Part of: Afrofuturism
Sun Ra Arkestra
Marshall Allen, Director
with Special Guests
Event DurationThe concert will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
This concert is generously underwritten by Olivier and Desirée Berggruen.
Support for Afrofuturism is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Bank of America.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Support for the visual arts components of the Afrofuturism festival has been provided by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra was among the earliest pioneers of the synthesizer and the free-jazz revolution. He founded the Sun Ra Arkestra in Chicago in the mid-1950s, combining big-band swing, space-age jazz, singing, dancing, chanting, and Afro-pageantry. The Arkestra’s live shows feature up to 20 musicians.
Marshall Allen—the avant-garde alto saxophonist who is 97 years young and one of the Arkestra’s original members—has been leading and directing the Arkestra since 1995. In addition to alto saxophone, he also plays flute, oboe, and EVI (electronic valve instrument).
The Arkestra’s 2020 album Swirling is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.
Kelsey Lu is a classically trained cellist and polymuse from Charlotte, North Carolina. Their artistic practice flows comfortably at the intersection of visual art, performance, healing activism, and music. In addition to their solo work, they find collaboration to be fundamental in the expansion of their practice, which has brought them to collaborate with artists across several different disciplines, from musicians such as Yves Tumor, Moses Boyd, Sampha, Florence + the Machine, Skrillex, and Solange to Kahlil Joseph and Wu Tsang.
Camae Ayewa, a.k.a. Moor Mother, is a national and international touring musician, poet, visual artist, and workshop facilitator. She is a vocalist in three collaborative performance groups: Irreversible Entanglements, Moor Jewelry, and 700 Bliss. As Moor Mother, Ayewa released her debut album, Fetish Bones, to critical acclaim in 2016. It was hailed as one of the best albums of the year by The Wire, called “one of the most innovative and important records of 2016” by Jazz Right Now, and appeared on numerous end-of-year lists in Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Spin. She was named one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know” in 2016 as well as one of Bandcamp’s artists of the year.
Since then, Ayewa has released multiple albums, working with frequent collaborators Olof Melander, Mental Jewelry, and billy woods. Her latest work, Black Encyclopedia of the Air, was released last September. Ayewa is the co-founder of the multidisciplinary collective Black Quantum Futurism, co-founder and curator of Rockers! Philly, and has been an artist-in-residence at West Philadelphia Neighborhood Time Exchange and WORM! Rotterdam.
Ayewa is a Pew Fellow, and the recipient of The Kitchen Inaugural Emerging Artist and Leeway Transformation awards.