Songs of Soulful Activism
by Lincoln Center and Ponderosa Stomp

August 11th–12th, 2012 Lincoln Center, New York

Lincoln Center and Ponderosa Stomp Present
Songs of Soulful Activism
as part of the "29th Annual Roots of American Music"

Songs of Soulful Activism

For the 4th year running, Lincoln Center and Ponderosa Stomp have partnered to present a two day program as part of the “Roots of American Music” that focuses on Soulful songwriters the first day and socially conscious musicians on the second day. Generations of artists have used Soul music to convey pleas for change, anger and hope. These two days of music and discussion aim to showcase the efforts of multiple generations of writers, singers and songwriters to carry messages to the wider culture.

Saturday, August 11

12:30 pm Stoned Soul Symposium
Bruno Walter Auditorium

Author Michele Kort leads a panel on the work of Laura Nyro. Professor Gayle Wald presents a talk on the landmark Soul at the Center festival that took place 40 years ago at Lincoln Center. Cultural critic Greg Tate moderates a panel on the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron, his collaboration with Brian Jackson, and more.

Sponsored by Toyota. Presented in association with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Damrosch Park Bandshell
Sponsored by Toyota

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls All-Stars Band: Sister Songwriters

The collective feminine spirit of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Nina Simone, and other great female musicians of color abides in the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls All-Stars Band, a multigenerational supergroup of students, grads, and teaching artists, under the musical direction of drummer LaFrae Sci. More info at Willie Mae Rock Camp’s site.

6:00 The Triple Goddess Twilight Revue - Celebrating The Music of Laura Nyro

Pack yourself a stoned soul picnic and relive the flash of a musical lightning bolt. Newly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the late Laura Nyro’s sophisticated and thoroughly New York brilliance inspired everyone from Elton John to Lady Gaga, mixing poetic lyrics with gospel, jazz, R&B, soul, and Brill Building pop in classic tracks like “Wedding Bell Blues,” “And When I Die,” and “Eli’s Comin’.” Her uncompromising career is celebrated here by Labelle members Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, who sang on Nyro’s 1971 album Gonna Take a Miracle; Desmond Child & Rouge, in a rare reunited appearance; the formidable Melissa Manchester; and cabaret singer Kate Ferber (One Child Born).

7:30 Soulful Songwriters Circle: Dan Penn, Teenie Hodges and William Bell

Songs and the stories behind them come to life with master songsmiths including Stax’s William Bell (“You Don’t Miss Your Water,” “Born Under a Bad Sign”), the Hi Rhythm Section’s Teenie Hodges (“Take Me to the River,” “Love and Happiness”), and Dan Penn (“Do Right Woman,” “I’m Your Puppet”).

8:45 Otis Clay and the Platinum Band

Clay’s early career in gospel (singing with the Sensational Nightingales) was followed in the 1960s with a series of hit soul singles (“Trying to Live My Life Without You”). He continues to record, produce and tour across the U.S. and internationally, while keeping up a long-time commitment to community initiatives in his Chicago West Side neighborhood.

Sunday, August 12

12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Hearst Plaza

Erin McKeown & Her Fine Parade
Taylor Mac
Tom Paxton
Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird
Pura Fé Trio

Sponsored by Toyota

6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Damrosch Park Bandshell
Sponsored by Toyota

6:00 pm Swamp Dogg

Boasting a voice critic Robert Christgau has likened to “an Afro-American air raid siren,” the irrepressible, under-recognized soul genius Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams has been recording socially conscious and often downright demented soul music since 1954.

7:00 pm Aloe Blacc

Gil Scott-Heron’s influence is apparent in one of his many hip-hop generation heirs Aloe Blacc, who tempers contemporary social commentary with smooth soulful singing in tracks like “I Need a Dollar” and “Life So Hard.”

8:15 pm Pardon Our Analysis: An All-Star Gathering for Gil Scott-Heron

On the closing night of Out of Doors, Pardon Our Analysis: An All-Star Gathering for Gil Scott-Heron performed by the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra & Guests under the artistic direction of poet LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, brings together an all-star group of poets, writers and musicians, including Scott-Heron’s longtime musical collaborator, flutist and keyboardist Brian Jackson, novelist Sapphire (Push), Native American soul singer Martha Redbone, The Last Poets’ Abiodun Oyewole, The Family Stand’s Sandra St. Victor, performance poet Carl Hancock Rux, A. Van Jordan, Gordon Voidwell, Hanifah Walidah, Willie Perdomo and more, to pay tribute to the legacy of the self-styled “bluesologist” who died last May.  Gil Scott Heron’s jazz-inspired, message-infused, politically charged spoken word performances of the late 1960s and recordings of the 1970s and 80s carved a path for socially-conscious rap embraced by major artists in America and around the globe.

Scott-Heron, who counted Langston Hughes, Oscar Brown Jr., Paul Robeson and The Last Poets as influences, insisted that music had to carry a message. From his “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (recorded on the 1971 album Pieces of a Man) to his last album made with British hip-hop artist Richard Russell (I’m New Here) featuring the wrenching “New York is Killing Me,” Scott-Heron’s work addressed issues such as racial discrimination, poverty and war, and personal ones—his struggles with drug addiction—with powerful words and a distinctive musical style. The Black Rock Coalition, formed in 1985 to develop, support and perform “Black alternative music,” self-produced a version of this concert at Symphony Space this past January with the cooperation of the Gil Scott-Heron Estate and joins with the Poetry Society of America for this salute.

Pardon Our Analysis is presented in collaboration with the Black Rock Coalition and Poetry Society of America in cooperation with the Estate of Gil Scott-Heron.


Lincoln Center Out of Doors has grown into one of the largest free performance festivals in the U.S.  Over its 41-year history, Out of Doors has commissioned some 95 works from composers and choreographers and presented hundreds of major dance companies, renowned world-music artists, and legendary jazz, folk, gospel, blues and rock musicians. It has highlighted the rich cultural diversity of New York City with its annual “La Casita” project and partnered with dozens of community and cultural organizations including the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, The Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, Brooklyn Arts Council, Bronx Council on the Arts, Center for Traditional Music and Dance, the Chinese American Arts Council, Americas Society, and Dancing in the Streets. Since 2008 the festival has been produced by Lincoln Center’s director of public programming, Bill Bragin, with associate producer Jill Sternheimer.