Rashaad Newsome is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice is deeply invested in how images used in media and popular culture communicate distorted notions of power and status. Whether it be in his series of compositions created by “throwing shade” or his various works documenting the dance form known as vogue, his interests lie in critiquing the popular appropriation of the dance, music, and vernacular expression developed in Harlem’s queer ballroom scene of the 1970s.
He comes to the Armory to premiere "Running," a new immersive performance evoking an abstract portrait of soul created through light and voice. Running is centered on the musicology term for a singer’s improvised embellishment; a “vocal run” is a rapid series of ascending or descending musical notes sung in quick succession. Running is a vocal effect that spans a variety of musical genres from the 19th century to today. Newsome’s stirring performance features three local New York City vocalists performing an original score composed by the artist, which incorporates samples of vocal runs by Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, James Brown, and Kelly Price, among others.
Photo courtesy Rashaad Newsome