Harlem Stage Presents a Listening Session for Meshell Ndegeocello’s “Can I Get a Witness?”, Featuring Toshi Reagon, December 3rd
Harlem Stage Gatehouse (150 Convent Avenue, Manhattan)
Can I Get a Witness? (The Gospel of James Baldwin) Listening Session
Thursday, December 3 at 7:30pm
On December 3, Harlem Stage will present an intimate discussion with Meshell Ndegeocello and collaborator Toshi Reagon that provides a first look at the creative process and development of Ndegeocello’s new work Can I Get Witness?, a Pan-African Church Service inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. As part of the Listening Session, Ndegeocello and Reagon will share new compositions from the work. The discussion will be moderated by Rich Blint, Ph.D., and is presented with support from Barnard College and in collaboration with Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education. The listening session will begin at 7:30pm, and tickets can be purchased at harlemstage.org.
A bass player above all else, Ndegeocello brings her warm, fat, and melodic groove to everything she does. She’s appeared alongside the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alanis Morissette, James Blood Ulmer, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tony Allen, John Medeski, Billy Preston and Chaka Khan. As for her own bass-playing influences, she credits Sting, Jaco Pastorius, Family Man Barrett and Stevie Wonder. Meshell was the first woman to be featured on the cover of Bass Player magazine and remains one of few women who write the music, sing the songs, and lead the band.
An array of influences has informed all of Meshell’s albums, and there are traces of her native go-go, hip hop, R&B, new wave and punk in each. Each album has been a step away from the last, each used as a chance to investigate and integrate new sounds and ideas, and fans have been treated to everything from the deep-funk of Plantation Lullabies, to the raw and confessional Bitter, to the melodic, lyrical Weather. Possessed with instrumental gifts as diverse as her interests, Meshell composed, arranged and produced a jazz record in 2005. She has also paid homage to Nina Simone, a kindred musical spirit and one of her most cherished inspirations. Meshell’s most recent and eleventh release Comet Come To Me signaled her return to the same well of creativity that launched her career.
Reagon is a talented, versatile singer, composer, musician, curator and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana–from folk to funk, from blues to rock. While her expansive career has landed her comfortably in residence at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House & Madison Square Garden, you can just as easily find Reagon turning out a music festival, intimate venue or local club. Reagon knows the power of song to focus, unite and mobilize people. Reagon is a 2015 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow. She has been awarded The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a National Women’s History Month Honoree, and is the 2010 recipient of OutMusic’s Heritage Award. Her many collaborators include Nona Hendryx, Lizz Wright, Carl Hancock Rux and Allison Miller. Reagon’s recent projects include, Celebrate The Great Women of Blues and Jazz, a sixteen-piece all-women’s ensemble of some of New York’s best instrumentalists and vocalists.
About Harlem Stage (Commissioner, Producer, Presenter)
Harlem Stage is the performing arts center that bridges Harlem’s cultural legacy to contemporary artists of color and dares to provide the artistic freedom that gives birth to new ideas.For over 30 years Harlem Stage has been one of the nation’s leading arts organizations, achieving this distinction by commissioning, incubating and presenting innovative works by visionary artists of color, and by facilitating a productive engagement with the communities it serves through the performing arts. With a long-standing tradition of supporting artists and organizations around the corner and across the globe, Harlem Stage boasts such legendary artists as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri, Maya Angelou and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Bill T. Jones, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, Nona Hendryx, and more. Its education programs each year provide over 4,000 New York City children with introduction and access to the rich diversity, excitement and inspiration of the performing arts. In 2006, Harlem Stage opened the landmarked, award-winning Harlem Stage Gatehouse. This once abandoned space, originally a pivotal source for distributing fresh water to New York City, is now a vital source of creativity, ideas and culture. Harlem Stage is a winner of the William Dawson Award for Programming Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming (Association of Performing Arts Presenters).