KeiyaA: A Meditation on the Spirit as Captive
Co-presented with Oda
A Meditation on the Spirit as Captive is a video work that features multi-instrumentalist KeiyaA and bandmates Buz, Nelson Bandela, Keenyn Omari, and 13th Law during a live set at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church on the Lower East Side. This performance was presented in April 2021 by Oda, a platform for thoughtful listening.
Released on the occasion of Juneteenth, this work, directed and edited by Nathan Bajar, is a meditation on the historical significance of St. Augustine’s, one of the few Episcopal churches in the United States that has preserved its “slave galleries,” segregated and hidden worship spaces for enslaved and free Black peoples.
KeiyaA is a singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in NYC. Raised in Chicago’s South Side, KeiyaA synthesizes her jazz training, R&B sensibilities, and hip-hop upbringing to create new soul sounds inundated with her powerful, sultry voice and dense lyricism. She aims to center the narrative and intellect of the black woman in the late-stage capitalist world.
KeiyaA’s debut album Forever, Ya Girl released on March 27, 2020. Forever, Ya Girl is a nu-soul landscape capturing the life of a Black woman. The project is primarily self-produced, and received a “Best New Music” review from Pitchfork as well as placement on several “Best of 2020” lists. Forever, Ya Girl has also earned KeiyaA fans in fellow artists such as Solange, Earl Sweatshirt, Blood Orange, Moses Sumney, and Jay-Z.
Nathan Bajar is a Filipino American photographer and director working in portraiture and narrative based work. His photographs have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Fader, Vice, The New Yorker, and FT Weekend.
Oda is a set of home speakers that create an unconventional live music experience in your home. With seasonal programming from more than 20 artists per season, Oda was made with the goal of creating a sustainable economy for performing artists and musicians. Members experience original commissions, collaborations and experiments by some of the world’s most compelling creatives and storytellers. Oda performances are a one-time unique live event, accessible only through the speakers, and challenge what a performance can be.
The St. Augustine’s Project is an unprecedented non profit initiative of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church that researches, preserves, and interprets the “slave galleries,” or the upper level of the sanctuary where enslaved people and free people of color were forced to worship segregated from the white congregation. The St. Augustine’s Project has led the effort to raise funds to renovate and educate publics about the “slave galleries,” 19th century life on the Lower East Side, and the legacy of its African American communities. The St. Augustine’s Project is committed to making these spaces available to the public for visits and reflection.
A Meditation on the Spirit as Captive is commissioned by the Abrons Arts Center and is made possible with support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Image Credit: Lex Mensah-Aboagye