With Activist Songbook, composer Byron Au Yong and lyricist Aaron Jafferis explore how civil rights organizing and music intersect to inspire action and sustain the fight towards equity.
Activist Songbook is a process-oriented work that begins with interviews of community organizers. Working with those interviewed, Au Yong and Jafferis create material for a Songbook to gather individuals and collectives to energize efforts towards counteracting racism and hate crimes. The project results in a collection of 53 songs and raps initially prompted by the beating and murder of Vincent Chin, as well as organizing movements towards justice.
Living between oppression and imagination, Activist Songbook calls for justice through live performances, informational scores, and instructional recordings that honor the legacy of Asian American, Asian immigrant, and Asian refugee activism as a springboard for future organizing.
Activist Songbook launched as part of Asian Arts Initiative’s 25th Anniversary in May 2018, with rally songs taught on buses and pop-up performances throughout Philadelphia. It has continued at Montalvo Arts Center and The International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The project is producd by Octopus Theatricals.