Spreadin’ Jam, Joy & Jive: A Sweet R&B Ride on the Soul of My 45’s w/ Nikki Williams TM

“Spreadin’ Jam, Joy & Jive: a Sweet R&B Ride on the Soul of My 45’s” TM is a series of traveling visual art exhibitions, artist talks, creative writing programs, literary readings from select writers and presenters, as well as author readings (presented by the series creator), celebrating the music, lyrics, artists, found on 45 records during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The series creator Artist and Author Nikki Williams, also pays homage to the Soul Music pioneered by some of our Musical Greats, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. Through her art and writings, Williams acknowledges an era that defined a pivotal time of triumph and change in our Nation’s history. 

 

 Artist Statement – Artist & Author Nikki Williams 

According to DJ Brother Mister, “R&B, Soul, and Funk, is the ‘sweet spot’ of music between 1966 and 1987.” For those of you who might not know, DJ Brother Mister is the alter ego of eight-time GRAMMY® winner, bassist Christian McBride. McBride also serves along with the other internationally acclaimed musician, bandleader, composer, and five-time GRAMMY® winner, Jon Batiste, as Artistic Directors of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. So, in a sense, the sweet R&B Ride that this exhibit, “Spreadin’ Jam Joy & Jive – A Sweet R&B Ride on the Soul of My 45’s celebrates music that is stamped and approved by McBride himself. However, my own bragging rights say that growing up in the projects during the early 1960s puts me in the position of telling my own “Been there, Was There,” personal stories of when I would, as Sly and the Family Stone sang, “Dance to the Music.”  McBride/DJ Brother Mister spins the music, and I am proud to spin the gallery space of the Museum with collaged artwork and prose celebrating the music that served as the Blackground and background of a childhood sweet in 1960s and 1970s Harlem. 

And so, how does “Spreadin’ Jam Joy & Jive – A Sweet R&B Ride on the Soul of My 45’s,” an exhibit celebrating R&B Soul Music from the 1960s and 1970s, find its way to the Museum? Well, because it belongs there! For it is a true gift and blessing from The Creator (Thank You God!); and a wonderful opportunity given to me. And because as a kid living in the multi-cultural housing project on the Sweet Hill of Harlem, in Sugar Hill, I had no idea that a few of the songs that I loved like, “Sweet Sweet Tootie,” by saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood, (complete with the background moaning Woman in the beginning of the song), “Chocolate Buttermilk,” and “Summer Madness,” by the super group, Kool and the Gang (formerly known as the Jazziacs), “Pieces of Dreams,” by saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, and many, many other songs, were jazz laced and jazz based. We just knew that those songs we played on our record players and listened to on WBLS FM were our songs – or we said, “Our Jams!” 

 

BIOGRAPHY:
Nikki Williams has been called a “Renaissance Woman.” She is an award-winning photographer and poet with a professional career spanning thirty-five years. As a producer of arts programs, her organization, Spirit in Sunset Productions has been producing events that celebrate and supports the endeavors of Artists of Color for thirty-four years, starting with her live, weekly radio show “ArtBeat of Harlem,” broadcast from City College in 1990. Williams is also an accomplished graphic designer, playwright, author, and performance artist. 

Williams has had the privilege and pleasure of being involved in a series of firsts. This year in March of 2024, Williams will have the honor of being Artist of the Month in a new online feature sponsored and curated by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. Williams was Ryan Health’s first Artist in Residence. She held that position for two years. Her art was on display at two of Ryan Health’s Harlem locations: Ryan Health Frederick Douglass from December 2020 until April 2021 and Ryan Adair. She was also the first artist to have a solo showing of her work inside of Blick Art Materials. A selection of her photographs celebrating the 50th anniversary of the African American Day was on display in September 2019. 

Currently Williams’ work is featured alongside nine other brilliant visual artists in a group exhibition produced and sponsored by Harlem Grown. The exhibit is the last installation of a three-part set of installations that were the inaugural set of exhibitions and events held by Harlem Grown and funded by the Mellon Foundation. The installation went up in September 2023 and can currently be viewed at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. 

Thu, Jun 06 – Sat, Jun 29

National Jazz Museum in Harlem

Other Events

Jazz Is: Now – Faith Quashie Quintet – Curated by Liany Mateo
Thu, Jun 13
7:00 pm
NJMH Community Concert featuring Uptown Royalty
Sat, Jun 15
5:00 pm

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