460.
- LEAF International Tanzania (Culture Keeper Fredy N’ganga & 3 of his students) and LEAF International Rwanda (Culture Keeper David Kwizera, Pacifique Niyosenga, Patrick Usengimana, & world-renown Inganga player Daniel Ngarukiye) join the 44th May LEAF festival to celebrate the Legends of Africa. LEAF International touched over 1500 youth and community members this past May!
- Rainbow Community School visits Burton Street ONEmic Studio for the first time! “Inside Out” Music Business Club every 3rd Saturday at the space. This month, held an off-site professional photoshoot and invited students to participate!
- LEAF International Bequia begins the deep stages of renovating a cultural center donated to the group from the government. When the Bequia government learned of preservation methods set in place by the Steel on Pans youth, they felt it necessary to offer the foundation so youth can continue to learn the sacred, harmonious rhythms of the steel pan drums.
- LEAF International Guatemala gets a new music room built by Build Lightly Studios.
- LEAF International Bequia gets new steel pans!
- Easel Rider immerses in the Shiloh community with weekly programming using arts education and fun activities!
- LEAF Delta House Jazz Band embarks on their community-funded musical journey to New Orleans
- National Release of Shallow Water – a beer dedicated to sustaining New Orleans culture….Thanks Burial Beer Co.!
- LEAF Schools & Streets launches pilot partnership program by joining forces with Buncombe County Public Schools’ Book-Mobile and the Summer Meals Program. Easel Rider cruisin’ in the Deaverview and Haw Creek communities!
LEAF Highlights 2016-2014
•BEST OF WNC Mtn Xpress Hall of Fame Awards: #1 Non-Profit Serving the Arts #1 Music Festival! #1 Festival for Kids! #1 Festival for Camping! (Best of Received for 3 categories 2013-2016)
•LEAF International Bequia and LEAF International Rwanda Intore make the journey to LEAF Festival for Cultural Exchanges and stunning performances esp. when Patrick of Rwanda took Lakeside Stage with Balken Beat Box.
•LEAF Love Fund Campaign is a success securing pledges to build a $1 million Endowment Fund.
•Home Run Series with U-LEAF & Easel Rider are launched in local AVL housing communities to help build community connections.
•LEAF Djembeso, group of young dancers and drummers, led by djembefola Adama Dembele, launches at Christine W. Avery Center.
•42nd LEAF Festival acknowledges the widespread Cuban influence on music and arts with Juan de Marcos & the Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Danay Suarez, Nano Stern, Pedrito Martinez, Tizer & more!
•LEAF Southside Drummers & LEAF Delta Jazz Band visit epic Battle of The Bands featuring HBCU’s Bands.
•LEAF launches ‘LEAF Radio’, a community radio program as a part of the WPVM 103.7FM station’s collection of voices.
•LEAF Schools & Streets welcomes new Ambassador Cameron “Cam” Maybin, former Atlanta Braves Player and current Detroit Lions player. Cam visits LEAF Schools & Streets programs and helps lift the voices and dreams of local youth.
•LEAF Awarded National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for Espirtu de Cuba, supporting Cuban performing artists at the Spring 2016 LEAF Festival.
•LEAF International and LEAF Schools & Streets Cultural Exchange representing three countries: Haiti, Guatemala, and local Asheville youth.
•LEAF Celebrates the Spirit of New Orleans 10 years post-Hurricane Katrina at the 41st Festival.
• 1st LEAF Downtown AVL welcomed 15,000+ families & friends from all neighborhoods AND Bootsy landed the Funk Mothership in Pack Square Park: August 1st-2nd!
• LEAF awarded for the 3rd consecutive year BEST OF WNC Mtn Xpress Awards: #1 Music Festival! #1 Festival for Kids! #1 Festival for Camping! #Outdoor Fair/Event Selling Arts/Crafts-Arts & Entertainment
•1st Bootsy Collins Funk Dynasty Day at New Mountain- FUNKtastic!
•LEAF Awarded Grants: South Arts Regional Touring Grant for Cedric Watson, NC Arts Council New Realities Grant, NC Arts Program Support, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation: Southern Exposure, Art in The Park, and City of Asheville Youth Development Grant. These grants fuel LEAF’s mission.
•U-LEAF Mobile Community Stage, created by AVL Design Build Studio Students, unveiled at LEAF Downtown.
•LEAF Southside Drummers receive 1st official LEAF Uniforms sporting a NOLA Mask inspired by Chief Shaka Zulu
• 2nd LEAF Arts & Park Summer Camp at Grant Center with 93 kids was a success with so many artists!
• LEAF Celebrates it’s 40th Festival with Global Gratitude, performing artists representing 30 countries
• International miracles do happen! All 18 of the LEAF International Costa Rica (Bribri & Ngabe-Bugle First Nations) kids & musicians & parents are granted visas 10 days before the festival. Rainbow Mountain School hosts LEAF International for a extraordinary cultural exchange for several days including homestays.
