AJ Kluth, a lecturer in the Department of Music, discussed an upcoming concert he organized with a concept loosely inspired by the concept of Afrofuturism, a cultural and artistic aesthetic that explores the entire African American experience and seeks to connect the past, present and future of the African American diaspora through art.
The Cleveland Museum of Art will play host to a free “collaborative performance” featuring songwriter, singer, poet and educator Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother); experimental poet, visual artist Lonnie Holley; poet and singer-songwriter Lee Bains, and soulful Cleveland collective Mourning [A] BLKstar. The concert is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 24.
Reservations are required for the free performance and can be made at The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Toward a Different Kind of Horizon
A Collaborative Concert Featuring:
Moor Mother, Lonnie Holley, Lee Bains, and Mourning [A] BLKstar
For her first appearance in Cleveland, the iconoclast Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother) joins visionary artists Lonnie Holley, Lee Bains, and Mourning [A] BLKstar for a collaborative performance in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium. While not a concert of the music of Sun Ra, this concert’s title is inspired by his words. This event is free, but a reservation is required.
The music of Moor Mother, Lonnie Holley, Lee Bains, and Mourning [A] BLKstar encompasses elements of free jazz, hip-hop, gospel, and more. Their poetry, improvisation, and cutting-edge musical production techniques are deployed in the service of embracing plurality, liberation, reparative justice, and joy. Respondent to but not mired in the inequities of the past, this is music to challenge and inspire us all.
This concert has been loosely organized around the idea of Afrofuturism, that logic, aesthetic, and mythos that animated so much of Sun Ra’s otherworldly vision. This attitude casts the world into a strange loop where the past and future are put in dialogue to refigure the horizon of the present.
Songwriter, composer, vocalist, poet, and educator Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother) spent years organizing and performing in Philadelphia's underground music community, ultimately developing a global audience for her iconoclast work. She released her debut album as Moor Mother, Fetish Bones, in 2016, and has since put out an abundance of acclaimed music, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other musicians who share her drive to dig up the untold. An active collaborator, she is one half of the Afrofuturist literary and artistic collective Black Quantum Futurism and co-leads the groups Irreversible Entanglements and 700 Bliss. Her most recent record, Jazz Codes (Anti- Records), has been recognized by The New York Times as one of the best of 2022.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, Lonnie Holley’s early life was chaotic, characterized by trauma, exploitation, and precarity. From this challenging beginning, he has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity, producing art and music that create beauty from that struggle and hardship. Holley’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photography can be found in collections of major museums throughout the country, on permanent display in the United Nations, and has been displayed in the White House Rose Garden. Similar to his visual art and sculpture, Holley’s music responds to the moment, repurposing the familiar. Improvised on the spot, his music and lyrics morph and change with every event, concert, and recording - the result of decades of evolving experimentation. Released on Jagjaguwar in March 2023, his most recent record, Oh Me Oh My, features collaborations with Michael Stipe, Sharon Van Etten, Moor Mother, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and Rokia Koné.
Lee Bains is a poet and singer-songwriter whose work is steeped in the American South. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Bains’s songs are hopeful, but far from naive. On the 2022 record Old-Time Folks (Don Giovanni), Lee Bains + The Glory Fires deliver songs that mix the sounds of southern rock, gospel, folk, and punk to deliver stories of resistance and love. Challenging revisionist histories that would prefer to forget the worst parts of our collective past as much as the present neoliberal logic that reduces people to numbers, they celebrate the messiness of humanity and the power of solidarity and love.
A multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture, Mourning [A] BLKstar is dedicated to sharing the stories and songs of America’s ongoing apocalypse. M[A]B’s music deploys hip hop production techniques and live instrumentation to create sound worlds that resonate with the pathways and frequencies that have sustained the African Diaspora. Founded in Cleveland, OH, M[A]B has brought their powerful sound to stages around the US and Europe, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Le Guess Who? in the Netherlands, and choreographic collaborations with Company Christoph Winkler in Berlin, Germany.
This concert was organized by AJ Kluth, PhD, a music lover and lecturer in the CWRU Department of Music. It is presented free to the public through the generous contributions of the following: