J’Nai Bridges as Kasturbai in LA Opera’s 2018 production of “Satyagraha.” (Photo: Cory Weaver / LA Opera)
Malesha Taylor wants to help instill confidence in her Cal State San Marcos students to pursue a career in music if that’s their dream.
“A lot of people think you can’t have a musical career, that it’s just a hobby,” said Taylor, who joined CSUSM’s music department as a lecturer in January. “I want students to feel like they can look into jobs and opportunities in the music field.”
When hip-hop and classical music combine, it never fails to turn heads, and for many reasons. I’ve seen jaws drop in the audience of the hip hop orchestra Dakah, or after a crowd leaves concerts by Black Violin, the touring hip hop violin duo. Rappers like Nas use symphonic tracks in their music, but despite all of these collaborations, Ordinary Magic may be paving the way for a new subgenre in theatre, the spoken-word opera. And, when I say “spoken-word,” I am talking slam-poetry style. Some of you may remember the television series Def Poetry Jam hosted by Mos Def and created by the iconic rapper Russell Simmons. It was part of what brought spoken-word poetry out of neighborhood cafes and into popular culture.
Editor’s Note: This week’s contribution is by Malesha Taylor who furthers the discussion on how artists are leading the way in creating new narratives and models of creative practice. The original conversation was first presented at the Arts In A Changing America REMAP: Bay Area’s Future Conversations panel “Artists Changing the Course of the River.”
I am honored and thankful to be apart of this conversation: how we can remap and change the course of the river. Maps and rivers involve lines, sometimes to divide and sometimes to nourish and draw in. They also define flow, movement and the rhythm of communities. In my art practice, I am seeking opportunities to bring the arts to people directly without the barriers and invisible lines we find between audiences and performers. I am aligning my work with my values which are centered in social justice and bringing more power back to the people who make up our communities.
Continue reading here.
I am not known for throwing around “the race card.” But every now and then, it’s thrown on me, especially in the arts. And, when I took a position in building new audiences, but only for the black plays, things really hit home. After this experience, I would like to help devise the best practices in new audience development, and suggest beginning with genuine community engagement. But it took working this job I describe below, to get me here.