"Shining", the first single and video from 'Fire In Little Africa', is out today via Motown Records/Black Forum in partnership with the Bob Dylan Center® and Woody Guthrie Center®
"Shining" is a celebratory song and video conveying the peak of Black excellence that defined the Greenwood District 100 years ago
'Fire In Little Africa' – a groundbreaking album of original material, written and recorded by a collective of Oklahoma hip hop artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre releases "Shining" today along with a striking visual. It is the first single from the album that will be released on May 28 by Motown Records/Black Forum in partnership with Tulsa's Bob Dylan Center® and Woody Guthrie Center®.
"Shining" was produced by 'Fire In Little Africa' executive producer Dr. View and features Tulsa area artists Steph Simon, Dialtone, Ayilla, and Jerica Wortham. The video was produced and directed by Boomintree Films with assistant director avitiuh.
Giving context to the video, Dr. View shares, "'Shining' is a trip back in time to Tulsa in 1920, just before Black Wall Street was attacked, bombed and burned to the ground in the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The video conveys the peak of Black Excellence that defined the Greenwood district 100 years ago and ties it to the 'Fire In Little Africa' movement that is showing the world how Tulsa still shines today." He continues, "We know that the story of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is one filled with pain, darkness and trauma for Black people, but the story of Tulsa in 2021 is about the greatness that rose from the ashes. 'Shining' humanizes the victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre, taking them out of the history books and showing them on a night on the town living life joyfully. That is what Greenwood was, is, and will always be about."
About 'Fire In Little Africa':
The 21-track collection gets to the truth of what happened on May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds, and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless. For years, this historic, albeit dire, chapter was left out of classrooms and textbooks as the city attempted to erase this part of its past. The artists heard on 'Fire In Little Africa' get to the truth through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.
Motown Records Chairman & CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam said, "'Fire In Little Africa' is a powerful and timely project that will reward listeners with a sense of discovery. Not only does it examine a largely overlooked chapter in our history, the album also pulls the curtain back on the vibrant hip hop scene that has been Oklahoma's best-kept secret. Like the citizens who created Black Wall Street, the artists of 'Fire In Little Africa' are driven by creativity, love and an uplifting, ego-free sense of community. The project aligns perfectly with Black Forum's commitment to introducing the next generation of game changers."
Stevie "Dr. View" Johnson, PhD, Manager, Education & Diversity Outreach at the Woody Guthrie Center | Bob Dylan Center and the album's executive producer, added, "'Fire In Little Africa' has evolved into a communal hip hop movement and we're excited that we get to share the flavor, history and legacy of Black Wall Street with the world, in collaboration with the amazing leadership of the Motown/Black Forum family. We're grateful for Ethiopia's foresight in providing us an opportunity to share our important stories with the world. There are Black Wall Streets across the diaspora and we unequivocally know that 'Fire In Little Africa' will inspire many people. In the words of Steph Simon, 'everything is us.'"
In this feature, Rolling Stone noted, "'Fire In Little Africa' is poised to teach the world about that long-suppressed history, from locals who grew up in a community that still lives with the aftermath of the massacre. Just as important, the artists involved in the project also hope it serves as a launching-pad moment for Tulsa's hip-hop scene, which has long flown under the national radar."
The album was recorded in Greenwood over a five-day period in March 2020. Studios were set up at the Greenwood Cultural Center and other locations, including the former home of 1921 massacre mastermind/KKK leader Tate Brady. The house is now owned by former NFL first-round draft pick and Tulsa native Felix Jones. The Tulsa World was on hand to speak with the artists involved in the historic sessions. Read the article HERE and check out the accompanying video HERE.
"Fireside with Dr. View" is a weekly podcast featuring Dr. View in conversation with thought leaders in activism, academia and culture, centered on the movement behind the 'Fire In Little Africa' music. Listen to "Fireside with Dr. View" HERE. Hosts Ali Shaw and Doc Free sit down with 'Fire In Little Africa' artists, Tulsa community leaders and national voices for conversations on music and culture in the "Fire in Little Africa" podcast, which can be found HERE.
Located in the Tulsa Arts District, the Woody Guthrie Center opened in 2013. The Bob Dylan Center is expected to open on the same block within the next year. Both are projects of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the primary funder for 'Fire In Little Africa'. The album is chronicled in a documentary film, which will be released later this year.
'Fire In Little Africa' marks the first new material released by Black Forum since the label's relaunch earlier this year. Black Forum originally debuted in 1970 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam', which won a GRAMMY® Award for Best Spoken Word Album. The label reissued Dr. King's influential speech earlier this year.