Intimate Strangers is a collaboration between Portuguese vocalist-composer Sara Serpa and Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma, drawing inspiration from Iduma’s latest book, A Stranger’s Pose, a unique blend of travelogue, musings, and poetry. A combination of music, text, image and field recordings collected by Iduma during his travels, Intimate Strangers explores such themes as movement, home, grief, absence, and desire in what Iduma calls “an atlas of a borderless world.”
Taking Nigeria as a point of departure, Intimate Strangers describes several encounters Iduma has along his journey from Lagos to Sarajevo along the coast. The journey takes unexpected turns, resulting in reflections on the sea, the desert as well as natural and artificial borders he is faced with. There is beauty in these encounters, even when they describe love and loss, grief and longing, displacement and war, privilege or apathy.
Like echoes from a distant reality, Intimate Strangers aims to reflect on how we see the other and how we describe hospitality and humanity for future generations
Music by Sara Serpa
Words by Emmanuel Iduma
Sara Serpa: voice, composition
Spoken word: Shaila Tyler
Sofía Rei: voice
Aubrey Johnson: voice
Matt Mitchell: piano
Qasim Naqvi: modular synth
Lisbon, Portugal native Sara Serpa is a vocalist-composer and improviser who implements a unique instrumental approach to her vocal style. Recognized for her distinctive wordless singing, Serpa has been immersed in the field of jazz, improvised and experimental music since first arriving in New York in 2008. Described by the New York Times as “a singer of silvery poise and cosmopolitan outlook,” and by JazzTimes magazine as “a master of wordless landscapes,”
Serpa started her career with jazz luminaries such as Grammy-nominated pianist Danilo Perez, and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow pianist Ran Blake. As a leader, she has produced and released ten albums. The latest is Recognition, an interdisciplinary project that combines film with live music in collaboration with Zeena Parkins, Mark Turner, and David Virelles. Serpa was voted #1 Vocalist of the Year by the 2020 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll, Musician of the Year 2020 by Portuguese magazine Jazz.pt and Female Vocalist-Rising Star 2019 by the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. She has collaborated with Ingrid Laubrock, Erik Friedlander, John Zorn, Nicole Mitchell, André Matos, Guillermo Klein, Linda May Han Oh, Ben Street, and Kris Davis, among many others. Serpa currently teaches at The New School, New Jersey City University, and is Artist-In-Residence at Park Avenue Armory. She is the recipient of Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant 2019, New Music USA 2019, New York City’s Women’s Fund 2020, USArtists Grant from Mid-Atlantic Foundation for the Arts, and the 2021 Herb Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Composition. Serpa has been active in gender equity in music and is the co-founder (along with fellow musician Jen Shyu) of Mutual Mentorship for Musicians (M3), an organization created to empower and elevate women and non-binary musicians. www.saraserpa.com www.mutualmentorshipformusicians.org
Emmanuel Iduma is the author of A Stranger’s Pose, a book of travel stories that was longlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. His essays and art criticism have been published in The New York Review of Books, Aperture, Artforum, and Art in America. His honors include a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation grant for arts writing, the inaugural Irving Sandler Award for New Voices in Art Criticism from AICA-USA, the C/O Berlin Talent Prize for Theory, and a Silvers Grant for
Work in Progress. I Am Still with You, his memoir on the aftermath of the Nigerian civil war, is forthcoming from Algonquin (US), and William Collins (UK). www.mriduma.com
Shaila Tyler, a Bronx raised artist by way of Baltimore, is a multi-disciplinary artist with roots in dance, dramatic arts, film & media arts. Incorporating her knowledge of architectural technology and independent study throughout artist communities at Maggie Flanigan Studios, Alvin Ailey Extension, Peridance, Brickhouse and Gibney Dance Studio, she’s constantly exploring ways to merge her crafts into singular artistic pieces. Currently, Shaila actively works on sets supporting production in various realms, and is writing her own stories that she seeks to produce through her recently launched creative agency, STYLUR. Recent collaborations have been with filmmakers from The Ghetto Film School, Jacob Burns Film Center, The Producers Club, Villah TV and Columbia University’s Directors Graduate program. Other stage performances include short plays at The Roebuck Theatre and open mic at Bowery Poetry. A true student of theater, she is honored to perform words from Emmanuel Iduma and share the stage with Sara Serpa and her ensemble at Roulette.