The Harlem Renaissance was the golden age of artistic social expression for Blacks. Black culture was expressed through literature, art, drama and jazz. It remains a pivotal era of Black history.
Now, a young musician is using jazz and other elements of art to paint the picture of the Black social movement of today.
Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design will present “The Transformations Suite,” a combination of music, art, words by pianist and composer Samora Pinderhughes at 8 p.m. on Feb. 2. The event will take place at the Miami Light Project at The Light Box and Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St.
“I see my [performance] approach as musical journalism and a deep investigative dive into different ideas,” said Pinderhughes. “I approach it from a film perspective. Every show is a new a scene.”
According to Pinderhughes, the piece captures the current state of social inequality in the U.S. It combines issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, mass incarceration and other social injustices with poetry, visual aids and music.
Pinderhughes lives in Harlem but grew up in California’s Bay area. He said he was inspired by influences of the environment that he grew up in. The musician said he was raised in an eccentric atmosphere that developed from the foundation of the Black Panther movement and the lyrics of Tupac Shakur.
He has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, The Sundance Festival and other signature platforms globally. His projects include “The James Baldwin Essays: Examining the American Dream Narrative” and “Whose Streets” (based on the Ferguson riots). He was the musical director for the Blackout for Human Rights campaign and has written music for entertainers like the socially conscious rapper, Common.
Over the past year, “The Transformations Suite” has performed throughout the U.S. and South America including at The Juilliard School, New York University and Columbia University.
The 26-year-old composer took five years to write and produce the piece. Every show has the sense of novelty because it is based on the current events of the time.
The words of Tupac, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X’s are also infused in the show along with the sounds of the horns, drums and the soulful vocals of Jehbreal Jackson.
Jackson also said that the piece has evolved from being centered around music to new elements like video slides, visual arts, quotes and stills.
The movement of elements all created a powerful message on behalf of Black lives around the country.
“All on stage, we create a sense of community,” said Jackson.
The Miami show will have a special feature, Jamaican-Cuban American poet and author Aja Monet.
“The Transformations Suite” is part of a series of performances and exhibitions, “Living Together,” by MOAD and a range of other institutions. The series aims to make Miamians reimagine civic space and trigger conversation and actions in the community.
The series will feature national and international artists, exhibitions, musicians and actors at various locations through Sep. 8.
Rina Carvajal, the chief curator and executive director of MOAD said that she selected Pinderhughes because she believes in his mission. She thinks the musician’s age makes him a good role model for MDC students.
“I really admire his seriousness,” said Carvajal. “He is so gifted and really committed to this work.”
This story was originally published in The Miami Times on Jan. 31, 2018.