The Influence Project comes to the MAC

Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) is delighted to present The Influence Project by creative partners, photographer Alexis Chabala and curator Lorayne Crawford.

The exhibition celebrates the impact that leading Black musicians have had on contemporary sound and culture, and their enduring creative, social and political influence on new generations of artists.

Shown in its entirety at MAC, the collection features portraits of over 100 artists, plus a selection of photographs that will be shown publicly for the first time ever.

Bringing together stories of artists from across the globe, including those with strong Birmingham connections such as MOBO Award-winner Laura Mvula, Wallsall-born, Soul singer/songwriter Jorja Smith, plus celebrated Jazz musician Soweto Kinch, The Influence Project chronicles musical pioneers from the mid-to-late 20th century.

Other artists featured include revolutionary R&B influencer and force behind the Parliament/Funkadelic machine, George Clinton, Soul legend and Grammy Award-winner Deniece Williams, intergalactic travellers and Afrofuturism trailblazers Sun Ra Arkestra, Motown diva Martha Reeves, Hip Hop artist Lauryn Hill, collective The Roots, and R&B sensation Angie Stone.

These innovators of sound sit alongside contemporary artists such as Dr Dre protégé Anderson .Paak, UK artist and rapper Little Simz, and multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Shabakah Hutchings, who’s music was recently featured in Beyoncé’s Homecoming film.

Alexis and Lorayne have captured the characters of musical icons and their contemporaries through beautiful portraiture, film and sound, offering visitors a unique and important interpretation of musical history.

The Influence Project investigates connections between these established pioneers and emerging artists, reaching across time to shape the sounds that we hear today.

With thanks to Exhibition Technology Partner All see Technologies for loaning equipment for The Influence Project, and to Arts Council England for their generous support.

A special thanks to WhoSampled, Native Voice Films, Music map, Jigsaw Productions, Kew Media Group and C3 Midlands.

Related Events:

Film Screening + Q&A: Mr Dynamite – The Rise Of James Brown with Pee Wee Ellis and Soweto Kinch in Conversation Fri 24 January | 6.30pm | From £8.50 | Theatre Ages 15+

Documentary from Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney featuring rare footage, interviews and photos chronicling the ascension of the Godfather of Soul.

The film is followed by Soweto Kinch in conversation with Brown’s former bandleader and Funk innovator, Pee Wee Ellis, as they chat about their dynamic collaboration and how their music became an anthem for a generation living in segregated America.

Free Radical: Radical Influence Thu 13 February | From 7pm | First Floor Gallery | Free, booking required

Turning up the volume on some of the most exciting musicians and poets making waves in Birmingham and beyond, this special event features music from Lady Sanity, Call Me Unique and Reuben and the Band and Spoken word from Vanessa Kisuule, Adrian B Earle, and Lexia
Tomlinson. The event is produced by Free Radical, part of the Beatfreeks Collective.Rhapsodies in Blues: The Influence of Music on Black Women’s Writing Sat 7 March | 10am – 4pm | From £74

Join playwright Polly Wright and actor Deborah Tracey for a special writing workshop celebrating the musicality of Black Women’s Writing.

Portrait Photography Workshop led by Alexis Chabala Mon 24 February | 6.30 – 8.30pm | Frist Floor Gallery | Free, booking required

Attendees are invited to bring their digital camera and get professional advice in this practical, hands-on session exploring the concept of portraiture with the photographer behind The Influence Project.

Artist and Curator Talk and Tour: The Influence Project Wed 18 March | 6.30 – 8.30pm | First Floor Gallery | Free, booking required

Join Alexis Chabala and Lorayne Crawford as they share their inspiration for the exhibition, along with experiences of working with some of music’s most influential artists.

BSL Tour: The Influence Project Sat 22 February | 1 – 3pm | First Floor Gallery | Free, booking required

Artist Oliver Jamin leads a BSL tour of The Influence Project.

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