Flux Projects announces We Are Djeli’s musical contribution to Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives, Charmaine Minniefield’s highly anticipated project in Historic Oakland Cemetery. Recording at First Congregational Church, critically acclaimed duo Malesha Jessie Taylor and Salah Ananse, collectively known as We Are Djeli, have created a soundtrack that expands on the Black Church traditional song forms of Metered/Lined Hymns and the Ring Shout.
The word djeli, (French) is also translated as Griot, and Ananse and Taylor intentionally create work that centers the sacred rites of Black and African musical traditions, signifying the cultural role of African Djeli’s who are cultural guardians and devotional musicians in the West African tradition. The two artists have worked with Minniefield before in earlier iterations of Remembrance as Resistance within the Studioplex Water Tower for her mural groundbreaking, “Prayer Circle for Freedom,” in the historic Auburn District.
Flux Projects presents Remembrance as Resistance: Preserving Black Narratives as a site specific, public art project, running from Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19 through July 11.
Remembrance as Resistance honors the over 800 unmarked graves in the African American Burial Grounds of Atlanta’s Historic Oakland Cemetery. Some graves originally may have been marked with wooden or natural markers that did not stand the test of time, and some markers may have been lost when African-American remains were moved from their original resting place in Slave Square to Potter’s Field (a portion later renamed the African American Burial Grounds) to make space for the graves of white citizens.
Minniefield presents her work to remember these 800+ individuals as a resistance to their stories being erased. In doing so, her project takes the form of a multi-media Ring Shout, a traditional African-American worship and gathering practice. From roots in West Africa the Ring Shout was reborn during slavery in the American South as a way of preserving cultural rituals and traditions as well as recreating community. Minniefield traces the endurance of these traditions, finding evidence of their influence in contemporary dance, music, and spoken word.
“After two years in the making, we are thrilled to bring this moving installation to the African American Burial Grounds of Oakland Cemetery,” said Anne Dennington, executive director of Flux Projects. “We Are Djeli’s musical element is a perfect accompaniment to the visual work of Minniefield, illustrating the endurance of the Ring Shout in African-American musical traditions.”
The artists of We Are Djeli
Malesha Jessie Taylor is a transdisciplinary vocal artist whose work can be found in opera, church music, experimental installations, African diasporic ritual, yoga and dance music. Recent projects include an original composition to accompany TIME Magazine featured artist, Charly Palmer entitled, “Becoming,” which will exhibit at Hammond House Museum this Spring/Summer 2021. Her TEDx talk entitled, “What Do You See?” is a part of her developing auto-ethnography Transcending Performance: Exploring Black Liberatory Praxis in Vocal Arts (in-progress). Other major projects include Guerrilla Opera, a video project featured by BRIC Arts New York & the San Diego Museum of Us along with Fear is their Alibi, an electroacoustic opera on police brutality written for soprano, bassoon and electronics with Prototype Opera Festival, New York. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Scripps College and Spelman College, and currently teaches bi-coastal at Clark Atlanta University and California State University, San Marcos. In addition, Taylor is the Founder of museSalon Collaborative, a 501c3 arts services organization. For more information about Taylor, visit her website at: www.musesalon.org.
Salah Ananse has over 20 years as a producer and DJ and is the Founder of the biggest outdoor dance party, Atlanta Weekender/ House in the Park. Ananse has worked with Vikter Duplaix, DJ Kemit (Kemeticjust), Rich Medina, Brother Questlove and Kai Alce. He has also held opening DJ spots for artists such as Dave Chappelle, India Arie, Joi, Res, Fertile Ground, Dwele, Les Nubialns, Musiq, The Roots, Donnie and Raphael Saadiq. Recently Salah Ananse has emerged in the dance music genre as a new force. His rhythmic instrumentation and smooth layered vocals make his sound unique and distinguishable among the rest. His duo with Malesha Jessie Taylor, We are Djeli, released their first EP in 2019 entitled, “She’s Coming.” For more information about, Salah Ananse, visit his website at: www.salahananse.com.
Remembrance as Resistance is presented in collaboration with Historic Oakland Foundation and the City of Atlanta. The project is accompanied by a free digital tour experience developed by Historic Oakland Foundation in partnership with Flux Projects, Charmaine Minniefield, and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Historic Oakland Foundation will also offer free tours of the African American Burial Grounds during the run of the project. More information is available at www.oaklandcemetery.com.
Virtual programs from 2020 are available to view on the Flux Projects website.
The project is supported by Mailchimp and by grants from National Black Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. It is being constructed with support from C.D. Moody Construction, Point South Architecture & Design, and Shear Structural. During her research for the project, Minniefield has been an artist in residence at Emory University’s Rose Library.