Artist, activist, and urban-planner Theaster Gates performed with The Black Monks of Mississippi, an ensemble of musicians who employ a variety of musical traditions, which range from spirituals, blues, gospel and Buddhist and Zen chants. The performance connected with the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church using as inspiration media coverage of the incident, as well as archival materials of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.
For ‘Tis So Sweet or I Need Sugar Lawd, Gates imagined a set of musical encounters that examine the relationship between human desire, public ecstasy and artistic practice. With musical support from the Black Monks of Mississippi, Gates shared new stories from the north, old stories from the east, and nearly audible fragments from the eternal. This body of work was recorded live and will be the basis for Gates’ most recent performative endeavor “Songs From the Storefront.”
Art Speaks: 50 Years Forward is sponsored by Alabama Power Company, Protective Life Corporation, the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office, Vulcan Materials Corporation, and the Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation.