André Watts, Pioneering Piano Virtuoso, Dies at 77

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2023-07-18 15:56Z by Steven

André Watts, Pioneering Piano Virtuoso, Dies at 77

The New York Times

Javier C. Hernández

The pianist André Watts at his home in Manhattan in 1968. “There’s something beautiful about having an entire audience hanging on a single note,” he once said.
Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

One of the first Black superstars in classical music, he awed audiences with his charisma and his technical powers.

André Watts, a pianist whose mighty technique and magnetic charm awed audiences and made him one of the first Black superstars in classical music, died on Wednesday at his home in Bloomington, Ind. He was 77.

The cause was prostate cancer, said his wife, Joan Brand Watts.

Mr. Watts was an old-world virtuoso — his idol was the composer and showman Franz Liszt — with a knack for electricity and emotion. He sometimes hummed, stomped his feet and bobbed his head while he played, and some critics faulted him for excess. But his charisma and his technical powers were unquestioned, which helped fuel his rise to the world’s top concert halls.

“My greatest satisfaction is performing,” Mr. Watts told The New York Times in 1971, when he was 25. “The ego is a big part of it, but far from all. Performing is my way of being part of humanity — of sharing.”

“There’s something beautiful,” he added, “about having an entire audience hanging on a single note.”.

Mr. Watts, whose father was Black and whose mother was white, was a rarity in a field where musicians of color have long been underrepresented. While he preferred not to speak about race, he was celebrated as a pioneer who defied stereotypes about classical music and helped open doors for aspiring artists of color…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Blackness, Koreanness, and Han: Unmasking Race in Korean Hip Hop

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora on 2023-03-23 03:48Z by Steven

Blackness, Koreanness, and Han: Unmasking Race in Korean Hip Hop

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 54, Issue 2, March 2023
pages 136–156
DOI: 10.1177/00219347231153169

Hyein Amber Kim, Teaching Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics
State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York

Previous studies have analyzed Korean hip hop through the lens of authenticity, language, and cultural hybridity, but not through the lens of race. One of the main characteristics of hip hop culture is that it emerged in the form of resistance against dominant hegemony and as a form of resistance to systemic injustice; however, it is difficult to find K-hip hop artists that defy the racial supremacy of Koreanness and racism through their art. This article utilizes Yoon Mi-rae, who is half-Black and half-Korean, as a significant text to explore how race plays a role in Korean society and how Blackness, Koreanness, and han intersect in the K-hip hop scene. Utilizing the concept of community cultural wealth, interest convergence principle, and Koreanness, the study analyzes how Yoon Mi-rae’s “Black Koreanness” was consumed by Korean media and music industry, and how Yon Mi-rae, as an embodiment of Blackness and Han, uses hip hop and her intersectionality as a tool of resistance to both the mainstream American and mainstream Korean racial ideology and discourse. With the growing influence and popularity of K-hip hop globally, the article problematizes the message K-hip hop is reflecting and sending the world about race.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

Posted in Arts, Books, Canada, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-11-27 06:11Z by Steven

Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz

University Press of Mississippi
November 2022
248 pages
1 table; 29 b&w figures; 20 musical examples
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496842404
Paperback ISBN: 9781496842428

Caroline Vézina
Montréal, Quebec, Canada

The first scholarly volume dedicated to French Creole music and its contribution to the development of jazz in New Orleans

During the formative years of jazz (1890–1917), the Creoles of Color—as they were then called—played a significant role in the development of jazz as teachers, bandleaders, instrumentalists, singers, and composers. Indeed, music penetrated all aspects of the life of this tight-knit community, proud of its French heritage and language. They played and/or sang classical, military, and dance music as well as popular songs and cantiques that incorporated African, European, and Caribbean elements decades before early jazz appeared. In Jazz à la Creole: French Creole Music and the Birth of Jazz, the author describes the music played by the Afro-Creole community since the arrival of enslaved Africans in La Louisiane, then a French colony, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, emphasizing the many cultural exchanges that led to the development of jazz.

