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Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers


I do not remember when exactly Wadada Leo Smith made clear that he wanted to have my art incorporated into the cover art for his landmark music piece, Ten Freedom Summers. It could have been after I had seen the premiere in Los Angeles in October of 2011 and had written so much about it both for JazzTimes.com and this blog. 

In any event, he requested that I send him some pictures of art that I had been working on. I selected some digital images at random to forward to him. And just as randomly it seems, Wadada selected what he thought corroborated with the "feelings" that he was trying to impart in his multi-part music statement.

After he picked certain pieces of my art, he said that he needed hi-resolution photos as soon as possible. I got right on it without really understanding the impact that his request would have on me. When I opened the email which contained the finished files of the booklet and cover that went with the recordings, my heart fluttered. The elegance of their portrayal in support of the absolute and total grandeur of the people and the events that Wadada had written about was stunning. I was beside myself with emotion and believed that this moment constituted one of the finest that my work had ever seen or would see.

Even though my work is now seen for how, during all these years since 1970, it has lived to be appreciated... alone and for itself...the realization that my art is associated with one of the defining moments of music and African-American history overwhelms me.

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