• LEAF Downtown AVL is officially announced to the community.
•Creating Global friends through LEAF International (LI) Skype exchanges with LI Haiti and LEAF Schools & Streets (LSS) Southside Drummers as well as LI Rwanda and LEAF Delta Jazz Band.
• AVL Design Build Studio 2015 summer project awarded to LEAF for the U-LEAF Mobile Community Stage
• LEAF Delta Jazz Band collaborates & studies with Preservation Hall Jazz Masters and Mardi Gras Indians on the 2nd Bi-Annual NOLA Musical Journey
• LEAF International Tanzania St. Joseph Dancers win 2nd in the 1st Annual Arusha Inter-School Cultural Competition
• LEAF Southside Drummers led by Imhotep is officially established
• Tribal Reunion at Ngabe Comarca Capital! LEAF International brought LI Ngabe Kids, Parents, & Artists from Costa Rica to their homeland in Panama for their 1st exchange and journey out of Costa Rica
• 1st LEAF International Cross-Cultural Exchange Adventure with LEAFers going to LI Costa Rica & Panama
• Burton St. One Mic Studio is in full action with LEAF Schools & Streets Classes
• 40th LEAF Festival Theme announced: Global Gratitude with a special feature of Tribal Tributes
• LEAF awarded NEA Tribal Tribute grant bringing R. Carlos Nakai, LEAF International Bribri & Negabe-Bugle and the Warriors of Anikituhwa to share Native American traditions with Artspace Charter School.
• LEAF Schools & Streets awarded South Arts Grant for Cedric Watson to share creole traditions with Asheville Middle School.
• EMErgence makes its grand electronic music appearance at the LEAF festival.
• LEAF International Rwanda Skype Concert with LEAF Office
• LEAF Schools & Streets Wesley Grants Southside Drummers Skype Cultural Exchange with LEAF International Haiti-Prosjekt Haiti Drummers
• LEAF International Cultural Teaching Artists Exchange with LI Costa Rica and LI Guatemala
• 1st LEAF International Guatemala Music Camp. LI Guatemala’s 1st End of Year 2 week Music Camp at 2 schools. In the 2nd school, older students were transformed into teaching artists.
• 2nd EMErgence: Electronic Music Experience Connecting Local Youth with Music & Technology week long immersion happened at Burton St. One Mic, Asheville High School, New Mountain, & one eve at Echo Mountain. [support by Dan Lucas Foundation, Ben Gradison Funds & equipment support by Michael Selverne & LEAF Friends]
• 3rd Annual Masquerade Ball at Zealandia Castle supporting of LEAF Schools & Streets
• 39th LEAF Festival’s theme was “Celebrate Unity. Inspire Every Voice”. Tibetan Monks blessed LEAF Grounds and presented Performing Arts Director with Khata for Positive Community Leadership
• LEAF Schools & Streets awarded South Arts Grant for Middle Grounds representing many Middle East countries to Erwin Middle School
• LEAF Teaching Artist & Ambassador Dave Hamilton records Natalia Clavier of Thievery Corporation w/ BriBri First Nation
• LEAF on Mtn Xpress Big Ideas Timeline of AVL’s History
• Executive Director, Jennifer Pickering, recognized as WLOS Person of The Week
• IREX fellow from Macedonia works with LEAF Schools & Streets Aug-Nov
• LEAF awarded for the 2nd year BEST OF WNC Mtn Xpress Awards:
#1 Music Festival! #1 Festival for Kids! #1 Festival for Camping!
• LSS Pritchard Park Summer Series on Wednesday with AVL Downtown Assoc.
• One Mic at Burton Street w GO launched [supported by Ben Gradison Funds]
• 1st LEAF Summer Camp at Grant Center with 60 kids was a success!
• LEAF International Haiti & Prosject Haiti came to LEAF for a 10-day Cultural Exchange
• LEAF International Haiti Gals were inducted into the Bootsy Girls Foundation
• LSS Tri-Series Cultural Exchange led by Billy Jonas with YWCA, North Buncombe Middle, & Beth Ha-Tephila
• LEAF awarded BEST OF WNC Mtn Xpress Awards: #1 Music Festival! #1 Festival for Kids! #1 Festival for Camping!
• “Free Your Funky Self” at LEAF May hosted super stars of FUNK. Bootsy Collins’s Legendary Funk Mothership Lands at May LEAF.
