The Reconciliation Conversation
Derrick DeLain & Jason Dukes
Episode 15 | September 23rd, 2020
Special Guest Ruth Naomi Floyd
INTRO | Derrick DeLain
BIO info for Ruth Naomi Floyd, Emancipatory Artist
A vocalist and composer, Ruth Naomi Floyd has created a discography dedicated to a sacred jazz expression. She has been at the forefront of creating vocal jazz settings that express theology and justice for over 25 years. She leads her own multi-faceted ensemble and her recordings consist primarily of original compositions. Blessed with a soaring mezzo-soprano voice, critics praise Ms. Floyd’s music for its distinctive sound of progressive ensemble jazz that is seamlessly blended with messages of hope, faith, redemption, and love. Ms. Floyd has recorded and performed with such notable instrumentalists as James Newton, James Weidman, Gary Thomas, John Patitucci, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Cables, Bobby Watson, Aaron Graves, Matthew Parrish, Mark Prince, Byron Lanham, Bryan Carrot, Uri Caine, Craig Handy and many more.
Ms. Floyd has been a presence and worker in areas of the arts and justice throughout her and career. She has lectured prolifically on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, culture, and the arts at numerous universities, seminaries, conferences, and academic settings in the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
A committed music educator, Ms. Floyd is Director of Jazz Studies at Cairn University, Langhorne, Pennsylvania and an Adjunct and Artist in Residence at Temple University. Previously, Ms. Floyd taught music for twenty 20 years at The City School.
Ms. Floyd’s recent compositions include “Freedom” which premiered in April 2018 in Wales, United Kingdom. Commissioned in honor of human rights activist, “Freedom” is Mende Nazer’s profound story of survival as a slave in Sudan and London. In the centennial year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center, in partnership with NEWorks Productions, commissioned Ms. Floyd as one of four composers to create a community mass inspired by Bernstein’s MASS, that explores anew the relevance of faith in our times. The Frederick Douglass Jazz Works is Ms. Floyd’s new body of compositions based on the speeches and writings of the great leading orator, abolitionist, writer, publisher, and statesman.
Ms. Floyd is also an award winning fine art photographer specializing in black and white portrait images. She uses silver based films with 35mm and 4x5 inch view cameras to capture her images and uses traditional wet darkroom technology as well as digital printing on archival papers to produce her final images. Ms. Floyd has received awards, prizes, and grants for her photographic images and her work is included in permanent and private collections. Ms. Floyd’s photographic images have been published in and on the covers of magazines, brochures, and music compact discs.
Ms. Floyd was awarded the prestigious Kimmel Center’s Jazz Residency for the 2019-2020 season. In December 2019, Concordia College - New York, awarded Ms. Floyd an Honorary Doctorate for her unique and valuable contribution to the arts, her commitment to music education, and her justice work.
Ms. Floyd continues to make the city of Philadelphia her home, where for over twenty-five years she has been devoted and active in providing compassionate care and spiritual support to people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in Philadelphia and Africa.
QUESTION 1 | Derrick DeLain
Ms. Floyd, you have been at the forefront of creating the beautiful chaos of jazz that expresses theology and justice for over 25 years. What originally moved you to want to do this?
QUESTION 2 | Jason Dukes
You have also lectured prolifically on the intersection of beauty, theology, justice, culture, and the arts in numerous settings around the world. If I was brand new, sitting in one of your lectures for the first time, what is something you would most want me to hear, take away, and act on?
QUESTION 3 | Derrick DeLain
Philly has been your home for over 25 years. You have loved and served and sung and educated people there during that time, specifically in the area of justice. But you also have provided care and spiritual support to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Is there any one particular story that has deeply impacted you, changed you, and compelled you to keep going in all that you are doing?
QUESTION 4 | Jason Dukes
On social media, you recently described some of the work you’ve done with British artists as “a theology of hope and the blues, truth-telling and and seeking beauty in the midst of resistance and racism.” “Freedom” is the name of the work you collaborated on that focused on Mende Nazer. For listeners who may not know, who is Mende Nazer?
QUESTION 5 | Derrick DeLain
“The Frederick Douglass Jazz Works” is your new body of compositions based on the speeches and writings of the great leading orator, abolitionist, writer, publisher, and statesman. What do we need most to hear today, in the current American climate, from the great Frederick Douglass?
QUESTION 6 | Jason Dukes
What encouragement would you offer to listeners when it comes to new steps or next steps they can take right now in order to see the collision of theology and justice in their communities?
OUTRO | Derrick DeLain
— Socials for our guests
:: @RNFloyd on Instagram
:: @RuthNaomiFloyd on Twitter
:: music available to stream on all platforms
:: photography — https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Artist/Ruth-Naomi-Floyd-Music-Photography-Page-129687350403451/
— Socials for The Reconciliation Conversation
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**Musical intro and outro by @cdukesmusic (https://cdukesmusic.com)