BAM’s 35th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PJ Morton with his daughter, Peyton, pose backstage with his Best R&B Song award for "Say So" at the 62nd Grammy Awards, Los Angeles, California, U.S., Jan. 26, 2020.
REUTERS/Monica Almeida, File

The Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams – in association with BRIC, a leading arts and media institution anchored in Downtown Brooklyn whose work spans contemporary visual and performing arts, media and civic action – will on Monday host the 35th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We come together to honor iconic civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at this digital adaptation of our beloved annual event,” said BAM in a statement.

“Audience members from around the world are invited to join us for New York City’s largest public celebration of Dr. King’s legacy, a free virtual program featuring world-renowned activists, public figures, and civic leaders alongside musicians and other performers,” it added.

“After a painful year, we take this moment to reflect and to move towards the future,” BAM continued. “We draw inspiration from Dr. King’s words, his life, and the actions of those around us who continue the fight for equality and justice.”

With a keynote address by Alicia Garza — author of “The Purpose of Power,” principal at Black Futures Lab, and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network — and performances by Grammy winner PJ Morton, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, Sing Harlem!, poets Timothy DuWhite and Ashley August, and other changemakers, “this tribute to Dr. King grounds us in a message of hard-earned hope,” BAM said.

It said reservations are strongly encouraged, although they are not required in order to attend.

BAM said Garza is an organizer, political strategist and cheeseburger enthusiast.

She is the principal at the Black Futures Lab and the Black to the Future Action Fund, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Strategy & Partnerships Director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Garza is also the host of the “Lady Don’t Take No” podcast.

“Her acclaimed new book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, offers an essential guide to building transformative movements to address the challenges of our time,” BAM said.

It said New Orleans-based singer-songwriter PJ Morton performs “deeply soulful R&B with a passionate delivery that simultaneously comforts and entrances.”

A longtime keyboardist for Maroon 5 and music director for Solange, Morton boasts a roster of collaborators that include Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and India.Arie.

His albums Gumbo, Gumbo Unplugged and Paul have all earned him Grammy nominations for Best R&B Album, with additional wins for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2019 and a Best R&B Song in 2020.

Originally the breakout choir for Mama Foundation for the Arts’ School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, Sing Harlem!, an award-winning choir, has flourished under the direction of Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, serving as both a social impact initiative for young alumni and a commercial choir.

Sing Harlem! have performed at Lincoln Center, Saturday Night Live and the Grammy Awards — among many others — and accompanied artists including Sting, Arianna Grande and Madonna.

All proceeds benefit the Mama Foundation’s music training programs, which are provided to the Harlem community tuition-free.

Hailing from New Orleans, BAM said Tarriona “Tank” Ball is the frontwoman of the Grammy-nominated Tank and The Bangas.

“The four-piece group has a rare knack for combining various musical styles — fiery soul, deft hip-hop, deep-drove R&B and subtle jazz — into one dazzling, cohesive whole that evokes the scope of New Orleans music while retaining a distinctive feel all its own,” BAM said.

Following its 2019 major-label debut album, Green Balloon, the group released the EP Friend Goals in November 2020, with a host of features including PJ Morton, CHIKA, Pell and Duckwrth.

BAM described Ashley August as “Black, alive and loves a good list!”

She is an Afro-Latina actress, author, playwright, activist, teaching artist, touring spoken word artist, third ranked woman poet in the world, ASTEP at Juilliard fellow, former Youth Poet Laureate of New York City and one of The New York Times’ “30 Under 30 Most Influential People,” according to BAM.

“With Belize and Brooklyn embedded into her (he) art, August is motivated to speak the unsaid truth, and push the boundaries of spoken word and performance to realms they’ve yet to live in,” BAM said.

It said DuWhite (he/they) is a Black/queer poet, actor and activist based in Brooklyn.

His essays and poetry can be found in The Rumpus, The Root, Afropunk, and elsewhere.

BAM said his acclaimed one-man show, NEPTUNE, headlined Dixon Place’s Hot! Festival in 2018 and kicked-off Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays series in 2019.

DuWhite is an alumnus of the Public Theater’s #BARS program, a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, and a BAM Resident Artist.

Previous BAM appearances include Word. Sound. Power. 2019 and Essex Hemphill: Remembering and Reimagining.

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