ORIGINAL MUSIC, ART, AND POETRY
CREATED BY NEW YORKERS
OF ALL AGES SHOWCASED IN —AFROCOSMICMELATOPIA—
MWENSO AND THE SHAKES
ON FEBRUARY 27
IN ZANKEL HALL Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute
Afrofuturism Offerings for
Young Musicians, Families, and More,
Journey Into AfroCosmicMelatopia on March 25 and Spring Family Day on April 10
Themes of the Hall’s
Afrofuturism Citywide Festival
Inspire Education Programming
Throughout the Season
(New York, NY, February 8, 2022)—On Sun, Feb 27 at 7:00 p.m., New Yorkers of all ages will take the Zankel Hall stage to showcase their original music, art, and poetry in AfroCosmicMelatopia. The special evening is part of the Hall’s citywide Afrofuturism festival and features young artists and creators from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI)—the education and social impact arm of the Hall. Anchoring the Zankel Hall performance is Mwenso and the Shakes, a singular “troupe of global artists presenting music that merges entertainment and artistry” (Jazziz). Together with the young songwriters, they bring to life original music, art, and poetry with their own unique flair to create a genre-crossing evening that exemplifies the openhearted and boundary-defying spirit of Afrofuturism. The performance will be livestreamed on Carnegie Hall’s website, Facebook, and YouTube channels and subsequently available for on-demand viewing on the Hall’s website.
"We hope and see ourselves continuing to heal and lead through love and believe that Black roots music is the conduit to do so,” said Michael Mwenso, bandleader of Mwenso and the Shakes and co-founder of Electric Root. “Through Afrofuturism, we can create a deeper and fluid future for all of us. We are beyond grateful that WMI created this platform to feature these brilliant young artists and are excited to collaborate towards a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.”
The nearly 20 performances showcased on the program encompass a wide variety of styles including electronic, pop, digital art, R&B, soul, spoken word, jazz, and more, exploring different themes such as technology, self-expression, identity, heroism, love, freedom, and celebration of beauty. The imaginative original music and art is inspired by the infinite possibilities of Afrofuturism, and a future in which people of color thrive in all spaces and realms.
Among the composers whose works have been selected for the musical performance are participants in Future Music Project, a WMI program for teens to create, perform, and produce original music; Music Educators Workshop, which brings together teachers who work in schools and communities with K–12 students for community building and professional development; and NeON Arts—a free program of the NYC Department of Probation in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute—that offers young people in seven New York City communities the chance to explore the arts through a variety of creative projects. Additional songwriters/performers include men who participate in Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility; alums from Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States (NYO-USA) and NYO Jazz, two of the Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles for outstanding teen musicians from across the US; as well as teaching artists, and more. Teens who participated in WMI’s series of online poetry workshops this fall—led by Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Sheree Renée Thomas—are also featured in the performance.
“This season, we were very excited to embed the ever-expansive themes of Afrofuturism into our education and social impact programs,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “The festival themes invite young musicians, educators, and creators to tap into their imagination, and develop new art, music, and more that asks “what could be possible?” We’re thrilled to be able to showcase our dynamic WMI community on the Zankel Hall stage.”
AfroCosmicMelatopia is one of a variety of Afrofuturism-themed events from WMI throughout the 2021–2022 season. Earlier this month, hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab presented Make a Joyful Noize in Zankel Hall. Originally commissioned by the Hall as part of its 125 Commissions Project, the performance was a celebration of Black joy that blended rap, funk, soul, and Afrobeat and showcased hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab and a 10-person band. The vibrant multimedia performance featured music, film, spoken word, and dance.
Journey Into AfroCosmicMelatopia on Friday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. is soundtracked by the futuristic sounds of leading DJs including DJ Reborn and DJ mOma, and celebrates both the work of creators from the WMI community and the multidisciplinary nature of Afrofuturism, including turntablism and digital architecture. The interactive evening in the Hall’s Resnick Education Wing features inspired young people showcasing their considerable talents through live performance, augmented reality, and art, in a celebration curated by the creative studios Intelligent Mischief and Wakanda Dream Lab. Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Ytasha L. Womack curates immersive dance experiences. Prior to the evening, teens will participate in a special workshop with Wakanda Dream Lab focused on “World Building,” using the arts to visualize “AfroCosmicMelatopia,” a place where people of color thrive, free from race-based oppression.
