Javon Jackson with Nikki Giovanni and Nnenna Freelon
Friday, November 3, 2023, 7:30 PM
Moss Center Virginia Tech
Street and Davis Performance Hall, Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre
“These songs are so important. They comforted people through times of slavery, and during recent years we needed them to comfort us again.”
— Nikki Giovanni
About The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni
Why would one of poetry’s most revered voices want to curate a jazz saxophonist’s album of gospel hymns and spirituals? “These songs are so important,” says Giovanni, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Living Legends and a Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. “They comforted people through times of slavery, and during recent years we needed them to comfort us again. But a lot of the students today do not know about the history of these songs, and they should. So I’m out here putting water on the flowers, because they need a drink.”
“The spirituals have been around so long,” says the renowned poet, activist, and educator, who came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s as a foundational member of the Black Arts movement following the publication of such early works as 1968 book of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment and 1970’s Re:Creation.
“Some spirituals have been updated and stayed around and some have been lost over time,” Giovanni notes. “So for me, it’s just helping to keep something going. And I do it because there’s a need.”
Co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center
A historic collaboration between renowned poet and Virginia Tech legend Nikki Giovanni and saxophonist-composer and former Jazz Messenger Javon Jackson has yielded The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni. For this intimate jazz performance, Jackson brings his bold-toned, Trane-inspired tenor lines to bear on a series of hymns, spirituals, and gospel numbers hand-picked by Giovanni. They are joined by celebrated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon.
For more information
To hear her speak about the recording experience – Listen to an interview with Nikki on Artemis Speaks Podcast with Jeri Rogers