Interdisciplinary artist Cauleen Smith produced a new EP, THE WANDA COLEMAN SONGBOOK, featuring contributions from an impressive list of musicians including Alice Smith, Jamila Woods and Standing on the Corner, moor mother and Aquiles Navarro, Jeff Parker and Ruby Parker, Shala Miller, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Kelsey Lu. Each track is a a free interpretation of a Coleman poem, and you can see the names in the full tracklist below. It’s been pressed, meanwhile, to two-color 12″ vinyl, limited to 500 pieces, and you can get your copy while they last.
The EP is also the soundtrack to Smith’s new exhibition, The Wanda Coleman Songbook, which is on view now at 52 Walker, an art gallery in NYC, through March 16, 2024 (52 Walker Street, New York, NY) . The immersive video installation features a listening room where visitors can drop a needle on the vinyl. New York Times writes:
Video — four channels projected floor-to-ceiling — is just one part of this multi-sensory experience. In lieu of a soundtrack there’s an album of seven specially commissioned songs from musicians like Meshell Ndegeocello and Kelsey Lu — each one a free interpretation of a Coleman poem. Visitors may lounge on sofas and drop the stylus on the EP, which runs the same length as the video but can be started at any point.
Completing the immersive effect, shadows projected on the rear wall evoke Los Angeles street art and sights — an Olmec head; a raven on a power line. A bespoke scent — inspired by the earth and flora of Griffith Park — wafts through the gallery.
With its layers and synesthetic appeal, the project, which was curated by Ebony L. Haynes, the director of 52 Walker, explores Smith’s conflicted love for a city that is hard and getting harder — notably for the poor and for the city’s declining Black community, now 8.2 percent of its population — yet infused with disconcerting beauty.
You can explore the exhibition HERE.
THE WANDA COLEMAN SONGBOOK TRACKLIST
Side A – MILES IN THE NIGHT
“ALICE SMITH REBELS” by Alice Smith
“WANDA IN WORRYLAND” by Jamila Woods & Standing on the Corner
“AMERICAN SONNET 61” by moor mother & Aquiles Navarro
“IN THAT OTHER FANTASY WHERE WE LIVE FOREVER” by Jeff Parker & Ruby Parker
Side B – THE WEATHER
“SATURDAY AFTERNOON BLUES” by Meshell Ndegeocello
“BLACK HANDED CURSE” by Shala Miller
“AMERICAN SONNET 18 – AFTER JUNE JORDAN” by Kelsey Lu
GET THE VINYL HERE.