Dearly Beloved, I hope you shall join us this week @ Yale University in New Haven for the Prince – David Bowie conference: BlackStar Rising & The Purple Reign
In the lead-in to the Solange (Knowles) keynote address, I shall be holding forth on Mystical Prince, the Afro-Native spirit of his jazz belle mother Mattie & his Muses including my key sonic foremother Stevie Nicks (of course, Stevie & Prince collaborated on “Stand Back” & among other thangs, Prince clearly derived some of his famous style from Stevie’s bespoke sartorial aesthetic). Rather than due to Prince’s most adored blackface-wearing, jazz fusioneer heroine Joni Mitchell (who transformed from Saskatoon prairie flower trilling songbird into a black pimp who punked the Asylum gang royalty of LA with her own alter-ego Art Nouveau), I am a latter-day Lady of the Canyon because of my heroine Stevie Nicks — & a select elite of cult favorite canyon muses including Wendy Waldman, Essra Mohawk, Claudia Lennear & Judee Sill; they are all collectively the Muses behind songs of mine such as “Quartz Hill,” “Cowgirls,””Songcatcher,” & “Rare Bird” (& yes, my sophomore album was titled Canyons). As a sonic & spiritual acolyte-turned-Adept of Queen California’s Electric Eden (who possesses the Source Family lineage name Songbird Aquarian), I am looking forward to being purified anew in the purple-hued waters of Lake Minnetonka.
The Myth of the (Black) West: Jonathan Demme & I screening/discussing “Run Of The Arrow” & its director Samuel Fuller, the African & Native presence in the genre of westerns, the Civil War, the New South, Going Native, the legacies of frontier fakery extended to current “Mountain Men” type “reality” television & western individuals like Rachel Dolezal (who most forget forged a “Little Tipi-on-the-Prairie” narrative prior to deciding to become a black woman) + more last weekend in Pleasantville, NY @ the Jacob Burns Film Center. I was honored to partake in the first post-screening program & hope to perhaps return to delve into acid westerns before the end of the series.
(photos courtesy of Jacob Burns Film Center)
#SaddleUpSaturdays #HarlemOnThePrairie #FlashbackFriday
Reflecting on the West & complex visions of America at this inauguration time, while a coalition of black & indigenous activists are massing elsewhere in my Uptown NYC area @ the Harriet Tubman monument. Perhaps fittingly, I am featured today on Swirl Nation, a blog focused on multiracial & multiethnic lives in this land: Kandia Crazy Horse on SwirlNation
With what’s goin’ down on the social & political scenes, I also reflect on my past as a professional journalist & mourn the New Year loss of two of my former colleagues @ NYC’s once-bohemian, alternative newsweekly The Village Voice. I just learned of reporter Wayne Barrett’s (a notable Donald Trump chronicler) passing this afternoon & have still been trying to reckon with the legacy of Nat Hentoff as a famed jazz critic who partly inspired my joining the field of rock criticism. We shall be missing such voices in the media even more during the new presidency in America. May Nat & Wayne rest in peace. – A’ho*
Hope y’all enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday; I spent mine meditating on the post-60s emanations of The Dream — as well as its limits as manifest in the oeuvres of Black Atlantic & Heartland rockstars David Bowie & Prince. I am finally at liberty to invite y’all to join us in New Haven @ the end of the month for the “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign” rock conference. Courtesy of an invite from my longtime dear friend of the Black Rock scene, former Princeton professor turned Yale scholar Dr. Daphne Brooks, I shall be presenting on Prince & activism @ Yale University; my evening program on 25 January also features Solange (Knowles) as keynote speaker & former SPIN magazine editor Alan Light.
