A new album captures one of the Chicago free-jazz collective's best performances after being subjected to racist behavior in Europe
Last November, about a month after Alive spoke to Angel Bat Dawid for a Wexner Center performance, the Chicago singer, clarinetist and pianist took her band, Tha Brothahood, to Germany to perform at JazzFest Berlin.
But on the way to the Chicago airport for the gig, Bat Dawid got news that singer and multi-instrumentalist Viktor Le Givens had passed out on the street and woke up in a hospital without any of his personal belongings. The band notified the JazzFest staff, but the response they received was less than considerate.
“I have issues in general about the way artists are treated, because I see a difference in how tech folks treat women and artists of color," Bat Dawid said in a press release. "I’m calling it out. A lot of the racism and things I’m talking about are steeped in microaggressions and are so subtle and can go unnoticed. But all those things happen a lot and it was very evident at the festival. …Yes I am hyper sensitive to any infraction I ever see, feel or observe when it comes to racism, and I no longer pass it off as an over sensitivity but an opportunity to blow the whistle on intellectual and structural racism that is still a rampant and ugly beast, especially in the European music world.”
Bat Dawid and Tha Brothahood channeled their experiences with racism in Berlin into an otherworldly, cathartic onstage performance at Berliner Festspiele — a set that Bat Dawid considers one of the band's best. And it's captured on new album LIVE — including a spoken-word, field-recording intro taken from when Bat Dawid went off on hotel staff for their racist behavior (“Ever since I’ve been here y’all have treated me like shit!” she says).
“I hope that this album will uplift and raise awareness to the world that we are still not in a good place when it comes to the relationship between whites [and] other races," Angel Bat Dawid said. "Universities, festivals, organizations, etc. that were built over 50 years ago, even though they have changed outwardly, have not changed internally, and still uphold the principles of their founders, who were racists. We still got a long way to go. And music is a great place to start in repairing this age-old, distorted reality.”
Revisit our 2019 feature interview with Dawid, and listen to LIVE via Bandcamp below.