Performer and educator Paige Hernandez said she created the multi-cultural/multi-generational show Liner Notes to bridge generational gaps while preserving the culture of hip-hop.
The show fuses hip-hop samples with actual album liner notes and music from popular jazz, soul, and funk albums performed by a live quintet including a vocalist. It includes dialogue, dance and projected images and is part theater, part music, and mostly its own unique thing.
Hernandez said the idea came after digging deep into music samples used by hip-hop artists.
“And in talking about those generational gaps, you learn new artists and new genres, and see how your favorite hip-hop song is actually a sample from an artist back in the 50s and 60s, and now you’re a fan of that artist,” said Hernandez.
That digging eventually brought her closer to her father, an old school funk fan fond of the James Brown and Parliament/Funkadelic era.
“And he could not understand his B-Girl daughter,” laughed Hernandez.
When she introduced her favorite hip-hop songs to him, he immediately recognized the samples as coming from the music of Roy Ayers or Art Blakey and implored his daughter to read the liner notes from those classic albums.
“I could really discover those artists’ statements in a way that would only enhance my love for hip-hop,” said Hernandez, who admitted she knew little to nothing about most of the artists her father was referencing.
“But by listening to them with him, our relationship got stronger. And then I fell in love with jazz, funk and soul. These are genres that weren’t on the radio or I wasn’t listening to with peers from school. So I felt my world explode with different types of music that was informing what I loved,” said Hernandez, who said the family bond only tightened when she incorporated her guitar-playing father and upright bassist/husband Kris Funn into Liner Notes performances.
The title is apt, as any old school DJ knows. Liner notes often penned by great music writers from the past are full of historical, biographical and other tidbits often not available anywhere else. At least back in the day.
“So being able to read Marvin Gaye’s liner notes from ‘What’s Goin’ On,’ as well as Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s liner notes from one of the biggest hip-hop hits of the 90s,” said Hernandez.
She was especially drawn in when those liner notes revealed intention beyond the music, and recalled a recent civil rights based Liner Notes performance that featured John Coltrane’s “Alabama.”
“The song itself is powerful, and has a message about the four girls who died in the Alabama bombing,” said Hernandez. “And in the actual liner notes, he wanted people to play the song as if it was a prayer, so if you didn’t want to relate to the politics or racial controversy around it, you could play the song and still be able to honor them. And I was like ‘wow,’ it was almost like instructions or manual with the art.”
Paige Hernandez performs a solo children’s show titled “Havana Hop” Friday night beginning at 6:30 at the BCPA. The interactive show uses hip-hop and salsa to help tell the story of a little girl who finds her roots visiting grandparents in Cuba.
Liner Notes plays Saturday night at 7:30 at the BCPA.
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