The program also includes Sheila E., Kimbra, Questlove & others + a closing concert by TV On The Radio. More info & registration instructions linked: KANDIA CRAZY HORSE presentation @ YALE UNIVERSITY for Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign 1/25
Looking forward to my rebirth in the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka: HARTFORD COURANT on BLACKSTAR RISING & THE PURPLE REIGN
Happy New Year, y’all & best wishes as the seasons unfold. I hope you had a grand ole holiday time; for my part, I finally got some much needed rest & a spell to rotate some albums of 2016 — especially country releases — that I never got to hear during the course of last year. We of Cactus Rose are taking some time to conjure, connect culturally & write songs during January & then we will be doing two shows on the Brooklyn Country scene in February. I will be making my first live appearances of 2017 in upstate New York & in Connecticut — the latter being a major event I am not yet at liberty to share details about. Stay tuned to this page &
…In the meanwhile: hope can rope yer hearts to join Jonathan Demme & myself @ the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY next Saturday for his western movies screening series / live event “Saddle Up Saturdays.” I will serve as the guest artist / interlocutor for the presentation of Dixie lore & Lakota-themed Run Of The Arrow starring Rod Steiger, Brian Keith & Charles Bronson — followed by a discussion + Q&A. The screening will be preceded by Jonathan’s Standing Rock documentary: Protection Not Protest: The People of Standing Rock
Neither I nor my fellow bandmates in Cactus Rose, Jeff & Kimberly/KAR, have forgotten about Standing Rock or Split Rock, despite the switch in focus to Aleppo or the trend hoppers moving on to the next new thing; and we remain committed to helping stop all the black snakes threatening Turtle Island. So this event will be a good opportunity to come and hear about the Split Rock actions & other causes of Indian Country as well as how it was for me to grow up Indian loving the western genre & cowboy music in the Vietnam Era when antiheroes dominated horse operas while there was a revival of Native American consciousness in the real world beyond celluloid. A’ho*
Tix & more information available here: RUN OF THE ARROW w/ KANDIA CRAZY HORSE 1/14 @ noon JACOB BURNS FILM CENTER
Many moons ago, I worked at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture of the New York Public Library system — in the last days of the tenure there of my hometown hero Ellis Haizlip, onetime host of the best television show ever: SOUL! I was seeing Mr. Haizlip’s ghost ’round every corner, strolling around in his typical dashiki & tailored slacks, last night @ the Schomburg even before his name was invoked by an elder audience member after the Black Banjo event we were in attendance at the Langston Hughes Auditorium: Banjo Stories & Songs From Haiti & New Orleans, featuring my acquaintance Laurent Dubois (a banjo-playing, Belgian-American scholar from Duke University; I did a talk with him @ CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown back in the spring for the release of his new Harvard tome: The Banjo – America’s African Instrument) & my new friend Leyla McCalla, the Haitian-American banjoist who resides in New Orleans singing songs in English, French, Kreyol & the lone member of my friends’ band the Carolina Chocolate Drops that I had yet to meet. The cited episode of SOUL! featured Taj Mahal (ex-Rising Sons) doing an entire suite of banjo & ole-timey music, talking about the instrument’s African origins and encouraging youngbloods to take up the instrument; this aired back when I was a babychile and obviously there remains a stark racial & generational divide regarding banjo players when the instrument is trendy primarily amongst white Millennials who adopted it after the release of the Coen Brothers’ pastoral pastiche film O! Brother Where Art Thou? with its peerless ole-timey/Americana soundtrack, and the rise of these bands in the Aughts: Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers (I was one of the first to cover them as a rock/country critic alongside the Carolina Chocolate Drops, as they were emerging from the North Carolina Piedmont), & Old Crow Medicine Show. Nothing against these bands & the untimely passing of Pete Seeger has also played a role – indeed, he looms large in Laurent’s book — but we still have high hopes that young black kids will get hip to the banjo & take up our decades of work in keeping the black twang musical traditions thriving. I was interviewed for Joaquin Cotler’s podcast on these issues after Leyla’s performance, at the Schomburg; I will share it when it airs.
My dear #BlackHillbilly / twang family of the Ebony Hillbillies were also special guests like myself & we were in high cotton, enjoying the themes and music of the program. The Ebony Hillbillies generously performed at the Standing Rock benefit I curated @ Decolonize This Place back at the dawn of October; I look forward to future collaborations with them — and now — also with Sistah Leyla.
The banjo was my favorite instrument even before I knew of its African roots & I still hope to take it up — possibly in 2017, since I have been invited to the Danny Barker banjo festival in New Orleans by the guitarist/banjoist Detroit Brooks Sr. of jazz titan Donald Harrison’s band who does a lot of outreach in his community and beyond to keep black banjo traditions alive. Black artists (& the Afropolitan ones trying to appropriate southern accents and songlines in the UK) in country music are not a novelty nor a trend; whatever the outcome for current youtube sensation Kane Brown, who’s an Afro-Native (Tsalagi)/biracial country singer from rural Georgia in the “bro” mold (Young Kane & I have several thangs in common), we are here to stay. So #SaddleUp!
( Leyla McCalla of New Orleans & Kandia Crazy Horse of Hudson Canyon, Sistahs of Twang, @ Schomburg Center, Harlem NYC )
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Kimberly Robison, Virginia Native American songbirds/activists of Cactus Rose + Gloria Gassaway, Catawba lead vocalist/bones player/activist of the Ebony Hillbillies (from South Carolina) – We southern belles love to gather, do actions for #StandingRock & sing to honor our Ancestors. Miz Gloria almost went out to Standing Rock last week with our heroine Pure Fe of Ulali; we hope to combine our efforts & make a sojourn together soon come – A’ho* )
(Throwback to last Thursday night in SoHo @ Morrison Hotel Gallery for private view of Neil Young: Long May You Run exhibit, featuring photographs by Henry Diltz, Joel Bernstein, Danny Clinch & others. Here I am “waging heavy peace” with Henry’s famed image of my hero Neil & his dog Harte in the barn door of his ranch in California, Broken Arrow (named after my favorite Buffalo Springfield native american-themed tune & a Delmer Daves western from the early 1950s), from the year I was born, NYC)
So, I am off for a meeting with fellow Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance & Algonquin Pipeline folks of NYC to plan for our future actions, including more benefits for the water protectors of the Oceti Sakowin & many other nations. We just sent another bus off full of volunteers and many supplied donations to Standing Rock this past Sunday, so celebrating their road sojourn with them!
Here’s the latest press, from the Indigenous Peoples Day action I did last Monday, which mentions the Standing Rock benefit (Sacred Water Medicine Show) briefly: THE NATION
Enjoy your mid-week!
