Next Performing Arts | Music

Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble

Presented by CAPA and Wexner Center for the Arts

Ohio Premiere

Four singers stand behind microphone stands on stage with band members surrounding them

Be uplifted by the jubilant harmonies, rhythmic grooves, and unabashed optimism of Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble as they electrify the historic Lincoln Theatre stage.

Evolving from Chicago-based artist and activist Damon Locks’s sound collage solo project, the Black Monument Ensemble (BME) is a powerful, intergenerational collective—ranging from 10 to 52 in age—that draws from the diverse wellspring of Black excellence in Chicago. Locks’s work, including BME, explores “The Black nod”—the unspoken exchange between Black people to acknowledge one another in public.

Featuring a rotating cast of creatives that has included Angel Bat Dawid, who last graced the Wex stage in 2019, BME’s street-level gospel weaves together sampled speech, electronic beats, dance, and live music—including vocals, horns, and drums—to form an improvisational tapestry unique to each performance. 

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"Embracing the street corner, the amen corner, the block party and the Black Panther party, Locks offers up an accessible avant garde that is fierce, funky, fresh and free."
Michael A Gonzales, The Wire (UK)
Four singers stand behind microphone stands on stage with band members surrounding them

Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble, photo: Eli Johnson.

Man from the chest up, speaking into a microphone and gesturing with his hand. The background is pitch black.

Damon Locks, photo: Eli Johnson.

Band members on stage holding and playing various instruments, with the four singers to their left. There are multicolored lens flares from the lights above them.

Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble, photo: Eli Johnson.

Man in front of a black curtain, holding a microphone to his open mouth and standing behind a table covered with a multicolored, multipatterned tablecloth that has a mixer resting on it

Damon Locks, photo: Eli Johnson.

Collage of black-and-white photos of band members playing various instruments, layered in front of orange-tinted clouds. 

Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble, image courtesy of the artists.

More about the artist

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Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble recorded their debut album, Where Future Unfolds (International Anthem, 2019), live in Chicago at the Garfield Park Botanical Conservatory. This marked the first time that Locks translated his poetry, collages, and compositions into large-scale, experimental performance. BME’s most recent album, NOW (International Anthem, 2021), was also recorded live as a means of communal resistance against the darkness brought on by the pandemic and social unrest of 2020. Fun fact: Damon Locks designed the cover art for Lonnie Holley and Wex alum Brian Harnetty’s The Star-Faced One, performed at the Wex in 2013.

Copresented by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts.

WEXNER CENTER PROGRAMS MADE POSSIBLE BY
Greater Columbus Arts Council 
The Wexner Family
National Endowment for the Arts 
Ohio Arts Council
L Brands Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Nationwide Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Mike and Paige Crane
Axium Packaging
CampusParc
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
President Kristina M. Johnson and Mrs. Veronica Meinhard
Nancy Kramer
Larry and Donna James
Lisa Barton
Johanna DeStefano
Jones Day
Alex and Renée Shumate

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Damon Locks’s Black Monument Ensemble