Chicago-based singer, composer, and clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid has released a new new live album with her band Tha Brothahood. LIVE was largely recorded on November 1, 2019 at Haus der Berliner Festspiele during JazzFest Berlin. LIVE will be issued on vinyl and CD formats in January 2021, with liner notes penned by Pitchfork contributor Shannon J. Effinger. Listen to the album below (via International Anthem).
Tha Brothahood includes Deacon Otis Cooke (vocals, synth), Viktor Le Givens (vocals, auxiliary instruments), Xristian Espinoza (tenor sax, percussion), Norman W. Long (electronics, synths), Dr. Adam Zanolini (double bass, bass guitar, soprano sax, flute, percussion), Isaiah Collier (drums), and Asher Simiso Gamedze (drums), with Angel Bat Dawid as bandleader.
A press release for LIVE reveals that Angel and members of the band were en route to the airport in Chicago when they received news that Viktor Le Gives had been hospitalized after passing out on the street. When he came to, all of his personal belongings were missing. When they arrived in Berlin, the band’s manager reached out to the production staff of JazzFest Berlin to inform them of the situation, and the initial reply was allegedly, “If you cannot find a substitute, we will have to reduce your fee.”
“It really put a whole damper on my spirit to have to deal with this a few hours before performing,” Angel said in the press release. “How the fuck is this response ever acceptable anywhere?!” She continued:
I have issues in general about the way artists are treated because I see a difference in how tech folks treat women and artist of color…. I’m calling it out. A lot of the racism and things I’m talking about are steeped in microaggressions and are so subtle and can go unnoticed. But all those things happen a lot and it was very evident at the festival…. Yes I am hyper sensitive to any infraction I ever see, feel or observe when it comes to racism, and I no longer pass it off as an over sensitivity but an opportunity to blow the whistle on intellectual and structural racism that is still a rampant and ugly beast, especially in the European music world.
Another incident is partly sampled on LIVE’s opening song, when Angel Bat Dawid says, “ever since I’ve been here y’all have treated me like shit!” She explained in press materials:
The morning at the Duke Ellington Hotel was the result of a buildup of things…. The insensitive way the festival dealt with Viktor… to mean stares walking down the street with my Brothers…. A man came up to all of us and said he was frightened by our group. I went to another shop and they told me, “Don’t go to East Berlin because they don’t like Blacks”…. Berlin was leaving me feeling very isolated and angry. So the morning we were leaving this hotel, with its homage to Black musicians in every room…. They had a piano in their bar area and I decided to play a tune, sing and praise, to leave on a good note. Deacon Otis was filming it as our way of just walking in love, no matter what. As I was singing someone on the staff runs up to me red face and angry saying, “Ma’am please don't do this in the lobby this is not allowed!” And I just went the fux off. I had had enough of the reprimands.… I just couldn't be my genuine Black self anywhere in Berlin without someone reprimanding me….
Of the performance that became LIVE, Angel added:
The show was very deep, and really helped me to process all the rage, and uncomfortable things I was feeling…. It made me think of all the artists of the past who endured way more than I ever will with this music industry. It was a very freeing and beautiful show…. We played our ass off!!
I hope that this album will uplift and raise awareness to the world that we are still not in a good place when it comes to the relationship between whites other races. Universities, festivals, organizations etc that were built over 50 years ago, even though they have changed outwardly, have not changed internally, and still uphold the principles of their founders, who were racists. We still got a long way to go. And music is a great place to start in repairing this age old, distorted reality.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork