Feminist Studies Colloquium Series - November 18, 2011


"Abbey Lincoln's Japan: Slave Art in the Creation of 1973 Albums."

Yuichiro Onishi

Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, University of Minnesota


November 18, 2011, 2:00 p.m.
400 Ford Hall
*Light refreshments will be served

This project is a study in Abbey Lincoln's art-making, the process that gave form to her aesthetic authority as she reworked the idiom of jazz and reset the standard of singing that exceeded this genre. Specifically, it investigates the place of Japan in Lincoln's maturing artistry during the period in which she retreated from the limelight after ending her marriage with drummer Max Roach in 1970. Far from being crippled by loss and sorrow, she searchingly worked out what was original about her art between her divorce from Roach and the delayed U.S. release of People in Me in 1978, followed by Golden Lady (1981) and Talking to the Sun (1983).

What did Lincoln work on in Japan that enabled her to make such acute advances as an artist? In 1973, both her live album Abbey Lincoln in Misty and the tracks on People in Me were recorded and released in Japan. The context from which these 1973 albums came into being, I argue, reveals Lincoln's self-conscious effort to cultivate and preserve the mainspring of slave art in Black America without suppressing the unruliness of racial, gender, and sexual formations in the history of the Black struggle.

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