Nobuko Miyamoto, founder and artistic director of Great Leap Inc., will present “What Can a Song Do?” on Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
Together with a group of guest musicians and activists from the 1960s and ’70s, as well as contemporary artists and activists, Miyamoto brings alive the dynamic moment when the 1973 album “A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle of Asians in America” created a heartbeat for the Asian American movement and shared rhythms with African American, Latino, and Native American cultural and political activists.
Miyamoto’s songs have carried her through 40 years of activism, creation and community-building. She started out performing in mainstream productions such as the movie “West Side Story.” While working on a film about the Black Panthers, she met activist Yuri Kochiyama, who brought her into the Asian American movement. Along with William “Charlie” Chin and the late Chris Ijima, she created the group Yellow Pearl, which recorded “A Grain of Sand.”
A pioneer among Asian American performance artists, Miyamoto’s work has recently taken her to Detroit to work with Grace Lee Boggs, to Chicago as a featured artist for the second annual Asian Pacific American Spoken Word Summit, and into Tad Nakamura’s acclaimed documentary “A Song for Ourselves,” featuring Kiwi, Bambu and Blue Scholars, who created remixes from “A Grain of Sand” for the film’s soundtrack.
The “Yellow Pearl Remix” concert will feature Benny Yee, who performed with Miyamoto in the late 1970s band Warriors of the Rainbow; Danny Yamamoto of the band Hiroshima; Atomic Nancy, former proprietor of the Atomic Café in Little Tokyo; young bass player Chucky Kim; and spoken-word artist Traci Kato-Kiriyama.
They will be joined by Ruben Guevara, Tatsuo Hirano, Kathy Masaoka, Sean Miura and Kamau Ayubbi. The director is Dan Kwong and visuals are by Tran Bui.
Organized by LACE and the Japanese American National Museum, this event is part of the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival and is presented in conjunction with the JANM exhibition “Drawing the Line: Japanese American Art, Design and Activism in Post-War Los Angeles.”
Admission is $10 general, $5 for students, free for LACE and JANM members. Tickets are available at the door.
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