The Afrometis Constitution Project
George Elliott Clarke, Shelley Hamilton, Plums Croxen, Russ Kelley and Chris White are delving into their Black, Native and Nova Scotian roots to create songs and poems that address and celebrate this largely unacknowledged aspect of Canadian history and culture. They have performed and recorded this material in Halifax and Toronto, and will release an album entitled “The Afrometis Constitution” in Fall, 2018. They are also creating a touring show to present at festivals and concert halls across Canada and beyond.
Their goal? To use powerful artistic forms to tell the untold story of the struggles, determination, accomplishments and contributions of a segment of the population that has endured and remained strong and productive for hundreds of years despite immense ongoing adversity. This is a story that current and future generations need to hear and feel in order for a more equitable and enlightened society to be possible.
George Elliott Clarke, the widely admired and much decorated author, thinker, teacher and performer, has described in detail here how the project came into existence. In brief:
After returning from Italy in May, 2016, I began to reach out to my gifted, Africadian cousins to pull a recording together. I tapped Chris White (grandson of the late, great Reverend Dr. William Andrew White and the founder of the Ottawa Folk Festival), Shelley Hamilton (award-winning singer/writer/actor), Russ Kelley (songwriting sensation and musical maestro) and “Plums” Croxen (the constantly on-the-road, blues/country performer extraordinaire “outta” Three Mile Plains, NS). To my great joy, I found that the five of us shared this dream: To record an album of original material in all the Africadian genres – blues, country, folk, gospel, soul, spiritual and more. After a number of brainstorming sessions and collaborative rehearsals, we started recording “The Afrometis Constitution” in Halifax in February, 2018. We reached out to local singers and musicians, with an added goal of bringing in performers from different parts of the province, especially the Annapolis Royal to Weymouth Falls stretch. We are now completing the album at a Toronto studio for a Fall, 2018 release. We are already planning a second recording, and will continue to present our materials on stage, with guest artists, in Nova Scotia, Ontario and elsewhere.
A five-person film crew that has become fascinated by the Afrometis Constitution Project is currently creating an 80-minute documentary to capture its evolution, outputs and impact.