400 Years: An African American Musical Portrait

Wednesday, February 19
6:30 p.m. reception, 7:00 p.m. program
Free for Club members, $15 for guests

Avery Sharpe’s 400: An African American Musical Portrait, is a sweeping musical-historical epic that commemorates 400 years (1619-2019) since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the shores of the Colony of Virginia, marking the advent of slavery in North America.  Tracing that history through music, Sharpe seeks to further the storied legacy of those 400 years, bringing his own imagination and compositional gifts to the endeavor. 

In this presentation, Sharpe will use a combination of storytelling, imagery, and musical performance to guide guests through the centuries: from the beginnings of chattel slavery to the Civil War and Reconstruction, through the Great Migration and the World Wars to the Civil Rights Era, the Obama presidency and the present day.  As 400 proceeds chronologically, each step in the historical narrative is mirrored by a journey through musical styles including African music, spirituals, gospel, ragtime, blues, bop, and soul. 

Avery Sharpe is an Artist Associate in Jazz Bass, and Jazz Coach at Williams College.  He is also Faculty Advisor for the Williams Gospel Choir and affiliated faculty for Africana Studies.  Sharpe has performed and recorded with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Yusef Lateef, Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny, and Billy Taylor.  As a band leader, he has released over 13 albums on his own artist record label, JKNM Records.  As an educator, he has presented at the University of Massachusetts, Williams College, Berklee School of Music, Bates College, the University of Miami, and at colleges in Peru, Brazil, Australia and elsewhere. His awards include The NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Special Achievement Award, several National Endowment for the Arts Grants and the NEFA 1997 Achievement in Jazz Award.