When I walked through the doors to the Charleston Music Hall on the night of Benjamin Starr’s live recording of his upcoming release, A Water Album, I didn’t intend on writing about the show. I had just planned to kick back, relax, and enjoy the performance. When the show started, though, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to just sit there and observe.
The live recording of A Water Album was not a normal concert, and that isn’t just because it was being recorded. The Water Album recording was a cultural event, and an important step toward unity for the Charleston music scene and the society of Charleston as a whole. It completely opened my eyes to the difference in perspective between black Americans and other marginalized cultures in the United States and my own.
A Water Album made me realize that societal change is not something that happens automatically. It takes a dedicated, driven, and focused effort to make a difference. Benjamin Starr’s ability to bring that realization to my mind through poetic verse and compassionate speech is truly an amazing thing. For that I can’t praise him enough.
The show that night was nearly sold out, and the performance itself was immaculate. But this wasn’t just about the performance. It was about the message behind the performance, and while that message can be a difficult pill to swallow, it is at the core a positive message.
Benjamin doesn’t use hate or negativity to get his point across, but rather uplifting poetics that are designed to bring out confidence in the hearts of those listening. He stated multiple times that he was “unapologetic” about the fact that his message is crafted solely for black men and women, but I don’t think he has anything to apologize for.
It’s not my turn to make a statement here. It’s time for visionaries like Benjamin Starr and the rest of the people who joined him on stage and in the audience that night, to pave the way for the future. Kudos to you, Benjamin Starr. You successfully hosted a major cultural event for this city, and I think it was a turning point, or at least the start of one.
For anyone reading this, I encourage you to listen to A Water Album when it comes out. And I mean truly listen. Put everything else aside and focus on the music. You might learn a thing or two. I know I did.
I’ve included a photo gallery from the night below. All photos were taken by Mia Al-Taher. Follow her on Instagram here.
UPDATE 6/19/19: A Water Album was released today. Listen below.
All photos by Mia Al-Taher.