Oklahoma Contemporary

Media Release

Fire in Little Africa, Oklahoma Contemporary, Greenwood Art Project team up for live music and art experience

April 09, 2021
Musicians sing, play instruments and perform for an audience.

Contact: Lori Brooks | 405 951 0000 | lbrooks@okcontemp.org
Media kit: bit.ly/OC_FILA

April 24 outdoor event will commemorate the centennial of Tulsa Race Massacre with the first-ever performance of original music from Fire in Little Africa album

On April 24, Oklahoma Contemporary will host a free evening of music and memory featuring hip-hop project Fire in Little Africa and Greenwood Art Project’s mobile exhibition, the G.A.P. Van. Organized by the Woody Guthrie Center® and Bob Dylan Center®, Fire in Little Africa brings together Oklahoma's top rappers, singers, musicians and visual artists in an album and documentary to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Massacre and introduce Tulsa’s hip-hop culture to a global audience. (This Monday, Fire in Little Africa announced a deal with Motown/Black Forum Records.)

More than 30 artists will perform at the Oklahoma Contemporary event, including Steph Simon, Dialtone, St. Domonick, Ayilla, Hakeem Eli’Juwon, Ausha LaCole, Tony Foster Jr and Ray June. The event will be emceed by Jabee and livestreamed around the world.

“Fire in Little Africa is a project of explosive creativity and extraordinary scale,” said Oklahoma Contemporary Artistic Director Jeremiah Matthew Davis. “The artists who comprise the new collective have courageously banded together to meet this moment — the centennial commemoration of the Tulsa Race Massacre. This important project and forthcoming album speak to the ability of contemporary artists not only to interpret the world as it is so we can better appreciate the present, but to wrangle with the world as it was so we can draw lessons from the past. Oklahoma Contemporary is honored to partner with Fire in Little Africa to present the group’s first performance in the state’s capital.”

Poster with a stylized hand holding a match with headline "An Evening with Fire in Little Africa."

The Fire in Little Africa album gets to the truth of what happened May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless. The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa explore these events through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.

Fire in Little Africa has evolved into a communal hip-hop movement, and we’re excited that we get to share the flavor, history and legacy of Black Wall Street in this live performance in collaboration with Greenwood Art Project and our friends at Oklahoma Contemporary,” said Stevie “Dr. View” Johnson, the album’s executive producer and the manager of Education and Diversity Outreach at the Woody Guthrie Center® | Bob Dylan Center®.

In addition to the concert, the Greenwood Art Project’s mobile G.A.P. Van — a multi-use, collaborative, mobile art exhibition, workshop space and poster project in collaboration with PBS American Portrait — will give attendees a chance to explore and make their own visual art that shares stories about the massacre and reflects their voices. The Greenwood Art Project is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.

Residents of the Oklahoma City metro and beyond are invited to participate in this powerful, healing approach to commemorating the Tulsa Massacre and the history of the Greenwood neighborhood. Tickets (free for seating on Oklahoma Contemporary’s North Lawn, $50 for VIP terrace seats) are available now. The performance will be livestreamed through Fire in Little Africa and Oklahoma Contemporary’s social platforms and on okcontemp.org. For more information, visit okcontemp.org/FILA.

In conjunction with this event and coinciding with centennial commemorations in Tulsa, Oklahoma Contemporary will this spring and summer present a suite of exhibitions and programs connected to the Civil Rights legacy of Oklahoma City and the physical, architectural and cultural reverberations of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

A media kit featuring photos, logos, a full list of artists and this release can be found at bit.ly/OC_FILA. Interviews with Oklahoma Contemporary, Fire in Little Africa and G.A.P. Van staff can be organized through Lori Brooks (lbrooks@okcontemp.org). Past press releases and information are archived at oklahomacontemporary.org/media.

About Oklahoma Contemporary
Oklahoma Contemporary is a multidisciplinary contemporary arts organization, providing a catalyst for the exploration of creativity and contemporary practice through a program of groundbreaking exhibitions, performances and educational programs. Developed by and for Oklahomans to present and explore the key innovations, issues and concerns of the art of our time, Oklahoma Contemporary does so while drawing on the dynamic aesthetic, cultural, historical and political landscape of the state. At its core, the institution is an inclusive space – Oklahoma Contemporary believes that art is for everyone and centers accessibility and education at the core of all programming. Exhibitions are always free. You are always welcome here. Oklahoma Contemporary is a regional 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by businessman and philanthropist Christian Keesee and Kirkpatrick Foundation Director Marilyn Myers.

About Fire in Little Africa
Fire in Little Africa brings together the top rappers, singers, musicians and visual artists in Oklahoma to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Massacre and introduce Tulsa’s hip-hop culture to the world with an album, documentary, podcast and educational curriculum. The album will be released on the iconic Motown record label May 28, 2021. The documentary and curriculum will launch Fall 2021. The Fire in Little Africa podcast releases new episodes every Tuesday and can be streamed here.

About the G.A.P. Van
The G.A.P. Van, a collaboration between the Greenwood Art Project and PBS American Portrait, is a multi-use, collaborative, mobile art exhibition, workshop space and poster project that will engage residents of Tulsa as the city approaches the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre. The project is led by artist Rick Lowe, a 2014 MacArthur Fellow, known for reinventing community revitalization as an art form, and artist William Cordova, an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner. The acronym G.A.P. Van is a reference to the R&B group GAP BAND. It also stands for Greenwood/Archer and Pine, the boundary streets of historic Greenwood, which was historically known as America’s “Black Wall Street” and the site of the most devastating racial massacre in the country’s history.

Images: Ray June, M.C., Chris Combs at a fall Fire in Little Africa performance. Photo: Ray Cass and An Evening with Fire in Little Africa event poster.

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Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

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