Conceived & composed by Gerald Clayton
Pianist & composer Gerald Clayton and award-winning theater director Christopher McElroen spent 24 months making multiple visits to the Piedmont region of
NC, VA & SC, spending time with elderly musicians, collecting wisdom that speaks to the essence of life & liberation.
The 'Piedmont Blues', which premiered at Duke Performances in December 2016, captures songs and stories, interviewing the still-living carriers of the Piedmont blues and the black experience of slavery, industrialization, and criminalization this blues translates.
The two-year journey through the Piedmont region has been brought together into a 75-minute musical suite – which incorporates film, dance, music, and the voices and poems of blues artists they met on their journey. The work seeks to serve as a brave condemnation of years of exploitation, racism, and brutality and implores us, in the face of that injustice, to do just as Dr. King described: “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”