The UCSC Music Department presents "The World Making Aura of Sonic Blackness" with Moor Mother & James Gordon Williams

Moor Mother & James Gordon Williams; photo courtesy of the artists
Wednesday March 6, 2024
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
UCSC Music Center Recital Hall
UC Santa Cruz Campus, 400 McHenry Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, the University of California, Santa Cruz  Music Department presents a very special performance by guest artist Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) and James Gordon Williams, assistant professor of music composition at UC Santa Cruz in the Recital Hall of the Music Center. “The audience should expect to be educated, engaged, and enchanted by our co-creation in real time,” says Williams, as he prepares for his upcoming on-campus collaboration with Moor Mother. The performance will be a collaborative experience with both of them performing new compositions together on stage and “performing sonic miracles” in the moment. 

Williams first saw Ayewa perform on February 10, 2023  at the Sons D’ Hiver in Paris France in connection with an University of Paris 8 Afrofuturism conference where he was invited to present his research. Afrofuturism is a movement that incorporates Black histories and culture to explore the future through various artforms. Williams was very impressed with Ayewa as a performer, composer, researcher and scholar. When the Arts Research Institute announced the Arts and Oppression grant in 2023, he created a proposal to bring Ayewa to UC Santa Cruz for an artistic research collaboration. 

“The root of our collaboration began when I saw her in Paris and when I subsequently studied Black Quantum Futurism (BQF), a theory and practice that undergirds Ayewa’s creative practice,” says Williams. Black Quantum Futurism expands on Afrofuturism's relationship to time and is more inclusive to the communities who do not have access to academia. Ayewa chose Moor Mother as a  name to center the Black mother, a figure who Williams following Ayewa has argued is “invisible in many ways, she is often the most disregarded, the most mistreated, the most taken advantage of.”

Along with his research and teaching of BQF, Williams is also creating sonic environments to accompany the performance. Moor Mother will also bring her own technology to collaborate with, but most of the performance will be extemporized.

On Monday March 4, 2024 there will also be a colloquium with the artists in the Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) Dark Room starting at 1:20 p.m. This free event invites the audience to gain a greater understanding of Ayewa’s music and Black Quantum Futurism in advance of the concert.

The performance was made possible by the Music Department, Institute of Arts and Sciences, and The Humanities Institute. It is largely funded through the UC Santa Cruz’s Arts Research Institute Arts and Oppression grant. 

About the Artists

Camae Ayewa Dennis (a.k.a. Moore Mother) is a poet, musician, and activist, originally from the east coast. She has toured her music internationally and performed at festivals including but not limited to: Roskilde Festival, Western Front, Vancouver Jazz Festival, Berlin Jazz Festival, the Serpentine Gallery, Manifesta 13, and the Glastonbury Festival. Her work has been featured at locations including the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. She has also collected a long list of fellowships such as the Pew Fellowship and Blade of Grass Fellowship. These are just a few of the many accolades she has accomplished in her career.

She currently works as an assistant professor of composition at the USC Thornton School of Music. Between teaching and research she still travels around the world performing with her various groups. Her latest album, The Great Bailout, marks her ninth studio album and will be available for streaming and purchase on March 8.

James Gordon Williams is a composer, pianist, and cultural theorist. He has worked with artists Crystal Z. Campbell, Maria Gaspar, Fred Moten, Cauleen Smith, Suné Woods. He has performed or recorded with Terri Lyne Carrington, pianist/composer Anthony Davis, bassist Mark Dresser, Morgan Guerin Joseph Jarman, Gregory Porter, George E. Lewis, Mark Dresser, Greg Osby, Matthew Stevens as well as other musical luminaries. He held the piano chair for several years in the late Charli Persips’ Supersound band. He has performed at Birdland, The Jazz Standard, the Lenox Lounge, Knitting Factory, Symphony Space, Village Vanguard, and music festivals around the world in France, Italy, and Malta. He has been commissioned by Syracuse Stage to write music for playwright Kyle Bass’s salt/city/blues. He is the author of Crossing Bar Lines: The Politics and Practices of Black Musical Space. His peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Ethnomusicology ReviewJazz & CultureJazz Research JournalJournal of African American StudiesLiquid Blackness, and Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture.

More Information


Monday, March 4, 2024

1:20 PM. – 2:50 PM

Digital Arts Research Center - DARC108 (Dark Lab)
Free and open to the public.

More Information Here


Wednesday March 6, 2024

7:00 PM

Digital Arts Center – DARC108 (Dark Lab)

More Information Here