The self-described “territory band, neo-tribal thang, community hang” Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber (BSAC) leads a free workshop for six rising musicians, ages 18–35, from March 31–April 3, 2022. The BSAC workshop focuses on the group’s approach to “Conduction,” and aims to enhance the selected musicians interpretive and decision-making abilities by expanding their concept of composition, orchestration, and arrangement in real-time. The residency culminates with a performance—Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber’s Cosmic Riddem, Esoteric Rambunction & Eclectic Blue Cheer~Conduction #5—in Zankel Hall on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
On Sunday, April 10 at 12:00 p.m., Spring Family Day invites children (ages 5 and up) and their adults to explore the idea of Afrofuturism in a daylong open house in the Resnick Education Wing. In a fitting nod to the boundless imagination and ever-expansive aesthetic of Afrofuturism, families enjoy an array of artistic and social experiences, including performances by Shine and the Moonbeams, instrument making with Bash the Trash, an Afrofuturism dance party lead by Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Ytasha L. Womack, create your own comic book stations, and more. At this time, we are currently unable to welcome attendees under the age of 5 who are not fully vaccinated to Spring Family Day.
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute Weaves Themes of Afrofuturism Across Programs
In education and social impact programs created by WMI, young musicians, teachers, and creators from New York City and across the US explore the infinite possibilities of Afrofuturism throughout the Hall’s 2021–2022 season. Imagination is a key ingredient of WMI’s programming which invites people of all ages to explore their creativity. Participants have the opportunity to engage in collaborative artistic explorations—both in person and online—creating original music, art, sound, technology, and stories that bring to life the possibility of a world shaped by music learners of all ages, experiences, and circumstances. Babies and their caregivers listen and sing along to Afrofuturist sounds in a special episode of “Sing with Carnegie Hall,” the weekly interactive video series that returns for second season this month. Young musicians and teens participate in artistic workshops featuring a range of guest artists, to collaborate and learn together about the potential of imagined futures. Teachers both locally and nationally in the Hall’s Music Educators Workshop collaborate with the hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab, exploring creative possibilities for creators of hip-hop and personal visions of the world. Men at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who participate in Musical Connections engage with festival themes through songwriting prompts, supported by teaching artists.
As a precursor to the festival, Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member and celebrated author Sheree Renée Thomas led a series of online poetry workshops this fall for young writers ages 14–19 who were interested in experimenting with voice, vivid imagery, and form, connecting their own original work to myriad themes of Afrofuturism. Ms. Thomas was joined by special guests including some of the genre’s leading Afrofuturist poets such as Linda D. Addison, Len Lawson, Gary Jackson, and Akua Lezli Hope. The Hall will publish a chapbook this spring, featuring the work the young people created in the fall workshops and contributions from all of the guest faculty members.
WMI’s public offerings and programming are part of Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism festival, presented from February–March, 2022, exploring Afrofuturism’s boundless sonic essence through jazz, funk, R&B, Afrobeat, hip-hop, electronic music, and more. Carnegie Hall will present six performances by celebrated musicians including Flying Lotus, Sun Ra Arkestra with Kelsey Lu and Moor Mother, Nicole Mitchell and Angel Bat Dawid, Chimurenga Renaissance and Fatoumata Diawara, Carl Craig Synthesizer Ensemble, and Theo Croker. Offerings by more than 70 leading cultural and academic organizations extend the scope of the festival with a diverse array of events, exhibitions, performances, and talks.
