Olio Live

Length: 1 hr and 18 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (2,346 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In Olio Live - a very special one-night performance recorded live at the Minetta Lane Theater in February, 2019 - poet Tyehimba Jess introduces listeners to his 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Olio

A stellar cast of actors, accompanied by pianist Jeremy Gill, performs a selection of poems from the collection, all of which reinterpret the lived experience of real historical figures. You’ll meet William "Blind" Boone, who testifies to Scott Joplin’s greatness at a time when "Alexander’s Ragtime Band" by Irving Berlin used uncredited sections of Joplin’s work; Sissieretta Jones, an operatic star who elevates what a "revue" show could be; and other African American musical stars of the early 20th century. Despite the Emancipation of African Americans and the rise of Tin Pan Alley, these gifted composers and musicians continued to experience appropriation of their work and, often, lack of remuneration.

In this context, the word "olio" also means a hodgepodge, or a miscellaneous collection of literary or musical selections; taken as a whole, the triumphant performances of Olio Live ask listeners to consider the nature of identity, performance, and ever-present history. Tyehimba Jess and Yahdon Israel immortalize and embody a long tradition of African American "citizenship through musicianship" in this timeless live audio.

Cover art photo by Rog and Bee Walker

©2016 For poems: Tyehimba Jess (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

"…Olio, takes on one of the most uncomfortable American performance art, one that is at the center of race and culture at the turn of the 20th century."

Scott Simon, NPR Host on Tyehimba Jess' book Olio
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About the Creator

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Authors Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. A winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series, leadbelly was named one of the "Best Poetry Books of 2005" by both Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review. A Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, Jess received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a Professor of English at the College of Staten Island.

About the Co-Creator and Performer

Yahdon Israel is a writer, editor, and creator of Literaryswag. He has written for Avidly, The New Inquiry, Brooklyn Magazine, Literary Hub, and Poets & Writers magazine. He is the host of the Literaryswag Book Club, and the host of LIT, a weekly web series about books and culture.

About the Performer

Described as "vividly colored" (New York Times) and "replete with imaginative textures" (Dallas Morning News), Jeremy Gillʼs music has earned him fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, Copland House, American Opera Projects, and the MacDowell Colony, and grants from New Music USA and Chamber Music America. Currently, he is composing a four-hand piano concerto for Orion Weiss and Shai Wosner to be performed by the Chautauqua Symphony under JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic under Gemma New. Jeremy has performed as a pianist or conductor with Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jonathan Hays, Evan Hughes, Eric Owens, and Lucy Shelton. He has conducted productions for Beth Morrison Projects and Network for New Music, and recently served as assistant conductor for Juilliard Opera and guest conductor of Manhattan School of Musicʼs Tactus. While Chautauqua Operaʼs Composer in Residence, Jeremy also served as Maestro Osgoodʼs cover conductor and as a member of the coaching staff.

Photographed by Arielle Doneson

About the Performer

Piper Goodeve is an Audie Award-winning audiobook narrator, and records for Audible Studios, Tantor Audio, Blackstone, Highbridge, Podium, and more. She holds an MFA from Brown University/Trinity Rep and has worked in New York, Off Broadway, as Anne in Anne of Green Gables (Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance); at Joe's Pub, York Theatre Co., Theatre at St. Clement’s, Duke on 42nd, NY Fringe Festival, and numerous readings/workshops. Some of her selected regional credits include: Caroline or Change (Syracuse Stage), Hamlet (Tennessee Shakespeare Co.), A Christmas Carol (McCarter), Long Day’s Journey into Night (Oldcastle Theatre Co.), Hair (Hangar Theatre, Syracuse Area Live Theater Award nomination for Best Actress), Other Desert Cities (Hangar Theatre), and eleven seasons at the Weston Playhouse, where her favorite roles include Lydia Lubey in All My Sons, and Cathleen in Long Day’s Journey into Night.

About the Performer

Jaylene Clark Owens is a highly acclaimed poet, as well as an AUDELCO and Barrymore Award-winning actress. She is a Brave New Voices Champion, as well as a first place Apollo Theater Amateur Night winner for her poetry. Jaylene's debut book of poetry, AfroPoetic, can be found on Amazon. She is a part of The Wilma Theater company/HotHouse. Jaylene is the Executive Director and co-founder of the theatrical company Harlem KW Project, LLC, which created the award-winning spoken word infused play, Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale, about gentrification in Harlem.

