Andrew Clarke is a singer, actor, aspiring playwright/director and serves as founder/artistic director for both Braata Folk Singers and Braata Productions. A graduate of the Edna Manley College (Faculty of Drama), Clarke is a 2008 recipient of the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture. In that same year he also represented Jamaica at the World Championships for the Performing Arts in Hollywood, California where he was crowned Grand Champion Performer of the World.
His stage credits include David Heron’s “Ecstasy” (UK tour) and a Jamaican adaptation of James Baldwin’s “Amen Corner” for which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Lead Role by the International Theatre Institute – Jamaica Chapter (ITI) Actor Boy Awards (Jamaica’s Tony Awards). An accomplished vocalist with 30 gold medals and numerous national awards from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) National Festival of the Performing Arts Competition in Speech, Music and Drama. Other awards include 15 overall National Awards including Best Actor and Male Vocalist.
In an effort to pursue his passion in theatre and music, he moved to New York City and within a year he started the “Braata Folk Singers,” with the aim of helping to keep the Jamaican culture alive and ensure it is not lost with the pioneers who have passed on. Also, in a short time Andrew has managed to start a not for profit theatre group Braata Productions which, he hopes will afford Caribbean talents a platform to launch their careers in the creative industries. While doing all this, he has managed to put in some time for his solo career and in December 2010 headlined the ‘Andrew Clarke Benefit Concert’ in Trinidad and Tobago where he, in partnership with Rotary International, and the ‘Gift of Life Program’ addressing the medical needs of children who suffer from congenital heart defects and other similar conditions, sought to raise funds toward this effort. He is currently an undergraduate at Brooklyn College.
Karl O'Brian Williams
Karl O'Brian Williams, MA Educational Theatre: NYU, BA English: University of the West Indies (UWI), Certificate in Acting Shakespeare: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Williams is a multiple award winning actor, playwright and educator heavily involved in arts education and theatre for social justice and transformation. As a playwright he has had success in his native Jamaica winning the award for Best New Jamaican Play for The Black That I Am and Not About Eve in 2005 and 2006 respectively. He has directed productions spanning both, community and commercial theatre. Williams’ passion for theatre and education has propelled his work with students of all ages and abilities. In Jamaica he taught at Camperdown High School, Campion College, Mona High School, and the Edna Manley College. He currently lectures at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) and works with the non-profit companies: Wingspan Arts and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. He has facilitated numerous workshops for other non-profit programs such as Theatre Askew’s Young People’s Experience (TAYPE), Apple Arts, Rehabilitation through the Arts, and We Are New York (The Mayor's Office/CUNY).
Williams’ acting career has taken him from stages in the Caribbean to those in New York, Toronto and London. Off-Off Broadway: Antony & Cleopatra, Open Heart, Positive, Pecong, The Exonerated, Woyzeck, Alphabet City II, Fashion. Film: One Love, On The Rocks, Betta Mus Come. Overseas: Private Lives, Moses (Actor Boy Award - Best Supporting Actor) Guys & Dolls, After Mrs. Rochester, As You like It, Jesus 2000, Isaiah. Through his own company in Jamaica, MADKOW Productions he has helped to showcase new voices in playwriting, acting, and directing with full commercial endeavors, youth programs and a free staged reading series.
Karl started directing plays while working and volunteering in public schools and communities in his native Jamaica. Since then he has directed critically acclaimed work for the Kingston on the Edge Arts (KOTE) Festival – Jamaica, Tallawah Theatre Festival – University of the West Indies, Mackie – National Secondary Schools’ Drama Festival (Best Director Award), Secrets – Hartbeat Productions, Kingston Jamaica, Word Up Speaking Up For Peace – Yaffa Cultural Arts Inc – New York, James Webb’s The Contract at the Kraine Theatre in Greenwich Village, and Trevor Rhone’s Positive – a play about HIV/AIDS education and awareness for Braata Productions. Currently he coordinates an after school arts program for children: kindergarten through grade 5 under the non-profit organization Wingspan Arts. He is the recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Artistic Performance/Fine Arts NIA Award – NYU, and the Don & Elizabeth Doyle Fellowship for Youth Theare – American Association for Theatre & Education. Karl is thrilled to be sharing in the creative process with so many in the Caribbean Diaspora and celebrating the opportunity to do it through Braata Productions!
Joel Edwards was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica in 1985. As a child he always had a passion for music which started when a music teacher recruited him at the age of 5. He immediately propelled ahead of his peers quickly completing all the requirements to take the Royal School of Music exams which he passed with flying colors. He began playing the pipe organ at his church at the age of 10, teaching the choir harmonies for hymns and songs. He also played at his primary school general devotions.
Joel began playing for the Glenmuir High School Festival Choir at age 11 under the leadership of Mrs. Marjorie Henry who inspired him to start entering Jamaica’s National Festival Competition where over the years he always received gold medals and National Trophies. After leaving Glenmuir High, he took over the directorship of the choir and drove them to unimaginable heights with his knack for complex 8-10 part arrangements and his instruction of songs which other choirs would shun as being impossible to learn. Under his tutelage the choir won every trophy imaginable at the national level of the JCDC Festival competition and then decided to become solely a performing choir. They have performed at nearly all prestigious events held for the Prime Minister and Governor General of Jamaica. They were a force to be reckoned with. Glenmuir High’s Choir also released their first cd “Spirit on Fire” which was arranged, produced and composed by Joel. His arrangement of “Oh Come all Ye Faithful” which was renamed “Adeste Fidelis” has been called spectacular. They also mounted two very successful musicals under his directorship along with Mr. Sydney Bartley, the then Cultural Director of Jamaica and Artistic Director for the Choir.
Joel’s knack for studio production led him to start a studio in the basement of his home in Sandy Bay, Clarendon, where he discovered the now superstar “Omi” and produced many hit songs for artists in Jamaica. He has worked with all major choirs in Jamaica at some level including the University Singers where he was their official accompanist for a few years.
Joel was also the Official Accompanist for JCDC (The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission) and an adjudicator due to his ability to play any song by air, his classical music training and his keen ears.
As a writer, and as musical director for the Grace Baptist Church in Jamaica for 10 years, he has led their youth choir to victory in the Annual Rally Competition every year they have entered with original and arranged music. He has also been the musical director for several other churches and even started a choir at the Jamalco Bauxite Company.
In addition to his music prowess. Joel is very avid with technology. With that technical knowledge he started doing professional photography and videography, along with providing audio solutions for shows.
Joel is currently the musical and technical director for the Braata Folk Singers, Musical and Technical Director for The Abiding Word Ministries and the Operations Director for Project Hope Charities.He also runs a studio where he produces and arranges music for many upcoming artists in New York.
Gloria Messam - Chair
Dondra Benjamin - Vice Chair
Christopher Liu - Treasurer
Andrew Morris - Secretary