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Moonchild: Celebrating the Life & Music of Yusuf Salim

Nnenna Freelon & Yusuf Salim Portraits
Friday, October 28, 2022
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Duke Performances and Duke Islamic Studies Center’s Building Bridges: Muslims in America series

This event has been canceled due to the unexpected passing of its bandleader and arranger Brian Horton on September 16. Horton was an accomplished composer and saxophonist who was recently appointed director of North Carolina Central University's Jazz studies program. He was an integral part of the music scene in Durham and North Carolina and had an invaluable impact on the life of his students, friends, and colleagues. He will be deeply missed.

Our celebration of Yusuf Salim will be held at a future date. In the meantime, refunds will be issued to all ticket holders.


Jazz pianist and composer Yusuf Salim - known by his friends as Brother Yusuf - was born in Baltimore but spent the last three decades of his life in Durham, NC. In his adopted hometown, Brother Yusuf became a cultural catalyst, helping to establish a thriving, nationally visible jazz scene by nurturing the younger musicians in his orbit, including Nnenna Freelon, Chip Crawford, and Rachim Sahu, among others. This special two-day celebration of Brother Yusuf's life and legacy at Durham's historic Hayti Heritage Center begins on Friday, October 28, with North Carolina Central University jazz studies director Brian Horton leading an electrifying big band assembled for the occasion through new arrangements of Brother Yusuf's compositions, featuring celebrated saxophonist Gary Bartz and multi-GRAMMY-nominated vocalist Nnenna Freelon. On Saturday, October 29, a smaller ensemble will showcase Freelon and four other Triangle-based vocalists - Frankie Alexander, Eve Cornelious, Lois Deloatch, and Adia Ledbetter - spotlighting the intimate lyrical explorations of Brother Yusuf's music.

Part of Duke Performances' Building Bridges: Muslims in America series, the celebration will also include a free public panel discussion and an introduction to 'Moonchild,' a documentary film in production about Salim's life by Durham filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer. The conversation will touch upon Brother Yusuf's lifelong musical and spiritual journey, including his embrace of Islam as a means of fostering peace, love, and unity - and his approach to building a community in which music could serve as a force for lasting connection and transformation.