Craig Harris, a student of and performer with the late Afrofuturism pioneer Sun Ra, is a trombonist, composer, bandleader, and gifted sonic shaman. He presents Brown Butterfly, a multi-media work based on the life and movement of Muhammad Ali, the world-renowned heavyweight champion boxer revered as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
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Craig Harris, a student of and performer with the late Afrofuturism pioneer Sun Ra, is a trombonist, composer, bandleader, and gifted sonic shaman. He presents Brown Butterfly, a multi-media work based on the life and movement of Muhammad Ali, the world-renowned heavyweight champion boxer revered as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Harris's Brown Butterfly is poetry in motion, set to live music. It skillfully captures The Champ's speed, wit, and spirit.
Ali was a prime catalyst for the racial and cultural transformation that took place in the United States in the 1960s. His razzle-dazzle style and ability to deliver a punch, while adhering to high moral standards, have inspired millions from the moment he first started training as an amateur boxer at age 12 in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Looking at the life of The Greatest, as Ali was affectionately known, Brown Butterfly will take the audience on a multi-layered, percussive "dance" into some of the forces that propelled us in the 20th century. The audience will experience Ali in his physical and verbal glory. Brown Butterfly will present the power of a man–formerly known as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr–who evolved into a humanitarian with great integrity and who was a beacon of hope for all ages, all races, and people of all beliefs.
This event is co-presented and co-produced by Craig Harris, Arts & Education Continuum, and AKILA WORKSONGS.
Craig Harris is a trombonist, composer, bandleader, and gifted sonic shaman. Seeking an inspired career, he skillfully navigated his musical journey that began when touring with the inimitable Sun Ra, onto a path affirming Craig’s place in performance with and among the ranks of creative music’s most progressive thought leaders. With a repertoire of various-sized ensembles, Craig has amassed an extensive discography of his own recorded work in addition to contributing to the musical projects of his many esteemed colleagues.
Steeped in the tradition of using art as cultural facilitation to promote change, Craig has flexed his musical voice to comment on social injustice and humanity with influential original works including God’s Trombones, based on James Weldon Johnson’s book of sermons; Souls Within the Veil, commemorating the 100th anniversary of W.E.B. DuBois’s seminal work; TriHarlenium, a sound portrait and 30-year musical time capsule of Harlem; Brown Butterfly, a tribute to the exquisite movements of Muhammad Ali; and BREATHE, a sonic statement in response to the long term and current injustices inflicted upon African American people.
An award-winning prolific composer, Craig’s recent projects include the stage premiere of Craig Harris’ FESTAC ’77, plus Harlem Sonic Communiversity. Nominated by NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album, Craig is co-composer of the score for the Oscar-winning film Judas and the Black Messiah. His newest recording, Managing the Mask, was successfully released in 2022.