The Somethin??™ Suite
Multimedia artist Sanford Biggers
presents The Somethin??™ Suite, a conceptual exploration of the ???Negro variety show??? popular at the turn of the 20th century. Presented in speakeasies and small variety theaters across the country, with performers (both black and white) typically appearing in blackface for white audiences, they were deeply problematic, but also catapulted some of America??™s most inventive musicians, including Ma Rainey, Scott Joplin, and Al Jolson, to stardom. Arguably the first distinctively American theatrical form, the oppressive system behind blackface entertainment has evolved into today??™s popular music industry, Biggers suggests. The Somethin??™ Suite, following minstrelsy's traditional 3-act structure, is performed by spoken-word artist Saul Williams, singers Esthero, Shae Fiol, Imami Uzuri, and Martin Luther, and DJs CX KiDTRONiX and Jahi Sundance, whose talents combine to provide a sonic history of contemporary music as well as a clear-eyed examination of today??™s popular music industry. A PERFORMA Commission.