Today, The Black Legacy Project, a musical celebration of Black history to advance racial solidarity, equity, and belonging, announces the release of their debut album Black Legacy Project Vol. 1, out August 18th. The album is an eclectic collection of originals and covers, created by various musicians from several diverse communities. The first offering from the release is “What is the Color of the Soul of a Man,” the 1963 Jimmy Driftwood classic, reimagined by Arkansas Ozark musicians Jeron Marshall-Isbell (vocals), Willie Rollerson (keys, vocals), Michael J. Fields Jr (bass, keys), Anthony Ball (drums), Reggie James (piano) and Hozie Thomas (guitar). Listen to “What is the Color of the Soul of a Man” HERE and via DSPs HERE.
The Black Legacy Project is not only the flagship program of the non-profit Music in Common, but is also a life-changing movement that strengthens, empowers, and connects people through the universal language of music. Black LP launched in September 2021, partnering with communities nationwide to promote transformative dialogue crossing racial and political divides. Enlighted by those conversations, Black LP brings Black and White communities together to record present-day versions of songs central to the Black American experience and to compose original, meaningful songs relevant to the profound need for change in our time. For its groundbreaking work, CNN honored the organization as a 2022 Champion For Change. Watch the inspiring CNN piece HERE.
Black Legacy Project Co-Directors Todd Mack and Trey Carlisle lead the bridge-building initiative, which has transpired in seven communities thus far: The Berkshires/Western Massachusetts, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, CO, The Mississippi Delta, the Arkansas Ozarks and Boise, ID. About this transformative experience, Mack notes, “In every community where we’ve engaged, everyone who has participated in the Black Legacy Project – and anyone who has heard the music from the sessions – is moved, compelled and inspired.” Carlisle shares, “Listening to the groundbreaking work of Black artists like Billie Holiday and Sam Cooke and hearing the solidarity in songs by White artists like Bob Dylan, we were struck by how it all resonated with relevance to our present times. And we recognized how these songs could be powerful tools for bridge-building in these divisive times. Likewise, we knew they could inspire new creative works about how to move forward.”
Annie Guthrie (daughter of Arlo and granddaughter of Woody) joined the Black Legacy Project as Musical Co-Director in the Berkshire sessions. She shares, “I grew up in a family who understood that songs can change the world. There are songs that have become the fabric of America whether we know them or not. Shining a light on these songs, remembering where they came from and continuing to sing them is an important mission. The Black Legacy Project is giving us an opportunity to, not just sing together, but to talk about issues we might be afraid to bring up in our own communities. I was honored to be asked to participate. Historical and cultural preservation along with meeting the on-going needs of our communities is part of the mission of the Guthrie Center. This project fit perfectly within our mission.”
The Black Legacy Project is planning a performance of the songs from Vol. 1 at the Fresh Grass Festival in North Adams, MA on September 23rd. More tour dates are in the works.
Black Legacy Project Vol. 1 Track Listing
“American Skin” 41 Shots – Written by Bruce Springsteen, Los Angeles session
“Sweeter” – Originally performed by Leon Bridges, Los Angeles session
“Better Master” – Original, Los Angeles Session
“What Is The Color Of The Soul Of A Man” – Written by Jimmy Driftwood, Arkansas Ozarks session
“Sundown Town” – Written by Ry Cooder& Joachim Cooder, Arkansas Ozarks session
“Where I Find Love” – Original, Arkansas Ozarks session
“Ballad Of The Walking Postman” – Written by Buck Ram, Denver session
“The Klan” – Written by Alan Arkin, Denver session
“Let Me Walk In Your Shoes” – Original, Denver session
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” – Written by James Weldon Johnson & John Rosamond Johnson, Berkshires session
“We Shall Overcome” – Public Domain, Berkshires session
“Rise Up” – Original, Berkshires session