Greetings, Philadelphia! I am thrilled to welcome you to Black Light. What is Black Light, you ask? I think you should just come and find out. There will be songs. There will be stories. And, there will be, I hope most of all, an experience we can have together. This is a challenging passage in our country; we face many difficult truths and tectonic change is afoot. What is unsaid is hardly silent. I am a believer in the power of sitting together, and listening, deeply. That is what we will do.
With Black Light, I have been moved to consider the work of sitting in the contradictions of our time. How can we hold our most productive dreams while also looking with clear eyes at the status quo? I will sing songs that I’ve written over the past few years with my beloved collaborator, Bobby Halvorson, and one written with the dynamic Dylan Meek. Like me, they stretch the stylistic gamut. Bobby and I were thrilled to be at the Kimmel Center a couple years back to work on some of the songs you will hear as part of this project, commissioned by Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre as part of their New York Voices series. We come to you after sharing this work with folks in New York City and the Twin Cities.
I work in collaboration. I seek out artists whose passion for communication, transformation, justice, and healing fuels their making. I am joined by the titanically talented Samora Pinderhughes, who serves as our musical director. My other beloved collaborators include Bobby, Helga Davis, Trevor Bachman, Benjamin James Kelly, Josh Quat, and Mr. Sean Dixon! Oh, and you! Yes. You are my collaborators, too. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt a bit. (Have you heard that one before?)
Your city is a bloodroot of our music. From Labelle, to Gamble and Huff and Philly International, soul music could not exist without this place. And, too, many of the most crucial conversations about the relationship between us all as citizens have happened here. We are honored to listen deeply, across time, to the lessons of the heart and the invitations to one another, that pulse through the core of this magical city.
DANIEL ALEXANDER JONES on JOMAMA JONES
Jomama Jones arrived whole. I did not create her, as I had myriad characters in my work up to that point. She appeared as though she slipped in from some alternate dimension, a radiant future ghost. My body was the vessel. I always say she moved my bones around to suit her style. She still does.
With Jomama came her history, her memories, her dreams, and her aspirations. They are separate from me, yet I can access them, like tuning into a radio station with a clear, strong signal. As I have grown as an artist, from my twenties in the 1990s, to now, so, too, has she grown, and changed, and revealed more layers. We share the fact that our mission as artist-citizens is more urgent. I hold the anxiety and uncertainty. She speaks from a place of authority. She’s seen the future.
Jomama Jones was a young singing star in the early 1980s. A contemporary of Angela Bofill, Teena Marie, Evelyn “Champagne” King, The Jones Girls, Sister Sledge, Patrice Rushen and Melba Moore, she appeared on Soul Train and numerous magazine covers like Jet and Right On! She left the USA in the late 1980s in protest to the Reagan administration’s machinations, or so the story goes. She faded from memory, until, just before the election of Barack Obama, she began making trips back to the States and planned her comeback. In 2010, Jomama Jones began her triumphant return which culminated with the critically acclaimed music theatre piece, Radiate, at Soho Rep. Since that time, she has recorded four albums, the most recent, released this year, is called Flowering. Most importantly, Jomama has deepened her relationship to a series of questions that fuel the work you will experience this evening!
She is my alter-ego. But really, she is my altar-ego.