Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 8pm
Khari McClelland
West End Cultural Centre
586 Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Advance Cost
Door Cost

Khari McClelland (of The Sojourners) brings Freedom Singers to the WECC using a suite of songs and theatrical encounters to retrace the histories of his great-great-great grandmother Kizzy and others, like her, who came through the Underground Railroad.

In the summer of 2014, following a performance at the Lundenburg Folk Festival with his band, The Sojourners, Khari was approached by an author who gave him her book ‘I’ve Got a Home In Glory Land’. The celebrated author, Karolyn Smardz Frost,  tells a story of two escaped slaves who had eventually landed in Toronto and quite strikingly, made it to Canada the same way Khari’s great-great-great grandmother had. Khari often mentions Kizzy when he performs. Kizzy had fled from the south, through Detroit and eventually escaped to Southern Ontario. Karolyn Smardz Frost, heard this and felt compelled to reach out. Her book ignited something in Khari – an urge to take his own ‘unrecorded’ family history and make it more tangible.  In the summer of 2015, followed by journalist Jodie Martinson for CBC, Khari travelled through Nova Scotia, Southern Ontario, and Michigan looking for traces of Kizzy, while collecting the songs that may have underscored her enslavement, her freedom and her resettlement.

Co-created by Khari, journalist Jodie Martinson, and theatre-maker Andrew Kushnir, Freedom Singer interweaves the personal with the political and historical: what motivated Canada’s welcoming of escaped slaves? What are the facts and fictions of this history? What does it mean to ultimately share these sacred and personal vibrations with audiences?

“Music is the great animator, it is, it’s the holy ghost you know, it’s in the church you know, often people refer to the holy ghost coming in, you can’t necessarily logically understand or predict and for me, that’s kinda the power of music. It certainly helps me to understand and communicate my feelings in a more powerful and deeper way….I work on myself in a way, through this music….it’s a profound reckoning.” – Khari McClelland

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