Sunday, February 27 at 7:00 PM Zankel Hall AFROCOSMICMELATOPIA
Mwenso and the Shakes
Michael Mwenso, Bandleader and Vocals
·· Shenel Johns, Vocals
·· Vuyo Sotashe, Special Guest Vocals
·· Ruben Fox, Saxophone
·· Giveton Gelin, Trumpet
·· Rashaan Salaam, Trombone
·· Franklin Rankin, Guitar
·· Chris Smith, Bass
·· Chris Pattishall, Piano and Keybaords
·· Dominique Gervais, Drums
·· Ahmad Johnson, Drums
·· Michela Lerman, Tap and Dance
·· Negah Santos, Percussion
SHONARI J. EDWARDS Dive (Into the Cosmos)
JORDAN WHITE Black Magic
CATHERINE GENAO Beauty
MILES LENNOX City Walk
CYNTHIA SORIANO Black Star
RUTH KENDALL Freedom’s Anthem
BISHOP CHANTEL WRIGHT Say You Believe
DEBORAH ADESODUN They Say
JOSEPH WILSON Honestly
LORD JUDAH Manifestations
BLVK SAMURAI Cosmic Jungle
QUENTON XAVIER BLACHE Free for layered celli
CHIMWEKELE OKORO A Letter to My Daughter
ADIA COLVIN He is at the beginning, and we meet him at the end
Tickets $20, $30
Additional Afrofuturism-Themed Programming
Friday, March 25 at 6:30 PM Resnick Education Wing
JOURNEY INTO AFROCOSMICMELATOPIA
Additional artists to be announced
Take a journey into the world of AfroCosmicMelatopia, soundtracked by the futuristic sounds of leading DJs—including DJ Reborn and DJ mOma—from the African diaspora. This unique event celebrates both the work of young artists and creators from the Weill Music Institute community and the multidisciplinary nature of Afrofuturism, including turntablism and digital architecture. Join a community of inspired young people as they showcase their talents by designing a new world featuring live performance, augmented reality, and art, in an immersive celebration curated by the creative studio Intelligent Mischief and Wakanda Dream Lab.
Sunday, April 3 at 7:30 PM ZANKEL HALL
BURNT SUGAR THE ARKESTRA CHAMBER
Cosmic Riddem, Esoteric Rambunction & Eclectic Blue Cheer~Conduction #5
Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber (BSAC) is a New York music mainstay founded by The Village Voice’s Greg Tate, a recently departed icon eminently felt in this boundary-demolishing music. Called “a fleet-footed big band, sliding and swaggering through galactic R&B, brawny jazz, and electric funk like a Sun Ra–sized spin on Miles Davis’s On the Corner band” (Rolling Stone), BSAC brings long-form compositions, unstoppable grooves, and mighty improvisation together as one. This anticipated performance is the culmination of a one-of-a-kind workshop for six rising musicians, who will be featured alongside the ever-changing band that prides itself on “never playing anything the same way once.”
Tickets: $20, $30
Sunday, April 10 at 12:00 PM RESNICK EDUCATION WING
SPRING FAMILY DAY
Carnegie Hall’s Spring Family Day is a daylong open house that invites children (ages 5 and up) and their adults to explore the idea of Afrofuturism. In a fitting nod to the boundless imagination and ever-expansive aesthetic of Afrofuturism, families enjoy an array of artistic and social experiences, including arts activities, music making, concerts, and more. Create and learn alongside other families throughout the Resnick Education Wing, and experience this very special part of Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism festival. Information about registration for this event will be available in March 2022. We are currently unable to welcome attendees under the age of 5 who are not fully vaccinated to Spring Family Day. For more information of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute programs, visit carnegiehall.org/Education ******
Support for Afrofuturism is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Bank of America.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Support for the visual arts components of the Afrofuturism festival has been provided by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
Carnegie Hall thanks generous supporters of the wide range of music education and social impact programs created by the Weill Music Institute.
Ticket Information for Carnegie Hall Concerts
Tickets to concerts are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org.
Tickets for events held in Carnegie Hall’s Resnick Education Wing can be purchased exclusively by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, carnegiehall.org; they are not available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.
For more information on discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts. Artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.
Please note: To support a safe reopening for in-person events and in accordance with the advice of medical and public health experts, everyone entering Carnegie Hall will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). As of February 14, 2022, everyone coming to Carnegie Hall will be required to show proof of full vaccination as well as proof that they are fully up-to-date on CDC-recommended boosters, based on their eligibility. In addition, everyone on Carnegie Hall’s premises will be required to wear a properly fitting mask over the nose and mouth at all times.
Photos: Mwenso and the Shakes by Oluwaseye Olusa, DJ Reborn by Michelle Grace Hunder, Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber by Manonce Artist, and Spring Family Day by Fadi Kheir # # #