Guelph's Black History at Forefront in The Crossings Project
Silence: Guelph’s Portal for Adventurous New Sound Events, in collaboration with the Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) and the Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG), presents The Crossings Project – Exile, Exodus, and Transformation on May 26, 2018 from 7-10:30 pm, beginning at Silence and ending at Heritage Hall, with a street parade between the two venues. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Silence, Heritage Hall, or Eventbrite. Silence is located at 46 Essex Street and Heritage Hall at 83 Essex Street in Guelph.
The Crossings Project is a musical, community-oriented acknowledgement of the millions of Africans who were abducted and enslaved during the trans-Atlantic slave trade (approximately 1526-1867). Through perseverance and courage, many families and individuals moved up the Underground Railroad and settled in Guelph, many on the very street (Essex) on which both venues are found. The Crossings Project includes a transformative journey towards a common knowledge about the Guelph community and its historical roots.
Beginning at 7 pm at Silence, the audience will be treated to an impressionistic soundscape composed and conducted by the talented Guelph musician Andrew Craig and narrated by renowned singer and actress Tabby Johnson. A multimedia exhibition curated by Kerry-Ann Cornwall and Andrew Hunter, of the Guelph Black Heritage Society and the Art Gallery of Guelph, will counterpoint the concert with important visual artifacts drawn from the local community. Engaging with ideas of artifact and archive, the exhibition weaves together family histories, urban geographies, and layers of memory spanning time and place, and in so doing visually addresses the traces, absences, and erasures of slavery in the heart of Guelph. The music performed at Silence will explore the middle passage and what occurred after people arrived in the Americas with specific relation to Guelph.
Kerry-Ann Cornwall, a researcher with the AGG and Director of Programming at the GBHS, says: “Black history in Guelph has not been given due attention, despite the fact that Guelph’s population in the late 1800s was large and diverse. With every book and every archive, we find out about the music they enjoyed, the instruments they played, and their roles in the church and in their community. History is forged in the streets we walk and the buildings we use.”
From 8 – 9 pm, Essex Street will be closed, taking the event outdoors with a traveling street party and parade. Led by Toronto’s Junkanoo All Stars with music from the Bahamas, guests will dance and celebrate up and down this historic road between Silence and Heritage Hall. Come prepared to parade, party, sing, dance, eat, and enjoy a spectacle for the senses!
The events at Heritage Hall, home of the Guelph Black Heritage Society, will run from 9 – 10:30 pm. At Heritage Hall, there will be food, a continuance of the multimedia exhibition, and a culmination of the musical journey towards a common knowledge and confluence of cultures based in Guelph.
Storyteller and singer Tabby Johnson says: “With one changing voice to encourage us, we answer to the call. In the depths of where you are right that moment lies the root of your vibrational ancestor. When you feel and hear the voice beside you the voice across the room from you and you sense it’s not loudness, it’s the vibrations of unison playing with each other creating a certain kind of harmony. That’s call and response.”
Come join us as we celebrate the individuals who made Guelph what it is today.
Silence gratefully acknowledges funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Guelph Community Foundation's Musagetes Fund, and support from the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.