As Brooklyn joined in with the national protests against white supremacy and police brutality in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, BRIC opened its lobby to demonstrators as a sign of solidarity and support of Black Lives Matter.
BRIC has always had its doors open for those who oppose tyranny, persecution, and prejudice by providing artists with a safe haven to work, create, and showcase new living pieces of art that hold the mirror of America up to itself.
Nina Simone once said that it was "an artist's duty to reflect the times."
As we recognize Black Music Month this June, so many examples of artists responding to their surroundings come to mind. Whether it's Ms. Simone herself writing "Mississippi Goddamn" as a cathartic come down from the fury of reading about four little Black girls losing their lives in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama. It can be heard when Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Miles, and Billy Cox masterfully duplicated the automatic rounds of an assault rifle on their live iconic performance of "Machine Gun" in 1970.
Or on 1992's "By The Time I Get To Arizona" when Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Public Enemy had some harsh words for the Governor for refusing to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday. Fast forwarding to today, with the opening of the 20th Annual BET Awards on Sunday, June 28, 2020, Public Enemy performed their 1989 classic anthem "Fight The Power,” letting viewers know that after 31 years, the song’s message still hits a little too close to home.
Justifiable anger and righteous indignation are common ways artists and citizens alike react to premeditated, generational hatred and racism.
However, the greatest weapon against hatred is love. The only way to defeat fear is through joy.
Black musicians have always had profound ways of expressing love, joy, and finding serenity in all aspects of life from the grandiose to the mundane. BRIC House has been fortunate enough to play a small role in fostering such joy by being a platform for which said Black artists can display that joy for an audience, whether through its BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, BRIC TV's live music show, B-Side, or at the annual BRIC JazzFest.
Grammy-winner Esperanza Spalding graced the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival stage at Prospect Park when her Emily alter ego unleashed "Funk The Fear," a mantra of self-love and self-assurance in the face of outside forces embedding their judgment on you.
At BRIC JazzFest, vocalist José James was armed with only his voice and drummer Nate Smith. But when they launched into "Live Your Fantasy," a composition that makes you want to dance while urging you to live more spontaneously and remember that time is our only luxury, it was clear that only two artists were needed.
Trumpeter Theo Croker brought his signature brand of lucid, multi-cultural funk to an episode of B-Side. Songs like "Subconscious Flirtations and Titillations" illicit an exuberant response to all who listen. In the pouring rain at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, Musiq Soulchild professed his devotion to a physical manifestation of the purest human emotion of all;
"Love...for better or worse, I still will choose you first."
When Me'shell Ndgeocello entered the BRIC House Ballroom for BRIC JazzFest, she honored the finest moments of 1980's and 1990's R&B balladry. Her stripped down, Americana alteration of The Force MD's "Tender Love" put microscopic emphasis on a lyric which spoke of letting go of your ego to allow yourself to honor love as it enters your life.
When B-Side invited singer/saxophonist Braxton Cook to the studio, he unleashed a sophisticated sensuality that sublimely blurred the lines between tasteful and decadent. You can hear it in tracks like "All That I Want."
We've decided to pay homage to those artists who graciously blessed our stages with music that personified the ideal of joy being the greatest form of insurrection against ignorance and bigotry.
We are very, very excited about the 2020 Virtual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival season taking place from July 25-26. But until then, we’ve curated a spectacular playlist of songs that express the full kaleidoscope of joy, love, and legacy from singers and bands throughout the Diaspora who have performed at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, B-Side, and BRIC JazzFest.
Happy Black Music Month 365.