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The spirit of Greenwood came to life Saturday as members of Fire in Little Africa took the stage at LowDown. Protected from the incoming storms, a sold-out crowd of over 100 people packed the underground venue to watch Steph Simon, Branjae and other Tulsa talent perform.
A fusion of hip-hop and modern jazz, “Jazz in Little Africa” transported the audience to the heyday of Greenwood. Stringed instruments blended with the piano stylings of Bobby Moffett, Jr. as singers harmonized over rap lyrics.
The music moved from classic jazz to instrumental covers of Frank Ocean, and culminated in reimagined FILA tracks. Champagne, wine and spirits swirled in glasses as patrons moved and swayed to the rhythm filling the room.
“I haven’t been back here since we filmed the music video for Shining,” Steph Simon remarked from the stage. “This is beautiful.”
Jazz concert honored the legacy and history of Greenwood
LowDown, formerly known as the Duet Jazz Club, recently reopened its doors for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Situated beneath Duet on the corner of Detroit and Archer, the space highlights musicians and artists from across the world. And on Saturday, as nationally renown artists from Fire in Little Africa performed, the power and the grandeur of Greenwood was palpable.
The music lasted nearly three hours, but the crowd was unfazed. As the final song drew to a close, patrons shot to their feet to give the artists a rousing standing ovation.
While Tulsa nears the 101 year mark since the 1921 Race Massacre that destroyed Greenwood, calls for justice continue to amplify. Often, those calls come in the form of speeches, protests and civic action.
But last night, that call for justice came in the form of trumpets, pianos, strings and melody.
It came in the lyrics to Shining: “got the audacity to walk up out these ashes and shine.”
It came in the form of a reminder of all that Greenwood was and all that it can be once again.