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Institute of Musical Arts
“We think of what we do as ‘edutainment,’” explained Dawn Clark-Johnson, executive director Institute of Musical Arts in Los Angeles.
The Institute, said Clark-Johnson, is in its fourth season of what the directors call its “Storytelling,” program- a series of live performances by professional storytellers on a variety of topics. The latest will be Barbara H. Clark, who is presenting “They Walk Among Us” on October 26. Following, will be the Karen Rae Kraut Storytelling Concert in November.
“There are a wide variety of storytellers,” said Clark-Johnson.
“We’ve had people come from as far as Maine. We’ve had Jewish storytellers, Black storytellers, Hispanic storytellers, Asian storytellers. Some tell cultural stories, some tell historic stories. We featured a Black history program called ‘Unsung Heroes of L.A.’ last year, which highlighted people like Gerald Nickerson and Golden State Mutual…”
Barbara Clark’s show is a Halloween-themed show based on “real events and people,” she said.
As a professional storyteller for the last fifteen years, Barbara has based her stories on life events and people from the east coast and Los Angeles, “touching stories of family heritage, and warm profiles of memorable relatives,” said Clark-Johnson.
“While highly entertaining, her stories are also educational and inspirational.”
Last year, Barbara did a show for Storytellers called “Brief Encounters,” about people she encountered during her years as a librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library.
“If you missed Barbara in ‘Brief Encounters’ last year, you really owe it to yourself not to miss ‘They Walk Among Us,’” said Clark-Johnson.
“If you saw ‘Brief Encounters’, then I don't have to tell you what a treat Barbara's shows are.”
The IMA, located on 54th Street and 10th Avenue, has been a Crenshaw fixture since 1922. It was founded as a music training facility by German immigrant Raymond Hand, who ran it for 20 years, according to Clark-Johnson. In 1943, Japanese couple, Daniel and Lei Kawada purchased it, continuing the music training and opening its auditorium to the community.
“At that time it was used for recitals and for music teachers,” Clark-Johnson said.
“It was kind of the Crenshaw area’s primary performance hall. People would have recitals and things like that all through the 40s. Even LAUSD used it. Then, in the 50s as more African American people moved into the community and the Kawadas got older, it was purchased by four musician engineer friends who were members of a Bossa Nova band called The Group. They all continued to teach music here…”
In the early 70s, two members of “The Group,” Ray Clark and Oliver Brown purchased the facility and converted part of it into the Clark Brown Audio recording studio.
“This recording studio and Ike Turner’s were the only two recording studios outside of Hollywood. And, basically, everybody came through here: Marvin Gaye, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler… ,” Clarke- Johnson recalled.
In 1988, IMA was deemed a historical landmark in Los Angeles. The Ray G. Clark Theater, home of the Storytelling program was built in 2010. Tickets for the show and dinner reception are $20.00. For ticket and other information visit www.imalosangeles.com or email