Running Amok


Specifically, the Mid-Atlantic of America, I’d like to invite you to a play this week written by Khadijah “Moon” Ali-Coleman that I co-produced and for which I composed the music.  Here’s a link to the official web site:

The Liberated Muse

You’re probably wondering how I got involved with a play about art and livelihood via womanhood, pregnancy, and child rearing.  Wrote a song about it.  Like to hear it?  Hear it go.

I went to college at UMBC with Khadijah back in the day.  My third year of college I moved back down to the dorms from the apartments.  The apartments were nice and quieter but also more isolated.  So a few of the apartment-mates and I moved back to the dorms.  Khadijah was a few doors down the hall.  The floor had a good vibe.  Wackiness, but good people.

So I’ve known Moon since, what, 1991?  After 15 years or so we crossed paths again via Facebook.  I didn’t realize all the projects and arts she’s involved in.  Writing plays, painting, performing acoustic soul, poetry, MCing, editing books, blogging, writing newspaper articles and reviews, teaching kids, leading workshops, etc.  I also didn’t know that she’s a stalker.  Until she told me.  In a good way, though.

All of those gigs I had last year?  All the Liberated Muse live stuff and Potter’s House performances?  Those were through her.  She does that kind of thing.  Finds artists that she likes and provides performance opportunities and networking.

I realized something recently.  This isn’t flattery or anything.  This is just the way it is.

Khadijah is a genius.  The way she brings talent together and creates amazes me.  She’s got her hands in all kinds of projects and organizations and makes things happen.  It’s a wonder to behold.  It’s a shame that I’m so standoff-ish about performing and hustling the music these days.  If I had the energy and time to pursue half of the opportunities she presents you’d be seeing my name all over the place.

Google the Capitol Hip Hop Soul Fest, by the way.

The Pitch

Anyway, how’d I get involved with this play?  We had performed at — oh, what’s the name of that church.  Celebration?  Me, Khadijah and her s.o. went out to eat afterwards.  We were talking about music and art and trying to make a living from it and gain traction.  That kind of thing.  I had an epiphany about how artists need community.  I mean, how we’re all different, having different temperaments, metabolisms, skill sets and resources.  We need to lean on each other to make things happen, but so many of us are fiercely independent.  That conversation was on my mind for days afterward.

I contacted a few musicians whom I profoundly respect as artists and appreciate as human beings and said that I’d like to support them practically if the need or opportunity arises.  That’s an awkward thing, I guess.  I mean, if someone came up to me tomorrow and said, “Gary, I really like your music.  Do you have any projects in the works?  I’d like to offer you x dollars to help you complete it.”

I mean, if it were someone famous or a record label that would be one thing.  If it were a friend it might be kind of weird.  Like, what do they get out of it?  Do they expect money in return like any other financial investment?  Is he/she trying to get wit’ or otherwise manipulate me?  Or … what?

When I told a few people about what I had done or offered to do, I should say, they kind of questioned my motives.  Out of concern, though.  Like, “Soooooo … what do you get out of it?  What are you trying to accomplish?”

The word I’m thinking of is “patron”.  All in all, there are a few people to whom I could see myself being a patron.  Y’know.  Too bad I’m not rich.

Anyway, no one bit.  Later that week I was telling Khadijah about my epiphany and my wanting to be a patron to artists.  And purely coincidentally — I didn’t know a thing about this until the conversation — she had a play that had been accepted to be in the Capitol Fringe Fest, which happens to be this week.  That also requires an entrance fee and other pragmatics.  She was looking for some way to make it happen when I came along and said, in so many words, I’m trying to give money to artists I know, respect and admire for them to bring something to fruition but no one’s interested.

So for both of us, I think, our plans came together in an unexpected way and from an unexpected source.

The Process

She also asked if I’d be interested in composing the music for the play.  I said yes because I’m gullible.  🙂

No, really though.  It seemed like a great opportunity to make some music, meet some folk and also have my name out there.  I don’t want to be a star or famous, necessarily.  But the idea of being a force behind the scenes appeals to me.

So Khadijah would send me recordings from iPhone in the wee hours of the morning.  Just a melody with lyrics.  I’d work from them.  We came up with a good system.   She’d deliver scratch vocals (recorded at whatever tempo), I’d take those vocals and come up with the music, send them back to her and she relayed them to the actresses who used them to rehearse with and learn the songs.

A few weeks ago we recorded the ladies (with much help from Hook) and it all came together perfectly.

The cast is so talented that it just flowed.  I mean, wow.  They’re all beautiful, brilliant, cool and down to earth women.  They’ve done a hell of a job pulling this together.  It’s a pleasure to see.

I have to say that I’ve been extremely hands off.  I haven’t been involved in the rehearsals and what not or the logistics.  Maybe being the only guy … hm.  The chemistry of the group is great and I kind of didn’t want to interfere with the bonding.  A sisterhood is a powerful thing.

Not that it was a conscious choice on my part.  Life carries on.  I work, try to exercise, work on my own music, art classes.  Stuff.  But my favorite part of this whole deal was recording and getting to hang out with Khadijah, her family, and the cast throughout the day.

It was work.  The recording and mixing and stuff.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was bone weary.  But it was pure joy working with them all.  The artistry, energy and soul.

I have to thank them all for that.

So now you’re in the know.  Check out the site and the music.  Take a look around.  But mostly, please do come out to see the play.  It’s going to be right there on 7th St. in Chinatown.  Lots of other plays and Fringe Fest events nearby, too.  Plus restaurants and bustling night life in general.

It’s gonna be a party.

Buy/Sample the Music Here

(FYI, the music won’t be played by a live band during the performances.  Just so you know.  When you come see the play there won’t be a band performing.)

Venue & Showtimes

The Goethe-Institut- Gallery
812 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
(part of the Capital Fringe Fest)

Tuesday July 20 @ 6:15pm
Wednesday July 21 @ 8pm
Thursday July 22 @ 10pm
Saturday July 24 @ 8pm
Sunday July 25 @ 1:30pm

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