On September 26, Hunter College High School had the immense privilege of hosting Princess Fatu Gayflor at the biannual I-HELP Liberia Benefit Concert. The highlight of the program, Fatu surpassed the standards she had established during previous years of fantastic performances. Indeed, the sobriquet “Princess” that has been bestowed on her could not be more accurate – when Fatu performs it is as if the auditorium has been transformed into a palace.
Fatu’s music conveys all the rich culture that she has grown up around, imbued with energetic rhythms and soaring vocals. When she was just 12 years old, Fatu joined the Liberian National Cultural Troupe, eventually becoming LNCT’s leader. She toured worldwide, performing at numerous venues and festivals, including the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. In 2014, she was the recipient for the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, one of 12 artists selected annually.
Fatu’s vitality and dynamism belie the challenges she has endured. When the first Liberian Civil War broke out in 1989, Fatu completed her third world album while living in a refugee camp; this determination to create music and beauty in such dark times is indicative of her strength and elevates her music with another level of meaning.
The auditorium at Hunter College High School was electric when Fatu hit the stage. Within moments of her entrance, the audience was getting out of their seats and dancing. With her live band and traditional Liberian dress, Fatu was radiant while singing popular Liberian songs. About halfway through her set, much of the audience joined her on stage, showering her with money and dancing with her before going back to their seats. When she had finished, the audience wouldn’t let her leave the stage without an encore, and then another encore. In short, Fatu’s concert was inspirational.
Fatu’s presence helped spearhead donations to the I-HELP Liberia Project, which serves to spread science education in Liberia. Our next concert is on January 9, where Fatu Gayflor and her band will grace Hunter’s Auditorium again. We can’t wait!