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tUnE-yArDs w/ Afro Zuma

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
  • 7:30 PM–10:30 PM
  • Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium

Part of the 2015 Festival of Faith and Music

 Ticketing Options - 

     Festival of Faith and Music Registration = various prices.  Includes all FFM concerts and lectures (including Lecrae & Will Butler (of Arcade Fire)).  Choose REGISTER/SIGN UP link above.  

     Concert only = $25.  Tune-Yards concert at 7:30PM in the  CFAC Auditorium.  All seats general admission.  Choose BUY TICKETS link above.

Artist Narrative:

It is fair to say that the music of tUnE-yArDs jumps out at listeners. Merrill Garbus, the woman heading up the project, uses the variety of musical styles that have influenced her throughout her life and brings them together in her energetic and rhythmic music. Rather than keeping to Western musical styles, she experiments with new ways to use her voice and styles she learned while spending time in Kenya and Haiti. She says in an interview with Pitchfork, “Ever since college a cappella I've always been drawn to this thing with how to stretch and expand the voice in traditional ways that you aren't supposed to do in our Western culture,” and as described in an article in Spin, “Time spent in Haiti last year, studying Haitian percussion… helped expand Garbus' rhythmic focus in new ways. And years ago, as a student at Smith College, she did a study abroad in Kenya, which opened her up to a crash-collision of new sonic inspirations. But the music she encountered in Africa that hit her hardest wasn't the local Kenyan music — it was Congolese pop.” Both her a cappella background and international influence are apparent in her creative use of vocals and non-traditional technique- aspects of her music that set her apart from others.

In addition to having a style that distinguishes her, Garbus’s music points out the ways in which people fall short of their potential, while also pointing out what that potential is. She does not shy away from subjects that make others uncomfortable, such as suffering in the song Hatari. She writes,

Got on a plane (How did you get here?)
Hack off a leg (How did you get here?)
Left off my finger at the jewelry shop
Hatari hatari danger at the spot, jam hop

She faces injustice head-on in this song in a matter-of-fact way that grabs the attention of listeners and draws them into the story she’s telling. She also confronts more personal issues in the song Fiya. In the song, she writes,

when a girl feels so alone
what a tease to throw a bone
should've just stayed at home
when a girl feels so alone…
what if my own skin makes my skin crawl?
what if my own flesh is suburban sprawl?
what happened between us makes sense if i'm nothing

Brokenness is not just something that happens in another culture or something that happens inside us, but both simultaneously. The world is steeped in suffering from within and without, but Garbus instead of leaving the story here, continues by pointing out the hope that still exists. In “Hey Life” she writes,

Hey life, I am still here
Hey life, I am still here
Hey life, I am calling your name
But all I hear is an echo
Unless your voice and mine sound the same
But hey life, I love you so much I scream and shout

In spite of all that happens, life is still worth loving and fighting for. Even if it may seem that life’s hardships overwhelm us, the love of life is enough to keep us fighting for something better. We may not see the results, but the hope that we can someday change the situation is enough to make it worthwhile. There is a potential for good that injustice cannot completely take away.

- Avery Johnson

March 2015
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