From Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” to the John Legend and Common collaboration “Glory,” music has provided the soundtrack to the civil rights movement. Not surprisingly, then, music plays a major role in “Soundtrack ’63,” a multimedia, multidisciplinary performance piece that illustrates the civil rights movement from 1963 to the present day.
“Soundtrack ’63” involves an intricate medley of musicians, singers, rappers and spoken-word artists. As they perform a mix of jazz, hip-hop, soul and poetry, historic footage and photographs appear on three video screens flanking the stage, illustrating moments from the movement.
The Contemporary Arts Center will host three performances of “Soundtrack ’63” throughout the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. Shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The New Orleans performances will spotlight stories from the city’s civil rights history. Performers include Abiodun Oyewole, of politically minded hip-hop ensemble the Last Poets, along with locals Troy Sawyer, Shaka Zulu, the McDonogh 35 Senior High School Gospel Choir and Sunni Patterson.
Professor and philosopher Cornel West and poet Sonia Sanchez are featured in pre-recorded commentaries.
“Soundtrack ’63” was created by New Orleans native Asante Amin and Chen Lo via their New York-based Soul Science Lab. They have staged three installments of “Soundtrack ’63” at various venues in New York, including the Brooklyn Museum. The New Orleans installation, the fourth overall, is presented in conjunction with the local Junebug Productions.
The goal is to “allow a modern audience to rethink, renew and remix their conceptions of the past.”
“The spirituals of the past brought faith and courage; pop tunes were an escape from harsh realities; and truth-tellers sang with a soulful defiance that electrified the civil rights movement,” Lo said in a news release. “The music of ’63 still resonates with piercing clarity. ‘Soundtrack ’63’ is my attempt at telling that story and connecting it to today.”
Advance tickets are $35 general admission or $25 for CAC members. Prices increase by $5 on the day of the show.
Additional information, and tickets, are available at the Contemporary Arts Center’s website, cacno.org.