Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo
Media pioneer and Harlem legend, Vy Higginsen has created change on many platforms including being the first black female radio personality in the prime time New York City market and the first black woman to produce a drama on Broadway with August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Still that doesn’t mean that she welcomes all change, especially when it comes to the current state of radio and music. Higginsen notes that trends in consolidating radio stations and the emphasis on general audience formats, do not provide enough large-scale opportunities for communities of color to musically express themselves.
“I am aware that everything must change, but I believe the success or failure of people depends on communication,” she says. “So when we don’t have enough vehicles or tools that allow us to connect with each other to provide information and inspiration I have real concerns.” To address those matters, Higginsen’s latest production “Sing, Harlem, Sing!” at 54 Below, is a revue of Harlem’s musical history in an attempt to remind viewers of the rich legacy that must be sustained.
Another individual doing his part to keep the music alive is singer-songwriter and guitarist, King Aswad. Aswad brought his eclectic fusion of genres to Paris Blues for a tribute to influential poet and musician, Gil Scott-Heron. While there he reflected on the significance of Scott-Heron. “I remember as a child hearing the words ‘The revolution will not be televised’ and thinking to myself this is about real deal change that needs to happen.” Aswad takes inspiration from those memories to spread his own message of self-love through music. “When we love ourselves, we can love others. That’s the part of the world war that is happening that we can actually win,” he says. “Thus allowing us to eventually triumph over all this other nonsense the media continues to distract us with.”
If you follow the media concerning the city of Newark, New Jersey then you’re familiar with their high poverty and crime statistics, but you’re probably not aware of their art scene. This year Art Crawl Harlem headed across the pond to Newark for what co-founder, Jacqueline Orange hoped would be an enlightening experience.
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