During the President Clinton Administration she was appointed U.S. American Cultural Specialist and assigned as a cultural liaison in Africa. However, despite her impressive credentials, it was a simple act of fate which defined Moten’s life story and now forms the foundation of her one-woman theatrical piece she uses as a teaching tool to inspire others. “It is the story of how my life almost came to a tragic end when I was a little girl,” she explained.
Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights 60s, Moten was best friends with Denise McNair, now immortalized as one of the “Four Little Girls” killed in the tragic 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. “I was actually with my friend the night before and was supposed to have gone to church with her the next day. That morning, my mother just mysteriously said that I could not go. It made no sense because it was children’s Sunday and there was absolutely no reason why I could not go to church with my best friend. “The only reasonable explanation was that Destiny cheated disaster and so Moten - now a concert artist and choral trainer who has traveled throughout the United States and five continents - boldly stepped into a purpose-driven life. Using her musical gifts, she created a lecture/performance piece called From Birmingham to Botswana. The Journey of an African American International Traveler, in which she inspires others to be on purpose. In one of the most impactful lines in the piece she voices to her audience “Never let anyone tell you what you cannot do.”
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MAYOR’S
OFFICE OF ARTS, CULTURAL
DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM
Upon taking office in 2014, Mayor Ras J. Baraka appointed Moten executive director of the newly created Mayor’s Office of Arts, Cultural Development an Tourism with a wide-reaching mission to stimulate development in these three key areas. The office has been instrumental in the creation of new programs such as Bring the Art to the Park and Blues People Festival International; and continuing education programs including community choral education sessions with The Voices of Newark Choir, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Choir Concert, and the Youth Who Uplift recognition program.
Honored as a living legend in the City of Newark, Moten is the developer and producer of the Newark SingFest where multi-cultural gatherings take place for children and adults to discover, sing, and acknowledge the histories of numerous ethnic cultures. She also serves as City Commissioner on the Newark Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission.
As accomplished producer, conductor, music copyist and transcriber, Moten said, “It is my mission to make sure that there is a linkage between the Mayor’s office and the community in the areas under my portfolio. I do so by moving with a positive attitude and sharing my gifts.” She continues, “Ultimately that’s my goal, to enlighten, and give hope to the world simply by sharing my life experiences.” g
By Glenda Cadogan
n her work life as the executive director of the Mayor’s Office Arts, Cultural Development, and Tourism for the City of Newark. Gwen Moten gets her support and sustain
the cultural communities throughout the city and beyond. In this capacity has helped to invigorate the city’s artistic and cultural endeavors through programming initiatives, community engagement, multifaceted collaborations, and partnering. An arts and cultural educator, event planner, international concert artist, entrepreneur, music conductor researcher, lecturer and city commissioner. Moten has enjoyed a checkered career colored with performances on Broadway and alongside celebrated names like Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Eartha Kitt, Debbie Allen, Wynton Marsalis, and George Hines.
The Positive Community Magazine
An Article from October 2017 Issue
All rights reserved to Theatre World Music Service -2017-2018
“It is my mission to make sure that there is a linkage between the Mayor’s office and the community in the areas under my portfolio. I do so by moving with a positive attitude and sharing my gifts.”
“Ultimately that’s my goal, to enlighten, and give hope to the world simply by sharing my life experiences.”