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Curated by Julia Bullock and Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, the Rock My Soul festival celebrates the collaboration and community formed by Black woman-identifying artists.

Inspired by the friendship between composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, whose mutual support helped them break down barriers to have their music heard in the classical music world of the early 20th century, Rock My Soul celebrates historical and present-day collaborations between Black women artists.

Julia Bullock and Ava DuVernay
Julia Bullock • Ava DuVernay


The phrase itself—Rock My Soul—is drawn both from the world of Black American spirituals and its repurposing by philosopher and educator bell hooks, who communicated the importance of love and community. The sentiment behind it is not, writes festival curator Julia Bullock, “an ethereal, intangible endeavor. It is a call to express yourself, engage with everything within and around you, and find enjoyment while doing it.”

Read Julia Bullock’s and ARRAY’s full curatorial statements here.

The Rock My Soul Festival is generously supported in part by Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa.

Humanities Event
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SAT / NOV 5 – 10AM • THE FORD

Movie Soundtrack Yoga

Laying a foundation for creativity and collaboration through wellness, we invite yogis at all levels to join an open-air class led by Lauren Spearman, founder of R&B Yoga. The morning’s playlist will feature songs by Black women from film and television soundtracks.

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Humanities Event
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WED / NOV 16 – 8PM • BP HALL, WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

An Evening with Meshell Ndegeocello featuring the music of Queen Sugar

Join Meshell Ndegeocello–award-winning singer-songwriter, bassist, and composer behind Ava DuVernay's television series Queen Sugar–for an intimate evening of music and conversation.

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Humanities Event
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TUE / NOV 22 – 7PM • AT REDCAT

Carmen Jones Screening With live performance by J’Nai Bridges

Join us for a rare screening of Carmen Jones preceded by a live musical performance by GRAMMY Award-winning mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, paying tribute to Dandridge’s towering performance.

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Festival Curatorial Statements


 

Julia Bullock—

The phrase “Rock My Soul” has a long lineage and legacy: It is the leading lyric of a traditional Black American spiritual about expanding one’s being in every dimension and direction imaginable. The song title was later utilized by philosopher and educator bell hooks, who communicated about the importance of understanding the pursuit of love, a sense of community, and commitment to continuous exploration. So for me, the sentiment of “Rock My Soul” isn’t an ethereal, intangible endeavor ... it’s a call to express yourself, engage with everything within and around you—and find enjoyment while doing it.

The Rock My Soul Festival with the LA Phil offers a diverse range of music with messages about historical recognition, liberation, and fierce self-empowerment; and highlights artists who speak to our need for accountability as a human collective.

When the LA Phil asked me to curate this festival, I was excited, because the artists that precede and surround me who identify as B/black, American, and women have deeply impacted my musical life. However, like many artists, I don’t want to be positioned, even if what I choose to share is geared in a certain social or political direction. That said, there’s no denying how strong bonds in personal relationships, claiming one’s identity, and reflecting and considering past and present circumstances impact what art that is made and offered.

Rock My Soul focuses on the connection, collaboration, and mutual support shared between artists—and celebrates voices who incorporate a vast scope of influences and inspirations in their work.

Upbeat Live
Mercedes Cooper, Senior VP of Programming, ARRAY—

Curated by Mercedes Cooper, Senior VP of Programming for Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY, Rock My Soul Humanities programs include a performance by and conversation with Grammy® Award-winning musician and Queen Sugar composer Meshell Ndegeocello; the participatory event Movie Soundtrack Yoga, led by R&B Yoga founder Lauren Spearman; and a live performance by J’Nai Bridges, followed by the film Carmen Jones.

“We are proud to amplify the vast and very special artistry of Black women in collaboration with the LA Phil,” said Cooper. “This series seeks to rediscover and reflect on the abundant contributions made by Black women, past and present, across musical genres in relation to storytelling. Our hope is that this exploration through music, movement, and motion pictures conjures new imaginations for our future voices.”

The LA Phil’s Humanities programs are generously supported by Linda and David Shaheen.