AFTERNOON DELIGHT: LEKAN BABALOA, ÀDRIAN VILLAR ROJAS, IN SERMON WITH SAM COOKE
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
For the second day of the marathon we are live blogging on Medium; if you’re interested in reviewing reports on yesterday’s programme, click here.
Celestial greetings, our gorgeous congregation!
It’s Sunday morning (well, afternoon, but that’s “morning” for many sleeping in after the madness of Frieze Week) and we’ve peeled ourselves out of bed to “get woke” and greet the sun with Lekan Babalola & The Sacred Funk Project nestled in the womb of SelgasCano-designed East London arts x tech hub, Second Home. The connection between spiritual awakening and music can be traced back to the dawn of humankind with ritual therein weaving a complex global tapestry; Babalola as “custodian of Yoruba tradition” brings to us sounds that uplift and make us move, notes that settle the soul, soothing aches and pains, opening us up and bringing those listening closer together. In conversation with Gabriel Gbadamosi thereafter, Gbadamosi draws gentle comparison between Babalola’s compositions and Sam Cooke’s galvanising 1964 anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come”, noting The Sacred Funk Project with its rich melodies, as carrying a similar responsibility (here this morning, beyond in the everyday) of “bring[ing] in the spirit of the times, and what’s coming ahead.” Gbadamosi sits with “ether practitioner” Babalola and inquires about his connection to the construct of contemporary “oracle” — how can an oracle be articulated? Babalola’s response delivers us through the doors of the day, into the second sermon of Serpentine’s Miracle Marathon: “What is oracle to me? Oracle is the language. Oracle is the word.” Later, in a haunting call-and-response, Adrián Villar Rojas calls out Cooke’s words in a lyrical acoustic montage, summoning the late singer to the stage, his promise for progress resurrected, if only briefly.