MP3 Abigail Nessen Bengson and Shaun McClain Bengson - 6 Hours
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11 MP3 Songs in this album (33:30) !
Related styles: FOLK: Folk Pop, FOLK: Modern Folk
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We, Abigail & Shaun Bengson are a husband and wife folk/rock duo. We're both 25 and based in Brooklyn, NY these days but are constantly touring around, gigging as much as possible. We are committed to making music and art that moves and sustains our communities and inspires them towards change. 6 Hours, our first album together, was recorded in Dayton, Ohio in, you guessed it, 6 hours. We were given 6 hours of studio time as a wedding gift from our dear friends and mentors, Rick and Hillary Wagner. We set out to make a loving album of one-take, live recordings. We're thrilled with the result.
In addition to being musicians and songwriters, we are also actors, playwrights, teachers, students, collectors, mediators, and above all else, conduits and interpreters though which social change can take place. Our commitment is to make excellent, relevant and challenging music, theater, and art in "high risk" or neglected communities and continue that work by bringing it to artistic centers (London, Edinburgh, NYC) so that the voices of these communities can be heard. For the last 5 years we, Shaun and Abigail, have each devoted our lives to serving communities through art. We have written musicals with teenagers with autism in NYC, organized intra-gang concerts with gang members in El Salvador, and performed original works so exciting and moving that Broadway and off-Broadway theaters produce it even though it contains subject matter they usually shy away from.
Abigail Nessen Bengson is an internationally recognized performer, writer, teacher, and activist whose primary commitment is to creating social change though art. Beginning her career with Theater Group Limited at age 6, she grew up performing with Fontella Bass and Lester Bowie, the Roy Hart Theatre in France, with the Ghanean National Theater and with the popular Norwegian band, Brelsk. While growing up, Abigail was equally active as an activist through work as far ranging as preserving Meso-American tradition and ritual with Martin Prechtal, tutoring children in Harlem, leading workshops with Cambodian refugees in Massachusetts, and teaching art and performance to youth in gangs in El Salvador.
While earning her BA in Theater from Williams College, Abigail traveled the world, performing her original solo works with the Royal Shakespeare Company, New York Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and the Apollo New Works Festival. During this time, she was also performing as a hip-hop artist in venues across New York City, through which she earned two clothing sponsorships. After graduating, she continued her professional artistic work in New York City, premiering her first one-woman show, "Anthem," at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in 2004, and her second one-woman show, "The Magic Show," opened in April 2008 at Eve Ensler's Women Center Stage Festival at the Culture Project in NYC. Abigail also appeared to critical acclaim in several off-Broadway musicals, including "BUSH WARS: A Musical Revenge." She is a founding member of the rock group, Zombie Nationalists, with her husband, Shaun Bengson. Their latest collaboration, the two-person musical "Ain't That Good News" opened in Vermont. It is currently touring the US and will be opening in NYC in April 2009.
Kentucky-born and Ohio-raised, Shaun McClain Bengson was reared in the heritage of many Lutheran pastors. He developed his art by offering it as a service to his community though teaching, performing, and working to preserve traditional musical forms and the cultures they nurtured and expressed. Having grown up in the theater and in the company of musicians and singers, he has performed across the Midwest and East Coast with a variety of theater and music groups. A collector and interpreter of international music styles and cultural traditions, Shaun holds a degree in Anthropology, Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University and has studied with masters of Appalachian mountain music, Mongolian throat singing and the Japanese Shamisen. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Shaun plays over 15 instruments including accordion, banjo, fiddle, flutes from several traditions, guitar, and percussion of all kinds. He is also an innovator and creator, using his knowledge of and heartfelt connection to ancient and disparate traditions to create new compositions that are both boldly new and deeply rooted in the old.
Committed to community service and activism, Shaun led and contributed to a range of service projects while growing up, including teaching music to groups of homeschoolers, maintaining a working farm that provided workshops and tours for school children, cleaning up and maintaining Ohio and Indiana parks and wildlife systems, and coordinating music programs. He has devoted the past five years to working as an advocate for the special needs community, with three years as a caseworker for Stone Belt assisted living facility and two years as a NYC special education teacher through the Teaching Fellow. While earning his Masters Degree in Education, Shaun taught General Ed, choir, and theater. He also led several grant projects with Little Kids Rock and The New Manhattan Music Project, where his students created and starred in their own original musicals. Shaun's collaboration with Abigail has produced groundbreaking work that is as entertaining as it is useful. They have appeared at venues across the country, including The Culture Project, The Puffin Foundation, La MaMa, The Knitting Factory, Arlene's Grocery, and The Flynn.
Together, we, Abigail and Shaun Bengson, fuse our artistic passion with our desire for social change. Our work is radical and finding a home for it can be challenging. Not only do we talk about the very real struggles of ordinary people dealing with horrific American truths, but we also talk about spirit, about heart, about the possibility for deep change. The result is not just good art but art that challenges the participants and audience to seek change. The result is theater that empowers and heals, and community service that is bold and effective. In times like these we can ask nothing less of our artists, nothing less of ourselves.
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