Immigrant Voices

#ImmigrantVoices is a two-part campaign amplifying under-represented voices in American pop culture. In Part One, we step into a world of dance and spoken-word, as artist Brad Geyer explores what it means to be American and how symbols and words matter in these turbulent times. In Part Two, we hop onto Liberty Island where musician KAYE takes us through how she reclaims racially-charged imagery of Asian-Americans in American pop culture.


 

LADY LIBERTY'S LAMP

 

On set in New York City’s Battery Park, poet Brad Geyer and acclaimed choreographer Ashlé Dawson join forces to tell immigrant stories through the arts of spoken word and dance. Historically, Battery Park was one of the primary ports to receive immigrants after processing in the famed Ellis Island. Immigration has become a hot-button issue in the United States, leaving vulnerable communities targeted, marginalized, and fearful for their families’ futures. Together Geyer’s words and Dawson’s choreography tell an emotional story of what it means to be American in a changing America.

Geyer’s poem “Lady Liberty’s Lamp” highlights the importance of the Statue of Liberty as a beacon of openness and hope. The poem reflects on recent political developments, edging the United States into isolation, and the impact on America’s collective identity.

Choreographer Ashlé Dawson worked with 17 dancers to create an interpretive dance based on Geyer’s words. The troupe included dancers from across the world, including Puerto Rico, India, Denmark, and many more — a perfect compliment to piece that celebrates diversity. Originally choreographed for a traditional stage, the number was re-worked to fit the 360 medium.

 

BAMBOO

 

Bamboo, a song and performance by KAYE, the unabashed pop singer focused on breaking the ‘bamboo ceiling’ in American music. To Kaye, and many minority groups, having cultural influencers that look like them solidifies a sense of place and acceptance in America.

It brings me great pride to share a new song and video that means a lot to me, ‘Bamboo.’ I wrote it for #ImmigrantVoices, a 360 video campaign for Global Citizen. As we’ve seen from the events of Charlottesville and too many others, we are living in a time where many passionately want to eradicate anyone who isn’t white. It’s easy to fear what we don’t know or see, so us POC [people of color] must raise our voices and fight to be represented however we can — through music, art and through open conversation. — singer/songwriter Charlene Kaye

Kaye’s song Bamboo, now available on Spotify, morphs social commentary into pop lyrics. The song jabs at the efforts to mask Asian talent as more palatable with skin bleaching and augmentation to the commodification of Asian women as accessories. With each lyric, the song explores the endless list of ways in which American culture ‘others’ Asian aesthetics and talents and how artists like Kaye refuse to be silenced any longer.

We sat down with KAYE to reflect on the importance of making such a bold piece during these times.

“I haven’t heard very many pop songs specifically about Asian American pride and the small micro-aggressions we face every day — getting told “Ni Hao” on the street, getting asked where we’re REALLY from, etc etc…so when Global Citizen asked me to write one for this series, I jumped at the chance. I hope it resonates with girls of color everywhere and helps them embrace their sexuality, fun and fearlessness. Thank you to the wonderful team at Global Citizen and FOVRTH.” — singer/songwriter Charlene Kaye

A core tenet of the #ImmigrantVoices campaign is the reclamation of space and symbols. With that charge, we shot on location at New York’s Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Chinatown neighborhood, representing immigration, pop culture, and Asian culture respectively.

 
 
 

CREDITS

PART 1 TALENT:  Brad Geyer, Spoken Word Artist | Ashlé Dawson, Choreographer | Dancers: Marisa Mazzeo, Gabriela J Mazzocco, Stephany Lockhart, Diana Julcapoma, Nataly Santiago, Laura Torres, Maya Wasserman, Lawanda Hopkins, Aniyah Wilson, Mariana Herrera, Cristal Del Mar Lopez, Ashley Stafford, Simón Lambert, Santino Manocchio, Brian Poniatowski, Nile Bullock, and Parth Sethi

PART 2 TALENT: KAYE, performer | Jadee Nikita, Choreography | Lara de Bruijn, Costume Design | Liann Kaye, Producer | Dancers: Karin Tatsuoka and Saki Takahashi

CREATIVE: Fovrth Studios | Jesse Ayala, Director + Director of Photography | Connor Lonning, Producer + Post-Production Supervisor |Tony Ayala, Associate Producer + Video Editor |Anna Therese Day, Executive Producer

NON-PROFIT: Global Citizen | Rachel Moreno, Global Marketing Director |Liann Kaye, Head of Video | Hans Glick, Video Producer