Traditional Music Society
St Marks Hope & Peace Lutheran Church 3800 Troost Ave
Kansas City MO 64109
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 561-1849
Fax 816- 561-1849
Mission Statement
The Traditional Music Society is an arts-in-education organization devoted to the development of community cohesiveness through the study of music and dance from many world cultures, particularly West Africa, Brazil, Central America, and the Caribbean. Using these cultural art forms we are able to improve, self-esteem, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, cognitive skills as well as addressing risky behavior in undeserved children and young adults from the urban core of Kansas City Missouri.
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Bird Ellington Fleming
Board Chair Ms Pam Pearson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Hickman Mills School
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1996
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer
  • We accept checks - please make payable to the Traditional Music Society and send to Traditional Music Society PO Box 10022 Kansas City, Missouri 64171. 
  • We accept credit cards. Log on to, go to home page, click on donation badge (PayPal).
  • We accept in-kind services and volunteers, e-mail or call 816-561-1849.
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement The Traditional Music Society is an arts-in-education organization devoted to the development of community cohesiveness through the study of music and dance from many world cultures, particularly West Africa, Brazil, Central America, and the Caribbean. Using these cultural art forms we are able to improve, self-esteem, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, cognitive skills as well as addressing risky behavior in undeserved children and young adults from the urban core of Kansas City Missouri.
Background Statement The Traditional Music Society (TMS) was founded in 1995, in Kansas City Missouri, by music educator Bird Fleming, Norman Riley, and Vanessa Gibbs. Formed out of a need to bring to the area the knowledge and understanding of the arts of the African Diaspora (South America, Central American and the Caribbean), through educational programs, participatory projects and presentations. Starting out with providing music and dances workshop for day care centers and elementary schools, TMS over the years, has developed educational arts  programs that fit the needs of all educational levels. Overtime TMS has been able to provide highly participatory and informative presentations. Presently, in addition to our arts in education programs, The Traditional Music Society also serves as a resource center of the cultural  arts for area teachers and educators. 
Impact Statement
Our top accomplishments of the past year were as follows:
  1. We were the recipients of two grants, from the Francis Family Foundation and the Black Community Fund, in support of our African Youth Dance ensemble. This program allows us to assist area youth, from the urban core to help them with their character building and self esteem, through the exposure of the arts. 
  2. We presented our annual World Music and Dance Showcase, of which other artist from other cultures were invited to perform. This community wide event also featured our African Youth Dance Ensemble in a presentation, culminating their learning experience for the season. 
  3. We had the honor of being invited to the Future Stages event sponsored and presented by the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Here again our African Youth Dance ensemble was able to present their talents again, along with a line up of 600 performing youth groups from the KC area. 
  4. We were privileged to be invited to perform at the Brown vs the Board of Education Historic Site in Topeka Kansas for a multicultural holiday event. This program featured a performance by our ensemble Soundz of Africa. 
Our top goals for this year are as follows:
  1. We intend to continue our efforts with our African Dance Youth Ensemble for the spring. This endeavors proves to increasingly aide young adults to offer them alternatives to delinquent behavior and offer them a safe haven. 
  2. We are developing an arts apprenticeship program. This program will entail training our students, upon reaching the age of 16, to carry their art from into the professional realm, during a season of targeting training and conditioning. Additionally this program will give them the tools necessary to pursue a career in the arts.  
  3. We are planing collaborative projects with the Paseo Academy for Performing Arts and the UMKC Dance Department.This project will provide an exposure to the cultural dances of West Africa through targeted master classes in this genre.
  4. We are developing an artist in residency program designed to address students cognitive skills. This program, called Reading the Rhythm, is designed to improve students reading skills, in the areas of speed, fluency, and comprehension using music.  
  5. As a prelude to our 20th anniversary of service to the Kansas City area, we will be having a grand fund raising event at the at the Community Christian Church on the Plaza.
Needs Statement
  1. We seek support for our Traditional Music Society Youth Ensemble project for area youth from the urban core, grades 4th-9th; this program entails character development and self esteem using the cultural arts: Proposed budget: $10,000
  2. We seek support for the development of our artist apprenticeship program. A program that will compensate students who will be guided and trained by our staff, providing students with the skills and tools to become professional artist in their field: Proposed budget, $15,000.
  3. We seek support for the implementation of our artist in residency program called Reading the Rhythm. This program is designed to improve students reading skills in regards to, speed, fluency and comprehension, using music. Proposed budget: $20,000
  4. We seek support for general operational expenses e.g. Office equipment, $4,000 yearly. Studio rental, $2,000 yearly. Music Supplies, $900, yearly, Costumes, $700, yearly.
  5. We also are in need of community volunteers to assist in various areas, program coordination, event planing, technical production e. g. lighting, sound, stage management, etc. PR and promotion, website/design/maintenance, etc. 
Service Categories
Cultural & Ethnic Awareness
Arts Education
Areas of Service
KS - Johnson County
MO - Jackson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement Since the inception of the Traditional Music Society it has experienced success on various levels. Over the years its programs and projects, including performances, have been aggressively sought after by numerous school systems, community centers, and colleges from all parts of the metropolitan area. It has managed to institute ongoing programs, through artist in residencies…some of which are still intact at these facilities today. Our impact thought the cultural arts has benefited many educational institutions in the Kansas City regions as evident if repeated request and calls for our services. Our major challenge has been funding…either by way of grants and or fund raising efforts. As a result we are being more pro-active in the pursuit of grants and solicitation of donations. Concurrently we have set out to strategically plan on two funding raising efforts each year.
Description This program is designed to involve area youth (ages 7-12) in learning the culture of West African, through music, dance and song. Taught by our staff, all of whom have been and are still under the tutelage of master musicians and dancers from this region, it provides a unique learning experience for our students. Along with learning the art form students are taught, not only the history of this region but very important village/community values and ethics. The students we recruit hail from many schools and community organization around the Kansas City area, e.g. St Vincent Operation Breakthrough, Genesis Promise Academy, Gordon Parks Elementary and the Girls and Boys Clubs.  
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Cultural & Ethnic Awareness
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Short-Term Success Within a short period of time in the program our students has shown committed interest and continue to sign up for the program each year. Many our students have shown great improvement in their once troubled behavior…some are less likely get into altercations, suspended or expelled from school.
Long-Term Success

