Julia Bullock and Ava DuVernay's ARRAY curated the Rock My Soul Festival, running now through November 22 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Ford, and other locations in Los Angeles. Inspired by the friendship between composers Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, Rock My Soul celebrates collaborations between Black women artists. More from Bullock:
The phrase “Rock My Soul” has a long lineage and legacy: It is the leading lyric of a traditional Black American spiritual about expanding one’s being in every dimension and direction imaginable. The song title was later utilized by philosopher and educator bell hooks, who communicated about the importance of understanding the pursuit of love, a sense of community, and commitment to continuous exploration. So for me, the sentiment of “Rock My Soul” isn’t an ethereal, intangible endeavor ... it’s a call to express yourself, engage with everything within and around you—and find enjoyment while doing it.
The Rock My Soul Festival with the LA Phil offers a diverse range of music with messages about historical recognition, liberation, and fierce self-empowerment; and highlights artists who speak to our need for accountability as a human collective.
When the LA Phil asked me to curate this festival, I was excited, because the artists that precede and surround me who identify as B/black, American, and women have deeply impacted my musical life. However, like many artists, I don’t want to be positioned, even if what I choose to share is geared in a certain social or political direction. That said, there’s no denying how strong bonds in personal relationships, claiming one’s identity, and reflecting and considering past and present circumstances impact what art that is made and offered.
Rock My Soul focuses on the connection, collaboration, and mutual support shared between artists—and celebrates voices who incorporate a vast scope of influences and inspirations in their work.