Samora Pinderhughes writes piercing melodies that linger in your memory. His heartbreaking songs seem especially pertinent now. Watch this pianist and singer premiere a few of them — including “Process,” which releases today as a single — in a stirring concert video.
The Checkout presented Pinderhughes at New York City’s (Le) Poisson Rouge in the summer of 2018 — long before the current wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the country. But confronting systemic racism has been his core preoccupation for as long as he’s had an artistic outlet, and it’s telling how timely these songs feel today.
Pinderhughes, who earned widespread acclaim in the collective August Greene, took another step forward in this performance, with a project he calls Venus. In it, he performs out front with his artistic partner Jack DeBoe on drums. They’re joined by Andrew Renfroe on guitar, Maya Kronfeld on keyboards and Josh Hari on bass.
None of the songs in their set had seen commercial release at the time. The opener, “For Those Lost, For Those Taken,” has since been featured on Pinderhughes’ Black Spring EP. Offered in memory of Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas prison after her arrest on a minor traffic violation, the song set a somber mood for the show. Recently it became a consoling anthem on various Instagram feeds, featuring a montage of singers sharing its contemplative message with Keyon Harrold on trumpet.
The next two songs, “Gatsby” and “Hold That Weight,” both premiered at LPR. The first is a cutting commentary on our fake selfie culture. The second, which Pinderhughes and director Daniel Fermín Pfeffer made into a compelling short docudrama, follows a formerly incarcerated Black man trying to find dignified work.
“Process” also comes with an accompanying short film due out next week, directed by Christian Padron. It tells the story of a Black family dealing with the death of one of their sons. The Checkout has some history with the song: we proudly debuted it in the studio at WBGO in early 2018, back when it was called “The Truth.” It’s another searing song that taps into a solitude headspace — and, as Pinderhughes describes it, “a tribute to this moment of International Black power.”
Video by Corey Goldberg with help from Chris Tobin and Anthony Nieves
Music Mix: David Tallacksen