Grammy Winner Bakithi Kumalo joins

East End Arts’ Art & Music School Faculty


The bassist, vocalist, and composer begins directing the EEA Rocks Bands

and teaching private music lessons this September. 

Left to right: Kathleen Dwyer-Ruscisk, EEA Education Director; Bakithi Kumalo; Diane Burke, EEA Executive Director; Robert Ward, EEA Board of Directors at the inaugural EEA Summer Soirée August 18, 2022.


Five-time Grammy Award winning musician Bakithi Kumalo signed on with East End Arts & Humanities Council, Inc. (EEA) as a faculty member of its Art & Music School. Best known as Paul Simon’s influential bass player, his new position includes teaching private music lessons and directing the EEA Rocks Band Program, providing unique group music experiences for children, young adults, and adults.

Born and raised in South Africa, Bakithi had his first performance playing bass in his uncle’s band at the age of 7. The opportunity to provide mentorship to emerging musicians is the driver of his choice

to join the nonprofit organization. “It is time for me to give back,” he noted in conversation at the inaugural EEA Summer Soirée fundraising event held August 18, 2022, where all the current EEA rock groups performed. “Bakithi’s passion to mentor young musicians has already had an impact on the EEA Rocks kids. They all went home and downloaded Graceland after meeting him at the party,” jokes Kathleen Dwyer-Ruscick, Education Director. His addition to the faculty also reactivates EEA’s Artist Residency program, which has been dormant since the early days of the pandemic.

The EEA Rocks Band Program began as a group band project for tweens and teens in 2021 and has since developed into a full group music program that now includes opportunities for all ages- New Kids on the Rock for 10-15 year olds, EEA Rocks for 13-17 year olds, Rock U for 18-30 year olds, and Better Late Than Never (BLTN) for 30 years and older. Each band in each category is made up of 4-8 members and include vocals, guitars, bass, percussions, keys, and even violin. Horn and other string players are also encouraged to try. “Several EEA Rocks musicians have joined from a classical background to try something new, and some have even taken on new instruments while in the band,” states Dwyer-Ruscick. Rockers can expect at least one performance as part of each semester, however they took to the stage seven times this summer season, including being welcomed into Southampton Youth Bureau’s annual Battle of the Bands.


EEA Music Program Information

All educational programs at the EEA Art & Music school run on a semester basis. Partial scholarships are available. Registration is open for the fall semester, which starts on September 6, 2022. Registration is online, by phone at 631-369-2171, or in person at 141 E. Main St., Riverhead.
New Kids on the Rock | EEA Rocks | Rock U | Better Late Than Never

A semester in the EEA Rocks Band Program led by Bakithi Kumalo costs $280.00 per person. EEA Members receive a 20% discount. The bands meet weekly on designated days, and the semester includes eight 90 minute practice sessions plus an end-of-semester performance.

Private music lessons with Bakithi are held on Tuesdays. Partial scholarships are also available for private lessons. Call the EEA Registrar at 631-396-2171 for pricing and details.


East End Arts 

East End Arts & Humanities Council is a 501[c][3] nonprofit organization located in Riverhead, NY whose mission is to Unlock Creativity, Build Community. Since its inception in 1972, East End Arts has become a year-round hub for art and music enrichment and showcase for artists who live, work, and visit the area with its Art & Music School, galleries, and community programs and events.

The East End Arts Art Gallery’s exhibitions act as the catalyst for art collectors and enthusiasts to visit the growing Arts District of Riverhead to view relevant programs from established and emerging artists alike. East End Arts Main Gallery is located at 133 E. Main St., Riverhead, NY 11901 with a sister gallery 11 West Gallery located at 11 W. Main St., Peconic Crossing, Riverhead, NY 11901. The East End Arts Art & Music School is located at 141 E. Main St. and provides private music lessons, group music, art classes for all ages and abilities, workshops, college prep, and camps.

Each year EEA brings the MLK Portrait Project, PerformHER, Mosaic Street Painting Festival, Teeny Awards, Summer Soirée, ARTworks Gala, and Harvest Gospel Concert to the East End community. All proceeds support East End Arts! scholarships, programming, and operations. For more information, email education@eastendarts.org, call 631.727.0900, or visit eastendarts.org



AAQ / Resource: Riverhead Toyota