149 West 126th Street Harlem, New York 10027   212.280.1045

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MEET THE TEEM

Vy Higginsen

Executive Director

Vy Higginsen, noted author, playwright, radio and TV personality, has garnered an excellent reputation and won many awards for providing high quality products and services to African-American audiences. After a decade of being behind the microphone and on major New York stations (WBLS-FM, WWRL-AM, WRKS-FM), Vy published and edited Unique NY, a lifestyles magazine designed for African-Americans and tourists. 

In 1983, Vy co-wrote, produced and directed the classic black Gospel musical Mama I Want To Sing!, which ran for eight years and 2,200 performances at the Off-Broadway Heckscher Theater in East Harlem.  In March 1986, Mama began a national tour of the USA, playing two consecutive years throughout major cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles/San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington.  International tours include Austria, Japan, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia. Mama also played for six months on the West End of London.  In March 1988, Vy co-produced Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson on Broadway. In 2002, Vy was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. Led by her passion for the sounds and music she grew up hearing, Vy conceived and created Alive! which documents the sounds, music, and stories of our black American musical landscape.

 

Vy continues to write and produce original work as the Executive Director of the Emmy Award-winning Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem, New York.  

Ken Wydro

Creative Director

Ken Wydro is a published author, a produced playwright and lyricist, an experienced stage director, an active Broadway, off-Broadway and London producer, workshop and seminar leader, dream analyst and community leader in Harlem. He is the co-creator, director and producer of the acclaimed musical, Mama, I Want to Sing, and continues his writing, directing, and producing partnership with his wife, Vy Higginsen, at Mama Foundation for the Arts.

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson

Program Director

Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson grew up backstage and on tour across the USA, Japan and Europe with Mama, I Want to Sing. At seven years old, she performed in Sing: Mama 2 with Shirley Caesar at Madison Square Garden. Higginson attended the Professional Children's School, Professional Performing Arts High School, Manhattan School of Music, and the American Dramatic and Music Academy (AMDA). She has performed internationally and is featured on recordings for numerous productions including the next generation of Mama, I Want to Sing, in which she starred as Doris Winter.

 

At Mama Foundation for the Arts, she resides as Program Director of the Gospel for Teens program, as Music Master for workshops and private lessons, and as Music Director of The Sing Harlem Choir.

Elijah Ahmad Lewis

Media, Design, Visual Director

Elijah Ahmad Lewis, a singer, actor, dancer, songwriter/arranger, entertainer

has  been performing since 7 years of age. He graduated from the

Cicely L. Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts and also studied at NYU's Cap 21 Program. Elijah has been seen and heard in numerous productions and recordings with the Mama Company including Mama,I Want To Sing, Sing Harlem Sing. He serves as Music Director and Vocal Instructor for the Gospel For Teens Program and serves as co - Music Director for the Sing Harlem Choir.

He recently just returned from playing Stevie Wonder in Broadway's Motown The Musical in the first and second national touring company and returning Broadway company. 

Elijah is the CEO and Head Designer for LaCrafts Creations (Graphic Design and Branding Company) and the director of all visuals and media that involves the Mama Foundation for the Arts and all brands and products that fall under the mega umbrella.

Ryan Baker

Executive Coordinator

A Houston native, Ryan Baker began choreographing musicals and dance groups at the age of 17 and went on to become a professional choreographer in and around the greater Houston area. He is the former production director at Art Park Players in Deer Park, Texas with more than 70 stage productions and events under his belt. After nearly a decade of directing and choreographing, Ryan relocated to New York to further his career in arts administration. Ryan is currently the executive coordinator of Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem and a contributing producer of independent stage and screen works for Typed Out and Ant & Dove.

Jillian Bowe

Program Assistant

Brien Hill

Operations