Our long term goal with this project is to offer our students a positive outlet and safe haven. It is our objective to eventually re-direct any possible delinquent behavior into a positive experiences that will extend far beyond their tenure in the program. With learning the core values of the African village/community, which comes as a byproduct of the music and dance, students will incorporate these concepts into their own family and community interactions.    

Program Success Monitored By We consult with parents, teachers, counselors, and community leaders as to the change in behavior and or attitude of our students as a result of being in the program. This is done by way of evaluation forms/survey issued before, during and at the end of  the program.
Examples of Program Success
The success of our students has come in the form of stories and antidotes from teachers and parents.

Statements from teachers: “He really needs this drumming, it has made a big different in his attitude in class”….”You know, some of our students say that your music and dance program is the main reason the come to school every day.” Parent of female dancer student: “Your dance program has made such a big difference in my daughter…she has truly come out of her shell…she now has so much self-esteem.”…. “I am so glad my son has his own “thing”. Female dance student: “If it were not for Ms_____________(our dance instructor) I would be on the streets.” Male drumming student: (whose cousin was just injured from a gunshot wound) (after being encouraged to play his drum despite his situation) “You know Mr________(drum instructor) as I was playing the drum I had forgotten everything about the shooting”.
Description This annual event is designed to give all of our students, as well as other local folkloric artist, of cultural music and dance, a chance to present their talents. Taking place in our in-house facility it features our children’s African drumming and African dance class…our teenage African and Caribbean music class…and our West African music adult class. This program, presented in the spring each year is the culmination of all of our students learning from the beginning of the session in the fall of the previous year. The program is always well attended by families and friends of our students as well as all of our clients and patrons. 
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Performing Arts
Population Served General/Unspecified
Short-Term Success Over the years our annual World Music and Dance Showcase has exhibited positive results in our audiences. Each year has seen an upsurge in attendance, having seen standing room audiences in the last two years...
Long-Term Success It is the goal of the program to expose the community to the rich heritage of the arts from indigenous cultures. In these regions, e.g. African, South American and the Caribbean, art is not for jus “art’s sake”, it very practical and utilitarian. These cultures have a unique way of expressing their family and social values though music and dance, codified in rhythmic patterns and movement, . respectively. Specific music and dances selections are also expressive of occupations such as the dance of the farmer, hunter, blacksmith, potter, weaver, warrior, etc. And there are conceptual music/dance selections as well, such as those (through drum patterns and movement represents social values such as trust honesty and proper social interaction between one another. It is our hope that by offering these examples of community cohesiveness our audiences will begin to immolate them and apply them to their very own experience in their respective neighborhood.
Program Success Monitored By We have a guest list at each of our showcase events and it continues to get longer each year. We measure the success of the program by passing our survey cards at the beginning of each presentation and calculate feedback. Having overall positive responses each year for  the past seven years is an indication of our clients satisfaction.
Examples of Program Success With a total capacity of 200 for our venue space for the World Music and Dance Showcase, we recorded a total of 70 for our first event 7 years ago to an increase of 225 for our most recent presentation. We conduct a survey at each of these events. Our surveys have showed, on a scale of 1 to 10, we have scored an average of 9… for the content and presentation of the program. We have gotten many accolades from parents and community members about how “wonderful” the program is and the great “variety of culture expressions offered”. Over the years most all of our attendees have expressed their gratitude, through verbal feedback. Especially about the how the Showcase always allow children and young adults a “chance to express themselves in a positive manner”.  
CEO Comments We are sometimes faced with the challenge of not having enough volunteers to assist with tasks such as, website maintenance, public relations, fundraising and event playing. To have additional help would surely augment some of the duties delegated to members of our board of directors. To remedy this situation we are now in the process of collaborating with various organizations who offer help with those who either in intern training such as the Rockhust University's Not For Profit Management Program. We are working with the Service Learning Division at UMKC to provide help in the form of students seeking grades or credits for community services related to their field of study. Additionally we are connecting with organizations such as AmeriCorps who provide volunteers for general community services to not for profit organizations.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Bird Ellington Fleming
Term Start Feb 1995

