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Jim Crow’s Tears

a jazz musical influenced by the history of minstrelsy and blackface in the united states

The Latest Update

“Unbind My Eyes” on soundcloud

Posted on July 26, 2016 by Kristopher Johnson

Just released my first single from “Jim Crow’s Tears” on SoundCloud. Be sure to check out this soundtrack with a powerful message. “Unbind My Eyes” features the incredible Antwaun Stanley on vocals.

More Updates ▼

CD Available August 20, 2016!

Posted on July 25, 2016 by Kristopher Johnson

I am very excited to announce that “Jim Crow’s Tears” is being released for sale on August 20, 2016! This week I’ll be releasing several videos and audio clips and posting them here for everyone to check out. First up is a trailer for the project. 

Thanks so much for following the journey of this album!

Recording complete!

Posted on June 5, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

Wow. It has been an intense process but we are finally done recording. We’ve had 7 incredible sessions with some of my dearest friends and last night my engineer/bassist, Darell Campbell, and made our edits and created a rough mix.

I am so thankful for the support from New Music USA to document this project. While the recording may be done, we still have work to do: mixing, mastering, art work, packaging, distribution, etc. that is beyond the means of the grant. Stayed tuned for more excerpts and also updates on the process of getting the album ready for public sale.

Thanks for tuning in!!

Session IV: Keys

Posted on May 17, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

Had the pleasure of recording the great Mike Jellick on keys! Here’s a taste of him showing off a bit on the number “Never Approve”.

Session III preview

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

Third session is complete! I met with Christina Manceor in Ann Arbor, MI and had a field day layering different percussion instruments. We’re talking marimba, tam-tam, gong, chimes, bells, slapstick, and a lot of ambient sounds. This clip will give you a small taste of the great work she did.

Next up is a session with my keyboardist Mike Jellick!

Thanks for tuning in…


Posted on May 11, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

Lauren Johnson (LBoogie), layering percussion on “The Final Straw”. 4 out of 26 people have been recorded… so excited about the progress. Next up is recording Christina on pitched percussion in Ann Arbor, MI tomorrow.

Rhythm Section Teaser

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

The best rhythm section in the world tearing up the closing number to Jim Crow’s Tears!

scheduled and ready to roll

Posted on May 8, 2014 by Kristopher Johnson

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for following this project. I’m so elated to have this work properly documented! Major thanks to everyone at New Music USA for making this possible. I am truly blessed and grateful.

Jim Crow’s Tears features 6 vocalists and 20 instrumentalists, so it is a quite involved process to plan and record this piece. Here’s a taste of the recording schedule madness and who’s involved. Each session is engineered with my good friend and partner in crime, Darell Campbell. Some video teasers will follow!





Monday March 17, 12am – 4am


Jon Dixon – Keys

Darell Campbell – Electric Bass

Nate Winn – Drums


Thursday May 8, 9pm – 12am


Lauren Johnson – percussion


Monday May 12, 4pm-7pm


Christina Manceor – marimba/percussion


Wednesday May 21, 4pm-7pm


Kris Johnson – Trumpet

Caleb Curtis – Alto Sax

Marcus Elliot – Tenor Sax

Vince Chandler – Trombone

Tony Lustig – Bari Sax


Sunday May 25, 5pm – 9pm


Leah Celibi – Violin

Leslie DeShazor – Viola

Cecilia Sharpe – Cello

Miles Brown – Double Bass

Shawn “Thunder” Wallace – Flute

Sigal Hemy – Clarinet

Andrew Bishop – Bass Clarinet


Saturday May 31 – Sunday June 1


Antwaun Stanley

Rusty Mehaw

Stacey Carter

Sarah Charles

Kenny Watson

Milton Suggs


“I composed ‘Jim Crow’s Tears’ to pay tribute to those who endured dark periods in our nation and fought to implement change. This is not only a ‘black’ issue but is central to the human experience. Other cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, and lifestyles have been marginalized and faced discrimination across the world. This piece is an expression of what it means to deliver one’s mind, body, and spirit from the chains (literal or figurative) of oppression. My desire is for ‘Jim Crow’s Tears’ to provoke reflection, dialogue, healing, and positive change.”

– Kris Johnson


About Jim Crow’s Tears

Jim Crow’s Tears allows you a glimpse into a tortured soul. From slavery with its dehumanization to Minstrel Shows and its degradation, this musical transports you back in time when finding one’s autonomy was an anomaly. It will make you cry. It will make you angry. It will make you laugh. Mostly, it will make you think.


This album takes all the negative stereotypes forced upon a people, blows them up and exposes their absurdity. It speaks to the mistreatment of a people who helped to build a nation, only to be discarded socially and legally generation after generation.


Through one man’s tears you will be enlightened to the struggle. You will be hopeful for the future. You will be grateful for him and the progress made. You will be educated on work still to come, and how people are still contributing to the problem. Come along this journey with Kris Johnson and experience Jim Crow’s Tears.

Project Media

These Chains: excerpt from Jim Crow’s Tears
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Features: Kristopher Johnson

This is a video excerpt from Jim Crow’s Tears that demonstrates the conflict between Jim Crow and his fellow minstrel performers. This excerpt was selected because of the variety of musical styles represented and it features an important moment in the development of the story.

Start and End Dates



Detroit, Michigan

8 updates
Last update on July 26, 2016

Project Created By

Detroit, Michigan
Kris Johnson is an award-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and educator. He has appeared on an impressive list of albums including two Grammy-nominated releases: Tony Bennett’s “A Swingin’ Christmas” and Karen Clark Sheard’s “All In One”. Kris is a trumpeter and arranger with the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2013 he was featured in the standup-comedy film “Make…


One response to “Jim Crow’s Tears”

  1. kevin Trilogy:An opera company says:

    very appealing to the group between 20 and 40. will help inform this group…!!!

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