Miyamoto is Black Enough

The poet knows all sorts of things. Right now,
he is convinced he is inside the belly of his greatest
work ever. Rum will do that.

Music by ANDY AKIHO
Text by ROGER BONAIR-AGARD
Performed by ANDY AKIHO, steelpan; ROGER BONAIR-AGARD, vocals; SEAN DIXON, drums; & JEFFREY ZEIGLER, cello

Miyamoto is Black Enough is a collaborative exploration of meaning and conversation, based on Ariana Miyamoto, a Japanese national who grew up as a self-described mixed race “hafu,” the child of an African American father and Japanese mother. After winning Miss Universe Japan 2015, many Japanese expressed concern at her lack of “pure” parentage—that she was not Japanese enough.

In Miyamoto is Black Enough, a contemporary band that boasts two hafu of their own—a Trinidadian-Brooklynite Black man, and an Irish/Finnish/Swedish hip-hop influenced drummer—Miyamoto is certainly Black enough.

This work celebrating Miyamoto’s legacy is a blend of hard driving rhythms and biting social commentary that utilizes steelpan, cello, drums, and poetry/vocals. Drawing from a melange of musical styles, M is Black Enough forms a brash symphony that nods the head, moves the feet, and asks the listener/viewer to challenge and disturb her own comfort. The resulting work is a bold narrative about people, justice, struggle, joy, and celebration.

Miyamoto is both a building frenzy of excitement and a cerebral jaunt through one’s own belief systems, leaning towards a joy that refuses itself unless it is foundation’d in justice.

Four remarkable artists form the cohort that makes this project possible: Andy Akiho as composer and performer on his trademark steelpans; Roger Bonair-Agard with poetry and spoken word; Jeffrey Zeigler as cellist; and Sean Dixon on drums.

“…'(M)iyamoto,’ incandescent in its synergy between music and poetry, is already more than good enough.” -LA Times

Produced by National Sawdust

Contact: Holly Hunter (holly@nationalsawdust.org)

Past Tour Dates

March 19th, 2018
The Millennium Stage at Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
Presented as part of the Kennedy Center’s DIRECT CURRENT inaugural season.

February 5th, 2019
Troy Music Hall • Troy, NY
Buy Tickets

February 7th, 2019
WVSU Davis Fine Arts Building • West Virgina State University
More Info

The Artists

Roger Bonair-Agard is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and Brooklyn. He is author of Tarnish and Masquerade (Cypher Books, 2006), Gully (Cypher Books, 2010), Bury My Clothes (Haymarket Books, 2013) — which was long listed for the National Book Award and won the Society of Midland Authors award for poetry — and Where Brooklyn At?! (Willow Books/Aquarius Press, 2016). Among the places his poetry and prose have been published are Rattapallax, the Louisville University Review, Union Station Magazine, Harvard Review Online, Gulf Coast, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem a Day, Drunken Boat, Poetry Magazine Online, Callaloo, Apex Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, and several anthologies. Roger is Writer-in-Residence at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, co-founder of NYC’s LouderARTS Project, and frontman for the band Miyamoto is Black Enough. A Cave Canem fellow, Roger is creator and facilitator of The Baldwin Protocols: Reading Series and the Baldwin Protocols, a series of arts-based interventions in the form of workshops, seminars, and lectures that help students of color and first-generation students traverse the potential pitfalls of life in Primarily White Institutions of higher learning. Roger has taught Creative Writing at every level from Kindergarten to Research 1 Universities. He is Program Director of and writes on pedagogy and curriculum design for Free Write Arts & Literacy at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, IL. He is the father of Uma, Nina, and Arima.

Jeffrey Zeigler was the cellist of the internationally renowned Kronos Quartet for eight seasons. During his tenure, Zeigler had the opportunity to collaborate with a wide range of luminaries from Henryk Gorecki and Noam Chomsky to Steve Reich and Tom Waits.

Zeigler is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts, the Chamber Music America Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award and The Asia Society’s Cultural Achievement Award. Zeigler is the Co-Chair of the String Department and on the Cello Faculty at Mannes College The New School For Music.

