Music – Cultivating Culture http://www.cultivatingculture.com Thinking and writing about culture around the world Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:08:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 50009989 60 Public Pianos to be Placed Throughout NYC http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/06/05/60-pianos-nyc/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5343 Sing for Hope is a New York City community service organization. “New York City is the cultural capital of the world–and yet too many residents lack regular and affordable access to high-quality arts programming,” a statement from their website reads. As a small part of their effort to correct that deficit, they’re placing 60 art-piece pianos throughout […]

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A pianist playing in Washington Square Park, located in Manhattan.

A pianist performs in Washington Square Park, located in Manhattan.
Photo credit: wayfarerlife / Shutterstock

Sing for Hope is a New York City community service organization.

“New York City is the cultural capital of the world–and yet too many residents lack regular and affordable access to high-quality arts programming,” a statement from their website reads.

As a small part of their effort to correct that deficit, they’re placing 60 art-piece pianos throughout the city for the peak of the summer. Any passerby may play them at will, but the goal is for accomplished amateurs and professionals alike to volunteer their time in free public performances. So far, ten have been scheduled and more are anticipated.

The pianos, each painted vividly by local artists and celebrities, will debut in a massive piano performance by 60 pianists of Bach’s Prelude in C.

Jon Batiste, bandleader of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, will be the conductor. The event will be held on June 5th at noon, at 28 Liberty Plaza. After that, the instruments will be dispersed to parks throughout the city from June 5th through July 25th, after which they will be donated to interested public schools.

Sing For Hope calls their piano exhibition the largest recurring public art project in New York, interacting with more than two million people a year. This year’s pianos will bring their total to over 400 in six summers.

The painted pianos this year feature work by Kate McKinnon, many Broadway casts, high school art classes, the cast of Sesame Street, and many more. Find the complete list here.

Beyond the roaming pianos, Sing for Hope also coordinates a roster of all types of performing artists, coordinating their volunteer hours with under-served schools, community and senior centers, and hospitals.

“We believe that the arts heal and access to the arts is a right, not a privilege,” a statement from their website reads. A bold premise and a fantastic mission indeed.

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Not So Fast: Kendrick Lamar is Not the Feminist You Think He Is http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/04/10/kendrick-lamar-feminism/ Mon, 10 Apr 2017 23:01:37 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5277 When Kendrick Lamar rapped about the beauty of stretch marks in “Humble,” many lauded him as a feminist. But does this one body-positive line make up for the 40 times that he uses the word “bitch” in the same song? And does it make up for the line in which he says, “Girl, I can […]

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A photo of rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Photo credit: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock

When Kendrick Lamar rapped about the beauty of stretch marks in “Humble,” many lauded him as a feminist. But does this one body-positive line make up for the 40 times that he uses the word “bitch” in the same song? And does it make up for the line in which he says, “Girl, I can buy yo’ ass the world with my pay stub / Ooh, that pussy good, won’t you sit it on my taste bloods”?

Furthermore, does it make up for the fact that in his music video, Lamar is surrounded by scores of scantily clad women? These women, by the way, are wearing tons of makeup, which seems to contradict his lyrics in which he says, “I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop / Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor / Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.”

And the “all natural” model in his music video? It’s worth noting that filmmakers used special lighting to make her look her best. This is an important concept for women and young girls to understand so that they don’t feel insecure if they don’t look as attractive without makeup.

But despite all of this, women still hailed Lamar for his stretch marks line. Why? Because women are so used to be being objectified and disrespected in music that they’re willing to overlook all the misogyny for just one uplifting line.

If Lamar (or any rapper for that matter) wants to pave the way towards racial equality, he’s going to have to start including black women in his vision. Thus far, most of his music focuses on the rise of black men (such as the recreation of “The Last Supper” in his “Humble” music video). Black women have been fighting for racial equality since the very beginning, it’s about time they get the recognition they deserve.

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Greatest Queer Musicians of All Time http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/03/28/greatest-queer-musicians/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2017/03/28/greatest-queer-musicians/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:44:23 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5241 1. Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury made a name for himself as the lead vocalist in the 1970s rock band Queen. Hits include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” Not only was he bisexual, but he was also HIV positive. He eventually succumbed to the disease in 1991. 2. Sinéad […]

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1. Freddie Mercury
A picture of Freddie Mercury singing.

