Ain’t I a Woman
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A plethora of media sources (including PBS, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post) are predicting 2018 to be the year of the woman in terms of midterm election results. Additionally, women are speaking up about being mistreated by men of a wide range of social rankings, increasing their fight for equal pay for equal work, and revving up advocacies for female health. The time is ripe for continuing the dialogue in support of women.
Titled after the famous impromptu 1851 speech from abolitionist and woman’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, the “Ain’t I a Woman” project is an exploration of Black feminism through music, visual art, spoken word and history. True to Castle of our Skins’s mission, the “Ain’t I a Woman” project will promote the works of Black composers from across the diaspora. The program will showcase the chamber music of Black female composers – focusing largely on the rich world of art songs – and will include music by famed composers such as Margaret Bonds as well as a world premiere commission by NYC based composer Jessica Mays.
In addition to the music, the program will celebrate Black artistry from other disciplines highlighting local creatives of color. It will include original poetry by local Black female spoken word artists, readings from such noted Black feminists as Angela Davis and Bell Hooks, as well as historical contextualization of the Black feminism movement in a brief pre-concert lecture. To further infuse history into the concert hall, the program will include our signature “edu-station” platform: an interactive display of articles, literary works, and artistic responses related to Black Feminism.
Always inspired by collaborations, Castle of our Skins will hold an open call to local visual and literary artists beginning in March 2018 to submit works relating to the program theme. To help engage specifically with youth, Castle of our Skins will also hold a series of workshops -also to begin in March 2018 – encouraging middle schoolers to create a visual or poetic response to the theme of Black feminism. Both the works submitted from the open call and those created by youth in the workshops will be proudly displayed in our “edu-station.”
To showcase local, Black female entrepreneurs, Castle of our Skins will invite vendors – including craftswomen, fashion designers, writers and artisans – to sell their crafts at the event. In an effort to maximize agency, this opportunity will be at no cost to the vendor and dually help provide a sense of community engagement from across many disciplines in and beyond music.
Finally, in addition to the above components, Castle of our Skins will use its social media tools and online blog platform known as BIBA (Beauty in Black Artistry) to actively share information, art, writings, etc related to the Black Feminist movement. It is through this effort that we wish to share information with a wide reaching audience, deepening their insight into Black feminist ideals, artists and art.
“Colors” was composed by Jessica Mays and received its premiere at the Cluster Music Festival, 2013, POP + NOISE. The pianist and vocalist on this recording is composer Jessica Mays. Light-hearted and agile, this work is one example of Mays’s stylistic voice.
This work showcases a very different stylistic treatment for how Jessica Mays sets text for voice and piano. The text, taken from a poem by W.B. Yeats, is below:
Hands, do what you’re bid:
Bring the balloon of the mind
That bellies and drags in the wind
Into its narrow shed.
The performers on this recording are Danielle Reutter-Harrah (soprano) and Jessica Mays (piano).
“a veil of liquid diamonds” was performed on September 24, 2016 as part of Castle of our Skins’s first ever portrait concert featuring the music of Jeffrey Mumford. The program, which received funding from New Music USA, is one example of how we bring the artistry of Black composers center stage. As our mission centers around giving musical voice to Black culture, history and heritage, we take great pride in creating opportunities – such as the concert on which this piece was performed and the “Ain’t I a Woman” program – to new audiences.
Start and End Dates
03/01/2018 — 05/26/2018