Open Access (free)
Listening over James Baldwin’s Shoulder
Ed Pavlić

Black music played a crucial role in the work and life of James Baldwin. What Baldwin heard in the music guided his sense of political reality and human possibility, his invention of character, his shifting analytical point of view, and his decisions about what to do, when, and how to do it during his life in private and career in public. The music, therefore, also offers his critics and his readers important insight and guidance in their own experience and interpretation of his work. This brief essay accounts for some of the most basic connections between Baldwin and black music; it serves here as an introduction to a list of songs, some of which offered Baldwin important guidance and some of which offer his readers access to deeper meanings in his work. A playlist of songs, curated by Ed Pavlić and Justin A. Joyce, is available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtSYQ5bCX-C-IZkeQ_PX7ncsbdjI32HSy

James Baldwin Review
James Baldwin and Ray Charles in “The Hallelujah Chorus”
Ed Pavlić

Based on a recent, archival discovery of the script, “But Amen is the Price” is the first substantive writing about James Baldwin’s collaboration with Ray Charles, Cicely Tyson, and others in a performance of musical and dramatic pieces. Titled by Baldwin, “The Hallelujah Chorus” was performed in two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 1 July 1973. The essay explores how the script and presentation of the material, at least in Baldwin’s mind, represented a call for people to more fully involve themselves in their own and in each other’s lives. In lyrical interludes and dramatic excerpts from his classic work, “Sonny’s Blues,” Baldwin addressed divisions between neighbors, brothers, and strangers, as well as people’s dissociations from themselves in contemporary American life. In solo and ensemble songs, both instrumental and vocal, Ray Charles’s music evinced an alternative to the tradition of Americans’ evasion of each other. Charles’s sound meant to signify the history and possibility of people’s attainment of presence in intimate, social, and political venues of experience. After situating the performance in Baldwin’s personal life and public worldview at the time and detailing the structure and content of the performance itself, “But Amen is the Price” discusses the largely negative critical response as a symptom faced by much of Baldwin’s other work during the era, responses that attempted to guard “aesthetics” generally—be they literary, dramatic, or musical—as class-blind, race-neutral, and apolitical. The essay presents “The Hallelujah Chorus” as a key moment in Baldwin’s search for a musical/literary form, a way to address, as he put it, “the person and the people,” in open contention with the social and political pressures of the time.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic
Laura Chrisman

productivism. The experience of slavery, and its historical memory, has rendered black peoples, unlike white workers and socialists, resistant to the notion that productive labour and expansionism of productive capacities are the medium, or precondition, for human emancipation. Black music, argues Gilroy, is full of this romantic anti-capitalism, expressed through lyrics that criticise the alienation of the labour system and which celebrate non-work activity and the suspension of the time and discipline associated with wage labour … In these cultural traditions, work is

in Postcolonial contraventions
Open Access (free)
West Indian intellectual
Helen Carr

race, and many conceptual and political difficulties followed. But its historical importance should not be underestimated. Modernist primitivism took many forms, and one suspects Rhys’s version, which places so much emphasis on song and dance, as well as growing out of her childhood experiences, was influenced by the fascination with blackness, and in particular with black music and dance, in Paris in

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Marta Iñiguez de Heredia

literally, holding power to account, confronting the ideal that peacebuilding paints against the reality on the ground. This is not a new critique. Paul Gilroy, for example, has analysed how black music has provided a way to confront reality and voice aspirations. He argues that: The politics of fulfilment practised by the descendants of slaves demands that bourgeois civil society lives up to the promises of its own rhetoric and offers a means whereby demands for justice, rational organization of the productive processes, etc, can be expressed. (Gilroy 1993: 134) These

in Everyday resistance, peacebuilding and state-making
Open Access (free)
Janelle Joseph

reveals a complex dialogue with plurilocal black cultures. As Gilroy states, “for a while, music did occupy the epicenter of black culture in a new and distinctively modern way: as both custom and commodity” ( 2010 , p. 145). The Mavericks’ connection to black music, and therefore the Afro-diaspora, is also evident through their commitment to the reggae remix. Michael, a 56 year-old Indo

in Sport in the Black Atlantic