• Grants received to support programs: Swannanoa Community Foundation, South Arts & Grassroots
• LI Kenya launched in partnership with TWAAF [supported by Ben Gradison Funds]
• Easel Rider participates in AVL’s MLK Peace Rally
• LEAF on Mtn Xpress Big Ideas Timeline of AVL’s History
LEAF Highlights 2013-2010
•LEAF Schools & Streets and Moog Foundation partner to create EMErgence: Electronic Music Experience for Youth, funded by Dan Lucas Foundation.
•LEAF International Bequia Kids on Pans’ 1st international trip, LSS cultural exchange and performance to October LEAF.
•Acoustic Syndicate Album Release celebrating 20 years.
•LEAF awarded BEST OF WNC Mtn Xpress Awards: #1 Music Festival! #1 Festival for Kids! #1 Festival for Camping!
•LEAF International Costa Rica launched with the Bribri and Ngabe First Nations in August.
•LEAF Schools & Streets awarded South Arts Grant, in partnership with the NEA and NC Arts Council, brought Samite of Uganda to AVL Middle School’s AVID Student.
•LEAF brings to life and back to the streets The Easel Rider in partnership with City of AVL Parks & Rec.
•LEAF Schools & Streets partners with AVL Downtown Assoc. for Pritchard Park Summer Events
•LEAF Jazz Band at Delta House went to New Orleans by invite of Preservation Hall & opened Congo Square Festival.
•Hanes Foundation Grant Awarded to LEAF Schools & Streets Jazz at Delta House
•NEA Grant for “Voices of Traditions” featuring Mavis Staples, Lizz Wright, Yungchen Lhamo, & others at May LEAF Festival.
•Dan Lucas Foundation 3-Year Grant to LEAF International to expand to Costa Rica and connect all of the LEAF International Latin America Programs.
•Festivals.com selected Spring LEAF as “Greatest Event of The Day”
•Loose LEAF Tea at Dobra Tea House connects people to global cultures through tea and music in honor of LEAF International.
•LEAF International Haiti launches with Prosjekt Haiti and Boukman Eksperyans in Port Au Prince.
•LEAF International Guatemala Young Musicians came to LEAF’s 35th Festival.
•Mickey Hart’s LSS Kids Drum Workshop at 35th Festival.
•LEAF in Schools & Streets kicked off Summer Music & Arts Residencies.
•LEAF became an “Assest Infused Organization” through Developmental Assests Training.
•NEA Grant funded “Celebrating the Blues” featuring Taj Mahal and many excellent Blues musicians at May LEAF Festival.
•LSS Jazz Kids opened for Preservation Hall Society at May LEAF.
•LEAF moves offices to William Randolph School in Asheville to expand LSS.
•Abigail Washburn Benefit Concert for LEAF Outreach.
•LI Rwanda: Patrick joins National Ballet of Rwanda and Daniel performed for The First Lady of Rwanda’s birthday.
•LSS brings artists to William Randolph students in Enrichment Fridays.
•LEAF joins National Guild for Community Arts Education.
•Mountain Xpress Best of WNC: Live Show of 2012 – Local Performing Arts Event
•LSS partners with Black Mountain Childrens Home for LSS programs.
•The first Zealandia Masquerade Ball supporting LEAF Outreach.
•Grants awarded to support LEAF Arts Education by South Arts, Ramble Charitable Fund, Dan Lucas Foundation, Beattie Foundation & Grassroots Grant
•LSS awarded Asheville City Schools Foundation Non-Profit Champion for 2011
•Mountain Xpress Best of WNC: Live Show of 2011 – Local Performing Arts Event
•Ben Sollee Benefit Concert for LSS
•LEAF App available on iTunes
•LEAF receives third NEA Grant to present Sweet Honey In The Rock®
•Litchey Guitar raises funds for LI and LSS
•LI Columbia partners with D-Street Studios.
•LI India partners with Wilmington Yoga Center
•LSS nominated for Asheville City Schools Foundation Champion’s Award.
•First Downtown-After-Five youth performance with LSS Klondyke Coyotes.
•LEAF’s 30th festival!
•LI awarded NEA Caribbean Traditions Grant.
LEAF Highlights 2009-1995
•LI Rwanda gets boys off streets and into a home!
•LSS has served over 20,000 youth!
•LI Tanzania partners with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots.
•Pisgah’s LEAF Amber Beer and LI Dynamite Coffee brewed and served.
•LEAF receives first NEA Expressiones Latinas Grant.
•LI partners with Sister Cities in Xocen Mexico.
•LI Panama and LI Guatemala begin.
•LSS partners with Children First and grows to work in five housing communities.
•LI launches projects in Rwanda and Bequia.
•First LEAF CD!
•LEAF transforms into a non-profit organization.
•LEAF in Schools & Streets created.
•Washington Post recognizes LEAF as “the multi-cultural mix-n-match festival.”
•New York Times Travel features LEAF on front page.