Photo credit: a a at Flickr Creative Commons

Freddie Mercury made a name for himself as the lead vocalist in the 1970s rock band Queen. Hits include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” Not only was he bisexual, but he was also HIV positive. He eventually succumbed to the disease in 1991.

2. Sinéad O’Connor

A picture of Sinéad O’Connor performing on stage.

Photo credit: Dariusz Majgier / Shutterstock

Sinéad O’Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter who rose to prominence during the 1980s. Her best songs include “Nothing Compares 2 You,” “Madinka,” and “I Want Your Hands on Me.” In the year 2000, O’Connor came out as a “dyke.” Years later, she retracted her statement, declaring that she is “three-quarters heterosexual, a quarter gay. “

3. Elton John

A photo of Elton John performing on stage.

Photo credit: Alexander Mazurkevich / Shutterstock

“Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Your Song” were some of Elton John’s best-selling hits. But in 1976, his album sales dropped when he came out as bisexual. He began receiving tons of hate mail from fans who accused him of being a “pervert.” But by the 1980s, his sales had picked back up again.

4. Lady Gaga

A photo of Lady Gaga.

Photocredit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Who doesn’t love Lady Gaga? The woman is fierce, bold, and unbelievably talented. It just so happens that she’s also bisexual. In fact, she even revealed that her hit song “Poker Face” is actually about her bisexuality. And when fans started accusing her of being bisexual for “marketing purposes,” Gaga responded in true diva fashion:

“You know what? It’s not a lie that I am bisexual and I like women, and anyone that wants to twist this into ‘she says she’s bisexual for marketing,’ this is a fucking lie. This is who I am and who I have always been.”

5. David Bowie

An illustration of David Bowie.

Image credit: Chris Dorney / Shutterstock

On Jan. 22, 1972, singer-songwriter David Bowie bravely proclaimed that he was gay. “I’m gay and always have been, even when I was David Jones,” Bowie told Melody Maker. When Bowie died in January 2016, it devastated fans everywhere. However, his music will continue to live on, with classics like “Fame,” “Space Oddity,” and “Rebel, Rebel.”

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New Music Store ‘2 Bridges’ Opens http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/12/19/2-bridges/ Mon, 19 Dec 2016 17:39:31 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5048 Simon Greenberg is a self-identified Manhattan native who grew up and went to art school in New York City. All throughout his life he’s been involved in the city’s art world, working in art galleries and album shops. Now he’s opening his own business, which is in a way a hybrid of both. 2 Bridges, […]

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An assortment of vinyl records.

Photo credit: Radu Bercan / Shutterstock

Simon Greenberg is a self-identified Manhattan native who grew up and went to art school in New York City. All throughout his life he’s been involved in the city’s art world, working in art galleries and album shops. Now he’s opening his own business, which is in a way a hybrid of both.

2 Bridges, which gets its name from its location tucked away in the Chinatown Mall beneath the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown, is a retro music store that also hosts spaces for performance and exhibitions. Greenberg says he has in mind a space reminiscent of someone’s house, “putting music, art, and books into conversation with one another.”

“I thought a public space where those things were interacting made sense,” he wrote in an email interview with magazine Resident Advisor.

2 Bridges sells vinyl both new and used, cassette types, books, and art. Its musical inventory leans towards house, techno, jazz, rap, and its performances will most likely follow suit.

Greenberg intends to be selective about his inventory, wanting to preserve a kind of collection feel to it all. From his email interview:

“There’s a really natural crossover between something on The Trilogy Tapes with a Francois Bayle record or a book on Islamic ornamental design. A cassette on Orange Milk or NNA has something to do with books about the philosophy of time, or post-capitalist ideas about digital utopias. Mark Fell’s music has a lot in common with Thea Djordjadze sculptures and coral reefs. It’s all part of the same sort of experimental polymathic umbrella where these things are syncretic and aware and reacting to each other.”

So that is the atmosphere to be expected at 2 Bridges, which opened this past month. It can be found at 75 East Broadway, Suite 205, Manhattan. Drop in, take a look, and join the conversation in one of New York City’s newest art spaces.