About the Performer

David Pegram was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He received a BFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. He lives and works in New York City, where he has appeared on Broadway in War Horse (Lincoln Center Theatre) and Lobby Hero (Second Stage). He has performed extensively Off-Broadway in Animal (Atlantic Theatre Company), After The Blast (LCT3). Selected credits include The Lion In Winter (Guthrie Theatre), The Piano Lesson (McCarter Theatre), A Few Good Men (Alley Theatre), Fly (St. Louis Rep), Broke-Ology (Theatreworks Hartford). i<>Autumn’s Harvest (Lincoln Center Education), Much Ado About Nothing (Smith Street Stage), The New York Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall), The 1’s and 2’s (The Tank), and 'Tis Pity She’s A Whore (The Tank). He has appeared on television in Madam Secretary and The Family, and can be seen in the film, Camp Wedding. Awards: 2016 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Award. David is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.

About the Performer

Esau Pritchett is originally from Saginaw, MI. He earned a BA in Performing Arts / Theatre from Oakland University in Rochester, MI in 1998. He moved to NYC shortly thereafter to pursue a professional career as a Performing Artist. He has worked all over the country in Regional Theater playing a variety of roles ranging from many plays in the Shakespeare Cannon to roles written by the American Titan of Playwriting, August Wilson.

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What listeners say about Olio Live

Average Customer Ratings
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Audible needs an extra star

The performance of this production needs at least one extra star. This was Amazing!! The content - especially the poetry was superb. But the performance! Oh the performance!! Gotta go so I can play this again.

15 people found this helpful

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BEAUTIFUL

This poetry story was Amazing! I am so happy I've listened. The writer is so knowledgeable and passionate about his work! His love for black music, history, and our (black people's) truth shines through and I thank him so very much for sharing♡.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Truly breathtaking!

This was the performance I didn't know I needed! I was gripped from the start. I will absolutely look for more of his work, as this performance was an awakening! New fan!!!

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great stories about now forgotten musicians

The tale of the horribly exploited Blind Tom was a good way to introduce the audience to the theme of African American musicians finding their music and their voice. The device of learning about Scott Joplin's life through a second person interview was brilliant Well worth your time.

26 people found this helpful

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Grew Up Near Sedalia, MO

Enjoyed this. I grew up in Warrensburg, MO, which is right next to Sedalia, MO, so was always familiar with Blind Boone and Scott Joplin. It was fun to hear the stories.

6 people found this helpful

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Missed the mark

I was disappointed that there was very little music in this performance . Dialogue and poetry made up the first part. The stories were interesting but for the most part they weren’t told in a very compelling way

5 people found this helpful

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Blown Away !

An ode to Black Musicians pre- recording era.. Lovely. Historical and well put together 10/10 I wish it was longer. More please :)

3 people found this helpful

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This is amazing

The poetry was stunning; its vibrancy and intricacy of form just blew me away. The stories of these performers lives and struggles against continual racism and abuse by the whites around them was wholly mesmerizing and angering. And the performers? One of the most talented multi-voice recordings I have listened to (and I have rather a large audio collection, hmm hmm). Everyone was so strong. My only "complaint" about this performance? I didn't get to see it live.

3 people found this helpful

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Beat poetry and other live performance

Olio Live is objectively good. It is full of talented individuals telling interesting and important stories, in fresh and interesting ways. But for me, personally, I only somewhat enjoyed it. I was enjoyable, but not something I'm likely to revisit or go out of my way for. The stories are told through spoken word, through music, beat poetry (including some cool sounded stuff where to people alternate, bouncing off one another) and even one through operatic singing. They are stories of African american artists and how they have been treated in the music industry. I love history and this is a part that I would like to know more of. For me the medium, while very different and cool, makes me lose the message in there. It is a lot of poetry and I have never found poetry overly accessible. After having finished it I couldn't tell you anything of what it the individual stories were. It was an interesting experience, truly something different from what I would normal listen to or see live. For that alone I'm glad I listened. The sound quality is good. It is live and has all that comes with that. If you like poetry, or just really want to try something unique and different, then I would recommend giving this a go. (And for the record I am Australian and very white. Maybe that impacts how I experience and enjoy this)

11 people found this helpful

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A lovely remembrance.

This is really nice if you like very poetic/lyrical conversations and stories. Also, if you want to learn about some interesting artists that time forgot you will enjoy this one.

4 people found this helpful