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Freedom & Humanity through the lens of Frederick Douglass' return to America.
Book at Eventbrite here.
Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, orator, author, reformer, women’s rights advocate, and statesman, was also a creative. Playing and singing music and writing and reciting poetry provided inspiration and much-needed solace to Frederick Douglass’ soul. Frederick Douglass utilized photography to visualize the humanity of African Americans and reclaim the power of self-representation through the lens of Imago Dei. In his speech, “Farewell to the British People,” we experience the tensions of relinquishment, vocation, sacrifice, and the cost of freedom.
Ruth Naomi Floyd is an Emancipatory Artist who is rooted and grounded in a faith ethos and has been a presence and worker in areas of the arts and justice throughout her career. A vocalist and composer, Ruth has been at the forefront of creating vocal jazz settings that express faith and justice for over 25 years. She leads her own multi-faceted ensemble and her discography consist primarily of original compositions. Ruth has performed and lectured prolifically on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, culture, and the arts at numerous universities, seminaries, conferences, and performance centers around the world.
A committed music educator, Ruth served as Director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania and is an Artist in Residence at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ruth taught music for twenty years at The City School in Philadelphia.
Ruth’s recent compositions include Freedom which premiered in April 2018 in Wales, United Kingdom. Commissioned in honor of human rights activist, Freedom is Mende Nazer’s profound story of survival as a slave in Sudan and London. In the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center, in partnership with NEWorks Productions, commissioned Ruth as one of four composers to create a community mass inspired by Bernstein’s MASS, that explores anew the relevance of faith in our times.
The Frederick Douglass Jazz Works is Ruth’s latest body of compositions for jazz septet, based on the speeches and writings of the great leading orator, abolitionist, writer, publisher, and statesman. This body of work won the Best Vocal Recital Award at the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for 2020-2021. In 2021, Intercultural Journeys commissioned Ruth to compose a three-song cycle for voice and cello in honor of the legacy and activism of the great contralto Marian Anderson. In May 2021 Ruth in partnership with Intercultural Journeys was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts Project Grant for her new body of work, The Frances Suite, which explores the life, advocacy and literary work of Frances Ellen Watkin Harper, and will feature an all-female ensemble.
Ruth was awarded the Kimmel Center’s Jazz Residency for the 2019-2020 season. In December 2019, Concordia College-New York, awarded Ruth an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work.
Ruth continues to make the city of Philadelphia her home, where for over twenty-five years she has been devoted and active in providing compassionate care and spiritual support to people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Philadelphia and Africa.
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Artist Lakwena Maciver speaks about her work, faith and current show at Hastings Contemporary
Our monthly lecture as part of the Make Good series Why Art Matters In Times of Crisis