“Convocation / Consecration” Valorizing Culture As Central to Our Movement for Liberation

September 30, 2023


Throughout liberatory movements against empire and occupation, culture has been central to “the peoples movement”. Here, honoring several longtime projects, we layer additionally with other artists to CONSECRATE grounds and build a spiritual center for new energies of emancipation. The series of public events produced by HotHouse, and supported by guest curators Zahra Baker and Asad Jaffri (with funding provided by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, WDCB radio sponsorship, and Logan Center venue underwriting ) will take as a thematic cue the Pan African Festival of Algiers, the iconic festival from the 1970’s that fused global political activism with the arts. 

The programs will be presented on several dates in September and October on various sites in Bronzeville and Hyde Park, and culminate October 1 on the land in rural Michigan in an all day ceremony. 

The centerpiece of the series is an improvised performance that builds power and meditative focus over time. In this piece, guest soloists will join the Haitian ensemble, RAM to build the layers structure of sound in one long piece – many notable artists from differing spiritual traditions will participate. 

The other cornerstones proposed involve the rare appearance of Craig Harris. Featured will be opportunities to discuss these historic formations of Great Black Culture and share musical practices in a major concert at the Logan Center for the Arts. RAM is celebrating at least 40 years of consistent activism and cultural expression.  

In addition to the public performances, HotHouse will add thematic context and more in depth historical archival materials via online hyper-links to related content. A series of free online streaming films curated by HotHouse to contribute to the understanding of Afro-Latin cultural traditions will be presented by our partner CAN TV. Other online content will include photos and documents.  

All the programs will be presented FREE to the public with a “suggested donation request’ / “free will offering”    

HotHouse has a particular expertise in creating and executing these kind of multi-arts events with a long track record of previous programs like the 2010 African Jubilee, The Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert, The Concert for Cuba, and other long- form projects that integrate historical events with contemporary arts expression. Our project the Tricontinental ’66 and other Acts of Liberation is a traveling exhibition prepared under our auspices that explores similar themes of cultural expression tied to people’s movements. The exhibition has traveled to New York University and University of Virginia in addition to premiering at the Stony Island Arts Bank.  

The impact of our work is to engage audiences in a multi-level educational experience that excavates popular history and culture and builds tools for present day problem solving. In this case building unity across communities in the city.  


Saturdays at 8:00 pm

9/9/23  Mama Africa

9/16/23  Tango Negro

9/23/23  Quilombo

9/30/23  8:00 pm - Festac '77 (26:00) , 8:30 pm - Aces (17:54),  9:00 pm Human Behavior (14:45)

10/7/23  Abdias Do Nascimento

10/14/23  Mama Africa

10/21/23  Tango Negro

10/28/23  Quilombo

11/4/23   8:00 pm - Festac '77 (26:00) , 8:30 pm - Aces (17:54),  9:00 pm Human Behavior (14:45)

11/11/23  Abdias Do Nascimento

Live Program Outline

September 7 - The Pan-African Festival of Algiers

William Klein, 90 minutes

The first Pan-African Cultural Festival (PANAF) was a historic gathering that brought together musicians, performers, activists, luminaries and revolutionaries to Algiers in 1969. It was a moment to celebrate post-colonial liberation and imagine futures free from oppressive systems. The festival, steeped in freedom movements and anti-colonialism, featured greats like Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and Archie Shepp as well as Guinea-Bissau’s Amilcar Cabral and Algiers resident Eldridge Cleaver. The official documentary for the festival captures this jubilant, defiant and pivotal moment in history.

As part of HotHouse’s Convocation/Consecration series, we will revisit this moment, over 50 years later, through William Klein’s documentary, with pre film-discussion with scholars and activists, Dr. Haki Madhubuti and Dr. Abdul Alkalimat. Dr. Lynette Jackson moderates.

Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti is a best-selling poet, author, publisher, and educator, and is widely regarded as one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement and is founder and publisher of Chicago's Third World Press.

Madhubuti has published more than 37 books, four albums/CDs with music, and his poetry and essays have been selected for more than 100 anthologies. His first four Black Arts poetry books, Think Black (1967), Black Pride, (with an introduction by Dudley Randall (1968), Don’t Cry, Scream! with an introduction by Gwendolyn Brooks (1969), and We Walk the Way of the New World (1970), sold over 140,000 copies making him one of the best-selling poets in the world. His book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1991) was a national bestseller of over 100,000 copies. His poetry has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he has won the American Book Award, Illinois Arts Council Award, Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Prize in poetry for his book, Liberation Narratives

Dr. Abdul Alkalimat is an American professor of African-American studies and library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He is the author of several books, including Introduction to Afro-American Studies (1984), The African American Experience in Cyberspace (2004), Malcolm X for Beginners (1990), and The History of Black Studies (2021). He curates two websites related to African-American history, "Malcolm X: A Research Site" and "eBlack Studies". During the late 1960s, he helped create the Institute of the Black World (IBW) in Atlanta with professors Vincent Harding and Stephen Henderson and other student activists, including Howard Dodson, A. B. Spellman, William Strickland, and Council Taylor. In the early 1970s, Alkalimat established Peoples College, a black nationalist think tank. Acknowledged as a founder of Black Studies, he wrote Introduction to Afro-American Studies: A Peoples College Primer, first published in 1984, which has become a popular text and gone through several editions.

