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Show Reviews

East to Edinburgh – New York’s Annual Edinburgh Festival Review at 59E59 Theater (25th July 2015)

Katt Tait’s “Black Magic: Songs Unchained” is a 50 minute rehearsal of the power of song to soothe, strengthen, empower, and organize. Against the backdrop of a powerful collection of images that focus on the slave trade (in Africa, in the United States, and throughout the privileged world) and slavery, Ms. Tait sings a treasure trove of songs from the musical canons of the American Spiritual and Protest Song. The lyrics and plaintive melodies of “Trouble of the World,” “Steal Away,” “Wade in the Water,” and “Nobody Knows the Trouble” counterpoint images of the brutal treatment of slaves (slave collars, beatings, rape, recapture of runaways) that grace the 59E59 stage and challenge the audience to engage anew in the dialog about racism in America.

The Post-Civil War era (Reconstruction) and the post-Civil Rights era witnessed what some might see as “progress” for members of the African-American community. The Harlem Renaissance, the success of black jazz and blues writers and performers, and presumed advances in equal education opportunities numbed much of America to the continuing cycles of oppression.

Directed sparingly by Ray Ficca, Ms. Tait shares song after song in her rich, multi-ranged voice interpreting the lyrics with honesty and freshness. Her remarkable performance requires the audience to look closely at The New Jim Crowe and other contemporary reasons one needs to keeps ones “Eye on the Prize.”

Two of the final images projected behind Ms. Tait are images of black and white children reaching out to one another and (perhaps) adult black and white hands touching. Perhaps white Americans and Americans of color can begin deep and rich conversations about racism and perhaps from those conversations, new songs of freedom can be written and sung. And hopefully these songs unchained can break the chains of oppression and societal complacence, indifference, and numbness.

Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Katt Tait

Black Magic: Songs Unchained

Black Magic Songs Unchained @spotlites @edfringe

Thurs 6th - Mon 31st Aug - 1.25pm

(50 mins)

From United States

Black Magic: Songs Unchained, a physical drama, digs into the origins of the Negro spiritual and unveils the sorrow which created a powerful music.

Take a multimedia journey from the shores of West Africa to North America, where a cappella melodies carrying secret codes transform pain into promise. Music is the magic!

Performer's website





Mondays to Fridays - £8.00 (£7.00 Concession) (£28.00 family of 4)

Saturdays and Sundays - £10.00 (£8.00 Concession) (£32.00 family of 4)

Previews Thurs 6th & Fri 7th - £5

Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+
2for1 on Mon 10th & Tues 11th

Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

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Venue 278. 22 Hanover Street. EH2 2EP

Just up from National Gallery.
Venue Box Office: 0131 220 5911

Click here for map of the venue

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