Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis write useful protest music for the day after tomorrow
"Activist Songbook," a collection of 53 contemporary protest songs derived from community interviews, launches Thursday May 3rd at Asian Arts. Composer Byron Au Yong and Lyricist Aaron Jafferis speak with Imani Roach about collective action and how Asian American narratives complicate the American racial landscape.

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Though they come from different worlds (classical music and hip-hop respectively) composers Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration for over a decade. Their most recent joint venture, Activist Songbook, is a collection of 53 original protest songs for voice and percussion, culled from conversations with activists, agitators and other leaders in Philadelphia’s Asian and Asian American communities. The project, which Au Yong and Jafferis think of as a kind of toolkit for organizers, launches this week at Asian Arts and will travel to several other US cities between now and the 2020 election. Activist Songbook is one of several (ex)CHANGE projects, commissioned by Asian Arts, with support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, to respond to Philadelphia’s ever-changing neighborhoods and the dynamic communities that animate them. What makes a good protest song? Listen to find out. Imani interviewed Aaron and Byron on site at the Asian Arts Initiative on April 30th, 2018; the podcast is 28 minutes long.

Composer Byron Au Yong and Lyricist Aaron Jafferis.
Composer Byron Au Yong and Lyricist Aaron Jafferis.

Activist Songbook will be performed at the Asian Arts Initiative on Friday, May 4th at 5pm and Saturday May 5th at 12pm. Parts of Activist Songbook will also be performed on-board Thursday’s (ex)Change Guided Bus Tour.

To view the full calendar for the Asian Arts Initiative’s 25th Anniversary Celebration weekend or learn more about this and other (ex)CHANGE projects, visit the Asian Arts 25th Anniversary website.

Tags

125th, aaron jafferis, asian arts initiative, byron au yong

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