Shawnee State University chosen for universal indigenous performances

Ian Hillman, Staff Reporter

Shawnee State University (SSU) was chosen by Arts Midwest to be one of the hosting arts organizations for the next three years of World Fest. The World Fest program was founded in 2003 and has since brought artists and bands from multiple nations like China, Pakistan, Egypt and many more to communities in the Midwest region of the United States. Ghana is the nation of origin of the next performer, Okaidja Afroso, who will be performing on April 13, 2023. In the next three years, six artists will come to SSU for week-long residencies to provide school and community workshops. These workshops will include music-making, interaction, teaching and Q&A sessions. Along with the community workshops, there will be public performances, community interactions, receptions and school performances.

The Chronicle spoke with Casey Thornsberry, the manager of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts, just before the first World Fest performance at SSU on Nov. 3. “This is such a unique opportunity to see global culture locally” and to “see something different,” Thornsberry said.

The first local performance of World Fest featured the band Pamyua, the most famous Inuit band from Alaska. Founded in 1995 by two brothers, Phillip and Stephen Blanchett, the band includes Ossie Kairaiuak and reoccurring member Karina Moeller. The group’s performances share indigenous Inuit cultural traditions through song and dance that have been passed down through generations. Their unique performances are a blend of traditional Inuit drum and dance melodies with contemporary soul and R&B.

For more information about the next performer in the series, Okaidja Afroso, and to purchase tickets to that performance in April, visit