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Imani Uzuri - "Dream Child" (video still)

Imani Uzuri is a griot. I hate to associate Black women with historic stereotypes like the jezebel (video hoe), the mammy (The Help), or the soul sistah (fro & fist in the air). It’s overdone and played out in mainstream depictions of Black women: Tyler Perry’s movies being prime examples. So excuse me if I’m one to perpetuate outdated references, but watch and listen to “Dream Child” before saying that I’m wrong; that Ms. Uzuri is not a griot. Griots are part of a hereditary caste of western Africans who function to preserve oral histories of the their tribe and to teach/entertain with their stories, poems, songs, and dances. In “Dream Child” Imani embodies that role as she sits on the shore, telling a story of a lonely traveler. We are her audience, a village of dream children and travelers. As all griots, Imani has a lesson: “Traveling may feel lonely sometimes/ But all who wander are not lost/ The journey is to look inside and find, and find, and find…” She sings her story alongside dancer-choreographer Camille A. Brown who whirls and flails her body with closed eyes — she is Imani’s muse: her dreamer and her dream. Accentuating her tale is a veritable United Nations of instrumentation; a Japanese folk flute, an Indian sitar, a Persian daf, an acoustic guitar — all softly swaying to the momentum of Uzuri’s bluesy voice and Brown’s contemporary dance. It all culminates in a simple but captivating work of art that you can’t help but replay time and time again. Watch the video, then hear the rest of her most recent work with The Gypsy Diaries (released in June), which you can cop on iTunes.

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