African Musical Arts | St. Louis Public Radio

African Musical Arts

John Jennings is a graphic desinger and the co-founder of the Black Speculative Arts Movement. He designed the cover for "Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro-Blackness."
John Jennings

Harris-Stowe State University professor Reynaldo Anderson has spent years nurturing and cultivating a black creative community around speculative art.

In early February, members of that community showcased their musical work and celebrated Black History Month at Harris-Stowe State University. It was the first night of the 2019 Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) in St. Louis.

“The term Black Speculative Arts Movement is kind of an umbrella term,” said Anderson, the co-founder of BSAM. “We’ll talk about philosophy, technology, even cosplay and performance.”

The local Songs of Africa ensemble is one of many groups performing in "A Tribute to African Composers."
African Musical Arts | Provided

A weekend concert in St. Louis pays homage to composers whose names are often left off lists that include Mozart, Bach and Britten.

“A Tribute to African Composers: Music Bringing People Together” features names like Adolphus Hailstork, Uzee Brown  and Tania Leon,  among a host of others with African roots.

Texas Room recording Session
Provided by Jarred Gastriech

Last year local musician Louis Wall decided to record and produce an album pairing St. Louis-born with immigrant musicians. At the time, he didn’t know it would expand to include roughly 50 people from 15 countries across five continents. Wall says the key to making an album with that many contributors is keeping it accessible to everyone.

“I mean, this is probably just pop music 101, but it’s having people relate to many broad things,” he said.

Fred Onovwerosuoke
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

As Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans 10 years ago, St. Louis composer Fred Onovwerosuoke hurried to the attic with cardboard boxes.

But it turned out, upstairs would be the worst place to store them. Shortly after he and his wife and two small sons drove away from their temporary New Orleans home, Katrina tore away the roof, exposing reams of musicals manuscripts to the pounding rain.

Fred "Fred-O" Onovwerosuoke

Last November, African Musical Arts was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant from the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) to fund a two-year pilot project, “The African Performing Arts Exchange.” In addition to producing concert performances and music engravings of works by African-descent composers, the exchange will offer a web-based platform to share these resources. The Exchange is the dream of African Musical Arts founder Fred “Fred-O” Onovwerosuoke. He and development director Wendy Hymes joined “Cityscape” host Steve Potter to discuss the Exchange and a concert to benefit the project.