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Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are […]

Sekou Sundiata – Voice and Passage

Today, I ponder death. I am thinking of life’s inevitable end because it is gray and I have just returned from Paris and feel the demise of my own vacation, acutely (and remember some vain and heroic graves in Pere Lachaise cemetary that now lie in ruins or are forgotten.) I am also thinking of death in relation to my lost compatriot, the poet Sekou Sundiata, whose life and work we celebrate and remember this week at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.

Sekou created in voice – invisible exhalations of sound and meaning. In our time, voice can be preserved in analog and digital technologies. But constitutionally it is wind – ubiquitous, forceful and completely mysterious. Voice (as wind) shapes and moves us, wounding and restoring, animating and destroying. As long as we breath (easily) we give voice to ourselves and to others. Our (or at least my) beloved and hated remembrances are linked to these invisible currents of the lungs, throat and lips. We are upheld by those moments when we are nourished and sustained by the voices of care; of friendship; of understanding; of compassion: and often crushed by those breaths that carry the forces of hatred, contempt and violence. Spirit. Voice. Are we not wind too – ubiquitously banal – blown and blowing; arriving as departure?

These dark and light gifts of voice: a newborn’s cry; words of love and endearment from someone we long for; news of the passing of someone we cherish. Passing – always – wind and voice – words that wound, heal, reverberate and echo. Sounds carried in the head and heart; in the caverns of the body. Voice – inescapable – whisper or harangue. Voice as phantasm – mystery and mist – more allied to expiration than to form.

Unlike others who in print lie forever prone on a page; Sundiata rises holographically even now in his voice (listen to him on the web- linked here); ghostly returning to stand before us, nearly as gorgeous and tall as he was in life; convening and communicating in his crooner’s baritone; lulling in his clear tones – smoothing over the very depths he so expertly navigated. Making it all seem so easy (His Coolness forever preserved). Listen in. He tells how he temporarily escaped the inevitable through transplantation, accident and re-creation. In the end, by aligning himself with voice – perhaps he mastered expiration; escaped the final silence by refusing to just be written down.

We return this week to his work (an expiration of voice together in song and conversation); perhaps, to dance our own undoing; to be with him in passing.

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Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project
Thursday, October 22, 2009 – Saturday, October 24, 2009
2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408 | 612.871.4444

Intermedia Arts is proud to host Singing the Legacy of Sekou Sundiata: The America Project Twin Cities, a series of community events including Art Treats lunches, citizenship dinners, a film screening and community sing, all designed to inspire and ignite our passionate ideals around citizenry, civic work, and active engagement in civic life. Together we will use art, music, conversation and laughter to discuss what it means to be an American today, and to dream about what it could mean in the future
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