Santa Monica is staking a spot as a haven for jazz.

The Reverend Shawn Amos returns to Santa Monica to kick off the Broad Stage’s blackbox @ The Edye programming for the new year with his show A Night in Harlem, taking place Friday, February 1.  The programming, curated by Amos, transforms The Edye into a once-monthly show that features jazz and blues artists on the up and up.

Amos’s show will not only kick off the new year for The Edye but also will kick off African American History Month. His show will feature storytelling and songs from his 2011 album ‘Harlem’.

The album was aided by and inspired by a trip to LACMA’s ‘Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance’ exhibit in 1997, a “racial awakening” for Amos.

“It changed my trajectory,” Amos said. Amos says the exhibit showcased art, writing and music from the Harlem Renaissance, a time in post-World War I America where black Americans migrated from the South to Northern cities, a movement dubbed The New Negro Arts Movement.

New York City’s Harlem became a hub for creatives including Langston Hughes, Eartha Kitt and Louis Armstrong, creatives whose work a younger Amos saw himself in. The exhibit not only influenced an album and curated box set from Amos, but also influenced his life.

“For the first time in my then 30 years, I was given an image of myself absent from every media outlet of the time,” he said. “The New Negro Arts Movement made me proud of being a black American … it helped me put my blackness forward, to be unafraid of bringing these parts of my past to the present and helped me find myself … It’s been a constant little angel on my shoulder ever since.”

The experience empowered Amos, who says his choice of performance material and goal as curator at the black box @ The Edye is to introduce audiences young and old to fresh material, material designed to peak audience’s cultural curiosities.

“The series is designed to engage and entertain people, sure, but we want to have them stop in genres and musical acts that they might not touch otherwise. It’s an act of integration.”

Amos says kicking off African American History Month with an ode to his idols is an important task for him, specifically in an increasingly divided nation.

“We got the brother beat up in Chicago for being black and gay. I think these expressions of pride — Black, gay, Latino, Pakistani, whatever they may be — they’re vital. American culture is a culture of immigration and slavery and forced displacement and hopeful immigration, it’s all mixed together here. We have to keep all those threads, those identities, and keep them at the surface. It’s important to have a dialogue and celebrate them.”

For more information about Shawn Amos and The Broad Stage, visit TheBroadStage.org

angel@smdp.com

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