Malcolm Bamba’s Senior Recital: “FOUR — Fabriks of Black Womanhood” Concert Preview

By Ariana Cervantes

Malcolm Bamba (he/him) continues to pave ways at Oberlin to exhibit his passion of storytelling. “Being low-income and coming from a cultural background, cultural environment, I really do value facilities for creative stories – that means listening to a grandmother talk, asking a friend their experience growing up in this neighborhood, or their immigrant stories. I feel particularly presenting that in the most authentic way, and in a way to reach the broadest audience,” he said in a conversation at Oberlin’s Center for Engaged Liberal Arts. Authenticity allows Bamba to really connect with his audience, and demonstrate even though there are stories one may have never have had experiences with, there are still opportunities in spaces to learn and grow through storytelling. 

Starting at Oberlin with a Bass performance major, Bamba wanted to find more avenues to fully display his skill set, and created his own independent major of Arts Leadership and Marketing, to do just that. When he was sent home for the pandemic, he recalls his mother was happy he was gaining more hobbies than playing the bass. “Before you got into bass, you did drawing, you did writing, you did all these things.” With this time, he was able to find other creative outlets he enjoys, and bring them all together, demonstrating Bamba is not afraid to try new things, especially when it comes with helping him pursue his passion. You can see him using his skill set and love for storytelling this upcoming Saturday, April 15th at 7:30 PM at Stull Recital Hall, where Bamba will be having his Senior Recital paying homage to his grandmother, who has recently passed. 

“She was a firecracker, but once the sizzle went away, she was very thoughtful.” She was also a community builder — very thoughtful and full of life, willing to move away at any moment in time to fulfill her dreams. Upon passing, she left grandson letters she wrote to herself, which eventually were given to him, showing him her inner dialogue. Through Bamba’s passion, he found inspiration from her writing — his recital. 

Bamba presents his Senior Recital of “FOUR — Fabriks of Black Womanhood,” which will be half a music program and half a podcast program. It brings together Black women narratives through various forms — media, classical voice, chamber music, and West African dance — featuring music from Nina Simone, Jesse Montgomery, and Sonia Ray. He brings his storytelling lens in through “mourning and a little bit of introspection” in the beginning to concluding with a “celebration of Black joy.” 

Along with this recital, Bamba is a recipient of the Dolores ‘54 and Donald ‘57 White Prize, which is dedicated to advancing projects that are centered around cultural expression. Bamba’s recital is the perfect representation of that as he shows us his grandmother’s experiences in her life. 

His storytelling work continues to nurture his inner child along with this. “I think for me it’s more about curiosity, and that’s a big part of the values that I have. Every kid has curiosity as one of their values, but when you get older you get more practical and I think, ‘I have to do everything this way,’ and you lose that sense of imagination.” Bamba has never lost his sense of curiosity and imagination, and it is clear why. It allows him to shine simply by being himself — something to look up to.

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