Editor’s Note: Christiane D is an August Wilson Center Fellow (2010-11 Season).
WYEP’s weekly show featuring the work of poets and writers.
WYEP’s weekly show featuring the work of poets and writers.
For those of you who may remember my stint with the Afro-Brasilian House music project, 3 Generations Walking, DJ MKL presents a beautiful compilation to satisfy! The recently released Mangrove compilation features a song I did with my band Soma Mestizo and many other delicious grooves.
As DJ/Producer describes it:
One minute you could be in a bar in far flung colonial outpost, watching a brown
skinned beauty shake her well toned limbs to the ethno (French, Spanish, Afro)
trumpet laced percussive grooves of “To Dub”, while the next sipping an
overpriced drink with beautiful types in Paris to the minimalist electronica of “En
Pack your passport, your sunglasses and dancing shoes and prepare for a
In the mail and now in my hands are the IR 25 cds. Stunning and glossy.
Words, music and dub fighting for Indigenous rights!
I am honored to be a part of such an important music project.
Even more honored that our song, “ivere…the land” opens up the long list of amazing tracks of talented musicians from across the globe.
A song I was asked to write describing deforestation and destruction.
We enter. We work. We disappear.
Mad Dub Love to Kakonda, Olovotu and Soy Sos! and whole IR crew.
Slaves, Sugar and Rum
Ken Foley and I perform as a duo at last year’s offCenter at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. The poem was originally commissioned by Mary Martin and performed the Heinz History Center with my father on keys. It’s about the history and influence of Jazz. beginning in Africa and ending in America. Video by Shawnee Lake. This is but an excerpt.
This weekend I am experiencing a fantastic opportunity to deconstruct my performance style and learn something wonderful and new. My friend Tavia LaFollete has invited me to participate in a weekend long Performance Art workshop with the amazing Guillermo Gomez-Pena. I saw him perform at the Mattress Factory 2 years ago and remembered wanting to stand on my seat and scream hell yeah!
I hadn’t seen anything that moving since I saw Karen Finley at Carnegie Mellon University.
I spent much of yesterday ridding myself of preconcieved notions, stopping myself from trying to “get” something out of it; just making myself an empty vessel, ready to be malleable and open for whatever.
We have danced like monkeys with hydraulic legs, explored the room with eyes closed, gazed into
each others eyes and created human sculptures. Each ancient exercise bringing you deeper and closer to being present, not representing a presence, as Gomez-Pena says.
It’s akin to standing at the latest roller coaster with excitement and terror. This mixture is what it feels like to stretch yourself and do something new and challenging. Much like being a Fellows. You have an idea of what you want to do and achieve, but each experience along the journey reshapes the original idea, sometimes taking you to surprising places.
Before I even begin talking about me and/or my project, I want to share someone who has been quite an inspiration, who has passed on in this life. The rock ‘n’ roll punk legend that is Bobby Porter.
I recently watched the Afro-Punk documentary and only then did I realize how lucky I was to have been rocked by the powerful tides of a strong Black Rock scene.
In comparison, there were many of us when I only thought there had only been a few. There was Mad Mike, Monette, Alicia, Big Lee, and then there was Bobby Porter.
Bobby would get my underage behind into shows as his roadie. I remember carrying drums for his band-mate, as I scooted past with my blonde and shaved head, big boots and the proverbial black gear. I’d pick a spot, sit and drink shirley temples. Yes, that is what I drank, I knew even then, that if I got caught drinking, it would screw it up for Bobby and his generosity and screw with the venue that actually supported high powered (scary) rock. I was addicted to music not to being a cutesy groupie.
What I witnessed, I still to this day wonder if I saw it.
The stage was a small riser, flanked by wooden balconies. Bobby was belting a powerful rage as he not only jumped up on the balcony, running back n forth with mike in hand, he at some point did a back flip, while still singing and landed better than any gymnast — a perfect landing on the balcony to then jump off and rage into the audience.
I knew then, dayam, he was my home grown black rock ‘n’ roll Hero! I had been touched and inspired by the spirit and gospel of Bobby.
Every time I have raged on the stage, it has been in honor of that first influence. It didn’t come off a record, or from a book, it was an experience that I could witness in my city, touch, feel, inhale it!
Thank you for feeding my rock addiction and for inspiring me. You may have passed on to the universe but you will always live in my heart. May the angels comfort you.
My name is Amanda Lewis, and this being my first blog as an August Wilson Center Fellow what can I say but what an exciting time. I have spent many years in school studying western classical music as well as the history and/or influence of genres from all over the world. As a musician it’s extremely important to understand the function of music. As an artist its important to understand how it touches and reaches people. There are some cultures in the world that believe these two, the function and art are one and the same. I tend to agree.
I also feel that too often people try to polarize music like they do so many other things. People want music to belong to someone or some group which is an idea I passionately fight against. It has been my dream to read and explore music that may not be on the radar of most but is still just as beautiful and deserving to be studied. My fellowship project is about highlighting the contributions of African Americans in “western style classical music”. There is so much music and so much material that you just don’t hear, and it is my hope that one day people talk about the music that happened to be written by African Americans, rather than it being performed only because it was written by African Americans. There is some music I’ve had great difficulty tracking down for this project but in the end I know I will be better informed and better armed to share amazing music with the world, which is really all I ever want to do in life. If I do nothing for the rest of my life but explore, learn, and share I’ll want for nothing more …. and so it begins.