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Nicholas Galanin participation in MCA Chicago project "Chapter and Verse: The Gospel of James Baldwin"

James Baldwin
Photo collage: Rebecca Meek

Sep 15, Oct 20, Nov 17, Dec 15, 2020

This ritual toolkit for justice created by Meshell Ndegeocello with collaboration from Charlotte Brathwaite, celebrates James Baldwin’s ideas and legacy through music, visual imagery, and calls for each individual to remotely execute actions in unison, on their own time. Using the form of a church service as a starting place, structured, sacred rituals for worship, empowerment, and reverence inspire each month’s gifts, offered for free at As each new virtual and limited-edition print newsletter is released, participants are invited to join in on the urgent and critical investigation of race, religion, and sexual orientation in the United States of America, and its status quo.

The artists offer gifts—music, thoughts, meditations, and visual testimonies of resilience—alongside Meshell Ndegeocello’s genre-bending song-cycle, inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. These four previously unreleased music tracks will drop monthly as part of these audio and visual “toolkits” for the soul. By signing up online, subscribers receive access to a toll-free number to hear Ndegeocello’s voice and music and links to online music videos, each created by a different artist, through an exclusive online portal. Print newsletters containing Baldwin quotes, original artwork, and other poetic text will arrive in the mail each month for participants who register while supplies last.

To participate, visit each month to access the toolkits:

Read: Sign up for the limited-edition monthly newsletter, featuring Baldwin’s words and calls to action, delivered four times, directly to your mailbox. Register here. The newsletters will also be available as a PDF on the website.

Call: Dial a toll-free telephone number and discover songs, meditations, and chants to ease your mind any time, day or night, when you need it most.

Watch: Experience visual testimonies by Staceyann Chin, Suné Woods, Nicholas Galanin, and Charlotte Brathwaite, with original music created by Ndegeocello.

This project was organized by Tara Aisha Willis, Associate Curator, Performance and Public Practice, with Laura Paige Kyber, Curatorial Assistant. It is a coproduction of Bismillah, LLC and Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College and co-commissioned by Fisher Center at Bard, UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance, MCA Chicago, and the Festival de Marseille.



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