Thursday, November 30, 2023

Lonnie Holley, Moor Mother + Irreversible Entanglements at the Opera House

“It’s such an honor to come back and play at the Sydney Opera House, one of the most spectacular houses of music in the world. I have had such wonderful experiences in Australia and with Australian audiences, and I can’t wait to continue that. Thumbs up for Mother Universe.” 

Lonnie Holley

Sydney – Monday 13 November, 2023. The Sydney Opera House today announced that celebrated American visual artist and experimental musician Lonnie Holley will be joined by musician and activist Moor Mother and free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements for a night of rapturous collaboration in the Utzon Room on February 26.

Sydney Opera House Head of Contemporary Music, Ben Marshall says: “Lonnie Holley is one of the most moving and transcendent live performers I have ever experienced, and I think everyone has to come and bear witness to his channellings from another world at least once in their lives. Sonically a radiant combination of Gil Scott-Heron and Arthur Russell, Lonnie’s experienced more of life in his 73 years than anyone probably should, yet he’s poured all his love, sensitivity and profound artistry into transportative Blakean visions that touch the soul.

And it beggars belief that this evening is also graced with the stunning talents of Moor Mother’s “Black quantum futurism” and that the sublime jazz quintet Irreversible Entanglements perform their own set for us, as well as being the band for Lonnie and Moor Mother, is more than anyone had a right to hope for. As Lonnie says, “Thumbs Up for Mother Universe” and see you there..” 

Irreversible Entanglements.
Irreversible Entanglements. Credit: Piper Ferguson

Returning to the Opera House after his incandescent Vivid LIVE 2019 performances, Lonnie Holley’s deeply personal stories of survival will once again capture audiences in the intimate surroundings of the stunning Utzon Room. Revered internationally for his visual art practice – with his sculptors appearing in the White House gardens and the United Nations – Holley is also a self-taught musician, making his professional debut in 2012 at the age of 62. His most recent release, Oh Me Oh My, received an 8.4 rating on Pitchfork and tells the story of Holley’s astounding life, recounting his time at ‘Mount Meigs’ (The Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children) through aural memories, free-jazz, raw spoken-word poetry and stirring musical arrangements.

Camae Ayewa is the songwriter, composer, vocalist and poet better known by her stage name, Moor Mother. Hailing from Philadelphia’s underground alternative music scene, Ayewa gained prominence through her enthralling spoken word performances incorporating elements of poetry, jazz, blues, electronica, soul and other Black classical traditions. Her third and most recent album, Jazz Codes (2022), was inspired by poetry celebrating black jazz and blues icons, and features collaborations with producer Olaf Melander, flutist Nicole Mitchell, harpist Mary Lattimore and vocalist AKAI SOLO. 

Irreversible Entanglements’ radical musical stylings will complement Holley’s and Moor Mother’s anthemic prose throughout the night. Founded in 2015, the Chicago quintet has performed extensively across the US, UK, Germany and the Netherlands while recording multiple blazing albums including Irreversible Entanglements (2017) and Who Sent You? (2020), followed by the full-length Open the Gates in 2021. Their most recent album, Protect Your Light (2023), highlights the fight for self-determination by people dispossessed of their land.

Lonnie Holley
Lonnie Holley. Credit: David Raccuglia

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