Concerts for the Human Family, a new artistic collaboration led by The Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry that explores “the powerful intersection between art, justice and faith,” will launch May 22 with a free digital broadcast filmed at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.
The inaugural concert, which pairs pianist, composer and musical director Kory Caudill of Nashville, Tenn., and Baltimore-based hip-hop artist Wordsmith, will provide an uplifting journey through the human experience of love, grief, loss and hope – a musical commentary on social reckoning in the United States and a pandemic that has touched every corner of the world. The concert was filmed with special care to follow all safety guidelines outlined by the CDC.
Amplifying the work of local musicians in multiple cities, Concerts for the Human Family will feature original music and unique voices that span genres and cultures. Events are designed for audiences of all backgrounds and will take place in traditional concert venues, as well as landmark spaces across the U.S. affiliated with The Episcopal Church. The May event also incorporates From Many, One, an Episcopal project encouraging storytelling and conversations across difference.
“Concerts for the Human Family takes us to the powerful intersection of art, justice, and faith,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon for evangelism, reconciliation, and care of creation in The Episcopal Church. “We know music is a catalyst for movements, so we began dreaming: What if diverse groups of artists made conscious music together in our holy spaces? How would that inspire us to pursue beloved community?”
In early 2019, a team of professional musicians, artists, creatives, mainstream music industry executives and church leaders gathered to begin dreaming about what such an initiative might look like. Drawing on The Episcopal Church’s vision for Becoming Beloved Community, which advances racial reconciliation and healing in and beyond the church, Caudill and his team began to shape a musical journey intended to stir listeners.
In addition to concerts, the music will be made available through albums featuring guest artists, musicians and producers. Each recording shares sacred stories of human experience from multiple perspectives, many of which originated from powerful conversations around reconciliation.
“This music is about the creation process as much as it is about finished albums or live events,” Caudill shared. “It’s about the conversations we have with one another, the trips we make to each other’s hometowns to learn about who we’re creating with, and the in-depth research into the topics we write about.”
Caudill continued, “We’re getting to know some incredible musicians who have important stories to tell. This project allows these folks’ art to reach large audiences without having to overcome typical hurdles associated with the music industry. Our only guideline is that we don’t record anything unless it has meaning.”
While spiritual in nature, the recordings and concerts are designed to resonate with audiences across faith traditions and those who claim no religious affiliation. Among the first musical releases due out in May 2021 is a collaboration between Caudill and Wordsmith. Topics covered in the album include Wordsmith’s personal experiences with racial profiling, the 2005 killing of British teen Anthony Walker, and Caudill’s prayers for a forgotten Appalachia.
Additional events are planned throughout the year, with the hope of launching hybrid/in-person events beginning in late fall 2021. For free tickets and more information: https://events.episcopalchurch.org/concert-series/
The May 22 concert is offered to the public free of charge; however, listeners can support the Concerts for the Human Family series and similar programming by making a donation to The Episcopal Church’s Sharing the Way of Love campaign. Contributions to Sharing the Way of Love support efforts to broadly share good news and a generous, inclusive vision of church. To learn more, and to make a gift, visit iam.ec/SWoL or text IGIVELOVE to 41444.