Social activism has always played a more central role in Wadada Smith's life than his aesthetic explorations within the Western musical tradition. His pivotal role in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (A.A.C.C.), an organization that has left an indelible stamp on artistic events of all kinds in Chicago, was part and parcel of these activities. Similarly, the 22 compositions that make up his Ten Freedom Summers, a work which focuses on 1954-64, the period in which the young trumpeter was growing up, essay a psychological interpretation of events connected with the Civil Rights Movement.
Ten Freedom Summers, which is to be performed at the OCC, deals with the battle for what should have been self-evident rights for Afro-Americans. The work has earned its composer numerous awards and a place among the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
In his presentation at the OCC, the activist, educator and musician Wadada Leo Smith will be discussing music’s role as a medium for socio-political struggle and a means of empowering social organizations and groups.