Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending Over The Imaginary Border, a concert celebrating Black American expat musicians in Vancouver. I was psyched to attend due to the presence of Dutch Robinson, whom I really only knew due to his connection to Ohio Players (Fire, Skin Tight, Love Rollercoaster). These are the tunes my dad used to spin on vinyl and we'd dance to in the living room (never mind the appropriateness of these songs for my young ears - the jams were tight!) Turns out there were a number of talented elders leading the way for younger R&B/soul musicians on the stage. It was an inspiring performance.
More importantly for me as a newcomer to this town, the evening brought together Vancouver's black cultural community. The subtitle for the event was "the soundtrack and stories of Black Americans in search of the Canadian dream." Perhaps this is the music of my present - a soul searching journey in a new land. I am still trying to figure out what it means to be here - who the players are, what the histories are, and how I might interweave my efforts and story into this changing narrative.
The organizer talked briefly about a desire to have more First Nations artists performing at the event - noting the similarities in discrimination they and American blacks have faced. We are tackling this in a new work title Land Transfer, still under development. Stay tuned!