Raehann Bryce-Davis, LA Opera Partner with Black Arts Organizations for ‘Brown Sounds’

By Logan Martell

On March 26, 2021, LA Opera, in collaboration with the African American Art Song Alliance, Aural Compass Projects, Black Opera Alliance, National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Philadelphia Dance Company, will present the online premiere of Jeremy Adonis’ digital short film, “Brown Sounds.”

The work is a celebration of the Black experience which blends poetry, music, and dance. Featuring an all-black creative team, the film was spearheaded by Raehann Bryce-Davis, who serves as executive producer, conceptual creator, and stars as the mezzo-soprano soloist. Accompanied by Jeanne-Minette Cilliers, Davis will perform a setting of poetry by Henry Dumas, a leading voice of the civil rights era, composed for her by Ayanna Witter-Johnson.

The work was filmed at the Meise Botanical Gardens in Belgium, as well as the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, and was designed by Allan Virgo.

“Young Black children are often taught that their history begins with slavery,” said Bryce-Davis in a press release. “Our purpose with this project is to portray a history that goes back to the beginning of time and stretches far into the untapped treasures of the future: a celebration of Black art, Black bodies, Black consciousness.

“I recited Dumas’ poem as a grad student, and when the time came for me to give my recital later that semester, I realized the words were still singing in my being. I asked fellow Manhattan School of Music student Ayanna Witter-Johnson if she could set the words to music and she graciously said yes. For this reincarnation of the project, we brought together an all-star Black creative team representing the vast experiences of the African diaspora, and a coalition of arts organizations, led by LA Opera, to help spread this message to the world.”

“Brown Sounds” will be available free of charge on LA Opera’s Facebook and YouTube pages, and comes as part of the Digital Shorts series of their On Now platform.