The Grandmother Project is a concert and recording project that is an interdisciplinary music, documentary film and textile arts exploration of Black women’s vocality through the signature songs of the prolific Black women jazz vocalists like Sarah Vaughan and Abbey Lincoln, along with African American roots music like the congregational songs of the Women of Gee’s Bend and the revolutionary songs of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Maya Angelou, Fannie Lou Hamer and Nina Simone. The piece builds on Cunningham's recently published book chapter in the Routledge Companion of Black Women’s Cultural Histories called “Singing Power/Sounding Identity: The Black Woman's Voice from Hush Harbors and Beyond.”
The concert is a revolutionary presentation of jazz, gospel, fusion and soul that gives honor to the African – American female vocalists who were the architects in building African – American music, national identity and international representation. These women, called The Grandmothers, literally hold this position genealogically, generationally, historically, culturally and artistically. Jazz Vocalist Maya Cunningham pays tribute to the vocalists of yesteryear by creating a montage of live music with a nine-piece band, archival footage and an exhibition of textile art (quilts) and fused glass works. The Grandmother Project debuted in New York City in November 2014.
Maya Cunningham conceived of the Grandmother Project and is lead vocalist. Hailing from Washington DC, she is one of the most exciting of the new generation of jazz singers. She creates energy when she sings with impassioned vocals and cutting interpretations. Called a “talented young singer” by Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins, her vocals combine the elements of fiery soul, blues and be-bop jazz phrasing.
We are now accepting bookings for Fall 2023.