Songs in Flight


Date and Time

Thursday, January 12, 2023

7 pm


The Met Fifth Avenue

The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

View Tickets


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. 

Click here for program

Tickets start at $35 ($30 + $5 service fee)

MetLiveArts tickets include Museum admission on the day of the event. For more information, call 212-570-3949 or email

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.

Image (left to right): Karen Slack, Reginald Mobley, Will Liverman, Howard Watkins, Rhiannon Giddens

During this period of high virus transmission,  masks are strongly recommended.

Children 6 and under are not permitted to attend MetLiveArts performances, regardless of their vaccination status.

The Met may require additional safety measures for these performances and will communicate such measures to confirmed guests in advance.

Read visitor guidelines


Related Content