Martha Redbone – Bone Hill The Concert
Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 7:00pm
Native American-African American soul singer Martha Redbone presents an all-new original musical production, Bone Hill
– one woman’s return to her childhood homeland on Kentucky’s Black Mountain and the coal mines of Harlan County, where her family has dwelled for centuries.
is a new musical work for theater created and developed by librettist/composers Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby at Joe’s Pub and the Public Theater. In its current Song Cycle iteration, Redbone becomes the characters from four generations of a family in the hills of coal-mining Appalachia and the musicians are the townsfolk. In telling their stories, the audience is taken on an epic, unexpected American exploration of family, history, and cultural identity.
Inspired by her own life and the women Martha Redbone is descended from, the lives of the Bone family members are told in songs that span a swathe of American music telling a parallel history. From traditional Cherokee chants and lullabies to Bluegrass, Blues, Country, Gospel, Jazz, Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues.
Dark and violent at times, Bone Hill
is uncompromising in its desire to be honest about uncomfortable subjects – particularly colonization and race. The piece addresses issues and stories rarely heard in musical theater: the plight of the Cherokee people who returned home after the Trail of Tears; the U.S. government’s racial reclassification legislatures of the Mid-Atlantic states; the American Indian and African-American interracial dynamic; and the ancient burial mounds on the Eastern seaboard – land which was desecrated for coal and the building of new mining towns during the early 1800s.
Beyond reflecting the cultural and aesthetic diversity of today’s theater, Bone Hill
adds diverse missing narratives: racial dynamics between Native and African Americans as well as Native American and Europeans; stories from the perspective of the women and the lives of people of color living in Appalachia, while exploring their culture and music. It reveals erased, forgotten truths and it does so with humor, pathos and exuberance.
This epic journey covers 200 years of Redbone’s native family history in the Appalachian Mountains – traveling back in time and spanning four generations of women in a Cherokee family, exploring their lives and stories. Bone Hill is a story about the family’s commitment to the land, to the simplicity and sacredness of that connection, and the ruptures that threaten to extinguish it.
“Martha Redbone’s voice held both the taut determination of mountain music and the bite of American Indian singing.”
– Chicago Tribune
“Poised to be Americana’s next superstar.”
– Village Voice
Sponsored by KCBX 90.1 FM, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) and the National Endowment for the Arts