Category Archives: Performance

Dear Janelle Monáe,

Thank you for being you.

Love,
Kathryn & Miriam

I really just want to encourage and inspire people to use their freedom in a positive way and in a way that is inspiring to other people. – Janelle Monáe

On her MySpace page for Cindi Mayweather, her android alter-ego, Janelle Monáe explains why artistic freedom is necessary. She writes:

This is a clear indication of why I strive to be free as I can when I perform.

Why I do my own hair and pick out my own clothes.

Why I express myself the way I do.

Why I strive not to play it safe, especially with my music.

Why I strive to not play by “the rules” or your rules for that matter.

Why when you’re trying to change lives and have influence, having commercial success is not really that important.

Why I exercise my rights.

Why I am not upset that you don’t like the way I dress or my hair or the way I dance.:-)

Why I really don’t care about you not believing in Janelle Monáe.

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A Taste of Freedom, A Taste of Love–This poem is yours!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our potluck poem. We are so grateful and so full. Everyone’s words on freedom were inspiring and made us proud to be a part of Live Unchained.

We are also happy that some of you were motivated to share more than the 1 to 2 lines we suggested. Unfortunately, we couldn’t include every word from you free spirits that could not contain your thoughts. Some edits were made here and there to the longer contributions to unify and tighten the piece.

We also want to shout out Farai Chideya and Pete Chatmon for their lines. Their words, like all of yours, were encouraging and meaningful. If there are any talented people that you admire, it is worth it to reach out to them–they just might respond and be happy to do so.

The incredible poet and model, Tiffany Okafor, read the poem for us. See her performance below. You can also download the full poem here: Live Unchained Poem 3-9-10

Don’t forget about our poetry contest. Contact us for more details.

“A Taste of Freedom, A Taste of Love.”

I will speak.

I will listen.

I will move as if it was written.

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She was Saartjie: Jessica Solomon Shares The Saartjie Project

Sara Baartman became popularly known as the “Hottentot Venus” throughout Europe in the 19th century.

Many black women have been exposing her story, drawing connections between her experiences and their own, as well as identifying her by a different name–Saartjie.

Jessica Solomon, along with other founding artists, formed The Saartjie Project, a Washington D.C. based performance collective to honor Saartjie’s experience.

In this interview, Jessica explains Saartjie’s history, why she started the collective, the attention it has received and why Saartjie’s story is so significant and relevant to black women today.

What is the Saartjie Project?

Wow. I always get a little stuck when asked this question because there are so many layers!

We are a tribe of creative women willing to stretch our own boundaries and those imposed on us.

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Lessons From a Madwoman: M. Nahadr Discusses Art, Self and Madwoman: A Contemporary Opera

Live Unchained is grateful for the opportunity to speak with artist M, also known as Mem Nahadr and Madwoman.

Possessing a six octave range, her voice is as powerful as her spirit–both are demonstrated here, in her performance of “Stay.” I heard this song and felt like it was holding me in its arms…

M has various passions and pursues them as a composer, performance artist, musician, actress, dancer, author, producer, audio engineer, filmmaker, graphic artist and philosopher. “What ‘drew’ me to all of these things,” M says, “was simply the continuous desire to expand and explore art form…and inevitably needing to express my feelings. It is only natural to gravitate to or resonate with that which you are. I am an artist. I express.”

The song “Stay” is included in Madwoman: A Contemporary Opera, which M wrote and performs in. The opera addresses many issues including difference, authority and the search for self in a world that encourages conformity and the supposed security it affords. The audience is encouraged to reflect on their personal and collective identities as the production calls for active audience participation. This unique performance with elaborate visual and audio works is achieved with innovative and experimental technology. “Supported by a Master team of Artists and Technicians, this presentation includes state of the art customized surround sound created by James P. Nichols, Broadway, Jazz and Grammy Award Winning Producer/Engineer with Dolby Laboratories; as well as Creative – Stage Direction by Claude E. Sloan, Jr., of the LOEB Drama Center Experimental Theater at Harvard, and the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theater.”

Here M discusses Madwoman, race, albinism and her interest in Live Unchained.
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