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Meet Roy Kinsey, Black Power Series Presenter

As a rapper and librarian, Roy Kinsey is committed to the preservation of Black literary culture and Black storytelling traditions. The final production in Court’s 2023/24 season, Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution, focuses on Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) and his activism, yet it is also heavily focused on his writings and the process of preservation. This production asks poignant questions about legacy, archives, and how history can pave the way for the future – a perfect connection to Roy and his work.

Hear from Roy in the Black Power Series, our newest Engagement program, and learn more about his work and vision below.

A man looks to the side.
Photo of Roy Kinsey by Jansen Bridge.

An Evening with Roy Kinsey: A Legacy Project is the live listening session/performance of the in-progress work of lyricist and librarian Roy Kinsey. Part listening session, part performance, and part album discussion, Kinsey moves through the space of the Poetry Foundation, giving audience members a rare look behind the veil into his creative process when constructing an album. Kinsey’s tenth studio album, A Westside Story: A Legacy Project, due fall 2024, firmly focuses on housing and growing up in an ever-changing Chicago, rehashing the unfinished argument Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began while residing in Chicago in the late 1960s concerning the despicable housing conditions that many African Americans in the city endured during that period, and continue to endure today.

This in-progress musical work captures a snapshot of Chicago in this new decade, one filled with uncertainty, where a new story is unfolding. Some completed songs on the album explore themes of grief, loss, friendship, unrequited love, and survivors guilt: when gentrification forces one community member to move, while a friend left behind is threatened by incarceration, (“Darius (Moonlight)”); the hurt and trauma gay men experience and inflict as they try to love one another in marginalized and segregated parts of the city (“Crossfire”); ancestor veneration (“Black”); and a citywide conversation between a witness, children who commit crime in the city, their parents, and civilians (“Get Y’all Kids”).

This self-proclaimed audiobook is a living testament to the power of not only rap and libraries, but to the power of audacity. On June 6, the Poetry Foundation and Roy Kinsey invite audiences to peer behind the veil into this rare, vulnerable, and intimate creative process of sharing a new (in-progress) album, developing and rehearsing the live performance, and exploring the thoughts, themes and creative decisions that go into making an album.

Join Roy for the Black Power Series: Invoking the Black Archive. Join our email list to be the first to register!

Posted on April 2, 2024 in Productions

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