The Langston Hughes Project (LHP) returns to VCU for a residency February 20-21, 2017. LHP is a multimedia concert performance of Hughes’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite. Ask Your Mama is Hughes’s homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a twelve-part epic poem which Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop and progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha” and Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming — a masterwork left unperformed at his death. The performance will feature spoken-word and music by The Ron McCurdy Quartet. Recreating Hughes’ vision of the global struggle for freedom and equality in the early 1960’s has linked words and music to a kaleidoscopic of images. By way of videography, this concert performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of Ask Your Mama‘s people, places, and events, and to the works of the visual artists Langston Hughes admired or collaborated with most closely over the course of his career. Together the words, sounds, and images recreate a magical moment in America’s cultural history, which bridges the Harlem Renaissance, the post World War II Beat writers’ coffeehouse jazz poetry world, and the looming Black Arts performance explosion of the 1960s.
The residency is led by VCU Music Professor Rex Richardson.It is funded by an “Inclusion Infusion” grant from the VCU School of the Arts with support from the VCU Department of English.