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Should Lyrics Be Considered Literature? http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/12/14/lyrics-considered-literature/ Wed, 14 Dec 2016 14:05:11 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=5045 When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, it sent shock waves throughout the writing community. Never before had a musician won the prestigious award. Because of that, the reaction from the public was pretty split. Some people rejoiced while others argued that lyrics don’t qualify as poetry. But here’s the thing. Bob Dylan […]

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An illustration of Bob Dylan.

Image credit: Shutterstock

When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, it sent shock waves throughout the writing community. Never before had a musician won the prestigious award. Because of that, the reaction from the public was pretty split. Some people rejoiced while others argued that lyrics don’t qualify as poetry.

But here’s the thing. Bob Dylan didn’t win a Nobel Prize in Poetry; he won a Nobel Prize in Literature. So in order to evaluate whether he truly deserves the award, we have to take a look at the actual definition of literature.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “literature” is defined as writings that exhibit “excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest.” Considering that Bob Dylan sold over 100 million records, it’s safe to say he has the universal interest part covered.

But what about the “excellence of form or expression” part? Well, when it comes to lyrics (a form of writing) Bob Dylan is at the top of his game. His closest competitors are Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. In other words, he is definitely in the canon.

But no matter how many accomplishments he has, there will still be people who say that his work doesn’t truly qualify as literature. The idea that literature is strictly meant to be read is not only outdated, it’s completely wrong.

If you’ll recall, poetry was originally meant to be sung. In ancient times, it was a form of entertainment and was often recited aloud. When you really stop to think about it, what’s the difference between a bunch of people going to a Shakespeare play and a bunch people going to a concert?

We have this idea in our heads that just because something is really old, that makes it good. We have to put an end to this line of thinking. Why should we wait 50+ years after someone’s death to appreciate their artistic contributions? Why not just give a person credit when it’s due?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree that Bob Dylan deserved the Nobel Prize in Literature?

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Exhibitionism http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/06/29/exhibitionism/ Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:30:03 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4691 The Rolling Stones have been rolling for a long time their first gig was in 1962. Grandchildren of that first audience could have a drink with the band on tour this fall, fifty-four years later. They probably wouldn’t even get carded. Half a century of influence on the music scene has certainly earned them public […]

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The Rolling Stones.

Image: The Rolling Stones | Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones have been rolling for a long time their first gig was in 1962. Grandchildren of that first audience could have a drink with the band on tour this fall, fifty-four years later. They probably wouldn’t even get carded.

Half a century of influence on the music scene has certainly earned them public merit, and they’re receiving it this year in the form of their first-ever major exhibition. A collaboration between the band members and Australian-based company iEC Exhibition!, the exhibit claims to be the largest touring band exhibit ever staged.

“Exhibitionism” launched this April in London and in November, it will open in Manhattan.

The exhibit has a strong focus on the band itself, featuring hundreds of pieces of ephemera from the band’s long career. The collection goes all the way back to the beginning, with Keith Richard’s diary from the early days and an actual cassette playing the first draft, so to speak, of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” barely more than its raw chords. A studio set piece showcases the band’s original instruments, including Brian Jones’ sitar and Bill Wyman’s homemade bass guitar.

Artists may be interested in the exhibit showing the evolution of the band’s fashion and image over the years, also featuring the art and artists used to design the group’s logos and album art.

“We’ve been thinking about this for quite a long time but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale,” said Mick Jagger, 72. “It’s not going to be like walking into a museum. It’s going to be an event, an experience. It’s about a sense of The Rolling Stones – it’s something we want people to go away talking about it.”

The surviving band members, who range today from 69 to 75 years old, are still icons of rock and roll. While they made an appearance at a private showing of the London exhibition, they unfortunately won’t meet the show in New York City. Too busy on tour in California and Nevada.

“Exhibitionism” will be showing at the Industra Superstudio in the West Village. Tickets go on sale in September at stonesexhibitionism.com.