Described as "mold-breaking," "alert and alive," "dramatic," and "vital" by The New York Times, Andy Akiho is an eclectic composer and performer of contemporary classical music. Recent engagements include commissioned premieres by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and Carnegie Hall‘s Ensemble ACJW; a performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and three concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Akiho has been recognized with awards including the 2014-15 Luciano Berio Rome Prize, the 2015 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, a 2014 Fromm Foundation Commission from Harvard University, the 2014 American Composers Orchestra Underwood Emerging Composers Commission, a 2014 Chamber Music America (CMA) Grant with the Friction Quartet and Jenny Q Chai, a 2012 CMA Grant with Sybarite5, the 2012 Carlsbad Composer Competition Commission for the Calder Quartet, and the 2011 Finale & ensemble eighth blackbird National Composition Competition Grand Prize. Additionally, his compositions have been featured on PBS’s "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" and by organizations such as Bang on a Can, American Composers Forum, and The Society for New Music.

Akiho was born in 1979 in Columbia, South Carolina, and is based in New York City. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina (BM, performance), the Manhattan School of Music (MM, contemporary performance), and the Yale School of Music (MM, composition). Akiho is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at Princeton University. He has attended the Aspen Music Festival, Heidelberg Music Festival, HKUST Intimacy of Creativity Festival, Bang on a Can Festival, Silicon Valley Music Festival, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest Festival, and Avaloch Farm Music Institute, where he is the Composer-in-Residence. Akiho’s debut CD No One To Know One, on innova Recordings, features brilliantly crafted compositions that pose intricate rhythms and exotic timbres around his primary instrument, the steel pan.

Sean Dixon is a composer, producer, drummer, bassist and educator based in New York City. He has performed, toured and/or recorded with Gotye’s Ondioline Orchestra, Maxwell, Aloe Blaac, Doyle Bramhall II, Amy Helm, Miyamoto Is Black Enough, Andy Akiho, Helga Davis, and many others. Venues include National Sawdust, The Park Avenue Armory, The Kennedy Center (DC), The Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), Mass MOCA (MA), Festival such as The Sydney Festival (Australia), MONA FOMA (Tasmania), River To River (NYC), Trans-Musicales (France). 2018 also brought on his first Off-Broadway experience as a collaborator and performer in Jomama Jones’ Blacklight presented at The Public Theatre and The Greenwich House Theatre.
His 1994 NYC arrival commenced with brief stints at the Manhattan School of Music and The New School before establishing and co-leading The Chesterfields with notable guitarist/vocalist and childhood friend Scott Sharrard. Through those seven years he simultaneously nurtured professional relationships with numerous local singer/songwriters and a host of jazz, blues, pop and R&B artists, establishing him as a diverse and colorful collaborator.

Sean joined the critically acclaimed band Zammuto in 2011 going on to record two albums, ‘Zammuto’ (2012), ‘Anchor’ (2014) and tour internationally through 2015. During this time he co-lead the band SLVrecording an EP with Meshell N‘degeocello ’Dig Deeper’ (2012) and producing two full length albums ‘This Kind’ (2015) and ’Piece Of Mind’ (2018).
While crediting Prince, Elvin Jones and Bruce Lee as his primary musical influences, his art has also been significantly shaped by studies with Guinea’s master drummer, M’Bemba Bangoura, and by Bahia’s musician/capoeirista Mestre Kiki da Bahia and Grupo Ginga. Since 2003 he has also committed himself to music for children and young people through both performance and education as the percussion faculty member at The Lawrenceville School and The Pennington School (2003–2005) and as performer/teacher with Arts Connection, Appleseeds, Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band, Moona Luna and The Dirty Sock Funtime Band.

Sean’s credits connect variously with Fife and Drom, Phil Orr and More, Jason Kravits Off The Top, Kellylee Evans, John Forte, Elysian Fields, ElectricViva, Digg Deep, Barnaby Bright, The Jazz Mandolin Project, Famoro Dioubate, Mory Kante, Sekouba Bambino, Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew, Chubby Checker, Morris Nanton Trio, and many others.