Kera Washington

Director, Yanvalou Drumming and Dance Ensemble

Focused on Yanvalou Drumming and Dance Ensemble, and African Diasporic drumming.

Kera Washington, ‘93, is an applied ethnomusicologist whose research involves bi-musicality in Caribbean and African Diasporic arts; Haiti; identity and tourism; urban education; and bridging the gap between the resources of the academy and the “inner city.”

After co-founding Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble with Professor Emeritus Professor Gerdes Fleurant in 1990, Ms. Washington returned in 1995 to serve as its Artistic Director, a position in which she continues to serve. Ms. Washington is Senior Performance Faculty in the Music Department, where she offers private lessons in African diasporic percussion, and has led, with Professor Fleurant, the Music Department’s course in applied ethnomusicology, “Experiencing Music and Dance of Haiti,” on location. In addition to her work at Wellesley, Ms. Washington is full time Music Teacher at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, and through this work in the Boston Public Schools, is a META Fellow, 2018-2020. Ms. Washington has developed courses at Northeastern University, MIT, Pine Manor College, and Brown University.

Ms. Washington is founder, leader and composer/arranger for the all-female, African diasporic ensemble, Zili Misik, which has won several awards, including a Boston Music Award for Outstanding International Music, and, among other honors, has been featured on NPR, on Boston’s Channel 5’s Chronicle, and in the Boston Globe. Ms. Washington appears on several recordings, including Zili Misik’s “Cross Roads” (2012), “Zee'lee Mee'seek” (2010), “New World Soul” (2008), & “zili roots” (2003); Songs in American History (Houghton Mifflin, 2000); Greatest American Short Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2001); and Patrice Williamson’s “Free to Dream” (2002). Ms. Washington has most recently served as a Fellow of the Boston Harbor [RE]Creation Artist In Residency Program (2018), through which she produced the recording “From the Harbor, Freedom Sings,” ©2019. She was also awarded the Boston Foundation's Live Arts Boston (LAB) Grant, 2019.


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  • B.A., Wellesley College
  • M.A., Wesleyan University