Manna -

Jazz and Survival in East Harlem

A documentary by Peter Urpeth

In Summer 2018, I filmed a documentary in New York about The Manna House Workshops - a small music school in East Harlem that since 1967 has provided music and dance lessons - focussed on jazz - to one of New York’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Manna House was founded by singer Gloria Denard who, 52 years later, at the age of 92, still runs the school.

More than a film about a small music school, Manna tells of the power of self-determination and music to change lives and strengthen communities.

Featuring a stellar list of original interviews - including drummer Kenwood Denard, pianist Bertha Hope, multi-instrumentalist, Cooper-Moore, Sun-Ra trombonist, composer and band leader, Craig Harris, dancer and actor, Denise Du’Maine and Harlem writer and historian, Herb Boyd, Manna tells the remarkable story of how against the odds, the school and the local community have survived.

But, now, there are new challenges ahead as The Manna House looks to survive into its second half century. I hope this films plays its part in making that happen.

Manna - Jazz and Survival in East Harlem is produced, directed, filmed and edited by Peter Urpeth with original music from the interview contributors, and with unique access to the Manna House Workshop’s archive.

Running time: 21 mins.

Showings - the film debuts at The African World Film Festival in Detroit, USA, 16-18 August.

Programming - festival and cinema programmers can access the film’s page at FilmFreeWay.