Inside the 'Dovetail Series': Oscar Brown, Jr.

So. We're launching a new series in partnership with Theaster Gates's Rebuild Foundation, titled The Dovetail Series, and our first collaboration is with vocalist/spoken-word artist Maggie Brown. The thing about Ms. Brown is that in addition to her own creative efforts, she has become a champion for the legacy of her father–the brilliant Chicago songwriter/poet/activist Oscar Brown, Jr. If this is a new name for you, you're not alone. Oscar Brown, Jr. was fiercely protective of his creative freedom and profoundly adverse to the commercialization of music, so despite having penned lyrics for the likes of Miles Davis and Max Roach, drawing Muhammed Ali to star in one of his theatrical productions on Broadway, running for a seat in the Illinois state legislature, and releasing a critically-acclaimed debut album–he passed away in 2005 with far less recognition than he deserved.

We thought we'd take a moment, as we gear up for our show with Maggie this Sunday (which you can attend for FREE if you RSVP here) by immersing you in her father's work, which will feature prominently during the performance. Collaborating with Maggie has been everything we'd hoped the Dovetail Series would be–inspirational, educational, thought-provoking, and fun (she will break into song and dance with little provocation in our meetings)–and we hope our fledgeling effort will help expose the brilliant songwriting and beautiful (and devastating) poetry of Oscar Brown, Jr. to a wider array of listeners. Dig in!

Oscar Brown Jr.'s brilliant debut album, 'Sin & Soul'


One of the first jazz records to engage with the Civil Rights movement: Max Roach's 'We Insist!' (with lyrics by Oscar Brown, Jr.)


A total stunner: Oscar Brown, Jr. on Def Poetry performing his 'I Apologize'


One of the most jaw-dropping stories from Oscar Brown, Jr.'s career: creating the show 'Opportunity Please Knock' for one of Chicago's most feared gangs, the Blackstone Rangers


And to bring it full-circle: a touching exchange between Maggie and Oscar as she honors her father's artistry