Gurrrl…WHERE YOU BEEN Meshell Ndegeocello?!?! Ever since the neo-soul singer/songwriter made a huge entrée onto the music scene in the early 90s with her debut album Plantation Lullabies, featuring hit single If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night), and her duet with John Cougar Mellencamp on cover track Wild Night, she’s pretty much been DL. Now she’s back in the spotlight, providing the theme song Nova for the Oprah Winfrey produced show Queen Sugar…and her latest Off-Broadway show Can I Get a Witness? The Gospel of James Baldwin– a new theatrical music and art work commissioned by Harlem Stage.
Structured as an African-American church service, and directed by Charlotte Brathwaite, the work features sermons and original musical compositions by Ndegeocello, Reagon and Hicks, original poetry by Chin and testimony by Thompson. The piece gives audiences the timely opportunity to engage in critical investigations on race and power in America today, guided by the work of James Baldwin.
Can I Get a Witness? The Gospel of James Baldwin is inspired by Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and the following Baldwin quote: “From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color, and indeed no religion is more important than the human being”. The Fire Next Time has been a guide and a lesson, on what happened to my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents and those before them. It has been a tool in understanding the condition and experience of people of color all over the globe. It has been an essential text in understanding myself. It is a testament to what is often unspoken, misunderstood and painful to hear, it has revealed truths that needed acknowledgment and illumination. I am trying to explore how we manufacture ideas, faith and belief systems. I am also interested in investigating how once one realizes the fallacies of constructs such as race, religion, ethics, politics and the media, how do these moments change us?”
Performances will take place December 7–10 at 7:30pm, and Dec 10 & 11 at 2pm. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at harlemstage.org; 212.281.9240 ext. 19/20. Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue at W. 135th St in Manhattan.