Born in Tangol, Sri Lanka, Seetha Wickramasuriya now lives on Staten Island (home to one of the largest Sri Lankan populations in the U.S.), where she works as a home care attendant for the elderly. One of the only traditional kavi singers living in the U.S., she practices a Sri Lankan folk poetic form sung to the beaten melody of a rabana drum (also performed acapella & in orchestra/ensemble settings). Growing up in the southern coastal rice paddy region of Sri Lanka, Wickramasuriya is a specialist in the kavi repertoire relating the rice harvest, stick fishing, and weatherlore.
For this special episode, Wickramasuriya will be performing 4 original kavis and 2 canonical kavis in a beautiful outdoor setting. While Wickramasuriya pulls from, and is a master of, a wide repertoire of poems (spiritual, work related, narrative, etc), she also continues to write her own narrating life experiences on Staten Island and beyond. In this way, even as an elder herself, she keeps the tradition alive and breathes new life into its evolution in the diaspora. This program will be a live Facebook event with pre-recorded excerpts of a performance recorded on her porch during the quarantine. Naomi Sturm, director of the Philadelphia Folklore Project, will host the event.