SONG OF PRAISE - 2016
The word "hallelujah" comes from the Hebrew root word. halal which is the word used for "praise". It means "to be clear, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, to celebrate." The dictionary describes "Song of Praise" as a hymm; a song performed in praise of God. Inside the First A.M.E. Church, like in many Black churches, music and praise songs are the heartbeat of the congregation.
Music builds community. Spirit builds community. Memory builds community; expressed either through the personal anecdotes in the sermons or in stories shared by members of the congregation. Song of Praise is an amplification of my experiences with music, spirit and history inside of the First A.M.E. Church of Santa Monica.
Many members of the church have worshipped together since they were children and have stories about what the 90404 neighborhood was like before the freeways, before displacement, and before many of them moved away. Through church activities, shared memory, and the ministry of music, the church community has kept their relationships alive. I believe that it’s significant that many who live in other parts of L.A. still return to the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in 90404 every Sunday morning.
In Song of Praise, I created a multi-location installation and series of events using video, music, performance, conversation and mixed media to examine and exalt the power of music and spirit to build community. In the First A.M.E. Church of Santa Monica, the ministry of music, in particular the gospel music, is the glue that holds the community together and this is the filter though which I tell the story. In Song of Praise, I embraced and participated in the spiritual and emotional aspects of location that bring and keep a community together.