Fatu Gayflor

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FATU GAYFLOR

Artistic Director, Liberian Women's Chorus for Change

Fatu Gayflor sang and danced as a member of Liberia’s National Cultural Troupe, the country’s premiere performing arts ensemble, in the 1970s and 1980s. She also became a superstar recording artist. Fatu was known as "Princess Fatu Gayflor, the Golden Voice of Liberia." Indeed, it was the president of Liberia who gave her that name.

She recorded her first two albums of traditional songs in Liberia. Her next recording was made in the Ivory Coast, where she lived for a while in exile following the eruption of the civil war in Liberia. While living in the Ivory Coast and in Guinea (also as a refugee), she was called upon by the United Nations to sing to fellow refugees, thereby re-building community and inspiring hope. She found that at the conclusion of each concert, scores of people, mainly women, would approach her, and they would cry together. They were finding comfort in each other’s tears and arms, and in her music, as the war raged on, and loss and chaos mounted. 

Now a resident of the United States, where she has been since 1999, she performs at Liberian community events across the country. In 2013 Fatu co-founded and became the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, an ensemble of highly-accomplished Liberian women singers, dancers and songwriters, all based in Philadelphia. Together they perform for local Liberian audiences, providing inspiration and a safe space for discussions of domestic violence and other issues of concern to the community. Fatu has been honored with a Leeway Foundation Transformation Award (2013) and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2014). In 2015, she was artist-in-residence at Brandeis University’s Creativity, Arts and Social Transformation program, where she performed and taught in conflict resolution, ethnomusicology, dance and women’s studies classes.