“This is my offering to you. This is a different experience, so I hope you have an open mind, or at least an open heart. I see James Baldwin as an Orisha, his writing as the living word. I wanted to pay homage to him and to the time and effort it took to sit, to physically and emotionally fill the page with a truth that made my own sorrow feel less lonely.” —Meshell Ndegeocello
Chapter and Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin is a 21st-century ritual tool kit for justice, shared in isolation, bridging communities around the world. Inspired by James Baldwin’s seminal treatise on justice in America, The Fire Next Time, the project was created during the time of two raging pandemics plaguing the United States — COVID-19 and racism.
Participants are invited to engage in an urgent and critical investigation of race, religion, sexual orientation, America and its status quo, celebrating Baldwin’s ideas and legacy through music, meditations, and visual imagery. The vernacular of a church service, structured rituals and worship, and other forms of sacred practice, inspire the gifts offered each month from September-December 2020, free of charge.
1. Call: Dial a toll-free telephone number to discover songs, meditations, and chants to ease your mind any time, day or night, when you need it most. 1-833-4-BALDWIN (1-833-422-5394).
2. See: Experience visual testimonies of Baldwin’s text, with original music created by Meshell and artistic collaborators, including Suné Woods, Nicholas Galanin, and Charlotte Brathwaite.
3. Read: Sign up for the monthly printed newsletter, featuring Baldwin’s words and calls to action, delivered four times, directly to your mailbox. Broadsheet registration is now closed, access to a PDF version is be available for download here.
A Co-Production of Bismillah, LLC and Fisher Center at Bard. Co-Commissioned by Live Arts Bard, UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, and Festival de Marseille.