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Brooklyn Philharmonic and Wordisbon perform ‘Blues For Black Hoodies’

Hoodie harmony

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Brooklyn Philharmonic has teamed up with a rapper to perform “Blues For Black Hoodies,” an original song about the perils of being young and black.

Composer Randy Woolf wrote the music for the 15-minute song and six string players from the Philharmonic will team up with a DJ and emcee Kevin Estwick — who goes by the stage name Wordisbon — to perform under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The lyrics of the traditional chamber piece with springs of modern hip-hop and a strong dash of social commentary evoke the despair felt by kids who are constantly looked at suspiciously.

“Too weak to smile, too strong to cry, too tired to laugh, too young to die, grey clouds in a dark blue sky, this a blues for black hoodies, just trying to get by,” Wordisbon’s lyrics go.

Woolf, who has long been the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s head composer and mentor, said he has been trying to expand the reach of the organization. When he met Wordisbon at an open mic a few years ago, he jumped on the opportunity to bring another element to Brooklyn’s classical scene.

“I told him he was one of my favorite artists and we started working together,” said Woolf. “He had written this beautiful piece, so I wrote music to it.”

For the record, the piece was written well before the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

“It’s universal,” said Woolf.

Brooklyn Philharmonic under the Brooklyn Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park [334 Furman St. at Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 222–9939, BroooklynBridgePark.org]. Sept. 22, 6 pm, free.

Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Harrison Parker-Jones from The Brooklyn Philharmonic says:
This particular piece is called "ode to a black - the sad, dark story of blackness"
Sept. 14, 2013, 8:48 am
Ethan from Park Slope says:
Blues for Black Hoodies is better, much better. Don't correct it. Blues for Black Hoodies ... it's like an off ramp, you can hear the lyrics in the title. Don't do the "sad, dark" thing.
Sept. 14, 2013, 1:21 pm
diehipster from Still-Normal South Brooklyn says:
Look at Ethan the racist yup with his obligatory chime-in on this article like he's actually concerned. This is the exact same thing as when the extremely white culdesacian transient beardo hipsters and Mollys were dancing and screaming in the streets of Williamsburg when Obama won in 2008 as if they've been waiting for a black president their entire lives. But what it actually was, was hipsters creating a smoke screen to cover up how terrified and uncomfortable they are with black people or when race issues arise.
Sept. 15, 2013, 9:17 am
Betsy Gigante from Canarsie says:
I know what you mean die hipster - and he's not even a real black at that!
Sept. 15, 2013, 11:52 am
Ethan from Park Slope says:
HA. Yokel resentment, as usual. Here you are, you want affordable housing, parks, food stamps, welfare forever, and no yuppies or condos. Oh yeah, but hipsters are the ones with an overblown sense of entitlement.
Sept. 15, 2013, 12:35 pm
Ethan from Park Slope says:
There really have been some great works of hip hop. It's not patronizing for white people to acknowledge this. Is it patronizing to call Miles Davis a genius? I'm glad the Brooklyn Philharmonic is doing this piece. I'll withhold judgment until I've heard the music.
Sept. 15, 2013, 1:47 pm
Oh please from Brooklyn says:
So Diehipster, if you south Brooklyn types are so open minded and welcoming, why are there almost no black people living in any of your neighborhoods?
Sept. 15, 2013, 2:09 pm
Ethan from Park Slope says:
HA! Decades ago when I was an editor on a local artists magazine in Williamsburg, I paid a courtesy visit to the editor of the Greenpoint Gazette, which was then located on the corner of Bedford and Manhattan avenues.

Well, he was pretty old school, with the cigar and the red suspenders. I was a young hipster, but clean shaven in the John Lury hipster style of the day, and so the editor of the Greenpoint Gazette adduced that I, as a rooky editor in the neighborhood, needed a lecture about how things were around there.

So he talked this and that, business development, political factions, Polish people, the Elks Club, the garbage transfer business.

And it was when he got to subject of race that I found myself pinching myself to see if I was awake and this wasn't a bizarre nightmare.

The editor of the Greenpoint Gazette in ... 1987 I think this was ... believed that black people should all go back to Africa.

He was perfectly serious, and had a rather involved theory about how such a thing could scheme out, with a great "voluntary" exodus of African Americans to Africa. Because, in his view, American life and black people were fundentally incompatible.

I laughed out loud. "You're pulling my leg, right?" I asked him several times. "You're doing the uncensored Archie Bunker for me, right? But you don't really mean it, do you."

He meant it. He took offense to my laughter, redoubled his argument, implied that I was a pampered liberal.

So that wasn't just good old fashioned Brooklyn, that was the editor of a newspaper in good old fashioned Brooklyn.

That was just about the same year that an African American man was killed and another nearly killed by a mob of white youths in Howard Beach.

Nobody from "authentic" Brooklyn needs to tell me about racism in "real" Brooklyn. I have been here a very long time. I have seen your dirty laundry.
Sept. 15, 2013, 4:02 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
black people always raise property values - it is a known fact and only a racist would dispute that
Sept. 15, 2013, 4:59 pm
Bkmanhatposeur from Brokelyn says:
@diehipster
Could have bamboozled me. It's Ohio Ethan the beard & Portland Molly the tat-girl mixing it up with hot looking black boys & girls in North Brooklyn.
It's even a stretch of imagination of South Brooklyn guido or snooki introducing an Chinatown girl or Juan from the corner to meet the parents.
Sept. 15, 2013, 11 pm
Harriet Thomas says:
Old time is so right - that's why East New York and the Bronx are the most expensive neighborhoods in New York. There is nothing more appealing than living in a black neighborhood.
Sept. 16, 2013, 8:28 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
A philharmonic backing a rapper. I can only imagine what the musicians are thinking: I've been playing piano/violin/cello/oboe since I was 5. I practice three hours a day busted my a** at Julliard for 6 years. I finally made to the top of my profession and I gotta back a guy who sounds like someone threw an urban dictionary into a popcorn machine".
Sept. 16, 2013, 11:47 am
pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
How old is the tool in the picture? 45? 50? And he's wearing a hipster cap - indoors.
Sept. 16, 2013, 12:08 pm
Ethan from Park Slope says:
HA! You have a point, Pat. But we'll have to hear the music. If it sucks, I'll say so. But must give it a listen.
Sept. 16, 2013, 4:02 pm

Comments closed.

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