A Prophet’s Tale: A Portrait of the Lyricist
7NMS is the inter-disciplined collaboration of Everett & Marjani Saunders. We are developing a multi-year, iterative Anthology, Music, and Performance Project titled “A Prophet’s Tale: A Portrait of the Lyricist”, drawing attention to the Lyricist’s life journey. We’re using the iconic narratives of those who’ve been heralded throughout history, literature, and fantasy to describe a complex, personal, yet universal story of transcendence, ingenuity, and maturation.
Through a nuanced storytelling of the Lyricist’s journey, “A Prophet’s Tale” (APT) will center composer Everett Saunders’ experience and research. Everett is one of his names, yet as “Mental”, he is also an Emcee/Lyricist. Prophet will engage his narratives, references, and sonic impulses in multiple roles, writing the score, producing the music project as a composer, and telling/performing the story as an Emcee/Lyricist.
The music of APT will manifest two-fold: as a score for the performance and a music project called The Prophet Score. 7NMS requests $15,000 to support commissioning fees for composer Everett Saunders who will work with Juliette Jones and her string ensemble Rootstock Republic and Chris Williams, an experimental jazz trumpeter. Over the next year, the ensemble will meet 6-8 times at 7NMS’ home studio (in California), at supported residencies across the US, and in NYC for rehearsals/performances. New Music USA support will also go towards the production of 25-50 vinyl pressed records of The Prophet Score. This music project will be produced and distributed independently, adjacent to the performance work. It will be available for digital download and through Limited Edition 10” vinyl records.
The music project and score seek to create an emotional arc for our audiences/listeners, one that communicates the complex hills and valleys of Emcee-hood as an art form and lifestyle. Naturally, the Emcee’s journey has its share of learning curves, but what is perhaps most under noted is the Emcee’s indelible practice, patience, and lifetime commitment to the form.Everett’s sonic and narrative impulses are sparked by:
- the richness and provocation of 13th century poet/scholar Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, his metaphors, prose, and intimate friendship with Shams;
- the tonality and rhythmic complexity of Jazz Music, and the jazz musician’s relentless commitment to a unique “sound”;
- the poetic discipline and devotion of the Samurai warrior, to both his clan and his martial form
- in our last collaboration “Memoirs of a… Unicorn”, we found a metaphor for the Emcee’s power, underground yet gravely underrated and invisibilized.
7NMS Co-Visionary Marjani is serving the work as a choreographer and performer, carrying the lineage of “Memoirs of a… Unicorn’s” embodiment paired with a physical exploration of this unique story. Similar to using Marjani’s father as the protagonist and springboard of “Memoirs of a… Unicorn”, we are using Everett’s biographical narrative to map the evolutionary hallmarks of the Emcee/Lyricist’s Journey. Together Marjani and Everett are asking; What makes an Emcee or Lyricist? Is it their prose, their performance, or the way they’ve lived their lives?
This track includes a 1968 recording of Harry Belafonte hosting the Tonight Show. Hip Hop music’s practice of “sampling” helped impoverished communities reclaim a relationship to music creation, and over time has built important cultural bridges, that we believe lie at the root of Hip Hop music’s global presence. Everett pays homage to this practice in his work as a composer and writer. His sampling of Harry Belafonte layered with his own composition created a tension that spoke to our investigation of warriorship as a trait of the Lyricist.
We chose this sample to share our early expressions of Hip Hop’s architects as alchemists, and our manifestation of large immersive ideas. Sound: Grandmaster Flash and our dad reflect on how they learned as children. Everett manipulates Flash’s lesson on reconstructing the record player to overwhelm audience ears with its complexity, as Marjani embodies other signifiers of virtuosity. Everett deejayed Jay Z’s “Public Announcement” to house Marjani’s hard rock- an exclamation, labor, and shedding.
Start and End Dates
06/01/2020 — 05/31/2022
New York, New York