EventsReclaiming Folk: Celebrating People of Color in Folk Music

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Reclaiming Folk: Celebrating People of Color in Folk Music

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Central Library in Copley Square

Description

The Reclaiming Folk Event Series is a celebration of people of color in folk music. Folk music is traditional music, folk music is storytelling, folk music is music of the people, and folk music is a voice for what’s happening in the world today.

In our society, there is often no space for marginalized people to tell their stories. Reclaiming Folk seeks to make space for musicians of color to tell their stories and tell the stories of our past, so that our future can be a more inclusive place for all. 

We are Reclaiming Folk because history has forgotten that people of color have always been at the root of American folk music. From field calls to blues to gospel, the origin of American folk music is connected to people of color.

This 90 minute program includes a 60 minute performance by three Massachusetts based folk artists of color—Naomi Westwater, Grace Givertz, and Kim Moberg—singing songs in the round. Each musician will play original songs and one traditional folk song by a musician of color. Following the performance will be a 30 minute talk back—moderated by Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola, who will also read a poem—where the musicians will talk about their songs and their experience as folk musicians. There will be time for audience Q&A.

Event Creator

Naomi Westwater (they/she) is a queer, Black-multiracial singer-songwriter from Massachusetts. Their work combines folk music, poetry, and spirituality. Their hope is that through ritual and storytelling they can aid nature in the end of capitalism and the return of community, creativity, and collective joy. 

Naomi holds a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance and Production from Berklee College of Music and is a part of The Club Passim Folk Collective, where she produces Re-Imagining Lilith Fair: a tribute to the feminist music scene of the 1990s with an intersection lens for today. 

Naomi was nominated for a 2021 and 2022 Boston Music Award for best singer-songwriter, and has been featured in The Boston Globe, Under The Radar, WBUR, WGBH, and The Bluegrass Situation. 

Naomi is on faculty at Club Passim and Not Sorry Productions teaching songwriting, tarot, and poetry, and leads the Boston Chapter of We Make Noise. She is also an event producer and has produced shows at The Apollo Theatre, The Beacon Theatre, The Bell House, and more. Currently, Naomi is producing a series called Reclaiming Folk: A Celebration of People of Color in Folk Music.

More info at @naomiwestwater and www.naomiwestwater.com.

Musicians

Photo by Barry Schneier

Award winning singer/songwriter Kim Moberg is an Alaska native Indigenous (Tlingit) artist who suffered a lifetime of debilitating stage fright. In 2014 she set out to overcome that stage fright and wrote her first song.

Kim teamed with Grammy nominated producer Jon Evans to record three albums, all receiving critical acclaim and charting on the Folk Alliance International DJ charts. Her latest release “The Seven Fires Prophecy Suite for Humanity” (2023) is an original 8 song suite that tells the ancient yet relevant Anishinaabe legend “The Seven Fires Prophecy”.

Kim's rich vocals have been described as “a blend of honey and whiskey”.

"Kim’s mighty pen is a source of amazing material that bridges the past with the future. She brings stories to life with harmonious melodies, and nothing can be more representative of that than the brand new LP Up Around The Bend. Kim’s stories are real, relatable and can connect each and every listener to their substance. In this world there are some people who write true organic music, music so real, and so important for our times, and is Kim Moberg. It doesn’t’ hurt that she has an amazing voice to go with it!” 

—Jon Sexier, Country, American, Roots, Blues Music Promotion

More info at www.kimmobergmusic.com.

Hailing from the sunshine state of Florida, Grace Givertz captivates audiences with her indie folk compositions, blending earworm melodies with heartfelt storytelling. As a multi-instrumentalist, she infuses her music with a diverse array of sounds, weaving folk, Americana, and indie rock into a tapestry uniquely her own.

Drawing inspiration from her personal journey living with chronic illness, Givertz's music resonates with raw emotion and introspection. Her experiences infuse her songs with depth and authenticity, inviting listeners to explore themes of resilience and vulnerability.

Grace Givertz showcases her multi-instrumentalism on her debut album, Year of the Horse, playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica in addition to vocals. Year of the Horse showcases Grace’s ability to turn lemons in to lemonade through song. “…The only real option is to smile at how much she packs into a tiny punch of a song,” Nina Corcoran writes in digboston.

She has also been heavily involved with the Black Opry, an organization dedicated to highlighting and supporting Black musicians in the country music industry. In 2023, this lead to her participating in WXPN’s Black Opry Residency in Philadelphia.

In a groundbreaking move, Givertz is currently working on her sophomore album, which exclusively features BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or disabled musicians. This collaborative effort not only amplifies underrepresented voices but also underscores her commitment to inclusivity and diversity within the music industry.

Givertz's talent shines bright, earning her acclaim for her captivating performances. She's been nominated for Boston Music Awards and received the City of Boston's Extraordinary Women Award for her contributions to music and community. Beyond accolades, she shares her expertise through songwriting workshops, including sessions with the Harvard Ed Portal, empowering others to authentically express themselves.

Grace Givertz's melodies resonate as beacons of authenticity, illuminating the indie folk landscape and reminding us of the enduring power of storytelling through song.

More info at https://www.gracegivertz.com/about.

Moderator

Porsha Olayiwola is an individual world poetry slam champion and the author of the collection i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current Poet Laureate for the City of Boston. She is a 2020 Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellow. Olayiwola is the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.

More info at www.porshaolayiwola.com.


This program presented in partnership with the City of Boston Office of Arts and Culture is part of the BPL's current programmatic theme. “Revolutionary Music: Music for Social Change” is a year-long overview of how music has spurred social change in the United States. It is the first in a series of three thematic years leading up to the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. 

"Revolutionary Music" will use a combination of programs and examples from BPL's collections to celebrate music's rich history of catalyzing social change, acting as a powerful conduit for dissent, unity, awareness, and cultural influence. From spirituals to jazz, folk, reggae, punk, and hip-hop, various music genres have echoed societal shifts and served as a voice for some of the protests and movements that have changed the course of history. Through captivating performances and discussions, curated booklists and playlists, and thought-provoking displays, the BPL is set to explore and celebrate the transformative impact of music on social change throughout the year.


Registration is required. We plan to open doors 15 minutes in advance. This program will also be broadcasted live to our YouTube channel, where it will also live as a recording:


Programming like this is enabled through the generosity of a variety of public and private funding. To learn more and support our programming, visit the Boston Public Library Fund website.

This program is accessible to people with disabilities. To request a disability accommodation and/or language services, please contact the Adult Programs Department via programs@bpl.org or 617-859-2129. Please allow at least two weeks to arrange for accommodations.

Program:
Reading Together
Suitable for:
All Adults
Type:
Concerts
Talks & Lectures
Featured Events
Revolutionary Music
Language:
English

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