Tamar-Kali’s Demon Fruit Blues
The Latest Update
WaterWorks Dinner featuring Tamar-kali
In November 2017, Tamar-kali was featured in a dynamic conversation around Demon Fruit Blues at Harlem Stage’s series WaterWorks at 10: Visionary Artists and Transformative Art. At the intimate dinner party, Tamar-kali was joined by Kyra Gaunt Ph.D., Elissa Blount Moorhead, Laina Dawes and Peg Schuler-Armstrong as they discussed the role of the ‘Blues Woman’ in contemporary music and how the legacy of African American culture and traditions inform Tamar-kali’s work. Tamar-kali proved to be a rich and timely addition to the growing tradition of WaterWorks dinners. The WaterWorks discussion series was designed to highlight the significance of Harlem Stage’s WaterWorks commissioning program—past, present, and future while creating space for dialogue, community, and transformational ideas. The night culminated with a powerful ritual – a ring shout – led by Tamar-kali that invited guests to participate in the religious ritual practiced by enslaved African person in the Caribbean and U.S. (pictured above). Participants moved in circle while stomping and shuffling their feet and clapping their hands ending the event on triumphant note.
For photos of the event, please check out our Flickr Album:
Tamar-kali’s Demon Fruit Blues Work-In-Progress Showing, February 2017
In February 2017, WaterWorks artist Tamar-kali presented her first Work-In-Progress Showing of Demon Fruit Blues. This event was presented as part of the AFROPUNK Takeover – Harlem, which was co-produced by Harlem Stage and AFROPUNK to commemorate Black History Month. The showing successfully built interest around Demon Fruit Blues, which will continue development throughout 2017 and 2018 and is slated to premiere at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse in Spring 2019. 123 people attended this powerful event which highlighted Black culture in the age of #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackLivesMatter.
For photos please check out the Flickr Album:
Tamar-kali’s Demon Fruit Blues is a multilayered, immersive music-based experience that examines and deconstructs the origin of misogyny and the ‘curse of womanhood’ as outlined in Genesis 3:16:
“To the woman he said:
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
The work speaks to how the perception of the female body in this context has reverberated throughout Western history as well as left an indelible sociopolitical mark on those who identify as women. Harlem Stage, the work’s producer, is committed to this project because it deconstructs the perception of women and female bodies through the Judeo-Christian lens. Tamar-kali weaves a complex narrative that juxtaposes the roles women play as demonized because of original sin and elevated as the mothers of humanity, e.g. the Virgin Mary.
Demon Fruit Blues represents the cultural and ideological concepts that drive Tamar-kali as an artist. The work is inspired by the subversive majesty of female African deities in the post-colonial diaspora, ‘goddess’ themed literature & art, feminist theory and the artist’s personal experience. Lyrically and compositionally, the work explores the concept of healing a culture that is influenced by unspoken narratives that psychically sever the ties between history and culture. The resulting compositions weave a sonic tapestry that connects the dots between modern day rock, gospel, the blues and original African rhythms as well as reframe the influence of classical music in a contemporary context.
Demon Fruit Blues will engage local communities through humanities activities, educational performances and think tanks to examine the work’s themes while in-residence at The Harlem Stage Gatehouse, and explore intersectional realities and intersectional identities through music, dance and visual imagery.
This work will utilize lighting design, video projections, movement, lyrics and sound. Collaboration with a team of artists including Director Liesl Tommy (in negotiation), a dramaturg (in conversation with potential partners), a choreographer, and visual artists (in conversation with potential partners) will support the creation of a fully-embodied, multidisciplinary performance piece.
Harlem Stage is the preeminent home for artists of color to create, develop and present new work. Harlem Stage has supported the early-mid development of the project by presenting a work-in-progress showing of the work in February 2017 and hosting the WaterWorks Dinner in November 2017. Tamar-kali is the recipient of and is currently participating in the Mabou Mines Resident Artist Program where she is continuing to experiment and further develop Demon Fruit Blues.
Cue point 0:10 – 3:16
Anba Dlo (Under The Water) is a performance choreographed by Adia T. Whitaker. This piece inspired Tamar-kali’s decision to choose Adia Whitaker as her collaborator. This work demonstrates her utilization of percussion as a compositional layer in her choreography that mirrors how Tamar-kali visualizes and develops music in her songwriting process. These commonalities in creative process and meaning are the inspiration behind bringing together two dynamic artists to create this innovative new work.
This work sample is from a live performance at the Museum of Modern Art. This arrangement is a classical take on the alternative rock original, which is included as Work Sample #2. This work sample highlights how Tamar-kali’s compositional style connects different types of music as she pulls from alternative rock and classical forms to create a sound that will be further explored in Demon Fruit Blues and is unique to the artist.
As a juxtaposition, the second work sample is a live performance of the original version of “Pearl”. Listening to the 2 versions in succession highlights the range of Tamar-kali’s work and provides further context of her unique compositional style how she pulls from both alternative rock and classical forms.
Start and End Dates
02/22/2017 — 06/30/2019
New York, New York