What is taken for granted today was a bold statement in 1968: “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”! James Brown’s funk anthem against racism was a provocation for many just a few months after the murder of Martin Luther King. Music became an essential part of the US civil rights movement. Half a century later, a new global movement emerged with “Black Lives Matter.” After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, protests against violence against people of color gained new momentum. Almost every day we hear about new crimes and discrimination: whether on a state-juridical level, social-structural, in sports, professionally – or even in art and culture. And again and again, music of the most diverse genres was and is an essential part of the protest and unites its fighters, often also provides them with a musical anthem and strengthens the cohesion, gave and gives strength. Black artists (by necessity) have played a leading role in the fight against racism for hundreds of years – and not only in the USA.
Stefany Calembert, the busy Brussels-based producer and married to one of the participating artists (Reggie Washington), explains: “Of course, as a white woman who is married to a black man and has three children with him, I know racism and its many forms. But not just since then. It’s actually been going on for 35 years. First during my school years in Belgium, then later as a teenager when we were traveling, and then of course during my travels in Guadeloupe and Senegal. I had a lot of black friends and soon realized that it is true how deeply rooted everyday racism is in society – everywhere in the world. I often feel uneasy when I encounter certain ‘superiority’ behaviors of my fellow white people and their occasional hypocrisies. And it saddens me that often even those who reject any resentment far and wide find it difficult to have an open discussion.”
The impetus for Calembert to launch “Black Lives – from Generation to Generation” was clear to her: “I wanted to give the many black musicians, some of whom I have known for many years, the opportunity to come together on an album that will now be released worldwide on March 25, 2022. We want to speak as a collective with one strong voice: Let’s never give up the fight against racism – let’s come together and fight through our music and voices and give strength and courage to all those who suffer and have to live their lives under unequal structures. Let’s unite in organizations, at festivals, at congresses and stand together. The more we are, the louder we are and change will be unstoppable.”
The 25 artists are between 20 and 80 years old and come from the U.S., various African countries (South Africa, Mali, Togo, Benin), and the Caribbean, such as Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique. Sound engineer of the double album is three-time Grammy winner Russell Elevado, who became famous for the production of D’Angelo’s “Voodoo” and since then has supervised stars such as Angélique Kidjo, Jon Batiste and Alicia Keys.
“We turn anger into action,” raps Sharrif Simmons on “We Are Here.” But the album “Black Lives- from Generation to Generation” also inspires on a musical level: from the polyrhythmic fireworks of a Cheick Tidiane Seck (Mali) “Sanga Bô” to the bluesy guitar-saxophone duo “Praying” by Immanuel Wilkins (USA) , the sensitive guitar-jazz of the Guadeloupian Sonny Troupé to the gospel-jazz of Marcus Strickland… to the moving ballad of the South African singer Tutu Puoane to the fusion jazz of the brothers David and Marque Gilmore, we experience an impressive musical diversity, rooted predominantly in jazz, but also influenced by funk, soul, rock and blues. American Stephanie McKay, who has worked with Roy Hargrove, Mos Def and many others, is involved in a total of three tracks. All proceeds from this album will go 100 percent to the participating musicians who wrote their songs in the united fight against racism.
Cheick Tidiane Seck – Immanuel Wilkins – David Gilmore – Marque Gilmore – Sharrif Simmons – Stephanie McKay – Andy Milne – Kokayi – Sonny Troupé – Reggie Washington – Alicia Hall Moran – DJ Grazzhoppa – Adam Falcon – Jeremy Pelt – Grégory Privat – Marcus Strickland – Christie Dashiell – E. J. Strickland – Oliver Lake – Jacques Schwarz-Bart – Gene Lake – Federico Gonzalez Peña – Tutu Puoane – Yul – Marvin Sewell – Jean-Paul Bourelly – Terence “Sub Z” Nicholson
The live concerts highlight the diversity of generations and musicalbackgrounds of the artists. What is striking is the ease, authenticity, and inspiration with which they travel through all musical horizons: jazz, soul, funk, jazz-fusion of the 70’s, African music, rock, blues andgospel… All them are mixed and magnified, at times with crazyintensity, at other times with subtle nuances. The music is high-flying, the solos impeccable. In this assembly of renowned artists, it is clear that egos have been put aside and eachsingular talent is at the humble and exclusive service of the music. It’s a show full of surprises, with an energy that sets audiences on fire!
on tour in Europe booking open for Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic and on demand
Tourdaten 2023 -2024
8 to 22 November 2023:
09 Nov. Domicil – Dortmund, Germany
10 Nov. – Flagey – Brussels – Belgium
14 Nov. – eMa – Geneve – Switzerland
15 Nov. – Jazz Station Brussels – Belgium
17 Nov.- Théâtre de Fonblance – Vitrolles – France
18 Nov. – Le Jam – Montpellier – France
19 Nov. Café de la Danse – Paris – France
9.Nov. 24 – Theaterstübchen, DE – OPT
“Taken in as a continuously unfolding experience – the best to hear it – Black Lives suceeds in giving voice to many of divergent origins, each sharing a universal vision of hope and harmony”
– Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes (US)
“Cutting across age, borders and sub-genres this gathering […] is ambitious, to say the least. The wealth of talent assembled on this [record] is something of a contemporary international pantheon of all kinds of improvisers. The clarity of the sound more than fits the urgency of the message.”
– Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise (UK)
“This music speaks loudly; it brings us back to Gil Scott Heron, Archie Shep, The Last Poets, writers such as James Baldwin and so many more. Producer Stephany Calembert has given these Black artists a vital plattform..”
– Glide Magazine (US)