“In the music is your history.”

Ephraim Asili and Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn

October 5, 2023, 12pm

To mark the beginning of Song for My Mother, Ephraim Asili is joined by music historian Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn. Together, they will activate the gallery with a 7-hour all-vinyl deep listening session centered around jazz music, Black independence, Black collectivity, and a quote from Amiri Baraka’s 2012 lecture at Naropa University:

My English professor, Sterling Brown, was a great poet. I didn’t know it when I came there. He was just my English professor. But he’s the one who pulled my coat. Perhaps the greatest understanding of this country, when he took us to his house because me and another guy Avery Spellman thought we were so hip and we hadn’t heard Charlie Parker. He says, “Come to my house.” He shows us a wall full of records organized by time, genre, and person . He says “That’s your history. That is the music. That’s your history. You want to hear how these people were living? Study the music.” That is, in the music is your history. In the music is the history of the United States. If you listen to the music, you will hear the history of the United States, even the slave histories.

Audience members are encouraged to spend quiet time listening to the set, reading from the materials in the reference space, writing, drawing, doing yoga, or any other quiet activity that does not compete with the music.

After the session, at 7:00pm, all attendees are welcome to join a casual reception to celebrate the opening of Song for My Mother.

Access to the ground-level event space and is step-free and wheelchair accessible. If you have a specific access requirement, please contact contact@amant.org

Image: Amiri Baraka at the Five Spot in New York in 1963, the year he published Blues People: Negro Music in White America. (Photo Ben Martin/Getty Images)

Gabriel Jermaine Vanlandingham-Dunn is a music historian, writer, dj, and professional listener from West Baltimore, Maryland. His musical journey started early, collecting records with his stepfather, programming drum machines/ synthesizers in the mid-80s, and DJing by the age of 10.

He eventually advanced to creating his music out of samples and found sounds (some of which will finally be released on his label cow: Music in 2024). Jazz Right Now, The Wire, Dear Reader, and Men In This Town are just a few of the publications he’s written for over the last 10 years. When he’s not busy chasing down rare records or pursuing psychological literature, Gabriel is also the Creative Consultant at Astral Spirits Records.

Ephraim Asili is an African American multidisciplinary artist and educator whose practice centers the African diaspora as a cultural force. Often inspired by his quotidian wanderings, he creates art that situates itself as a series of meditations on the everyday. He received his B.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University and his M.F.A in Film & Interdisciplinary Art at Bard College. Ephraim’s art has been exhibited in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlinale, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His 2020 feature debut The Inheritance premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was later acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 2021 Ephraim was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. And in 2022 he was commissioned by Louis Vuitton to direct two projects, a short film, Strange Math, and the live stream broadcast of their 2023 Men’s Spring/Summer fashion show. In 2023 he was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard University. Ephraim currently serves as the Director of the Film & Electronic Arts at Bard College, where he is also an Associate Professor.