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SFCM Honors Black History Month

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March 8, 2017 by Shase Hernandez

Last month, current SFCM students were joined by faculty and alumni to present Strange Fruit, an evening of music, poetry, and original works celebrating the Black experience. In its second year, the mission of this performance on February 18 was to promote multicultural, experiential arts, and the positive image of ethnic diversity at SFCM.

The concert featured music ranging from classics like “Harlem on My Mind” to a world premiere. On organizing the concert, Tamara Richards ’17 said, “We wanted to put a program together that highlighted black contributions to music and music that told our stories. Strange Fruit provided both.” Richards performed the premiere of “Brown Baby” by TAC student Anisha King ’20 in addition to other pieces.

Kristopher Grant ’20 applied what he has learned from his courses as a TAC student to augment a work. He said, “I thought it would be cool to add some visual elements to an already outstanding musical piece, so I designed a video-mixing device in Max for Live (a creative coding environment) to accompany Dumarkus Davis' [’20] arrangement of Strange Fruit. What I created the device to do was to take some edited videos and flash them on screen based on the loudness of the piano, which was mic'd into the device via Ableton Live. This was to represent the voice of the oppressed, in that the louder the voice of the oppressed is, the more clearly the picture is seen. The videos I edited together were a few time-lapse videos of rotting fruit, poplar trees, and willow trees (among other relevant imagery), and were mixed live along with the piano's input using Ableton Push.”

On being a part of Strange Fruit, singer Marcus Jamal Paige ’18 said, “The concert was a great experience for me as a performer because it allowed my colleagues and me a chance to share our experiences while simultaneously utilizing the healing power of music. It was comforting to know that I am not alone in my experience and that my people's history is beautiful, multi-faceted, and worth telling. I was so grateful to SFCM and the community as a whole for coming out to support us.”