Sign up or log in to bookmark your favorites and sync them to your phone or calendar.

Keynote [clear filter]
Thursday, March 22

7:00pm EDT

Conference Opening Keynote: The Artist in the City
with Angelique Kidjo, Esperanza Spalding, Santigold, and Heems

Writing about how jazz in the mid-20th century reflected lived experience in New York city’s tenements, the scholar Shane Vogel quoted Duke Ellington’s description of his swing symphony, Harlem Air Shaft

“So much goes on in a Harlem air shaft...You hear fights, you smell dinner, you hear people making love. You hear intimate gossip floating down. You hear the radio. An air shaft is one great big loudspeaker.” In the crowded city, the musician-composer becomes a living receiver, distilling a static field of sounds and sensations into an evocative whole."

This keynote event gathers together four prominent artists whose work reflects a cosmopolitan worldview, with each artist rooted in his or her particular urban home.

Grammy winning Beninoise singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo has truly had a global career, having recorded albums in a staggering array of languages, styles, genres and cities. Her recently-released live album Spirit Rising is a career retrospective featuring diverse guests like Ezra Koenig, Josh Groban and the Kuumba Singers.

Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding is about to release her third album, Radio Music Society, a border-crossing blend of jazz, soul, funk and pop that reflects the cities she loves: New York, Barcelona, and her birthplace of Portland, Oregon.

Philadelphia-bred, Brooklyn-based Santigold (Santi White) is one of the brightest lights of the East Coast bohemian underground; her upcoming second album, Master of My Make Believe, takes her incendiary blend of hip hop, indie rock and dance music to a new level.

On his recent mixtape Nehru Jackets, Himanshu Suri (Heems) of the Queens-identified hip hop group Das Racist drops wit and wisdom about the ups and downs of life in Gotham’s five boroughs. Discussing their new work and how they’ve formed their own sound and vision in relationship to the urban spaces where they thrive, these artists consider what’s changed and what remains consistent in the half-century plus since the Duke found heaven in the clanging multiplicity of the air shaft.

Moderated by: Ann Powers







avatar for Himanshu Suri aka Heems

Himanshu Suri aka Heems

Himanshu Suri (aka Heems) grew up in Queens, New York, a borough that still figures strongly in his creative palette. After studying economics and South Asian studies at Wesleyan University, he formed the hip hop group Das Racist with fellow rapper Victor Vazquez and hype man Ashok... Read More →
avatar for Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo offers a banquet of rare musical treats in her new Razor & Tie album, Spirit Rising.  Recorded in Boston during a PBS concert at station WGBH, it showcases Kidjo amid a line of special guests that includes Josh Groban, Dianne Reeves, Branford Marsalis and Ezra Koenig.  Angelique’s... Read More →
avatar for Ann Powers

Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.One of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding... Read More →
avatar for Santigold


Santigold is Santi White: an artist whose perseverance relies on invention, a champion who survives off her own skill and faith. She is a major muse watched by the inspired world, an in categorical performer who collapses time and genre with one hand guided by tradition, while the... Read More →
avatar for Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding, a bassist/vocalist/composer, was one of the biggest breakout stars of 2011—not just in jazz, but in all genres of music. Her receipt of the 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist was unprecedented—the first time a jazz musician had won the award. Her albums include... Read More →

Thursday March 22, 2012 7:00pm - 8:30pm EDT
NYU’s Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life (KC) 60 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012
Sunday, March 25

6:15pm EDT

Conference Closing Keynote- Put The Needle On The Record:
Diggin’ In The Crates with ?uestlove

Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson loves his many jobs, from leading the Roots band on late-night TV to producing a hot list of current and heritage artists, not to mention his regular DJ gig at Brooklyn Bowl and drumming on stage for Jay-Z. But there’s one thing that really lights up his days and nights: talking about his favorite records. Known for his copious vinyl collection, ?uestlove can geek out with the best of ’em. On a weekend full of geek-outs, we’re gonna geek out with ?uestlove, and talk records, talk collecting: special vinyl moments, our first, our best, our ones that got away.

Moderator: Harry Weinger

avatar for ?uestlove


?uestlove is the unmistakable heartbeat of The Roots, Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop band. Beyond that, this Grammy award-winning musician's indisputable reputation has landed him musical directing positions with everyone from D'Angelo to Eminem to Jay-Z. He is the Musical... Read More →

Harry Weinger

Universal Music Enterprises

Sunday March 25, 2012 6:15pm - 7:30pm EDT
Rosenthal Pavilion, 10th Floor 60 Washington Square South, New York, NY