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'Black success': Melisizwe Brothers play Edmonton school tour for Black History Month

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In February, some Edmonton students will get up close and personal with a group of famous brothers who aren't much older than them.

Marc, Seth and Zacary James are the Melisizwe Brothers, and they performed at Jasper Place High School on Friday as part of Edmonton Public School Black History Month celebrations.

"Because we have such a diverse population here at Jasper Place, it's really important for kids to see themselves represented," said teacher Maxine Hackett. "We are trying to showcase our history and acknowledge history and Black culture while also focusing on celebration and joy and Black success."

The brothers rose to success after debuting on YouTube in 2016, and they have since performed at Times Square in New York, The Apollo Theatre in NYC and on the Today Show.

Nnenna Akpulona, a Grade 12 student, is familiar with the group and was excited to hear they were coming to her school.

"I'm just excited for people to see Black talent and the Melisizwe Brothers, they're just good," she said. "I've seen them on TV, America's Got Talent, Ellen DeGeneres. These brothers are just phenomenal.

"They're a good example of what you can do if you just put your mind to it."

The concert is one of six being organized by the Africa Centre for high schools in Edmonton to promote culture, heritage and mentorship throughout February.

"The key message for this is basically to amplify the talent that we have within our backyard," said Africa Centre executive director Sharif Maji. "A good example that I always use is Alphonso Davies. Alphonso Davies is from Edmonton, but now he's a global star.

"It's showing our diversity and our strength and the good things we have in our community."

Friday's performance included a presentation by the brothers and a chance for students to speak with them and ask questions before the show.

"It's very special for us, getting to partner with Africa Centre and for Black History Month especially," said Seth. "It's very important that we get to talk to a lot of the high school kids about the importance of education, refining your skills, practising your skills."

Sharing their music with other kids is important to the brothers and in 2018 they founded the TMB Gold Mind Music Program, which offers underprivileged youth access to instruments, music workshops and mentorship.

Grade 12 student Eric Calhoun said the brothers are an example of Black excellence, and he would like to see more events and cultural showcases throughout the year.

"I fetl like these types of events can develop a sense of belonging, a sense of community in school," Calhoun said. "The more types of events we have also spread awareness of why these types of things are important for the school."

More information on the Musical School Tour and other Black History Month events being organized by the Africa Centre can be found on the organization's website.

The Melisizwe Brothers are performing at the Winspear Centre on June 23.

  With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nahreman Issa and Galen McDougall

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