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A song for Michael Osterholm; Minnesota’s two new U.S. Artists Fellows

ALSO: Streaming on demand: “Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities”; the Jake Baldwin Quartet at Crooners; and more.

It’s about time someone dedicated a song to Michael Osterholm. Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, former state epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health and a member of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, he has talked sense about COVID-19 from the start.

Courtesy of Peter Lake
New York-based singer-songwriter Peter Lake (not his real name; he prefers to remain anonymous, like Banksy) has recorded a catchy song that begins with a quote from Osterholm urging us to “please be kind, even when it’s hard to be kind,” then kicks into a tune you can dance to, “Vaccinate With Love (Dedicated to Dr. Osterholm).” Produced by David Maurice, it features Guns n’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Charley Drayton, who is heard on “Love Shack” by the B-52s.

The song is available on streaming services including Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. All of the streaming royalties will be donated to the Frontline Families Fund, created by the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation in partnership with Osterholm to benefit families of frontline workers who have died due to the pandemic.

In more music news, Chinese pipa player (and Carleton College faculty member) Gao Hong is heard on a new version of Dessa’s “Jumprope,” created for China Central Television’s (CCTV) 2021 Chinese New Year celebration. You can watch it on YouTube. On her Facebook page, Gao thanked the Minnesota Orchestra for the introduction. Dessa has appeared often with the orchestra, and in 2019 they made an album together, “Sound the Bells.”

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In January, Dessa announced a new singles series, IDES, with plans to drop a new track on the 15th of every month. In a world without touring, it’s new music to look forward to every month. The first single, released Jan. 15, was “Rome.” The second, “Bombs Away,” came out earlier this week.

Chinese pipa player Gao Hong is heard on a new version of Dessa’s “Jumprope,” created for China Central Television.
Screen shot
Chinese pipa player Gao Hong is heard on a new version of Dessa’s “Jumprope,” created for China Central Television.
Meanwhile, independent of IDES, Dessa released “Who’s Yellen Now?” A “Hamilton”-style ode to the U.S.’s first female Treasury secretary, the song was a response to Biden’s joke that “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda should write a musical about Yellen. Public radio show “Marketplace” challenged Dessa to do it. When it came out in record time, even Yellen approved, tweeting “Your tune is money.”

Danez Smith, Delina White among United States Artists Fellows for 2021

Minneapolis-based poet Danez Smith and Walker, Minnesota, resident Delina White, a Native American fashion designer, jewelry maker and beadwork artist, have both been named to the 2021 cohort of 60 new United States Artists Fellows.

Smith’s latest book, “Homie,” came out from Graywolf in 2020. Their earlier books include “Don’t Call Us Dead,” winner of the Forward Prize for Best collection and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

Minneapolis-based poet Danez Smith’s latest book, “Homie,” came out from Graywolf in 2020.
Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen
Minneapolis-based poet Danez Smith’s latest book, “Homie,” came out from Graywolf in 2020.
White, of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, makes heirloom beadwork and apparel to celebrate traditional ceremonies. She also designs contemporary apparel based in her traditional Anishinaabe heritage. She approaches art as a way to wear the pride, dignity and distinction of the original great Lakes and Woodlands people.

White is one of six Indigenous artists to win fellowships this year.  Another is choreographer Emily Johnson, originally from Minneapolis and now in New York, who has had a long relationship with the Walker Art Center. Two more 2021 United States Artists Fellows with fans in the Twin Cities are New Haven, Connecticut, trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith, who last performed at the Walker in 2019, and cellist Tomeka Reid of Chicago, who played Icehouse in Dec. 2019 as part of Mankwe Ndosi’s Great Black Music Mondays series.

Delina White, upper right, with models wearing some of her designs.
Photo by Nedahness Rose Greene
Delina White, upper right, with models wearing some of her designs.
Each United States Artists fellow receives a $50,000 unrestricted award. The awards are given to artists in all disciplines at every stage of their career.

The picks

V is for virtual, L is for live and in person.

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V Streaming on demand: “Our Right to Gaze: Black Film Identities.” In six short films, filmmakers gaze at themselves and their world, trying to make sense of what they see. Includes Lande Yoosuf’s “Love in Submission,” Toryn Seabrooks’s “A Hollywood Party,” Ya’Ke’s “Pandemic Chronicles,” Zora Bikangaga’s “Auntie Zariyah,” John D. Haye’s “the Black Banshee” and Lin Que Ayoung’s “Nowhere.” FMI, tickets ($12/9) and trailer. Through Feb. 28. On Monday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m, MSP Film will host a special “We the People: Required Watching” conversation with three of the filmmakers, hosted by Craig Laurence Rice. Free, with registration required.

Ronald. K. Brown/EVIDENCE, "Grace"
Photo by Julietta Cervantes
Ronald. K. Brown/EVIDENCE, "Grace"
V Streaming on demand: Northrop: Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE: 35th Anniversary Season. The renowned Brooklyn-based dance company’s 35th anniversary celebration is a selection from their repertory: the solo from its signature work “Grace”; a socially distanced version of the companion piece “Mercy,” set to music by Meshell Nedegeocello; the Palo y Machete solo from “One Shot”; and “For You,” “She is Here” and “March.” Blending African, Caribbean and social dance forms, expressing spirituality, African American and diaspora culture, and the beauty of movement, this remarkable program will be available to stream on demand through 11:59 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 4. FMI and tickets ($25/$10 students).

Trumpeter Jake Baldwin
Courtesy of Crooners
Trumpeter Jake Baldwin
L and V Tonight (Friday, Feb. 19), 8:30 p.m.: Crooners: Dunsmore Room: Jake Baldwin Quartet. Both of Crooners’ indoor spaces are now open for drinks, dining and live music. Both have been redesigned to meet current safety protocols, with reduced capacity seating and dedicated HVAC. Single seating is not available and masks are mandatory. Recognizing that not everyone is ready to return to indoor venues, Crooners also offers a livestreamed option for featured shows. Presented in partnership with the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, this set will be livestreamed for free, with registration required. FMI on the live-and-in-person option.

V Saturday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m.: Walker West Music Academy: Black History Music Series: Sarah M. Greer. A gifted improvisational vocalist with a beautiful voice, Greer invents music on the spot, whether working with other singers, instrumentalists, choirs, dancers, visual artists or spoken word artists. A livestream from Walker West, this will be exciting and unpredictable. With Davu Seru (drums), Levi Schwartzberg (vibraphone) and Charlie Lincoln (bass).  Free, with registration required.

V Sunday, Feb. 21, 4 p.m.: Zeitgeist: COINCIDENT Episode 1 debut. With this performance, the new music chamber ensemble Zeitgeist embarks on “Decade Five,” a set of major new works it will commission and present during its fifth decade. COINCIDENT Episode 1 is a telematic audiovisual collaboration with award-winning avant-ambient composer Scott L. Miller and interdisciplinary artist Carole Kim that pairs Miller’s music with a projection world created by Kim. The artists perform from their own studios, connecting to each other through specialized software. A live Q&A will follow. FMI and Zoom link. Free.