This past Saturday, we released this powerful short film of Ready, Bright by Derrick Skye (formerly Derrick Spiva, Jr.) in honor of Juneteenth. Here's how Derrick describes the work, in his own words:
Ready, Bright is a piece about the desire to be released from restraint and the work that it takes for us to be unrestrained. The piece sonically and visually interprets multiple perspectives on the process of gaining release from restraint using the mind, body, soul, and voice. Juneteenth is a day often observed in my family as a time for celebrating freedom, but even more so as a reflection on the work that still needs to be done for us all to be free.
In Ready, Bright there are elements of call and response (found in many cultures, including many cultures in West Africa) between soloist and choir, as well as between sections of the choir. The piece also includes polyrhythmic layering of 3 against 2 found in traditional Eʋe music from the Volta region of Ghana. Sections of Ready, Bright often start with a single repeated phrase. As the phrase cycles, additional phrases are added, and the phrases intertwine, with new meanings and rhythmic patterns emerging. Stylistically, Ready, Bright layers jazz, gospel, and pop vocal traditions with vocal approaches commonly found in Western classical music. Ready, Bright also incorporates body percussion, inspired by the call and response and repeated tension (silence) and release (collective sound) found in Black work songs.
Choreographer and dancer Yeko Ladzekpo-Cole, whose work often incorporates movements found in different cultures around the world, is featured in the video of Ready, Bright. As my teachers and mentors, Yeko and her parents Dzidzogbe Beatrice Lawluvi and Kobla Ladzekpo have been integral to the process of me reconnecting to my ancestry mentally, spiritually, and musically. In Ready, Bright, Yeko’s dance vocabulary incorporates contemporary movements interwoven with her family’s deep roots in traditional Eʋe music and dance.
Ready, Bright was commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale through a generous gift from Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting. This performance was made possible by a generous gift from Susan Erburu Reardon and George Reardon. Additional support was provided by Pamela Reis. Media support was generously provided by Island Creek Pictures and Therapy Studios. In kind support was provided by South Coast Botanic Garden.