Harlem Voices

by Clovice Lewis

CA

Harlem Voices is a musical set in the 1920s that explores present-day issues of racism, LGBTQ issues, inept leadership, African-American military service in WWI, and racial profiling (among many other issues). It is about a brilliant young black vocalist who was traumatized by the Rosewood, FL massacre of her family members by the KKK. She is conflicted by falling in love with a white patron of the racially segregated club where she works in Harlem called the Black Jay Club. I am seeking funding to complete the musical, which is approximately one-quarter of the way done. I am writing the “book” (play), libretto, and music... the entire creative product... and would like to be financially supported during its creation.

I have composed many large orchestral and symphonic works, vocal pieces, and instrumental ensembles over a career that spans over 45 years. The many styles I compose in a range from classical to electronic avant-garde. Please visit jazzicalmusic.com for a detailed catalog of the 150+ pieces I have composed. There, you will find mp3 recordings, scores, and parts for nearly all the compositions. Harlem Voices was first conceived over 20 years ago as a theatrical cantata. It existed in my mind then as a way to describe the modern black experience in a musical manner. It recently appeared, fully-formed, as a response to the racial tensions in the United States heightened by the current administration. After reexamining the abbreviated cantata form, it became clear that the piece required a deeper expression. This piece feels immediate and important as a way to answer the resurgence of the KKK, white supremacy, and Nazi groups plaguing our nation.  

Harlem Voices is emerging quickly from my mind. It is an absolute joy to create. Unlike other large projects I've taken on in the past, my desire this time is to concentrate on its completion and not worry about paying the bills while I do so. I started the project by writing a comprehensive biography of all the main characters and a detailed outline. To date, I have written ten scenes of Act 1, including two of the major solos for the lead female and incidental music. My plan is to finish the book while composing music that pops out along the way. I have been in preliminary discussions with members of the Ubuntu Theater Project in Oakland, CA to review the draft and help me finalize the piece for presentation.     

You will find a webpage dedicated to the creation of Harlem Voices as it progresses at  http://harlemvoicesmusical.weebly.com/the-music.html. There you will find a short film describing the piece, the latest pdf version of the book, character biographies, the play outline, scores of the music, and mp3 recordings. As you will see, Harlem Voices is well on its way. I certainly invite you to review the contents in detail. I believe you will agree with me that it is a timely, worthwhile project that could use your support. My request is modest and simple...a total amount of $5,000 to write the book and libretto at a bare budget minimum of $2,500. If the piece is overfunded, the remainder of the money will be used to promote the piece to performing organizations and compose more of the musical numbers. I sincerely thank you for your consideration to support what I believe will be an important contribution to the rich tradition of the American Musical art form.

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