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Regina Carter

North America

GONE IN A PHRASE OF AIR

Regina Carter’s projects – including Reverse Thread, Southern Comfort, and Simply Ella – have always been very personal stories, journeys of self-discovery and identity achieved by researching and understanding family and subjects that have impacted her family. In her newest project, GONE IN A PHRASE OF AIR, Regina explores areas across America where hundreds of thousands of its citizens, most often African Americans, immigrants, and the disadvantaged, witnessed their homes, businesses, and churches being demolished, all in the name of urban renewal.

Detroit, Regina’s hometown, has always attracted and been the home of many of America’s music legends. Jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Teddy Harris Jr. performed in Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, two of the city’s predominantly black neighborhoods that were lively hubs of culture, commerce, faith, and families.

Beginning in the 1950s, however, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were targeted for demolition, making way for highways and public housing developments as part of a nationwide urban renewal movement. Countless numbers of people were displaced, often without financial support or any regard for their well-being.

By the early 1960s, similar areas around the country – Mill Creek Valley in St. Louis; the Hayti district in Durham, North Carolina; Bronzeville in Chicago; and neighborhoods in Coos Bay, Oregon, Boston, and Lubbock, Texas, among many others – with their own musical greats, like Grady Tate and Sam Cooke, were gone, “Gone in a Phrase of Air, just as if they had never been there” (poet Leslie Reese, “Black Bottom”*).

GONE IN A PHRASE OF AIR celebrates these vanished communities and some of the music associated with them. It will reach a broad range of listeners and strike a responsive chord. Listeners who have ties to similar communities will enjoy the message and the music, and others new to these stories will discover the vibrancy and spirit of these lost places.

The program will include original music as well as music of that time, poetry, and spoken word, and the concert experience will include visual art elements as well.

For Grammy nominated artist Regina Carter, the violin isn’t simply an improvisational vehicle; it’s a passport to unexpected realms. Her quest for beauty combined with her passion for excellence did not escape the attention of the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded Regina their prestigious MacArthur fellowship “genius grant.” San Francisco Performances also took note of Regina’s exceptional work and appointed her Artist-in-Residence for five years. She also served as one of the Resident Artistic Directors for the discerning SFJAZZ during its inaugural season in its spectacular new home. Most recently, the acclaimed violinist was awarded a Doris Duke Artist Award and in 2018 was appointed as the Director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s All-Female Jazz Residency, a unique summer immersion program for aspiring women jazz professionals.

*“Black Bottom,” an original composition by Regina Carter, was created in 2006/2007 as a commission by Lincoln Center.