'The Blues and Its People' concert inspired by poet Amiri Baraka kicks off Atlanta Jazz Festival

Trumpeter Russell Gunn, co-creator of the suite "The Blues and Its People." (Shahar Azran)

Poet and author Amiri Baraka was not the first Black writer to write about African American music, but his stance was revolutionary. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Baraka’s “Blues People: Negro Music in White America,” which details how Black people created the blues and that the blues was the foundation of all American music.

Trumpeter and composer Russell Gunn, along with the senior director of programming at the Apollo Theater, Leatrice Ellzy, created a suite inspired by Baraka’s influential text, which premiered in New York at the Apollo Theater in February. Now the concert “The Blues and Its People” kicks off the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on May 26.

In this interview, “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Ellzy and performance artist Jessica Care Moore about the upcoming performance. 

“I’m not the poet for everybody. Everything I say isn’t pretty, but some things need to be said, and it’s a poet’s job to say even the uncomfortable things,” Care Moore said.

“The Blues and Its People” kicks off the Atlanta Jazz Festival on May 26 at the Atlanta Symphony Hall. More information is available here.