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Hamilton Sweeps the 2016 Tony Awards http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/06/15/hamilton-sweeps-2016-tonys/ Wed, 15 Jun 2016 20:15:42 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4672 The Tony Awards on Sunday night went 20 minutes overtime, as they often do. Performers love to celebrate, and they especially love to celebrate themselves. The 70th Annual Tony Awards was shadowed by the tragedy of the Orlando shooting, which happened in the small hours of the morning before the show, but as host James […]

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James Corden hosts the event in a bright outfit.

Image: James Corden hosted the 2016 Tony Awards | Rolling Stone

The Tony Awards on Sunday night went 20 minutes overtime, as they often do. Performers love to celebrate, and they especially love to celebrate themselves. The 70th Annual Tony Awards was shadowed by the tragedy of the Orlando shooting, which happened in the small hours of the morning before the show, but as host James Corden said before the event, “Hate will never win.” And so the show went on.

Hamilton, Broadway’s current heart-throb, certainly owned the night, though it failed to beat The Producers’ standing record of 12 Tony wins. But 11 is nothing to sneeze at, either, and Hamilton’s quirks and aesthetics set the tone for everybody. Borrowing from the Ham4Ham outdoor performances, nominees sang snatches of show-tunes outside the theater for crowds, and American Revolution-chic was the fashion mainstay for many, like Barbra Streisand.

Hamilton’s Wins
Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Best Original Score for the Theatre (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Leslie Odom Jr.)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Daveed Diggs)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry)
Best Costume Design of a Musical (Paul Tazewell)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley)
Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail)
Best Choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler)
Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire)

In fact, the only nomination which Hamilton did not turn into a trophy was Best Scenic Design, where David Lorins lost out to David Rockwell from She Loves Me.

Out of respect for the events of the day, the Hamilton cast performed a particularly moving rendition of “The Battle Of Yorktown” with the usually musket-wielding soldiers performing all of their choreography with pointedly empty hands. They were introduced by no less than President Obama himself, and Lin-Manuel Miranda accepted his Tonys with a sonnet, rather than his usual freestyling.

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Kennedy Center Gets its First Hip-Hop Director http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/03/09/kennedy-center-hip-hop-director/ Wed, 09 Mar 2016 19:53:08 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4505 For the first time in its long history, the Kennedy Center will focus on hip-hop music and culture for the 2016-2017 season. The organization has appointed rapper and producer Q-Tip to curate the selection, a year-long festival of performances and the arts. This is Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter’s first season of programming. The year […]

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Q-Tip performing.

Image: Q-Tip | Rolling Stone

For the first time in its long history, the Kennedy Center will focus on hip-hop music and culture for the 2016-2017 season. The organization has appointed rapper and producer Q-Tip to curate the selection, a year-long festival of performances and the arts. This is Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter’s first season of programming.

The year that celebrates hip-hop will include 25 commissions across a number of genres with a focus on the artist who creates things, from Yo-Yo Ma to violinist Joshua Bell to Terence Blanchard, the season’s artists-in-residence. The season will also include pieces from the Ireland 100 Festival and next month’s Art Summit, as well as tributes to Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, and Abbey Lincoln. Other events include the world premiere of the B-Fly commission “All the Way Live!” and the Brave New Voices Youth Summit, a poetry slam dedicated to young people around the world.

“It’s an important aspect of our identity here at the center is the fact that we are a living memorial,” said Rutter. “You can’t really, as a performing arts center, recognize Kennedy’s achievements, but you can extrapolate the ideals that we associate with him and bring these ideals to life through performing arts activities.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birthday. It’s also the first year that the Center will offer such a cohesive program with its own curator. The Center has provided hip-hop events for the past 15 years, but this is the first time there’s an entire program dedicated to its celebration.

“[The program] couldn’t have come at a better time. As a nation, we’re dealing with issues of race, issues of racism, issues of misogyny,” Q-Tip said. “With hip-hop constantly changing and evolving, it is easy to forget the history and legacy that precede it. I want to begin at the beginning of the culture to help people see its roots, better understand its present, and responsibly create its future.”

Q-Tip is widely recognized for his involvement with A Tribe Called Quest, a group founded with high school friends in 1985. The group is considered pioneers of alternative hip-hop, opening the genre’s constraints and making way for other new artists.

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