Recovering Black History from Miami to Harlem |
Leslie Odom, Jr., Questlove, and Dr. Jessica B. Harris in Conversation

Apr 7, 2021

Upcoming Event

How does Black art and music inspire activism? Despite its power, why has so much of Black cultural history been hidden or forgotten?  How is that history being recovered? 

Join us for Recovering Black History, a conversation featuring multifaceted Tony and Grammy Award-winning and Academy and Emmy Award-nominated performer Leslie Odom, Jr.; DJ, producer, and member of The Roots, Questlove (neé, Ahmir Thompson); and award-winning author and editor Dr. Jessica B. Harris.

Moderated by The Bass Museum of Art’s Curator of Public Engagement, Tom Healy, the group will explore how their recent works champion and preserve invaluable and deeply meaningful Black narratives. The program will be introduced by Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director & Chief Curator of The Bass, and Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

This special event is presented in partnership with The Bass Museum of Art and their Curator Culture program series. The program will be available on The Bass Museum of Art’s Youtube page as well as this event page.

Leslie Odom, Jr. is a multifaceted, award-winning vocalist, songwriter, author, and actor. With a career that spans all performance genres, he has received recognition with Tony and Grammy Awards as well as Emmy and, most recently, two Academy Award nominations for his excellence and achievements in Broadway, television, film, and music. Odom currently stars and performs the songs of legendary singer Sam Cooke in the critically acclaimed Amazon film adaptation of the Olivier Award-nominated play, One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King. Odom has released four highly lauded studio albums, including two holiday records and his chart-topping, self-titled debut. He has performed at the White House, Super Bowl, and on hallowed stages such as Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 2018, he published his first book, Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher and Never Stop Learning. Odom can also be heard voicing the character of ‘Owen Tillerman’ in the Apple TV+ animated musical-comedy series Central Park, for which he received a 2020 Emmy nomination, as well as captivating audiences as ‘Aaron Burr’ in the filmed musical performance of the original Broadway production of Hamilton released in 2020 on Disney+. 

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Drummer, DJ, producer, culinary entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author, and member of The Roots—is the unmistakable heartbeat of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group. He is the Musical Director for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where his beloved Roots crew serves as house band. Beyond that, this 5-time Grammy Award winning musician's indisputable reputation has landed him musical directing positions with everyone from D'Angelo to Eminem to Jay-Z. Questlove has also released multiple books including the New York Times bestsellers Mo’ Meta Blues and Creative Quest, Grammy nominated audio book Creative Quest, Soul Train: The Music, Dance and Style of a Generation, James Beard Award nominated somethingtofoodabout and most recently Mixtape Potluck. Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots have Executive Produced the acclaimed documentary series, Hip-Hop: The Songs The Shook America on AMC under their production company, Two One Five Entertainment which recently announced a first-look deal with Universal Television to develop scripted and non-scripted programming. Questlove will serve as executive producer for upcoming documentary, The League, centered on the tumultuous journey of Negro league baseball. He also made his directorial debut with the acclaimed feature documentary Summer of Soul, which explores the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Additionally, Questlove served as the Executive Music Producer and Composer on the A&E Miniseries Roots. He also scored Chris Rock’s film, Top Five and co-produced the Grammy Award winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton. Questlove also hosts his own acclaimed podcast Questlove Supreme on iHeart.  

Dr. Jessica B. Harris, considered by many to be one of the ranking authorities on the food of the African Diaspora, is the author, editor, or translator of eighteen books including twelve cookbooks documenting the foodways of the African Diaspora. She is a sought-after speaker and has lectured widely and written extensively for scholarly and popular publications. Harris consults internationally and conceptualized the award-winning cafeteria of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. She is currently leading the Culinary Institute of America’s new African Diaspora Foodways initiative. Dr. Harris is also lead curator for the exhibit African/American: Making the Nation’s Table to be presented by New York’s Museum of Food and Drink in 2022. Dr Harris holds numerous awards and accolades including an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Johnson & Wales University. In 2019, her food-related works were inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame and she is the 2020 James Beard Lifetime Achievement awardee. Dr. Harris taught at Queens College/CUNY, New York, for five decades and is currently professor emerita at that institution.  

Tom Healy is an award-winning poet, curator and activist. He is the chair of O, Miami Poetry Festival and a trustee of PEN America, the organization of writers protecting freedom of expression around the world. Under President Barack Obama, Tom led the international Fulbright Scholars program. He is Curator of Public Engagement at The Bass.

Generous support for Curator Culture is provided by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Additional support for this project is provided by Art Bridges and Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Frankenthaler Digital Initiative.  

The Bass is Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum. Its mission is to create connections between international contemporary art and its diverse audiences. The museum shares the power of contemporary art through experiences that excite, challenge and educate.  

Curator Cultureis The Bass’ signature mash-up program, bringing intelligent questioning and debate about all forms of the arts and their intersection with politics, education, technology, gender and race. The series asks participants and audience members to consider the centrality of the arts in shaping and reflecting twenty-first century life, and how we can imagine—and build—a better world. Curator Culture has brought together leading individuals from many fields (including Edwidge Danticat, Charles Blow, Liza Lou, Pete Buttigieg, Billy Porter and Kimberly Drew, among others) for public conversations about fostering creativity in a complicated world. 

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