Composer, musician, and installation artist Neo Muyanga reconsiders the dark and obscured past of ‘Amazing Grace’ – a beloved hymn often sung to express solidarity with protesters calling for social justice and comradeship across the black diaspora. This new subversion, entitled, ‘Making Grace Amazing’, features new music and animations by Muyanga, who conducts the Khayelitsha-based mezzo soprano, Tina Mene, and the popular São Paolo protest theatre troupe, Legítima Defesa. Legítima Defesa is a multidisciplinary troupe named for Malcolm X’s famed statement that framed strategies of resistance mounted by African Americans against a racist state as ‘legitimate defence.’ The work details some of the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the reimagining of this hymn at this time in history presents an opportunity for introspection.
Composer/Director: Neo Muyanga
Soprano: Tina Mene
Chorus of We the People: Legítima Defesa
Video and Animation: Neo Muyanga & Bianca Turner
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Neo Muyanga is a composer, musician and installation artist whose work traverses the genres of new opera, African idiom and jazz impro. His research mainly centres on exploring voice as a technology for unmaking history and that destabilises the presumed boundaries of the global African diaspora. Muyanga is previous artist-in-residence at the NAF (2017). His previous works include Tsohle- A revolting Mass (2018); Heart of Redness (2015); and The Flower of Shembe (2012).
Tina Mene trained at UCT Opera school (2004) and is a former member of Cape Town Opera., with whom she has toured widely and performed key roles in operas including Mandela Trilogy (2015-7); Porgy & Bess (2014-6); and Heart of Redness (2015).
Legítima Defesa is a multidisciplinary troupe named for Malcolm X’s famed statement that framed strategies of resistance mounted by African-Americans against a racist state as ‘legitimate defence’. Their work boldly spotlights Brazil’s history of brutality directed at people of colour and its indigenous communities. They challenge contemporary expressions of racism, sexism and class in contemporary Brazilian society.”