Dr. Lynette Jackson is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Black Studies at UIC. She received her PhD in African History from Columbia University in 1997. Dr. Jackson is the author of Surfacing Up: Psychiatry and Social Order in Colonial Zimbabwe (Cornell 2005) and numerous other articles and book chapters on topics relating to women, the state and medical and public health discourses in colonial and postcolonial Africa, particularly having to do with the regulation of African women's sexuality. Dr. Jackson's current research explores the history of child refugee diasporas from Southern Sudan, particularly focusing on two streams of unaccompanied children: The Lost Boys and Girls and the Cuban 600. She has also begun conducting research for a critical biography of Winnie Mandela.

September 15 - FESTA SAMBA 

A big street party to close out summer - AfroBrazilan Style 

Chicago Samba, Live Brazilian music & dance

Chicago Samba is a Midwest-based music ensemble offering the genuine sounds of Brazil mixed with the flavors from Bossa-novas to the excitement of Carnaval parades.

The group started in 1990 performing at The Hot House, Chicago. Always playing at a variety of venues including music festivals, nightclubs, weddings, private functions and schools.

From the beginning of its existence has been the most important Brazilian cultural connection in the Midwest-USA, Chicago Samba’s musicians and dancers providing authentic Carnaval costumes transforms events into a taste of tropical Brazil.

October 1 - RAM with special guests

RAM, the band founded by Richard A. Morse in 1990 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are stars in Haiti and among Haitian audiences in the diaspora, as well as world music fans and drum heads everywhere. As of late 2022, they have relocated to New Orleans, a city that’s ready to hear their unique music.

The band, which features Lunise Morse on lead vocal, combines William Morse's electric guitar with vodou drummers and traditional one-note Haitian trumpets, called kone (as in cornet). Their style, known as mizik rasin (roots music), draws on traditional vodou musics of Haiti to create an original, intense, highly rhythmic vodou-rock sound.

RAM has made dozens of videoclips, viewable on YouTube, and has released seven albums,most recently RAM 7: August 1791. In 1993, their Haitian hit “Dreams Come True (Ibo Lele)”was featured on the double-platinum soundtrack of Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia as well as inthe film.

Their weekly dances at Port-au-Prince’s landmark Hotel Oloffson, which began in 1990, gavenot only the band, but the entire rasin movement, a platform for live performance, serving as alaunching pad for a number of careers in Haitian music. Many international stars came by theOloffson to jam with the band over the years, memorably including New Orleans’s PreservationHall Jazz Band, in 2018.

In 2022, in the face of turmoil in Haiti that made it impossible for the band to perform, RAMrelocated as a group to New Orleans. They are now a New Orleans band, building a local audience as they adapt to their new musical environment in unpredictable and exciting ways.

Here’s the video for their 2016 hit, “M’Pral Dòmi Nan Simityè” (I’m Going to Sleep in the

Cemetery). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCVkrItT5ws

Special Guests 

Sojourner, Zahra Baker, Zacbe Pichardo, Ayreeyal Ra, Shanta Nurullah, Uche Omoniyi, James sanders and LuFuki  


Craig Harris is a trombonist, composer, and gifted sonic shaman. A musical journey that began when touring with the inimitable Sun Ra, led Craig on a path that affirmed his place in performance with and among the ranks of creative music’s most progressive thought-leaders. A prolific composer, and bandleader of various[1]sized ensembles, Craig has amassed an extensive discography of his own influential work in addition to contributing to the projects of his esteemed colleagues. Steeped in the tradition of using his musical voice to comment on social injustice and humanity, Craig is a 2022 nominee for the NAACP Image Awards as co-composer of the score for the Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. Craig’s newest recording is Managing the Mask.


Project description:

A multi-media work based on the movement of Muhammad Ali with video.

Through the life of Muhammad Ali, Brown Butterfly will take its viewers on a multi-layered, percussive “dance” into some of the forces that propelled us in the 20th century and what they signify for the next.

It is our intention that the audience for Brown Butterfly will experience Ali in all his physical and verbal glory; they will see his motion, pulse with his beat, and feel his power. Brown Butterfly will present the power of a man who stood as a humanitarian with great integrity and who was a beacon of hope for millions through America’s complex racial, social and political environment of the time.