Caroline Vézina has compiled and analyzed a broad scope of primary sources found in diverse locations from New Orleans to Quebec City, Washington, DC, New York City, and Chicago. Two previously unpublished interviews add valuable insider knowledge about the music on French plantations and the danses Créoles held in Congo Square after the Civil War. Musical and textual analyses of cantiques provide new information about the process of their appropriation by the Creole Catholics as the French counterpart of the Negro spirituals. Finally, a closer look at their musical practices indicates that the Creoles sang and improvised music and/or lyrics of Creole songs, and that some were part of their professional repertoire. As such, they belong to the Black American and the Franco-American folk music traditions that reflect the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana.

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World-premiere recordings honor legacy of William Grant Still

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2022-09-08 02:24Z by Steven

World-premiere recordings honor legacy of William Grant Still

Minnesota Public Radio

Julie Amacher, Host

Celeste Headlee and her grandfather, William Grant Still, on a visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Courtesy Celeste Headlee

”It’s crucial to remember this is not new music. These manuscripts have been around for generations. I’m aware that there are many more pieces from William Grant Sill and other composers who have been neglected over the years,” conductor Avlana Eisenberg said about Still, who has 13 world premieres on her latest release, William Grant Still: Summerland/Violin Suite/Pastorela/American Suite. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that this is not a passing phase but momentum that gets carried forth.”

Eisenberg is joined by journalist Celeste Headlee, who is the granddaughter of Still…

Read the article here. Listen to the extended interview (00:41:56) here.

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Killian & the Comeback Kids, With Taylor A. Purdee, Kassie DePaiva, Shannon O’Boyle, More, Eyes Summer Release

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2022-06-19 22:59Z by Steven

Killian & the Comeback Kids, With Taylor A. Purdee, Kassie DePaiva, Shannon O’Boyle, More, Eyes Summer Release


Andrew Gans, Senior News Editor

Killian & The Comeback Kids

Purdee also wrote and directed the new folk-rock musical film.

Taylor A. Purdee’s folk-rock musical film Killian & the Comeback Kids is currently slated for a theatrical launch in late August, adding new states on a rolling basis as regions reopen.

The film stars Purdee (Gotham) in the title role, with Kassie DePaiva (Days of Our Lives), Nathan Purdee (The Young and the Restless), Shannon O’Boyle (Once), Emily Mest (Spring Awakening national tour), Shane Andries (Tomorrow Ever After), John Donchak, Andrew O’Shanick, Yael Elisheva, Maddi Jane, and Academy Award winner Lee Grant (Shampoo)…

Read the entire article here.

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Conversations In My Head

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, Media Archive on 2022-05-13 00:51Z by Steven

Conversations In My Head | Conversations In My Head

Music Xray: 21st century A&R

Artist: Davina Robinson
Album: The Blazing Heart
Title: Conversations In My Head
Year: 2008
Track number: 3
Total tracks: 4
Genres: Rock / Alternative & Punk / Pop

“Powerhouse Rock and Roll Soul” describes Davina Robinson’s blend of rock, funk, soul and wild woman attitude, creating a powerful, fierce, soulful rock style. Davina released her debut EP The Blazing Heart in May 2008, and her first full album, Black Rock Warrior Queen, in November 2011. Davina is from Philadelphia, USA and based in Osaka, Japan.


Are you watching me from afar
Standing over my shoulder
Are you floating above the floor
Sorry that I can’t speak Italian anymore

Many years ago your daughter had a Black boyfriend
When she got pregnant it caused a stir
Everyone said just get rid of it
You were the only one who told her to give birth…

Listen to the song and read the lyrics here.

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Rhiannon Giddens wins Best Folk Album GRAMMY

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2022-05-05 16:00Z by Steven

Rhiannon Giddens wins Best Folk Album GRAMMY

Guitar Girl Magazine

GGM Staff

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

Congratulations to Rhiannon Giddens on her Grammy Award win for Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home. Giddens was also nominated for Best American Roots Song for ​​”Avalon” from They’re Calling Me Home, which she made with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. Giddens is now a 2-time winner and an 8-time nominee. On Wednesday, Giddens will also perform at Paul Simon’s tribute concert “Homeward Bound: A Grammy Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon,” alongside Brandi Carlile, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Dave Matthews, and Paul Simon himself.

