Photo Credit: “Several Heroes,” by Thomas Sayers Ellis, 2014
The passing of Imamu Amiri Baraka left a gaping void in the American literary community. In the post-integration age, many prominent ethnic minority writers have learned to avoid confrontation in the hope of achieving broad appeal and readership. As a writer (writing being only one aspect of his influential presence on earth), Baraka proved that one does not silence himself or herself to be loved but, rather, is loved because of the silences one shatters.
With love, a group of writers and musicians, lead by Thomas Sayers Ellis and James Brandon Lewis, have come together as “Heroes Are Gang Leaders.” With a name lifted from one of Amiri Baraka’s stories, the group embarked on a recording session that blended poetry and music to “outishly” echoe and honor his legacy. Below, in a choral interview, some members of the group discuss the project and its significance. Interspersed are three samplings from their future release.
[Read Interview as PDF]