Angel Bat Dawid, the Chicago-based clarinetist, composer and singer, has been embarked on a journey.
On this My Music edition of The Checkout, she shares some of that experience — from her upbringing with missionary parents in Kenya to the thrill of meeting creative role model Henry Threadgill. We’ll hear music from The Oracle, her acclaimed 2019 debut — along with sounds from her hero Yusef Lateef, the autophysiopsychic musician whose centennial we observed this year.
Then the first-person narrative takes an important turn from playful to serious, as Dawid talks about her newest multimedia work, Elijah Tha Prophet: A Myth Science Sonic Visual Sermon. She created it in response to the murder of Elijah McClain in Aurora, CO — incorporating the body camera footage that captured his final moments, including his horrific death at the hands of police.
The piece is difficult to absorb, as Dawid intended — an anguished response to a clear injustice. We debated whether or not to present the video here, given the conviction that the distribution of such material devalues Black life, and inflicts an emotional toll especially on those of us disproportionately at risk. In that spirit, please proceed with caution: here is the piece in an online folder.
Despite the challenges confronting artists like Dawid, her future looks incredibly bright, and I’m honored to feature her on The Checkout. We can’t wait to hear what joyous and provocative music she brings next, which include two new albums in the next three months. “I have a lot of new music coming out,” she says. “I’ve been very busy on the music tip. All the performance things shut down, but it was really a blessing to be able to record at home. I have secret stuff too — a lot of cool stuff. Keep your eyes open!”