On Thursday, April 11, 2019, USC Visions and Voices in collaboration with the Institute for Diversity & Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) and the Popular Music Project will host “Alice Smith: The Sound of Freedom” at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.
Held in honor of the 80th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – often called “The Concert that Sparked the Civil Rights Movement” – and the generations of women who have and continue to fight for humanity, equity, and justice, the evening will feature an intimate conversation and performance exploring the legacy of music’s relationship to activism and social change.
“In this current political moment, where should we look to gain faith and a sense of rejuvenation? As usual, history provides perspective and the creativity of working artists provides hope and a way forward,” said USC professor Robeson Taj Frazier, who will host the special event. “Marian Anderson’s iconic performance brought people together in a spirit of resilience, resistance, and revolution, launching a movement that changed the world. And so, we are thrilled to mark that landmark moment with Alice Smith, a phenomenal performer with the same ability to bring people together and inspire us towards action.”
The free event will begin with an onstage conversation between Smith and Frazier before a moving multimedia performance by Smith, featuring video and images detailing the long chain of political and social activism, of which women have long been at the forefront – across cause and genre – from legends like Anderson to current-day artists like Smith.
Raised between Washington, D.C., and Augusta, Georgia, Smith grew up on a steady diet of gospel, pop, soul, and go-go. With commanding presence and a scale-defying voice, she blends styles to create a “rock-star update on girl-group pop and ‘70s soul” (InStyle). And she uses her platform to generate awareness around social issues, building on a legacy of Marian Anderson and others who have lent their voices to struggles to end systemic oppression and uplift the freedom of all people. Smith’s new record, Mystery, will be released this summer with fall tour dates to follow. Visit alicesmith.com to learn more.
USC Annenberg professor Robeson Taj Frazier is a cultural historian who explores the arts, political and expressive cultures of the people of an African Diaspora in the United States and elsewhere. His research examines histories and current-day dynamics of race and gender, cultural traffic and contact, urban culture and life, and popular culture. He is the author of “The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination” (Duke University Press, 2014), co-producer of the documentary film, The World Is Yours, was on the Scholarship Steering Committee for the audio-visual and traveling art platform Question Bridge: Black Males, and is on the editorial boards for the Journal of Race and Policy and Communication, Culture, & Critique.
“Alice Smith: The Sound of Freedom” will take place at 7 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium, located in the center of USC’s University Park campus at 3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, California 90089.
Admission is free, though reservations are required. For more information and to register, please visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.
The Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) explores the redemptive and transformational capacities of media, the arts, and culture, with specific attention to what they illuminate about identity, difference, and power. By highlighting and facilitating creative storytelling, self-expression, interaction, and critical though, IDEA forges community and generates new visions of a different world. Visit annenberg.usc.edu/research/idea to learn more.
About USC Visions & Voices
Visions and Voices, USC’s dynamic and unparalleled arts and humanities initiative, was established in 2006 to enrich the academic experience of USC students through a deep engagement in the arts and humanities. Tying into USC’s central mission of developing “human beings and society as a whole though the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit,” the initiative encourages USC students to expand their horizons and discover the transformative power of the arts and humanities in our lives. Highlighting the university’s commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, the initiative features a spectacular array of events conceived and organized by faculty and schools throughout the university. For more information, visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.