Stonewall inspired concert features composer Benjamin Boone and poet Faylita Hicks

Black and white headshots of Benjamin Boone and Faylita Hicks with their names spelled out in text on a dark blue textured background.

Fresno State music professor Benjamin Boone (he, him, his) and his jazz quartet have teamed up with queer Afro-Latinx activist and poet Faylita Hicks (she/they) for an evening of original music inspired by the “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” exhibit. They will be joined by various other performances and readings, including new works by poet and Fresno State alumnus Steven Sanchez and an original string quartet composition by Fresno State music student Allen Gallego.

Presented by the Center for Creativity and the Arts (CCA), “Benjamin Boone and Faylita Hicks: Nobody Promised You Tomorrow Concert and Poetry Reading” begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Phebe Conley Art Gallery courtyard. The outdoor concert and indoor art exhibit are free and open to the public. Parking is $5 in lot P5.

Boone’s 2020 album “The Poets are Gathering,” featuring U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and others, is the latest in a series of albums melding Boone’s jazz composition with poetry. “All About Jazz” said the album is “intense and hard-hitting…work that will make you think and that never shirks from challenging and confronting societal wrongs in a way that transcends the polemics of the newspaper opinion writers.” 

While Boone and the late U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine had performed their unique mix of jazz and poetry several times live, their 2018 album “The Poetry of Jazz” was the first time they released recordings of the collaboration.  The album was recognized by U.K. Vibe, featured on NPR’s All Things Considered,, was a staff pick in the Paris Review and named Downbeat Magazine’s 2018 number three “Best Album of 2018” in their annual readers poll. 

Born in South Central California and raised in Central Texas, Hicks uses their intersectional experiences to advocate for ​​Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, plus (LGBTQIA+) people. Hicks recently released their new album “A New Name for My Love,” available on Spotify, Apple Music, and iTunes. She is the author of HoodWitch and a finalist for the 2020 Lambada Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry. Hicks serves as the 2021 poet-in-residence for Civil Rights Corps and Fall 2021 Shearing fellow for Black Mountain Institute. She was featured in the documentaries “45 Days in a Texas Jail,” and “Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem.” Their poetry, essays and digital art have been widely published in literary journals.

Untitled (Peek) by Elle Perez
Untitled (Peek) by Elle Perez

“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall,” runs Aug. 19 through Oct. 31 at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery. During the exhibition, the gallery will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and by appointment Sunday. Admission is free. The exhibit and auxiliary events will follow COVID-19 protocols. Visit npyt.fscenterforcreativityandarts.org for additional details on the exhibit.

The Fresno State showing of “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” is made possible through a generous grant from The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment of The James B. McClatchy Foundation. Founded in 1994, Susan and the late James B. McClatchy envisioned an organization that would address two issue areas important to California: the needs of English learners and the protections of the First Amendment in free speech, freedom of expression and a free press. Since then, the James B. McClatchy Foundation has made grants across its footprint in the Central Valley and strives to make bold investments for long-lasting impact.

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow - Art 50 Years After Stonewall
Catalog cover for “Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall” exhibit at Fresno State.

“Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 years After Stonewall” was organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by Margo Cohen Ristorucci, public programs coordinator; Lindsay C. Harris, teen programs manager, education; Carmen Hermo, associate curator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; Allie Rickard, former curatorial assistant, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art; and Lauren Argentina Zelaya, director, public programs, with assistance from Levi Narine, former teen programs assistant for InterseXtions and special projects at the Brooklyn Museum. This presentation was adapted by CCA at Fresno State.

The center’s mission is to engage the public with the arts through dynamic interdisciplinary programming that highlights local topics that have global perspectives. As an institution, the center is committed to contributing to the intellectual, social and artistic life of the University and the Central Valley and seeks to create an environment where the arts function as a catalyst for intellectual and creative conversations that are grounded in the everyday life of the Central Valley.

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Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

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