On Monday, September 21, The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) is presenting a livestreamed concert at 6 p.m. from its living room to yours. Jazz: The Living Room Session features acclaimed jazz vocalist Akua Allrich performing from the museum’s immersive East Lobby installation Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure, which was designed as a living room for Baltimore with patterns and textures drawn from 1970s and 1980s black culture. The approximately 45-minute concert will be followed by a conversation with Allrich hosted by Baltimore-based musician Jasmine Pope. This is a pay-what-you-can event, with any amount gratefully accepted to support the BMA’s efforts to bring innovative and accessible programs to audiences during this difficult and unprecedented time. Tickets may be purchased at artbma.org/events/series/jazz2020 beginning Tuesday, August 25. A link for the event will be sent to the email address provided with the donation.
Washington, D.C. native Akua Allrich is a musician, vocalist, percussionist, and composer of extraordinary talent and crowd-moving passion. Considered one of the region’s most captivating performers, Allrich’s musical roots embrace blues, soul, and R&B, with a grounding in jazz and pan-African music, or as she describes it: “Jazz + Neo Afro-Soul-Blues-Reggae-Funk-Rock-Folk.” She sings in the many languages of contemporary jazz, including Zulu, Xhosa, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and English and her music is often likened to legendary artists such as Oscar Brown, Jr., Miriam Makeba, Bob Marley, and Nina Simone. Allrich is also the child of a musical family as her father, Agyei Akoto, was a founding member of the jazz group Nation. Allrich holds a B.A. in Music in jazz studies from Howard University’s School of Fine Arts and was mentored by world-renowned singer Kehembe V. Eichelberger, singer/drummer Grady Tate, and pianist Charles Covington. To date, she has released three independently produced albums: A Peace of Mine; Uniquely Standard, Akua Allrich Live!; and Soul Singer. akuaallrich.com
Jasmine Pope, singer, emcee, and front-woman of J Pope and the HearNow, has been a powerful presence in Baltimore’s music scene for more than a decade. Pope has become well known for using jazz, soul, and hip hop to create music rooted in social justice, self-awareness, Blackness, and Queerness. Her latest project with the HearNow is “Soul Searching,” an exploration of navigating change with your head and your heart intact.
In addition to her work within the Baltimore music scene, Pope also works in the field of public health developing strategies for HIV and STI prevention across the state of Maryland.
Mickalene Thomas: A Moment’s Pleasure
The inaugural Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Biennial Commission is an immersive installation by internationally renowned artist Mickalene Thomas. The BMA’s commission is the artist’s most ambitious project to date, completely transforming the museum’s two-floor East Lobby into a living room for Baltimore. Thomas has installed a new façade on the exterior that resembles the city’s traditional row houses and re-envisioned the interior with new wallpapers, furniture, carpeting, and other design elements, altering every surface of the space. The vivid geometric patterns, prints, and textures of the environment reference the aesthetics of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the creativity of black culture in the U.S. during that period.
The BMA has been temporarily closed since March 16, 2020, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the museum relaunched The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) speaker series as a digital showcase for Baltimore artists, galleries, and collectives through the BMA Salon and BMA Screening Room, and has distributed more than 1,200 BMA Studio art-making kits at the Greenmount West Community Center for the Maryland Food Bank and World Central Kitchen and visitors to the museum’s Lexington Market branch location. The BMA also introduced new Art Break Live and Violet Hour online events, created video tours of many exhibitions and the collection, and recreated the popular Free Family Sundays drop-in art-making program as Free Family Sundays at Home. The BMA’s outdoor Sculpture Gardens reopened on June 24, and the museum launched a new audio tour of outdoor artworks on August 5. Plans to reopen the museum building are still being developed.
The BMA’s Sculpture Gardens and Spring House are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Connect with us online at artbma.org