Communication Builds Our Community

Arts Center Hosts Feb. 16 Celebration of Timeless Contributions of Artists of Color

Free Lecture, Performance by Polk State Professor and Award-Winning Artist

A lecture and performance by award-winning artist and Polk State College Professor of Humanities & Music Derek Menchan will be hosted by the Lake Wales Arts Council at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16. This event, sponsored by Visit Central Florida, is free to the public and will conclude with a reception held in the gallery following the performance.

During his lecture at the Lake Wales Arts Center entitled "Millennial Relevance: The Timeless Contributions of Artists of Color" Menchan will celebrate the lives of America's greatest artists of color. He will explore their historical significance and contributions specifically within the realm of music.

Executive Director for the Lake Wales Arts Council, Andrew Allen, spoke on the significance of the lecture's theme: "Artists of color have played a significant role in shaping American music. Their talent created America's first true art form; jazz. The evolution of that music gave us rock-n-roll, R&B, funk, soul, country, and what we consider pop music today. A lot of our favorite music on the radio right now only exists because of their contributions."

Menchan, who started playing the cello in third grade, has gone on to see many musical accomplishments throughout his career. He has been a solo cellist for numerous ensembles including the New York Pro Arte Ensemble, the Orlando Symphony, and Houston's OrchestraX. He has collaborated with the acclaimed likes of Grammy-Award-winning engineers Mike Dean and Mike More of Tupac, Kanye, and Drake fame.

Menchan is a universally sought after soloist, consultant, and collaborator. He has worked on a myriad of levels with numerous painters, videographers, and dance troupes, including Project Bandaloop and the Band T. Jones Dance Company.

Menchan is the creator of Voices of the People, the premier chamber music series in Central Florida, educating new audiences on classical music with performances featuring young artists of color. The acclaimed cellist and teacher is also the founder of BluClok Records and Empty Rabbit Productions, an indie film company. BluClok Records' debut album, "The Griot Swings the Classics," released in November of 2018, went on to hit #4 of Amazon's digital contemporary R&B charts.

"Derek is an incredible performer and a brilliant educator. His creativity has inspired hundreds of students since his hiring at Polk State College. We are lucky to have such a wonderful artist in our county," noted Allen.

"It's important to understand what artists of color have done for our country. Our culture has been significantly shaped by their contributions and I hope we can shine a light on their talent," said the executive director. "This lecture and performance will mostly touch on the musical aspect of their work, but the rich history of artists of color is important to share with our community. Our mission is to provide cultural enrichment for all and I believe that we are doing just that with this event."

Guests are asked to RSVP to reserve their seats. To register yourself or your group for this free lecture and performance, visit or find the link to the Eventbrite registration on the Lake Wales Arts Council website,


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