Seven Black women in Asheville are offering up their personal stories in honor of Kwanzaa, the weeklong celebration of African-American heritage.
The online event called "Black Starseed" was organized by adé PROJECT, a collective of local artists of color. adé PROJECT founder Cortina Jenelle Caldwell says the concept was born out of a painful year.
"One of the greatest harms and one of the most difficult things about the state we found ourselves in 2020, and therefore this summer, is we weren’t fully seeing each other," Jenelle Caldwell said. "Black Starseed became a response to that call, to make things more visible."
adé PROJECT gathered together seven women for the first online Black Starseed performance in late October. It was recorded at the Center for Craft in collaboration with PechaKucha Night Asheville. The lineup included Cortina Jenelle Caldwell as MC, Ann-Lee Waite, Sasha Mitchell, Lucia Daughtery, Olufemi Lewis, Michele Ashley, and Miranda Williams. The intergenerational group of women shared stories about motherhood, ancestry, trauma and resilience. The performance, complimented by West African music, resembled a ceremony. Jenelle Caldwell says she deliberately chose not to allow for applause in between stories, so that each presenter could absorb the moment.
During the week of Kwanzaa, which begins Dec. 26, adé PROJECT is preparing to re-release the series -- with a twist. On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, viewers will be invited to share their own stories. Jenelle Caldwell says she hopes the result brings forth healing and reflection.
"And not only being able to heal from our stories as we look back on them and realize the purpose and the lesson and the growth that they provided us, but we also, as black women, have an opportunity to say, ‘hey, we’re here,’" Jenelle Caldwell said.
The encore premier of Black Starseed airs each night of Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) on adé PROJECT's Youtube channel at 7pm. More information can be found here.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the correct title case for adé PROJECT's name.