Critically acclaimed poet and rising novelist Phillip B. Williams presents a musical celebration of his novel Ours, featuring a live reading of excerpts and live musical interludes from Chicago’s genre-defying Akenya and UK sensation Jerome Thomas.

March 2, 2024
7:30 pm
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Critically acclaimed poet and rising novelist Phillip B. Williams presents a musical celebration of his novel Ours, featuring a live reading of excerpts and live musical interludes from Chicago’s genre-defying Akenya and UK sensation Jerome Thomas with a live band. Ours is a sweeping epic about a conjure woman who frees the enslaved from plantations all over Arkansas and magically hides them in a town of her own creation just north of St. Louis. This novel is a radical exploration of freedom, mythology, and communal love that exemplifies what can become ours in the wake of transgression. Experience Ours in a whole new way with this multi-disciplinary performance that culminates in a book signing.

About Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams is the author of the much-anticipated debut novel Ours (Viking 2024). Writer Brit Bennett has called Ours, "A beautifully-written and ambitious epic about the complexity of freedom," while Town & Country describes Ours as "A sweeping, epic novel . . . remarkable." 

Phillip is the author of the full-length poetry collections Mutiny (Penguin Poetry), winner of the 2022 American Book Award; and Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. A nominee for the NAACP Image Awards in poetry, he is the recipient of fellowships from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. He also received a 2017 Whiting Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Lambda Literary award for his collection Thief in the Interior. He serves as a faculty member at the NYU MFA and Randolph College low-res MFA.

About Akenya

Akenya is a multi-genre singer, pianist, composer, and arranger. Her music is an eclectic synthesis of Jazz, Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, Classical, and World Music. She has collaborated with many influential artists from fellow Chicago natives Noname and legend Mavis Staples, to jazz powerhouses like Esperanza Spalding and Nubya Garcia, to Pop/Rock sweetheart Hayley Williams of Paramore. Heralded as a “multi-faceted genius” by the Chicago Tribune, Akenya has performed her music internationally and has played nearly every major Chicago venue, often as the headliner, including Thalia Hall, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Steppenwolf Theatre, and The Promontory. Her most successful single “Decay” - has 1,000,000+ streams and counting. Akenya is currently working on her debut LP, Moon in the 4th. Its lead single “Hades Moon” is out now and can be anywhere music is available. 

About Jerome Thomas

A true heart and soul Hackney artist, Jerome Thomas is an undeniable power house of talent and dedication. Known for his extensive vocal prowess and ability to convey soul as contemporary, he introduced himself in 2016 with ‘Conversations’ - 5 tracks of stoned maladies and individualism that propelled him to the forefront of his own lane. He followed up with 2019’s ‘Moodswings Vol.1’ in which with razor precision he described deep sorrow, love, separation and elation. He returned in 2021 with ‘That Secret Sauce’ a collaboration with London’s Talos. The result was sonically more conscious, yet lyrically and melodically a more sensual set of stories. Jerome then made waves again with his 2023 Single ‘Damn’, securing a string of spotify playlists, such as, R&B Weekly, New Music Friday, Chilled R&B, plus many more; Damn also made it to 27 on the amazon R&B charts. It’s safe to say Jerome’s climb is on a sure path of ascension.

Regarding live performance, for the entire journey Jerome has conducted and performed with some of London’s premier Jazz musicians, including Fr1th and David Mrakpor. To date, he has five sold out headline shows under his belt, two of which were the Jazz Cafe. He has also sold out 2 shows for Alcazar Rome, (2019 & 2022) and most recently Amsterdam’s Melkweg. The live band’s recent incarnation featuring rising guitarist Cyn has reached its zenith - truly having the depth of understanding necessary to perform music so challenging.

This challenging music is the result of a myriad of loyal producers such as Talos, Pitch92, Warren Xcellence, Mathsxjoy, Jarreau Vandal, Blue Lab Beats, Joe Armon Jones, Maxwell Owin and Bluestaeb. Jerome through these impressive works has garnered attention from Afropunk, COLORS, Clash, BBC 1Xtra, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, Highsnobiety, Complex, Vogue Italia, MTV & i-D.

Mar 2

Phillip B. Williams’ OURS: A Live Reading with Akenya and Jerome Thomas