High Fives 2020 (18) – Art Terry

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Here’s an interesting Christmas Eve take on the High Five theme. Art Terry is a singer-songwriter and musician from Los Angeles whose songs explore sexuality and black politics. He also hosts a radio show ‘Is Black Music’ on Resonance FM. What makes Art’s contribution slightly unusual is that it’s a celebration from someone who’s managed to have a fairly good year against the background of the virus and other plagues. That has to be good for  the last High Five before Christmas. Over to Art:

 

 

High Five 1

My family is originally from Tennessee, so when I was offered January gigs in Nashville I said ‘Hell Yeah’! It was my first time playing in the South. Both my parents are from small towns in Tennessee and met in the great music city of Nashville, where the High Street still has a drum set and guitar player in every window.
It had been 10 years since I had visited their small towns close to the Appalachian mountains. So after the Nashville gigs I waved goodbye to the rest of the band and took a Greyhound bus there. I hung out for a week and discovered a lot about myself and my heritage. 
Here is a photo of my grandma I found buried in some of the family treasures there. I was told the lady on the left was my grandmother. And the lady sitting down used to like the way my grandfather cooked possum and sweet potato.

 

High Five 2

During the spring lockdown, my partner Helena Smith shot and posted a video of me performing a new self-penned song each day for 52 days consecutively. The highlight of it was when my daughter Naomi arrived from Sweden to isolate with us. She sung with me and helped us conceive the videos during the final 10 days.
On day 48 we did a song about how rare and fleeting are the moments we have been able to spend together. It was only after I saw the video playback that I realised Naomi was fighting back tears while she was singing with me.

 

High Five 3

On August 1st every year, the Black community in London march from Brixton to Downing Street to demand the government stop the continuing African Holocaust which began 400 years ago, and start reparations.
This year they took a different tack and occupied Brixton on the day instead. For my radio show that week, we did special programming around the event, including interviews with Esther Stanford-Xosei, one of the movement’s most eloquent speakers.
But the coolest part was taking over Brixton and marching in the streets with so many hundreds of people from different cultures and communities.

 

High Five 4

I really admire Extinction Rebellion. They are bringing awareness to the most important thing on the planet. And that thing is the planet itself. One day I went to take a look at the beautiful Happy Man Tree in Hackney which is in danger of being cut down because of lazy and misguided planning.
  I couldn’t help but get involved with this passionate campaign and played a outdoor benefit gig there for the tree. After I finished one of the arborists (tree surgeons) offered to rope me and pull me up high into the tree to do an encore. OMG what a life changing experience. To be up there to see what only the birds normally see. Up close in the trees limbs, so beautifully balanced and longingly extended. I stood in the tree with my guitar singing songs for 20 minutes. Close to the sky, far from the ground. That evening I felt like the tree entered my dreams.
  Since then the Happy Man Tree has been named Tree Of The Year 2020 by the Woodland Trust. That has not deterred Hackney Council and its clumsy Berkeley Homes developers from their plans chop it to pieces. So please help if you can.

 

High 5 Five

It seems the end of every year is its own highlight. We like to end with a bang by celebrating the holidays. I love Christmas, and just like most things in life, the best part is the music. I’ve always wanted to contribute to all the great Christmas songs written, and for the last few years I have been working on my own. This year, thanks to the incredible genius of my producer Raphael Mann, we created one. It is titled “It Ain’t Christmas”.
It is a Christmas song for 2020 about how much we have missed each other this year, and will miss each other this Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Art Terry released his album “Sex Madness” this year on CD/Vinyl and digitally on his own Alt Soul label.