Clarksdale – Music in Common announces the MS Delta launch of The Black Legacy Project, a musical celebration of Black history to advance racial solidarity, equity, and belonging. The Black LP is a national project produced in partnership with community stakeholders at the local level. As it travels the country, the Black LP brings together Black and White artists and artists of ALL backgrounds to record present day interpretations of songs central to the Black American experience and compose originals relevant to the pressing calls for change of our time. Community roundtable discussions help inform how these songs are interpreted and written.
After more than a year of development in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, The Black Legacy Project kicked off in September 2021 in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Since then the Project has traveled to Los Angeles, the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, and Denver. In 2023, it will launch in Atlanta, the Mississippi Delta, and Boise, hitting the Delta February 22 – 28 with events and programs for musicians and non-musicians alike.
In each community the Black LP travels to, songs addressing a theme connected to the local community are reimagined and composed. The selected theme for the Delta is “I Am the Blues”, which explores the origins of Blues music and its roots in the Black American experience, especially of those living in the Mississippi Delta. The project will unpack the enormous contributions of Black musicians to the American musical landscape via the blues, often overlooked and at times appropriated. Analysis of the songs, “I Am the Blues ” by Muddy Waters and “Poor Man’s Blues” by Bessie Smith, will foster a greater understanding of these contributions and the crediting of them to Black artists. Community members will analyze the lyrics of these songs in round table discussions to help inform how they are musically reinterpreted by local musicians. The roundtable will take place on Wednesday February 22nd at 7PM. Registration is required. Location will be disclosed at that time.
Following the roundtable discussion, local artists will spend several days working up new arrangements of these songs as well as composing an original. The songs will be recorded and the project will culminate with two free performances on February 27th at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland and on February 28th at the BB King Museum in Indianola. Both events, which also include a documentary screening of the pilot episode of the Black LP docuseries and a community conversation, start at 7PM and are free and open to all. Tickets can be reserved at https://www.theblacklegacyproject.org/events.
“I’m incredibly excited to come on as a musical co-director of this project”, states Alice Hasen, one of four local artists that will serve as musical co-directors for the project in the Delta. Other musical co-directors include Edna Nicole, Keith Johnson, and Tricia Walker. Musicians interested in performing or recording on the project can audition online.