Bird Fleming is a professional percussionist, educator, and performer. He is well versed in many styles of ethnic percussion: West African, South American, and Caribbean. He has studied with many, who are masters of these disciplines, e.g.    Simbo Wushu, Dennis Lee, Bernard Wry, Agustin Romero Diza from Havana Cuba, Cheikh Gueye, Zak Diop, and Abdullah Camara from Senegal, West Africa; El Hajjii Abubakari Lunna-Wombie and Guideon Foli Alorwoyie from Ghana; Moacyr Machinni, and Marcus Santos from Brazil.

Bird has performed with Babatunde Olantunje, Gil Scott Heron, the Temptations, and Larry Harlow. He has recorded with the BCR band, Imam Bilal Hyde, and Gerald Trimble. As founder and executive Director of the Traditional Music Society, he is not only an educator and performer, but also a world music liaison for area educational organizations. He has collaborated with many institutions in the Kansas City area such as the Kansas City Ballet, Missouri Rep,  Kansas City Missouri School District, St. Vincent's Operation Breakthrough, the Kaufman Center for Performing Arts, the Kansas City Symphony, the Lyric Opera, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, Young Audiences, Accessible Arts, the Jackson County Family Courts, the American Jazz Museum, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Additionally, Mr. Fleming has had the distinction of assisting with the development of the core music curriculum for the Kansas City School District as ethnic music advisor in 1996.

Mr. Fleming holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Park University of Kansas City Missouri and a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a certificate in African American Studies from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He currently teaches World Music as an adjunct professor at Longview Community College in Lee's Summit, Missouri.


Paid Full-Time Staff 1
Paid Contractors 15
Volunteers 25
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Board Chair
Board Chair Ms Pam Pearson
Company Affiliation Hickman Mills School
Term Jan 2014 to Dec 2019
Board Members
Ms Cynthia BradfordRalf C Johnson Accountanting Firm
Mr A J ByrdMissouri Department of Transportation
Ms Sammie EwardsEdwards Law Firm
Ms Karen LisondraCommunity Volunteer
Ms Adrianna MarshallMarshall Educational Consultation Firm
Mr Granvil O’NealAmerican Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Ms Pam PearsonHickman Mills Schools
Mr. Donavan PettersAttorney
Ms Diana SwezyProfessor UMKC
Ms Kenshasha WilliamsRochurst University
Ms Yolanda ZapataNorth Kansas City School District
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 7
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 1
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 1
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 50%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 50%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Community Outreach / Community Relations
Distributions / Grant Making
Special Events (Golf Tournament, Walk / Run, Silent Auction, Dinner / Gala)
Advisory Board Members
Mr Lloyd DanielsMissouri State Representative
Rev Sam MannRetired Pastor
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $54,336
Projected Expenses $50,543
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990-EZ.
  • FY 2016, 2015: Financial data reported using the organization's internal financials.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$42,057$50,959$46,428
Administration Expense$13,101$1,319$850
Fundraising Expense$278$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.901.131.09
Program Expense/Total Expenses76%97%98%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$8,913$14,825$4,132
Current Assets$8,913$14,825$4,132
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$410$655$855
Total Net Assets$8,503$14,170$3,277
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities21.7422.634.83
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- --Francis Family Foundation $7,500
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- --Curry Foundation $5,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Other Documents
Organization Name Traditional Music Society
Address St Marks Hope & Peace Lutheran Church 3800 Troost Ave
Kansas City, MO 64109
Primary Phone (816) 561-1849
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Bird Ellington Fleming
Board Chair Ms Pam Pearson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Hickman Mills School
Year of Incorporation 1996