Samora Pinderhughes is a composer and pianist who aims to stay involved through his music, blending soul, jazz and poetry in order to move the listener, to really alter the way they see the world. He uses theatre and film, music and haunting lyrics in order to make powerful resistance art, and his complex jazz compositions are simply stunning.
Pinderhughes’s latest video is “Masculinity”, aiming to reveal the softness, the vulnerability behind different conceptions of being male. Archetypal images of masculinity can grow to become harmful, and emotionally volatile men, unstable, aggressive, unhappy, or unable to cope with some aspect of their lives, end up contributing to the so-called “broken man epidemic“. Pinderhughes’s video is stunning because, while the lyrics portray a ticking-timebomb who is bound to hurt others out of the fear of being hurt, the video portrays men at different stages of their lives refusing to be harmful, letting go of their anger and maybe, just maybe, facing themselves. It suggests that some men do not “let go of their weapons” because they never switch off their “male performance”.
“The truth is ugly – I want to break something so badly I punch walls inside myself forming new tunnels in which the blood runs hotter.”
Part interpretive dance, part poetry, the video is split into two distinct phases: the first one, with its pitched-down vocals and powerful lyrics, is almost accusatory, seeing no potential in a male character being able to overcome his education, describing him as losing the fight and exploding “on the count of three”. The second one, with a soaring saxophone solo, is more cathartic – even if, lyrically, it offers little in the way of solutions, it is about owning up to one’s mistakes, accepting the damage in oneself.
Focusing on images of young children and their support systems, the second phase works on multiple levels, ultimately making the case that acceptance and a supporting community can do more to quell fear and aggression that a society blindly trying to fight them with tools of oppression. One of those videos that can move you to tears with its cumulative effect, “Masculinity” is one of the best – and most difficult – works of art we’ve seen all year.
Pinderhuges’s most recent project is The Healing Project, a “forthcoming digital archive, music album, and exhibition (that) explores the daily realities of violence, incarceration, detention, and policing in communities across the United States and highlights healing and care strategies that emerge from these same communities. These strategies operate as portals to another world—a world not built on perpetuating cruelty, capitalism, and punishment.”
The Healing Project seems to have multiple phases and topics, such as “Prison”, which describes the US prison industrial complex as an “embassy” which doesn’t follow the rules, being incarcerated as suffering through conditioning, and condemning the company GTL for making billions off of prison phone-calls.
Before working on “Masculinity”, Pinderhughes worked on “The Transformations Suite”, a “musical picture of the current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States and beyond”. The Suite contains five themes/movements: Transformation, History, Cycles, Momentum (parts 1 and 2), and Ascension. With its poetry and saxophone solos that will pierce you soul, this is one of modern jazz’s best projects, having been performed in and outside the US and sparking dialogue social justice issues throughout the world and on how art can instill social change.
Samora Pinderhughes makes challenging art that forces one to question and defy the status-quo. You can watch Pinderhughes’s other recent video, “Process”, below:
And we’ll leave you with a stunning Pinderhughes collaboration resulting in a dark deconstruction, a “necessary haunting” of The Star-Spangled Banner itself:
Featured image is Banner image from The Healing Project.