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Blues in the City – Work-in-Progress & Discussion with Marcus Shelby & Dr. Nicholas L. Baham

Thu, Aug 11, 2022, 6:30pm8:30pm

Thu, Aug 11, 2022
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA + Google Map
(415) 358-7200

This program is in-person at MoAD. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the start of the event is required at the door.


Join composer/educator Marcus Shelby in conversation with Dr. Nicholas L. Baham, Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University East Bay, for the final installment in a three-part Blues in the City performance and discussion series, exploring how the concurrent crises of homelessness, systemic racism and the pandemic affect the most vulnerable residents of San Francisco. The conversation explores social protests, insurrections and the role of music, inspired by Dr. Baham’s book entitled The Coltrane Church: Apostles of Sound, Agents of Social Justice. The evening will also include a work-in-progress performance of additional excerpts composed for the forthcoming Blues in the City music suite, featuring the Marcus Shelby New Orchestra Ensemble: Aaron Smith, trumpet; Dillon Vado, vibraphone; Destiny Muhammad, harp; Rebecca Rodriquez, percussion; Luis Peralta, piano; and Marcus Shelby, bass.



The performance and discussion series culminates in the full length commissioned work Blues in the City, premiering at YBG Festival on Saturday, September 3, 2022.


Dr. Nicholas L. Baham III is a Professor and Chair of Ethnic Studies at California State University East Bay and a San Francisco native. He attended college at the University of Chicago where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science; earned his Master’s degree in Anthropology at Stanford University; and received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His academic research focuses on African American religious experience, sexuality and artistic expression. His first book, The Coltrane Church: Apostles of Sound, Agents of Social Justice was published in 2015 by McFarland Press. He is also the author of The Podcaster’s Dilemma: Decolonizing Podcasters in the Era of Surveillance Capitalism, published this year with Wiley-Blackwell Press; and co-author and co-editor of the forthcoming Love, Knowledge, and Revolution: A Comparative Ethnic Studies Reader with Routledge Press. He has a growing body of published journal articles and book chapters on the Coltrane Church, African American musical and religious expression, James Baldwin, Afrofuturism and critical media literacy including “I Know You Know: Esperanza Spalding’s Hybrid, Intertextual, Multilingual, Relevant Jazz Aesthetic,” and “Radio Free Coltrane: Free Jazz Radio as Revolutionary Practice” in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture. At California State University East Bay, Dr. Baham teaches courses on Afrofuturism, Jazz Cultures, Black Sexualities, James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Racialized Masculinities.


Marcus Anthony Shelby is a composer, bassist, bandleader, and educator who currently lives in San Francisco, California. His work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives, social movements, and music education. In 1990, Marcus Shelby received the Charles Mingus Scholarship to attend Cal Arts and study composition with James Newton and bass with Charlie Haden. Currently, Shelby is the Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz, an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, and a past resident artist with the San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Shelby has composed several oratorios and suites including Harriet Tubman, Beyond the Blues: A Prison Oratorio, Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Ball: The Negro Leagues and the Blues, Green and Blues, and a children’s opera Harriet’s Spirit produced by Opera Parallel 2018. Shelby also composed the score and performed in Anna Deavere Smith’s Off Broadway Play and HBO feature film Notes from the Field (2019). Shelby is also the voice of Ray Gardener in the blockbuster Disney Pixar film Soul (2020). Shelby has also worked with a range of artists including Angela Y. Davis’ Blues Legacies and Black Feminism (2019), Joanna Haigood’s Dying While Black and Brown (2014), Margo Hall’s Bebop Baby (2013) and Sonny’s Blues (2008), the Oakland Ballet’s Ella The SF Girl Choir (2013), The Oakland Youth Chorus (2014), and many other productions over the past 23 years. Shelby has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission since 2013 and has worked with the Equal Justice Society for over 20 years.


Watch the last installment of the Blues in the City performance and discussion series here:


Presented by Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in partnership with:

Funded by:

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

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