Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby’s vision is to create a song cycle that is set during the pandemic summers of 1920 and 2020 in New York City. In both time periods it’s a day of protest. The worlds collapse into each other in songs and scenes from a variety of perspectives in reaction to the experiences of pandemics, systemic racism and battles for political self-determination. In the traditional culture of the Woodland American Indian nations, talking circles generate a continuum of hope where people are committed to helping each another and to each other’s healing.
Martha Redbone is a Native/African-American vocalist/songwriter/composer/educator. She is known for her music gumbo of folk, blues and gospel from her childhood in Harlan County, Kentucky infused with the eclectic grit of pre-gentrified Brooklyn. Inheriting the powerful vocal range of her gospel-singing African American father and the resilient spirit of her mother’s Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw culture, Redbone broadens the boundaries of American Roots music. With songs and storytelling that share her life experience as an Afro-Indigenous woman and mother navigating in the new millennium, Redbone gives voice to issues of social justice, bridging traditions, connecting cultures, celebrating the human spirit. Her latest album “The Garden of Love- Songs of William Blake” is “a brilliant collision of cultures” (New Yorker).
Redbone’s recordings, touring and cultural preservation workshops are a partnership she shares with longtime collaborator/husband Aaron Whitby. Their recent works include Bone Hill: The Concert, commissioned by Joe’s Pub/Public Theater, NEFA. NPN, Lincoln Center. “Stars”- NY Theater Workshop- Jim Nicola, “Primer for a Failed Superpower”, Rachel Chavkin. Redbone is the 2020 Drama Desk Award Winner for Outstanding Music in a Play with Original Music and Score -2019 Public Theater revival “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuff” by Ntozake Shange.
Aaron Whitby is a British pianist/composer/producer. Whitby is best known for his award-winning work with longtime collaborator/wife Martha Redbone, with whom he has co-written and produced her three award-winning albums Home of the Brave, Skintalk and The Garden of Love. Whitby is the brainchild of Cousin From Another Planet, a jazz/funk exploration purveying a playful approach to life and music rooted in Brooklyn but born far, far away. With tunes inspired by the animated energy and innocence of their young son, and humorous lyrics that celebrate empathy and empowerment. In addition to Redbone, Whitby has recorded and/or performed with George Clinton, Natalie Cole, Randy Brecker, Lisa Fischer, David Amram and more. The team Redbone/Whitby are recipients of the NEFA and NPN (Bone Hill), MAP Fund and Creative Capital (Black Mountain Women/Public Theater development).