Exactly 3 years ago — July 23, 2019 — the Levitt Pavilion made a bit of history.
Our Native Daughters — 4 gifted women who reclaim 1800s minstrel music, with power and pride — kicked off their summer tour here.
The next day, the group performed at The Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC. Another tour stop was the Newport Folk Festival.
Spurred by a MacArthur “genius grant,” and with banjos, other instruments and willowy, jazzy and soulful phrasing, Our Native Daughters redefine roots music. Long the purview of whites wearing blackface, they seize it back, showing how storytelling and songs from Black women have been the bedrock of the African American family, from antebellum America to the present.
A crew from the Smithsonian Channel was at the Levitt 3 years ago, to film this show.
The 2021 trailer features the pavilion right at the start:
The Smithsonian has now released the full documentary. It’s available on several platforms, including Paramount+ and Amazon.
But the Levitt is hardly living in the past.
Allison Russell — one of Our Native Daughters’ founding members — returns here on August 21. Her show is part of the “Stars on Tour” series.
On her Grammy-nominated debut solo album, “Outside Child,” Russell shared the story of her abusive childhood in a moving song-cycle of courage, empathy, hope and love.
She made history as the first Black artist to win a Juno for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. The New York Times named it the #2 Best Album of the Year, and the song “Nightflyer” made Barack Obama’s annual list of favorites.
Click here for tickets, and more information.