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Arts for everyone

The Prelude connects communities to local artists and musicians

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Arts for everyone
The Prelude series will begin this Friday with singer, artist and arts educator Valerie Stephens performing blues, jazz and spoken word. (Photo: Photo courtesy Valerie Stephens)

“The Prelude came about as a way to reconnect artists of color to art and music in different spaces,” says Catherine Morris, founder and president of the new arts and cultural organization, The Boston Arts & Music Soul Collective (BAMS Collective). The idea for the Prelude developed through a series of conversations that Morris had with elders and members of the community about the local music and arts scene for people of color.

“What I saw in those conversations was that when I was asking elders of the community who were born and from Boston, they had a sense of energy for what Boston used to be like for artists who would come in like Earth, Wind & Fire and Chaka Khan. I could tell that they really enjoyed when the opportunity was there for them and their families, and then I would ask a question ‘Where is it now?’ ‘Where is it going?’ Then I noticed that the energy shifted and it was much more negative,” explains Morris. The sentiment across the board was that there really isn’t any entertainment here in Boston geared towards communities of color.

The BAMS Collective hopes to change that perception by hosting the Prelude, a traveling art and music series held around the Greater Boston area, six times this year and six times in 2017. The Prelude will be held in February, March, June, September, October and November, with the first one kicking off this Friday at the Bruce C. Bolling Building in Roxbury. The event will feature singer, artist and arts educator Valerie Stephens performing blues, jazz and spoken word along with the Berklee College of Music student band, Vibe Collective.

Upcoming locations for this year’s events include Cambridge, Quincy, Dorchester and Mattapan. Morris’ goal for the Prelude is “to help folks see different neighborhoods and spaces and places that are new, known, unknown, and underutilized.” Based on the conversations that she’s had with various community members, she hopes that hosting the Prelude throughout the Greater Boston area will open up people to the possibilities of what’s going on in their cities and their towns, as well as introducing new artists, “whether they’re musical, or performing, recording or visual,” she says.

The Prelude is part of the pre-festival programming leading up to The Boston Art & Music Soul Festival (BAMS Fest) scheduled for the last week in June of 2018. BAMS Fest will include multiple stages and will feature music, film, art, dance lessons and more with Morris anticipating 10,000 people over the course of the two-day fest. Also included in the programming will be the “Love Your City Art Project,” in which Morris and her team will tap artists across the region to represent their city or town in an on-site art project.

The artists will be given a theme and they’ll have all day to interpret that theme as they see fit. The audience will be able to vote on the project that they like, and the winner will then be chosen to show their work in a local museum for the month of June. Of her hopes and dreams for BAMS Fest, Morris says, “We want to make sure that the festival itself adds to the cultural attractiveness of our city and our state but also to make sure that people particularly artists are still proud to know that a festival represents their interests.”

She goes on to add, “that I feel like that what I’d like to accomplish is that people feel are proud of where they’ve come from and that they don’t have to go anywhere else to see art and culture. They can see it in their hometown.”