Vy Higginsen, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Ken Wydro, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Deborah Singletary, EXECUTIVE DEPUTY DIRECTOR
I'Shana Daranee Turner, GROUP SALES
Carolyn Nakano, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Ryan Baker, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Kian Ross, PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Troy Naquan Busby, STAGE MANAGER
Lydia Sierra, DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
DonJuan Holder, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Brien Hill, PLANT MANAGER
Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, PROGRAM DIRECTOR AND MUSIC MASTER
Vincent Bohanan, MUSICIAN
Markanthony Henry, INSTRUCTOR
Greg Kelly, INSTRUCTOR
Myke Liverpool, INSTRUCTOR
Jerry Williams, INSTRUCTOR
Chris Dilley, INSTRUCTOR
Timothy Riley, INSTRUCTOR
A renovated five-story brownstone on a residential block on West 126th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Manhattan has been the home of the Mama Foundation for the Arts (MFA) since its inception in 1998. MFA is at the core of Central Harlem's most thriving cultural and business community, surrounded by the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, The Apollo Theater, and the Lenox Avenue "Restaurant Row" featuring Sylvia's, Red Rooster, Chez Lucienne, and Corner Social.
One block away is the foundation's performance space, The Dempsey Theater, where thousands have enjoyed Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation and Sing Harlem Sing!
In 2012, the brownstone underwent a two-level renovation of its rehearsal, classroom, and reception area, which included new furniture courtesy of The Nate Berkus Show.
Mama's mission is to present, preserve, and promote the history and fundamentals of gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music for current and future generations. The Foundation has established a cultural space in Harlem where youth and adults have access to quality training and employment as performing artists.
The Foundation was inspired by the worldwide success of our award-winning musical, Mama, I Want to Sing. A combination of arts education, public workshops, and live events contribute to Harlem's resurgence as an artistic and cultural destination.
Founded by Vy Higginsen in 1998, the Mama Foundation for the Arts (MFA) has been internationally acclaimed for rebuilding Harlem as an artistic cultural center featuring entertainment and arts education. The Mama Foundation has produced a dozen theater productions, which have been performed on several continents. MFA's best known musical, Mama, I Want To Sing, is the longest running Black Off-Broadway show in American history.
In 2003, Higginsen created the School of Gospel, Jazz, and R&B Arts. Three years later, she formed the award-winning Gospel for Teens program to train youth and "save the music." According to Lesley Stahl from CBS's 60 Minutes, "The Gospel for Teens program is not just teaching gospel, it is saving these kids." Mama Foundation members have performed at numerous special events including the TED2012 Full Spectrum conference, the Congressional Black Caucus, The Stellar Awards, and a reception for Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Madonna, Chaka Khan, opera singer Jessye Norman and gospel artist Shirley Caesar are among the many stars that have shared the stage with the Gospel for Teens Choir.