Let’s Be Blount Here

Sun Ra 1

Sun Ra was born Herman Blount on May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama. For many years there wasn’t much information to be found about Sun Ra’s childhood. However being that Birmingham was an important stop for touring musicians, Sun Ra was able to see many famous musicians growing up. This is believed to have helped encourage his interest in music. Being that Sun Ra was a very skilled pianist that was able to compose and sight read music at the age of about 11 he was offered his first full-time musical job in 1934 at the age of 20. He toured with Ethel Harper’s, his biology teacher, group where shortly after he took leadership of the group renaming them The Sonny Blount Orchestra. Sun Ra’s style of music is often associated with Big Band and Jazz music of his time but he was able to come up with his own version of avant-garde space jazz called Afro-Futurism.

SunRa pic2

Sun Ra’s music is unique because I brings about the true meaning of Afro-Futurism which is a mixture of historical and science fiction, as well as Afro-Centricity. This sense of Afro-Futurism affected his performances as well because the whole band would dress up in these very flashy robes and headdresses. These types of clothing weren’t typical of an orchestra. Of course this type of very different music wasn’t the best to some, but many people loved Sun Ra. I believe it was because of his ability to use historical encounters with a science fiction twist that really stuck with people. That is truly the philosophy of Sun Ra, to be able to teach the struggle of black people and “black music” with a nice sound that draws people in. One artist of today that has been influenced by Sun Ra is Andre 3000, a member of group OutKast. Andre 3000 is well known for his futuristic type of music, and his very bold and unusual sense of style.

Sun Ra Brecon Jazz Festival  August 1990 England

CT101 Digital Storytelling