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RESCHEDULED: GERALD CLAYTON’S PIEDMONT BLUES
June 23, 2022 @ 7:30 am - 9:00 pm$25 – $35
Harlem Stage is proud to present six-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist and composer Gerald Clayton and his multidisciplinary project, Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation. A live concert presentation directed by Christopher McElroen, Classical Theatre of Harlem co-founder and director of Sekou Sundiata’s Harlem Stage co-commissioned 51st (dream) State, Piedmont Blues explores the essence and impact of the Piedmont blues musical style, defined by ragtime rhythms, fingerpicking guitar, and understated vocals twinned with searing lyrics, made famous by artists including Blind Boy Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis, Elizabeth Cotten, and Etta Baker. This music served as a salve for the suffering that African Americans endured throughout the Southeast during Jim Crow.
Piedmont Blues features Clayton’s nine-piece jazz ensemble, The Assembly, featuring GRAMMY-nominated vocalist René Marie and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. Entwined throughout the live concert is an assemblage of projected film, new and archival photography, and folklore underscoring the verdant cultural landscape of the Piedmont region. The performance features footage of recently departed Piedmont blues elders with whom Clayton spent time as he created the project, including John Dee Holeman, Algia Mae Hinton, and Boo Hanks.
Performing as a bandleader for the first time at Harlem Stage, Clayton and his urgent artistic statement are not to be missed.
Duke Performances / Duke University is the lead commissioner of Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation; co-commissioners include the Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond, the Savannah Music Festival, and Strathmore. Critical support for Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation has been provided by the Music Maker Relief Foundation — a nonprofit based in Hillsborough, NC — founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting musicians, ensuring that their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Select photos in Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation by Tim Duffy, Music Maker Relief Foundation. Made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; a grant from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources; grants from New Music USA; and an award from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals ArtsForward Grant Program, made possible through support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, and the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for serving as research sites for Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation.