Concordia College New York is excited to announce that King Britt will be the guest speaker when the college’s Sluberski Film Series screens Two Trains Runnin’ on Friday, March 16.
Native Philadelphian King Britt has dodged labels in building his creative career. A composer, producer, DJ and performer, he has also curated musical and cultural collaborations at prestigious venues including MoMA and ICA, and received honors including the Pew Fellowship. His live performances incorporate sonic tech and use of improvisation and original instrumentation that evolves with subsequent performances.
In the documentary film Two Trains Runnin’, animation and live performance blend with interviews and archival footage. The film pays tribute to a pioneering generation of musicians as it speaks to our present moment and the evolving dynamics of race in America. The film is directed by Sam Pollard, one of the most respected names in documentary cinema and the recipient of an Oscar nomination and multiple Emmy awards. It is executive produced and narrated by Common, an Academy Award-winning actor, musician, writer, and philanthropist.
The time is June of 1964, when hundreds of college students eager to join the civil rights movement traveled to Mississippi, starting what would become known as Freedom Summer. That same month, two groups of young men—musicians, college students and record collectors—also traveled to Mississippi. Each group had come on the same errand: to find an old blues singer and coax him out of retirement. Mississippi was a tense and violent place that summer. With hundreds on their way to teach in freedom schools and register voters, the Ku Klux Klan and police forces of many towns vowed that Freedom Summer would not succeed. Against this backdrop the two campaigns collided in memorable and tragic fashion.
Director Sam Pollard said, “This film is more than just another historical documentary. It brings to life the impact of the music and Freedom Summer on a present generation, who need to know why the summer of 1964 was so essential and prophetic at a time when the soul of America was being fought over in the belly of the beast, the South.”
From a tender age, music was King Britt’s life. His father’s barber shop exposed him to funk and soul; his mother took him to concerts and brought him to visit her friend Sun Ra, Afrofuturism pioneer, who became one of Britt’s greatest musical influences. For Britt, the difference between DJ and performer is crucial: his stage performances embrace the art of improvisation of his live original work, much like jazz. Notable performances include Fhloston Paradigm: Le Guess Who? (2017, Utrecht), National Sawdust (2017, Brooklyn), Envelop (2017, San Francisco) Sun Ra Tributes-A Beautiful Noise: Fringe Arts (Philadelphia, 2014), and Constellation (Chicago, 2014). He has curated collaborations at prestigious venues including the MoMA PS1 (2014, Queens), Fringe Arts (2015, Philadelphia), and ICA (2009, Philadelphia). His current curatorial projects include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018) and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (2018, Bentonville). He is a recipient of the prestigious Pew Fellowship (2007), and residencies at the Village for Arts and Humanities (2014, Philadelphia), Worm (2015, Rotterdam) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018, Philadelphia). In accordance with his non-linear journey, these honors have established King in the fields of education and community engagement