The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica presents the return of The Reverend Shawn Amos for A Night in Harlem on Friday, February 1 at 8:00pm. In celebration of African American History Month, blackbox curator, Amos, returns to the stage for an evening of songs and storytelling — presenting songs from his album, Harlem, for the first time in ten years. The American roots song cycle tells the story of 1920s black Americans’ migration from the south to Harlem. Amos’ album was inspired by the artists, songs and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance.
Shawn Amos writes, “No doubt, people, souls were being saved. It’s in the American rhythm and the rhyme. Jazz and blues is our music. It belongs to us. This music is ours. Jazz and blues is the tragedy and triumph of our shared history. It’s the continual battle of our current circumstance. Jazz and blues cuts the shortest path from our heart to our head and up to a higher power. These deep grooves hold our fears, hopes and darkest demons. In this trying 21st century, jazz and blues reminds us of our interdependence.”
Amos is followed in the blackbox @ the edye series by The Mudbug Brass Band (March 1), Jennifer Keith Quintet (April 5), and Gabrielito (May 3).
Jazz & Blues is made possible by a generous gift from Richard and Lisa Kendall.blackbox @ the edye at The Broad Stage is made possible in part by a generous gift from Ann Petersen.
About A Night in Harlem
By Shawn Amos
Back in 1997, I went to LACMA looking for Harlem.
Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance was a collection of art, writings and music from the Harlem Renaissance — that post-World War I period when black Americans migrated to Northern cities en masse. New York’s Harlem became a magnet for musicians, writers, artists, intellectuals, and entertainers. This collected output was dubbed “the New Negro Arts Movement.”
The exhibit changed my life. For the first time in my then 30 years, I was given an image of myself absent from every media outlet of the time. The New Negro Arts Movement made me proud of being a Black American. It gave me a roadmap home. In the songs of Cab Calloway, the writings of Langston Hughes, the riffs of Louis Armstrong, I began to define my own version of blackness apart for the pop culture of the my late 20th century.
The Rhapsodies in Black art exhibit led me down two simultaneous creative paths. One was the curation of companion box set produced for Rhino Records. Rhapsodies in Black: Music and Words from the Harlem Renaissance combined period recordings from Bessie Smith, James P. Johnson and other Harlem Renaissance-era jazz & blues musicians with newly recorded spoken word readings from late 20th century legends like August Wilson, Quincy Jones, Eartha Kitt and others. It was a labor of love and a journey of self-discovery. It was nominated for a Grammy Award and created friendships that last to this day.
At the same time, I was holed up in my West Hollywood home studio making an album of my own. Simply called, Harlem, it was an Americana song cycle about a fictitious couple from the American south making their own migration north. The album contained all of the contradictions, promise and betrayal wrapped up in the Black American experience. It also had a lot a of banjo. I really dig the banjo.
Both projects were destined for that artistic purgatory – the space between critical acclaim and commercial failure. So it goes with racial awakening…
Twenty-plus years after I walked into that Harlem flashback, here we are. The world is different and all too much the same. Much of this music is a distant star for this modern world. Still, it’s vital. It’s relevant. It holds all the same clues to a life filled with integrity, rebelliousness, generosity, hard truth, and eternal optimism.
About Shawn Amos
Prior to his creation of the Reverend persona in 2013, folks knew Shawn Amos as producer (Solomon Burke’s Live in Nashville, and Shout! Factory box set Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones), content creator for companies looking for ways to tell their stories on the internet, and Americana singer-songwriter who’d grown up in a dramatically dysfunctional L.A. home, a story the Rev serialized as Cookies & Milkin the Huffington Post.
The Rev also ran an 18-month stint as Artistic Director of Vibrato Jazz Grill in Los Angeles, owned by longtime friend Herb Alpert, co-founder of the legendary A & M record label. “It was a full-circle experience,” the Rev says of the Vibrato gig. As the son of entrepreneur and William Morris agent Wally “Famous” Amos, the Rev says, “I grew up on the A & M lot.” And back in his producer days, the Rev oversaw the reissue of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ catalog, and a remix of the classic Whipped Cream & Other Delightsalbum.He has recorded The Reverend Shawn Amos Tells It(2014) and his latest The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down (2018), which expands his mission. This evolution is partly the result of over touring to supporting his chart-topping The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You (2015).
About blackbox @ the edye at The Broad Stage | Curated and hosted by The Reverend Shawn Amos
New York’s Cotton Club and Village Vanguard, Chicago’s Kingston Mines, Kansas City’s Reno Club, Los Angeles’s Dunbar Hotel — these were more than just nightclubs. The Great American 20th century jazz and blues scene was a crucial gathering place where stories were shared and traditions handed down. In these sanctuaries, blacks, whites, rich and poor crossed lines to congregate and hold hands. In the early 1960s, curator Shawn Amos’ mother, Shirl-ee May, sang jazz and blues at Club Harlem — a storied Atlantic City night spot home to a generation of African American performers. Throughout the early-mid 20th century, jazz and blues clubs like Club Harlem were the epicenter of urban American nightlife. Shawn Amos writes, “No doubt, people, souls were being saved. It’s in the American rhythm and the rhyme. Jazz and blues is our music. It belongs to us. This music is ours. Jazz and blues is the tragedy and triumph of our shared history. It’s the continual battle of our current circumstance. Jazz and blues cuts the shortest path from our heart to our head and up to a higher power. These deep grooves hold our fears, hopes and darkest demons. In this trying 21st century, jazz and blues reminds us of our interdependence. We let this music open our hearts.”
Information, subscription packages and tickets priced $20 are available at thebroadstage.org or by calling 310.434.3200, or visiting at the box office at 1310 11thSt. Santa Monica CA 90401 beginning three hours prior to performance.
For Calendar Section
Where: The Edye at The Broad Stage, 1310 11thSt. Santa Monica CA 90401. Parking is free
When: Friday, February 1 at 8:00 PM
Tickets: Start at $30
Phone: Box Office at 310.434.3200
In Person: Box office at 1310 11thSt. Santa Monica CA 90401
beginning three hours prior to performance.