A powerfully gifted musician and a scholar of Black American music, Jake Blount speaks ardently about the African roots of the banjo and the subtle, yet profound ways African Americans have shaped and defined the amorphous categories of roots music and Americana. His 2020 album Spider Tales (named one of the year’s best albums by NPR and The New Yorker, earned a perfect 5-star review from The Guardian) highlighted the Black and Indigenous histories of popular American folk tunes, as well as revived songs unjustly forgotten in the whitewashing of the canon. Jake Blount’s new album, The New Faith, is a towering achievement of dystopian Afrofuturism and his first album for Smithsonian Folkways (coming September 23, 2022). The New Faith is spiritual music, filled with hope for salvation and righteous anger in equal measure. The album manifests our worst fears on the shores of an island in Maine, where Blount enacts an imagined religious ceremony performed by Black refugees after the collapse of global civilization due to catastrophic climate change. Jake Blount’s music is rooted in care and confrontation. On stage, each song he and his band play is chosen for a reason - because it highlights important elements about the stories we tell ourselves of our shared history and our endlessly complicated present moment. The more we learn about where we’ve been, the better equipped we are to face the future.
Julian Saporiti is a Vietnamese and Italian American songwriter and scholar. His multi-media work “No-No Boy” has transformed his Ivy League PhD research on Asian American history into concerts, albums and films which have reached a broad and diverse public audience. His latest album 1975 released through Smithsonian Folkways has been hailed by NPR as “an act of revisionist subversion” and American Songwriter called it “insanely listenable and gorgeous.” By using art to dive into highly divisive issues such as race, refugees and immigration, Saporiti aims to allow audience members to sit with complication as music and visuals open doorways to difficult histories. Saporiti holds degrees from Berklee College of Music, University of Wyoming and Brown University and has worked with cultural institutions such as Lincoln Center, the LA Philharmonic, the National Parks and Carnegie Hall.
"one of the most insurgent pieces of music you'll ever hear... re-examines americana with devastating effect..." - NPR
"Amazing storytelling in the finest folk tradition." - San Francisco Chronicle
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