More about Jamila Woods, The CMA & BSA’s Sweetback History

Burnt Sugar at The Museum of Modern Art Chicago

Poet and vocal­ist Jami­la Woods was raised in Chica­go, IL and grad­u­at­ed from Brown Uni­ver­si­ty, where she earned a BA in Africana Stud­ies and The­atre & Per­for­mance Stud­ies. Influ­enced by Lucille Clifton and Gwen­dolyn Brooks, much of her writ­ing explores black­ness, wom­an­hood & the city of Chica­go. Her first chap­book, The Truth About Dolls (2012), was inspired by a Toni Moris­son quote & fea­tures a Push­cart-nom­i­nat­ed poem about Fri­da Kahlo. Her poet­ry is includ­ed in the antholo­gies The Break­beat Poets: New Amer­i­can Poet­ry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015), Courage: Dar­ing Poems for Gut­sy Girls (2014), and The UnCom­mon Core: Con­tem­po­rary Poems for Learn­ing & Liv­ing (2013).

Jami­la is also a vocal­ist & song­writer, focus­ing pri­mar­i­ly on soul/hip-hop cen­tered music. Her musi­cal lin­eage includes Erykah Badu, Imo­gen Heap, Kirk Franklin, and Kendrick Lamar. Raised in her church choir, Jamila’s musi­cal aes­thet­ic involves choral lay­er­ing in addi­tion to the hip-hop tra­di­tion of sam­pling & allu­sions.

Woods’s debut solo album HEAVN, released ear­li­er this sum­mer, has received enthu­si­as­tic reviews from Pitch­fork, SPIN, MTV, Nylon, and Noisey; her work with her band, M&O (fka Milo & Otis) has been fea­tured by Okay­play­er, Spin, JET and Ebony Mag­a­zine

Jami­la is cur­rent­ly the Asso­ciate Artis­tic Direc­tor of non-prof­it youth orga­ni­za­tion Young Chica­go Authors, where she helps orga­nize Loud­er Than A Bomb (the largest poet­ry fes­ti­val in the world), designs cur­ricu­lum for Chica­go Pub­lic Schools, and teach­es poet­ry to young peo­ple through­out the city.
The MCA’s mis­sion is to bring artists and audi­ences togeth­er, pre­sent­ing con­tem­po­rary art and cul­ture in ways that illu­mi­nate what it means to be a cit­i­zen of both Chica­go and the world. The MCA’s cur­rent home at 220 East Chica­go Avenue was the first US com­mis­sion for renowned Ger­man ratio­nal­ist archi­tect Josef Paul Klei­heus.  Locat­ed one block east of the his­toric Water Tow­er, the MCA cham­pi­ons the provoca­tive side of con­tem­po­rary art and cul­ture.

The Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art Chica­go is a non­prof­it, tax-exempt orga­ni­za­tion accred­it­ed by the Amer­i­can Alliance of Muse­ums. The muse­um is gen­er­ous­ly sup­port­ed by its Board of Trustees; indi­vid­ual and cor­po­rate mem­bers; pri­vate and cor­po­rate foun­da­tions, includ­ing the John D. and Cather­ine T. MacArthur Foun­da­tion; and gov­ern­ment agen­cies. Pro­gram­ming is par­tial­ly sup­port­ed by a grant from the Illi­nois Arts Coun­cil Agency. Muse­um cap­i­tal improve­ments are sup­port­ed by a Pub­lic Muse­um Cap­i­tal Grant from the Illi­nois Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources.  The MCA is a proud mem­ber of Muse­ums in the Park and receives major sup­port from the Chica­go Park Dis­trict.

The revi­sion­ist Burnt Sug­ar Arkestra make their MCA debut play­ing the sound­track to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, the film odyssey by actor/director/composer Melvin Van Pee­bles. Shot on a shoe­string bud­get over the peri­od of 19 days in 1971, the rene­gade film got scorch­ing reviews but grew to be one of the top-gross­ing releas­es of the year, kick­start­ing the 1970s genre known as Blax­ploita­tion. The do-it-your­self spir­it extend­ed to the sound­track, record­ed by then-unknown big band pow­er­house Earth, Wind & Fire—and com­posed by Van Peebles—which alter­nat­ed hymn-based vocals and jazz rhythms, cre­at­ing a sound that pre­fig­ured sam­pling in hip-hop.  In 2010 Van Pee­bles choose BSA to be his “21st cen­tu­ry EWF” for the the­atri­cal debut of “Sweet Sweet­back”  with two sold-out nights and a live ARTE stream of the sec­ond night at the Sons d’hiver Fes­ti­val in Paris France.