Shawn Okpebholo, composer
Kimille Howard, director
Gabriel Vega Weissman, associate director
Rhiannon Giddens, singer and multi-instrumentalist
Karen Slack, soprano
Reginald Mobley, countertenor
Will Liverman, baritone
Howard Watkins, piano
Conceived and commissioned by Sparks & Wiry Cries
In 2019, Cornell University started “Freedom on the Move,” a database of “runaway ads” from the United States’s early newspapers—names, dates, descriptions, rewards. These ads, placed by enslavers, preserve snapshots of more than 30,000 enslaved individuals who took their fates into their own hands, liberating themselves from a cruel, ugly cycle whose effects ripple to this day.
With “Freedom on the Move" as a starting point, composer Shawn Okpebholo and Duke University professor Dr. Tsitsi Ella Jaji bring these individual stories to life through song. Additional material, curated and performed by Grammy- and MacArthur Award-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens, poet and author Crystal Simone Smith, and Pulitzer-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, contextualizes and responds to the database’s primary source materials. This groundbreaking world premiere promises to question the notions of liberty and freedom that our country holds so dear.
Tickets start at $35 ($30 + $5 service fee)
This program is made possible by the Frank & Lydia Bergen Foundation, the Adrienne Arsht Fund for Resilience through Art, Douglas Dockery Thomas, and an Anonymous Foundation.
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