Aquil "AQ" Charlton, is a musician, teaching artist, and leader of public studio and instrument-making workshops as founder of Mobile Music Box and co-founder of Mobilize Creative Collaborative. An accomplished producer, DJ, and recording artist, Aquil also leads studio production, songwriting, and recording workshops for all experience levels. Aquil is a South Side Chicago resident and father. Find more information about him and his work at www.mobilizecreative.com

and his music at https://aq-il.bandcamp.com

Amina J. Dickerson emcee 

Art consultant Amina J. Dickerson 

After completing the Harvard Program in arts administration in 1974, she joined the National Museum of African Art where she became director of education through 1982. In 1984, she became the new president of Chicago’s venerable DuSable Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Dickerson has presented on various arts and community issues and serves as a consultant to various arts, cultural and philanthropic organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.  It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.  Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004–2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000–2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference and won a 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018. Jess is a Professor of English at College of Staten Island.  

Jess' fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, Beyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex, and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.


Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader Craig Harris has played alongside the contemporary jazz world's most iconic voices, including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgill, Abdullah Ibrahim and Jaki Byard. The focus of Harris' multimedia symphony Brown Butterfly is another immortal American: Muhammad Ali. Harris and his Septet present an operatic portrait of The Greatest with movements devoted to Ali's bouts with Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston, his association with Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam, and the legend's final fight against Parkinson's. Powered by complex motifs, nuanced musical mastery and an original accompanying video showing highlights of the champ in action, Brown Butterfly captures Muhammad Ali's speed, wit and spirit in a feast for the eyes and the ears.

Harris’ soulful and kinetic compositions evoke cinematic works as they underscore various pivotal moments in Ali’s life and career. From the hip-hop centric “Road Work” and the Afro-Cuban bounce of “Rumble In The Land Of Lumumba” to the drum-and-bass driven “Ali Shuffle Interpolations” and melancholy ballad “Parkinson’s—Ali The Finale,” Brown Butterfly is a triumph.

Recently, Harris offered DownBeat fond recollections of watching Ali and explained how his athleticism informed the music on Brown Butterfly.

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Talk about the first time you saw Ali and why you’re in awe of his athleticism.

I must have been 9 years old when I first saw him on the living room black-and-white television. ABC had this show, The Wide World of Sports. I remember seeing this young man talking and signifying; I just said, “Who is this?”

When I saw Muhammad Ali flight, he didn’t just signify, he could back it up. That was what separated him from people who just talked a lot of shit. At the time, his outspokenness on national television seemed like it came out of nowhere. A lot of African Americans didn’t like this man in the beginning, because they thought it was a pretty boy who was arrogant and who talked a lot.

How did Ali’s boxing inspire you to write the music on Brown Butterfly?

Just watching his evolution as a human being inspired the music. Watching him refuse to go to the Vietnam War was the pinnacle for me. He transcended being an athlete. He informs people like Colin Kaepernick to this day. Just the idea that he stood up against the United States government, he became a historic figure in the same vein as people like Angela Davis.

Did you ever box as a kid?

I boxed for about 15 minutes. [laughs] I got into the boxing ring, put on the gloves, and the guy hit me upside my head a couple times. I just took the gloves off and said, “This ain’t my thing.”

Did you try to incorporate some of the rhythmic athleticism of Ali’s footwork and boxing technique into the music?

I was involved in sports—I played football, lacrosse and I wrestled. So, I had this understanding of being an athlete. The original idea was to do a piece about Muhammad Ali, James Brown and Tina Turner. I was going to write a trilogy of ballets for these three people, but I eventually just focused on Muhammad Ali.

The way that athletes move is incredible. You have people who are about 300 pounds who are running 48/40s—that’s incredible. And that sort of performance is something that African Americans have always done. We defy European logic—large people moving with so much grace and innovation; people like Wilt Chamberlain and Julius Erving. Look at the dancing singers like Jackie Wilson and James Brown, the way these people would move. It just goes to one of Ali’s famous quotes: “Impossible is temporary.”

You can equate the same thing to the way J.J. Johnson played trombone or Gene Ammons played the tenor saxophone or how the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the Sun Ra Arkestra blended so many things. We are constantly taking the “can’t” and making it a “can,” and defying all expectations. That was the inspiration for me.

So, I got all of Ali’s footage together and cut the sound off and just watched his movements. A very important fight for Muhammad Ali was the Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams fight. That’s the one that really established Ali and put him into another space. They were both the same size and they moved around the boxing ring as if the fight was a ballet. I would watch Ali’s footwork and the rhythms, and just put it to music. His force and energy inspired me to write the music.

Muhammad Ali’s boxing was very unorthodox. Early in his career, everyone thought that he would get knocked out because boxers then didn’t move backwards. You were supposed to move into the punch, not backwards. His unorthodox technique was the brilliance of him and his trainer, Angelo Dundee. Angelo left Ali alone instead trying to make him box “correctly.” DB

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