A contemporary chamber opera will tell the story of a 21st-century Black woman exploring her spirituality and purpose through the legacies of 19th-century Black women leaders: founder of Philadelphia’s Black Shaker movement Rebecca Cox Jackson and abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. The creative team includes composer Courtney Bryan, librettist Sharan Strange, director Charlotte Brathwaite, performer Helga Davis, visual designer Cauleen Smith, and a music ensemble organized by International Contemporary Ensemble. Over two years, this team will participate in three Philadelphia-based residencies and lead public programs to incorporate material from Philadelphia residents that considers the city’s history in engaging with social change movements. The creative team will also teach the new songs to local audiences in hymnals created for the project, distributed in advance and incorporated into the performances as an invitation for collective singing.
The total grant amount represents project funding plus an additional 20% in unrestricted general operating support.