The Grammy award-winning album, released by Nonesuch last April, has been widely celebrated by the NY Times, NPR Music, NPR, Rolling Stone, People, Associated Press and far beyond, with No Depression deeming it “a near perfect album…her finest work to date.” Recorded over six days in the early phase of the pandemic in a small studio outside of Dublin, Ireland – where both Giddens and Turrisi live – They’re Calling Me Home manages to effortlessly blend the music of their native and adoptive countries: America, Italy, and Ireland. The album speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death…

Read the entire article here.

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Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2022-03-30 02:39Z by Steven

Punta Music Has Never Been a Honduran ‘Thing,’ It Has Always Been a Black One


Julaiza Alvarez

Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla.

I was 12 years old when I went to my first fedu, a Garifuna word for a traditional gathering or party in Honduras. I was intrigued by how comfortable everyone was: The women dressed in traditional garments danced to the beat of the drum and sang to the sound of hands clapping. It was effortless. I had never seen anything like it. While I had been to family functions and seen my aunts dance, this did not compare. It was mesmerizing, especially with everyone being Black. It was different, and it set me on a journey to discover who I was.

Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, I struggled to find a sense of belonging in a community that did not accept me but accepted what my Blackness could give them. I wrestled with constantly being challenged to prove myself, not realizing that we are burdened with defending ourselves from the people we call our neighbors. Through music, Garifunas have told their story. But sadly, Punta is one of the countless Black musical movements that are having its history erased. The scene at my first fedu was unlike the music videos I grew up watching on YouTube where the Garifuna men would beat the drums, and the fair-skinned and dark-haired women would dance in front of them.

In my introduction to Punta, I saw my Blackness be celebrated. But to the rest of the world, their introduction to Punta showed my Blackness used as an accessory. Something you put on and take off when you are done with it. That’s why it is disheartening to watch the deliberate whitewashing of this sacred genre of music. The genre’s mainstream face is based on the misconception that Punta is the heartbeat of the Honduran people, the entirety of the country. In fact, this genre is rooted in a more specific community: the Garifuna people, the descendants of mixed West African and indigenous people that have historically resided on the Caribbean coast of Central America

Read the entire article here.

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FKA twigs: ‘I don’t have secrets. I’m not ashamed of anything’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2022-03-29 02:07Z by Steven

FKA twigs: ‘I don’t have secrets. I’m not ashamed of anything’

The Guardian

Kadish Morris, Editor, Critic & Poet

FKA twigs: ‘I think vulnerability is really hot.’ Photograph: Aidan Zamiri/The Guardian

After a hellish couple of years, the pop visionary is back. She talks about beating illness, escaping abuse, and the joy of connecting with her Caribbean roots

FKA twigs isn’t special, she says, she just rehearses a lot. “I don’t think I was born with anything more than the rest of the world,” says the 34-year-old singer-songwriter. It might be hard to believe that anybody could do the splits down a pole or wield a sword, Wushu-style, the way twigs has done without possessing some divine powers, but it’s all in the training. She can afford private lessons now, but when she started out as a fresh-faced back-up dancer, YouTube tutorials and group dance classes helped her to perfect her craft. “I practise and I practise and I practise. That’s who I am.”

Twigs has had a spellbinding career, exploding on to the pop scene a decade ago with operatic vocal arrangements, conceptual videos and futuristic instrumentals. In 2014 the New Yorker magazine said that she “dresses like a high-fashion model from antiquity, but her songs promise the very contemporary pleasures of texture and emotional immediacy”. Since then, she’s released several acclaimed albums and is considered a trailblazer in pop, R&B and Afrofuturism

Read the entire interview here.

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Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Videos on 2022-03-11 04:04Z by Steven

Your Attention Please: Initiative 29 – Tao Leigh Goffe • Hulu


Tao Leigh Goffe, Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Journey through time with professor and DJ Tao Leigh Goffe as she uncovers her story at the intersection of Black and Chinese culture in this month’s #Initiative29 episode.

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