It only took three seconds of African drum rhythms reverberating Wednesday through the multipurpose room at Williford Elementary School to electrify the school’s young students.
As part of Braswell Memorial Library’s Read and Grow Story Services for Elementary Students program, the Anderson family – or “The Healing Force” – stopped to perform at several elementary schools this week to present their most popular performance, the Rhythm of the Drum.
Baba Joseph Anderson and his children, Sonji and Karim, engaged the lively student body via interactive storytelling techniques and African songs that had the school’s student body alive and singing.
The program was sponsored by the Nash County Arts Council and the Friends of Braswell Memorial Library.
“When you come out and look at the audience – you can see the countenance. There is a sort of mood and energy that is there. You can tell that things are happening in their personal lives,” Baba Joseph Anderson said. “We want to reach out and touch their hearts.”
The Healing Force plays for audiences of all ages, Anderson said, and many people have said the Andersons’ style of performing has healed them both spiritually and emotionally.
“We want to reach out and instill in the children the notion they are great, wonderful and fine the way they are,” Anderson said. “One day, they will be in a place of greatness, and they need to realize that greatness.”
Music is healing and universal, Anderson said.
“Music is power. It is a breathing rhythm,” Anderson said. “It is very powerful when you convey a message with a melody and the voice. The voice is so helpful because it goes to the heart and colors the mind. In the stories, you’re able to see the pictures in your mind, and the rhythm allows you to identify the people there.”
The Anderson family said they have been performing for about 25 years, and they brought 10 different types of uniquely African instruments for the Williford Elementary students to play themselves.
“I feel like we are helping to enhance the curriculum that already is there. A lot of the students are studying Africa,” Sonji Anderson said. “We try to keep our performances somewhat close to the course of study at the elementary schools. Our stories always have morals as opposed to just being nonsense, and you can learn a lot of stuff through rhythm.”
Toward the end of the program, the Andersons invited about 36 students up onto the stage to play a host of hand-made, African instruments in a rendition of the Nigerian song “Funga Alafia.
Library officials said by the end of today, the Anderson family will have performed for 3,400 students.
“Most of our messages are universal,” Sonji Anderson said. “We have a great time.”