Howdy y’all of Indian Country & beyond! Although my trip to Standing Rock (departing yesterday) was postponed, I am coming off a whirlwind of three days’ activity about the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance & working to establish Indigenous Peoples Day in NYC and throughout Turtle Island. My benefit for our Standing Rock water protectors, the Sacred Water Medicine Show (AKA Water Is Life – Solidarity Concert), went very well Saturday night in TriBeCa & there are some possible future shows in store – stay tuned! Will be posting photographs & live footage soon.
Sunday, despite the rains, we were at Central Park across from Columbus Circle, commemorating our Ancestors & holding forth on the experiences and leadership of Native women @ the Indigenous Day of Remembrance; I sang one of my original songs, and participated in some ceremonies besides dancing. Photos to come…
Yesterday, I did another action with Decolonize This Place: the Anti-Columbus Day Tour of the American Museum of Natural History for their #DecolonizeThisMuseum event. Here below is the press thus far that contains parts of interviews I gave on the topics of Indigenous Peoples Day, the benefit, and why I am #StandingWithStandingRock as an indigenous revolutionary to the Guardian (UK), The Nation, & the paper that I used to write for/help edit, the Village Voice. Yes, we (mostly) covered the infamous statue of Theodore Roosevelt that fronts the entrance to the Museum, but we also spread some very important messages. This is a heady Indigenous Week of a lot of related events here in NYC, and you will see me out — after I finally get a disco nap! A’ho*
(Kandia Crazy Horse reading the Indigenous Peoples Day 2016 declaration, on the covered statue of Theodore Roosevelt with African & Native American men @ American Museum of Natural History NYC – Credit: Betty Yu)
#FollowFriday #fbf >>>>—–)))—> From earlier this week, via ANA group; we had a fine ole time during my live taping in Jersey City on DJ Duane Harriott’s (Bim Marx/Negroclash/Other Music) radio show. Dig it: “On this week’s Duane Train, we shine a Native Artist spotlight on Kandia Crazy Horse, a country & western / Native Americana artist who is Pamunkey. Kandia (pictured doin’ it in the Park, oh yeah) & her band the Spirit of ’76 will talk about the meta-Afrolachian source of her sounds, perform live here in the WFMU studio, and share her love of vinyl collecting out of the Laurel Canyon & southern deeps.” Tune in 8/26, 12-3pm @ 91.1 FM in Jersey City, NY / 90.1 FM Hudson Valley, NY – or online @ WFMU.org | kandiacrazyhorse.com | T: @kandiacrazyhoss | IG: @kandiacrazyhorse
Y’all can now hear the show from the WFMU Archive HERE
Greetings from the Red Road & the Southland!
What has been billed as New York’s first country music festival, FarmBorough, came & went with much fanfare; but, as a proud member of the local New York City country scene that was (blatantly?) overlooked on their bills in favor of superstars straight from Music Row and assorted carpetbaggers, we played our own show in Brooklyn Country Thursday night — thanks to all who came out & raised a ruckus with us @ the honky-tonk!! — and I subsequently hit 95 South to find much-needed sonic & spiritual renewal in the Beautiful South.
En route to the Dixieline, I have sung country soul classics with Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar Arkestra — including my co-pilot Little Miss Cornshucks’ “Try A Little Tenderness” — and 1960s Freedom Songs alongside my Southwest Georgia kinswoman & SNCC Elder Bernice Johnson Reagon @ Chocolate City’s Metropolitan AME Church, as well as celebrated Peruvian music/culture @ this year’s Folklife Festival. Also took the time to see my former culture-crit colleague Gayle Wald (GWU scholar) give a talk on her latest tome @ Politics And Prose — it’s about my former Schomburg Center colleague & great black queer maverick son of Washington, Mr. Ellis Haizlip, and the landmark 1960s-70s variety show he hosted for PBS, Soul!, which featured such country/folk acts as my fellow Virginian Bill Withers and Taj Mahal giving me the seed to ultimately sing & write country music (Check out Soul! and Black Power Television also for renowned photographer Chester Higgins’ shots from the production).
Canada’s Toronto-based National Post features a very abbreviated take on my views about the current Confederate battle flag furor & the state of country music. And in my southern retreat new songs are now jumpin’ off the page and the Road, including a meditation on the famous post-bellum black stringband family, the Snowdens, who some historians credit with teaching “Dixie” to Dan Emmett Rice. I am undergoing a renaissance of focus on the myriad unknown black country musicians and songwriters who populated weekend frolics across the South and into the Midwest between the Civil War & the Second World War — fitting since America as a whole (not just Sistah Bree Newsome) seems arrested in that era yet again these days. Expecting to fly sometime in the Afrofuture with a vintage Virginian harp-guitar!
STAMPEDE & Kandia got featured as part of Blurt Magazine’s SXSW week coverage: “SEE YOU IN OPRYLAND”
Kandia Crazy Horse is on a crusade to become the first black woman to be invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. – Denise Sullivan
Read more here
My recent on-air interview with North Carolina’s Americana Music Show is available to listen online