Solange, Questlove, Kimbra, TVotR, Sheila E & more part of Prince/Bowie symposium at Yale
Solange, Questlove, Kimbra, Sheila E, filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and more are appearing this week at Yale University’s Schwarzman Center as part of a four-day symposium called “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince.” Here’s the synopsis:
Celebrating the work of David Bowie and Prince, Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign will explore the careers of two singular musicians who changed the face of popular music culture in the second half of the twentieth century. Bringing together scholars, musicians, filmmakers, artists, journalists, and students for discussion, critical listening, and musical performance, this event will examine the pathbreaking innovations of these two remarkable musicians, and explore the legacies of two artists who recognized the ways that popular music can create liberating spaces where audacious cultural and social changes and transformations might flourish. Lectures and roundtable discussions will examine how Bowie and Prince each championed aesthetic, social, and cultural freedom and rule-breaking in their respective repertoires and ultimately revolutionized racial, gender, and sexual identity politics in popular music culture. The event will culminate in a concert featuring the band TV On The Radio.
Topics across the four days include: Take Me With U” — David Bowie, Prince & the Utopian Pop Universe; “Life On Mars?” – Spirituality & (Im)mortal Imaginaries in Bowie & Prince; and “Rebirth of the Flesh” – David Bowie & Prince’s (Dis)identifications—On Race, Gender, & Sexuality; and things culminate with a TV on the Radio concert on Saturday (1/28). Read more about “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince” here.
The event, however, has inspired a little controversy, at least with one New Haven, CT resident, Troy Moore, who thinks Yale events should be better promoted to non-student/staff residents. From the New Haven Register:
“Any person who doesn’t live within the clear walls that surrounds Yale’s buildings knows that if you walk 2 minutes in any direction you will be in a hood somewhere where the majority of people living there are, in fact, BLACK,” Moore wrote.
“If you ask those in the community if they are made aware or able to gain access to some of these events many of them, like myself, will say no. This is because these events are not promoted or made easily accessible to those who aren’t in some way connected to Yale’s community. … There is seemingly no effort to intentionally make our black communities aware or give access to those who may never have another opportunity to share a similar experience.”
Moore said he called and emailed Yale and was told he could be put on a waiting list and that they sympathized with his inability to get tickets.
Moore, who attended Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School and Southern Connecticut State University, told the Register that African Americans “make up a large population of the communities here so it directly impacts us, and I don’t think Yale is sensitive to that.”
In somewhat related news, Solange‘s 2016 album A Seat at the Table is the inspiration behind a proposed course syllabus titled “The Truths of Young Women of Color.” As Pitchfork points out, the syllabus was created by professors and students at Wake Forest University and are seeking contributions from other young women of color. Themes laid out already include Resisting Racism, Understanding Gender and Sexuality, the Role of Relationships, Nurturing Ourselves, and A Seat at the Lunch Table. From the website:
Solange Knowles’s ‘A Seat at the Table’ has been one of the most reflective and popular albums produced by a young black woman that speaks to issues of race, womanhood, and equality. At the beginning this new year, and as we witness the inauguration of a new president we invite young women of color, ages 16-30, to have a seat at the table by helping us collect the texts, music, and visual art that speak to our experiences. If we are to have a democracy in which all of us have a seat at the table, we know that these experiences should be central to the development of America’s practices and policies.
As we listened to ‘A Seat at the Table’ and to Solange’s dissection of the album and her process, we were listening to a young woman uncovering her truths through introspection. The album is full of questions Solange feels the world asks her, but also questions that she has had to ask herself.
Candice Bowie, who worked on a syllabus based on Beyoncé’s Lemonade, is contributing to this as well.