The Transformations Suite
Composed by Samora Pinderhughes
The Transformations Suite is a composition in five movements, combining spoken word
and music. Continuing in the tradition of artists such as Bob Marley, Duke Ellington,
Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and Tupac Shakur, the suite paints a musical picture of the
current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States. It connects the
experiences of all members of the African Diaspora both musically and socially,
examining notions of art, oppression, spirituality, resistance, faith and love.
Thursday, April 21, 2016, 6:30-9:30 pm, Student Center
259 RSVPs through Illuminations Eventbrite Link
Student comments (from students enrolled in the Illuminations Colloquium)
The time flew by at this event! I didn’t want it to end. The second it started, I felt like
I was transported into another place. The room was filled with so much emotion and
passion. I had to confront my own feeling on this issue. I am glad I went!
I enjoyed Transformations Suite mainly because of the variety of music used, such as
piano, spoken word, vocals, and drums to connect the audience with issues of social
inequality and injustice. With the incorporation of musical instruments of jazz into social
justice issues, I was able to understand these artist’s emotions through their spoken word
and vocals. Rather than listening to a speech about social inequality, I enjoyed the
musical integration in this event. Overall the event was musically soothing and I learned
how art and music can influence social change and also encourage society to step
I was not expecting this event to be anything it turned out to be. This performance of
jazz, spoken word, and singing was very powerful. I appreciated the time that they took
out to perform and prepare for this. It was amazing to hear how many places they
performed at—Julliard and so many others. They played beautifully. The way they
performed was so powerful and amazing. It was very moving and powerful to see how
passionate their music was. The spoken word was what moved me the most. The effect of
the spoken word performed made me feel what she felt. Having gone through the
experience herself, the emotion was powerful.
I loved how their performance was in stages, and also how the performance itself was a
transformation. It encouraged the audience to make a transformation. The ending where it
was on us to change was so great because it is true. We can listen, watch powerful
performances, and say so much, but if we do not do act on it then nothing will happen. It
is amazing and sad where this world has come to, but it can change. Thank you for the
amazing performance, Transformations Suite.
Personally, I never really liked poetry with music; however, this event has definitely
changed my mind. First of all, I love how everyone so enjoyed this event and I love how
much the musicians, singers, and poets have put their hard work into this performance.
The lyrics were very effective and inspiring in a way that made me enjoy them even
more. I also loved the Q&A that the performers did after. I might actually start to attend
more events like this after this very exciting experience!
The entire performance was fabulous, especially “Momentum.” Those shocking yellings
of "Now!" makes the audience automatically clap and encourage them to think about
unequal treatment and other difficulties. Moreover, I liked one part of “History,” the sax
solo especially because it made me clam down.
Last night’s performance at the Crystal Cove auditorium was amazing. I was very
impressed by how the music, poetry, and lyrics on the board came together to create a
strong impact. My favorite was the fourth section: Momentum. The performer gets very
emotional when she spoke her lines from her soul. Racism, slavery, poverty, and violence
must not be forgotten, and the time for us to speak the truth and demand justice is now.
I definitely was not expecting such an emotional performance. At the very end the
vocalist was talking about using seduction to draw in the audience before hitting them
with the message they wanted to get across. I felt that in the beginning the music was
inviting. Then the other vocalist did some spoken word poetry that was beautiful and
intense at times. Personally, words in these spoken word pieces did not speak to me, but
the tone and the feelings attached to them did. The jazz music gave this component of
hope for the future, while the spoken word poetry was there to display the issues in our
society today. I also enjoyed the juxtaposition of historical audio and video with the live
performance. It was an eye opening experience and I’m glad I attended this performance.
