for soloists, groups, rallies, sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and more
Activist Songbook is a collection of 53 songs and raps to counteract hate. The material is based on interviews of Asian American, immigrant and refugee organizers. The project began in Philadelphia and continues in different cities with interviews, workshops and performances through the next U.S. Presidential Election on November 3, 2020.
October 2019 through June 2020
Activist Songbook Workshops
International Festival of Arts & Ideas · New Haven
November 11, 2018
Music of Asian America Workshop: Activist Songbook
Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Institute of Contemporary Art · Philadelphia
July 20, 2018
We the People · Montalvo Arts Center
May 3-5, 2018
Asian Arts Initiative · Philadelphia
53 Songs and Raps
In Activist Songbook, composer Byron Au Yong and lyricist Aaron Jafferis explore how civil rights organizing and music intersect to inspire action and sustain the fight towards equity.
Activist Songbook is a process-oriented work that begins with interviews of community organizers. Working with those interviewed, Au Yong and Jafferis will create material for a Songbook to gather individuals and collectives to energize efforts towards counteracting racism and hate crimes.
Living between oppression and imagination, Activist Songbook calls for justice through live performances, informational scores, and instructional recordings that honor the legacy of Asian American, immigrant and refugee activism as a springboard for future organizing.
The project will result in a collection of 53 songs and raps prompted by the beating and murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, as well as the resulting national organizing towards justice. Activist Songbook launched as part of Asian Arts Initiative's 25th Anniversary in May 2018, with a Know Your Rights rap, four rally songs taught on buses and other material.
For Activist Songbook booking and residency inquiries, contact:
Lucy Gellman. Arts & Ideas Gets An Activist Soundtrack. New Haven Arts, May 2020
Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Melodies and Movements. Daily Nutmeg, December 2019
Peter Crimmins. Asian Arts Initiative celebrates past 25 years. WHYY NewsWorks, May 2018
Dan DeLuca. Asian Arts Initiative's Activist Songbook. The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2018
Imani Roach. Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis write useful protest music. Artblog, May 2018
Created as part of (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence, a project of Asian Arts Initiative, www.asianartsinitiative.org. Original support for (ex)CHANGE: History Place Presence was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia. Montalvo Arts Center 2018. International Festival of Arts & Ideas 2019-2020.
Sample Rally Song (Sheet Music)