A vocal coach from the IU African American Arts Institute will perform “Souls of Black Folks: The Sequel” at People’s Park from 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday.
The performer, Tislam Swift, said he will sing in an operatic style called bel canto.
“Souls of Black Folks: The Sequel” is a collection of contemporary spirituals that Swift compiled, he said. The spirituals were written and composed by black artists, such as Langston Hughes and H. Leslie Adams.
“There are so many different people and so many different ways to tell stories,” Swift said, “That’s why I called it ‘Souls of Black Folks’, because I think the souls of these people and the souls of our stories are being told in so much of this music.”
Crystal Ritter, the city community arts events coordinator, said the performance fits the history of People’s Park, which used to be the Bloomington Black Market.
Ritter said she and the jury that selects the performances scheduled “Souls of Black Folks: The Sequel '' to recognize June as both African American Music Appreciation Month and Pride Month.
Swift said the songs speak to his experiences as a black queer man in America.
“I want this to be significant in the way that it shows resilience to my people, to my heritage, and to my culture,” Swift said.
Swift said he thinks others will be able to relate to lyrics that express feelings of uncertainty or homesickness in the pandemic.
The concerts performed on Thursdays as part of Bloomington’s People’s Park Concert Series are meant to help people unwind for their upcoming weekend, according to Bloomington’s official website.
Becky Higgins, the recreation services director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the concert series, said the city has concerts at People’s Park so people passing by can grab food or ice cream, sit down and listen to music and then move on with the rest of their day.
Ritter said she is committed to diversifying the types of performances and music they schedule for the concert series and performing arts series. Ritter said “Souls of Black Folks: The Sequel” is the first performance of its kind in the concert series since she became the events coordinator three years ago.
Swift said he called the performance a sequel because he previously performed a concert called “Souls of Black Folks” in 2019.