Freedom Singer Comes to Vancouver

In 2015, Khari Wendell McClelland retraced the steps of his great-great-great grandmother Kizzy and discovered the songs that likely accompanied her and thousands of others as they escaped US slavery. In sharing this music – which are reinvented through contemporary styles like hip hop, funk and soul – Khari is brought face to face with his own “unrecorded” heritage and the realities and myths of one of our quintessential historic narratives: the Underground Railroad.

photo by Dahlia Katz

Freedom Singer is a documentary-style piece of theatre that blends Khari Wendell McClelland’s original music with 1850s freedom songs, verbatim interview excerpts, and first-hand stories. It tells of McClelland’s journey to find the music that would have accompanied his great-great- great-grandmother, an escaped slave who walked to Ontario, lost her legs to the cold, had two children with a British-Canadian, then returned to Detroit after emancipation.

Directed by Project: Humanity’s Andrew Kushnir, co-created and performed by McClelland, along with JUNO nominee Toronto soul singer Tanika Charles and acclaimed Vancouver guitarist Noah Walker, Freedom Singer is a rare musical journey through the history of the Underground Railroad and the songs that carried freedom seekers northward to Canada.

Following the acclaimed world premiere of Freedom Singer during Black History month 2017 in Toronto, Freedom Singer has toured to Regina, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal and Ottawa.

This October, Urban Ink is proud to bring this “must-see” theatre production to Vancouver at the Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.

Freedom Singer opens October 7 at 8pm and continues through October 18 with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. October 8 is Pay-What-You-Can-Admission; October 10 is ASL Translation and Talk-back night, and October 17 is Talkback Night.

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