These days major album releases can become a multi-media spectacle. From Beyonce’s Lemonade to Kanye’s extravagant album drops that include exclusive listening events and social media curation. What allows that kind of artistic statement is normally a large budget and the backing of professional staff.
When local activist and musician Taina Asili releases her new album Resiliencia on Friday it will serve as the lynchpin to a larger artistic vision that includes a series of documentary music videos and interviews that tell the tales of the struggles and resistance efforts of women of color around the world.
Asili’s music is as daring, enchanting and bold as ever; the video component adds a depth that invites exploration and encourages the viewer to empathize and experience the story in a deeply powerful manner.
The process started with a residency grant from The Arts Center of the Capital Region. “My intention was not to just make another album but a full body of work, including a video component, an interactive performance and to eventually build a workshop around it lift up women of color in my community.”
Asili’s activism has always been part of her work but this time around the album came into focus amidst increasingly fraught times. Asili played the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017 to protest Trump’s election. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Asili traveled there to document recovery efforts and survival stories.
“I’ve been so inspired because the problems that exist today didn’t come out of a vacuum. Colonialism, African slavery, colonization of our lands all created a struggle that is going on to this day. There is a powerful legacy of resistance and resilience that I was able to celebrate and document here.”
Resiliencia’s songs are composed to suit the legacy and spirit of their subjects, Asili says. “I’ve always been someone who crosses genres and it’s more about, ‘What type of music can help carry the message that these people are sharing with me?’”
One of the stories told on Resiliencia is that of Isabel Lopez who crossed the border from Tijuana to California and later founded the nonprofit Raizes Collective.
On “En La Verdad” Asili stands for survivors of sexual assault. The song “Plant The Seed” celebrates the work of Leah Penniman, founder of Soul Fire Farm and author of “Farming While Black,” who educates and empowers people of color to invest in agriculture.
Asili channels her punk rock roots For a song about reconstruction in Puerto Rico, though she admits that she isn’t particularly committed to any one style in any song. “I’m not locked into a particular genre. The music I play is as expansive and intersectional as my politics.”
If you want to support Asili’s work and the creation of more Resiliencia videos she suggests buying the album from her website or her Bandcamp page. “We’re grassroots artists, self-produced and not sponsored. We’ll never have corporate backers.”