Songs of Freedom explores three iconic voices of the 1960s—Joni Mitchell, Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone—and the complex ways in which they call out to each other. Developed for Jazz at Lincoln Center by GRAMMY-winning drummer Ulysses Owens Jr—the performance will include powerful vocal performances by Alicia Olatuja, Joanna Majoko, and Theo Bleckmann.
Joni Mitchell’s environmentally and emotionally resonant folk, Abbey Lincoln’s haunting political protests through jazz, and Nina Simone’s vocally dexterous and declarative stands against racism may seem strange bedfellows. But in their own way, each of these iconic, influential musicians demanded freedom—Mitchell to feel conflicted about love’s complexities, Lincoln to gain political ground through potent expression, and Simone to use success and influence to confront and challenge racial rancor. Developed for Jazz at Lincoln Center by producer, composer, and Grammy®-winning drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., Songs of Freedom explores three indelible voices of the 1960s and the complex ways in which they call out to each other. Mitchell’s “Borderline” laments ideological lines drawn in sands of everyday conversation, Lincoln’s “Wholly Earth” praises human collaboration as a way to “keep ghosts appearing through the sound,” and Simone’s rendition of “Everything Must Change” laments both fleeing time and the urgency of America’s Civil Rights Era. Backed by Owens and masterful jazz musicians, three vocalists will interchangeably deliver the program’s vast repertoire: Alicia Olatuja, a classical, gospel, and jazz singer hailed for “strong and luscious tone” by The New York Times and a collaborator with Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans, and Dr. Lonnie Smith; Theo Bleckmann, a Grammy®-nominated jazz singer and composer whom Village Voice called “the most startlingly original male vocalist since Bobby McFerrin”; and Joanna Majoko, a Canadian jazz singer by way of Germany and Zimbabwe who has performed with Vijay Iyer and Blue Note recording artist Otis Brown III. Through their music and activism, Mitchell, Lincoln, and Simone understood the exhilaration of freedom was only possible after facing crucibles of fear and doubt. Songs of Freedom celebrates the contemplation and compassion of their voices and hearts.
6:30PM / STEW 310
James Dekle, Artist-In-Residence & Choral Director of the Black Cultural Center and Purdue student, Alabi-Michael Akande, will discuss the evening’s program.