Modern Griots Reviews: Sekou Sundiata Tribute at Summerstage

Although we the audience were subjected to downpours on Wednesday night, the sun seemed to come and shine, even for a little bit, for the three songtresses, Toshi Reagon, Sandra St. Victor and Nona Hendryx, who hit the stage in honor of late poet Sekou Sundiata.

The singers, along with their bands and special guests, notably poets Liza Jessie Peterson and Carl Rux (who I saw do a moving and witty performance at the blessing the boats: the remix show with Mike Ladd and Will Power last Friday), performed a mixture of their own songs which they dedicated to Sundiata and some of his poetry.

Reagon and the BigLovely opened with bluesy and electrifying performances of “Mountain Top,” Ani Di Franco’s “Grey” (perfect for the weather that day), Sundiata’s “Open Heart” and “Urban Music,” and readings from poet Lenelle Moise. Even sitting down, they were bringing the energy.

Sandra St. Victor followed with more energy and funkier songs like “Ghetto Heaven,” and “Grateful” from her upcoming album Oya’s Daughter, and she was fittingly in purple dress for the album. Victor welcomed on stage Liza Jessie Peterson to do a remix of Sundiata’s “Hendrix” poem with Fabybiene Miranda‘s song “Prophecy,” before ending with the soulful “Conversations with a Genie.”

Nona Hendryx shut down the show with “Transformation,” “Let’s Give Love a Try,” and “Temple of Heaven,” from her latest album Mutatis Mutandis, Labelle’s “Something in the Air,” before inviting Peterson and Rux on stage to do a remix of Sundiata’s “Black Boys to Men” with Hendryx’s “Black Boys in Tight Blue Jeans,” and ending the night with a jam session with everyone joining in for Sundiata’s “Droppin’ Revolution.” Did I mention that the backup singers were as much fun to watch as Hendryx; they were getting down as much as she did, especially Asa Lovechild!

By the way, there was good news for the night, Donovan Drayton, son of guitarist Ronny Drayton, who was in prison for years for a crime that there is no evidence to tie him to, was there that night.

For more pictures from the show, click here.

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