Motown to Def Jam kicks off African American Music Appreciation Month

Beata Drozd, Children of America, 2013. Inspired by: Stevie Wonder, “Jesus Children of America” from the album Innervisions, Motown Records, 1973.
Beata Drozd, Children of America, 2013. Inspired by: Stevie Wonder, “Jesus Children of America” from the album Innervisions, Motown Records, 1973.

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo

It’s the middle of June and African-American Music Appreciation month is just going into overdrive with this Saturday’s launch of the art exhibition, Motown to Def Jam. The project is an unprecedented collaboration between four Harlem art galleries featuring over 40 visual artists creating specially commissioned pieces inspired by songs from the Chess, Stax, Motown, Philadelphia International and Def Jam Records catalogs.

On June 15, ArtCrawl Harlem presents the kickoff — a four-hour trolley bus tour to each gallery led by expert guides including media veteran, Flo Anthony, pop culture expert Patrick Riley, historian John T. Reddick and arts renaissance man, Walter Rutledge. The day culminates with a dinner gala at Broadway Housing Community’s Rio Galleries featuring special performances by R&B songstress, Meli’sa Morgan, Annette Taylor, 2013 winner of The Howard Stern Subway Talent Contest, bass virtuoso Lawrence Wilson and teenage jazz sensation, Solomon Hicks paying tribute to the legendary labels through song. For tickets click here.

One of the highlights of the exhibition will be the opportunity to see the visual arts debut of Aanisah Hinds, daughter of Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray. For Hinds the project is her chance to let the world know that talent runs deep in the family beyond music. “I’ve been painting for five years now and I’m just at a point where I feel like people other than my art teachers should see my work,” says the 18-year-old emerging artist.  The exhibition runs until July 26 with a series of free youth tours, gallery talks and more. (Editorial disclosure: writer curates the exhibition).

While Hinds makes her visual arts debut her mother, Macy Gray will perform at the new NYC venue SubCulture. On June 19 and 20, the singer will collaborate with acclaimed jazz composer David Murray and his Infinity Quartet. Together, they will bring Stomping and Singin’ the Blues’, which bridges blues, pop, soul, and jazz, to their four performances. Previously, the duo has showcased original material as well as innovative jazz covers like Arcade Fire‘s “Maps” and Kanye West‘s “Love Lockdown.” For tickets click here.

One of the goals of African-American Music Appreciation Month is to honor the unsung and underrated talent that are deserving of increased exposure. Few of today’s singers are as deserving of that attention and praise as the self-proclaimed “underrated” singer-songwriter, Syleena Johnson.

To read the rest of the column click here.

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