Vocalist-composers Gelsey Bell and Justin Hicks come together to share a series of improvisations and songs. Finding a common vocal practice in the verdant parks of New York City after the long pandemic year, the two performers gently sculpt improvisations for the spring and join forces in a series of duo and solo songs. Drawing on a range of traditional and experimental influences, the show will include material from Hicks’ multimedia work A Better Way and film Use Your Head For More and Bell’s opera-in-development mɔːnɪŋ and dance work shuffleyamamba.
Gelsey Bell: vocals, daxophone, synthesizer
Justin Hicks: vocals, sundrum, electronics
Gelsey Bell is a Brooklyn-based singer, songwriter, and scholar. She is a core member of thingNY, Varispeed, and the Chutneys. Her recent works include Cairns, a soundwalk for Green-Wood Cemetery; Meander, a soundwalk created with Joseph White for Brooklyn Botanic Garden; SubtacTTTTTTTTT, an early pandemic online performance created with thingNY; and shuffleyamamba, a dance piece created with Yasuko Yokoshi. She is currently a resident artist at the HERE Arts Center where she is developing the opera mɔːnɪŋ (pronounced morning/mourning), as well as looking forward to upcoming residencies at Mount Tremper Arts and the Kinosaki Arts Center to further develop shuffleyamamba. She has released multiple recordings, including This is Not a Land of Kings and Home, with the Chutneys, and received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts award for music/sound. Performance highlights also include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Improvement and Crash, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen, and a great many of John King’s Micro-Operas. www.gelseybell.com
Justin Hicks is a multidisciplinary artist and Drama Desk Award-nominated composer/vocalist who uses music and sound to investigate identity and value. His work has been featured at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Performance Space New York, The Public Theater, Paisley Park, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and festival steirischer herbst in Graz, Austria, among other venues. Hicks has collaborated with notable visual artists, musicians, and theater-makers including Abigail DeVille, Kaneza Schaal, Steffani Jemison, Cauleen Smith, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Along with his wife Kenita Miller-Hicks and sister Jade Hicks, he is a member of The HawtPlates, whose work Waterboy And The Mighty World… premiered at the Bushwick Starr in 2019. Their visual EP “Make Me Down” was commissioned by The Public Theater and is currently available on all major streaming platforms. Hicks was born in Cincinnati, raised in Lafayette, Indiana, and is based in the Bronx. justinhicksmusic.persona.co/ thehawtplates.com
Gelsey Bell // Justin Hicks: VER is funded in part by the HERE Arts Center and the Japan Foundation.