Some words of praise and gratitude from LEAFers, performers and supporters:
“For me it was the opening ceremony; speaking to us about the challenges our “tribe” was facing on many fronts and setting the intention to have LEAF serve as an example that humans from all walks of life can come together as a loving community; celebrating and sharing our cultural diversity, sustainable as one human family… and then we did it. They also mentioned coming together as the legendary “Rainbow Tribe” and not long after that the sky was filled with literal Rainbows for hours all the way to sunset… That day it became way more than an art festival… it was more like an awakening; like some sort of mystic revival in a holy valley… like being given some brand of fire to carry back out into the darkness and light the way forward forever so others could see the pathway to true happiness. I’m ready for re-grounding and renewal; for some of us; LEAF is our faith…and validation for being… LEAF is a mystical pilgrimage back to the taproot of wonder; that place from whence we began in childhood… I look forward to sharing the best of my own artistic soul with the community and drawing new inspiration with which to face the brave new world that awaits beyond. I cannot wait to cast my eyes once more on the magic glen in the shadow of the sacred Black Mountain; my cradle of creative flow.”
- – Rodger Perry
“Dear LEAF Staff, thanks for another amazing Festival. Coming up for the week to work with Swannanoa Valley Montessori was truly magical. Even after 20+ years of making the pilgrimage, the festival still blows my mind with the quality and diversity of programming, the professionalism of the staff, and the creative energy of all the attendees. My personal highlight this year was bonfire jamming with Cedric, Leigh and Marcus on Wednesday night at Hilltop. Sol Driven Train is proud to be a part of the LEAF family!”
– Joel Timmons, Sol Driven Train
“…Just wanted to say thank you so much for having Dangermuffin at LEAF DT, it was an absolute honor to be there and to have an opportunity to bring some energy at the 4pm timeslot. We recognize Pack Square as a sacred place, and we’re sort of blown away at how y’all had the opening ceremony blessing the spot from a Cherokee elder- one of our songs is loosely based on a Cherokee creation myth- Ancient Golden Star. We have a deep reverence for all things ancient and wise. Also the vibe of your whole staff, everyone working there seemed to be a family and I found this to be rare and special. So, just wanted to again reiterate how grateful we are to have been a part of LEAF DT.”
– Dan Lotti, Dangermuffin
“LEAF is the positive and supportive environment that encourages me to push my creative boundaries. Within this unique place the natural process of self-actualization and discovery is accelerated. I return each LEAF with new skills, ideas, and costumes to explore and discover the performative possibilities within this magical vessel.”
– Madison J. Cripps, Cripps Puppets
“LEAF has become our semi-annual family retreat – a time to replenish and reconnect with individuals and as a family. I often liken LEAF to my temporary utopia… the ultimate escape… a safe and loving environment… a large extended family reunion including members that you have yet to meet. Every October and May, there is a sense of coming home when we are pulling up to Lake Eden… LEAF is something very special.”
“If you’re open to new experiences and want to get away, LEAF is the perfect place to start. The sights and sounds of LEAF felt like being a world away, and it was worth it. There is something magical about seeing nature at its best. I could see how having that view as a backdrop unites people, music and art.”
-Lashawnda K. Becoats,
Q City Metro-Charlotte
“LEAF was an amazing experience. At one point we sat on a hill with David Wilcox, playing music, with the most amazing view, and it was one of those magical moments we will remember our entire lives. We’ve always loved LEAF, and have wonderful memories of going with our daughter, but it was really special to have Danny perform. Thank you for all the love and energy you’ve created there. LEAF will always hold a special place in our hearts.”
-Liz & Danny Ellis
“Every time I come to LEAF my spirit is renewed and outlook on life lifted. I have marveled at what this very humble yet powerful festival manages to achieve. Harmony, community building, cultural expression and celebration of creativity. All across different ethnicity, nationality, ideology, generation, gender, orientation, class and political identity. An incredible gathering of amazing people, creating fun transformative music, poetry and stories. This is indeed worthy of celebration.”
-Masankho Banda of Malawi
“LEAF is our family’s religion. It is where we taught our boys tolerance, and how to be part of a positive community.”
“LEAF aims to ‘connect cultures and create community through music and art’ in the great outdoors. A cultural mélange of musical styles awaits visitors to this festival, which seeks to expose folks to new music and a diverse array of cultures. African, Appalachian, blues, bluegrass, Cajun, Celtic, Texan and moresounds will emanate from four stages and a jam tent over the weekend.”
A Glimpse Into LEAF Press Stories
LEAF’s Executive Director: TedX Greenville and Certified Entrepreneurial Community Stories of Success
25th LEAF featured in Relix Magazine Dec 2007
Story by Pete Zamplas for The Asheville Tribune. October 2006
Charlotte Observer 2004
Kynd Music Festival Reviews Oct 2006