I was profoundly impacted by the Transformations Suite performance last night. As a
cultural anthropology major, diversity and cultural awareness has been a passion of mine
for many years. I am ecstatic that an event like this can be brought to campus in order to
educate people about the history and continued impacts of racism. The event represents
the ideals of the Illuminations program: that art can teach, that it is a valuable part of
education and human experience, and should receive more attention. It was stated that the
event was to showcase how art could create social change, and I believe having powerful
spoken words mixed with music provides an emotional venue through which to
understand these difficult topics, and is much more powerful than a lecture or reading
could ever be. Needless to say, this was not the jazz you listen to in a cafe while you
mindlessly drink coffee. While at the beginning there seemed to be a dissonance in the
music that made it slightly hard to listen to, it would seem that the music was designed
that way in order to reflect the subject matter. Talking about slavery, racism and poverty
is not easy, and as such the music should not always be easy, or pleasant, to hear. Instead,
it forced me to feel, as well as have my mind stimulated, rather than allowing me to tune
out to the sound of pleasant music. I was so moved by the line, “You are everything they
read about but are too afraid to see.” I felt this line encapsulated the current condition of
race talks in our community. We can read about racism and watch news reports on it, but
once people actually try approaching the topic of race there is an extreme amount of
discomfort. Oftentimes, this can lead to a conversation being shut down, which only adds
more tension to the situation. This line serves as a unifying statement, as many target
groups can rally behind this point, acknowledging that they have struggled, and yet
people do not want to hear about it. But instead of allowing ourselves to be shut down,
we must keep speaking through the difficult conversations, pushing for a better
understanding of each other and creating a better world. We have this power, through our
words, through our art, through our actions. Needless to say, I was in tears during this
event. Thank you so much for bringing this performance to UCI.
I really enjoyed this Suite because I thought the singers and musicians played with their
hearts. I would like to see more events like this on campus. This was the first time I
attended an event that so clearly portrayed a topic that is relevant today. I loved the
spoken word and the dialogue after.
It was my first time attending a musical-based composition that also provides educational
value. The Transformations Suite was an excellent event that aimed to use art to reflect
life, and actually it perfectly did. The jazz music was thoroughly impressive, with spoken
words and songs describing the history. I loved the saxophone because through it, I could
get the idea of what the main points during the section were. During the Transformation,
I sensed through the music a willingness to change. During the Cycles, I sensed puzzling
feelings. During Momentum and Ascension, I felt the enthusiasm and confidence to
change the world. I can understand how the composer wants to convey the messages of
history and revolution. I was so moved by the repeated words “NOW” in the Momentum
section, and I believe that “We got to change.” In all, this event was very meaningful for
its artistic and educational values.
So far this event has had the biggest impact on me. I really enjoyed the music, the lyrics,
and how it all tied together to address social injustice. The music was very moving and
the lyrics made me think of different issues within society. It also made me challenge
myself to address the feelings that the music and overall performance made me feel. I
really enjoyed the composition of the event—how it was a performance as well as a time
to address social injustice through lyrics and poetry-like speech. The composer did an
amazing job in creating and building up to the climax to provoke a sense of action against
these injustices, and demonstrating a little of what it can feel like to face these types of
challenges. I also enjoyed the question and answer because we got to meet all the
performers and hear their thoughts of their work and how they feel about it. I really
enjoyed this event, and I am so inspired and taken away by the composer and all the
performers in this presentation.
Jamielle Rankine is a Jamaican born Fashion Designer, Motivational Speaker and Poet. Born in the
ghetto of Kingston, Jamielle learned from an early age that life was not always a bed of roses. Her family
shortly moved to a middle class neighborhood which allowed her the privilege to attend prestigious
elementary and secondary schools, where her love for writing began, and living in a household of mostly
women, she learned of heartache, beauty and the power and strength of a woman.
Jamielle and her family moved to the United States in 2008 and settled in New York. A city filled with
so many creative individuals, and lovers of fashion. This move sparked her always existing passion for
fashion and beauty and she, after failing an attempt as a Marketing Major at Broome Community
College, began working as a stylist. This grew to wanting a career in Fashion Design, and after starting
her family Jamielle, then moved to California and later earned an Associate of Arts Degree in fashion
design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM).
After figuring out what she loved to do, Jamielle ventured into volunteering and now teaches at the
Precious Life Shelter a class called “Finding Fashion and Yourself”, for women who are homeless and
pregnant along with mentoring some of the women there. She began to seek God after her calling, and
that lead her to writing her experiences in the form of poetry. Each gift gifted was being used. Using her
pain, misfortune, happiness, and overcoming sprit, to inspire the people around her. Jamielle now does
freelance designing and is working on her own collection of clothing called “MUMA”. She continues to
motivate others and hopes to become an author of a book of poetry, and an auto biography, in hopes of
allowing God to use her to inspire others with her story.
Meet Jamielle Saturday April 30th at JamXchange!